Nov 4, 2001Bill Hoffman
Hello Bob - I read your comments on the role of rubber in Haiti with some interest. My deceased father was superintendent of a plantation near Pleasance from (I believe) 1942-44. My mother joined him on the plantation and I was told that I was conceived there! They returned to the states in the summer of 1944.
My father told me that the plantation was cleared and planted and carefully tended. When the trees were getting just big enough to tap, he received orders to burn the plantation, since (he was told) there was no longer a need for natural rubber for the war effort.
Pop had a number of stories to tell. He was a landscape architect by degree and he was offered the job in Haiti as an alternative to the draft. He told me that the only rubber they obtained came from ships torpedoed by German U-Boats in the Windward Passage. He maintained that the American Standard Oil company actually refuelled German subs on the north coast of Haiti. He spoke fluent German and got close enough to hear their conversations on at least one occasion.
I always wanted to travel to Hati to see where my father and mother lived and worked, but I assume that the jungle took over whatever there was left of the plantation after they left.
There were several plantations, with an American superintendent on each. And there was an American who managed the entire program for the Haitian government / US government. I believe I still have some copies of the company newspaper. I don't remember what the rubber company was called but I can find out.
Best Regards - Bill Hoffman
September 1, 2002
The Haitian plantation (at least the one my father supervised) ouside Pleisance was burned in the summer of 1944. It was not destroyed by the State Department in the 1950's. My father told me that when they were ordered to destroy the plantations, it was due to the fact that the war in Europe was expected to be won within a year. He understood that the plantations were developed strictly for military necessity, not for some long term source of rubber close to the US. If that were the case, why would the US government have the plantations destroyed in 1944?
Best Regards, Bill Hoffman
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