The Pittsburgh Press (October 22, 1941)
U.S. fears loss of foothold for democracies in Europe
By Lyle C. Wilson, United Press staff writer
Washington, Oct. 22 –
High Lend-Lease officials expressed fear today that if the Soviet Union goes down the democracies will lose the last possible European foothold from which to launch an offensive against Hitler.
They have agreed with President Roosevelt on a steep increase on aid to the Russians to speed immediate and “very substantial” deliveries of airplanes, tanks, guns and ammunition. The President is expected to make an announcement on aid to Russia this week.
W. Averell Harriman, Lend-Lease expediter and head of the United States mission to Moscow, has reported to Mr. Roosevelt that Soviet Union requests were “reasonable.” Shipments are expected to move from Boston across the Atlantic to Arkhangelsk on the White Sea.
The situation frankly is viewed as critical. Emphasis here in the importance of keeping the Russians in the fight coupled with the British government’s firm refusal to undertake landing operations in the West indicated a hope in both Washington and London that the full force of democratic attack ultimately could be hurled at Germany from the East.
Doubt that Great Britain would risk a “diversion” landing operation against Germany in the West for many months more increased with announcement in London that Anglo-American production would have to be tripled or quadrupled before the British could undertake an overland attack.
Federal officials, meanwhile, foresaw some time ago the probable necessity of transferring to the Soviet Union funds earmarked in the pending Lend-Lease bill for Great Britain, China or, possibly, South America.
The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved the big war aid bill with the $5,985,000,000 Lend-Lease figure intact. Some minor changes and additions were made in other items in the bill. As approved by the committee, it carries $6,161,628,326. The Senate will begin consideration of the bill tomorrow.
Published Senate Appropriations Committee testimony heard in secret revealed that no funds were sought for the Soviet Union but that Oscar S. Cox, Lend-Lease general counsel, foresaw the possibility of diversion.
Mr. Cox said:
At the time this was made up, it appeared Russia would be able to purchase her requirements out of her own funds. It is possible that we may have to divert some of the funds in the requested appropriations.
Mr. Harriman’s report to Mr. Roosevelt at yesterday’s aid-to-Russia conference was optimistic and insistent upon the cold determination of the Russian people to fight it out. After the conference, he ducked questions about the results, if any, of his inquiries in Moscow regarding religious freedom. He referred that explosive issue to Mr. Roosevelt, who instructed him to raise it coincident with the armament discussion from which he has just returned.
Mr. Harriman told questioners:
The Russian government needs substantial quantities of munitions and raw materials. We analyzed their requests and found them reasonable.
In addition, we were able to promise delivery either from Britain or the United States of substantially all the material that Joseph Stalin asked for in the next months.