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A Glance Back to the New Year 1947

Posted by on January 29, 2014

Every New Year promises change, only in January we cannot know how that year will unfold. 1947 was no exception.  Researching the year my father arrived in the United States, I experienced a fascinating walk through history.  What made looking back particularly captivating was the discovery that, with the benefit of hindsight, one could very easily see how many pegs were put into place in that one year alone.  The post- Second World War canvas of the world was still full of holes; uncertainty abound as people, governments and economies tried to pull the world back from the second global tragedy of the century.  The decisions made in 1947 acted like pegs filling those holes and created the mosaic of events which unfurled and influenced not just the rest of 1947 but the entire last half of the 20th century- politically, economically and of course, by the lives which were touched by these changes, personally.

As early as January 8th, 1947, political and economic decisions which would have a long and powerful stronghold over Eastern Europe had begun to take place.  On that day General George Marshall became the US Secretary of State.  This was significant as he would later propose a plan which would lend American aid to Europe in helping the continent to rebuild its economies after the war and prevent the spread of Soviet Communism.  By the end of that month however, the Communists took power in Poland.  A few weeks later in Paris, on February 10th, 1947, peace treaties were signed between the Allies and Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Finland.  Italy then ceded most of Istria to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Just one week later, on February 17th, 1947, in something clearly under the realm of what would soon come to be known as the “Cold War”, the Voice of America begins to transmit radio broadcasts into Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.  The “tug of war” between two geographically powerful and influential giants had begun.

March 12th sees then U.S. President Harry Truman introduce the Truman Doctrine, proclaimed to help stem the spread of Communism.

United States President Harry S. Truman delivering his Truman Doctrine, 1947

United States President Harry S. Truman delivering his Truman Doctrine, 1947

The President sets forth his international relations policy in a speech that day and states that the US would support Greece and Turkey with both economic and military aid to help prevent them from falling into the Soviet sphere.  Many mark this event as the start of the Cold War and the start of the containment policy by America to stop Soviet expansion.  Just a couple of weeks later President Truman takes his politics even further when he signs an Executive Order which requires all federal employees to have allegiance to the United States of America and calls for their unyielding loyalty.  On May 22nd the Doctrine goes into effect and, by 1952, both Turkey and Greece, despite their historic rivalry, join NATO.  The Doctrine would be extended formally to become the basis of American Cold War policy throughout Europe and around the world.  Still smouldering from the effects of the Second World War, the world seemed to be on the brink of a new type of war looming just over the horizon.

© Kristina Tzaneff

3 Responses to A Glance Back to the New Year 1947

  1. Nicola Stevens

    So interesting – thank you for guiding the readers through complex historical events so clearly…… And I would say we are still feeling the after shocks of these events in the 21st century.

  2. Susie Gutch

    Well done for reminding us of how much had to be done after the war had ended, of the power of America and the fear of the spread of communism.It will be interesting to find out how your father reacted to his new life in the US , and his feelings about what was happening to his home and family in Bulgaria.


  3. Diana Devlin

    Fascinating to see how the building blocks were put into place. If only I had faith that politicians were the best people to do it. I realise how naive I have been, not understanding the motivation underlying the Marshall Plan, until you set it out so clearly!

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