107. "Why don't they get to work and rebuild their country?"

     The French Minister of Finance recently reported that France's industries are beginning to operate at 70% of capacity. The rebuilding of France is a tremendous job which will take a long time. Shortages of coal, gasoline, electricity, power, transport, and manpower have made a more rapid recovery impossible.

     In 1944, after liberation, France found that of its pre-war transportation, the following were left:

35% of the locomotives,
37% of the freight cars,
38% of the trucks and automobiles,
33% of the merchant marine.

     The most important single factor which is holding up French production is the shortage of coal. On February 3, 1945, our Office of War Information analyzed economic conditions in France and pointed out how the coal crisis has plunged France into a vicious circle. Mines could not operate without timber pit props to shore up the ceilings of tunnels in coal veins as they were expanded. But the transportation needed to bring in the timber also needed coal with which to operate.

     Coal shortages have caused as many shut-downs of French factories as have the grave shortages of other essential raw materials.

     And never forget the loss to France of 1,115,000 people (killed, wounded or disabled) out of a population estimated at around forty million in 1940. This is a staggering blow to the manpower needed for rebuilding.