Ford Motor Company signs agreement with Soviet Union

Ford Motor Company signs agreement with Soviet Union

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After two years of exploratory visits and friendly negotiations, Ford Motor Company signs a landmark agreement to produce cars in the Soviet Union on May 30, 1929.

The Soviet Union, which in 1928 had only 20,000 cars and a single truck factory, was eager to join the ranks of automotive production, and Ford, with its focus on engineering and manufacturing methods, was a natural choice to help. The always independent-minded Henry Ford was strongly in favor of his free-market company doing business with Communist countries. An article published in May 1929 in The New York Times quoted Ford as saying that “No matter where industry prospers, whether in India or China, or Russia, all the world is bound to catch some good from it.”

Signed in Dearborn, Michigan, on May 31, 1929, the contract stipulated that Ford would oversee construction of a production plant at Nizhny Novgorod, located on the banks of the Volga River, to manufacture Model A cars. An assembly plant would also start operating immediately within Moscow city limits. In return, the USSR agreed to buy 72,000 unassembled Ford cars and trucks and all spare parts to be required over the following nine years, a total of some $30 million worth of Ford products. Valery Meshlauk, vice chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy, signed the Dearborn agreement on behalf of the Soviets. To comply with its side of the deal, Ford sent engineers and executives to the Soviet Union.

At the time the U.S. government did not formally recognize the USSR in diplomatic negotiations, so the Ford agreement was groundbreaking. (A week after the deal was announced the Soviet Union would announce deals with 15 other foreign companies, including E.I. du Pont de Nemours and RCA.) As Douglas Brinkley writes in “Wheels for the World,” his book on Henry Ford and Ford Motor, the automaker was firm in his belief that introducing capitalism was the best way to undermine communism. In any case, Ford’s assistance in establishing motor vehicle production facilities in the USSR would greatly impact the course of world events, as the ability to produce these vehicles helped the Soviets defeat Germany on the Eastern Front during World War II. In 1944, according to Brinkley, Stalin wrote to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, calling Henry Ford “one of the world’s greatest industrialists” and expressing the hope that “may God preserve him.”

READ MORE: The Cars That Made America

Ford signs agreement with Soviet Union - May 31, 1929 -

TSgt Joe C.

After two years of exploratory visits and friendly negotiations, Ford Motor Company signs a landmark agreement to produce cars in the Soviet Union on this day in 1929.

The Soviet Union, which in 1928 had only 20,000 cars and a single truck factory, was eager to join the ranks of automotive production, and Ford, with its focus on engineering and manufacturing methods, was a natural choice to help. The always independent-minded Henry Ford was strongly in favor of his free-market company doing business with Communist countries. An article published in May 1929 in The New York Times quoted Ford as saying that “No matter where industry prospers, whether in India or China, or Russia, all the world is bound to catch some good from it.”

Signed in Dearborn, Michigan, on May 31, 1929, the contract stipulated that Ford would oversee construction of a production plant at Nizhni Novgorod, located on the banks of the Volga River, to manufacture Model A cars. An assembly plant would also start operating immediately within Moscow city limits. In return, the USSR agreed to buy 72,000 unassembled Ford cars and trucks and all spare parts to be required over the following nine years, a total of some $30 million worth of Ford products. Valery U. Meshlauk, vice chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy, signed the Dearborn agreement on behalf of the Soviets. To comply with its side of the deal, Ford sent engineers and executives to the Soviet Union.

Cars for Comrades

Cars and communism did not get along very well, at least not in the Soviet Union’s formative decades. Few and far between at the time of the October Revolution, private automobiles got scarcer still during the tumult of civil war and for some time thereafter. Then in May 1929, the Soviet government signed a technical assistance agreement with the Ford Motor Company to build an integrated automobile factory near Nizhni Novgorod (later, Gor’kii). However, the resultant Gor’kii Automobile Factory (GAZ), was celebrated more for its vastness (“the largest factory in Europe”), and the wonder of its assembly line than for its products, chiefly the Ford-derived Model A car and 1.5 ton Model AA truck. The production of trucks – vital for military purposes and the delivery of goods within the burgeoning cities – vastly outpaced car production. The party and government elite might have cars and drivers at their disposal, but very few people actually owned a motor vehicle.

Only after World War II did Stalin make a slight concession to the comrades. He approved the production of two new models – the Pobeda (Victory), a swoop-back sedan produced by GAZ, and the Moskvich (Muscovite), a replica of the pre-war German Opel Kadett produced by the Moscow Small Car Factory – and set aside a certain proportion of each for purchase by individuals. Priced at 16,000 and 9,000 rubles respectively, the cars were way beyond the means of the average worker whose wage stood at about 600 rubles per month. But so few were produced – only a little more than six thousand in 1946 and less than ten thousand in 1947 – that demand significantly exceeded supply. Trade unions organized waiting lists that could mean the deferment of one’s dreams of owning a car for upwards of six years. By the time it was phased out in 1958, just under 236,000 Pobedas had been produced by GAZ. Built to withstand the roughest of driving conditions, the car was exported to other Soviet bloc countries (including China) and to Finland as well. The Moskvich, an inferior product in just about every respect, went through periodic modifications in subsequent decades. Except for the even more diminutive Zaporozhets that began production in the late 1950s, it remained the most “proletarian” of Soviet cars.

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the prestige spectrum, Moscow’s Stalin Factory (ZIS) was turning out the ZIS-110, a limited edition limousine patterned after a pre-war American Packard. With a 600 cc eight-cylinder engine, the most powerful installed in a Soviet car up to that point, the ZIS-110 was capable of speeds of up to 140 km/hr. More than any other, it represented the Soviet state on wheels. Its components came from a broad range of enterprises – 73 in all – scattered throughout the country. These included processing plants that supplied cork padding for interior panels and – fittingly for a product at this point in Soviet history – the Gulag-run Sokol’niki labor camp that furnished some of the leather upholstery. When it came to distributing the finished product, Moscow received favored treatment as it did in so many other respects. Of the 71 vehicles assigned by the middle of 1946, 38 remained in the Soviet capital. Kiev got seven, Leningrad three, and Minsk, Riga, Tallinn, Kishinev, Kaunas, and Petrozavodsk received four each. Between 1945 and 1958 ZIS sent forth a total of 2083 units, including small numbers of armor-plated (ZIS-115) and convertible (ZIS-110B) versions. The armor-plated model, completed in 1947, went into production just after the American atomic bomb blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The car did not have to endure that punishment, but it truly was a “bunker on wheels,” a real colossus. With added layers of steel and seven-centimeter thick plexiglass windows, it weighed in at more than seven tons and required special wheels and tires to bear the additional weight. ZIS only made a few dozen, most of which it dispatched directly to the Kremlin. Stalin reputedly had five of them at his disposal, using a different one every day as a safety precaution.

Soviets Failing a Lesson Taught by Henry Ford

As Mikhail S. Gorbachev makes a pitch during his New York visit for more business with the United States, his government is returning to an old Russian standby and once again asking Ford Motor Co. to make cars in the Soviet Union.

The immediate story is that the Soviet automotive ministry is talking to Ford about modernizing a 60-year-old car plant in the city of Gorky to manufacture Ford Scorpio models in the Soviet Union.

The talks, which could lead to a deal by next spring, are part of Gorbachev’s stepped up efforts to modernize the Soviet economy through ventures with international companies. Talks are also being held with Eastman Kodak, Johnson & Johnson, Chevron and other U.S. companies, as well as with Japanese and European firms.

But Gorbachev, for all the excitement of his visit this week, is but the latest in a long line of Soviet leaders who have asked Western industry to make things for the U.S.S.R. Yet none of those past efforts have led to much progress for Soviet industry, which remains backward on the ground though the country vaults into space. The contacts with Ford say a lot about why that’s the case.

Lenin himself, the founder of the U.S.S.R., was the first Soviet leader who wanted to do business with Ford. At Lenin’s direction, Armand Hammer--the chairman of Occidental Petroleum who was among the first Americans to do business with the Soviet Union--brought Ford tractors into the U.S.S.R.

Later, in 1929 under Josef Stalin, the Soviet Union persuaded Ford to cooperate on building and supervising a car plant in Gorky to turn out Model T cars. Ford made $30 million on the deal, and in the 1930s 100,000 cars a year were built in Gorky--at the very plant Gorbachev’s government wants Ford to modernize today.

Yet 40 years later, in the 1970s, Leonid Brezhnev was still looking for a motor industry. “We must have an automobile industry,” the Soviet leader told Robert S. McNamara, the one-time U.S. defense secretary who had been president of Ford in 1960. Brezhnev’s regime got Fiat of Italy to build a factory that turns out 600,000 cars.

Still the seed didn’t take hold. The Soviet Union last year produced 1.3 million cars--fewer than Fiat alone makes in Italy, a country with only one-fifth the population of the Soviet Union.

Why haven’t the Soviets been able to build an automobile industry? The answer seems to be that Soviet leaders either didn’t understand the car, or they feared it.

When Armand Hammer told the original Henry Ford that the new Soviet Union wanted tractors ahead of luxury goods, Ford replied that “automobiles are not a luxury but a means of service required by modern conditions.”

It was a thought he later expressed in his 1926 book “Today and Tomorrow.”

“We have remade this country with automobiles,” wrote Ford. “But we do not have these automobiles because we are prosperous. We are prosperous because we have them.”

Ford understood that the car was more social revolution than machine. Suddenly, people no longer “lived and died without ever having been more than 50 miles from home.” They moved around social patterns changed economies grew.

“When the representatives of Russia came to buy tractors for their state farms,” wrote Ford, “we told them: ‘No, you first ought to buy automobiles and get your people used to machinery and power and moving about with some freedom. The motor cars will bring roads, and then it will be possible to get the products of your farms to the cities.’ ”

But the Soviet Union never truly built the car and has never got its agriculture right--nor the idea of freedom for its people either.

The car, as Ford predicted and nations as small as South Korea and as vast as India have found, was an economic engine. Its mass manufacture brought low costs and high wages, which created the buying power for more cars.

Indeed, the car is such a boon to development that almost every nation is making automobiles and there is a worldwide glut. The current chairman of Ford Motor Co., Donald E. Petersen, estimates world overcapacity at 9 million automobiles a year. That’s one reason he would rather export Ford Scorpios to Russia from the company’s West German factories than bring on additional production by modernizing Gorky. But the potential Soviet market is so large and attractive that a compromise Soviet-Ford production deal is likely.

Meanwhile, the driving force in world industry is no longer the car but computers and communications--that is where the cutting edge of technology and competition is today. Henry Ford would have understood that. “The progress of the world has been in direct ratio to the convenience of communications,” he wrote.

But it gives you some idea of how desperate Gorbachev must feel. He and his country are still trying to catch up to yesterday’s technology.


Non-interventionism and neutrality Edit

The 1930s began with one of the world's greatest economic depressions—which had started in the United States—and the later recession of 1937–38 (although minor relative to the Great Depression) was otherwise also one of the worst of the 20th century. Following the Nye Committee [nb 1] hearings, as well as influential books of the time, such as Merchants of Death, both 1934, the United States Congress adopted several Neutrality Acts in the 1930s, motivated by non-interventionism—following the aftermath of its costly involvement in World War I (the war debts were still not paid off), and seeking to ensure that the country would not become entangled in foreign conflicts again. The Neutrality Acts of 1935, 1936, and 1937 intended to keep the United States out of war, by making it illegal for Americans to sell or transport arms, or other war materials to warring nations—neither to aggressors, nor to defenders. [6]

Cash and carry Edit

In 1939 however – as Germany, Japan, and Italy pursued aggressive, militaristic policies – President Roosevelt wanted more flexibility to help contain Axis aggression. FDR suggested amending the act to allow warring nations to purchase military goods, arms and munitions if they paid cash and bore the risks of transporting the goods on non-American ships, a policy that would favor Britain and France. Initially, this proposal failed, but after Germany invaded Poland in September, Congress passed the Neutrality Act of 1939 ending the munitions embargo on a "cash and carry" basis. The passage of the 1939 amendment to the previous Neutrality Acts marked the beginning of a congressional shift away from isolationism, making a first step toward interventionism. [6]

After the Fall of France during June 1940, the British Commonwealth and Empire were the only forces engaged in war against Germany and Italy, until the Italian invasion of Greece. Britain had been paying for its materiel with gold as part of the "cash and carry" program, as required by the U.S. Neutrality Acts of the 1930s, but by 1941 it had liquidated so many assets that its cash was becoming depleted. [7] The British Expeditionary Force lost 68,000 soldiers during the French campaign, and, following the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940, abandoned much of its military hardware.

During this same period, the U.S. government began to mobilize for total war, instituting the first-ever peacetime draft and a fivefold increase in the defense budget (from $2 billion to $10 billion). [8] In the meantime, Great Britain was running out of liquid currency and asked not to be forced to sell off British assets. On December 7, 1940, its Prime Minister Winston Churchill pressed President Roosevelt in a 15-page letter for American help. [nb 2] [9] Sympathetic to the British plight, but hampered by public opinion and the Neutrality Acts, which forbade arms sales on credit or the lending of money to belligerent nations, Roosevelt eventually came up with the idea of "lend–lease". As one Roosevelt biographer has characterized it: "If there was no practical alternative, there was certainly no moral one either. Britain and the Commonwealth were carrying the battle for all civilization, and the overwhelming majority of Americans, led in the late election by their president, wished to help them." [10] As the President himself put it, "There can be no reasoning with incendiary bombs." [11]

In September 1940, during the Battle of Britain the British government sent the Tizard Mission to the United States. [12] The aim of the British Technical and Scientific Mission was to obtain the industrial resources to exploit the military potential of the research and development work completed by the UK up to the beginning of World War II , but that Britain itself could not exploit due to the immediate requirements of war-related production. The British shared technology included the cavity magnetron (key technology at the time for highly effective radar the American historian James Phinney Baxter III later called "the most valuable cargo ever brought to our shores"), [13] [14] the design for the VT fuze, details of Frank Whittle's jet engine and the Frisch–Peierls memorandum describing the feasibility of an atomic bomb. [15] Though these may be considered the most significant, many other items were also transported, including designs for rockets, superchargers, gyroscopic gunsights, submarine detection devices, self-sealing fuel tanks and plastic explosives.

In December 1940, President Roosevelt proclaimed the United States would be the "Arsenal of Democracy" and proposed selling munitions to Britain and Canada. [11] Isolationists were strongly opposed, warning it would result in American involvement with what was considered by most Americans as an essentially European conflict. In time, opinion shifted as increasing numbers of Americans began to consider the advantage of funding the British war against Germany, while staying free of the hostilities themselves. [16] Propaganda showing the devastation of British cities during The Blitz, as well as popular depictions of Germans as savage also rallied public opinion to the Allies, especially after Germany conquered France.

Lend-Lease proposal Edit

After a decade of neutrality, Roosevelt knew that the change to Allied support must be gradual, given the support for isolationism in the country. Originally, the American policy was to help the British but not join the war. During early February 1941, a Gallup poll revealed that 54% of Americans were in favor of giving aid to the British without qualifications of Lend-Lease. A further 15% were in favor of qualifications such as: "If it doesn't get us into war," or "If the British can give us some security for what we give them." Only 22% were unequivocally against the President's proposal. When poll participants were asked their party affiliation, the poll revealed a political divide: 69% of Democrats were unequivocally in favor of Lend-Lease, whereas only 38% of Republicans favored the bill without qualification. At least one poll spokesperson also noted that "approximately twice as many Republicans" gave "qualified answers as . Democrats." [17]

Opposition to the Lend-Lease bill was strongest among isolationist Republicans in Congress, who feared the measure would be "the longest single step this nation has yet taken toward direct involvement in the war abroad". When the House of Representatives finally took a roll call vote on February 9, 1941, the 260 to 165 vote was largely along party lines. Democrats voted 238 to 25 in favor and Republicans 24 in favor and 135 against. [18]

The vote in the Senate, which occurred a month later, revealed a similar partisan difference: 49 Democrats (79 percent) voted "aye" with only 13 Democrats (21 percent) voting "nay". In contrast, 17 Republicans (63 percent) voted "nay" while 10 Senate Republicans (37 percent) sided with the Democrats to pass the bill. [19]

President Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease bill into law on March 11, 1941. It permitted him to "sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of, to any such government [whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States] any defense article." In April, this policy was extended to China, [20] and in October to the Soviet Union. Roosevelt approved US$1 billion in Lend-Lease aid to Britain at the end of October 1941.

This followed the 1940 Destroyers for Bases Agreement, whereby 50 US Navy destroyers were transferred to the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy in exchange for basing rights in the Caribbean. Churchill also granted the US base rights in Bermuda and Newfoundland for free, allowing British military assets to be redeployed. [21]

After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States entering the war in December 1941, foreign policy was rarely discussed by Congress, and there was very little demand to cut Lend-Lease spending. In spring 1944, the House passed a bill to renew the Lend-Lease program by a vote of 334 to 21. The Senate passed it by a vote of 63 to 1. [22]

Multilateral Allied support Edit

In February 1942, the U.S. and Britain signed the Anglo-American Mutual Aid Agreement [23] as part of a greater multilateral system, developed by the Allies during the war, to provide each other with goods, services, and mutual aid in the widest sense, without charging commercial payments. [24]

Value of materials supplied by the U.S. to its Allied nations [25]
Country Millions of
US Dollars
Total 48,395.4
British Empire 31,387.1
Brazil 372.0
Soviet Union 10,982.1
Mexico 39.2
France 3,223.9
Chile 21.6
China 1,627.0
Peru 18.9
Netherlands 251.1
Colombia 8.3
Belgium 159.5
Ecuador 7.8
Greece 81.5
Uruguay 7.1
Norway 47.0
Cuba 6.6
Turkey 42.9
Bolivia 5.5
Yugoslavia 32.2
Venezuela 4.5
Saudi Arabia 19.0
Guatemala 2.6
Poland 12.5
Paraguay 2.0
Liberia 11.6
Dominican Republic 1.6
Iran 5.3
Haiti 1.4
Ethiopia 5.3
Nicaragua 0.9
Iceland 4.4
El Salvador 0.9
Iraq 0.9
Honduras 0.4
Czechoslovakia 0.6
Costa Rica 0.2

A total of $50.1 billion (equivalent to $575 billion in 2019) [26] was involved, or 17% of the total war expenditures of the U.S. [2] In all, $31.4 billion ($360 billion) went to Britain and its Empire, $11.3 billion ($130 billion) to the Soviet Union, $3.2 billion ($36.7 billion) to France, $1.6 billion ($18.4 billion) to China, and the remaining $2.6 billion to the other Allies. Reverse lend-lease policies comprised services such as rent on bases used by the U.S., and totaled $7.8 billion of this, $6.8 billion came from the British and the Commonwealth, mostly Australia and India. The terms of the agreement provided that the materiel was to be used until returned or destroyed. In practice very little equipment was in usable shape for peacetime uses. Supplies that arrived after the termination date were sold to Britain at a large discount for £1.075 billion, using long-term loans from the United States. Canada was not part of Lend Lease. However it operated a similar program called Mutual Aid that sent a loan of C$1 billion (equivalent to C$14.9 billion in 2020) [27] and C$3.4 billion (C$50.6 billion) in supplies and services to Britain and other Allies. [28] [4]

Administration Edit

Roosevelt made sure that Lend-Lease policies were supportive of his foreign policy goals by putting his top aide Harry Hopkins in effective control over its major policy decisions. [5] In terms of administration, the president established the Office of Lend-Lease Administration during 1941, appointing steel executive Edward R. Stettinius as the operating head. [29] During September 1943, he was promoted to Undersecretary of State, and Leo Crowley became director of the Foreign Economic Administration which was given responsibility for Lend-Lease.

Lend-lease aid to the USSR was nominally managed by Stettinius. Roosevelt's Soviet Protocol Committee was dominated by Harry Hopkins and General John York, who were totally sympathetic to the provision of "unconditional aid". Few Americans objected to Soviet aid until 1943. [30]

The program began to be ended after VE Day. During April 1945, Congress voted that it should not be used for post-conflict purposes, and during August 1945, after Japanese surrender, the program was ended. [31]

Lend-Lease contributed to the Allied victory. Even after the United States forces in Europe and the Pacific began to attain full strength during 1943–1944, Lend-Lease continued. Most remaining Allies were largely self-sufficient in frontline equipment (such as tanks and fighter aircraft) by this time but Lend-Lease provided a useful supplement in this category and Lend-Lease logistical supplies (including motor vehicles and railroad equipment) were of enormous assistance. [32]

Much of the meaning of Lend-Lease aid can be better understood when considering the innovative nature of World War II , as well as the economic distortions caused by the war. One of the greatest differences with prior wars was the enormous increase in the mobility of armies. This was the first big war in which whole formations were routinely motorized soldiers were supported with large numbers of all kinds of vehicles. [33] Most belligerent powers severely decreased production of non-essentials, concentrating on producing weapons. This inevitably produced shortages of related products needed by the military or as part of the military–industrial complex. On the Allied side, there was almost total reliance upon American industrial production, weaponry and especially unarmored vehicles purpose-built for military use, vital for the modern army's logistics and support. [33] The USSR was very dependent on rail transport and starting during the latter half of the 1920s [34] but accelerating during the 1930s (The Great Depression), hundreds of foreign industrial giants such as Ford were commissioned to construct modern dual-purpose factories in the USSR, 16 alone within a week of May 31, 1929. [35] With the outbreak of war these plants switched from civilian to military production and locomotive production ended virtually overnight. Just 446 locomotives were produced during the war, [36] with only 92 of those being built between 1942 and 1945. [37] In total, 92.7% of the wartime production of railroad equipment by the USSR was supplied by Lend-Lease, [32] including 1,911 locomotives and 11,225 railcars [38] which augmented the existing stocks of at least 20,000 locomotives and half a million railcars. [39]

A particular critical aspect of Lend-Lease was the supply of food. The invasion had cost the USSR a huge amount of its agricultural base during the initial Axis offensive of 1941-42, the total sown area of the USSR fell by 41.9% and the number of collective and state farms by 40%. The Soviets lost a substantial number of draft and farm animals as they were not able to relocate all the animals in an area before it was captured and of those areas in which the Axis forces would occupy, the Soviets had lost 7 million of out of 11.6 million horses, 17 million out of 31 million cows, 20 million of 23.6 million pigs and 27 million out of 43 million sheep and goats. Tens of thousands of agricultural machines, such as tractors and threshers, were destroyed or captured. Agriculture also suffered a loss of labour between 1941 and 1945, 19.5 million working-age men had to leave their farms to work in the military and industry. Agricultural issues were also compounded when the Soviets were on the offensive, as areas liberated from the Axis had been devastated and contained millions of people who needed to be fed. Lend-Lease thus provided a massive number of foodstuffs and agricultural products. [41]

According to the Russian historian Boris Vadimovich Sokolov, Lend-Lease had a crucial role in winning the war:

On the whole the following conclusion can be drawn: that without these Western shipments under Lend-Lease the Soviet Union not only would not have been able to win the Great Patriotic War, it would not have been able even to oppose the German invaders, since it could not itself produce sufficient quantities of arms and military equipment or adequate supplies of fuel and ammunition. The Soviet authorities were well aware of this dependency on Lend-Lease. Thus, Stalin told Harry Hopkins [FDR's emissary to Moscow in July 1941] that the U.S.S.R. could not match Germany's might as an occupier of Europe and its resources. [32]

Nikita Khrushchev, having served as a military commissar and intermediary between Stalin and his generals during the war, addressed directly the significance of Lend-lease aid in his memoirs:

I would like to express my candid opinion about Stalin's views on whether the Red Army and the Soviet Union could have coped with Nazi Germany and survived the war without aid from the United States and Britain. First, I would like to tell about some remarks Stalin made and repeated several times when we were "discussing freely" among ourselves. He stated bluntly that if the United States had not helped us, we would not have won the war. If we had had to fight Nazi Germany one on one, we could not have stood up against Germany's pressure, and we would have lost the war. No one ever discussed this subject officially, and I don't think Stalin left any written evidence of his opinion, but I will state here that several times in conversations with me he noted that these were the actual circumstances. He never made a special point of holding a conversation on the subject, but when we were engaged in some kind of relaxed conversation, going over international questions of the past and present, and when we would return to the subject of the path we had traveled during the war, that is what he said. When I listened to his remarks, I was fully in agreement with him, and today I am even more so. [42]

Joseph Stalin, during the Tehran Conference during 1943, acknowledged publicly the importance of American efforts during a dinner at the conference: "Without American machines the United Nations could never have won the war." [43] [44]

In a confidential interview with the wartime correspondent Konstantin Simonov, the Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov is quoted as saying:

Today [1963] some say the Allies didn't really help us . But listen, one cannot deny that the Americans shipped over to us material without which we could not have equipped our armies held in reserve or been able to continue the war. [45]

David Glantz, the American military historian known for his books on the Eastern front, concludes:

Although Soviet accounts have routinely belittled the significance of Lend-Lease in the sustainment of the Soviet war effort, the overall importance of the assistance cannot be understated. Lend-Lease aid did not arrive in sufficient quantities to make the difference between defeat and victory in 1941–1942 that achievement must be attributed solely to the Soviet people and to the iron nerve of Stalin, Zhukov, Shaposhnikov, Vasilevsky, and their subordinates. As the war continued, however, the United States and Great Britain provided many of the implements of war and strategic raw materials necessary for Soviet victory. Without Lend-Lease food, clothing, and raw materials (especially metals), the Soviet economy would have been even more heavily burdened by the war effort. Perhaps most directly, without Lend-Lease trucks, rail engines, and railroad cars, every Soviet offensive would have stalled at an earlier stage, outrunning its logistical tail in a matter of days. In turn, this would have allowed the German commanders to escape at least some encirclements, while forcing the Red Army to prepare and conduct many more deliberate penetration attacks in order to advance the same distance. Left to their own devices, Stalin and his commanders might have taken twelve to eighteen months longer to finish off the Wehrmacht the ultimate result would probably have been the same, except that Soviet soldiers could have waded at France's Atlantic beaches. [46]

Roosevelt, eager to ensure public consent for this controversial plan, explained to the public and the press that his plan was comparable to one neighbor's lending another a garden hose to put out a fire in his home. "What do I do in such a crisis?" the president asked at a press conference. "I don't say . 'Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15 you have to pay me $15 for it' . I don't want $15—I want my garden hose back after the fire is over." [47] To which Senator Robert Taft (R-Ohio), responded: "Lending war equipment is a good deal like lending chewing gum—you certainly don't want the same gum back." [48]

In practice, very little was returned except for a few unarmed transport ships. Surplus military equipment was of no value in peacetime. The Lend-Lease agreements with 30 countries provided for repayment not in terms of money or returned goods, but in "joint action directed towards the creation of a liberalized international economic order in the postwar world." That is the U.S, would be "repaid" when the recipient fought the common enemy and joined the world trade and diplomatic agencies, such as the United Nations. [49]

Allied shipments to the Soviet Union [50]
Year Amount
1941 360,778 2.1
1942 2,453,097 14
1943 4,794,545 27.4
1944 6,217,622 35.5
1945 3,673,819 21
Total 17,499,861 100

If Germany defeated the Soviet Union, the most significant front in Europe would be closed. Roosevelt believed that if the Soviets were defeated the Allies would be far more likely to lose. Roosevelt concluded that the United States needed to help the Soviets fight against the Germans. [51] Soviet Ambassador Maxim Litvinov significantly contributed to the Lend-Lease agreement of 1941. American deliveries to the Soviet Union can be divided into the following phases:

  • "Pre Lend-lease" June 22, 1941, to September 30, 1941 (paid for in gold and other minerals)
  • First protocol period from October 1, 1941, to June 30, 1942 (signed October 7, 1941), [52] these supplies were to be manufactured and delivered by the UK with US credit financing.
  • Second protocol period from July 1, 1942, to June 30, 1943 (signed October 6, 1942)
  • Third protocol period from July 1, 1943, to June 30, 1944 (signed October 19, 1943)
  • Fourth protocol period from July 1, 1944 (signed April 17, 1945), formally ended May 12, 1945, but deliveries continued for the duration of the war with Japan (which the Soviet Union entered on August 8, 1945) under the "Milepost" agreement until September 2, 1945, when Japan capitulated. On September 20, 1945, all Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union was terminated.

The Arctic route was the shortest and most direct route for lend-lease aid to the USSR, though it was also the most dangerous as it involved sailing past German-occupied Norway. Some 3,964,000 tons of goods were shipped by the Arctic route 7% was lost, while 93% arrived safely. [53] This constituted some 23% of the total aid to the USSR during the war.

The Persian Corridor was the longest route, and was not fully operational until mid-1942. Thereafter it saw the passage of 4,160,000 tons of goods, 27% of the total. [53]

The Pacific Route opened in August 1941, but was affected by the start of hostilities between Japan and the U.S. after December 1941, only Soviet ships could be used, and, as Japan and the USSR observed a strict neutrality towards each other, only non-military goods could be transported. [54] Nevertheless, some 8,244,000 tons of goods went by this route, 50% of the total. [53]

In total, the U.S. deliveries to the USSR through Lend-Lease amounted to $11 billion in materials: over 400,000 jeeps and trucks 12,000 armored vehicles (including 7,000 tanks, about 1,386 [55] of which were M3 Lees and 4,102 M4 Shermans) [56] 11,400 aircraft (4,719 of which were Bell P-39 Airacobras) [57] and 1.75 million tons of food. [58]

Roughly 17.5 million tons of military equipment, vehicles, industrial supplies, and food were shipped from the Western Hemisphere to the USSR, 94% coming from the US. For comparison, a total of 22 million tons landed in Europe to supply American forces from January 1942 to May 1945. It has been estimated that American deliveries to the USSR through the Persian Corridor alone were sufficient, by US Army standards, to maintain sixty combat divisions in the line. [59] [60]

Restrictions in the supply of weapons from the United States were mainly limited to supply of heavy bombers. The United States did not provide heavy bombers to the USSR when requested. For example, in the 4 Ottawa Protocol (July 1, 1944-30 June 1945) the USSR requested 240 B-17 bombers and 300 B-24 bombers, none of which were supplied. Heavy bombers had not been mentioned in previous protocols. [61]

The production of heavy bombers in the United States until 1945 amounted to more than 30 thousand.

The USSR had a small number of heavy bombers. The only modern heavy bomber the USSR had was the Petlyakov Pe-8, and it only had 27 such bombers at the start of the war, with fewer than 100 produced until 1945. [62]

The United States delivered to the Soviet Union from October 1, 1941, to May 31, 1945 the following: 427,284 trucks, 13,303 combat vehicles, 35,170 motorcycles, 2,328 ordnance service vehicles, 2,670,371 tons of petroleum products (gasoline and oil) or 57.8 percent of the high-octane aviation fuel, [32] 4,478,116 tons of foodstuffs (canned meats, sugar, flour, salt, etc.), 1,911 steam locomotives, 66 diesel locomotives, 9,920 flat cars, 1,000 dump cars, 120 tank cars, and 35 heavy machinery cars. Provided ordnance goods (ammunition, artillery shells, mines, assorted explosives) amounted to 53 percent of total domestic consumption. [32] One item typical of many was a tire plant that was lifted bodily from the Ford Company's River Rouge Plant and transferred to the USSR. The 1947 money value of the supplies and services amounted to about eleven billion dollars. [63]


MOSCOW, April 20—Henry Ford 2d said today that the Soviet Union had asked the Ford Motor Company to help build a large truck manufactur ing complex.

Mr. Ford, chairman of the company, said it would consider the proposal. He declined, at news conference in the United States Embassy, to say whether his company would accept the proposal to help in building the complex, but he said the com pany was interested in doing business with the Soviet Union.

He said Soviet officials had also asked Ford to help design the new trucks, to be produced at a plant to be constructed on the Kama River, 550 miles east of Moscow.

The Soviet press, in announc ing plans for the project in February, said the plant would be at the Kama River town of Naberezhnye Chelny, 130 miles east of Kazan. It is planned to turn but 150,000 eight‐ton trucks by 1974.

The principal questions the company had to resolve, Mr. Ford said, were whether such an arrangement would be profitable and whether it would be compatible with United States security regulations on trade with Communist nations.

The agreement, depending on its scope, could represent the largest involvement of an American company in the So viet economy since the ninteen thirties, when Ford built automotive plant at Gorky.

After a week of meeting with Soviet officials, including Pre mier Aleksei N. Kosygin, and touring automotive plants, in cluding the Italian Fiat complex at Togliatti, Mr. Ford said he believed the type of truck the Russians were interested in producing was similar to Ford's Louisville or Series D models.

The Soviet officials asked for technical assistance in design ing general‐duty trucks in the range of eight to 20 or 30 tons, including trailers, Mr. Ford said. He was told that the Rus sians had some Soviet‐produced components that might be com bined with Ford technology to produce the desired truck.

The Russians were particu larly interested, Mr. Ford said, in getting help to design and build the foundry needed for the truck complex.

Mr. Ford said he was aware of differing opinions in Wash ington on relaxing trade restric tions with the Soviet Union. He said that as a “free trader” he favored trade with the Soviet Union as long as it did not in volve national security.

Mr. Ford, his wife, and his daughter Charlotte, as well as three company officials, were accorded treatment usually re served for heads of state by the Soviet authorities. They stayed at a government guest house and were flown to Lenin grad and Togliatti in a private plane.

Mr. Ford said he and Mr. Kosygin discussed air pollution during their meeting today.

“He reminded me that the air in the Soviet Union was very clear and very clean,” Mr. Ford said. “And I said, well, I agreed with that but, after all, the world was round and it was turning and all the pollu tants we put in the air are going to land in the Soviet Union.”

“He said, “Mr. Ford said, “he didn't think so because over here the world turned the oth er way, which I thought was a very quick comeback.”

Of the Togliatti plant, where he was believed to have been the first American visitor, Mr. Ford said he had seen a sign that read “we want to build cars by July.” The plant is be hind schedule, but Mr. Ford praised it, adding the qualifica tion that Ford would not have tried to build the entire com plex wider one roof, as is being done at Togliatti.

The Soviet Union plans in 1970 to build 527,300 trucks. It is the world's third largest truck manufacturer, after the United States and Japan, but its trucks are generally of light and middle weight.

It plans to build 348,000 pas senger cars this year, including 30,000 from the Togliatti plant, which at full capacity in a few years is expected to be able to produce 660,000 annually.

The Ford name is still red membered fondly by many Russians and, probably more important, by many veteran Leninists who started as work ers and made it to the top of the Soviet ladder.

The decision to invite the Fords here was not based solely on nostalgia. The British, French and West Germans all had been asked first and appar ently have been wary of under taking the job of building giant truck complex.

Moreover, for some party ideologists, the vision of Amer ican trucks and American cap italism moving Communism for ward must have been a diffi cult one to face.

Fiat and Renault cars and West German pipes do not have the impact on the Soviet Union that the Ford Motor Company could have. But as usually happens, in a show down between ideology and state interests, the ideologists lost.

This week in labor history: May 25-31

MAY 25
1805 – Pressured by employers, striking shoemakers in Philadelphia are arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy for violating an English common law that bars schemes aimed at forcing wage increases. The strike was broken.

1886 – Philip Murray is born in Scotland. He went on to emigrate to the U.S., become founder and first president of the United Steelworkers of America, and head of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) from 1940 until his death in 1952.

1925 – Two company houses occupied by non-union coal miners are blown up and destroyed during a strike against the Glendale Gas & Coal Co. in Wheeling, W. Va.

1932 – Thousands of unemployed WWI veterans arrive in Washington, D.C., to demand early payment of a bonus they had been told they would get, but not until 1945. They built a shantytown near the U.S. Capitol but were burned out by U.S. troops after two months.

1936 – The notorious 11-month Remington Rand strike begins. The strike spawned the “Mohawk Valley (N.Y.) formula,” described by investigators as a corporate plan to discredit union leaders, frighten the public with the threat of violence, employ thugs to beat up strikers, and other tactics. The National Labor Relations Board termed the formula “a battle plan for industrial war.”

1962 – The AFL-CIO begins what is to become an unsuccessful campaign for a 35-hour workweek, with the goal of reducing unemployment. Earlier tries by Organized Labor for 32- or 35-hour weeks also failed.

2018 – President Donald Trump signs a series of executive orders designed to make it easier to fire federal employees, limit the ability of unions to defend their members, and directing federal agencies to renegotiate federal employee union contracts so as to “reduce waste.” David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees said the actions are “more than union busting – it’s democracy busting.” A federal judge (who had been appointed by Pres. Barack Obama) later struck down key parts of the orders.

MAY 26
1824 – Men and women weavers in Pawtucket, R.I., stage nation’s first “co-ed” strike.

1894 – Western Federation of Miners members strike for eight-hour day, Cripple Creek, Colo.

1902 – American Labor Union founded.

1913 – Actors’ Equity Assn. is founded by 112 actors at a meeting in New York City’s Pabst Grand Circle Hotel. Producer George M. Cohan responds: “I will drive an elevator for a living before I will do business with any actors’ union.” Later a sign will appear in Times Square reading: “Elevator operator wanted. George M. Cohan need not apply.”

1920 – IWW Marine Transport Workers strike, Philadelphia.

1937 – Some 100,000 steel workers and miners in mines owned by steel companies strike in seven states. The Memorial Day Massacre, in which 10 strikers were killed by police at Republic Steel in Chicago, took place four days later, on May 30.

1937 – Ford Motor Co. security guards attack union organizers and supporters attempting to distribute literature outside the plant in Dearborn, Mich., in an event that was to become known as the “Battle of the Overpass.” The guards tried to destroy any photos showing the attack, but some survived — and inspired the Pulitzer committee to establish a prize for photography.

May 27
1935 – The U.S. Supreme Court declares the Depression-era National Industrial Recovery Act to be unconstitutional, about a month before it was set to expire.

1959 – The CIO-affiliated Insurance Workers of America merges with its AFL counterpart, the Insurance Agents International Union to form the Insurance Workers International Union. The union later became part of the United Food and Commercial Workers.

MAY 28
1835 – The Ladies Shoe Binders Society formed in New York.

1912 – Fifteen women were dismissed from their jobs at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia for dancing the Turkey Trot. They were on their lunch break, but management thought the dance too racy.

1946 – At least 30,000 workers in Rochester, N.Y., participate in a general strike in support of municipal workers who had been fired for forming a union.

MAY 29
1941 – Animators working for Walt Disney begin what was to become a successful five-week strike for recognition of their union, the Screen Cartoonists’ Guild. The animated feature Dumbo was being created at the time and, according to Wikipedia, a number of strikers are caricatured in the feature as clowns who go to “hit the big boss for a raise.”

1946 – A contract between the United Mine Workers and the U.S. government establishes one of the nation’s first union medical and pension plans, the multi-employer UMWA Welfare and Retirement Fund.

1996 – The United Farm Workers of America reaches agreement with Bruce Church Inc. on a contract for 450 lettuce harvesters, ending a 17-year-long boycott. The pact raised wages, provided company-paid health benefits to workers and their families, created a seniority system to deal with seasonal layoffs and recalls, and established a pesticide monitoring system.

2009 – UAW members at General Motors accept major contract concessions in return for 17.5 percent stake in the financially struggling company.

MAY 30
1929 – The Ford Motor Company signs a “Technical Assistance” contract to produce cars in the Soviet Union, and Ford workers were sent to the Soviet Union to train the labor force in the use of its parts. Many American workers who made the trip, including Walter Reuther, a tool and die maker who later was to become the UAW’s president, returned home with a different view of the duties and privileges of the industrial laborer.

1937 – In what became known as the Memorial Day Massacre, police open fire on striking steelworkers at Republic Steel in South Chicago, killing 10 and wounding more than 160.

2002 – The Ground Zero cleanup at the site of the World Trade Center is completed three months ahead of schedule due to the heroic efforts of more than 3,000 building tradesmen and women who had worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for the previous eight months.

MAY 31
1889 – The Johnstown Flood. More than 2,200 die when a dam holding back a private resort lake burst upstream of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The resort was owned by wealthy industrialists including Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick. Neither they nor any other members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club were found guilty of fault, despite the fact the group had created the lake out of an abandoned reservoir.

1943 – Some 25,000 white autoworkers walk off the job at a Detroit Packard Motor Car Co. plant, heavily involved in wartime production, when three black workers are promoted to work on a previously all-white assembly line. The black workers were relocated and the whites returned.

1997 – Rose Will Monroe, popularly known as Rosie the Riveter, dies in Clarksville, Ind. During WWII she helped bring women into the labor force.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)

10 famous Soviet cars 'driven' by Western ideas

Gaz 21R Volga car before the 2016 Gorkyclassic GUM vintage car rally in Moscow.

The history of the Soviet automotive industry began in 1924 when the AMO (Moscow Automotive Society) plant started to produce AMO F-15 trucks. The vehicle design was based on the Italian Fiat 15 model, but significant changes were made. Production in the Soviet Union soon started to grow rapidly: new big plants were built across the country that assembled cars for Soviet needs. Some of them were reminiscent of Western models.

1. GAZ A (1932) / Ford A

V. Davidov/Sputnik - Erich Schmidt/Global Look Press

In 1929, the Soviet Union signed an agreement with the Ford Motor Company to assemble cars under the Ford license. The first models, called Gaz A, were produced at the Gorky (now &ndash Nizhny Novgorod) automotive plant (GAZ) in 1932. The Gaz A was based on the Ford Model A, discontinued in 1931. The power system of the engine was redesigned in the Soviet car. In total, over 41,000 GAZ A were produced. In 1936, the old model was replaced with the GAZ-M-1.

2. GAZ M-1 (1936) / Ford Model B

Konstantin Kokoshkin/Global Look Press - Jiri Sedlacek/Wikipedia

The design of this model was based on the Ford Model B of 1934. Just like the previous vehicle, it was produced under the 1929 license, but survived significant changes. Its Soviet designers reinvented almost everything from the car suspension to its exterior. Produced in 1936-1942, it was one of the most popular cars in the prewar Soviet Union. Over 62,000 cars with several modifications were assembled in total.

3. KIM 10 (1940) / Ford Prefect

Alexei Stuzhin/TASS - Legion Media

The KIM-10 was the first model of the Soviet subcompact cars inspired by the British Ford Prefect. The Soviet car got the modern design of the hood, windscreen and trunk. However, World War II thwarted further development. This car never went on sale officially, though, 64 vehicles were given away as lottery prizes.

4. ZIS 110 (1945) / Packard 180

Konstantin Kokoshkin/Global Look Press - Rex Gray/Wikipedia

The first Soviet limousine ZIS 101 (1936) was already based on the U.S. Buick, and in September 1942 Stalin ordered the development of a new luxury-class limousine, the ZIS 110, this time under the influence of the Packard 180. This executive car was produced until 1958 with a total of 2,000 vehicles made for Soviet officials. Production of the Packard 180 itself was discontinued after World War II.

5. Moskvich 400 (1946) / Opel Kadett K38

Martin Hans/Wikipedia -- Alfvan Beem/Wikipedia

On Dec. 4, 1946, the first Moskvich-400 car was assembled at the Moscow Compact Car Factory (AZLK). The four-seater car had a top speed of 90 km/h and was heavily inspired by the German Opel Kadett K38.

Joseph Stalin pushed for the car&rsquos production as he was a big fan of the Opel after seeing it at an exhibition in the Kremlin in 1940. However, due to WWII, the project was postponed. But in 1947 the Moscow plant started churning out the model. It was produced up until 1954 before being replaced by the Moskvich-401, which had a more powerful engine. In total, 216,000 sedans and 17,000 cabriolets rolled out of the factory. In 1956, the car was replaced with the new Moskvich-402.

6. Moskvich 408 (1964) / Opel Kadett A

V. Khomenko/Sputnik - Global Look Press

The third generation of Moskvich cars was based on another German vehicle, the Opel Kadett A (1962), differing from the early model by the more spacious interior. In 1967, the Moscow Compact Car Factory started to assemble the new Moskvich-412 car with a more powerful engine and greater speed.

The Moskvich-412 was also a popular car for export. In Bulgaria, it was assembled under the name of Rila, and in Belgium it was known as the Scaldia. The Soviet model was produced until 1976 in Moscow, and even until 1998 at the Izhevsk plant.

7. GAZ-24 Volga (1966) / Ford Falcon

Torsten Maue/Wikipedia - Dave7/Wikipedia

The design of the Volga model was similar to the U.S. Ford Falcon (1962) and Plymouth Valiant (1962). The car was produced at the Gorky plant until 1985, mostly for use as taxis and chauffeured state vehicles. The GAZ-24 modification, titled the GAZ-24-76 Scaldia, was a popular taxi model in Belgium and France. In total, the Gorky plant assembled 1.4 million GAZ-24.

8. ZAZ-966 (1966) / NSU Prinz IV

Torsten Maue/Wikipedia - Alfvan Beem/Wikipedia

This new subcompact Soviet car had an exterior similar to the German NSU Prinz IV of 1961. In its turn, the German car partly replicated the design of the U.S. Chevrolet Corvair of 1959. The two-door coupe was produced until 1972 at the Kommunar auto plant (modern Ukraine).

9. VAZ 2101 (1970) / Fiat 124

Ivan Denisenko/Sputnik - Charles01/Wikipedia

In 1966, Italy&rsquos Fiat and the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Trade signed a cooperation agreement. Under this deal, the USSR started to produce the station wagon VAZ 2102 and sedan VAZ 2101, based on the Fiat 124, voted &ldquoEuropean car of the year&rdquo in 1967. Nevertheless, the VAZ 2101 was extensively &ldquoRussified&rdquo with over 800 changes.

The VAZ 2101, aka the &ldquokopeck,&rdquo became a real people's car in the Soviet Union. The model was the first car in the VAZ family and had lots of variations. Until 1988, the AvtoVaz plant in Tolyatti produced 4.85 million such cars, which is why in 2000 the VAZ 2101 was labeled &ldquothe best Russian car of the 20th century&rdquo by Russian media.

10. Moskvich 2141 (1986) / Simca Chrysler 1308

Kirill Borisenko/Wikipedia - Nakhon100/Wikipedia

In the 1980s, the Soviet Union succeeded in creating a completely new model of Moskvich, a front-wheel-drive hatchback based on the design of the French-U.S. Simca Chrysler 1308. The Soviet car was given a modern exterior and the export name of Aleko. The Moscow plant produced over 716,000 of these cars in different variations. The last model was assembled in 2002 under the name of Svyatogor.

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2006 and beyond

As DaimlerChrysler modernized its Sterling Heights Assembly plant in 2006, the old Dodge Stratus assembly line and tooling was sold to GAZ and will be shipped to Nizhny Novgorod in Russia. GAZ will resume production of the Stratus, and may introduce additional variants in the future, as GAZ has purchased the rights to use the platform in new vehicles. ΐ] , whilst the company originally announced that the Volga will be phased out completely. However, GAZ has recently reversed course. Volga production, initially scheduled to end in 2007, will continue indefinitely and the car will receive a facelift. GAZ will adopt a new marketing tack, attempting to position the 1960s era design as a "retro" vehicle, while the Stratus-based products may also be sold under the Volga brand.

Also in 2006, GAZ made a move on the LDV company based in Birmingham, England, and acquired the van maker from the venture capital group Sun European Partners in July of that year.

GAZ have said that they plan to market the MAXUS (LDV's new Panel-van, that was released in January 2005) into the rest of Europe (it is currently only on sale in Britain and limited areas of Europe) and Asia. GAZ Propose to increase production in the LDV plant in England, while also commencing production of the MAXUS in a new plant in Russia.

In May 2009, GAZ officially announced they were reviewing a project to takeover GM European activities (Opel). The group said they were not planning to contribute any financing of the takeover, but they would provide manufacturing facilities in Russia for the group.

Ford in Moscow's Future

The red‐carpet treatment So viet officials gave Henry Ford 2d suggests that the Kremlin hopes history will repeat itself. Two generations ago, in the late nineteen‐twenties, a path‐ breaking deal be tween the Ford Motor Company and the Soviet Union opened the way for a major transfusion of American tech nical know‐how. There would seem to be little doubt that similar Ford‐Kremlin deal in the early nineteen‐seventies would set a precedent that many other American concerns in diverse fields could follow.

Economic Analysis

Thus, much more is involved in Mr. Ford's recent Moscow conversations than the question of who will help build the So viet Union's proposed giant truck factory. The real issue is whether the Kremlin will be able this decade to tap Ameri can technology on a large scale.

The Soviet Union, of course, has for years now been buying technical assistance from the other major industrialized countries of the world But in private conversations. Soviet officials have made no secret of their belief that there is much they can get only in the United States, in industrial fields — such as computers— where this country leads the world.

In the early nineteen‐thirties, thousands of American engi neers, geologists and other spe cialists worked in virtually all parts of the Soviet Union. If the fondest dreams of the So viet optimists are realized in the ninteen‐seventies, a simi lar small army of American technicians could find like em ployment this next decade.

But there are important ob stacles to be overcome. In the nineteen‐twenties and early thirties, the Soviet Union was viewed here as an underdevel oped, weak country. Today, the Soviet Union is the world's sec ond largest industrial power and the most important rival of the United States.

The worst passions and fears of the cold war have eased, but the Soviet. Union is still the main source of military and economic aid to the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong it stands behind the key Arab military forces confronting Is rael in the Middle East, and it is the indispensable source of military and economic aid for Fidel Castro.

In this situation, both poli ticians and business executives must wonder whether a public outcry would not follow any major deal for technological assistance between a United States company and the Soviet Union.

Even more basically, the question arises of whether American business should strengthen the Soviet Union and add to its power for future in which a renewal of the bitter emnity of the late nineteen‐forties and the early fifties cannot be ruled out.

A sharp change for the bet ter in Soviet ‐ American rela tions, of course, would remove or at least reduce these obs tacles. But there is no sign at the moment that Moscow plans to use its influence to end the Vietnam war or to strive for an Arab‐Israeli agreement. On the contrary. Pentagon sources have recently been disclos ing new evidence of how rapidly and impressively the Soviet Union is building up its power in the area of the most advanced .

Opponents of American tech nical assistance to the Soviet Union can point out that every American engineer who helps develop the Soviet economy frees one or more Soviet en gineers for other work.

There are economic consid erations involved, too, and their force has discouraged some American concerns in the past from showing more interest in technical assistance deals with the Soviet Union.

These considerations arise from the fact that to the extent that American business helps the Soviet economy produce better and cheaper products, it is strengthening a competitor who can later sell these proved goods on world markets where American salesmen are trying to sell the same com modities.

Proponents of American tech nical aid to the Soviet Union argue that this help should be seen as a means of helping improve political relations be tween the two countries. Op ponents reply that massive American help in the early nineteen‐thirties and then again under Lend‐Lease during World War II did nothing to ease So viet malevolence or to help pre vent the cold war.

Arguments pro and con on this issue have been discussed frequently since World War II, and in the past the arguments against helping the Soviet Union normally won out. But this is a new period in which — as many businessmen have noted—it has proved possible to make his toric changes in American bars on trade with Communist China without arousing any major storm of protest.

Could the same thing be true now about American technical assistance to Soviet industry? IA positive Ford reaction to the Soviet invitation would quickly provide an answer to this deli cate question.

Watch the video: History of Ford USA Documentary (November 2022).

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