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Lend Lease


Lend-lease was a system of U.S. assistance to the Allies in World War II. It was based on a bill of March, 11, 1941, that gave the president of the United States the right to sell, transfer into property, lease, and rent various kinds of weapons or materials to those countries whose defense the president deemed vital to the defense of the United States itself. According to the system, the materials destroyed, lost, or consumed during the war should not be subject to payment after the war. The materials that were not used during the war and that were suitable for civilian consumption should be paid in full or in part, while weapons and war materials could be demanded back. After the United States entered the war, the concept of lend lease, originally a system of unidirectional U.S. aid, was transformed into a system of mutual aid, which involved pooling the resources of the countries in the anti-Hitler coalition (known as the concept of "pool"). Initially authorized for the purpose of aiding Great Britain, in April 1941 the Lend-Lease Act was extended to Greece, Yugoslavia, and China, and, after September 1941, to the Soviet Union. By September, 20, 1945, the date of cancellation of the Lend-Lease Act, American aid had been received by nearly forty countries.

During World War II, the U.S. spent a total of $49.1 billion on the Lend-Lease Act. This included $13.8 billion in aid to Great Britain and $9.5 billion to the USSR. Repayment in kindcalled "reverse lend-lease"was estimated at $7.8 billion, of which $2.2 million was the contribution of the USSR in the form of a discount for transport services.

The Soviet Union received aid on lend-lease principles not only from the United States, but also from the states of the British Commonwealth, primarily Great Britain and Canada. Economic relations between them were adjusted by mutual aid agreements and legalized by special Allies' protocols, renewable annually. The First Protocol was signed in Moscow on October, 1, 1941; the second in Washington (October 6, 1942); the third in London (September 1, 1943); and the fourth in Ottawa (April, 17, 1945). The Fourth Protocol was added by a special agreement between the USSR and the United States called the "Program of October 17, 1944" (or "Milepost"), intended for supplies for use by the Soviet Union in the war against Japan.

On the basis of those documents, the Soviet Union received 18,763 aircraft, 11,567 tanks and self-propelled guns, 7,340 armored vehicles and armored troop-carriers, more than 435,000 trucks and jeeps, 9,641 guns, 2,626 radar, 43,298 radio stations, 548 fighting ships and boats, and 62 cargo ships. The remaining 75 percent of cargoes imported into the USSR consisted of industrial equipment, raw material, and foodstuffs. A significant portion (up to seven percent) of supplies was lost during transportation.

Most of the cargoes sent to the USSR were delivered by three main routes: via Iran, the Far East, and the northern ports Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. The last route was the shortest but also the most dangerous.

After the war the United State cancelled all lend-lease debts except that of the USSR. In 1972 the USSR and the United States signed an agreement that the USSR would pay $722 million of its debt by July 1, 2001.

See also: foreign debt; world war ii; united states, relations with, northern convoys


Beaumont, Joan. (1980). Comrades in Arms: British Aid to Russia, 19411945. London: Davis-Poynter.

Hall, H. Duncan; Scott, J. D., and Wrigley, C. C. (1956). Studies of Overseas Supply. London: H. M. Stationery Off.

Herring, George C. (1973). Aid to Russia, 19411946: Strategy, Diplomacy, the Origins of the Cold War. New York: Columbia University Press.

Jones, Robert Huhn. (1969). The Roads to Russia: United States Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Van Tuyll, Hubert P. (1989). Feeding the Bear: American Aid to the Soviet Union, 19411945. New York: Greenwood Press.

Mikhail Suprun

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