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The Allied Lend-Lease Program: The Impact for the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front, 1941-45

22 Oct

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease bill to give aid to Britain and China (1941)

The Allied Lend-Lease program had a dramatic effect and influence on the Soviet victory on the Eastern Front. The literature suggests that without the program the Soviet’s War on the Eastern Front would have continued for another twelve to eighteen months. Lend-Lease had the most impact where it counted—in the ground war. American-built jeeps, trucks, and Lorries enabled the continued Soviet offensives to Berlin: “Without the trucks, each Soviet offensive during 1944-1945 would have come to a halt after a shallower penetration, allowing the Germans time to reconstruct their defenses and force the Red Army to conduct yet another deliberate assault.”[1]The Lend-Lease steel, along with food had a dramatic impact for the Soviet Union: 900,000 pounds of American steel was sent to the Soviet Union along with 1.5M tons of food sent by 1943.[2]  Where the Wehrmacht became immobilized due to inhospitable terrain made worse by bad weather, the Red Army was able to continue its assaults. Fritz notes in Ostkreig, that Germany’s Field Marshal Erich von Manstein’s frustration grew as replacements were sent to Western Europe, which enabled a stronger Red Army, bolstered by Lend-Lease deliveries: “With the hand he was dealt, then, Manstein had little chance to prevent the enemy from encircling areas of its choosing.”[3]

Transportation aside, the Lend-Lease program sent 3,734 American tanks, 4,292 British tanks, and 1,400 Canadian tanks to the Soviet Union—although the Soviets relied on their own battle equipment produced in their own factories. The Soviet command was not impressed at the performance of the Lend-Lease tanks; Stalin, pressed for the more greatly needed food and industrial supplies (metals). [4]

Glantz and House suggest that Lend-Lease had no effect until after 1942; while other historians suggest that Lend-Lease products contributed to just 4% of the overall Soviet materiel effort. However, Glantz and House offer that “left to their own devices, Stalin and his commanders might have taken 12 to 18 months to finish off the Wehrmacht …” [5] With the array of Soviet armor which was superior to the Lend-Lease Allied tanks of American, British, and Canadian origin, you could say that this contribution was unnecessary. Although the delivery of Lend-Lease materiel was arduous and hazardous through extreme routes, it was worth the Allied effort in defeating Nazi Germany.

Endnotes 
1. David M. Glantz and Jonathan House, When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995) 150.
2. John Erickson, The Road to Berlin: Stalin’s War with Germany (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999) 84.
3. Stephen G. Fritz, Ostkrieg: Hitler’s War of Extermination in the East. (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2011) 394.
4. John Erickson, The Road to Berlin: Stalin’s War with Germany (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999) 84.

Bibliography
David M. Glantz and Jonathan House, When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995) 285.
Erickson, John. The Road to Berlin: Stalin’s War with Germany. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.
Fritz, Stephen G. Ostkrieg: Hitler’s War of Extermination in the East. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2011.
Glantz, David M. and Jonathan House. When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2012 in The Eastern Front

 

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