Lend-Lease

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Lend-Lease (Public Law 77-11)[1] was the name of the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, France and other Allied nations with vast amounts of war material between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on 11 March 1941, over 18 months after the outbreak of the European war in September 1939, but before the U.S. entrance into the war in December 1941. It was called An Act Further to Promote the Defense of the United States. This act also ended the pretense of the neutrality of the United States. Hitler recognized this and in response ordered German submarines to attack US vessels such as the SS Robin Moor, an unarmed merchant steamship sunk on 21 May 1941 outside of the war zone.

A total of $50.1 billion (equivalent to $759 billion at 2008 prices) worth of supplies were shipped: $31.4 billion to Britain, $11.3 billion to the Soviet Union, $3.2 billion to France and $1.6 billion to China. Reverse Lend Lease comprised services (like rent on air bases) that went to the U.S. totaled $7.8 billion, of which $6.8 billion came from the British and the Commonwealth. The terms of the agreement provided that the material was to be used until time for their return or destruction. (Supplies after the termination date were sold to Britain at a discount, for £1.075 billion, using long-term loans from the U.S.) Canada operated a similar program that sent $4.7 billion in supplies to Britain and the Soviet Union.[2]

This program was a decisive step away from American non-interventionism since the end of World War I and towards international involvement. There was no debt--the U.S. did not charge for the aid during the war (though it did charge for aid delivered after the war).

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