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How did the U.S. war effort unwind in terms of stopping and re-tooling the mfg. industries and disposing of the tremendous amounts of surplus eqpt. of every sort overseas, in the US and in the supply “pipeline” at war’s end?
Thank you,
Avrom Friedman


Dear Mr. Friedman,

Entire books have been written about the transition of American industry from a war to a civilian footing. In essence, given the fact that the United States was an ocean away from its adversaries, retooling industry for civilian purposes was a little more difficult than it had been to mobilize it for the manufacture of war material. At the end of World War II limited amounts of equipment was shipped home, but most of it was either returned to other Allied powers or destroyed (most notably practically the entire U.S. Army Air Service overseas in the “Billion Dollar Bonfire”). Similarly, a lot of potential war surplus overseas after World War II was either given away to allies or disposed of outright so that civilians would have no recourse but to buy whatever products postwar industry produced. My late father, who had served in the Pacific as a combat photographer, told me of how—against the urgings of his friends—he dutifully turned in his state-of-the-art camera as ordered, only to see it a few days later, along with vast amounts of other useful items, towed out on a large barge to the middle of an atoll and everything dumped into the ocean.



Jon Guttman

Research Director

World History

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