On June 5, 1947 on the steps of Harvard’s Memorial Church, U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall announced the European Recovery Program (ERP), which, at the time, was the largest international economic aid program in history. The ERP, or Marshall Plan as it came to be known, provided nearly $13 billion dollars in aid to politically and economically stabilize Europe after the devastation of WWII.
In 1950, the U.S.-based Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) which administered the ERP, announced an art competition in Marshall Plan countries, offering prizes for the best posters that aesthetically represented “Intra-European Cooperation for a Better Standard of Living.” A jury of prominent graphic artists from each participating country selected 25 posters from among 10,000 entries. Dutch artist Reyn Dirksen’s “All Our Colours to the Mast” depicting a European ship won first prize, and all 25 winning posters were printed and exhibited throughout Europe to promote the ERP and a shared sense of European cooperation, unity and recovery.
Today, a half century after the initial push to make Europe whole, prosperous and at peace, and after a succession of successful steps, including the creation of the common market, a common currency and the enlargement of the European Union (EU) to the south and to the east, the European integration project is grinding to a halt. With the first country set to leave the EU, is this the end of the dream of a united Europe?
This exhibit was made possible by the Harvey Family Collection.