War and Conflict
World War II
What was Lend-Lease?
Lend-Lease was a plan, developed and strongly supported by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945), to extend material assistance to the Allied powers fighting the Axis powers in World War II (1939–45). In the days preceding U.S. involvement in the war, Roosevelt argued that it was imperative for the country to come to the aid of those fighting Germany and Italy—it was similar to helping your neighbor put out a fire in his house in order to prevent your own house from catching fire and burning.
Under Lend-Lease, which was passed by Congress on March 11, 1941, approximately $50 billion of aid in the form of food and supplies, weapons, machinery, and other equipment was provided to the Allied nations—primarily to Britain and the Commonwealth nations first, but later to all nations fighting against Hitler’s war machine.
The return of the goods was not addressed until after the war had ended. At that time, most people felt the Allies had all contributed everything they had to the war effort, and that the sacrifices made by Allied Europe in the days prior to U.S. entry into the fighting were balanced by the contributions made under the Lend-Lease Act.