Nikita S. Khrushchev holding up his drink to make a toast after the chess game at the US Embassy Independence Day Party. (Photo by Leonard Mccombe/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)
Nikita Krushchev admitted in his memoirs that without Lend-Lease 'our losses would have been colossal' © The LIFE Images Collection via G

Professor Geoffrey Roberts (Letters, February 3) is right to claim that Allied aid to the Soviet Union did not save the country in 1941. US Lend-Lease only played a part after the Moscow Campaign. But Prof Roberts argues that this aid began to arrive after Stalingrad “when the war had already turned in the Allies’ favour”.

This ignores the fact that it was only Lend-Lease that allowed the great Red Army counter-offensive into eastern Europe, Operation Bagration. US aid ultimately proved pivotal to the Soviet war economy. Some 20,000 American Dodge trucks and 400,000 Jeeps allowed the Soviets to prioritise tank production and so produce nearly 60,000 T-34s before the end of the conflict.

Nikita Khrushchev, future premier of the USSR, admitted in his memoirs that Lend-Lease was vital: “Just imagine how we would have advanced from Stalingrad to Berlin without [American transport]. Our losses would have been colossal because we would have had no manoeuvrability . . . Without [US food supplies] we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army. We had lost our most fertile lands — the Ukraine and the northern Caucasus.”

Khrushchev went further and admitted: “Several times I heard Stalin acknowledge [Lend-Lease] within the small circle of people around him. He said that . . . if we had had to deal with Germany one-to-one we would not have been able to cope because we lost so much of our country.”

Perhaps the last word should be left to Marshal Georgy Zhukov, who masterminded the Red Army victories. He admitted, in a bugged conversation in 1963, that without Lend-Lease the USSR “could not have continued the war”.

Anthony Martin
London SE15, UK

Letter in response to this letter:

Both Lend-Lease and strategic bombing enabled the Soviets to play their part / From Maciej Olex-Szczytowski, Warsaw, Poland

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