HOW much can Soviet Russia aid Germany? How much will she? The precise answer to this double-barreled question, which may well determine the military outcome of the European war and the future course of world politics, is still unknown. Current estimates, in so far as they are not guesswork limited to specific items (e.g. oil), are based on the inadequate and often unreliable statistics of Russia's past economic performance. Russia's potential performance is contingent upon many political intangibles yet to be revealed, and upon such factors as the undetermined capacity of Germany to supply equipment and large-scale technical assistance for the reorganization of Soviet industry and transport. Information upon which to base final judgment is inaccessible. Nevertheless, so long as Germany and Russia continue to execute in good faith their treaties of 1939, speculation will be in order. For in the conduct of the war, and in any political action looking towards peace, the Allied Governments must use as a key reference some estimate of the nature, extent, and effectiveness of the Nazi-Bolshevik coöperation.

Many variables are important in the reckoning: the type of war in the West -- whether it remains a siege or develops big offensives which would increase Germany's expenditure of war materials; the length of the war -- for Russia's capacity to supply Germany will increase with the passage of time; possible political shifts in the lineup -- for certain ones might close certain routes between Russia and Germany (e.g. via Rumania and the Balkans); and, most of all, the variable of Russia's willingness to sacrifice domestic requirements of the Third Five Year Plan in order to help Germany gain victory, or a stalemate, in the West.


Germany's imports in 1938 totalled 63 million tons. According to a British estimate, this total figure will be reduced 45 percent by the blockade.[i] There follows an analysis of Germany's more important deficiencies as created or aggravated by the blockade.

1. Foodstuffs

The 1939 harvest of grain will be sufficient to supply the population with bread for the present. Germany has accumulated a war reserve of grain, partly surplus from the bumper crop of 1938, partly imported. This reserve is estimated by experts to be sufficient for an additional ten months' supply of bread. The Government may decide to keep this reserve intact against the possibility of a bad harvest in 1940, or may assign part to the feeding of live stock as a temporary remedy for the fodder deficiency.

German imports in 1938 included 137,507 tons of meat, about half from South America, and 229,296 tons of fish, from Britain and Scandinavia.[ii] Fishing has been greatly reduced in the war zone. Russia can supply Germany with neither meat nor fish.

Germany's most serious food shortage, as during the last war, is in fats. In 1938, the import of lard was 42,016 tons, and butter 92,291 tons, mostly from Germany's immediate neighbors,[ii] and therefore affected by, but not cut off by, the blockade. For fats, Germany has relied on vegetable oils, of which there has been a constant decrease in imports since 1929. The following table gives imports in this category for the year 1937:[iii]


Peanuts 288,000 tons, containing 42-50 percent oil, 132,480 tons of oil
Copra 210,000 tons, containing 60-70 percent oil, 136,500 tons of oil
Soya beans 610,000 tons, containing 20 percent oil, 122,000 tons of oil
Linseed 180,000 tons, containing 32-43 percent oil, 68,400 tons of oil
Oil Cake 110,000 tons, containing 10 percent oil, 11,000 tons of oil
    Total 470,380 tons of oil

Manchurian soya beans, containing 19.8 percent crude fat and 48.9 percent crude albumen, could meet the fat deficiency if they could be sent to Germany via Russia in sufficient quantities. From 2,351,900 tons of soya (more than half the Manchurian crop), Germany could extract the same amount of vegetable oil she got from divers sources in 1937.

2. Feedstuffs

The German shortage in fodder crops, as in foodstuffs, is a repetition of 1914-18. In recent years, a main item among feed imports has been corn -- 1,895,421 tons, for example, in 1938, 90 percent of it from the United States and Argentina. An increase in the Russian acreage under barley and rye would permit Russia to supply some feedstuffs, after a year's notice to the State Planning Commission in Moscow. German newspapers recently reported that one million tons of barley were expected from Russia. If this amount actually arrives, it would partially replace the corn item.

Germany's 1939 potato crop is reported as unusually large, 54½ million tons, of which only one fourth is considered necessary for human consumption. Potatoes are also fed to hogs. A large part of the harvest also is used for the distillation of potato alcohol; and the residue from this process is used for cattle feed. Indeed, potatoes are the staff of life for man and beast in blockaded Germany, the only unrationed food. But even with an abundance of potatoes and a considerable barley import from Russia, the deficiency in fodder will be serious.

3. Oil

In 1938, Germany imported oil as follows: [iv]


Crude oil 777,840 tons
Gasoline 1,357,102 tons
Diesel oil 1,467,568 tons
Lubricants 388,034 tons
Fuel oil 405,690 tons

Of this import, 80 percent came from North and South America. Rumania supplied 429,362 tons, and Russia only 33,154 tons. Germany herself produced 2,600,000 tons. Her wartime needs in oil are estimated at 12,500,000 tons (or more, depending on the type of war), of which nearly 10,000,000 would have to be imported. Under the most favorable circumstances, short of German seizure of Rumania's wells, that country cannot be relied upon for more than 2,000,000 tons. Can Russia supply the remaining 8,000,000 tons?

It should be noted that restrictions within Germany qualify estimates made on the basis of peacetime consumption. The private consumption of gasoline has practically ceased. German industry has greatly favored the Diesel engine, which uses the heavy oils made from coal. By the law of 1931, gasoline in Germany is mixed with potato alcohol up to a maximum of 30 percent. The potato harvest therefore enters into the calculation of Germany's oil needs. Also, the German strategic railways, improved by the Nazis with new unloading platforms and ramps in the past two years, are adequate to keep the Siegfried Line supplied. Fewer oil-consuming motor trucks are therefore required than is usual in a modern army. Finally, among the qualifying factors is the war reserve of oil, the size of which cannot be ascertained.

4. Iron Ore

In 1937, Germany imported 20,600,000 tons of iron ore, with a pure iron content of 9,900,000 tons.[v] Of this pure iron, 39 percent is unaffected by the blockade. Possibly Germany might obtain ore for an additional 220,000 tons of pure iron from Norway and Greece. Sweden supplied Germany with 8,992,331 tons of iron ore in 1938; but the former route for bringing the major part of the Lapland ore to Germany (via Narvik, on the North Atlantic) is cut off by the blockade. Chief reliance must therefore be on the Baltic ports of Luleaborg, which is icebound for nearly six months, and Oxelösund, further south. It is considered possible that within a year's time the iron ore shipments from Sweden to Germany via the Baltic ports may be increased by 1,800,000 tons. With such an increase, Germany might be able, by the end of next year, to obtain 48 percent of the pure iron which she acquired by import in 1937.

Germany's own production of iron ore in 1937 was 9,792,000 tons, with a pure iron content of 2,759,000 tons.[v] In 1939, Germany added the iron ore of Upper Silesia to her internal supply, but lost the use of the Saar iron and steel plants which relied on the iron ores of Lorraine (the import from France in 1938 was 5,050,121 tons). The Hermann Goering Werke have not yet reached capacity production, although the German press reports that two new blast furnaces have been put into operation since the outbreak of the war. The use of low-grade German iron ore requires much greater quantities of coke, and the transport of this offers one of the serious problems in increasing production.

The amount of iron ore and iron scrap in the war reserve is unascertainable. During the last two years Germany greatly increased the import of scrap iron (1,164,068 tons in 1938); and she acquired additional reserves through salvage in the parts of Poland devastated by the war.

A final factor to be noted is that Germany's overseas export of iron and steel products in 1937 is calculated to have contained one million tons of pure iron. Since this overseas export is barred by the new British and French blockade, we may assume that Germany either can reduce her needs for imported iron ore by an equivalent amount or can apply the savings to the manufacture of the machinery and equipment desired by Russia and the Balkan states.

5. Manganese Ore

In 1938 Germany imported 425,785 tons of manganese ore, of which 60,925 tons came from Russia;[vi] the rest is cut off by the blockade. As the Russian manganese ore is 35 percent pure manganese, instead of 50 percent as in the ore supplied by other countries, 720,000 tons will have to be imported from Russia to meet the deficiency.

6. Non-ferrous Metals

Germany's imports in this category in 1938 were as follows:[vii]


Copper (crude, 272,400 tons; ore, 653,931 tons) 926,331 tons
Lead (crude, 75,327 tons; ore, 141,288 tons) 216,615 tons
Zinc (crude, 74,935 tons; ore, 185,003 tons) 259,938 tons
Tin (crude, 12,090 tons; ore, 6,142 tons) 18,232 tons
Aluminum 14,521 tons
Nickel 3,984 tons
Chrome (ore) 176,406 tons

Practically all of these imports have been cut off by the blockade, with a consequent effect on the munitions industry. None of them can be supplied by Russia. Zinc can be obtained from Poland; copper, lead and bauxite from Jugoslavia; chrome from Greece; and so on -- but not in sufficient quantities. The storage of copper is probably considerable; in recent years, copper fittings in buildings have been expropriated by the Reich Government.

7. Other Needs

Other items on the list of German deficiencies are the 250,037 tons of raw cotton imported in 1938; 91,918 tons of crude rubber; also the rarer metals, uranium, molybdenum, antimony, tungsten, etc. -- all of which are cut off by the blockade. But in Austria, Germany has nearly 70 percent of world production of magnesite.


Any reckoning of Russia's capacity to supply German wartime needs must take several broad considerations into account.

First, by means of the industrialization process of the last decade, Russia has ceased to be a large-scale exporter, and (thanks to an increasing gold production) is no longer forced to export foodstuffs and raw materials in order to pay for needed imports of machinery.

Second, Russia is a competitor in the world market for many war metals, rather than a potential supplier of Germany.

Third, Soviet policy, since 1936, has been to supply domestic needs and to lay up reserves for the four Defense Commissariats (Aviation, Shipbuilding, Munitions, and Armaments).

Fourth, Soviet economy is in a permanent state of mobilization for defense, without idle productive capacity, therefore not immediately capable of the Herculean task of an export offensive, even under German management.

1. Russia's Surplus

Under the circumstances of socialist defense economy it is not realistic to speak of great surpluses of anything in Russia, despite the vast, unexploited mineral wealth. But the prospects of increasing the immediate Russian supply may be summarized roughly.

The Russian grain crop averages close to 100 million tons a year, but there is none to spare for export. Should the war last for several years, Russia could meet Germany's deficiency by increasing the sown area. Meanwhile, the Polish surplus of wheat and rye is already available to Germany. The situation is quite otherwise in regard to fats. Butter and eggs almost disappeared as Soviet export items in 1936. The export of vegetable oils is matched by the import. The livestock herds are being gradually replenished from the low level existing after the wholesale killing of cattle by the peasants in 1930, but there is no fodder for export. Russia might increase barley production and thus partially meet Germany's deficiency in feed for hogs.

Russia, in 1938, produced a one percent surplus of iron ore; the figure could be raised in order to supply Germany, given two years to work out the planned increase. The production of manganese ore -- 3 million tons, one-third of it surplus -- likewise could be increased on need. It should be noted, however, that the best results in the making of steel are obtained by mixing manganese ores from various sources. How German steel will fare on Russian manganese alone remains to be determined.

Russia's supply of non-ferrous metals is inadequate for her own needs. Russian production meets the domestic needs for copper by only 62 percent, lead 76 percent, nickel 40 percent, zinc 96 percent, aluminum 87 percent, mercury 94 percent, tin less than one percent.[viii]

Germany's shortage of timber and lumber can be met from Russia's supply of standing timber (available after some effort). Shipments could go forward via the Baltic-White Sea Canal during the summer months.

Russia's cotton crop in 1939 was the largest in her history, but the domestic textile industry takes practically the total; only 3,600 tons were exported in 1938 (11 months). Rubber is likewise unavailable.

The Soviet output of oil last year was 30,000,000 tons, of which 90 percent came from the Caucasian fields at Baku and Emba. The export has declined in the last decade from 6,000,000 tons to 1,231,000 tons, indicating increased home consumption with the advance of industrialization. In fact, domestic requirements have almost overtaken production capacity in oil. Frequent fuel shortages are recorded by the tractor stations serving collective farms. Of the 27,000,000 tons of crude oil refined in 1938, Russia consumed at home 21,750,000 tons, leaving a surplus of 5,250,000 tons, of which three quarters went into the war reserve, some of which might be shipped to Germany.

2. Can Russian Production Be Increased?

From the above it would seem that the only key supplies readily available in Soviet Russia for export to Germany are timber, manganese ore, oil, and possibly, in time, some iron ore. The question arises as to the possible increase of production through the reorganization of Russian industries by German engineers.

In 1930-32 there was worked out a vast scheme of reorganization of Soviet industries and transport, under which Germany would supply machinery, rolling stock, technical assistance, and credit approximating 2 billion marks ($800,000,000). This undertaking was interrupted by the events which placed Hitler in power; the Nazis, in fact, collected payment from Russia for equipment previously advanced, including 500,000,000 marks ($200,000,000) in gold. In the interim since 1934, when the German engineers returned to the Reich, there have been serious breakdowns and much sabotage in the Soviet plants. One of the reasons given for Stalin's rapprochement with Hitler was his urgent desire to get German experts back into Soviet plants, along with the necessary replacements for German-installed machinery.

On the other hand, German industry has been working at top speed for war needs. It also has suffered from lack of repairs. Just how much energy it can devote in wartime to supplying the Russian need for machinery remains to be demonstrated. Likewise, given the demand for skilled labor in the Reich, we cannot determine from the outside how many technicians can be spared for the Russian assignment. During recent years, however, one section of Germany's production plant has been working mostly for export. This factor acquires additional importance following recent British and French orders to blockade Germany's overseas exports. This means that German industry should be able to divert more plant capacity to work for Russia, Italy, the Balkans, and even Scandinavia. The one clear fact seems to be that the current Russo-German negotiations, in execution of the Trade Agreement of August 19, 1939, and the subsequent Molotov letter, involve revival, on an even larger scale, of the 1930-32 scheme for German reorganization of Russia's entire industrial and transport systems.


If we assume that with the aid of German engineers the Russian production of oil, iron, manganese, and timber could be increased to supply Germany's wartime demand, the problem would then be one of delivery. This is a key matter in the whole discussion.

1. Soviet Railroads

The railway system, the weakest link in Soviet economy, is organized for internal distribution rather than for export services via the ports. The general problem in new construction has been to build trunk lines between the production centers (e.g., between the coal and iron fields and the steel mills) and to double-track the existing lines.

The Soviet Government inherited 58,549 kilometers of first track from the Tsarist régime, which they increased by 1938 to 86,500 kilometers; and they added 26,900 kilometers of second track (including a fractional amount of third and fourth track). The railroads carry 90 percent of the total freight. The Third Five Year Plan calls for construction of 11,000 kilometers of new first track and 8,000 of second track.

The strain on the Soviet railway equipment is shown by the following table:


Existing Rolling Stock on December 31, 1937    
  Trunk line locomotives in operation 17,700  
  2-axle freight cars 524,900  
  4-axle freight cars 121,000  
Freight carried, 1937 516,700,000 tons
Freight (thous. ton-kil.), 1938 369,100,000  
Average daily car loadings, 1938 (calculated in 2-axle cars) 88,046  

With 45 percent more first track than in 1913, and the freight car capacity 2½ times greater, the actual goods carried in 1937 was almost four times more than in 1913, and the ton-kilometers almost 5½ times more. This increased traffic has been hauled by only 47.5 percent more trunk line locomotives (the weakest spot in the system, as more than half of the locomotives are now old or obsolescent). Further evidence of strain is noted in the increase of the average daily run of a loaded freight car from 75 kilometers in 1913 to 139.8 kilometers in 1937, and of the average speed from 14.1 to 19.6 kilometers per hour. In speeding up freight movements, the Soviet Government has created the greatest intensity of freight traffic in the world, 3 times greater than that of the United States and Germany, and 6 times that of France.[ix]

Russia's capacity to deliver oil, Manchurian soya beans and manganese to Germany must be estimated with these facts in mind. Let us examine the three categories in turn.

There are four possible routes to deliver oil from the Caucasus to Germany: via the canals of North Russia; via Rumania; via the Danube; and over the Soviet railroads. The canal route is long and roundabout, and is frozen for five to seven months of the year, therefore it is of limited use. Soviet oil has always been exported through the Mediterranean, which is now blocked. It might be feasible, with pressure on the Rumanian Government, to transship a certain quantity of oil at Constanta for carriage over the Rumanian and Hungarian railways to Germany. Barges can go up the Danube, but in restricted numbers because of the congestion, the shallow mouth of the river, and the rapids of the Iron Gate. The Danube is usually frozen from December to February. Main reliance must inevitably be on the Soviet railways.

To deliver 8,000,000 tons of oil in one year from the Caucasus to Germany, a distance of 3,500 kilometers, the following schedule would be required: daily distance travelled, 139 kilometers; time en route, 25 days; daily arrival in Germany, 22,000 tons; daily arrival in Germany in trains of 50 cars, 22 trains; daily arrival in Germany of 20-ton tank cars, 1,100 cars.

For twenty-two trains to arrive every day, with another twenty-two spaced for every day in the twenty-five days en route, would require 550 trains, containing 27,500 tanks, constantly under load of oil. To allow for the returning empties this figure must be doubled, making a total requirement of 55,000 tank cars.

But there existed in the Soviet Union on December 31, 1937 only 19,088 4-axle tank cars. Between 1928 and 1937 Soviet factories built 14,236 4-axle tank cars. Of these 4,000 were constructed in 1937, indicating greatly increased output. The number of 2-axle tank cars cannot be determined from Soviet statistics, other than the fact that 6,500 have been built since 1932.

Leaving a wide margin for underestimation of the existing equipment, we would seem safe in assuming that the entire number of Soviet tank cars, if assigned exclusively to the German order, would fall 50 percent short of the performance necessary to deliver 8,000,000 tons of oil in one year. Nor can it be expected that the Soviet planners would put so much capital and energy into the construction of so many tank cars that would be useful only during the period of Germany's war emergency. Moreover, the oil must be moved over the Soviet railroads of the densest traffic, in the Ukraine. These, and other difficulties, add up to form a belief that the whole oil transaction is too colossal for the existing Soviet equipment. What German engineers could make of the situation, however, given two years' time, must be kept in mind as a qualification of this conclusion.

A similar chart may be offered in regard to the transport of 2,351,000 tons of soya beans in one year from the Manchurian border to the new Russo-German frontier, a total distance of 7,000 kilometers: time en route (at 139 kilometers per day), 50 days; daily arrival in Germany, 6,500 tons; daily arrival in Germany in trains of 50 cars, 6½ trains; daily arrival in Germany in large cars of 20-ton capacity, 325 cars.

On the basis of an average of 6½ trains arriving every day, and fifty days needed en route, there would be constantly under load of soya beans 325 trains containing 16,250 large freight cars. In this case all the cars would not return empty. These figures would be doubled if the soya beans had to be carried in the 2-axle freight cars which, because of the bulk of soya beans, can carry no more than 10 tons. The transaction, under these conditions, would involve 13 trains arriving every day, with 650 trains en route, containing 32,500 cars. This would be a colossal task for the already crowded Siberian railroads.

Now let us consider the transport of manganese. To deliver 720,000 tons of manganese ore from Nikopol (Ukraine) to German blast furnaces in one year, a total distance of 2,000 kilometers, the schedule would be as follows: time en route, 14 days; daily arrival in Germany, 2,000 tons; daily arrival in cars of 20 tons, 100 cars.

With two trains arriving every day, and fourteen days taken en route, there would be constantly under load of manganese ore 28 trains containing 1,440 cars. The shipment of the required manganese ore would thus be a more feasible transaction.

Whatever the amount of war supplies Russia can deliver to Germany, transshipment from the broad gauge to the standard gauge cars at the new Russo-German frontier presents a labor problem. This may be readily solved by the use of Polish prisoners and other forced labor. A further difficulty exists, at present, in the condition of the Polish railways after the German invasion. Many bridges were blown up, for example, or destroyed from the air. Also, the German railroads have been unable to meet their own traffic demands; in 1938 only one-fifth of the orders for locomotives within Germany could be filled because of the diversion of locomotive plants to the armaments industry.

Considered separately, the delivery to Germany of oil, soya beans and manganese ore is in each case a job which would greatly tax the Soviet facilities; and, except in the case of manganese ore, none of them could be executed except in part. Considered as a whole, the simultaneous transport of these three raw materials in quantities sufficient to meet German needs is an assignment which obviously the Soviet railways cannot execute.


By the Trade Agreement of August 19, 1939, Germany granted Russia a 200,000,000 marks credit for the purchase of German goods over two years. It is to be paid back nine-tenths in raw materials. Russia demands from Germany high grade machinery and the latest types of aviation and naval instruments. How these demands are to be met remains to be determined. If German industry were to work adequately for the repair of Russian plants, and to supply new equipment, Germany's ability to work for her own war needs would be cut. On the other hand, if the war in the West continues without the big offensives that consume matériel rapidly, German industry can accumulate stores of war equipment and may at the same time resume manufacture for export. At the present moment, it seems unlikely that Russia will realize on the specific credit offered. In November 1939, Germany had no foreign assets whatever. The German gold reserve may be 500 million marks, but it is impossible to know how much gold was expended prior to the march into Poland. Expropriation of all the private gold in Germany, in the form of jewelry, sacred vessels, etc. could not yield more than an estimated 500 million marks.

Certain stunts, however, are possible. The Reich Government could decree the abolition of the use of tobacco, and order the usual German supply earmarked in Bulgaria sent to Russia instead, meanwhile filling Bulgaria's usual orders of sundry goods. Against the credit thus acquired for Germany's account, Russia could ship raw materials direct to Berlin. Such three-cornered arrangements are complicated and never could attain a sufficiently large scale. They are based on an inescapable further lowering of the standard of living in Germany, already very low. What caused the bitterness in 1917 was not only the famine conditions per se, but the fact that some Germans had plenty while others starved. The Nazis have the power to distribute sacrifice equally throughout the whole population. There is no way to measure the amount of suffering the German people can endure provided they all fare alike.

More extraordinary foreign assets may be realized by Germany through agreements with other states for the repatriation of German minorities into the Reich. Thus the German-Estonian Agreement of October 15, 1939,[x] contains clauses whereby securities, mortgages, etc. of the departing Germans are immediately placed under the control of the German Legation in Tallinn for transfer to the "German Trust Administration" to be formed at the German Consulate. This Trust will have charge of realizing on all the cash, real property, industrial and commercial enterprises, etc., of the former German residents of Estonia. It is estimated that they owned property valued at 50-100 million dollars; while the belongings of Germans elsewhere in the Baltic would increase the figure to 500 million dollars. If all the Germans are repatriated on similar terms from Italy, Denmark, Hungary, Rumania and Jugoslavia, the amount of valuta realized by the German Government might well reach 4-5 billion dollars. Such a sum would more than cover Germany's adverse foreign balance in war materials and foodstuffs. The absence of any time limit in the Estonian Agreement, for the transfer of assets realized from the properties concerned, leaves the way open for Germany to demand immediate delivery of raw materials on account.


From the above facts and estimates the following may be deduced:

1. Russia cannot supply Germany with fats, iron ore, nonferrous metals, rubber or cotton.

2. Russia can meet Germany's deficiencies in manganese ore and timber; and, with a year's interim for increasing the sown area, can meet any grain shortage likely to occur. How much barley Russia can produce and transport to Germany for fodder remains to be determined.

3. Russia can produce sufficient oil for Germany's extraordinary needs in war, but on condition that Germany supplies the equipment and technical assistance to reorganize Soviet industry and transport. Such reorganization would probably take two years.

4. Russia cannot at present deliver sufficient oil to enable Germany to undertake a large-scale offensive without risk of exhausting Germany's oil reserves; and cannot transport soya beans from Manchuria in quantities sufficient to solve Germany's fat problem. Russia at present offers a partial solution, but not decisive aid, in regard to Germany's deficiencies in oil and fats.

5. Since German industry is already overtaxed by war tasks, it is unlikely that the German Government can or will pay for raw materials exclusively in the currency that Russia demands, namely, high grade machinery and instruments. Further, transport costs over immense Russian distances will mount up to two or three times the price of the products themselves. However, in the search for means of payment in the past the Nazis have shown a genius for surprising stunts. Conceivably they might let the Bolsheviks acquire the German ships interned in Russian ports, including the Bremen. But the most promising method of payment would seem to be through the foreign exchange acquired by the sale of properties owned abroad by the German minorities now in process of repatriation to the Reich.

6. It is suggested, therefore, that in a short war of big offensives Russia cannot give decisive aid to Germany. But if the present siege war lasts for two years, without major battles, so that there is a minimum expenditure of war materials in the field, and granted that Germany has time to accumulate war stocks and reorganize Soviet industry and transport, then Russian aid might well be decisive in determining the military outcome in the West. This presupposes, however, that Germany's internal structure could withstand a two-year siege, and that Russia would be willing to sacrifice domestic needs in order to aid Germany. Which is by no means certain.


For many years Soviet industrialization proceeded under the forced draft of having to pay for imported machinery by exporting raw materials and foodstuffs needed at home. Soviet "dumping" was a problem of the world market in the early '30's. But the need to force exports has been remedied by increasing the gold production. Russia has achieved what may be considered an independent position in foreign trade. The Soviet plan is to outstrip capitalist countries by the utmost development of domestic resources. Abnormal increases in exports, therefore, depend upon the willingness of the Soviet Government to sacrifice the needs of domestic plans for the sake of external political objectives.

Stalin has proclaimed a policy of trading with all countries. The Bolsheviks are realists. Therefore they probably will avoid becoming involved in the European war while at the same time taking every opportunity to strengthen Russia's defense toward the West, against the day of possible renewal of the cordon sanitaire of 1919, or even of the German Drang nach Osten. As a result of the re-division of Eastern Europe, her acquisition of a dominating position in the eastern Baltic, and the prospect of securing a foothold in the Balkans, Russia holds the balance of power in continental Europe. Stalin is not likely to yield that vantage in diplomatic manœuvre except to superior force. So long as Russia holds the balance, the Soviet Government will probably view the supply of Germany as a strictly business transaction.

But what if Russia's newly acquired position were upset by an Allied victory in the West? The ensuing changes in the political line-up might conceivably cause the Bolsheviks to extend their reach. Bolshevik doctrine predicts as inevitable the downfall of capitalism and imperialism (the British, French, and Dutch Empires). If blockaded Germany should become desperate enough for the Nazis leaders to be willing to pay in any amount for Russian military aid, in order to ward off the imposition of a Carthaginian peace, and if at that moment it seemed possible for them to shift the German National Socialist revolution over to the Bolshevik rails, then Russia might agree to advance supplies and other assistance on long credit, even at the sacrifice of domestic needs. The two revolutionary régimes would then face the historical task of working out the problem posed by the logic of European geography: a marriage of the German surplus of skill and manpower with Russian space and natural wealth. A military alliance between the two revolutions is the nightmare of the West. On the other hand, an economic partnership, without military objectives, might provide a useful outlet for German energies and talents.

The answer to the general question of the decisiveness of Russia's aid to Germany must therefore be conditional. The longer the war lasts, the more effective that aid should become. But Russia is not likely to make real sacrifices for Germany unless the internal situation there becomes ripe for deepening the brown complexion of National Socialism to the color which Bolsheviks prefer.

[i] Professor H. C. Hillman in the Manchester Guardian, October 19, 1939.

[ii] Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, "Geographical Distribution of German Imports for 1938 and 6 Months of 1939." October, 1939.

[iii]Cf. Statistisches Jahrbuch, 1938; also George S. Jamieson, "Vegetable Fats and Oils." New York: American Chemical Society, 1932.

[iv] Department of Commerce, op. cit.

[v]Statistisches Jahrbuch, 1938.

[vi] Department of Commerce, op. cit.

[vii] Department of Commerce, op. cit. (Note: a dispatch from Berlin, New York Times, November 12, 1939, gives the import of copper in 1938 as 1,012,300 tons.)

[viii] Compiled from production and consumption figures for 1938, published in Frankfurter Zeitung, August 29, 1939, and the Times, London, September 30, 1939.

[ix] L. Volfson, A. Korneev, N. Shilnikov: "Razvitie Zheleznykh Dorog SSSR," Moscow, 1939.

[x] Text of financial and economic clauses of the German-Estonian Agreement of October 15, 1939, published in The Financial News (London), October 23, 1939.

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now
  • BRUCE C. HOPPER, Associate Professor of Government in Harvard University; author of "Pan-Sovietism" and other works
  • More By Bruce Hopper