German shipyards were hit extremely hard during World War II, and then again in the following years when the parts that had not been damaged were disassembled by the Allies. But World War II and its consequences proved to be a blessing in disguise as it opened possibilities for a very prosperous shipbuilding industry in the fifties. That is, the yards were rapidly rebuilt with modern equipment, partly through Marshal- Fund aid. Since many of the refugees front the eastern parts of Germany had settled in the coastal regions of West Germany, a qualified work force was readily available. Relatively high productivity and low wages made German shipyards highly competitive and, as a result, by the mid-fifties, German shipbuilding industry had grown to become number two in Europe after the UK; 17.3 p.c. of vessels completed worldwide in 1956 were built on yards of the Federal Republic.