Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Annual Essay Contest!
Winner: Grades 3-5
NH German School (Durham, NH)
Teacher: Christa Franke
I know Rapunzel from Disney Plus. The name of the movie is Tangled. It is way way different from the story in the Brothers Grimm version. Mainly everything is different. In the movie, Rapunzel is a girl, but in the Brothers Grimm version, it’s a stew called Rapunzel. In their version, it’s not a tower, it's a cottage. The characters aren’t the same, either. In the book, there’s a mom, a dad, and a cruel old lady who doesn’t want them to steal her cabbage. In the movie, there’s Rapunzel, who’s a princess, but she doesn’t know because another cruel old lady took her and put her in her tower. She wants to go see the floating lights, but she can’t because the cruel old lady, Mother Gothel, won’t let her. In the Brothers Grimm version, there’s a pregnant lady who is hungry and wants the cabbage that her neighbor, a cruel old lady, is growing in her yard. Her husband steals some of the cabbage and makes it into a stew called Rapunzel. His wife loved it so much she wanted more, so she asked him to steal some more. But he was greeted by the old lady when he was trying to steal some and she said, “You may take my cabbage on one condition: the girl that is born from your wife you shall give to me!” And the husband said, “OK.” And when the baby girl was born, he did the promise and gave it to the cruel old lady and she raised the poor girl like a daughter but she was mean to her and made her sweep the floors. She lived high up in a tower with no stairs, only a little window.
I like the Disney Plus version better because I don’t like cabbage. I think that’s a pretty good reason.
Winner: Grades 6-8
South Eastern Middle School (Fawn Grove, PA)
Teacher: Carl Dietrich
Millions of people were injured or killed due to WWII, and many factories, cities, and places of work had been destroyed as well. Infrastructure such as railways, bridges, roads, and ports was damaged as well. Because of this, many European countries were struggling financially. This impacted many non - European countries strongly, primarily the United States. The U.S.A imported many goods from places such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. This made it the United States' interest to help the struggling European economy get back on its feet, as it would mean that the U.S would also become more financially stable. Through this, the Marshall Plan was born.
First proposed by Secretary of State George Marshall in 1947, the Marshall Plan came into existence when President Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan on April 3rd, 1948. The Marshall Plan was a fund of roughly 13 billion U.S.D (about 115 billion U.S.D today) to give to Europe roughly on a per-capita (population) based distribution. It was distributed to major industrial countries such as France, Great Britain, and Western Germany.
The money provided by the Marshall Plan to each country could be used for anything the country needed economically or industrially; it was like a new starting point. The money was helpful for many economic uses, but some primary ones include restoring production and industry, controlling and stopping inflation, and reviving trade between countries. Because of the Marshall Plan, Europe was back to its pre - war economic status roughly seven years after the end of WWII, which is roughly five years after the Marshall Plan was introduced.
Despite being one of the United States’ biggest enemies in World War II, a fund of roughly 1.4 billion U.S.D (roughly 16.5 billion U.S.D today) was given to Western Germany to aid in economic recovery. West Germany used the grant for many things such as those stated in paragraph 3, but they used a large portion of it to give low-interest loans to small businesses in Germany. This started a Butterfly Effect; those small businesses could begin being profitable, which made other people profitable, which brought in tax money to the German government. The success of the Marshall Plan in West Germany was so successful, Germany was back and exceeding pre-war production by 1950, just 2 years after the beginning of the Marshall Plan.
However, the Marshall Plan didn’t just benefit Western Europe; it also benefited the United States. The U.S imports many important items from Europe (as stated above), including machinery, vehicles, and chemicals. Because of this, the economic recovery of Europe would ultimately lead to the economic recovery of the U.S. Additionally, many countries including West Germany repaid their Marshall Plan grant, despite it not being a loan. With all of this being said, it is clear that the Marshall Plan not only helped Germany recover, it helped the entire world recover.
Winner: Grades 9-12
Oregon High School (Oregon, WI)
Teacher: Jeffrey Dyer
After years of war Germany was left in shambles, along with the entirety of Europe. With ruined economies and entire cities left shattered, Western European people were left to deal with the consequences. To sum it up, Western Europe was vulnerable and especially vulnerable to the Soviet Union’s expansion, the expansion of communism. This was not what the United States wanted, it was what they feared. So a plan was put into place, the United States was to provide support for the reconstruction of Western Europe after many devastating years.
The Marshall Plan focused on providing aid to big industrial powers, Western Germany, France, and Great Britain. The heavy focus on the bigger powers was essential for Europe's overall reconstruction and to prevent the spread of communism. Over the next 4 years, trading partners were formed, American goods were being sold and stable democratic governments were established. The plan provided aid to reconstruct the damaged cities, infrastructure, and industries. The barriers that prevented trade to flourish were removed and commerce was promoted between European countries and the U.S.
But not everyone benefited equally. Those who remained neutral or did not fight alongside the U.S were aided significantly less. Great Britain received about a quarter of the total while France was given less than one-fifth. Most notably and most obviously, West Germany received a heavy portion of aid. They were essential for the reconstruction of the region and Eastern Germany was behind the “Iron Curtain '' which refers to the political boundary that was dividing Europe due to political conflict. Because the other half was under the Soviet Union's control, it was essential that the U.S ensured that Western Germany and Europe would recover completely so they would not succumb to the Soviet Union’s power. It proved successful with democratic governments established and much of Western Europe thriving under the support of the plan.
The United States' successful attempt to support the reconstruction of Western Europe and prevent the spread of communism continues to demonstrate its accomplishments today. The Marshall Plan was a key factor in the formation of NATO which protects the Allies' freedom and formed an alliance between European countries and the U.S. Additionally it was a plan that successfully rebuilt many countries after years of a devastating war and provided a promising future for them. It also created productive and essential relationships between European countries and the U.S that continue to benefit economies and governments to this day.