By Arthur Herman
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Additional resources for Freedom's Forge - How Amer. Business Produced Victory in WWII
But eventually hundreds, then hundreds of thousands of other businesses and companies joined in. Their foes weren’t German or Japanese soldiers but Washington politicians and bureaucrats, shrill journalists, military martinets, the denizens of Big Labor as well as Big Government—and sometimes the forces of blind fate. Many paid a terrible price. American workers in war-related industries in 1942–43 died or were injured in numbers twenty times greater than the American servicemen killed or wounded during those same years.
In 1934 its leading executives, including Pratt & Whitney founder Fred Rentschler, found themselves banned from the industry for five years—unprecedented for an act of Congress. A disgusted Bill Boeing quit the company he had founded back in 1917 from a barn on the shore of Lake Union. His partner Phil Johnson had to find work manufacturing trucks in Seattle, then moved to Canada to operate the airline that would become Air Canada. William S. Knudsen, as he appeared as head of Chevrolet, 1921–22.
Airplane makers like Curtiss and Boeing and Glenn Martin had little choice. Military contracts were the only way they could survive during the Great Depression. Boeing, however, felt the full force of the government’s revenge. In 1934 its leading executives, including Pratt & Whitney founder Fred Rentschler, found themselves banned from the industry for five years—unprecedented for an act of Congress. A disgusted Bill Boeing quit the company he had founded back in 1917 from a barn on the shore of Lake Union.