The Holocaust Historiography Project

The Pro-Red Orchestra In the USA, 1941

Some practical consequences of Soviet aid get aired

But the war party had to have their war first before they took up the problems anticipated by the editors of the Post. The post-war era offered endless opportunities to maintain such foresight never took place, and to launch limitless schemes to obfuscate the situation with lies and evasions. The growing material complications and the impact of the war on the American socio-economic complex probably had generated enough momentum by now to render the situation out of control and incapable of being handled within the confines of cool extrapolation of its likely consequences.

For instance, it was remarkable how quickly the drive to furnish material assistance to the Soviet switched, from the comfortable assurance to the American general public that such would be paid for in cash, to putting Stalin on the Lend-Lease gravy train of unrequited blank checks, ultimately to be made good by public taxes, or simply added to the national debt. Even for the businessmen a line was developed to soften their presumably hard hearts, as it was obvious that a goodly part of U.S. aid to Russia was intended to make possible a formidable Communist capital buildup behind the Ural Mountains, Soviet territory west of this region being conceded to the invading Germans. U.S. News on November 14, 1941 ran a pointed piece on this subject. It described a deliberate “strategic retreat” of the Reds to this new concentration point, and the construction of vast industry there, assisted by “the interest-free lend-lease loan of $1,000,000,000 announced by the State Department.” There was no more talk of Soviet payment from their funds on American deposit, or their allegedly vast caches of gold. The contribution to the war of this strategy was supposedly the part it all played in dangerously extending German supply lines, across an immense area systematically laid waste. By “leaving ruin in their wake,” the Reds were rendering the region a total economic liability to its occupiers.(149) Once again this superb bit of Communist propaganda was making its double point, taking credit for wrecking their own land via a scorched-earth policy now, though retaining the option to blame the Germans for it later, and assessing immense reparations payments. This persuasive bit of brainwash for still-troubled American business and finance was decorated by a glamor picture of grinning “Soviet Artillery Cadets,” little more than an assemblage of teen age boys. How this material was to reach Stalin was another matter.

Though much of the frenzied talk by interventionists about the need to repeal the Neutrality Acts in behalf of beleaguered Britain dominated the surface, there was a quiet strain in this same verbal onslaught concerned with the Soviet. Having no merchant fleet of any consequence and being far more distant than the United Kingdom, a logistical problem prevailed here of even greater magnitude than that which faced the suppliers of “bundles for Britain.” The barriers against American merchant ships supplying belligerents had to go down if the aid promised to Stalin were to materialize in the USSR. U.S. News played a revealing part in this matter as well. In its pro-and-con column on views on the subject,(150) it printed two vociferous pro-repeal votes from Gifford Pinchot, a venerable government bureaucrat whose tenure on the public payroll went back to the turn of the century, and the millionaire Cleveland industrialist Cyrus S. Eaton. In hailing the drive to repeal the Neutrality Act still in the way, Eaton singled out for special commendation three Vermont Republicans for their contribution thereto: Senator Warren Austin for introducing the resolution to repeal, Rep. Plumley for supporting the move to arm U.S. merchant ships, and Governor Willis for calling for a Republican Party caucus “to end obstruction of national defense.” Eaton’s concluding accolade to these three commended their actions as “encouraging signs that the traditional Republican foreign policy” “will again prevail in party councils.” Eaton apparently was of the view that “traditional Republican foreign policy” and the existing recently-amended Roosevelt New Deal foreign policy were one and the same.

And, in an editorial invocation which blessed all these developments, David Lawrence announced his conviction that Hitler had already lost the war; his conquests had simply generated hate, Russia was now in arms against him and “the United States is on the way.” Hitler, Lawrence was sure, must have become aware by this moment (November 14, 1941) that “the President of the United States, the head of a democratic state, has boldly loaned a billion dollars in supplies to Josef Stalin, the dictator of a totalitarian state.” “Ideologies have been swept aside,” and it now was not the time “to argue the merits or demerits of allies in war"; “God moves in strange ways his wonders to perform."(151) Mr. Lawrence had discerned divine guidance in the ex- tending of lend-lease to Communist Russia. There would be decades for him after 1945 to wail and grumble about the awful threat of Stalinist Communism and its descendants to the very future of the galaxy, during which time he never again discerned the intervention of the Deity in behalf of his politics.

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