4-440 To Bernard M. Baruch, July 7, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: July 7, 1944

Subject: World War II

To Bernard M. Baruch

July 7, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

My dear Mr. Baruch,

I have just received your letter of July third and find its expressions very heartening.1 I am passing it along (less personal references) to the U.S. Chiefs of Staff and it may be that we shall have some definite request to make of you. As a matter of fact we agreed this morning to a letter to Nelson, a copy of which I inclose, which is self-explanatory. Nelson is off sick but Wilson feels that he is duty bound to follow Nelson’s proposal which the group including Forrestal and Patterson were unanimous in condemning.2 These things seem to blossom in one flower or another each week and I suppose they will continue up until the end of the war. However, I believe there are enough of us, especially including you, to slow down on this vicious business of turning to peacetime activities before we have won our victory.

Apparently all goes very well in France. The weather has been abominable, the worst in forty years, but the Germans have been rendered incapable of a serious counter-attack for a considerable time to come—and I think not even then.

I will give Katherine your message which I know she will appreciate. Also your invitation for Port Washington.3 She is down at Leesburg now with her grandchildren and between the children and the garden she keeps her mind pretty well off the tragedy of the loss of young Allen.

I sent your daughter Belle an autographed photograph this morning in response to a note she wrote to Mrs. Marshall. I felt a little embarrassed in doing this but if it’s what she wants she gets it.

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Baruch, adviser to the director (James F. Byrnes) of the Office of War Mobilization, had written on July 3 indicating his support for the Joint Chiefs of Staff position that war production should not shift over to peacetime industrial production at the present time. “Three times now I have effectually stopped the peace jitters,” wrote Baruch. “You must have everything you need, in the fullest amount, when it is needed. . I know full well that there is a lot of conversion going on.” Baruch added that he understood “who is the big man behind the guns and that is George Marshall. I know you will not let the politicos try to drag you into anything smacking of a political statement.” (Baruch to Marshall, July 3, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. Donald M. Nelson, chairman of the War Production Board, had raised the issue of relaxing civilian production restrictions, under certain conditions, as early as November 30, 1943, and discussions continued into 1944. On June 18 he publicly announced his program for reconversion, indicating that military production should be maintained at the highest level, but that “the time had come for prompt and adequate preparation for expansion of civilian production,” assuming that such preparation would be necessary for the smooth ultimate conversion of a wartime economy to a peacetime economy. (Industrial Mobilization For Wars History of the War Production Board and Predecessor Agencies, 1940-1945, volume 1, Program and Administration [Washington: GPO, 1947], pp. 791-801; quote on p. 801.) On July 4 the War Production Board met with representatives of the army and navy; Nelson, who was absent with pneumonia, was represented by the board’s executive vice chairman, Charles E. Wilson. “It was well known,” the board’s official history noted, “that Wilson, like the Services, felt that it was not an appropriate time for issuance of the reconversion orders. But in presiding at the Board meeting as Nelson’s alternate, Wilson felt bound to maintain the Chairman’s views.” (Ibid., pp. 802-4.) On July 7 the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed their concern to Nelson that the board was considering issuing orders that would relax controls over nonessential military production. They were disturbed over “the existing lag in war production,” which if continued would “necessitate revision in strategic plans which could prolong the war.” (William D. Leahy to Nelson, July 7, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson, along with the army and navy, objected to issuing the proposed orders at that time. James V. Forrestal had been secretary of the navy since May 19, 1944.

3. Baruch invited the Marshalls to visit him at Port Washington, Long Island, for a weekend. (Baruch to Marshall, July 3, 1944, ibid.)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 510-511.

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