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Was lend-lease essential in securing a Soviet victory?


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I was debating with someone on another forum about the importance of lend-lease to the Soviet Union and I argued that while it certainly helped quite a bit, it was not necessary in there victory. I brought up the multiple mildly successful Soviet counterattacks that occurred during Barbarossa and of course the January offensives that stopped the Germans from getting Moscow. This I said was proof that already without much of the lend lease aid the Soviets were able to hand the Germans serious strategic defeats before lend lease really ramped up.

Am I completely wrong?

:D?

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Sped it up considerably, literally in the sense of all the automotive transport supplied, and in the sense that the Russians could concentrate production solely on key war machines. Was it essential is really irrelevant as both the Eastern and Western Fronts successes were inextricably linked, let the revisionists carry on fighting, if they must.

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Am I completely wrong?

I don't think so. What it comes down to is what level of victory you deem is acceptable. I think the Soviets could have evicted the Axis from their homeland all on their own. But that might have been all they could have done. Maybe extended their borders a bit. But going all the way to Berlin and dismantling Nazism? I don't know.

Lend-Lease, especially of strategic materials and food, really helped a lot. Providing them with certain supplies, like trucks, meant that they could concentrate on the manufacture of other things, like tanks. There were ripple effects that spread throughout their whole armory. But I don't believe there was any one thing which if it had not been supplied would have meant that their offensives to liberate their country would have ground to a halt.

Michael

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Most know about the trucks but don't forget the locomotives and av gas.

“For example, the USSR was highly dependent on trains, yet the desperate need to produce weapons meant that fewer than 20 new locomotives were produced in the USSR during the entire war. In this context, the supply of 1,981 US locomotives can be better understood. Likewise, the Soviet air force was almost completely dependent on US supplies of very high-octane aviation fuel. Although most Red Army tank units were equipped with Soviet-built tanks, their logistical support was provided by hundreds of thousands of high-quality US-made trucks. Indeed by 1944 nearly half the truck strength of the Red Army was US-built. Trucks such as the Dodge 3/4 ton and Studebaker 2.5 ton, were easily the best trucks available in their class on either side on the Eastern Front.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lend-Lease#US_deliveries_to_USSR

Your welcome Commies.

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Regarding the very high octane gas, I think I remember reading (in memoirs or studies) that the lend-lease supply was primarily (or almost exclusively) going to lend-lease planes. Soviet-made planes seemed to have been fine with the local gas (after all, that was what they had been designed for).

Of all the lend-lease supplies, my impression is that the most frequently and fondly noted by the Soviets themselves was Spam. Trucks were recognized, as well, although it seems they've only relatively recently began to admit widely that from a certain point all new "Katyushas" had been mounted on US-provided chassis. P-39s were also celebrated frequently due to their association with Pokryshkin, but also because they had proven themselves capable German bomber killers.

One had to dig in more specialized sources to find recognition of supplies of aircraft-grade aluminum alloys and rubber, Hurricanes (protecting Murmansk and Archangel), and Spitfires for high-altitude protection of Moscow).

They didn't much like the M3 Grant/Lee, calling it (loosely translated) a "7-seat coffin".

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RaptorX7,

We've been down this road before.

http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=113415

Lend Lease was an effort of gigantic scale and scope, as you can see when reading the links I provided. Stalin considered the Douglas A-20 Bostons to be vital to his war effort, but we didn't send merely planes, but vast production means, our best equipment, processes and know-how.

The Russians systematically not only looted our scientific and tech base, but dislocated our own war effort by their extraordinary and arbitrary demands.

The trucks were vital, as attested in multiple accounts by Russian soldiers, the locomotives, rails and rolling stock even more so, since rail was the principal way the Red Army moved its forces. We supplied a small navy to Russia. And here's what we supplied in complete aircraft, including almost 3000 Bostons! You can, of course, check these against the info at the links on the short other thread I mentioned.

http://www.airpages.ru/eng/uk/gs_uk60.shtml

Most people haven't the faintest idea what Lend Lease really entailed, and this is merely us and Canada. I've yet to see the British lists.

Regards,

John Kettler

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I often wondered about repayment from the Soviet Union after the war, being as the two counties quickly became enemies. Found this little bit interesting :

"While repayment of the interest free loans was required after the end of the war under the act, in practise the US did not expect to be repaid by the USSR after the war, it received $2m in reverse lend lease supplies from the USSR mostly in the form of landing, servicing and refueling of air freight although some industrial machinery along with rare minerals were supplied. The US asked for $1.3bn at the cessation of hostiliities to settle the debt but was only offered $170m by the USSR, the dispute remained unresolved until in 1972 the US accepted an offer from the USSR to repay $722m linked to grain shipments from the USA with the remainder being written off. During the war the USSR provided an unknown number of shipments of rare minerals to the US Treasury as a form of cashless rerepayment of Lend-Lease supplies agreed before the signing of the first protocol on 1 October 1941 and extension of credit, some of these shipments were intercepted by the Germans the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh was sunk in May 1942 carrying 4.5 tonnes of gold to the US Treasury meanwhile the steamer Port Nicholson was sunk in June 1942 while sailing from Halifax, Canada to New York while carrying $43m in platinum (worth $3bn in today's prices) along with 10 tonnes of gold and industrial diamonds." -Albert L. Weeks, Russia's Life-Saver: Lend-Lease Aid to the U.S.S.R. in World War II, 2004 New York, Lexington

Lets go find those ships fast! Who can scuba dive? :)

edit: Seems they have been salvaged already. Dang there goes my get rich quick scheme of the day.

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My take on it is as others above. The Soviets probably could have managed defeating the Germans mostly because the Germans were so insistent upon losing the war. Yup, no matter how many times the Allies invited the Germans to win, the Germans refused and instead insisted on nothing but total destruction. Anybody that doesn't understand that the Germans were the most responsible for their own defeat really don't understand the war.

That said, I recently read an overtly nationalistic Russian website which basically said Lend Lease amounted to icing on the cake. The site went through the various points of aid with the most ridiculous nationalist blinders fully raised. Utter nonsense. The various forms of aid ABSOLUTELY improved the Soviet's ability to wage war to a noticeable degree. It's fine for a Russian website to try and downplay the strategic importance of such aid in terms of winning the war, but the politically motivated dismissal was a bit too much for me.

So yes... Soviets would have won the war because Germany sucks at fighting protracted conflicts because it underestimates it's enemies and overestimates its own abilities. The Nazis made that 100 times worse. All the Soviet regime did not fall and the Western Allies kept up the pressure and eventually the Nazi regime would run out capability to cause harm and collapse. The Lend Lease aid significantly helped the Soviets stand successfully, and it also helped in no small way with speeding the war's end. By how much? Who knows because the aid was delivered and so it's tough to say what the Soviets would have done without it.

Steve

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RaptorX7,

The Russians systematically not only looted our scientific and tech base, but dislocated our own war effort by their extraordinary and arbitrary demands.

Where to start? The only thing I find extraordinary is that someone could complain about the "dislocation" to our war effort due to Lend Lease while the Sovs were fighting and dying in their millions, with their homeland destroyed and overrun. Our help was certainly substantial, but that was the price to pay to keep the Sovs in the war, which was the war-winning issue. If not for political reasons, we would not have had to invade Italy or France at all, and just let the Russians overrun the Reich.

I speak with Russians more often that I probably should about the war, and from my experience their universally-held opinion is that the Western allies deliberately delayed opening the second front so that Russia and Germany would destroy each other, and that ultimately we only invaded so that the Sovs would not sweep all the way to the English Channel. They also think that Lend Lease only started in earnest once it was clear that the Sovs would win. Their opinions of the importance of Lend Lease range from completely meaningless to helpful but not necessary.

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76mm,

I didn't complain. That's straight from the account of the point man of direct U.S. Lend Lease contact with the Russians, Major Jordan, in his diary referenced in the prior thread. If anyone would know, he would. And that's without factoring in massive amounts of industrial and scientific espionage, which the good major discovered and was told to keep quiet about. His opposite number, you see, was a Russian spymaster, whose access to outbound shipments for Lend Lease made secret smuggling--talking cases and cases full of documents, including blueprints for whole modern factories, like the GE plant--much easier than would've otherwise been true.

Obviously, I'm not in Russia and don't speak Russian, but I'd be willing to bet that most Russians haven't a clue as to what we really supplied and the frequently terrible costs incurred in getting it to them. A little thing called the Murmansk Run. And elsewhere. Here's what it cost the Allies. And, no, this wasn't in the bill!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_convoys_of_World_War_II

Arctic convoys of World War II

"The Arctic convoys of World War II were oceangoing convoys which sailed from the United Kingdom, Iceland, and North America to northern ports in the Soviet Union - primarily Arkhangelsk (Archangel) and Murmansk, both in modern-day Russia. There were 78 convoys between August 1941 and May 1945 (although there were two gaps with no sailings between July and September 1942, and March and November 1943), sailing via several seas of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans."

About 1400 merchant ships delivered essential supplies to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program, escorted by ships of the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and the U.S. Navy. Eighty-five merchant vessels and 16 Royal Navy warships (two cruisers, six destroyers, eight other escort ships) were lost. .... The convoys demonstrated the Allies commitment to helping the Soviet Union, prior to the opening of a Second Front, and tied up a substantial part of Germany's Navy and Air Force.[1]"

"The early convoys in particular delivered armoured vehicles and Hawker Hurricanes to make up for shortages in the Soviet Union.[4]"

"Leningrad under the siege was one of important destinations for supplies from the convoys. From 1941 food and munition supplies were delivered from British convoys to Leningrad by trains, barges, and trucks. Supplies were often destroyed by the Nazi air-bombings, and by Naval Detachment K while on the way to Leningrad. However, convoys continued deliveries of food in 1942, 1943, and through 1944. Towards the end of the war the material significance of the supplies was probably not as great as the symbolic value hence the continuation—at Stalin's insistence—of these convoys long after the Soviets had turned the German land offensive.[7]"

Had Leningrad fallen, especially early in the war,what would've been the likely consequences?

Extensive material on the Arctic convoys is available at WarSailors. Cruisers lost were CL HMS EDINBURGH

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Edinburgh_(16)

(went down after epic fight in best traditions of the Royal Navy), as did CL HMS Trinidad (attacked going to and returning from Russia)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Trinidad_(46)

Note the essential supplies to Russia went in convoys starting in August of 1941, a date in which our (U.S.) own public statements, as well as those of others, bluntly promulgated the expectation that Russia would lose. So to initiate Lend Lease under such conditions and very much against the odds of keeping Russian in the war is hardly sitting it out. The Allies sent 9 convoys to Russia in 1941. Nine in around four months.

The Russians are certainly entitled to their opinions, but that's all they are. They have no idea at all what titanic effort went into Lend Lease aand delivering theirs to them as we ourselves first began to gear up for war, and in short order, were fighting on two different sides of the planet. Nor was Russia our only recipient, as a look at the official lists on HyerWar will quickly show. Russia's Lend Lease Museum may or may not reflect historical truth, but since I don't yet read Russian, I can't say.

http://www.lend-lease.ru/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

Regards,

John Kettler

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76mm,

The Russians are certainly entitled to their opinions, but that's all they are. They have no idea at all what titanic effort went into Lend Lease aand delivering theirs to them as we ourselves first began to gear up for war, and in short order, were fighting on two different sides of the planet.

John, I don't have time at the moment to go through all of your links, but agree with you on the point above. To some extent I am conveying my understanding of how Russians view things. For instance, most of the Russians I've spoken with don't understand why the US and Britain didn't invade France already in 1941--they just don't understand the logistical and other challenges involved.

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Steve pretty much nailed it.

LL was 7% of Soviet wartime output by value. The mix helped too, filling weak spots and relieving bottlenecks in Russian production, notably nitrogen fixing shortages that limited total explosives production, and providing communications gear (both radio and land line, infrastructure like switches etc) that it was hard for the Russia economy to produce in volume. Everyone knows about the trucks and most about the prepared food, which made it possible to draft a much larger portion of the peasantry - though in the worst period 42 etc the rear areas were still starving.

But the scale of the other major effects needs to be understood. The Germans physically occupied territory responsible for 40% of prewar industrial output. Some was evac'ed to be sure, but that number is over 5 times the scale of the LL contribution. Retaking lost ground was more vital than LL, basically. Similarly, mobilization produced year on year changes in narrow armaments output around 40%. Being one quarter faster on that trigger matched LL. Of course it didn't raise capacity, it used it and diverted income from other uses (some of the former, lots of the latter). But the point again is the scale of the changes from economic management decisions and operational ground control, was bigger than the scale of LL.

The biggest things the Russians had going fir them were German hubris as Steve says, and the bare fact if the western allies being in the war. The latter helped not just through LL but by keeping German divisions in the west, by engaging most of the Luftwaffe, by straining the German war economy to produce planes and u boats and bomb repair and aid to Italy etc, that would all have been pointed at Russia instead in a one front war. Both were vital, LL was a modest part of the second.

But no, to the original poster, the early Russia counterattacks aren't really evidence of the conclusion. The outcome of the 1942-3 winter campaign yes, the small 1941 local stuff no.

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Steve, I lived next door to a guy who'd been a ships doctor on a small destroyer escort, on the Arctic convoys (some of his tales were utterly chilling, literally), he said that the Russians in Murmansk were extremely grateful for all their efforts. So don't worry about Russian internet blowhards, some of their comments on tank forums are comical, but there are plenty of Russian posters who are very balanced, when viewing their countries military history.

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John, I don't have time at the moment to go through all of your links, but agree with you on the point above. To some extent I am conveying my understanding of how Russians view things. For instance, most of the Russians I've spoken with don't understand why the US and Britain didn't invade France already in 1941--they just don't understand the logistical and other challenges involved.

Before we heap too much ire on the average Russian for a distorted and self centered view of the war, we have to remember that all nations have this. The British think that without them WW2 would have been lost, the Americans think that if the war was left to the Brits we'd maybe have finished getting to Paris sometime last summer :D The Brits think the Americans were brash and reckless. The average American and Brit thinks the Soviets were able to win because of strategic bombing and the ground operations in North Africa, Italy, and western Europe. Not to mention the Lend Lease aid. So on and so forth. Poles of course feel the Soviets deliberately allowed Warsaw to be slaughtered while Soviet troops sat around doing nothing. Germans believe they were defeated by massed waves of incompetent, but well armed, adversaries who "didn't fight fair" because they used more tanks, artillery, fuel, etc. than the Germans did.

And don't even get me started about what neo-Nazis "think" ;)

So yes, every nationality and politically biased mind has their own self-serving view of the war. Russians have been spoon fed a lot of inaccurate information, as have others. At least the average Russian knows when WW2 happened and who fought in it. The same can't be said for a lot of Americans :(

Steve, I lived next door to a guy who'd been a ships doctor on a small destroyer escort, on the Arctic convoys (some of his tales were utterly chilling, literally), he said that the Russians in Murmansk were extremely grateful for all their efforts. So don't worry about Russian internet blowhards, some of their comments on tank forums are comical, but there are plenty of Russian posters who are very balanced, when viewing their countries military history.

There are also Russian vets who speak of the Lend Lease equipment they used as being superior to the Russian equipment. Specifically the 6x6 trucks and Valentine tanks. They also generally liked the Shermans. It's not about those who know the right information, it's about those who deliberately try to distort it for people who don't know any better and can't be bothered to dig deeper. I have a degree of sympathy for someone who is misled, only disdain for those who know they are misleading.

Steve

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Russians have been spoon fed a lot of inaccurate information, as have others.

There are a lot of myths that are still alive about WW2 amongst the "average" Russians: every German tank was a Tiger; every German soldier was a SMGer; NKVD blocking detachments shot everyone on sight; those that were captured and then managed to escape headed right to GULAG; Prokhorovka was a glorious win for the Soviets; and yes, the Allies waited until '44 to mount an attack (no Africa or Italy campaigns).

But I'm speaking about the average Joe who knows history from a few movies he watched. If a guy is interested in history (or at least in this part of history), usually he doesn't repeat these claims. And if he does, then a heated discussion starts with me as his opponent. :)

On a side note, I do have a feeling that Allies waited for too long to strike the Germans - if they actually mounted an attack in September 1939, that could have changed a lot of things - for better. Or am I greatly mistaking in this and there was absolutely no capability to invade Germany early in the war (in the first two months of it)?

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and yes, the Allies waited until '44 to mount an attack (no Africa or Italy campaigns).

Glad you mentioned this one! The Soviets were able to fully clean up after the Kursk offensive because the Germans had to withdraw armor to defend Italy. In fact, some of the moves the Germans made helped neither front (I'm thinking of 1st SS PzGren Div). Not to mention the 300k top quality German forces and Italians lost in Tunisia.

But I'm speaking about the average Joe who knows history from a few movies he watched. If a guy is interested in history (or at least in this part of history), usually he doesn't repeat these claims. And if he does, then a heated discussion starts with me as his opponent. :)

Excellent!

On a side note, I do have a feeling that Allies waited for too long to strike the Germans - if they actually mounted an attack in September 1939, that could have changed a lot of things - for better. Or am I greatly mistaking in this and there was absolutely no capability to invade Germany early in the war (in the first two months of it)?

There were three primary reasons 1939 would not have worked. First, the French were incapable of conducting offensive operations. They had spent 20 years on defensive thinking almost exclusively. The British were incapable of launching an attack on their own or with only minimal French support.

Second, France and Britain had miscalculated the timetables for the defeat of Poland. They did not expect Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to cooperate!! The plan was to let Germany get entangled in a medium length war with Poland and use that time to gather forces and strike from the West while the majority of German forces were committed in Poland. France had spent decades working on Polish military capabilities for this exact reason.

When Poland was quickly defeated, partly due to Soviet Union involvement but mostly due to unanticipated "Blitzkrieg" concept, Britain and France didn't know what to do. And before they knew it, the Germans best forces were back in the West, thanks to a very efficient transportation system which, again, was under appreciated.

Third, the public of both Britain and France were not in favor of starting a ground offensive into Germany. They were largely naive and hopeful that Germany would be satisfied with achieving it's stated goals of:

1. Being rearmed

2. Having the Rheinland reoccupied

3. Incorporating the Sudetenland

4. Recovering lands ceded to Poland

5. Unification with Austria

The average person in the West looked at this list and hoped that this would be enough. And if the Third Reich was ruled by sensible, sane people they would have been correct. Unfortunately for the world, this was not the case.

Careful Steve, Vladimir might take offence at your description of his government. I believe the Russians thought their home grown trucks inferior to LL ones if on roads, but theirs were superior for extreme conditions and cross country performance.

The 2.5 Ton 6x6 was copied by the Soviets and used until their collapse. It was clearly a superior design all around. Which is why the US also still uses trucks based on this design even today (though 2nd and 3rd "line" uses).

Steve

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