Chapter 3 - The Cold War Builds From the Hitler-Stalin Pact to the Iron Curtain 1939 to 1950

critically needed ships, planes, armor, ammunition, and food to the besieged British people. As detailed below, when Stalin decided to resist Nazi Germany after Hitler’s June 1941 invasion of Soviet Russia, the U.S. also sent massive direct aid to beleaguered Soviet forces.

U.S. Military Aid to Great Britain. After Germany expanded the war in May 1940 by invading Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, the U.S. rapidly increased the flow of war supplies to Europe, especially to Great Britain. According to William Langer’s Encyclopedia of World History, 1972, the U.S. War Department on June 3, 1940:

released figures on replacement equipment shipments from the U.S. to Great Britain as having “included a . . . first shipment, including 5,000,000 rifles, 80,000 machine guns, 900 75mm. field guns, and 130,000,000 rounds of ammunition, reached Britain.1

Lend-Lease as “Fire-Fighting.” Already in November 1939, two months after Hitler and Stalin jointly launched the Second World War, Roosevelt signed an amendment to the U.S. Neutrality Act that repealed the embargo on U.S. arms sales and made exports to belligerent nations available on a cash-and-carry basis. At the same time, he proposed an equal division of America’s war output between the United States and Britain as well as the creation of large war credit funds. At a Press Conference on December 17, 1940 he previewed the U.S. Lend-Lease Act of March 11, 1941, a dramatic “fire-fighting” rationale for urgent U.S. overseas assistance, as he sought to turn isolationist-minded Americans away from the popular “America First” slogan that had blinded the country to mounting strategic dangers emanating from Europe.

In the present world situation of course there is absolutely no doubt in the mind of a very overwhelming number of Americans that the best immediate defense of the United States is the success of Great Britain in defending itself. . . . Suppose my neighbor’s home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose. . . . If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire. . . . We would enter into some kind of arrangement for [the use of planes or guns] by the British on the ground that it was the best thing for American defense.2

U.S. Aid in Britain’s and France’s Battle for Survival—1940. In spite of their heroism, it is very unlikely that the British people could have remained free from Nazi rule without the massive U.S. aid that came to them through the updated “Lend Lease” agreements and a new “Stimson-Layton” agreement that pooled British and American technical information on armaments. In June 1940 the British had to evacuate their forces and the remnants of French forces from Dunkirk, France (see De Gaulle Speech on the French Resistance) as German armies closed in on them. In the summer and fall of 1940, the British defenders benefited from the leadership of the indomitable Winston Churchill, e.g. Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat, and The Few, as well as the promise of massive American help coming over the horizon. They stood essentially alone during their “finest hour” when hit by the Nazis’ bombing “blitz” on London, Coventry, and other British cities and when they fought the air “Battle of Britain” in the summer of 1940 in which they shot down over 2,300 German aircraft. They vigorously prepared for and deterred an expected German invasion (“Operation Sea Lion”). In that same fall of 1940, they also initiated the bombing of German cities and took on formidable German and Italian forces in North Africa and the Western Mediterranean.

The Soviets on Hitler’s Side—1939 to June 1941. In contrast to the righteous valor of the Western democracies, the Soviet Union remained a loyal ally of Nazi Germany throughout a pivotal period of twenty-two months of the Second World War. The British and Free French fought the armies, air armadas, and submarines of Hitler’s Third Reich, and the United States sent critical supplies across the Atlantic. During those months, Stalin’s Soviet Union, in contrast, readily accepted and even cheered Hitler’s conquests of Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France. Through the Hitler-Stalin Pact’s cynical division of Eastern Europe by the Nazi and Soviet totalitarians, the Soviets conquered half of Poland and by early October had occupied the independent Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and other neighboring territories, including parts of Romania. On November 30, 1939, the Soviets also invaded Finland. Although they were faced by strong opposition from the Finns and were expelled from the League of Nations for their aggression on December 14. On March 12, 1940 they forced major territorial concessions from Finland. Like Lenin in the First World War, Stalin appeared to truly enjoy the “war between the capitalists” that according to Marxist-Leninist theory would confirm the final “crisis of capitalism” that would pave the road for the western democracies’ self-destruction and successful pro-Soviet Communist revolutions throughout Europe.

[Book pg. 51]