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Lesson 6.3: Rebuilding the Mediterranean: The Marshall Plan and Italy


Lesson 6.3: Rebuilding the Mediterranean: The Marshall Plan and Italy


Topic 2: The Cold War in the Mediterranean


Topic Overview

Between 1945-1991, the term “Cold War” was used to describe the international world order. This system emphasized a binary model led by the United States of America on one side and the Soviet Union on the other. The binary categories generated by the Cold War provided a way for the two hegemons to manage/ regulate global complexity. It provided the global frame through which the world was perceived and coded by the US and the USSR.

 This structure, however, is limited in its application around the globe. The Mediterranean certainly experienced events that can be labeled as “Cold War” phenomenon. However, other events (both domestic and international) do not fit neatly into the Cold War story. The foreign relations of some Mediterranean nations during this period resist being simplified as a function of the rivalry between the US and the USSR. For example, the Non-Alignment Movement, regional identities, and post-colonial nationalism all problematize the Cold War model by complicating the idea of all world affairs falling along an easy capitalist/communist divide. By focusing on the history of political movements in Greece and Egypt, this topic challenges the binary frame of the Cold War by exploring other international relations perspectives and ideologies found in the Mediterranean during this period.  

Topic Essential Questions

  • What are the key elements and periodization of these movements related to the international world order: The Cold War, The Non-Aligned Movement, Post-Colonial Nationalism
  • To what extent is the Cold War model applicable and limiting to these events? Explain how alternatives to the Cold War model can impact your understanding of world history.

To what extent is the concept of “non-alignment” relevant in today’s world and what does it mean? Is it useful for understanding the contemporary geopolitical orientation of countries such as Brazil and India?

Lesson Overview

The victory of the allied forces in World War II in 1945 meant a drastic change in power relations across the Mediterranean. During the war the Allied powers had already agreed on the rough scheme of a post-war division of influence. Imperial rationales dominated, such as obtaining access to Mediterranean ports, as well as maximising the potential for extraction of energy minerals such as natural gas and oil (see Topic 1 above).. Post World War II Europe was devastated by years of conflict. The Mediterranean region had been a major theater of activity on both African and European shores. To aid reconstruction efforts and the return to normalcy, the United States presented the Marshall Plan, or European Recovery Plan, to nations providing $13 billion worth of economic aid between 1948 -1952. Italy, wartime enemy of the United States, received the 4th largest amount of assistance and helped to restore agricultural output, rejuvenate industry, and rebuild Italy’s infrastructure. This lesson explores the Marshall Plan’s impact on this Mediterranean nation. Students engage with the Marshall Plan and evaluate its relationship to the capitalist/communist binary of the Cold War. In addition, students explore additional sources and data regarding the impact of the Marshall Plan on Italy and the Mediterranean world.


Jonathan Even-Zohar and Craig Perrier


Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: A World History Curriculum Project for Educators


Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University




2014, Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University, published under Creative Commons – Attribution-No Derivatives 3.0 License


2-3 class periods


• Engage with different types of historical sources.

• Organise complex historical information in a coherent form.

• Make comparisons and connections.

• Interpret and evaluate evidence.

• Compare alternative models for periodization.

• Differentiate between historical facts and historical interpretations.

• Formulate historical questions.

• Use historical information and knowledge to read and understand sources.

• Contextualize information.


• Students will be able to describe the impact of the Marshall Plan in Italy.

• They will analyze George Marshall’s speech and its implications.

• They will compare multiple sources regarding the Marshall Plan.

• They will analyze data on the Marshall Plan in Italy.


• Teacher Background Reading at Student Handout 6.3.4 European Crisis Clayton to Acheson ( )

• Student Handout 6.3.1 Written Text of speech: at ; Secretary of State Marshall’s Recorded Speech (includes slide show) at

• Student Handout 6.3.2 – Marshall Plan in Italy

• Student Handout 6.3.3 – Gianni Agnelli Interview

Lesson Plan Text

1. Assign the Student Background Reading: Secretary of State Marshall’s Recorded Speech [ ] or Student Handout 6.3.1 for the text version. Use the following exploration strategy:

2. Activator: Analogies. With a partner complete and explain the following analogy statements based on the Marshall Plan speech. How is _____________ like a ______________? If ____________ were a ___________, what would ____________ see, feel , think? The ____________ reminds me of a ____________ because____________.

3. Assessment: Suggested Writing Prompts for a Document Based Essay:

  • To what extent was the Marshall Plan an anti-communist project? Provide evidence to support your answer.
  • Describe how the Marshall Plan impacted the Mediterranean World.
  • What challenges and successes did Italy experience through the Marshall Plan?



Jonathan Even-Zohar and Craig Perrier, “Lesson 6.3: Rebuilding the Mediterranean: The Marshall Plan and Italy,” Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: Teaching Modules , accessed September 25, 2020,