Lending and Lease Act

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US President Roosevelt signing the Lend Lease Act

The Lend-Lease Act ( english Lend-Lease Act , officially An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States , "An Act to the defense of the United States to promote" ' ) has been approved by the US Congress adopted on 18 February 1941 . It made it possible for the United States to deliver essential warfare materials such as weapons, ammunition, vehicles, fuel, food, aircraft, etc. to the states fighting against the Axis powers ( Germany , Italy , Japan ).

Great Britain , the USSR , China and many other states received goods with a total value of almost 50 billion US dollars (excluding transport costs) due to the lending and leasing law . The program expired in August 1945.

The law

First page of the Lending and Lease Act

The law, which was endorsed by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt , was a direct initiative of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and came into force on March 11, 1941. It stated that the American president could sell, donate, or rent any type of weapon, as long as the value did not exceed $ 1.3 billion in total, "to any nation whose defense he deems vital to the United States." This repealed the neutrality laws and legalized a practice that had been practiced for months, which decisively strengthened the British defensive struggle against the German Reich in the particularly critical months between the summer of 1940 and the summer of 1941. On September 2, 1940, as part of the destroyer-for-base agreement, 50 obsolete American 1200-ton destroyers were transferred to the Allied governments in exchange for British bases.

Britain's material and financial resources were largely exhausted after the defeat of its main ally France in June 1940. The ability to borrow or lease warships and other costly weapons systems from the US first and only pay for them later provided the much-needed remedy in this situation.

The law initially only applied to Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations , for which it was extended again in 1943. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union , it was also applied to this country under the sign of the anti-Hitler coalition from November 1941. The Soviet Union was strengthened in 1942/1943 via the Arctic ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk , via Vladivostok on the Pacific and via the Persian Corridor with the railway line from Bandar-e Shahpur (today: Bandar-e Imam Khomeini ) on the Persian Gulf via Tehran to Bandar Pahlawi (now Bandar Anzali ) on the south bank of the Caspian Sea supplied a large amount of war goods and food from the USA. In the Encyclopædia Britannica the Lend Lease Act is described as “practically a declaration of war” by the USA on Germany, and Churchill also described the measure as such in his first reaction.

The United States delivered over 400,000 jeeps and trucks, 13,000 locomotives and freight cars, 90 cargo ships, 4,000 bombers, 10,000 fighter planes and over 7,000 tanks to its Soviet allies. The British and Canadians supplied another 5,000 tanks and 7,000 planes.


US benefits under the Lending and Lease Act
Recipient country Goods in millions of US dollars Recipient country Goods in millions of US dollars
British Commonwealth 31,387.1 Brazil 372.0
Soviet Union 10,982.1 Mexico 39.2
France with colonies 3,223.9 Chile 21.6
China 1,627.0 Peru 18.9
Netherlands with colonies 251.1 Colombia 8.3
Belgium 159.5 Ecuador 7.8
Greece 81.5 Uruguay 7.1
Norway 47.0 Cuba 6.6
Turkey 42.9 Bolivia 5.5
Yugoslavia 32.2 Venezuela 4.5
Saudi Arabia 19.0 Guatemala 2.6
Poland 12.5 Paraguay 2.0
Liberia 11.6 Dominican Republic 1.6
Iran 5.3 Haiti 1.4
Ethiopia 5.3 Nicaragua 0.9
Iceland 4.4 El Salvador 0.9
Iraq 0.9 Honduras 0.4
Czechoslovakia 0.6 Costa Rica 0.2
All in all 48,395.4


President Roosevelt has always been careful to justify his policies to the people and the press. He promoted the lending and leasing law with the following declaration:

“If there is a fire at my neighbor's, then of course I will lend him my garden hose and not say to him: 'Mr. Neighbor, the hose cost $ 15, you have to pay me the $ 15 now. [...] I don't want the $ 15 - I want my garden hose back when you've put out the fire. "

- Franklin D. Roosevelt : FDR Library Homepage

The president thus secured the approval of the majority of the population, although before the attack on Pearl Harbor they were rather isolationist and refused to allow the USA to participate directly in the war.

Aid shipments to the British Commonwealth

Destroyer USS Buchanan , launched Sep. 1940 when HMS Campbeltown was used by the Royal Navy
M-2 tank delivered to the UK
Two German soldiers next to a destroyed British-made Soviet tank (Mk III Valentine ), January 1944.

The loan and lease deliveries are believed to have been a very important factor in sustaining the British Empire and the subsequent success of the Allied forces. In particular, the 43 destroyers for the Royal Navy of Great Britain and the seven destroyers for the Royal Canadian Navy , which were fully equipped and handed over in operational condition, were urgently needed. Most of these destroyers were used to escort German submarines in the battle of the Atlantic in order to protect the threatened shipments of goods across the Atlantic that were important for the war effort.

In the years 1943 to 1944 alone, a quarter of British ammunition was supplied by the USA. Another focus was the provision of airplanes, trucks and ships as well as the delivery of food for the troops. In many cases, logistics and a large part of the transport capacity, both with trucks and with locomotives and wagons, have been provided by the USA through the Loan and Lease Act.

Most of the deliveries, however, included food for the British civilian population. After the war ended, Britain was completely dependent on US food deliveries. When the US stopped deliveries under the Lending and Lease Act on August 29, 1945, John Maynard Keynes was dispatched to the US to negotiate an Anglo-American Loan that could be used to finance further food deliveries from the US . Furthermore, all equipment delivered to Great Britain was left in place and sold to the British at a special price of 10 percent of its actual value. Furthermore, the USA, at that time the world's largest producer, provided 90 percent of the fuel supply for the western allies.

Aid shipments to the Soviet Union

Lend-Lease Memorial in Fairbanks, Alaska

In terms of quantity, the aid deliveries to the Soviet Union are less than the deliveries to the British, but they are likely to have been of no less importance.

Immediately after Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Roosevelt assured Stalin that the US would provide arms support ( Hopkins mission). Stalin sent back a list of requirements, leading the US and Britain to fear a rapid collapse of Soviet defense in the face of arms needs. When Maxim Litvinov , Deputy People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, saw the list of promised American aid deliveries at a meeting in the Kremlin in September 1941 with Roosevelt's special envoy Harriman , he jumped up from his chair and exclaimed: "Now we will win the war!"

Roosevelt pushed ahead with arms aid, and the first American military aircraft arrived in the Soviet Union as early as September. At the Atlantic Conference on August 14, 1941, Roosevelt and Churchill decided, in addition to the Atlantic Charter, to expand arms deliveries to Great Britain and the Soviet Union. The United States expanded the area in which it protected its own arms transport convoys from German attacks with its armed escort to Iceland.

At the end of 1941 the Soviet Union was on the verge of economic collapse. The main industrial and agricultural centers of the country, u. a. the "bread basket" Ukraine and large parts of the center of heavy industry, the Donets Basin , which was equivalent in importance to the Ruhr area for Germany, were occupied. Although a large part of the industrial facilities was evacuated to the east at the end of 1941 and thus withdrawn from the Wehrmacht's access , it took until the first half of 1942 for the factories that had been rebuilt in the vast expanse of the Urals to offset the resulting drop in production . The food supply for 65 million of the 130 million people in the remaining areas failed. The supply of iron ore , coal and steel fell by 75 percent and the supply of essential raw materials such as aluminum , manganese and copper by more than two thirds. Of the former wealth of raw materials, only wood, oil and lead remain.

In terms of weapon systems, the Soviet Union received from the USA a. a .:

Ship goods from the Western Allies to the Soviet Union
year Quantity
in %
1941 360.778 2.1
1942 2,453,097 14th
1943 4,794,545 27.4
1944 6,217,622 35.5
1945 3,673,819 21st
total 17,499,861 100

Most of the delivery did not come in the form of weapons, but in the form of food, raw materials, machines and industrial equipment. In terms of raw materials and food, the Soviet Union received a. a .:

  • 4.062 million tons of food
  • 2.54 million tons of steel
  • 728,000 tons of non-ferrous metals
  • 764,000 tons of chemicals
  • 2.42 million tons of petrochemicals

Other materials were u. a. delivered:

  • 77,900 off-road vehicle Willys MB ("Jeep")
  • 151,000 light transport vehicles
  • 200,000 Studebaker US6 trucks
  • 1.5 million kilometers of telephone cable
  • 35,000 radio stations
  • 380,000 field telephones
  • 30% of all tires
  • 56% of all rails
  • 1/3 of all explosives
  • 1900 locomotives (in-house production 932 locomotives)

A peculiarity was that the Americans supplied 90 percent of all high-octane aviation fuel of the Allies and 58 percent of all high-octane fuel of the Soviet Union. Without these fuels, powerful aircraft could not be operated. Stalin said at the Tehran conference :

“This is an engine- octane war . I raise my glass to the American auto industry and the American oil industry. "

Share of vehicles delivered in the Red Army vehicle fleet (thousand units)
  June 41 Jan 42 Jan 43 Jan 44 Jan 45 May 45
own 272.6 317.1 378.8 387.0 395.2 385.7
delivered - near 0 22.0 94.1 191.3 218.1
percent - near 0 5.4% 19.0% 30.4% 32.8%

Most of the deliveries did not take place until 1943, so that during the Battle of Stalingrad only 5% of the Soviet military vehicles consisted of imports. Due to logistical difficulties, in autumn 1942 only 840,000 short tons were shipped from the USA instead of the planned 1,608,000 short tons .

In addition to the USA, Great Britain and Canada also supplied material.

The American supplies were also a source of Western technology, although the Americans withheld their most advanced technologies. For example, they delivered the amphibious aircraft PBN-1 and PBY-6a without bomb-throwing equipment for low altitudes, fire control devices, homing devices and the Hyberbel radio navigation system LORAN , and they also refused to deliver the Boeing B-17 and Boeing B-29 to the Soviet request .

While the northern sea convoys were the shortest route for all lend-lease deliveries, the busiest transport route for the loan and lease material for the Soviet Union was the Pacific route, which led from the American west coast to the Russian port of Vladivostok . A total of 8.2 million tonnes or 47.1 percent of the total lend lease services to the USSR were transported on this route. Soviet cargo ships were used on this route, which the Japanese left undisturbed; a disadvantage was the enormous length of both the sea and land route: from Vladivostok the goods had to be transported by rail through the entire Asian continent to the European theater of war. The Trans-Siberian Railway Vladivostok-Moscow is 9288 km long.

The Persian corridor

The third and most important route, which usually led from American Atlantic ports around the Cape of Good Hope , more rarely through the Panama Canal and the Pacific to the Persian Gulf , was no less long. A convoy , which led from the USA to Basra or Khorramshahr , needed 76 days for the 14,500 nautical miles long distance; the route across the Panama Canal was 17,700 nautical miles. About 23 percent of shipments to the Soviet Union between 1942 and 1943 took this route, and after the opening of the Mediterranean, this route even became the most important for the supplies destined for the USSR. End of August 1941 had the Soviet Union and Great Britain as part of Operation Countenance Iran u. a. occupied with the intention of building a supply line for the Soviet Union from the Persian Gulf via Iran to the Caspian Sea . On August 2, 1941, the USA had officially promised to include the Soviet Union in the group of states to be supported. Immediately after the occupation of Basra, Churchill confirmed to Stalin that British forces would expand the port in order to optimize the handling of US deliveries.

American planes for the Soviet Union at Abadan Airport . In the foreground Douglas A-20 .

As early as the beginning of September, Churchill asked Hopkins whether the Americans could provide locomotives and freight cars to transport the goods to the Soviet Union under the loan and lease program. He also suggested that the Americans actively participate in the expansion of the Iranian railway line and on the roads from Bandar-e Shapur, an Iranian port (now Bandar-e Imam Chomeini ), to Bandar-e Shah (now Bandar-e Torkaman ), a port on the Caspian Sea in the immediate vicinity of the Soviet border.

On September 27, an American military mission actually started its work in Iran. She was supposed to assist the British troops in technical matters. It soon became apparent that US technicians and specialists should take over the construction and guarantee of security through the Persian Corridor.

US engineers equipped the Iranian port of Khorramshahr at the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab with unloading facilities, storage rooms, quays, shipyards and cranes. The port basin was expanded for American lend lease transports. Americans built roads that American trucks would use to transport goods to the Soviet border. In 1942, American experts built an assembly hall in Abadan for the Douglas A-20 aircraft, which was urgently needed by the Soviets . Assembly halls were also built for the American trucks, especially of the Studebaker US6 type ( Katjuscha - mount carrier ), which were of particular importance for the Red Army .

In October 1942, the American Persian Gulf Command took over primary responsibility in Iran. It replaced the British troops that were urgently needed in other theaters of war. A total of 30,000 American soldiers, engineers and specialists were busy making the arms deliveries to the Soviets through the Persian corridor . In May 1943, American deliveries on the Persian route rose to over 100,000 tons per month and already exceeded ten times the British. The Persian route was the decisive transport route, especially for the years 1943 and 1944. 241 shiploads with a total of 1.6 million tons of material in 1943 and 240 shiploads with 1.7 million tons in 1944 were delivered on the roads and railways built by the US armed forces. From November 1941 to May 1945 a total of 646 shiploads of 4.1 million tons were shipped to the USSR on the Persian supply route, almost 25 percent of the total material that went to the USSR. The possibility of moving a large part of the transports to the Iranian route reduced the losses caused by the German armed forces from 15 to 2 percent.

Not only was the supply for the Soviet Union carried over the Indian Ocean, but also the entire supply for National China, which landed in Karachi rolled over the Indian railway network to Assam and from there was flown by The Hump airlift to Yunnan in western China, where Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had his headquarters. In early 1945, Ledo Street , built by 20,000 US soldiers and around 40,000 local workers at immense costs, went into operation, gradually replacing the airlift. The pure material value of the shipments destined for China was at least USD 2 billion.

Alaska-Siberia Route

Bell P-39 Airacobra used by the USSR in the Aviation Museum of Central Finland . The American national emblem painted over with the Soviet
star on the fuselage is clearly visible .

On the Alaska-Siberia Route (ALSIB) aircraft were transferred by air from US air bases in Alaska to the Soviet Union. The main route led from Ladd Field in Fairbanks , where the planes were taken over by Soviet pilots, via Nome and Anadyr to Krasnoyarsk , where the planes were assigned to the units. Stopovers for refueling have been set up along the route. Planning began in the winter of 1941. From August / September 1942, Soviet pilots and mechanics were flown into Ladd Field by plane and instructed in the handling of the aircraft by American personnel. The first machine, a B-25, was flown over on September 24, 1942. Due to adverse weather conditions, especially the low temperatures and winter storms, there were only sporadic overpasses in the beginning. Only from the beginning of 1943, when the expansion of the bases had reached the necessary level and the necessary specialists and interpreters were available in sufficient numbers, did the handovers take place more regularly. Due to the near end of the war in Europe, flights from the Soviet side were noticeably restricted from April 1945. The route was finally discontinued in September. A total of 7,926 aircraft, including 2,618 P-39 and 2,397 P-63 fighters and 1,363 A-20 and 732 B-25 bombers, were flown to Krasnoyarsk via the ALSIB . The total shipments of aircraft from the US amounted to 14,795 aircraft, of which 14,018 reached the USSR.

End of deliveries

The lend lease program officially ended for the Soviet Union on May 12, 1945. However, under the Milepost Agreement, the deliveries continued until the end of the war with Japan, in which the Soviet Union participated on August 8 on the side of the USA . After Japan surrendered on September 2, deliveries were stopped immediately. In the USA, ships that were already loaded were unloaded and freighters that were already on the high seas were ordered back. The intention originally cherished by Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Foreign Minister Edward Stettinius Jr. to create a means of political pressure against the recipient countries with a temporary continuation of the program could not be realized due to internal American resistance.

Negotiations on possible US loans for reconstruction were then initiated by the American side. The Soviet Union was given the prospect of being admitted to the group of countries benefiting from the planned Marshall Plan . In return, however, the US demanded to be able to gain insight into internal data of the Soviet economy and to be able to monitor the use of relief supplies itself, which the Soviet Union categorically refused. The negotiations were broken off after the fifth session in Paris on July 2, 1946, while the United Kingdom was granted a loan of US $ 3.5 billion by US President Truman on July 15. The Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov accused France and Great Britain of having forged a plot with the United States. The three Western Allies then founded the Committee of European Economic Cooperation (CEEC) , which became the OEEC on April 16, 1948 and the OECD in 1961 .

Balance sheet

The Soviet Union received goods worth $ 9.8 billion from the United States

or 17.8 million tons transported by 2803 ships. Conversely, the Soviet Union supplied raw materials such as manganese and chrome ores worth 7.3 billion dollars to the USA. The rest of the debt was also paid in gold, see sinking of HMS Edinburgh (C16) . In total, the goods that the Soviet Union actually received only reached 4 percent of the Soviet Union's war production. Often the weapons did not meet the special requirements of the front; there were hardly any spare parts.

Great Britain supplied large quantities of goods and raw materials in the second half of 1941.

When aid really got going from the summer of 1943, the Soviet Union had already brought about the turning point with the Battle of Stalingrad , but this was only possible with the use of all reserves, because the Soviet warfare knew that all material losses due to the Shipments from the US would be replaced. The German warfare was also aware of the importance of these deliveries, as a memorandum to Hitler from spring 1942 shows:

“In their quest to assist Russia, Britain and the United States will make every effort to increase shipments of equipment, materials and troops to Russia as much as possible. The supplies that will reach Russia via the Basra-Iran route will go to the Russian Caucasus and the front lines in the south. All British and American war materials that will reach Russia via the Middle East and the Caucasus are particularly detrimental to our land offensive. Every tonne of supplies the enemy delivers through the Middle East means an ongoing increase in the enemy's war potential, complicates our operations in the Caucasus and strengthens the British position in the Middle East and Egypt. "

In particular, the motorization of the Red Army from 1944 with US trucks significantly improved its mobility compared to the German Wehrmacht. However, it was not so much the direct arms deliveries that helped the Soviet Union, but rather secondary goods such as aviation fuel and food that shortened the war. The United States supplied more than half of the high-octane aviation gasoline needed to the Soviet Union.

According to the historian and journalist Sven Felix Kellerhoff , one thing is certain:

"That the turn of the war in Stalingrad in 1942 would not have taken place without the 'lending and leasing' system, nor would the advance of the Red Army through the formerly occupied territories of the Soviet Union in 1943/44 and through Poland in 1944/45."


  • Hans-Joachim Mau, Hans Heiri Stapfer: Under the Red Star - Lend Lease Aircraft for the Soviet Union 1941–1945 . Transpress, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-344-70710-8 .
  • Wolfgang hose: Armaments aid of the USA 1939–1945 . Bernard & Graefe, Koblenz 1985, ISBN 3-7637-5475-X .
  • Wolfganglauch: US armaments aid to the allies in World War II . New edition. Helios-Verlag, Aachen 2019, ISBN 978-3-86933-241-3 , p. 167 .

Web links

Commons : Lending and Lease Act  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Schumann, et al .: Germany in the Second World War. Volume 3, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1982, p. 468.
  2. docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu , accessed on January 15, 2020 (English).
  3. What's a little debt between friends?
  4. According to the memoirs of W. Averell Harriman printed in: W. Averell Harriman: In a secret mission. Stuttgart 1979, p. 82.
  5. ^ Richard Overy : The roots of victory, Why the Allies won the Second World War , Stuttgart / Munich 2000, p. 236.
  6. ^ Mark Harrison: Soviet Planning in Peace and War 1938-1945 . Cambridge 1985, p. 258. Limited preview in Google Book Search USA
  7. ^ Hans-Adolf Jacobsen : 1939–1945, The Second World War in Chronicles and Documents . Darmstadt 1961, p. 568.
  8. Harrison, ibid.
  9. ^ Overy, Roots, p. 276.
  10. Richard Overy : The Dictators. Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia . Munich 2005, p. 664.
  11. Norman Davies (Europa im Krieg, 2009, pp. 68f.) Names 345,735 tons of explosives and the source is George C. Herring Jr., Aid to Russia, 1941–46: Strategy, Diplomacy, the Origins of the Cold War (= Columbia Studies in Contemporary American History), 1st edition 1973, ISBN 978-0-231-03336-7 .
  12. Norman Davies (Europa im Krieg, 2009, pp. 68f.) Mentions locomotives in 1981.
  13. Overy: Roots. P. 300 f.
  14. Alexander Hill: The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, 1941–45. A documentary reader . Abingdon 2009, p. 232. (Differences result from captured vehicles. In January 1944, 14,900 captured vehicles are given.)
  15. ^ Richard Overy: Russian War . Hamburg 2003, p. 302.
  16. ^ Richard M. Leighton, Robert W Coakley: Global Logistics and Strategy. 1940-1943. Washington 1995, p. 586 ( online ).
  17. ^ MGFA (ed.): Air warfare in World War II. An international comparison. Herford 1993, p. 255.
  18. Michael Wala: Winning the peace: American foreign policy and the Council on Foreign Relations, 1945-1950 . Franz Steiner, 1990, ISBN 978-3-515-05334-1 , p. 148.
  19. a b Hans-Joachim Mau, Hans Heiri Stapfer: Under the Red Star - Lend-Lease Aircraft for the Soviet Union 1941-1945 , page 63, Transpress, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-344-70710-8 .
  20. a b c T. H. Vail Motter: The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia. Center of Military History United States Army. 1952, p. 4.
  21. ^ TH Vail Motter: The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia. Center of Military History United States Army. 1952, p. 5.
  22. ^ Sven Felix Kellerhoff: US Military Aid - Stalin's American Vices ( Online ) About the exhibition 'Cooperation for Victory' in the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst 2009.