Transformative Recovery? The European Recovery Program (ERP) / Marshall Plan in European Tourism

Transformative Recovery? The European Recovery Program (ERP) / Marshall Plan in European Tourism

Department of History, University of Salzburg; Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, Alpen-Adria University, Klagenfurt; Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation
Vom - Bis
23.02.2018 - 24.02.2018
Url der Konferenzwebsite
Hester Margreiter, Fachbereich Geschichte, Universität Salzburg

The anniversary of the Marshall Plan Program (ERP) and its multidimensional legacy to many European societies led MARTIN KNOLL (University of Salzburg) and ROBERT GROß (Alpen-Adria University, Klagenfurt) to organize an international colloquium, including researchers from Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United States of America. The conference started with a discussion of post-war recovery before the European Recovery Plan, and addressed regional research in Austria, Italy, and Spain as well as Pan-European perspectives about infrastructure networks, ERP marketing, and tourism promotion.

LISA PAYNE OSSIAN (Des Moines Area Community College) discussed the immediate aftermath of World War II. She described the crucial role of Herbert Hoover, appointed by U.S. president Harry S. Truman as chair of the newly founded Famine Emergency Commission in March 1946. In a six-week-study, Hoover travelled 35.000 miles through twenty-five countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, to assess the humanitarian conditions, examine damages and coordinate resources. This project included complex planning and realization of field-studies in those war-torn countries, as well as the lobbying and marketing against post-war famine and for a humanitarian and economic program. After returning from another visit to Austria and Germany in 1947, Hoover testified before a U.S. Senate Committee and promoted a new economic vision for European postwar recovery.

MARIA PAOLA PASINI and RICCARDO SEMERARO (both Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Brescia) debated the contribution of the Allies in the Eastern Lombardy. U.S. military stationed in this part of Italy supported reconstruction in the years of 1945-1947, even before the beginning of the European Recovery Program. ERP money contributed to the restauration of hotels as well as to the reorganization of sports and culture. Allied soldiers were stationed on the shores of Lake Garda due to the availability of hospitality facilities, which delayed the reconstruction of these hotels, but they sent home thousands of pictures and postcards, being in some way the first postwar tourists and promoting the area. Additionally, intense marketing activities abroad were organized in the late forties. Local initiatives and the unitary promotion of the lake played the mayor part in tourism recovery, but international aid supported emergency needs, infrastructures as well as cultural artifacts, and supported economically backward regions, including the reconstruction of the tourism industry.

The Keynote “Austria on its Way to Prosperity and Dependency: The Marshall Plan, 1947-1953” by GÜNTER BISCHOF (University of New Orleans) covered the broader context of the European Recovery Plan. He discussed what historiography has done so far and outlined fields for further research: While its memory in Austria is declining, the Marshall Plan is alive and well: Between 1948 and 1953 ERP grants were turned into counterpart funds, which dispersed long-term and low-interest loans to the Austrian Economy. In 1961, the counterpart funds were renamed into ERP Fund and handed over to the Austrian government. Since 1962 the ERP fund dispersed long-term and low-interest loans to the Austrian Economy. Only two countries, Germany and Austria, preserved these funds until today. In Austria, today’s ERP-Fund holds three billion Euros and more than 500 million Euros are annually distributed as loans into the Austrian economy. Additionally, founded with ERP money, the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation was created in 1999, to support academic research, publications and knowledge transfer as well as the remembrance of the Marshall Plan in Austria. Bischof argued that it is a myth that Austrians rebuilt their country on their own. The U.S. contribution to the reconstruction of Austria was effective back then. Its additional intention of ‘communist containment’ wasn’t advertised. Austria received a total of 1.5 billion Dollars of U.S. aid, including pre-ERP programs. In 1945 the food situation in Austria was very dramatic. In Vienna the Soviets established a basic sustenance of 500 calories per person and day, U.S. aid programs followed, but food got rationed up until 1948 into the start of the Marshall Plan years, when half of the aid from the United States to Austria was food products. The ERP funding helped to rebuild and modernize agriculture, infrastructure and industries. A small percentage of ERP money was invested in tourism. This money boosted foreign currency earnings and served as a foundation to build a second tourism season: the winter season. Much of regional and local history of the Marshall Plan, and the various sectors that profited from it, is not written yet. There are still hundreds of boxes in the Austrian State Archives, but also at local archives for example in Innsbruck, waiting to be evaluated.

The conference included a roundtable discussing the new publication ‘The Marshall Plan – Since 1947. Saving Europe, Rebuilding Austria’. GÜNTER BISCHOF (University of New Orleans) and HANS PETSCHAR (Austrian National Library in Vienna), the two editors, and MARIA FRITSCHE (University of Science and Technology Trondheim), were questioned by EWALD HIEBL (University of Salzburg).The publication intends to broaden the perspective of a historiography predominantly telling an (overly positive and mostly) economic story of the Marshall Plan. The book visualizes the memory of the Marshall Plan. Besides basic information understandable for a broader audience, it includes statistic information and a lot of ‘hidden’ scholarship for historians. It contains around 500 pictures (mostly from the Austrian National Library and U.S. sources). The panel emphasized the Marshall Plan, a multilevel aid program including market integration, as an early starting point for European integration. The Marshall Plan was implemented in sixteen countries, therefore, so there are sixteen different stories to be told. These stories combined could serve as a precondition for a new comprehensive Marshall Plan history.

RAQUEL LÁZARO VINCENTE (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) discussed the work of the European Travel Commission and focused on advertising Spain as a tourism destination in the United States. Fascist Spain did not take part in the European Recovery Program, but it joined the European Travel Commission. Most European postwar tourism advertising in the United States was generated by this organization. The speaker argued that Spain could gain some ERP money with this connection and its membership at the European Travel Commission was a way to promote the fascist country as a friendly place.

FRANK SCHIPPER (Technical University Eindhoven) described mobility technologies in tourism and the role of the Marshall Plan in the motorization of Europe. Schipper is the author of several articles discussing transportation (networks and technologies) in 19th and 20th century Europe. With the intention to advertise ‘Europe’ as a destination, travel agents in the United States urged for transnational mobility infrastructures. The European Travel Commission advertised the progress of road infrastructures in Europe, rental cars and the off-peak season, stressing that travelling by car in Europe was not common yet. Mass motorization already had happened in the United States and ERP counterpart funds were used to expand European transit networks, especially roads: also building equipment and staff from the U.S. Public Roads Administration was provided. The ‘freedom of the road’ was advertised and U.S. officials produced movie clips against borders within Europe, transnational bus lines and companies were implemented. Not all projects were realized, for example the Grand St. Bernard and the Mont Blanc tunnel project were too expensive, strategically unwise respectively not essential enough.

AIMÉE PLUKKER (University of Amsterdam) debated the construction of different identities in the tourism industry generated by Marshall Planners in Europe and especially in the case of Rome. Many U.S. Citizens considered Rome the birthplace of their civilization, they understood it as the Capital of Christendom and Western civilization. The analysis of promotion material, official documents and media coverage gives insights into U.S. American Tourism in Rome and the representation of Italy in the United States. Marketing got more entertainment-oriented (for example festivals, galas and concerts). Film shots and the visits of famous people were used to advertise the city. The Colosseum and the Termini (transport station) served as symbols for the combination of old and modern Rome. The shift towards more consumerism in tourism and the additional focus on modernization led to the construction of a new identity in the postwar era.

PATRIZIA BATTILANI and FRANCESCA FAURI (both University of Bologna) analyzed how politics and private lobbying influenced the development of the airline sector and the Italian tourism model. ERP (counterpart) funds financed the reconstruction of aviation fields, but most of the big Italian wartime aircraft producing industry was shut down to eliminate Italy as a competitive force. Aid was given to buy airplanes from the U.S. industry. In 1946 private airlines were introduced to the market. Since 1947 twelve (private, state-owned, and private-public) airlines shared the market. In the following years some companies were bought in while others closed: in 1958 one state-owned company was left. In other European countries the state-ownership of the most important airlines was restored as well. Air tourism in the postwar era meant charter flights. Scheduled flights played no role in tourism. Anyway, the Italian tourism model remained based on ground transportation. Until 1965 charter flights to Italy were close to non-existent. Causes were a slow increase in demand, air transport policies and domestic airlines non-participating in the charter flight market. Nonetheless, the Italian tourism model was successful: the tourism sector in the 1950s/60s prospered and gained adequate international tourism market shares.

MARIA FRITSCHE (University of Science and Technology Trondheim) allowed interesting insights in her newly published book ‘The American Marshall Plan Film Campaign and the Europeans. A Captivated Audience?’. To convince the people of Europe of the economic and financial reforms of the Marshall Plan, a broad propaganda campaign was launched. This publicity strategy consisted of newspapers, posters, radio broadcasts, and film. Approximately 200 films were produced and distributed across seventeen European countries. These were mostly short documentaries, which showed the modernization of industry and agriculture and advertised European integration. Tourism promotion was a byproduct and a vehicle in advertising non-border policies, transport networks and the commemoration of beautiful landscape and cultural heritage. Border controls were understood as the main obstacle of free trade. Thus, narratives reduced and ridiculed borders to colored lines. Airports were shown as attractions itself. Substantial funds were put into ports, railways and electrification. Films promoting the rebuilding of transport networks showed journeys, people working in these environments and beautiful landscapes, promising easy and comfortable travelling. The intention was to fuel national pride, show a healing effect of the Marshall Plan, and to encourage tourism. ERP films should show the improving social conditions, the possibility of traveling again (although not many people could afford it), and give reassurance by showing historical sights.

Discussions throughout the conference and at the closing debate focused on the long-term impact of the Marshall Plan: the building of industrial clusters and technology transfer, especially in the tourism sector. The following notes reflect some of the key arguments at the conference.

Tourism promotion mirrored (to a certain extent) the (elitist) Belle Époque tourism when wealthy travelers created local industries, Martin Knoll argued. All mountain cableways built in the postwar period were subsidized with ERP money. Tourism encouraged modernization. In the transition period from luxury to mass tourism (1947-1952) there was a discussion which kind of hotels should be supported. Aimée Plukker explained that modernist tourism brochures of Italy were addressed to U.S. tourists, but it is hard to say what expectations they really had. Frank Schipper emphasized that Americanization happened due to the Marshall Plan and its effects on tourism, but it also happened separately. It is interesting that modernity was used to advertise, because U.S. Americans came to see the European past. Patrizia Battilani discussed how Italians created a mix between anti-Americanism, communism, modernization and consumerism. The ERP money was used for reconstruction, not for new constructions. Lisa Payne Ossian argued that Hoover is not memorized [in the United States] because he did not think of the ERP as a gift, but as a jumpstart for a strong American economy. It was a business plan and Americans want to remember it as being generous. Günter Bischof discussed that concerning the European railroad network and local industry sectors it is important to contextualize them back to the 19th century to understand which impact the Marshall Plan had on them. The ERP helped to jumpstart different key industries in each country. Maria Fritsche pointed out that the Marshall Plan films were long-term diplomatic strategies. Five Percent of the counterpart funds had to be used for information. Besides the ERP funded tourism promotion Hollywood films were the most influential tool in promoting Europe as a destination. The shootings of big movie productions in Paris and Rome happened because Hollywood was in crisis: They just needed cheaper production places. In Southern European states ERP funded projects also had the intention to bring men back to work. Robert Groß argued that money invested in (tourism) infrastructures had a strong multiplying effect on local economies and therefore on local people. The impact of the technical assistance programs is also interesting: approximately 25.000 Europeans (from farmers to scientists) went to the U.S. for study visits. Hans Petschar explained that one of the biggest collections in the Austrian National Library contains the stories of people in these training programs. Many of them became decision makers in the Austrian economy.

This conference showed the importance of research including indirect and long term effects of the Marshall Plan. Tourism as a key industry of the 20th century was deeply influenced by the European Recovery Program, although ERP money primarily funded other economic sectors. A more comparative approach enables new insights and research concepts in tourism history as well as in Marshall Plan studies.

Conference Overview:

Welcome Address and Introductory Remarks
Martin Knoll (Salzburg)

Recovery Before the ERP

Lisa Payne Ossian (Des Moines): ‘The Grimmest Spectre’: The World’s Emergency Famine, The Hoover Plan, and ‘the Invisible Years’ of 1946-47

Maria Paola Pasini (Brescia) and Riccardo Semeraro (Brescia): The Recovery of Tourism in Brescia and on Lake Garda from the Early Postwar Period to the Marshall Plan

Günter Bischof (New Orleans): Austria on its Way to Prosperity and Dependency: The Marshall Plan, 1947-1953

Book Presentation and Roundtable
“The Marshall Plan – Since 1947. Saving Europe, Rebuilding Austria”
Plenary Discussion
Moderation: Ewald Hiebl (Salzburg)
Participants: Maria Fritsche (Trondheim) / Günter Bischof (New Orleans) / Hans Petschar (Vienna)

Pan-European Perspectives on the ERP

Raquel Lázaro Vicente (Madrid): European Tourist Promotion to America

Frank Schipper (Eindhoven): The Road to European Recovery? ‘Destination Europe’, Publicity and the Role of Infrastructure Networks

Regional Perspectives: Italy

Aimée Plukker (Amsterdam): Roman Holiday. American Tourism in Rome During the Marshall Plan

Patrizia Battilani (Bologna) and Francesca Fauri (Bologna): Marshall Plan Help to the Airline Sector and its Impact on the Development of Tourism in the Italian Regions

The Marshall Plan and Beyond

Maria Fritsche (Trondheim): ‘Europe is on Show Again!’ The Marshall Plan Films’ Role in Reviving European Tourism

Concluding Discussion