Chapter XVI
Assaying the Record

The Principal purpose of this account has been to report on the nation's experience in World War II from the point of view of the Government's discharge of its administrative and managerial responsibilities. The American nation faced its greatest challenge; those who were selected to manage and administer its affairs faced a most severe test. The fighting men we trained, the goods we produced, the battles we won, measure the magnitude of the problems that were faced and the degree of success attained.

This volume has dealt with only a small part of the whole field of our wartime experience1 and cannot speak conclusively even on that portion. Like any attempt to capture the facts on a period of highly complex, swiftly moving events, immediately after their occurrence, this volume must suffer from a lack of perspective. nor is it possible here to probe deeply into the meaning and significance of our the many aspects of our war years. Constructive evaluation of our management of the war, like evaluation of the effects of war in the physical science as of the atomic bomb, in industrial technology, international relationships and social and economic changes, must await the factual and analytical contributions of many observers with widely divergent points of view enjoying the advantages of the perspective that time alone can give. it is hoped that this volume will stimulate numerous analysts to explore both more deeply and more broadly the many aspects of our society at war.

Even if evaluation of the events described in the preceding chapters is premature, it is nevertheless desirable to highlight certain aspects


of our war administration. A particularly interesting method of doing this is by comparing the United States experience with the methods employed and the successes attained by our two major enemies, Germany and Japan. While much work remains to be done before the full story of the war activities of Germany and Japan will be available, sufficient information has already become accessible to permit the development of some highly important contrasts. The following discussion is based largely on the results of the expert examination of the German and Japanese war efforts by the United States Strategic Bombing Survey.2

The friends of authoritarian government (i.e.,I government without a broad base of public participation) have in the past made much of its supposed administrative efficiency in arriving at decisions and in executing them without the hurdles that a democratic system faces in operating through the unregimented processes of public discussion and consent. Such apologists have urged that the exposure of governmental problems to public analysis and decision is a source of delay and weakness and that dictatorship over governmental administration eliminates problems such as this country faced in the planning and coordination of its war effort. These considerations were sufficiently influential in the minds of the leaders of the Nazis and the Japanese expansionists to lead them to the conclusion that democracies could not successfully thwart their designs. It was a fundamental assumption in their plans that the democracies would be so immobilized as to be unable even to accept the challenge in meaningful fashion.

The speed with which the democracies did accept the challenge and the manner in which they overwhelmed those who sought gain through war suggests that there is need to reexamine the claims to administrative superiority of authoritarian governments. In making these comparisons, it must be noted that it is somewhat easier to analyze the factors that contributed to defeat than it is to ferret out the failures and weaknesses of the victor. Careful technical analysis may well indicate that both of our enemies programmed and executed in certain areas in a manner superior to ours. This may, for example, prove to be the case in certain phases of the German tank production program and in Japanese production of aircraft. Though we won the war, we cannot afford to close our eyes to the possible lessons we may learn from the experience of our enemy. This is a highly important task that technicians and scholars must perform if the full significance of the war experience is to be exploited.


In many ways our task was far greater--from the administrative point of view--than that of either of our enemies. With a long antimilitaristic tradition, we were suddenly faced in late 1941 with war against the two most militaristic nations on earth. Both enjoyed the advantage of long preliminary planning and preparations. We faced the task fo preparing simultaneously for two wars--one largely a land-air operation with naval support; the other primarily a naval-air operation with land support. In both cases the battlefronts were several thousands of miles distant, imposing severe logistical problems. A third task was also thrust upon us: that of producing the supplies needed by our Allies and building a fleet of ships to carry these products to our Allies. The support of our Allies was invaluable to us, but their pressing needs meant that we could not take time for long preparations since delay might deprive us of their support. Time, moreover, permitted our enemies to gain further strength from the exploitation of their conquests. To carry out simultaneously such complicated operations and to devote to each the proper proportion of our resources while avoiding the deadening effects of conflicts between those interested in one or another of these programs was an administrative achievement not to be disparaged.

The German leaders knew well that her productive potential was no match for a group of opponents which included the united States, and the Japanese were not unaware of the very great inferiority of their productive capacity. Both relied upon what they believed to be the "decadence" of our way of life and government to assure them that our superior resources would not be adequately employed to prevent the success of their challenge. Both relied further upon the strengthening of their economic potential by exploiting the resources of conquered territories. By the time we entered the war, Germany had brought all Western Europe into her economic orbit and Japan was in the process of vastly expanding the territory which she controlled in Asia. Both probably underestimated the time required to overcome the difficulties of such exploitation. While such conquests strengthened the German economy in certain critical areas, the aggregate contribution they made to her fighting potential was not great (see chart 60). The Japanese were probably even less successful.

Our possession of vast resources would have meant little or nothing if the administrative abilities of this Nation had not been equal to the task of converting those resources into an adequate supply of the things needed by our Armed Forces and our Allies. Military victory was possible for the United States because of our resources; it was achieved because our political structure and our administrative capacities were such that we obtained a speedy mobilization adequate to the tasks fo war imposed upon us.


The Nation;'s management of its war tasks was not, as the preceding pages have shown, a smooth, uninterrupted, undeviating progress toward unchanging objectives. Our ultimate goal--of forcing the unconditional surrender of those who had declared war on us--was clear. Likewise, there was little uncertainty about the program in its broadest view.

The intermediate objectives were, however, highly flexible and the execution of the program was changeable, at times hesitant and uncertain. This had to be. The tasks were unique. the problems not well understood, the resources not well inventoried, the necessary objectives not always clearly visualized, the methods to attain them untried. The whole intricate machinery had to be modified as goals were approached in one area, as problems appeared in another, or as military requirements shifted. All of these problems had to be met and solved through the democratic processes of government: the democratic tradition of free discussion, Congressional control of major policy, party government, and the continued recognition of the basic rights and status of the individual.

It is useful for this purpose to divide our observations into those relating to the three major administrative aspects of war administration: the development of over-all war policy; the determination of a program adequate to secure victory, once war has been declared; and the execution of the program with maximum effectiveness.

Development of Policy

On the matter of policy toward war, it need be said only that a truly democratic government with an intelligent well-informed electorate free to express its views is surely the best guarantee against aggressive military action. Certainly no one can read the first part of this volume and fail to be impressed by the reluctance of this nation to think of the possibility of armed conflict. The manner in which Germany and Japan went to war was possible only in governments in which such fundamental decisions were in the hands of a very few individuals, who controlling a propaganda machine, could cloak their decision in plausibility and could impress their will upon an impotent public.

With war thrust upon us, our reaction was to determine a program adequate to bring to a speedy conclusion the complete defeat of those who attacked us. The Government's executive branch established goals measured in such terms as scores of trained divisions, hundreds of ships, thousands of aircraft, thousands of tons of supplies to our Allies, objectives with which the legislative branch concurred and


Chart 60. Combat Munitions Production of Major Belligerents.

to which it gave full support. Military operations were planned by military men, the needed supplies were provided by free men and women working in independent industries guided and coordinated to a common end by a vast system of nonmilitary controls. Though there were times when we seemed to move at a snail's pace, our performance does not suffer from comparison with that of the Axis.

It is now perfectly clear that the Axis countries had not planned adequately beyond their initial aggressive thrusts. Their objectives in beginning wars on either side of the world were limited; the German attacks on Austria, then Czechoslovakia, then Poland were limited, distinct actions, as were those of Japan in her attacks first on Manchuria, then on China. Their decisions to undertake aggressive military actions were arrived at without the careful weighing of possible reprisals or of alternative courses of action that free debate, both within the Government and among a freely speaking public, would certainly have prompted. Had such possibilities been carefully considered, had the decision been for war even after their publics had the opportunity to express their views, it is highly probable that all-out munitions production would have been immediately planned to take care of any eventuality that might arise. German war production in 1939, 1940, and 1941 was surprisingly low as measured not only by later achievements, but also as compared with that of her principal


opponents, Great Britain and Russia (chart 61). Japanese production was likewise low. In both countries, the limiting factor was not potential but the estimates of the war leaders as to what was required to accomplish the immediate aims. In both countries, the planners of war assumed that short, quick mililtary campaigns would accomplish their objectives. They moved in a series of separate thrusts at nations even less prepared than they. No prolonged war against superior resources effectively mobilized was contemplated. The superior economic potentials of the countries attacked were not considered significant factors. Victory was to be won by strategic moves based on accumulated munition stocks, executed with a speed which would throw the democracies completely off balance.

The Czechoslovakia settlement at Munich seemed to confirm Germany's analysis of the decadence, blindness, and inertia of the democracies; the Polish, French, and Norwegian campaigns strengthened her confidence in the blitzkrieg. Germany achieved control of the Western European continent with an expenditure of armaments that only slightly exceeded current production. Her stocks were not significantly depleted.

The failure of England to capitulate after the fall of France forced Hitler to consider invasion. Nazi strategy and possibly her planning and programming also failed for the first time. Though her armament production was fast approaching that of Germany, England was not considered an immediate threat. Hitler turned upon Russia as a more promising victim for his military strategy. The attack began in the confident expectation that the experience of earlier campaigns was to be repeated; Russia was to be completely subjugated in 3 or 4 months.

No plans appear to have been made to cover the possibility that Russia's preparedness had been underestimated. Moreover, the strength that was to destroy Russian resistance was little more than that which had been thrown against France. Application against Russia of the strategy that had been employed against France would have required preparations on a far greater scale since Russian space, war potential, and armed strength was far greater. In the 9 months that elapsed from the time the decision was made to invade Russia to the actual beginning of the campaign, such preparations could probably have been made in large measure. They were not. Instead, the munitions production program was cut back in the fall of 1940. The German leaders were apparently blind to the possibility that the Russian venture would produce anything but another battle of France.

The defeat at Moscow brought Germany to the realization that she was involved in a long war against formidable opposition which


Chart 61. Gross National Product of the United States, Germany, and Japan.


was gaining time to mobilize its strength. Even so, Germany did not yet take extreme measures to concentrate its strength. Germany prepared a second blitzkrieg. Only after it had burned itself out at Stalingrad did Nazism begin to plan in terms which called for full mobilization.

Japan came to war seeking to extricate herself from entanglements from which she had gained no significant success. Her attempt to secure economic domination of China was frustrated, yet her ruling cliques were politically unable to approve of withdrawal. Japanese expansionists were thus driven to seek a solution to their dilemma in the muddy back waters of the European conflict. Such a solution called for expansion southward, which was in any case part of the aims of the more extreme influences in her government. The sharp American reaction to the invasion of Indo-China--the embargoes clamped on capital and certain raw materials--was unexpected. In the ensuing crisis in her domestic political affairs, no compromise could be reached between the various groups who shared political power. As a result, the extremists who considered Germany's victory a certainty came into power determined to secure their share of the spoils. The strategy they envisioned assumed that Britain and Russia would be defeated, that one or two blows could crush American power in the Pacific; that a defense line could then be established which would be held against American attacks. These, it was assumed, would come slowly and in little strength. The Japanese assumed that after such attacks had been repulsed, the United States would be willing to negotiate peace.

The first step in this strategy, the attack on Pearl Harbor, was spectacularly successful. It immobilized the American naval power to a degree that could hardly have been planned upon. The Japanese had won what should have been adequate time to conquer and exploit the southern seas if administrative insight and capacity had been adequate. Conquer she did, probably more than she had originally planned. But once her initial conquests were completed, Japan failed to correctly analyze the problems she faced, found herself unable or unprepared to consolidate her position, to exploit her new resources to the strengthening of her military position, or to ward off attack. She met disaster at Midway, but it was the defeat at Guadalcanal in late 1942 that brought to the Japanese a realization of the bankruptcy of their strategy, less than a year after Pearl Harbor.

The parallel between the two aggressor nations continued. Both found themselves in late 1942 and 1943 with the task of recasting their strategy, building new administrative machinery, and beginning a thorough mobilization.


Programming for War

If the popular concept of autocratic governments had been correct, we would have expected to find that after such a government had decided upon conquest, it would have laid down a precise program for achieving its objectives, a program that would comprise evaluations of all the requisites for certain success in definite terms, and at something more than minimum levels. We would have expected that adequate governmental machinery would be established or at least provided for, to guarantee the required mobilization of the nation's resources to the assumed task.

In the case of the democratic United States, once a definite goal was laid before us in December 1941, the programming of mobilization went forward steadily, and by contrast with Japan and Germany, rapidly. Steps were taken to lay the foundations for the necessary administrative and economic organization> Our program and our organization remained flexible, changing as circumstances demanded. But the story of the preceding chapters is one of movement--sometimes hesitant and uncertain, but from the long point of view, definitely, constantly, and successfully-toward fuller and fuller devotion to our military objectives. We did no know how much victory might require; we found it difficult to learn to think in the magnitudes involved, but over the long run as a Nation, we were not inclined to underestimate.

Long before they entered the war, both Germany and Japan had developed administrative machinery designed to expand their economic capacity, particularly that which was useful in war. Such machinery was established within the framework of sharply limited objectives as well as available resources. In the case of Germany, it is clear that the organizational and administrative problems of war were underestimated. No thought was given to the possibility that the existing machinery might prove inadequate. As the requirements of the war mounted beyond the ability of the established governmental machinery to handle, it displayed marked inflexibility and resistance to change--the typical marks of senile bureaucracy. The situation in Japan was perhaps even worse. The task of war preparations was thrown upon the existing administrative establishment, only very slightly modified to meet new demands. The Japanese government found it even more difficult to secure the adaptability of administrative arrangements and policies required by war. Both nations entered upon war with the United States with few adjustments in administrative organization. When military reverses forced upon them consideration of tighter mobilization, both were forced to improvisation.


They experienced sharp internecine conflicts from which they suffered damaging delays.

Within a matter of months after Pearl Harbor, a civilian administrative branch of the American Government was charged with the responsibility of coordinating the demands of the military branches, Lend-lease, and the civilian economy upon the Nation's industrial capacity. Its progress in securing such coordination was slow, hesitant and beset with obstacles. But the problem to be solved had been foreseen and the preliminary steps in developing a program that was to prove adequate had been taken with speed and dispatch. The difficulties and delays that were overcome, and the methods of executing the program and the results attained have been described in preceding chapters.

Prior to February 1942, Germany had no similar organization. Each of the three military branches was independently pressing its claims upon the nation's productive resources; protection of the civilian economy was a function of a fourth agency. The result was overlapping of orders, constant shifting of emphasis from one item to another, leakage of scarce materials into less essential uses, lack of interchangeability of products between the services, an inability to assure the production of most needed commodities first. These were wastes and inefficiencies that could not be tolerated when absolute capacity production became essential to the continued existence of the regime.

To correct such difficulties and to secure maximum volume of output of munitions finally seen as urgently needed, an Armaments Ministry was established early in 1943. Under the direction of Albert Speer, munitions output was substantially increased in 1943 and 1944. Since many segments of German industry were backward in the art of mass production, technical rationalization, such as simplication of design and standardization of products, was the source of much of the increase. Speer's method was that of expediting now one and then another program; now tanks, then aircraft, and at another time, artillery. The total gain was thus concentrated in particular items. no over-all or comprehensive program was ever developed. In fact, not until 1944 was aircraft, the largest single segment of the German munitions program, brought under the control of the Armaments Ministry. In consequence, component shortages and imbalance in supplies continually plagued the Nazi war effort.

The failure to prepare military clothing supplies against the possibility of delay in the timetable in Russia in 1940 is well know. Such failures plagued the Nazis throughout the war. Thus, a very large tank program undertaken in 1943 failed of its objective because of the


failure to synchronize it with the over-all program and the consequent lack of components. There was persistent confusion as to the relative needs for fighter as compared with bomber aircraft. The lack of programming became clearly evident in the middle of 1944 when substantial resources continued to go into aircraft production despite the rapidly increasing shortage in petroleum fuels. Among other failures in programming were those in ammunition, which after the battle of Moscow were, in the aggregate, very short.

The expansion of armaments production which followed from the efforts of the Armaments Ministry after 1942 were very largely a measure of the previously relatively low level of production of individual industries rather than a measure of the nation's fully mobilized industrial potential. Aside from the lack of foresight and the programming defects, two of the more important causes for the failure of German production to reach higher levels may be cited. Long after it was apparent that steel supplies were short relative to the total need for munitions, the Government failed adequately to allocate this basic material. until late 1942, steel allocation machinery was very primitive and it never was sufficiently well developed to prevent steel from going into less essential items or to restrict the accumulation of large inventories in the hands of private industrial firms. Of the same nature was the failure of the Nazis efficiently to utilize manpower. Labor and production controls were never integrated in the German war economy. There was at not time a synchronization of the activities of the three principal claimants on the available labor--the military, the munitions industries, and the civilian industries. The indiscriminate drafting of skilled and specialized labor into the armed services was a particularly damaging factor. [Perhaps the Combined Bomber Offensive should be given some credit for the failure of production to expand more in 1943-1944? --HyperWar]

In the case of Japan, the measures that had been employed to make Pearl Harbor and the South Pacific conquests possible were relied upon until the end of 1942. During this time, there was no expansion in the scale of economic planning and no significant shift in administrative organization. War responsibilities were exercised by the individual ministries of the Government, particularly by the Army and the Navy Ministries. No adequate coordinating function was performed, either within the Cabinet or elsewhere. The execution of production programs was the responsibility of the Industry Control Association which was headed by the executives of the great Japanese monopolies and cartels. The looseness of this organization and its inability to direct full efforts to the expanded war needs was recognized in late 1942. Almost a year passed, however, before Japan succeeded in establishing administrative machinery intended to coordinate demands and to secure full mobilization. But the great


monopolies retained their positions, the Army and Navy remained to a large degree independent, and no single effective authority controlling the allocation of materials was ever established.

The programming deficiencies were equally, if not even more, striking. The economic life of the home islands of Japan was entirely dependent upon shipping not only for supplies of industrial raw materials but also for a significant portion of the nation's food supplies. Any benefit the expansionists could hope to derive from conquest, especially in strengthening her war potential, depended upon adequate shipping. Control of the seas was the cornerstone of her policies and programs. Even before the war, Japan did not possess under her own flag an adequate merchant fleet. Despite this obvious vulnerability, no adequate shipbuilding program was prepared. Although shipbuilding was on a relatively large scale during the latter thirties, new tonnage in 1941 was lower than in any year since 1935, while in 1942, it was well below 1940. Though the Japanese Navy was utterly dependent upon overseas sources of oil, and though the nation was particularly deficient in tankers, there was no tanker-building program prior to 1943.

Other areas of deficient programming may be mentioned, particularly the failure--in what was otherwise an elaborate stockpiling program--to accumulate certain raw materials. It proved necessary in 1944 to reserve rubber for aircraft use while steel alloy metals were in inadequate supply. The failure of Japan to develop a synthetic oil industry or an aluminum-shale industry was not a deficiency in her programming as much as it was evidence of the fact that she staked everything on her control of overseas resources and that she was unable to provide reserve sources of supply.

These broad illustrations, which can be multiplied in detail, suggest a fundamental generalization: that programming in a democracy such as that of the United States, while it may seem slower and more argumentative, results in a sounder course of action. There was within the Axis countries no effective public check on the soundness of the analysis of the problems that were faced or the programs that were required. The principle of dictatorial or oligarchical rule provided no legitimate opportunity to attain the ultimate advantages that come from a thorough thrashing out of problems. In the United States, the resistance of self-interested groups to the sacrifices entailed in war mobilization could be fairly quickly broken down by publicity. There was constant, step-by-step discussion of programs and their execution. In this continuing examination, Congress and the public, as well as administrative officials, participated. While errors were made, they were neither so numerous nor so long maintained,


and hence, not as serious, as the errors made by the Axis Governments. [The merits of democratic vs. totalitarian governments might be better explored thru comparison with the effectiveness of Soviet planning, programming, and bureaucratic organization, than by comparison with Japan and, especially, Germany. The Axis nations suffered from the limitations of their leaders (eg, Hitler's insanity) as much as from any inherent limitation of bureaucracy. --HyperWar]

Execution of the Program

If programming must be balanced, flexible, effective, adequate, and coordinated, execution must be equally so. In an operation as complicated as modern war, the whole business breaks down if an important element in plan, program, or execution fails of proper performance.

No direct comparison between the execution of our mobilization program and that of Germany or Japan is possible. Germany failed to see the necessity of maximum mobilization until early in 1943. When she did undertake to secure all-out production, her plans were inadequate and bomb damage proved a major handicap in carrying out her program. Like Germany, Japan saw no need for full mobilization until late--until after Guadalcanal in late 1942. Guadalcanal meant that her outer defensive zone had been penetrated, and from that time on our submarine and aircraft attacks on her shipping were so successful as seriously to interfere with her efforts to expand production. It is nevertheless possible to point out some significant Axis shortcomings.

When in late 1942 and early 1943 the Axis countries were forced to a realization of their needs, they programmed sharp increases in production and sought administrative reorganization and economic tightening to attain it. Both countries pushed production upwards to reach peaks in 1944, peaks which were about three times their 1941 rate of output. In the case of the United States, we programmed production to the maximum possible beginning early in 1942. We achieved a fourfold increase in 1942 and reached in 1944 a peak ten times our 1941 level. The significant comparison is not so much the higher level reached by the United States, but the sustained speed with which we moved to it. We could have programmed for even higher levels in succeeding years had there been the need.

There is no support in such data for any argument for the superiority of autocratic methods of programming or executing a war plan. What military superiority the Axis possessed lay in their established semimobilized organizations and in their stocks. It was a superiority as limited as those inventories. Their production record clearly reflects the delay in their analysis of their needs; examination of their programming and execution will suggest that they were far from full efficiency in such matters also.

Once a program was established, the task of execution was that of maximizing a balanced flow of military products by efficient utilization


of all available capital equipment, manpower, and raw materials. It is important to remember that the relative utilization of resources which obtains in the normal production of civilian-type commodities does not necessarily apply to the production of military necessities. A brief examination of comparative experiences with these factors is of interest.

Germany apparently enjoyed a general abundance of capital facilities, and suffered no stringency in this respect. There were a few notable exception to the generally easy situation, particularly in the synthetic oil and chemical industries, which were bottlenecks from the beginning, and the electric power system was strained throughout most of the war. The German munitions industries generally, however, worked on a single shift throughout the war even after the all-out drive for production began in 1943. This compared with the United States where double- and triple-shift operations of facilities were very common. The German aircraft engine industry worked double shifts, though the airframe capacity was sufficiently large to permit one-shift operation.

In the case of manpower, it is of interest to note that women were not mobilized, domestic service was reduced but slightly, and employment in civilian industries was largely maintained until late in the war. In each case, the opposite was true in the United States. Hours worked per day were little greater than in this country. German civilian employment actually declined by 3.5 million, the result of withdrawals into the armed forces not sufficiently offset by the introduction of 7 million foreign laborers and prisoners of war.

The German situation was somewhat tighter in the case of raw materials. From their own point of view, steel supplies formed the basis for all war programming and were believed to be the limiting factor in their armament program. The fact was, however, that even in the peak production year of 1944 the steel supply was entirely adequate. This resulted, however, from the lack of a comprehensive over-all production program and also from a loose allocation system and not from an abundance of steel or lack of demand. By way of contrast, steel supply in the United States was always tight. Though large quantities of steel found their way to the civilian economy in Germany, the quantity available to the American civilian economy was throughout the war period at bed-rock minimum figures.

The German situation in other commodities was generally favorable, partly as a result of captured stocks and sources of supply, partly because of excellent execution of her conservation program. Her most vulnerable spot, as has been noted, lay in her supplies of liquid fuels. But her military strategy was adjusted to the available supply and these plans worked well until the debacle at Moscow.


The relatively easy situation of the German economy indicates that the Government failed in its efforts to achieve a balanced maximum mobilization either in plan or in execution. Many factors contributed to this result. Fundamental was the analysis of the needs of the military ventures. The inadequacy of those plans was reflected also in a lack of concern with the necessity of securing all possible production from the economy and this in turn led to an unwillingness of special groups to relinquish advantageous positions to the common good. in consequence of the absence of over-all programming, execution of the German war program followed the method of expediting now one item, then another. The situation was one of constant imbalance and hence of a smaller total than might have proven possible.

The Japanese situation is not easily subjected to evaluation in this manner. The nation had not had before the war any extensive volume of excess or underutilized capacity, and a large volume of new facility construction was undertaken. Yet while facilities in some areas remained inadequate, stocks of scarce materials were wasted expanding industries in which there was already excess capacity. Even after aircraft production was ostensibly unified under the Munitions Ministry in 1943, the controls were ineffective and branches of the army and Navy continued to requisition materials, tools, and plants from manufacturers to whome they had been assigned. Accounting practices were so poor that control agencies were never able properly to regulate the distribution of materials. Scarce commodities leaked into the black market throughout the war.

Materials were sometimes channeled into low priority industries because the only way to keep peace between the Army and Navy was to give each half of available supplies; real power rested in the hands of committees which seldom agreed to take definite action. The fact that Japan from an early date was forced to resort ot conscription to staff her munitions industries indicates that she suffered from a labor shortage which was particularly acute in the case of skilled labor. here again, the lack of planning was costly and the training program which was undertaken began at too late a date to constitute an important contribution. But it was the narrow raw material base upon which the Japanese economy was built that was the crucial element. Efforts to broaden that base by the development of synthetic processes and the exploitation of low-grade resources were considered but not pushed. The Japanese economy in preparing for war could not afford to develop either the synthetic production of petroleum or the exploitation of low-grade sources of aluminum. In view of this fact, the failure to protect adequately overseas sources of supply, to secure maximum production of such material and maximum movement to the


home islands were the key factors in Japanese failure. Perhaps nothing is more illustrative of the Japanese approach to the war than the fact that the manufacture of submarine locating devices was given only a very low production priority in 1941 and 1942; not until 1943 was their importance recognized. The Japanese war production peak in 1944 was attained by severe curtailment of the already low civilian standard of living, by the elimination of virtually all plant maintenance, and was well beyond the level which the raw material base could continue to supply.

* * * * * * 

These comparisons are obviously not complete or conclusive. They cannot be. Even this evidence shows, however, how the organization and leadership of a free people operated in comparison with that of the dictatorships. The record dispels the notion that government in a time of stress is best conducted by autocrats. [Yet the U.S. government became far more autocratic during the Civil War, WWI, and WWII (and since) than during peacetime, so the notion is not entirely without merit. --HyperWar] Our superiority in resources would have been of little significance without a parallel superiority in the ability to organize our efforts for the exploitation of these resources. Administrative personnel brought to the war agencies from business, from the colleges and universities, and from the permanent civil service demonstrated the existence of a reservoir of organizing talent superior to that of the dictatorships.

In the determination of our goals, free discussion occasionally brought delays--even dangers delays--yet open debate operated to bring error into the open where it could be seen and corrected. The continuation in time of war of the politics of democracy occasionally


enabled the advocates of private group advantage to threaten the general good, yet the give-and-take of the democratic process provided ways in which these tensions could be resolved before the war effort was seriously crippled. Our reluctance to establish even the semblance of autocratic rule [!] may have been partly responsible for our constant struggle to coordinate or harmonize a mobilization effort made up of many separately operating parts, but problems of coordination do not disappear even in an autocratic administration and we developed methods that produced effective end results. Finally, freedom of expression and the absence of severe restraints on civil liberties aided mightily in enlisting the energies and loyalties of the people in the creation and supplying of a great war machine.

The record is one in which the American people can take pride. It was not without error, and while it contains much experience in administration that can profitably be studied, it does not contain a finished blueprint for governmental arrangements for future crises. It suggests, primarily, the strength of a free people, able and disposed to adjust their institutions and methods quickly to meet threats to their security.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (15) * Next Appendix (I)


1. The Committee on Records of War Administration has actively encouraged the agencies of the executive branch of the Federal Government to prepare historical and analytical accounts of their war experience. A majority of these agencies now have such histories in preparation and they will constitute an important contribution to this field. [See Administrative Histories of WWII Civilian Agencies of the Federal Government for a bibliography of these histories.]

2. The Effects of Strategic Bombing on the German War Economy, Government Printing Office, 1945; and The Effects of Strategic Bombing on Japan's War Economy, Government Printing Office, 1946.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation