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  • [Theme Music]

  • The year is 1941.

  • World War II is entering its third year, France has collapsed, and Great Britain is barely holding on.

  • A last bulwark of democracy against the tide of fascism.

  • Dictatorship rules Europe, and the sleeping giant of the United States has yet to wake.

  • With the collapse of France in 1940, the situation in Europe becomes clear.

  • Without resources from the U.S, all resistance to the Nazi military machine would collapse.

  • No matter how bravely the small island nation of Britain tried to hold out.

  • But America was opposed to war. In fact it goes further.

  • America was opposed to any intervention at all.

  • In the 1930s, the U.S had passed the Neutrality Act.

  • Which not only established that it wasn't going to get involved with foreign wars,

  • But went further, with the prevailing American isolationism of the time,

  • and declared that America wasn't going to sell arms to nations at war.

  • President Roosevelt saw the threat that Nazi Germany posed,

  • and desperately wanted to find ways to support the British war effort.

  • But the Neutrality Act kept his hands tied.

  • When Czechoslovakia fell, he lobbied Congress to renew an old prevision in the Neutrality Act,

  • called Cash and Carry.

  • But, his efforts were rebuffed.

  • Then, Poland fell.

  • And things started to look grim.

  • Finally, on November 5th, 1939, Cash and Carry was renewed.

  • But, Cash and Carry was a limited provision.

  • It allowed for the sale of material to Britain and France, but only if they paid in cash for the material,

  • and transported it all back to Europe themselves.

  • No U.S ship was to enter a war zone.

  • At first, this worked. But as the years dragged on, and France fell,

  • Britain found itself hemorrhaging its reserves.

  • The Battle of Britain, and the campaigning in North Africa had been bleeding it dry.

  • There simply was no more cash in the U.K.

  • And even the British Fleet was being stretched thin.

  • In 1940, Roosevelt established a policy allowing the trade of destroyers to the British,

  • in exchange for bases in British colonies.

  • This policy was definitely pushing the limits of the Neutrality Act,

  • But, technically, it wasn't violating the terms of Cash and Carry.

  • Because the British were trading for the ships rather than buying them,

  • and, hey, ships do a pretty good job of transporting themselves.

  • So... there ya go.

  • This deal really shows the desperation of the situation though.

  • Roosevelt risked a potentially illegal action, because everyone:

  • His staff, and even much of the British staff, saw the capitulation of the British Empire as inevitable.

  • In 1940, everyone thought Britain was on the ropes,

  • mere weeks from being taken down.

  • And so, as a last "Hail Mary", this destroyers-for-bases deal put U.S bases on British colonies,

  • so that they wouldn't simply fall into Nazi hands.

  • But, fortunately, the Battle of Britain was won,

  • And now, the U.S had to enter into more long term thinking.

  • It was time for Lend-Lease.

  • This is one of the critical turning points in the second World War.

  • It's right up there with the German invasion of the Soviet Union,

  • and the United States finally deciding to fully commit to war.

  • Without Lend-Lease,

  • the U.K almost certainly would have fallen.

  • Fascists would gain control over all of Europe,

  • and even if the U.S later decided to enter the war,

  • they'd have no jumping-off point for a European Campaign.

  • But, Lend-Lease, at last

  • meant that the complete industrial power of the U.S

  • would be committed to combating the Nazi War Machine.

  • With Lend-Lease, the U.S had finally picked a side.

  • Y'see, the idea behind Lend-Lease was simple.

  • The U.S would give its strategic partners-

  • And I say "strategic partners" because they're not Allies yet-

  • massive amounts of war material for the duration of the war.

  • After which, these "strategic partners" were supposed to give that material back.

  • Funny thing about war material though,

  • not a lot of it tends to come back in the same condition you lent it out in.

  • And the U.S knew this.

  • This was essentially the largest donation of war material in the history of mankind.

  • And it wasn't just tanks and bombs.

  • It was foodstuffs and telephone cabling.

  • It was trucks and clothing.

  • Heck, the U.S even shipped 2000 locomotives and 11,000 train cars

  • over to the USSR to bolster their rail infrastructure.

  • This was a huge portion of the U.S economy

  • going to cover the material cost of the war.

  • While other nations were carrying the bulk of the human cost.

  • And the sheer size of this effort is indescribable.

  • It helped to drag the U.S out of the Great Depression,

  • and galvanized American production.

  • It meant sending millions of tons overseas,

  • shipping on a scale heretofore unimaginable during times of war.

  • It meant giving away more goods

  • than the entire world would have been able to produce annually

  • a mere 75 years before.

  • But, like all things,

  • this decision wasn't as straightforward as we sometimes like to think of it.

  • Looking back on it today,

  • it's easy to see the results of this Herculean task

  • and how fully America threw herself into the effort,

  • and just assume that the entire nation was unified behind this cause.

  • That it had broad support.

  • But democracies are, by design, messy things,

  • and even on the issue of Lend-Lease,

  • voting in the U.S Congress was split almost exactly down party lines.

  • But once the measure was passed,

  • America really did embrace this decision

  • to truly be the arsenal of democracy.

  • To be the engine of war for the anti-fascist world.

  • And that leads me to a particular group I'd like to talk about.

  • A group who's too rarely remembered and celebrated.

  • A group whose battles were rarely glorious.

  • They never took cities or gained territory,

  • but they're the group of Americans who risked their lives earliest.

  • And sacrificed the most.

  • They had higher casualty percentages than any of the other American Armed Services during the war.

  • And they, very arguably, saved the free world.

  • I would like to take this moment to acknowledge the service of the Merchant Marine.

  • These are the men and women who serve as sailors to transport goods during wartime.

  • They served in unarmed civilian ships,

  • hauling necessary supplies to Allied Forces throughout the war.

  • Sailing the Atlantic,

  • everyday they faced the harrowing dread of the submarine.

  • At any moment, they might lose their lives

  • to an unseen and invisible vessel far below the waves.

  • They served simply as prey.

  • Unable to fight back against an enemy that might-

  • at any time-

  • strike without warning.

  • To die asphyxiating in a steel tomb, or

  • freezing in the unforgiving waters of the Atlantic,

  • are horrors that no one would want to face.

  • And yet, these sailors faced that everyday.

  • Not for glory, but simply because it was a job that needed to be done.

  • And these threats were so real and omnipresent,

  • that the Merchant Marine became one of the first uses of statistical operations research.

  • The frequency of attacks on the Merchant Marine

  • presented enough data for decisions to be made about the optimal size of a convoy,

  • And the escort it might require.

  • Evidence all gathered off the backs of broken ships,

  • and drowned sailors.

  • But despite all of this,

  • many of the men and women of the Merchant Marines

  • signed up for voyage after voyage.

  • Returning to the seas to make sure that the material of Lend-Lease

  • always got through.

  • And though the U.S wouldn't officially enter the war for nine more months,

  • Lend-Lease made members of the Merchant Marines

  • some of the first U.S citizens to give their lives

  • for the Allied Cause in World War II.

  • And in doing so,

  • though their sacrifice is rarely celebrated,

  • they helped change the course of history.

  • Join us next week, as we look more closely at how

  • the lack of specific natural resources drove Axis policy.

  • And explore how many of the synthetic

  • products we know today

  • came to be during the second world war.

  • [Ending Music]

[Theme Music]

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B1 US war lease lend material britain british

WW2: The Resource War - Lend-Lease - Extra History - #2

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    香蕉先生 posted on 2022/06/25
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