ÖSYM • osym
April 7, 2013 2 min

“The Marshall Plan was not a simple program for transferring massive sums of money to struggling countries, but an explicit – and eventually successful – attempt to reindustrialize Europe.” say Erik Reinert and Ha-Joon Chang. It follows that if Africa really wants economic prosperity, it should study and draw valuable lessons from the Marshall Plan’s dark twin: the Morgenthau Plan implemented in Germany in 1945. Reinert tells the story best: When it was clear that the Allies would win the Second World War, the question of what to do with Germany, which in three decades had precipitated two World Wars, reared its head. Henry Morgenthau Jr, the US secretary of the treasury, formulated a plan to keep Germany from ever again threatening world peace. Germany, he argued, had to be entirely deindustrialized and turned into an agricultural nation. All industrial equipment was to be destroyed, and the mines were to be flooded. This program was approved by the Allies and was immediately implemented when Germany capitulated in 1945. However, it soon became clear that the Morgenthau Plan was causing serious economic problems in Germany: deindustrialization caused agricultural productivity to plummet. This was indeed an interesting experiment. The mechanisms of synergy between industry and agriculture worked in reverse: killing the industry reduced the productivity of the agricultural sector.

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