Commercial and Economic Activities of the USSR During the War in Europe. October 1939 – June 1941

The war in Europe and the economic blockade imposed by the warring countries had an impact on Soviet foreign trade. In 1940, the USSR essentially stopped trading with Great Britain, France, Italy, Turkey, Japan and Belgium. Its main commercial partners on the eve of the German invasion were Germany and the USA. the Soviet Union also derived considerable benefits from the growth of transit and re-export operations.

As the USSR had great need of modern military equipment and technologies, it agreed to engage in trade talks with Germany, which began in Moscow in October 1939.

Before the signature of the trade agreement, the Soviet side asked for permission for its specialists to get acquainted with the latest German technologies. In late October 1939, a Soviet delegation headed by People’s Commissar of the Shipbuilding Industry I. Tevosyan came to Berlin. For a month and a half, it visited many German enterprises.

A German economic delegation was received by J. Stalin on December 31, 1939. During the conversation, the German side expressed interest in increasing raw material deliveries, while the Soviet leadership asked for military machinery, armaments, technical documentation and manufacturing technologies. J. Stalin insisted on balanced trade (‘Germany will get as much as it gives’).

An economic agreement between Germany and the USSR was signed on February 11, 1940. Germany agreed to deliver 15 types of arms, 33 types of manufacturing equipment, and 11 kinds of metals and metal goods to the Soviets. the USSR promised to give Germany foodstuffs and different raw materials in return.

11 February 1940
Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation
Coll. 3а, ser. 1, box 22, fold. 263.
22 February 1940
Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation
Coll. 059, ser. 1, box 326, fold. 2238, ff. 52–53.

Original. Autograph of V. Molotov