24

Although most sources say that the Russians were supplied with great amounts of equipment and food as part of Lend-Lease program, I have not in all my years living in Russia seen US labeled machinery. I understand that it has been many years since WWII, but I would expect such technology to survive in some way, like in museums, memorials, etc. I have not found any documentation on this online.

Knowing that Russians were reluctant to admit receiving aid, esp. US aid, could it be that they rebranded the machinery with soviet labels? Or did they just decommission them ASAP?

P.S. I lived near Vladivostok, where allegedly 49% of the aid came through.

  • 2
    Although many may consider linking Wikipedia as bad manners, :) dare to say that the question of LL repayment seems to be perfectly explained in Wikipedia. – bytebuster Sep 20 '15 at 9:18
  • 4
    @bytebuster The question isn't about repayment, it's about where all that stuff went. – Schwern Sep 21 '15 at 2:39
26

To give an idea of the scope of Lend-Lease, I found this contemporary account of the complete British Lend-Lease supply to the Soviet Union during WWII by the British Prime Minster. It is truly breathtaking in scope. Tanks, guns, trucks, weapons, ships, ammo, radar, radios, telephones, cables, tires, camouflage, mines, aircraft, oil, copper, iron, aluminum, diamonds, rubber, wool, food, machine parts, power plants, medicine.

That's just from Britain. The US sent even more. An exhaustive list from From Major Jordan's Diaries puts the value at over $9 billion in the 1940s. (That source is not official, it's from an Army officer's notes and published in the hey-day of anti-Soviet hysteria, but it's the best I've seen).

That said, walking around casually in the US I don't see any WWII equipment either. Lend-Lease equipment would be 70 years old and no longer in use. The majority would have either been destroyed on the battlefield (for example, the Soviets lost 77% of their tanks), or scrapped. Survivors will be in museums, old factories, rusting in a field somewhere, or sunk under water. If you want to see WWII military equipment, do what I do and go to a military museum.


There is the Allies and Lend-Lease Museum in Moscow. [I can't say much more because I can't read the Russian, please edit with details]


This M4 Sherman is on display at the Central Museum of Armed Forces of Ukraine in Kiev. It was knocked out by the Germans during the Great Patriotic War and recovered from a bog in 2004.

Lend-lease M4 Sherman on display at the Central Museum of Armed Forces of Ukraine in Kiev


Here is a BM-13N Katyusha on display at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. It uses a Lend-Lease US-built Studebaker US6 truck as its base.

"Katjuscha 1938 Moscow" by Nick Lobeck - Photo taken at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Moscow, Russia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Katjuscha_1938_Moscow.jpg#/media/File:Katjuscha_1938_Moscow.jpg


The Kubinka Tank Museum has examples of M3 Lee, M4 Sherman and M5 Honey American tanks. Whether they are Lend-Lease or battlefield salvage I do not know (I'm doubtful about the M5 as the US only sent 5 of them). They're painted rather generically.

By Eleferen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Here is a Lend-Lease P-39Q Aircobra at the Aviation Museum of Central Finland, shot down and captured by the Finns during WWII.

"P-39 Airacobra 2006-06-15" by Bergfalke2 - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:P-39_Airacobra_2006-06-15.jpg#/media/File:P-39_Airacobra_2006-06-15.jpg


Large lend-lease naval ships are a bit easier to track down. Here's some examples.

  • 1
    The first museum is the one located in school 1262, according to its website. – Felix Goldberg Sep 20 '15 at 7:44
  • 6
    Living in the US, I have certainly seen WWII equipment still in service. I worked in a factory where the machine shop had Bridgeports and band saws with signs that clearly said "War Finish Production" on them. These were still in use in the 2000's. – Mike Supports Monica Sep 20 '15 at 12:01
  • 6
    @Mike yes, but how many people except those working in heavy industry (where some equipment is built to last decades) would ever see such things? And how many of them are clearly marked as such in a way that is obvious for people to notice. And then in the anti-US sentiment in the USSR for decades how many of those would have those plates removed or replaced to hide their origins? – jwenting Sep 21 '15 at 6:47
  • @jwenting All interesting points – Mike Supports Monica Sep 21 '15 at 13:48
  • 2
    Just saw how the Katyusha carrying Studebaker has no label (where you would expect one). I always assumed it was Soviet-made up to this day. – Vasily Baz Rassokhin Sep 23 '15 at 4:23
21

There is a 1-room American Lend-Lease Museum located in school #1262 6 Zhitnaya Street in Moscow which hardly anyone ever visits. The exhibits include all manner of Lend-Lease items--a jeep, several motorcycles, a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes (green); canteens, compasses, uniform clothing, canned food, etc. and a wall display of photos depicting Lend-Lease events during the war. A proper museum would include samples of the Sherman tanks, locomotives, artillery, trucks and combat aircraft that were delivered to the USSR in the tens of thousands. The museum is difficult to visit since school is in session.The museum is said to be established by lend-lease enthusiasts in Russia. The Russian government has made a concerted effort to downplay America's role in the Russian victory over fascism. During the war, whenever a Russian Sherman tank battalion liberated a city, Stalin forbade victory parades which would reveal the massive Allied contribution to Russian victories. Most of the military hardware was shipped via The Persian Corridor (see Wikipedia for details).Combat aircraft were flown from Alaska to Siberian airfields by Russian air and ground crews who received training in Alaska.

9

Some of the land-lease things were of course consumed. Some things were returned. The following is based on an eyewitness account that I've heard in my youth. The person who told me this was a truck driver in 1945, driving a Studebaker truck. Few months after the war ended, he was told that the truck is to be returned to the US, and it must be in an ideal condition. They spent weeks on repair, and in the end the truck was like new. Then they drove it to Vladivostok, where they were supposed to be loaded to the US ships. He described an enormous line of many thousand trucks (all looked like new). Then he described their surprise: all these wonderful trucks went under press. The press made a little compact piece of metal of each truck, and these pieces were loaded to the ship!

Considering smaller items, I remember I possessed two: a military flask made of aluminium, and stamped "US Army" and a wool sweater, of exceptional quality which I inherited from my mother. According to my mother, this sweater came in a parcel with American help, probably not a part of land-lease, just a private help.

On machine tools. Probably they constituted a very small portion of the US help. When visiting factories in 1960s I've seen a lot of German machinery, and nobody cared to remove labels. But no US machinery.Most of land-lease help consisted of ready, final products.

3

There's a book named Eastern Approaches by a British commando called Fitzroy Maclean, who was attached to the Yugoslav partisans.

I'm quoting from memory, but the gist is:

My American comrade and I accompanied the column of Soviet troops. One Soviet soldier showed off his truck to us. The Soviet boasted 'you can't find engineering like this iN Capitalist countries. Only the socialist system could be capable of creating it'.

The American said to me 'It makes me sick to see a great American car in the hands of these Commies'.

In the interests of inter-allied harmony, I decided to leave both remarks untranslated.

MacLean mentioned that the truck was covered with Soviet emblems, no corporate logos. So your intuition is right, the Soviets rebranded US aid, to the extent that many Soviets apparently didn't know they were receiving it.

2

I will answer the second part of this question first and the first part second.

Second Part of the Question:
I have not in all my years living in Russia seen US labeled machinery. I understand that it has been many years since WWII, but I would expect such technology to survive in some way, like in museums, memorials, etc. I have not found any documentation on this online.

Knowing that Russians were reluctant to admit receiving aid, esp. US aid, could it be that they rebranded the machinery with soviet labels? Or did they just decommission them ASAP?

Any discussion of the overwhelming and unprecedented lend lease supplies provided by the West, primarily the United States must be prefaced with acknowledgement to both the Soviet's contribution to WWII and the motivation behind the West's aid. The Soviet Union, nor Britain, nor the United States were prepared for war when it came. The West's policy to literally flood important supplies and war materials into the soviet union reflected the importance of Soviet Union to defeating Hitler it wasn't altruistic. The eastern front consumed the bulk of Germany's war effort, and endured and inflicted the bulk of the casualties during WWII. The United States lost 420,000 men (military and civilians) in both theaters (Europe and Pacific) in WWII. The United Kingdom lost 450,900 total casualties in WWII. The Soviet Union which barely fought in the Pacific theatre at all (declared war on japan August 9th 1945, three days after the first Atomic Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) suffered 20-27 million casualties during WWII or 15% of the Soviet Union's pre war population.

Stated another way the Soviet's had the only land front in Europe standing against Germany for years during WWII from the evacuation of the British Army at Dunkirk June of 1940 to the allied invasion of Italy September 1943 the Soviet's were the only European land front against Germany. 80 percent of the more than five million German military deaths in World War II occurred on the Eastern Front. The Soviet's did the bulk of the fighting in WWII, and they did the bulk of the dying. That sacrifice makes the unprecedented western aid to the Soviet Union not only look small in comparison, but also an extremely good and productive policy. A policy which permitted the west who could not provide troops yet, to provide what they could in money and material.

Having said this "reluctant" understates the Soviet's willingness to acknowledge western aid during WWII. The Soviet Union as a policy underrepresented and then covered up western Foreign aid from it's people. This was no small task. The aid to the Soviet Union provided by the west; was on the same scale (as measured in tons) as supplies sent from the United States to sustain it's own armed forces in Western Europe for the entirety of world war II.

Lend Lease: Soviet Union
Roughly 17.5 million tons of military equipment, vehicles, industrial supplies, and food were shipped from the Western Hemisphere to the USSR, 94% coming from the US. For comparison, a total of 22 million tons landed in Europe to supply American forces from January 1942 to May 1945. It has been estimated that American deliveries to the USSR through the Persian Corridor alone (1 of 3 supplies corridors) were sufficient, by US Army standards, to maintain sixty combat divisions in the line.

Yes the US gave the soviet Union Billions of dollars in gold and credit, millions of tons in raw materials like petrol, cotton, explosives, and rolled steel; which could have been relatively easily hidden from the citizens; but the West also provided the majority of the USSR's train engines and train cars, tens of thousands of planes, tanks, jeeps, and hundreds of thousands of trucks, millions of tons of food all of which would have needed to be rebranded to entirely hide the origins from the soviet people. This would have been just too large a task. The West's aid to the USSR was just too overwhelming to be rebranded.

Top-6 Soviet World War II myths used by Russia today

  • 12-16% of the equipment of the Soviet armored troops;
  • 10-15% of USSR’s aviation
  • 32.4% of its Navy.
  • 70% of the transport of the Soviet army came from the USA, meaning that the Soviet army drove around mainly on US cars. While the USSR released only 600 trucks for mounting “Katyusha” mortars, the USA contributed 20,000 Studebakers, making it the main vehicle for Soviet artillery.
  • 56% of its railroad tracks
  • 43% of tires
  • 42% of it sugar
  • 108% of meat preserves,
  • 18% of aviation fuel.

The amount of locomotives that the West provided exceeded the USSR’s production by 2.4 times and the amount of train cars – by 10.2 times. The amount of food that the USSR received as part of the lend-lease would have been enough to feed a 10-million army over 1688 days, i.e. the whole course of the war.

.
Rather than rebrand this material they just suppressed any acknowledgment of it from their people during the war, and then after the war suppressed it entirely in their history books.

Lend-Lease: How American supplies aided the USSR in its darkest hour Soviet General Georgy Zhukov said after the end of WWII. "We didn’t have explosives, gunpowder. We didn’t have anything to charge our rifle cartridges with. The Americans really saved us with their gunpowder and explosives. And how much sheet steel they gave us! How could we have produced our tanks without American steel? But now they make it seem as if we had an abundance of all that. Without American trucks we wouldn’t have had anything to pull our artillery with."

.

First Part of the Question:
What happened to US's Lend-Lease machinery given to the Soviet Union?

According to the program, American materials "destroyed, lost or used during the war were not subject to payment." What had to be paid for was the property that remained after the war and was used for civilian purposes.

Lend-Lease: How American supplies aided the USSR in its darkest hour
After the end of WWII the U.S. asked countries to pay for the civilian supplies they received (steamboats, trucks, power plants). The U.S. believed that the USSR had to pay $1.3 billion, yet Soviet government officials said they could only pay $170 million.

Obviously, the U.S. did not accept these conditions, which led to talks in 1972 at which the two countries signed an agreement whereby the USSR was obliged to pay the U.S. $722 million by 2001.

In the course of the following year the Soviet Union paid $48 million, but due to the American Jackson-Vanik amendment the Soviet Union ceased the payments. The amendment restricted trade with countries that impeded emigration and violated other human rights.

1

. -I was assigned to the USCGC SOUTHWIND in the early 1970's. It was a polar class icebreaker that was part of the U. S. Navy (then known as the USS ATKA) during part of World War II. It was turned over from the U. S. Navy to Russia during the second world war under the Lend-Lease Program. I am sure it was because we had occasion to remove labeling from electrical devices that identified the electrical service the device (switches for example) was connected to. The labels were engraved in English on the front but were engraved in Cyrillic on the back. I don't know if ATKA saw a Russian port while in service to Russia. My understanding is that when the war ended Russia abandoned the ship in the ice off Greenland and notified the U. S. government of the ship's location.

  • 1
    Interesting. Doesn't quite match the listed history: " the ship operated in the Russian merchant marine for four-and-one-half years before the Soviet Union returned her to the United States at Yokosuka, Japan, on 28 December 1949." – justCal Jul 20 '17 at 3:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.