Lend-lease literally translates as leasing, lending. This program was adopted in the United States during the Second World War. With the help of Lend-Lease, America's allies received weapons, military and civilian goods. The role of Lend-Lease in the successes of the Soviet army is assessed in different ways. Marshal Zhukov, in his memoirs, estimated the number of supplied American equipment at 4% of all that fought.
Nevertheless, veterans remember well that the famous ace Pokryshkin fought in the Aircobra, and the Studebakers drove en masse on the roads in those years. Even today, Lend-Lease is covered with numerous myths, which will be discussed below.
The Lend-Lease program began at the height of the war. The underlying Lend-Lease United States Defense Act was passed by Congress on March 11, 1941. Neither Pearl Harbor nor the German attack on the Soviet Union has yet happened. Literally on June 24, 1941, the Americans offered us their help. But then Roosevelt, without the consent of Congress, was sending goods as if to England. In fact, they followed the northern routes to the USSR.
Lend-Lease - America's aid to the Soviet Union. Initially, the program provided for the supply of equipment to the countries of the British Empire and China. But in November 1941, Lend-Lease was officially extended to the Soviet Union, which was in a difficult situation. In total, under the program, supplies worth $ 50 billion were carried out, of which 11.3 billion fell directly to the USSR. Most of the aid, amounting to $ 31.4 billion, went to the UK.
Lend-Lease - supplies of equipment by the Americans to the allies. There were supplies of equipment in the opposite direction. The cost of the reverse Lend-Lease was 7.8 billion, most of it, 6.8 billion was sent to America by England and the countries of its Commonwealth. The USSR also had a small reverse lend-lease.
Lend-Lease assumed free help. The law itself assumed that equipment destroyed or lost in the course of hostilities was not subject to payment. The remaining property either had to be returned back to America, or paid on the basis of long-term interest-free loans. The British paid finally only at the end of 2006, and France gave America trade preferences.
Lend-lease deliveries to the USSR went through the Far East. There were several routes for the supply of equipment. None of them were considered safe. About half of the cargo went through the Pacific route. After America entered World War II, transportation could only be carried out under the Soviet flag. Then Japan had not yet fought with the USSR. The journey from America to the ports of the Far East took up to 20 days due to inspections by the Japanese who controlled the non-freezing straits. About a quarter of the cargo was transported along the Trans-Iranian route, the first deliveries began in 1941. After the occupation of Iran by the British, the ports of the Persian Gulf and the railway were modernized. A Soviet military flotilla transported cargo across the Caspian Sea, fighting off attacks by German aircraft until the end of 1942. The cargo went by sea from the USA to Iran for about a month and a half. In Iran itself, General Motors has even built several car factories. These enterprises provided the Soviet Union with over 184,000 vehicles. The fastest, but also the most dangerous route was the Arctic. In 1941, about 40% of the deliveries were carried out on it. However, German aircraft and submarines destroyed up to 15% of the cargo. But the transports reached Murmansk in two weeks. Few deliveries were made through the Black Sea, already in 1945. There were also two air routes. One by one, the planes flew through Alaska and Siberia, and on the other - across the south Atlantic, Africa and the Persian Gulf.
The Germans drowned most of the Arctic convoys. It is even believed that the transport road along the Arctic route was deadly. The Germans did attack this route more often than others. But in 1941, out of 64 ships, only one was sunk. 1942 was the most difficult year - out of 256 ships 63 did not reach their destination. Every fourth ship drowned. But then the situation improved dramatically. In 1943, 4 of 112 ships sank, in 1944 - 7 of 284, and in 1945 - 6 of 95.
The Soviet Union did not pay for Lend-Lease. As already mentioned, the Americans delivered goods to the USSR in the amount of $ 10.8 billion. At the end of the war, negotiations began to establish the final amount of the debt. Most of the vehicles were destroyed in the battles. The Americans insisted on the payment of $ 1.3 billion. The Soviet Union in negotiations in 1948 agreed to pay only 170 million. In 1951, the Americans reduced the amount to 800 million, and the USSR agreed to pay 300 million already. Only in 1972 was it possible to reach an agreement on the procedure for paying off the debt for the lend-lease. The Soviet Union pledged to pay $ 722 million by 2001. The first payments began, but due to tension in the relationship, everything froze again. After the collapse of the USSR, Russia took over its debts, including those under Lend-Lease. In August 2006, all debts to the governments of other countries were paid off, including for deliveries during the Second World War. Thus, the USSR and Russia paid only about 6% of the cost of supplies, although during the maturity period the prices increased more than 10 times.
Lend-Lease for the USSR is airplanes and cars. The range of supplies was very wide. Thanks to the help of the allies, it was possible to cover the most vulnerable places in the industry of the Soviet Union. Some positions were not enough, but some were not produced at all. Lend-Lease supplied tanks, cars, motorcycles, tractors, small arms, explosives, wagons and locomotives, ships, torpedoes, engines, metals and petroleum products, chemicals, cotton, leather, boots, blankets and alcohol. Is it possible to forget about the famous American stew?
The Soviet Union paid in gold for Lend-Lease. This myth is very popular. In fact, our country paid in gold, but for pre-lend-lease. We are talking about goods that were purchased outside the Lend-Lease program. As proof of the myth, the story of the ship "Edinburgh" is cited, which sank with 5.5 tons of gold on board. It is believed that this was exactly the payment to the ally. However, the lend-lease agreement itself provided for a deferred payment. "Edinburgh" was carrying payment for weapons supplied in excess of the agreed list, but never made it to America. Even during the war years, the Soviet Union received insurance compensation in the amount of 32% of the value of gold from the British. The entire cargo was estimated at $ 100 million, which is incomparable with the cost of the entire lend-lease of $ 10 billion. And in 1981, the British were able to lift almost all the gold, two-thirds of the cargo was returned to the Soviet Union. Not only was the gold not a payment for the lend-lease, but the USSR received it back in the form of insurance and return.
Lend-Lease supplies to the USSR did not play an important role in the victory over Germany. During the Cold War, it was embarrassing to recognize the role of the allies in the victory of the Soviet Union in its Great Patriotic War, and not World War II. This is how the figure of 4% appeared. That is how much, in the opinion of Soviet historians, was lend-lease in the total production of the country during the war years. In fact, we are not talking about the general volume, but about specific positions. The allies brought to the USSR exactly what our country badly needed. For example, about 40% of all aviation gasoline was supplied from outside. During this time, twice as many cars were delivered than were produced within the USSR. 80% of the rails in the country appeared thanks to Lend-Lease. The Allies delivered almost 2,000 diesel locomotives, while the USSR produced only 800. The ratio of freight cars was even more impressive - 11 to 1 in favor of foreign ones. The allies brought half of the Soviet explosives, provided the Soviet army with communications through cables, radio stations, and locators. The main weapons, tanks and aircraft, received respectively 12.5 and 22.2 thousand. American Studebakers carried artillery and were the base for the famous Katyushas. Don't underestimate this help. Could the Soviet Union do without it? Probably could. Industry would be reoriented to other tasks, there would be a shortage and the army would weaken. Victory would have come at an even heavier cost. A.I. Mikoyan, who was involved in foreign trade and the work of seven people's commissariats during the war, highly appreciated the role of the Lend-Lease. In his opinion, this aid did not decide the outcome of the war, but the war would have to be fought without it for another year and a half.
America paid Great Britain in real money to transport soldiers across the ocean. The USA did not pay a cent for these services, they were counted under the reverse lend-lease. It is noteworthy that even such luxurious ocean liners as Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were involved in transporting soldiers.
America supplied oil to various countries, including Canada. Neither Canada nor any other country received American oil. All of it, according to the Lend-Lease program, went to the Soviet Union. In 1942 the USSR received 0.7% of the total product produced in America, while the peak was in 1943 - 4.2%.
Due to the supply of meat under Lend-Lease in America itself, there was not enough of it. The United States in 1945 supplied the Allies with only 1.1% of all beef produced and 1.3% of veal. These figures give a rough understanding of the ratio of the volume of supplies to the produced.
Lend-Lease deliveries caused food shortages in America. In 1944, the population of the country got 80% of all food produced. The army received 13%, 6% went under the Lend-Lease program. Another 1% was sold. Food production in 1944 was one third higher than the 1935-1939 level. The lack of food in the country was apparent, due to rising incomes and increased consumption by the army. For example, soldiers consume three times as much meat.
America paid England for emergency landings of its planes. Great Britain did not take payment for emergency landings of Allied aircraft, neither in real money, nor on account of reverse lend-lease.
The USA carried out Lend-Lease supplies to Europe and Asia. Shipments of goods to South America accounted for about 1% of all aid to the Allies. In the first phase of the war, the invasion of this continent looked real. The United States made supplies to protect against aggressors. American equipment helped Brazilian sailors and pilots destroy German submarines. Brazilian soldiers fought alongside Americans in Italy. The Mexicans, on the other hand, sent their aircraft to fight in southeast Asia.
With the help of Lend-Lease, the Americans disposed of obsolete equipment. After the start of deliveries, Stalin began to criticize the characteristics of the supplied aircraft and tanks. Among the equipment brought there were really unsuccessful samples. Some of them, the Americans really tried to add in excess of the order. But in general, such claims were a form of pressure on the allies. The lend-lease agreement provided for the host party's right to choose and negotiate the type of equipment required. If the Red Army considered tanks and aircraft to be bad - why did they order them then? Soviet aces shot down dozens of German planes in American Aerocobras and Spitfires. The test results of equipment with the signatures of Soviet specialists are available on the Internet today. Yes, and irrelevant for the allies weapons could perfectly show themselves on the Eastern Front. If over Europe, fighters were required to intercept high-altitude bombers, and over the Pacific Ocean - to make long-range flights, then on the Soviet-German front, it was necessary to intercept attack aircraft or cover them at low altitudes. Unpopular with the Americans "Airacobra" proved to be a successful solution for the Soviet aviation.
During the Soviet era, they preferred not to mention Lend-Lease. There is a lot of Soviet literature in which Lend-Lease is repeatedly mentioned. Even the Great Soviet Encyclopedia contains an article on this topic. True, depending on the foreign policy situation, the publications slightly corrected the section. The share of foreign technology has deliberately decreased.
Without Lend-Lease, the Soviet Union would not have won the battles of Moscow and Stalingrad. These victories were won mainly at the expense of Soviet weapons. Several British tanks appeared on the battlefield, but this action was of a political nature - Stalin wanted to show the Allies that their equipment was being used for its intended purpose. At the end of 1941, the Red Army had only 2% of imported weapons. And to use it, special training was needed. First in Kazan, and then in Gorky, centers for training people appeared. But in the spring of 1942, imported tanks began to be actively used. But by the decisive moment of the Battle of Stalingrad, they had already been knocked out, without having a decisive influence on the outcome of the strategic battle. Since 1943, the share of imported tanks in the army has been steadily decreasing. A similar situation has developed with aviation. The first imported aircraft appeared in the North. Only in 1942-1943 did they begin to play a prominent role in battles.