Issue #32

Analysis: Lend Lease to Russia

By John M. Barr

On 22 June 1941 Hitler launched more than 4 million men, 3,500 armored vehicles and 4,000 aircraft across the Soviet border in the largest military operation in history. By the end of that year Germany captured more than 500,000 square miles of the Soviet Union’s richest territory, including about 75 million inhabitants (a little more than a third of the pre-invasion population), and 30 percent of its productive capacity. On top of that, by the end of the year the USSR had lost in combat some 3.1 million men along with about 20,000 tanks, 18,000 planes and more than 60,000 artillery pieces.

Yet nearly four years later the Soviet military colossus stood triumphant over a broken Nazi state. One of the ongoing debates ever since has concerned to what extent Allied (especially US) “Lend Lease” aid contributed to Moscow’s ability to survive the German onslaught and ultimately prevail.

The US had already made provision for using its vast industrial potential to help its allies with the passage of the Lend Lease Act on 11 March 1941. In that bill, congress authorized the president to manufacture “any defense article for the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States”…

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