Back to How Wars Are MADE | Issues index | Sweet Liberty HOME PAGE

From Major Jordan's Diaries


A Look at Lend-Lease

     In his Twenty-First Report to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations, President Truman says: “Total Lend-Lease shipments to the Soviet Union amounted to $9.5 billions.” [1]

     It is this figure of nine and one-half billions, covering shipments only, * that I intend to examine.

     I am sure that most people are under the impression that by far the greater amount of Russian Lend-Lease shipments were munitions. But from the government’s own figures in the Twenty-First Report, we learn that the contrary is true. The lesser part, or 49%, was for munitions. The greater part, or 51%, was for non-munitions! Here are the figures:

Munitions $4,651,582,000 - 49%

Non-Munitions $4,826,084,000 - 51%

TOTAL $9,477,666,000 - 100%

    What exactly is meant by “munitions” and how much did we spend in each classification? The Twenty-First Report breaks down all Russian munitions under Lend-Lease into those five classifications, with the following expenditures:

All Munitions

1. Aircraft and parts $1,652,236,000

2. Motor vehicles and parts $1,410,616,000

3. Ordnance and ammunition $ 814,493,000

4. Tanks and parts $ 478,398,000

5. Water craft * $ 295,839,000


TOTAL $4,651,582,000 [2]

     * In addition to a merchant fleet, we gave the Russians 581 naval vessels. Though they agreed to return all the ships at the conclusion of war, they are still holding most of them.

     Among the few returned: the radar-equipped light cruiser Milwaukee, 4 frigates, and a couple of badly used icebreakers.

     The original list included 77 minesweepers, 105 landing craft, 103 subchasers, 28 frigates, 202 torpedo boats, 4 floating drydocks, 4 250-ton pontoon barges, 3 icebreakers, 15 river tugs, and the light cruiser.

     Few citizens, if any, would cavil at the sums expended in any of the foregoing categories. Most, like myself, would probably say “Well spent!” But now let’s take a look at the greater category, the 51% of non-munitions. We find they break down into:

All Non-Munitions

Petroleum Products  -  $111,075,000

Agricultural Products - $1,674,586,000

Industrial Materials & Products  - $3,040,423,000


TOTAL $4,826,084,000 [3]

   Since we gave the Russians planes, tanks, ships and motor vehicles, it is easy enough to grant them “Petroleum Products,” the necessary oil and gas and fuel, are a justifiable wartime expenditure. Though the Government does not do this, “to my mind the $111,075,000 could logically be included under “Munitions.”

     But what about the rest of this greater part of Lend-Lease?

     In the spirit of humanity, let us pass over the enormous figure of $1,674,586,000 for “Agricultural Products,” even though we never got so much as a formal “thank you” from the Russian people or their leaders, and even though the dislocations and shortages caused in our own domestic economy by these tremendous shipments of foodstuffs are only too vivid in our memories.

     There still remains the largest figure of all, $3,040,423,000. We now discover that one-third of the whole of our nine and one-half billions of Russian Lend-Lease comes under the heading of “Industrial Materials and Products.”

     It is this category which conceals a multitude of sins, running the gamut from such military secrets as uranium and other atomic bomb ingredients, down to the Moscow amusement park which I will show you was paid for by Lend-Lease.

    And under which of President Truman’s four main headings – Munitions, Agricultural, or Industrial – could the following items legitimately be listed?

Cigarette cases

Phonograph records

Household furnishings

Lipsticks, perfumes

Fishing tackle


Bank vaults

Ladies’ compacts

Sheet music

Playground equipment

     Yet these are things which we sent to Russia under Lend-Lease, as I shall shortly show you in detail. And just to mention at this point several other fantastic items, we also sent pianos and other musical instruments; antique furniture; calendars; 13,328 sets of teeth; toothbrushes, of course; women’s jewelry, etc., etc. Yet the Lend-Lease Act specifically excluded “goods furnished for relief and rehabilitation purposes”!

     Are these items listed in the President’s Twenty-First Report? You can bet your life they aren’t. The Twenty-First Report has only general statements and the grand totals I have quoted.

     Where can one find a list of the specific items of Lend-Lease shipped to Russia? Not in any Government publication. If you go to the Library of Congress, or write to the Superintendent of Documents for Lend-Lease figures, you will get Department of State Publication No. 2739, entitled Soviet Supply Protocols. [3]

     This booklet of 156 pages seems comprehensive. It has an account of the four big Lend-Lease agreements or “protocols” arrived at between October, 1941 at conferences in Moscow, Washington, London, and Ottawa respectively.

     It has all kinds of headings and sub-headings about Soviet “requirements,” but after a good deal of frustrating attempts at analysis, you find the loop-hole statement that the booklet does

“not indicate the extent to which materials were actually delivered to the Soviet Union.”

     And where do they refer you for this information? To the Twenty-First Report, which has a “Partial List of Goods Shipped” – only 28 items! [8]

     After bouncing back and forth between the Soviet Supply Protocols with its unanalyzable figures and lack of “actual deliveries,” and the incomplete figures of the Twenty-First Report, the knowledge-seeking citizen finally asks himself: “Whom do they think they’re fooling?”

     Fortunately, I have the Russians’ own figures. That’s where the items listed above come from. The lists compiled by the Russians are crystal clear. There is no legal gobbledygook, no prattle about “protocols.” Instead there is the name of each item, the quantity, and the cost – just like that!

     The Russians reveal that under Lend-Lease they received all kinds of supplies which can be found in no published Government record.

     My own favorite item went over in 1944. There it is, listed all by itself (see reproduction on page 79 of this edition) as “Tobacco pipe, one, $10.” For what person would the entire machinery of Lend-Lease make available one pipe? Maybe Joseph Stalin wanted to test, for himself, the subtler resources of Lend-Lease. In any event, there it is.

     As far as I know, these Russian figures have never been made available. I consider them the core of this book and I include them in the following chapter in full. They deserve endless study and examination.

     Small businesses that found wartime shortages severe to the point of stopping production will be amazed to learn how many “scare” items were lavishly supplied to Russia.

     Housewives will be aghast at the quantities of butter we denied ourselves and sent to a people which used it for greasing purposes.

     Chemical and metal experts, and machinists, other specialists in many fields will find here the facts and figures which affected them in wartime.

     Atomic materials were only one of many things that Moscow’s friends in Washington sent along to Russia via Lend-Lease, in violation of the spirit and letter of the law, in defiance of our country’s security and safety.

     The United States master Lend-Lease agreement with Russia declared:

“The Government of the United States of America will continue to supply the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics with such DEFENSE articles, DEFENSE services, and DEFENSE information as the President of the United States of America shall authorize to be transferred or provided.”

     Under the Lend-Lease law the President had full power to decide what defense assistance the Russians were to get. He delegated that power to Harry Hopkins, with the result that in addition to defense supplies, the Russians got whatever they asked for, unless someone lower in the hierarchy tried to prevent it.

     Take the case of copper. American copper resources became so critical during the war that bus bars of the metal, on electric panel-boards, were replaced with conductors of silver, borrowed from the Treasury’s vaults at West Point.

     Brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, was scarce enough to warrant serious debate over substituting steel in shell cases.

     With such facts in mind, Lend-Lease shipments of copper, brass and bronze to the Soviet Union, divulged in the Russian lists, seem terrifying. They aggregated 642,503 tons, valued at $283,609,967.

     Seven-tenths of all our copper donations to Russia consisted of wire and cable.

     In January, 1942, Donald M. Nelson was named chairman of the War Production Board. According to Robert E. Sherwood, he owed the appointment to Harry Hopkins, who recommended Nelson after talking Mr. Roosevelt out of his notion of a three-man committee – Nelson, Wendell Willkie and William O. Douglas.

     But Nelson, knowing the needs of American aircraft production, rebelled against Russia’s enormous requisitions of copper wire. Soviet agents appealed to Hopkins, who ordered Nelson to give what they wanted. Despite his personal obligation, the chairman was patriotic enough to refuse, and did so a second time when the command was repeated.

     Thereupon, Hopkins arranged a meeting at the White House, where the President went to work on the WPB chief. Mr. Roosevelt suggested that he would take it as a personal favor if Nelson let the Russians have all the copper wire they requested.

     What they obtained was enough telephone wire to circle the globe 50 times.

     The allotment of copper wire and cable to Russian in 1942 was 32,355 tons. [6] After three more years the total was 219,403 tons, rated at $108,115,726. [7]

     Immediately after Pearl Harbor, the Navy needed to repair our damaged battleships and placed a high priority order for copper wire suitable for battleship use. The Navy, however, did not have a priority high enough to secure the wire they needed, because an order for Russian copper wire had a higher priority.

     The American Steel & Wire Company plant at Worcester, Mass. Continued to rush through the Soviet order, which amounted to nearly a million miles of copper wire.

     This was obviously intended for the post-war rehabilitation of Russian cities, because the wire, which was on spools, was packed in separate soft pine boxes and placed in storage on a 20 acre lot in Westchester County, New York, where it remained until the war was nearly over before it was shipped to Russia for rehabilitation of their communications system.

     About the same time a store arose in the Ordnance Division of the War Department, which had been sending to Russia quantities of artillery shell cases. The Russians announced that they wished to make their own cases, and demanded the requisite metal sheets and machinery, including hydraulic presses and annealing furnaces.

     American experts protested on two grounds. The process left a scrap amounting to 45 per cent of the original brass which could be melted down into other sheets. In view of the shortage, it was felt that the surplus should be kept in the United States instead of being donated to Russia.

     More important was the fact that delivery of presses and furnaces would hand over to possible future enemies the know-how of a vital branch of our munitions industry. Objections of the War Department and the War Production Board were overruled by the White House.

     The gift of this self-contained unit – a plant for fabricating shell cases – brings us to a new dimension of Soviet Lend-Lease. Before the Russians, like a mail-order catalogue, had been spread the total array of American products and resources. In order to receive, they had merely to ask. If bills were ever rendered, they need not pay.

     We also sent machine tools and apparatus for precision tests; lathes and power tools for metal working; machinery for textiles, wood pulp and paper, woodworking, typesetting and printing; and cranes, hoists, derricks, elevators, air compressors, coal cutters and rock drills. The thought is disconcerting that each machine may have been copied and bred multitudes of its kind.

     From individual machines Soviet hunger sharpened to demand entire factories. The Twenty-First Report acknowledges the delivery to Russia of one tire plant, one aluminum rolling mill and an unstated number of pipe fabricating works.

     General Groves testified that the Manhattan Project, in the nick of time, snatched from boxes on an American wharf the equipment for an oil refinery going to Russia. But the agency had to promise the use of “all its priorities” for replacing the equipment at the earliest moment.

     The following installations, mostly described as “complete,” are among those for which the American Government, under Lend-Lease Act, pledged delivery to the Soviet Union:

     One repair plant for precision instruments $550,000; two factories for food products, $6,924,000; three gas generating units, $21,390,000; one petroleum refinery, with machinery and equipment, $29,050,000; 17 stationary steam and three hydro-electric plants, $263,289,000.

     They even got more than $88 millions as charity!

     Hopkins’ experience as a relief administrator was well known to the Russians. When they applied to Hopkins, they got “relief” – even though it was in direct violation of the Lend-Lease Act. According to their records the items are officially listed as “Relief or Charity.”

     In 1942 they received $10,457,417.

     In 1943 it went to $19,089,139.

     In 1944 the total was $25,479,722.

     In 1945 it was $33,674,825.

     The total for four years for this handout alone: $88,701,103 [8]

     The women of Russia have every reason to be well dressed, even today, thanks to Mr. Hopkins. In the three years 1942-44 we sent the Russians dress goods costing more than $152 millions of satin twill, and ribbons, braids and trimmings, costing millions more – a grand total of $181 millions for women’s apparel. [9]

     (In the same period the Russian army got only $21 millions of uniform material.)

     Among other things I found in the black suitcases at Great Falls were blueprints of the leading industrial plants of the country. I opened one suitcase, as an example, and found the complete plans for a General Electric Plant at East Lynn, Mass.

     I have since inquired about this plant and have found that it was under constant heavy guard, since it was at this plant that our new plane turbo chargers are being made. Armed guards to keep Americans out – but all the blueprints sent to our most dangerous enemy before the plant was built!

     We also found blueprints of the Electric Board Corp., of Groton, Conn., where our new atomic submarines are being built.

     During the summer of 1943 there was another load of “diplomatic suitcases.” Following the routine I had set up, I opened three – one at each end of the plane and one at the center. To my surprise all contained reprints of the patents in the U.S. Patent Office, a division of the Department of Commerce. When I spoke to Colonel Kotikov, he said the entire cargo consisted of these records, and that they would be coming through continuously.

     The Soviet Union has refused to give out a single one of its patents since 1927. But our Patent Office was thrown open to a crew of technical experts from the Amtorg Trading Corporation. They were on full-time duty, and spent every day going over the files to pick out what they wanted. The documents were provided by the Patent Office itself.

     Later the task was given over by another Soviet Government agency, the Four Continent Book Company, which abandoned the selective process and took everything in sight. The Photostats were paid for with frequent checks, running from $1,000 to $4,000 each.

     The number of patents acquired, the House Committee on Un-American Activities stated in 1949, “runs into the hundreds of thousands.”

     The Committee further stated that

“Russian officials have been able to collect a lot of our industrial and military inventions from our Government Patent Office. This is done right out in the open with our permission.”

     Among the patent reprints supplied to Russia the committee listed: bombsights, military tanks, airplanes, ship controls, bomb-dropping devices, helicopters, mine sweepers, ammunition, bullet-resisting armor.

     This sack of America’s inventive ingenuity did not end with the war, but continued four years longer. The State Department ruled that nothing could be done without Congressional legislation. Finally, due to the Fulton Lewis broadcasts and the resulting public indignation, John Marzall, Commissioner of Patents, ordered the termination of this practice on December 13, 1949.

     Another “diplomatic” cargo which arrived at Great Falls was a planeload of films. Colonel Stanislau Shumovsky, the Russian in charge, tried to prevent me from making an inspection by flaunting a letter from the State Department. I told him the letter did not apply to me. It was a letter authorizing this Russian to visit any restricted plant, and to make motion pictures of very intricate machinery and manufacturing processes. I looked over a half dozen of the hundreds of cans of films. That one plane carried a tremendous amount of America’s technical know-how to Russia.

     And, in return? Well, here is the story of “reverse Lend-Lease.” In 1943 we in Great Falls sent Dr. Patrinkoff on to Washington as a representative of Russian industry. He was supposed to have the very latest process data for making synthetic rubber.

     The State Department publicized his arrival and arranged for him to meet with the Rubber Reserve Corporation. There, “in exchange for the invaluable Russian technique,” he was to be completely enlightened about (1) our chemical processes for making synthetic rubber, (2) the plant designs and flow sheets, (3) anything else he might want to know about..

     The visit, from the point of view of Rubber Reserve Corporation, was valueless for the following reasons:

1. In July of 1942 all process designs were frozen so that plant construction could commence.

2. During late 1943 construction was largely completed and operations were beginning to deliver the rubber.

3. The protest from Houdry Process Corporation during late 1943 that they had perfected a better, cheaper process than nay then being projected, was overruled since the objective was to produce rubber and not to perfect an ideal system.

4. Dr. Patrinkoff arrived during the Houdry protest and such ideas on process as he did reluctantly divulge were unsuitable and, in fact, covered almost primitive phases of synthesis which had been obsolete in the United States for some time.

     Dr. Patrinkoff, after being refused full unlimited access to its data by the Rubber Reserve Corporation, went to various chemical and rubber companies in the country and attempted to gain what had been denied to him in Washington. Each company he visited called Rubber Reserve Corporation for confirmation and each in turn refused the requested information. He then went to the plant construction companies and received the same treatment.

     Thereafter the Department of State sent him to Du Pont and asked that he be given the process data on neoprene production. Sufficient pressure accompanied this request to make Du Pont accede. The neoprene process is not patented but is undivulged in this country. Thus, it can be assumed that the Russians did learn this very valuable process through the intervention of our State Department. Dr. Patrinkoff’s visit was publicized as “reverse Lend-Lease” – Russian aid to the United States!

     This “reverse Lend-Lease” cost taxpayers: five plants for synthetic rubber and its constituents, $27,500,000; two neoprene rubber factories; one factory each for styrene, Houdry method butadiene, and Houdry catalysts. The neoprene and butadiene plants had a capacity of 40,000 tons annually, which is probably the reason the Soviet press announced recently that they now lead the world in synthetic rubber production.

     In his ardor for the Soviets, Hopkins never hesitated to seize upon supplies urgently demanded by other agencies, even when the issue was military success on the Western Front. Colonel H. E. Rounds, a wartime member of the Supply Committee of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, has stated to me that interventions of this kind were so frequent that they came to be regarded as all but invariable. The general feeling, Colonel Rounds said, was that in a given supply problem the Russians repeatedly came first.

     When Harry Hopkins stood up in Madison Square Gardens on June 22, 1942 and said to the Russian people: “We are determined that nothing shall stop us from sharing with you all that we have,” he knew exactly how he was going to do this. It was to be through Lend-Lease, over which he had such absolute personal control that nothing could stop him from sharing with the Soviet Union all that we had.



A Look At Lend-Lease

1. Twenty-First Report to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations, The White House, Jan. 31, 1946, (U.S. Government Printing Office, p. 25.

2. Ibid., Table 8, p. 24.

3. Ibid.

4. Soviet Supply Protocols, State Department Document No. 2759, (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946).

5. Twenty-First Report, Table 9, p. 25.

6. Soviet figures (Jordan Diary).

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

Continue with Chapter 9

Back to How Wars Are MADE | Issues index | Sweet Liberty HOME PAGE