German Marshall Fund

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The German Marshall Fund of the United States
German Marshall Fund DC.JPG
The German Marshall Fund headquarters located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Abbreviation GMF
Motto Strengthening Transatlantic Cooperation
Formation 1972
Type Public Policy Think Tank and Grantmaking Institution
Headquarters 1744 R Street NW
Location Washington, D.C.
President Craig Kennedy

The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a nonpartisan American public policy think tank and grantmaking institution dedicated to promoting greater cooperation and understanding between North America and Europe. Founded in 1972 through a gift from the West German government on the 25th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, GMF contributes research and analysis on transatlantic and global issues, convenes policy and business leaders at major international conferences, provides exchange opportunities for emerging American and European leaders, and supports a number of initiatives to strengthen democracies.[1]

In addition to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., GMF has offices in Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Belgrade, Ankara, Bucharest, Warsaw, and Tunis. GMF also has smaller representations in Bratislava, Turin, and Stockholm.[1]

Among its programs and initiatives are Brussels Forum, the Marshall Memorial Fellowship program, the Transatlantic Academy, the annual Transatlantic Trends survey, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, and policy programs related to Asia, the Mediterranean, the wider Atlantic, Turkey, energy, migration, and urban and regional policy.


Dr. Karen Donfried is the current president of GMF, joining in April 2014. GMF's former President is Craig Kennedy, who led the organization since 1996. Members of GMF's Board of Trustees include J. Robinson West, Marc Leland, Dr. Guido Goldman, Michael J. Ahearn, Bob Bennett, Margaret Carlson, Greg Craig, Marc Grossman, John F. Harris, David Ignatius, Roman Martinez IV, Richard Powers, Jim Quigley, Ann E. Rondeau, David Smick, Paul K. Stafford, Meghan O'Sullivan, Ellen Tauscher, Robert Wexler .[2]



GMF was founded as a permanent memorial to Marshall Plan assistance through a grant from the West German government. Its founder was Guido Goldman, who was the director of Harvard University's West European Studies program in the early 1970s. Goldman, an American whose family had fled Germany in 1940, lobbied the West German government, particularly Finance Minister Alex Möller, for an endowment to promote European and U.S. relations on the 25th anniversary of Marshall Plan aid.[3] Working with a planning group that was to constitute the Fund's initial Board of Trustees - including physicist Harvey Brooks (physicist), diplomat Robert Ellsworth, journalist Max Frankel, economist Richard N. Cooper, and educator Howard Swearer - Goldman eventually received an agreement to support an independent institution in 1971.[4]

German Chancellor Willy Brandt, announced the creation of GMF in a speech on June 5, 1972 at Harvard, saying that it would help increase U.S.-European cooperation and mutual understanding. Brandt wrote four years later:

My government wanted to mark the 25th anniversary of the launching of the Marshall Plan with something more than just a friendly word of remembrance…. I myself announced that the federal government had, with parliamentary approval, resolved to make resources available for a Marshall Memorial Fund. The sum was to provide backing for American-European studies and research projects.[5]

The initial funding from the West German government was for 15 years, with the terms of the gift identifying three areas of focus: the common “problems confronting industrial societies in Europe, North America, and other parts of the world;” international problems pertaining to “the common interests of Europe and the United States;” and “the field of European studies.”[6] Other charter members of the Board of Trustees included economist Carl Kaysen, judge Arlin M. Adams, and businessman Donald M. Kendall. The first president, selected in 1973, was Benjamin H. Read, later U.S. Under Secretary of State for Management.

The 1970s and 1980s[edit]

In the 1970s and 1980s, GMF dispersed grants in accordance with its mission, including to academic researchers and to the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio. It also provided the initial funding for the Institute for International Economics, now the Peterson Institute for International Economics.[7] Academic Michael Naumann has said that GMF was one of the first think tanks to focus on the importance of soft power at a time when most academic focus was on military issues.[3]

In addition to grants, GMF also began a U.S.-Europe parliamentary exchange program and the Marshall Memorial Fellowship, which has since funded the exchange of over 2000 young leaders across the Atlantic. In 1980, GMF opened its first European office in Bonn. In 1985, the West German government agreed to renew its grant to GMF, a decision that Chancellor Helmut Kohl informed Ronald Reagan about in a letter on December 5, 1985. In 1987, George Kennan gave the keynote address at a conference organized in West Berlin by GMF to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. Also in the 1980s, GMF supported programs such as a National Governors Association initiative to tackle acid rain, and began to work actively with the democracy movements of Central and Eastern Europe through the dispersal of small grants.[8]

The 1990s and 2000s[edit]

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, GMF was among the first U.S. organizations to establish a presence in what had been East Berlin, in 1990. It moved its Bonn operations to Berlin in 1992. In 2001, GMF established a center in Brussels and an office in Paris. In 2002, GMF acquired its current headquarters in Washington D.C., a building which until 1963 housed the West German chancery, and which had hosted such figures as John F. Kennedy, Konrad Adenauer, Lyndon B. Johnson, and George C. Marshall. In 2006, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke at the dedication of the new building.[9]

In the mid-2000s, GMF established itself as a major convener on transatlantic issues. In 2004, GMF organized a major conference in Istanbul in the run up to the NATO Summit, which led to the opening of an office in Ankara. In 2005, GMF hosted President George W. Bush in Brussels, where he delivered the first foreign speech of his second term. The next year, 2006, saw the first Brussels Forum. In 2012, GMF added a second annual event, The Atlantic Dialogues, in Rabat. GMF also began to organize regular dialogues and conferences on China, India, Japan, Turkey, and the Mediterranean. Speakers at GMF events have included Robert Gates, Madeleine Albright, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Catherine Ashton, Condoleezza Rice, Wolfgang Schauble, Gordon Brown, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, among many other European and American heads of state and government, cabinet ministers, and legislators. GMF's exchange programs also expanded with the addition of American Marshall Memorial Fellows, the initiation of the Manfred Worner seminar for defense specialists, and the establishment of the Congress-Bundestag Forum.[9]

GMF also began to expand its public policy activities. In 2002, GMF conducted its first survey, along with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The next year, it was renamed Transatlantic Trends, and became an annual indicator of public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic. GMF also established its Transatlantic Fellows program, to enable permanent resident expertise on global public policy issues. It also founded the Transatlantic Academy, for visiting scholars, and initiated the Transatlantic Take commentary series.[10]

The 2000s also witnessed an expansion of GMF's programs throughout Central and Eastern Europe supporting the continued process of democratic consolidation and integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. This included the establishment of an office in Bratislava for activities in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkan Trust for Democracy in Belgrade, and the Black Sea Trust in Bucharest. Today GMF receives funding from a number of governments, international institutions, and private organizations for its research, convening, and leadership development activities.[11]

People associated with the German Marshall Fund[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About Us". German Marshall Fund. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Board of Trustees". German Marshall Fund. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Rayasam, Renuka (1 June 2012). "Trans-Atlantic Titan: The End of an Era at the German Marshall Fund". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Siegel, Nicholas (2012), The German Marshall Fund of the United States: A Brief History, GMF, pp. 4–6 
  5. ^ Brandt, Willy (1976), People and Politics. The Years 1960-1975. ("Begegnungen und Einsichten. Die Jahre 1960-1975."), p. 308 
  6. ^ Siegel, The German Marshall Fund of the United States., p. 6 
  7. ^ Bergsen, C. Fred (2006). "The Peter J. Peterson Institute for International Economics at Twenty-Five". Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  8. ^ Siegel, The German Marshall Fund of the United States., pp. 11–21 
  9. ^ a b Siegel, The German Marshall Fund of the United States., pp. 21–32 
  10. ^ Siegel, The German Marshall Fund of the United States., pp. 23–32 
  11. ^ "Partnerships". German Marshall Fund. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 

External links[edit]