The Holocaust Historiography Project

The Pro-Red Orchestra In the USA, 1941

Diplomatic moves toward vastly increased military aid to Stalin

In the meantime, however, simultaneously with its losing effort on the pro-Soviet propaganda circuit, the administration was moving ahead rapidly and successfully in its military aid program for Stalin. The same issue of Time which unfolded the details of Roosevelt’s lighthearted encomium to religious freedom in the USSR described the famous meeting in Moscow of the U.S.A.’s Averell Harriman, Britain’s Lord Beaverbrook and Stalinist diplomat Molotov. No one saw the incongruity of the spectacle of two capitalist millionaires collaborating with a Bolshevik super-bureaucrat potentate dedicated to their destruction, in the creation of what Time hailed as an “Anti-Hitler Front,” even if the U.S.A. still was not formally in the war. (It was fifteen years later that Molotov described the start of World War Two as the result of a successful stunt by the Soviet Union in precipitating a civil war among the capitalist states.(119)

The preparation of this famous semi-summit meeting was well shielded from public attention, as were almost all pro-war maneuvers by the FDR regime, though a report on Harriman’s famous pledge of American backing for Stalin on September 29, 1941, was printed deep in the back pages of Newsweek at the same moment Time was exulting over the Moscow meeting: “I am instructed to pledge you the very fullest support today, tomorrow and as long as the struggle lasts and until ultimate victory comes."(120) It surely was obvious by now that capitalism and Communism had no trouble getting along in a time of trial, as later scholarship demonstrated took place at the very moment the Bolshevik revolution was precipitated.

It is amazing that hardly any mention took place of the administration extending to Stalin the benefits of Lend-Lease on the same terms as were enjoyed by Britain and Nationalist China, surely one of the most fateful events of World War II. A billion dollar credit was established on October 30, 1941, following the drawing up of the first Russian protocol in Moscow October 1. But most news sources in America spent their space on the growing warmness of the administration toward the Soviet, in non-material gestures, and a parallel program of glamorizing Stalin, which started at a strong clip in mid-autumn of 1941.

Roosevelt figured prominently in the sensational news from Moscow related to the extension of unlimited American aid to the Stalinist war machine. Time on October 20 highlighted his announcement that vast supplies were already on their way, and added something unexpected, a reproduction of FDR’s cordial personal letter to Stalin, which apparently the administration hoped to conceal. It actually was leaked by the German news agency, DNB, which was followed by what Time called a “wry admission” that it was authentic despite the source which revealed it.(121) A great flurry over how it had been leaked out took place, with all hands in Washington and Moscow denying any part in divulging this secret. It is significant that the letter was not transmitted to Stalin by an American worker with high regard for the Workers' Fatherland, but by another millionaire, Ambassador Steinhardt, to Harriman, and then to the Red premier, whom few in these agitated days any longer chose to call a “dictator,” a word now reserved only for the leaders of the enemy. This letter summarized the attitudes of the admirers of the Red Army in particular, closing with the fervent promise of material support: “I would like to express my great confidence that your armies will be victorious in the end over Hitler and to assure you of the greatest determination to afford the necessary material assistance.”

This letter should have left no doubt whatever in the minds of all Americans as to where their President stood now, and it is mystifying that so little was done with this by the opponents of involvement in the war. Obsessed with actual moves committing the U.S.A. to direct involvement in the shooting, they neglected to size up the full implications of what went on in Moscow in October 1941. And despite the increasingly ominous buildup of pro- belligerence in the Pacific, one could hardly consider the U.S.A. under Roosevelt a non-participant in what was happening in Eastern Europe. Time gave top billing the following week to a survey of the impressions of the Soviet Union by the U.S. mission “headed by slick, handsome William Averell Harriman,” whose associates as well as himself were described as “eagle-eyed fact- minded men.” Among their observations was reported their impressions of Communist censorship, which they thought made that of the Germans “look like children playing with paper dolls,” a statement which actually seriously undermined several years of horror stories by German emigres in America. The meat of this new message was a recommendation from them that “a real agreement or treaty of alliance with Great Britain and Russia” be drawn up as soon as it was “politically possible."(122)

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