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    Publishing Information

    Arms-Makers' Holiday

    By Frank C. Hanighen

    The Nation
    February 18, 1939
    Vol. 148, No. 8, p. 199

  1. European nations—both democracies and dictatorships—are busy not only arming themselves but helping each other to rearm. The pace of this fantastic combination of cooperation and rivalry has now become so intense that it affects all parts of national economies as well as all social and political values. Today European rearmament enters a totalitarian stage which threatens the existence of democracy itself.

  2. The sale of French iron ore to Germany offers a striking example of a democracy helping a dictatorship to rearm. For some time preceding the installation of the Front Populaire government in 1936, the left had demanded an embargo on shipment of French iron ore to Germany. This ore was obviously being used for Germany's rearmament. When Blum took office, he succeeded in having a law passed which apparently clamped an embargo on these shipments but which in reality contained a loophole in an "exception" clause. By invoking this clause the government permitted the ore to flow across the Rhine as before. Why the Blum government followed this curious course has never officially been made clear. But it is presumed that the government hoped to wring from Germany peace concessions—return to the League perhaps, or disarmament—by threatening to close the loophole. Be that as it may, the export of iron ore in large quantities to Germany continued until March, 1938. In this month—the month of the Anschuluss—shipments fell to about 10 per cent of their former monthly average.

  3. Had France finally wielded the club? Not at all. It was the German government which cut down the shipments. Apparently Berlin was seeking to force Paris's hand at a time when the French Cabinet was extremely shaky and the French economic and social struggle had reached a crisis. The German strategy succeeded. The owners of the affected mines, fearing loss of business, and the trade unions, fearing unemployment, asked the government to obtain resumption of the deliveries, which it did. Germany obtained an agreement by which the French government, in effect, renounced the threat of an embargo by guaranteeing shipments of 600,000 tons of iron ore a month to Germany.

  4. Official figures show that France also shipped Germany 81,000 tons of bauxite, the ore of aluminum, in the first eleven months of 1937. Now the airplane industry uses large quantities of aluminum. It is estimated that the bauxite ore shipped annually from France to Germany produces about 10,000 tons of duralumin. If two tons of duralumin go into a plane, France, while feverishly buying aircraft in the United States, is annually furnishing Germany with necessary material for about 5,000 planes.