Profile - Lend-Lease
During World War II one of the most important American contributions to the Allied war effort was Lend Lease. The program was created because by early 1941 Britain and the other Allied countries were running out of money with which to purchase munitions and other assistance from the United States. As a result, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed an arrangement under which he would be authorized to "lend" military equipment and other materials to nations whose defense he deemed vital to that of the United States. The program was enacted as Public Law 1776 on March 11, 1941, over often hysterical ("This bill will guarantee that every fourth American boy is plowed under!") opposition from isolationist groups ranging from the German-American Bund to the Communist Party, then still faithfully following the Moscow line of friendship with Hitler.
Lend Lease had an enormous impact on the war. Military equipment, foodstuffs, and in some cases cash totalling nearly $51 billion of very uninflated 1940s money was dispensed to nearly 45 countries, including the U.S.S.R. beginning within days of Hitler's invasion, after which the hitherto vigorously isolationist American Communist Party suddenly became just as equally interventionist.
|Lend Lease Aid|
|Belgium|| $ 148,394,457.76|
|British Empire|| 31,267,240,530.63|
|Costa Rica|| 155,022.73|
|Dominican Republic|| 1,610,590.38|
|El Salvador|| 892,358.28|
|Saudi Arabia|| 17,417,878.70|
|Note: "Other Expenditures" includes materials not charged to the recipient nations, including goods lost in shipment, items consumed by American forces, and administrative costs|
In terms of 2002 dollars, the $51 billion expended through Lend Lease is roughly the equivelent of some $800 billion.
The range of materials covered by Lend Lease was extraordinary. Russia, for example, received over 430,000 trucks, nearly 7,000 fighters, and over 340,000 field telephones, as well as samples of unusual equipment such as the M?1 rifle, the T?10 heavy tank, and the B?17, not to mention a lot of gold braid, which was found useful in raising the morale of Red Army officers (who wore it) and men (who saluted it.)
Several countries provided the U.S. with what was termed "reverse lend-lease," goods and equipment not readily available, a category including everything from uranium ore to cheese. The total value of this was about $10 billion, leaving a deficit of about $41 billion. It is, however, worth recalling that virtually all the money involved was actually spent in the U.S. And in any case, the balance may be considered to have been paid in blood at places like Alamein, Stalingrad, and so forth.