In the early stage of World War II, the main lines of communication between the Axis powers were either over land via the Trans-Siberian Railway or, when Japan entered the war in December 1941, across the sea by surface blockade runners. Between Baku on the Caspian Sea and Batum on the Black Sea lay the rich oilfields of Transcaucasia, while bordering Poland and Romania was the abundant 'Granary of Russia', Ukraine, about the size of France, 40 million acres (160,000 km2) of the most fertile agricultural land on earth. This damaged runner, PIETRO ORSEOLO, is the only one known to have completed a successful run this year, although the BURGENLAND, and possibly one or two other ships from the Far East may have arrived in European ports unobserved. The German motor vessel RAMSES of 7,983 tons with a top speed of 12 knots had been built in 1926, and left Hamburg on 1st July 1939 for Shanghai, where she arrived on the 25th August. The Prime Minister said that, while it was out of the question to purchase all exportable surpluses, concentration on certain selected commodities such as minerals, fats and oil could have a useful effect, and announced a deal for Britain to acquire the entire export surplus of whale oil from Norway.  This began with a vast physical looting, in which trains were requisitioned to carry to Germany all movable property such as captured weaponry, machinery, books, scientific instruments, art objects and furniture. During a debate in the House of Lords about the economic war on 9 May 1944, just before D-Day, Lord Nathan told the House:. In Norway the Germans requisitioned personal property right down to woollen blankets, ski trousers and windproof jackets, and in Denmark all trade and industry of consequence was now controlled by Germans. Because Mefo bills did not figure in government budgetary statements, they helped maintain the secret of rearmament and were, in Hitler's own words, merely a way of printing money. American opinion was shocked at the fall of France and the previous isolationist sentiment, which led to the Neutrality Acts from 1935 onwards, was slowly giving rise to a new realism. Raeder said that neutrals would only be liable to attack if they behaved as belligerents i.e. The port, also a base for German and Italian submarines, was one of the most heavily defended waterways in Europe, protected by numerous patrol boats, searchlights, shore batteries and thousands of troops. With the loss of high-grade French deposits and the seizure by Marshal Josip Broz Tito's forces of the island fringe of Yugoslavia, Germany's total loss of bauxite was put at around 50 per cent, while the loss of shipments of cobalt from Finland was around 80 per cent of the total quantity with which Germany sustained that part of her synthetic oil production obtained by the Fischer-Tropsch process. Portugal provided Germany with direct overland exports of a wide range of commodities including rice, sugar, tobacco, wheat, potassium chlorate, inflammable liquids and yellow pitch, and Portuguese merchants were also known to be sending industrial diamonds and platinum via Africa and South America. Of outbound ships, only two are known to have made successful sorties from Biscay Bay - the OSORNO, which by now should be in the Indian Ocean - and the ALSTERUFER, which may have reached the Sea of Japan, or may be operating in the Atlantic as a mine-layer, supply ship, or hit-and-run raider. Like Germany, Japan was heavily deficient in natural resources, and since 1931 had become in… Cheap restaurants in big towns served dishes comprising turnip or carrot tops made without any kind of fat, and although householders still received a fair ration of rough wine, all spirits were confiscated for industrial use.  From the beginning of the war to the beginning of October the daily average number of neutral ships stopping voluntarily at Weymouth was 20, out of which 74, carrying 513,000 tons, were examined; 90,300 tons of contraband iron ore, wheat, fuel oil, petrol and manganese were seized. All five blockade runners were completed in 1943 - three conversions being done by Camper and Nicholson and two by Amos and Smith, of Hull - but the operations did not commence until September 1943 when adequate hours of darkness were available.