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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 Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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