Michael Beschloss wrote a book about the immediate post-WWII period called The Conquerors. There was a struggle between the forces of vengeance and the forces of enlightened self interest. There was no lack of government officials in the Allied camp who were more interested in punishing the Axis countries than in reconciliation and setting the conditions for democracy and wealth. Churchill thought the Nazi leadership should be summarily executed. Hans Morgenthau wanted to return Germany and Japan to agrarianism. Roosevelt’s leadership, and then Truman’s, was key in ensuring hasty reconstruction and a return to normalcy (which was quick given the circumstances).

To contrast with the Marshall Plan, the Soviets set up socialist workers paradises in all of the countries they liberated, and then proceeded to loot them, East Germany being the worst case. Amongst other things, they moved hundreds of factories lock, stock and barrel to Russia. The US and the other Western allies disarmed quickly and only left token occupation forces in West Germany. The Soviets kept millions of troops in Eastern Europe. They did the same in Korea north of the 38th parallel.

Which has been more successful in the long run?

© 2010 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes authorized with proper attribution.

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