Published Date

January 1, 1945

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 13: How Shall Lend-Lease Accounts Be Settled? (1945)

Lend-lease is a subject about which Americans in general are badly informed. And yet it is one that we should understand.

As long, as the war continues, we can expect lend-lease to be a vital part of the joint war effort of the United Nations. When the war ends, some settlement of lend-lease accounts must be made. The settlement decided upon, it is hoped, will seem fair to all peoples concerned. But unless we know the whys and wherefores of lend-lease while we are using it as a weapon against our enemies, it is quite possible that the settlement may lead to unhappy misunderstandings between us and our foreign friends.

This pamphlet states clearly and simply the basic provisions of our lend-lease agreements, the extent of American contributions to the lend-lease pool of supplies, the meaning and extent of “reverse lend-lease,” the criticisms of how lend-lease works in practice, and the problems which we will face when the time for settling, lend-lease accounts comes. On the basis of this material, a discussion leader can plan a thoroughly worth-while meeting, or two.

The material is complete enough to be useful in conducting a large forum of the “town meeting” type, a panel discussion, a debate, a small and informal discussion group, or a radio forum or discussion. The techniques of various kinds of meeting are described in EM 1, GI Roundtable: Guide for Discussion Leaders, which should be in every leader’s library. Leaders who are especially interested in conducting roundtable discussion programs over available radio stations or sound systems should secure also EM 90, GI Radio Roundtable.


Questions for discussion

The questions that follow are intended to help you organize your discussion. If you have better ideas, don’t hesitate to rise there.

  1. What is lend-lease? Why and how did it get started? Who decides just what we shall lend other nations? What were the original arguments in favor of lend-lease? What arguments were advanced against it? Do you think we would have had a chance to beat the Axis without lend-lease? Who is eligible for lend-lease aid from the United States? What is lend-lease costing us in dollars? What share of our war expense does this represent? Does lend-lease provide only for war materials? What goods have been “lend-leased” and where? Do you think that a proper use of lend-lease is to build up a common pool of war materials for the United Nations? Does lend-lease provide for what are usually known as “loans” to foreign nations?
  2. What is reverse lend-lease? Is it a means of paying us back? Is it a means of providing us with materials and services we need to conduct the war? Is it a foreign contribution to the common pool of war materials? Under reverse lend-lease does a foreign government make a “loan” to the United States? How much reverse lend-lease aid have we received? From whom? Why should we need such aid? How has reverse lend-lease affected our shipping requirements?
  3. Do you think that lead-lease has been well managed? Are we contributing more than our fair share? Are we getting credit for our generosity? Is generosity the reason we contribute to the lend-lease pool? Do you think our contributions under lend-lease are made primarily for our own benefit? Are we sure that our allies use lend-lease supplies as we intend? Do you think we use reverse lend-lease aid to us is foreign nations expect? Do you think lend-lease will bankrupt the United States?
  4. Can lend-lease accounts be settled to the satisfaction of all concerned? If we have put more into the lend-lease pool than our friends, should we expect cash payment for the difference? Will lend-lease lead to war debts? Are cash or credit the only means by which we can be repaid? Can lend-lease contributions by the United Nations always be assigned a dollars-and-cents value? Should the sacrifices of all nations in terms of lives lost and property destroyed be taken into account? Is it likely that the method used for settling accounts may stimulate or hinder postwar trade with foreign nations? Should all leftover materials be returned to us after the war? Should they be sold or given to other nations? Should we use our lend-lease balance to obtain strategic bases?


Graphic presentation of facts and issues is a great aid to good discussion. You can produce them roughly on a blackboard or large sheets of paper. Three are suggested: (1) a reproduction of the table of the value of our exports under lend-lease on page 22; (2) a table showing dollar volume of reverse lend-lease made from the facts given under the heading “Reverse Lend-Lease,” pages 23–27; (3) a list of the four major questions printed above in italics under “Questions for Discussion.”


Informed members in your group will improve the quality of your meeting. Make copies of this pamphlet available for advance reading in some central place—library, dayroom, service club, or other accessible spot.


Suggestions for Further Reading

These books are suggested for supplementary reading if it so happens that you have access to them. They are not approved nor officially supplied by the War Department. They have been selected because they give additional information and represent different points of view.

Reports to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations. By President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Printed at Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C. These appear quarterly, June 11, 1941 to date. They describe lend-lease operations, indicate government policy, and give statistical summaries.

Lend-Lease, Weapon for Victory. By Edward P. Stettinius, Jr. Published by Macmillan Company, 60 Fifth Ave., New York 11, N. Y., and by Pocket Books Inc., 1230 Sixth Ave., New York 20, N. Y. (1044). This is the only full-length account of the origin and operation of lend-lease.

If you want to go further into the economic issues involved, you might try the following from the many writings available.

War Debts and World Prosperity. By Harold G. Moulton and Leo Pasvolsky. Published for Brookings Institution, 722 Jackson Place, NAV., Washington 6, D. C. (1932).

The Changing Pattern of International Economic Affairs. By Herbert Feis. Published by Harper and Brothers, 49 East 33rd St., New York 16, N. Y. (1940).

The Reconstruction of World Trade: A Survey of International Economic Relations. By John B. Condliffe. Published by W. W. Norton and Company, 70 Fifth Ave., New York, N. Y. (1940).

The United States in The World Economy. No. 23 of Economic Series, published by Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, United States Department of Commerce, Washington, D. C. (1943).