To Russia With Love

ADN-ZB/TASS II. Weltkrieg 1939-45 Schlacht um Stalingrad vom Juli 1942 bis Februar 1943 über dem zentralen Platz in Stalingrad weht die sowjetische Fahne - die Rote Armee hat gesiegt; Ende Januar, Anfang Februar 1943

This Soviet photo and German caption celebrates the Red Army’s historic victory over Nazi invaders at Stalingrad. The US supplied its Soviet ally with much-needed aid. ADN-ZB/TASS
II. Weltkrieg 1939-45
Schlacht um Stalingrad vom Juli 1942 bis Februar 1943
über dem zentralen Platz in Stalingrad weht die sowjetische Fahne – die Rote Armee hat gesiegt; Ende Januar, Anfang Februar 1943

In these Cold War-ish days of heightened American-Russian tensions, it’s worth remembering a time when we stood shoulder to shoulder against the common enemy of civilization, the scourge of Nazism. That era is memorialized in the Luther Gulick papers of the Institute of Public Administration Collection.

Gulick, called to Washington from his IPA offices in New York, served and directed an alphabet soup of FDR’s wartime agencies, including the Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation. Which is where we find him on October, 25, 1943 when the Office of Lend Lease Administration writes him as chief of the OFRR’s Programs and Requirements Division  to report — secretly, of course — on the aid Roosevelt is shipping Stalin to withstand the German onslaught.

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From October 1, 1941 to Sept. 30, 1943, it totaled $22 million — in today’s dollars $302,410,000. Not all Uncle Joe wanted from his Uncle Sam but hardly a pittance either. Indeed, it was money well spent. The Red Army and populace took the brunt of Hitler’s aggression, at a horrific cost in lives and property. But their brave resistance bled the Nazi forces as well, halting their rampage before it could be fully turned against England and the West, thereby changing the fortunes of war and all history.

We give thanks, to be sure.

So what did America give the Russians?

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Food: almost 330,000 net short tons of wheat and flour, 254,000 tons of sugar and 303,000 tons of canned meat, among other foodstuff — a total of nearly 1.7 million tons of nourishment.

Clothing: 14.5 million yards of woolens, 27,000 tons of leather and nearly 4.9 million pairs of boots.

As Churchill so eloquently put it in 1941: “Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”

Well done, comrades!

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