American wartime policy regarding Russia continues to be disputed heatedly. In these controversies the genesis of Soviet-American relations in World War II, although it obviously played a key role in shaping both the victorious anti-Axis alliance and the uneasy peace that followed, has so far been neglected. To throw light on the initial rapprochement, this paper is presented as a survey of the half-year period in 1941 between the German attack on Russia and the Japanese attack on the United States.
Sumner Welles, Under Secretary of State in 1941, records that “the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, particularly during the period of the German-Soviet agreement, had been practically non-existent.” The Soviet invasion of Finland, sharply resented by American public opinion, served to exacerbate relations further. Only after the German attack of June 22, 1941, did the two great powers draw together.