War Production Board

War Production Board

War Production Board (WPB), former U.S. government agency, established (Jan., 1942) by executive order to direct war production and the procurement of materials in World War II. The chairman (Donald M. Nelson, 1942-44; Julius A. Krug, 1944-45) was granted sweeping powers over the nation's economic life. The WPB converted and expanded the peacetime economy to maximum war production; controls included assignment of priorities to deliveries of scarce materials and prohibition of nonessential industrial activities. During its three-year existence the WPB supervised the production of $185 billion worth of weapons and supplies. Businessmen serving with the WPB were sharply criticized by a Senate committee headed by Harry S. Truman. WPB organization changed frequently, and disputes with the armed services occurred. After the defeat of Japan, most restrictions were quickly lifted, and the WPB was abolished in Nov., 1945. The Civilian Production Administration was set up to take over the remaining WPB reconversion functions.
The War Production Board (WPB) was established as a government agency on January 16, 1942 by executive order of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The purpose of the board was to regulate the production and allocation of materials and fuel during World War II in the United States. It rationed such things as gasoline, heating oil, metals, rubber, paper and plastics. It was dissolved shortly after the defeat of Japan in 1945.

The first chairman of the Board was Donald M. Nelson from 1942 to 1944 followed by Julius A. Krug from 1944 until the Board was dissolved.


The WPB, along with other wartime committees which regulated spending and production, helped to reduce the potential for economic catastrophe after the close of World War II.

In 1943, the WPB hired Harvard Business School Professor Thomas North Whitehead to tour the nation and find out how Americans were reacting to rationing and controls. Whitehead reported that "the good temper and common sense of most people under restrictions and vexations was really impressive... My own observation is that most people are behaving like patriotic, loyal citizens."


Soviet penetration

Soviet intelligence penetrated the War Production Board, including several members of the Perlo group and its head Victor Perlo. The Moynihan Commission on Government Secrecy in 1995 referred to this as a serious attack on American security by the Soviet Union, with considerable assistance from an enemy within. The head of the Silvermaster group, Nathan Gregory Silvermaster also penetrated the agency. The following list are American citizens who were engaged in espionage activities on behalf of the Soviet Union while working for the War Production Board. Its code name as deciphered in the Venona project is the "Depot".



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