Dwight David Eisenhower

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Dwight David Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890 in Denison, Texas. Shortly afterwards, he moved to Abilene, Kansas, where he also grew up. In the years 1911-1915 he graduated with not very convincing results from the military academy in Westpoint. He then served in a training tank unit. Here he met a man who then accompanied him throughout World War II, Geoge S. Patton. His fate was connected with this until Patton's mysterious death in December 1945.


After the First War, he served in the infantry for several years. From 1922 he worked in staff positions. In 1933, he caught up with the chief of staff of the ground forces. In 1935, he moved to the Philippines, where he served on General MacArthur's staff and helped create the Philippine Army. It must be stated that, especially thanks to MacArthur, the joint US-Philippine troops did not excel much in the later struggle for the Philippines. In 1939, Eisenhower returned to the United States.

The beginning of a new war

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the main American Pacific base, Pearl Harbor, without declaring war. The next day, the United States declared war on Japan. The main question now was how the United States would treat Germany. American public opinion demanded war only with Japan. The United Kingdom was therefore in great danger of being left in Europe without American support. However, the situation was soon resolved by the Germans when the US declared war on December 11.

At the time, Eisenhower was still working on the ground staff under General Marshall. However, at the beginning of 1942, he selected him to be the head of the US Army's operations department. Here he also presented a plan for an Allied landing in France. This turned out to be very preliminary in the end. A little later, Eisenhower was appointed commander of the US Expeditionary Forces in Europe. In early August 1942, he became commander of the Allied Landing Forces in North Africa ( Operation TORCH ).

Commander of amphibious operations

On November 8, 1942, Allied troops landed in Cassablanca, Oran, and Algeria. Eisenhower proved to be a good diplomat here, placing American soldiers at the head of the landing troops. For the defending Vichy French, the Americans were not clear enemies, so there was a real hope that they would not put up too much resistance. This idea turned out to be correct in most cases. However, with the arrival of the British, the first major clashes occurred. Of course, the French sailors did the most, not forgetting the massacre of their fleet in Mers-el-Kebir on July 3, 1940. On November 11, 1942, however, French Admiral Darlan ordered his troops to stop fighting.

The German response was very rapid and almost immediately began to bring reinforcements to Africa. The Americans hastily tried to invade Tunisia, but their impromptu attack failed. The situation then calmed down for a while. As the Allies did not show a desire to move forward, the Germans took the initiative. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel ( " Desert Fox " ) decided to strike a surprise attack on US troops defending the Kasserine Pass and attacked in early February. The Americans suffered heavy losses and were forced to withdraw. However, Rommel did not have enough strength to attack again. However, he won his first and last victory over the Americans in North Africa. Shortly afterwards, he was recalled from Africa and his troops were taken over by General von Arnim. He desperately resisted the Allied attacks until May 13, 1943, when the Axis troops capitulated. Given the absolute dominance of the Allies on land, in water and in the air, this was not a great success for the Allies.It was originally expected that the defeat of German troops would be a matter of only a few weeks!

At a conference in Cassablanca in January 1943, it was decided to occupy Sicily as a further step towards the defeat of Germany. On July 10, 1943, Allied troops landed in Sicily under Eisenhower's command. The 7th US Army ( Gen. Patton ) and the 8th British Army ( Gen. Montgomery ) were assigned to land in Sicily ( HUSKY ). However, the Allies' progress was too slow. The main destination, the city of Messina, did not surrender until mid-August. Although the conquest of Sicily was undoubtedly an Allied success, the slow progress allowed the German commander in the Mediterranean, Marshal Kesselring, to withdraw German troops through the Straits of Messina to southern Italy. This then proved to be a great strategic mistake of the Allies.

The site of another Allied strike was to be, despite the protests of the Americans, the state of southern Italy. The Americans, especially General Marshall, preferred a direct attack on France. In the end, however, they had to accept the postponement of the opening of the second front to 1944 and in 1943 to take thanks only by landing in Italy. General Marshall had to retreat, but nevertheless warned the British at a conference in Washington in May 1943. He said, among other things: " It should be recalled that in North Africa, relatively small German forces have created a serious factor in delaying our operations. If Germany decides to support Italy, this could make the intended operations extremely difficult and time-consuming. "It simply came to our notice then.

On July 25, 1943, the Italian dictator Mussolini was overthrown. The new Italian Prime Minister Badoglio was willing to cooperate with the Allies. Already on September 3, he signed the Italian surrender. However, it was not published until September 8.


Return to the European mainland began with units of the British 8th Army under the command of Montgomery landing in Calabria, southern Italy ( BAYTOWN ) on September 3, 1943. However, Montgomery's advance was extremely slow and helped the subsequent massacre of Americans landing at Salerno ( AVELANCHE ) on September 9.

The German reaction was very quick. As soon as they learned of the Italian surrender on September 8, they immediately began disarming the Italian troops and the influx of other German divisions into Italy ( Operation ACHSE ). A day later, they prepared a bloodbath for the Americans at Salerno. They almost managed to drive the landed American troops back into the sea. In the highest emergency, however, the German attack was stopped by fire from battleships supporting the landing. ( As it turned out, this was not the only case where ship fire saved American troops from destruction. ) The American landing at Salerno was also supported by a British landing in the port of Taranto ( Operation SLAPSTICK ).

Despite all the complications, the Americans managed to move forward and occupied Naples in early October. But there was another obstacle behind her - Gustav's line. An excellent line of defense on which the Allies later bled.

However, that was no longer Eisenhower's concern. He was called to Great Britain in December 1943 to participate in the preparations for the landing in France ( OVERLORD ).And so, while Allied troops unsuccessfully attacked Gustavo's line, as the landing at the rear of the enemy at Anzio did not help ( it was also defended only by support from the warfare of warships ), Eisenhower prepared an attack on Hitler's " Fortress Europe ."

Fighting in Western Europe

Eisenhower speaks with the men of the 502nd Airborne Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, June 5, 1944, the day before the D-Day invasion.

On June 6, 1944, " D-Day " finally came and Eisenhower gave the order to launch Operation OVERLORD . The US 1st Army ( Gen. Bradley ) and the British 2nd Army ( Gen. Dempsey ), grouped into the 21st Army Group under Montgomery , landed on five Norman beaches. After initial successes, however, the Allies' progress virtually came to a halt. The new impetus came with the arrival of General Patton at the end of July 1944. In August, the Allied troops were reorganized. The arrival of Patton's 3rd Army was particularly significant.


However, since the fighting in Sicily, the Allies' progress has been characterized by a constant struggle between Patton and Montgomery. From September 1, 1944, Eisenhower was forced to arbitrate them again. He was appointed commander of Allied forces in Europe. He was a supporter of progress on the broad front. Here, however, his ideas clashed with the disapproval of both Montgomery and Patton. Both were in favor of advancing on a narrow front, but each on his own part of the front. Montgomery wanted to go to Holland, Patton to Alsace. Eisenhower was forced to give the green light to Montgomery and his plan to cross the bridges on the Lower Rhine in Nijmegen and Arnhem . The action bore the code name MARKET-GARDEN and, according to Montgomery, was to end the war by the end of 1944. However, it ended in a brutal defeat of the Allies. This utter debacle meant delaying further progress.

In November, the Allies encountered another major obstacle after overcoming the Atlantic Wall - the Siegfried Line. After several largely unsuccessful attempts, the process stopped again. The Germans took advantage of the calm and bad weather. On December 16, 1944, Field Marshal von Rundstedt launched the German Winter Offensive in the Ardennes ( Operation WACHT AM RHEIN ). The goal was to reach Antwerp in a lightning-fast manner and drive a wedge between Allied troops in the north and south. The action ended in a German defeat.

The end of war

After that, the Allies opened the way to Germany. In March 1945, the Americans crossed the Rhine at Remagen. On April 25, the Americans met the Russians on the Elbe near Torgau. US troops then launched an attack on Czechoslovakia and Austria. On May 6, 1945, the troops of the 5th Corps of Patton's 3rd Army liberated Pilsen. On May 7, 1945, Alfred Jodl, the German Chief of Operations of the OKW, signed an unconditional surrender in Reims. A day later, the war in Europe was definitely over.

Eisenhower with Allied commanders after the signing of the German surrender in Reims


After the war, Eisenhower remained in Europe. He became commander of the US occupation forces in Germany. Although Germany was a defeated enemy state, he realized the importance of democratizing conditions in Germany, and therefore tried not to approach Germany as the victor to the defeated, but tried to relieve the defeated state of its difficult position. However, he did not last long in this position and in November 1945 he was appointed Chief of Staff of the ground forces. He replaced General Marshall, who was appointed ambassador to China. Eisenhower served there until October 1948. After that, he even briefly became rector of Columbia University in New York. He stayed out of the army for a while.

In April 1949, NATO was formed. At first, Eisenhower stood outside. On September 17, 1949, the North Atlantic Council ( NAC ) was established within NATO, and the foreign ministers of the Alliance's member states became members. At a meeting of the NAC on December 19, 1950, it was decided to create the post of Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces in Europe ( SACEUR ). Dwight Eisenhower was then appointed to this position. He performed it until June 1952. After that, he definitely left the army.

President of the USA

After he left the army, a " fight for Eisenhower " erupted between Republicans and Democrats, as both sides wanted him as their candidate in the upcoming presidential election. He eventually opted for Republicans. However, he did not find 100% support among them either. Many conservatives would prefer to see Republican Senator leader Robert Taft as president. Eisenhower thus had to rely on the favor of the influential Senator McCarthy during his candidacy for the Republicans. Although Eisenhower disagreed with his " witch hunt, " he was dependent on his support. This was fully demonstrated in Eisenhower's speech accepting the candidacy. In this speech, Eisenhower wanted to make a positive mention of General Marshall. However, McCarthy had just attacked the army leaders. So Eisenhower left Marshall out. Although McCarthy was eventually destroyed by his struggle against all, and the self-regulatory mechanisms of American democracy proved their strength, Eisenhower's attitude became a big stain on his profile.

On November 4, 1952, Eisenhower defeated Democratic opponent Stevenson by more than six million votes in the election. For the voters, Eisenhower meant a great personality, and they also heard Ike's main motto of the election - " I'm going to Korea ".

On January 20, 1953, he took the inaugural promise and was inaugurated. Along with him, new Vice President Richard Nixon. Within the Republican Party, Eisenhower stood between the two wings. He did not directly join the more liberal or radically conservative wing. He called himself a " dynamic conservative. "

He was very conservative in domestic politics. His administration was fully interconnected with the largest American corporations ( eg General Motors ). He opposed all regulations, the control of wages and prices that Truman was forced to impose. His policy was "modern republicanism." As a representative of liberal economic principles, he promoted a balanced budget and tax cuts.

President of the United States, February 1959

First half 50. years was marked by economic growth caused by the postwar boom. However, in his second term, after defeating Stevenson again in 1956, more serious economic problems began to manifest themselves. Economic growth stagnated and unemployment rose. That's why the Americans in the next election, in 1960, preferred the new face of JF Kennedy to Vice President R. Nixon.

Foreign policy

In foreign policy, he stood for American involvement in solving international problems. He fulfilled his main promise, the end of the Korean War, in the summer of the first year in office - on July 27, 1953, an armistice was signed.

In US foreign policy, Secretary of State JF Dulles presented himself as the most visible politician. Strongly religious and convinced of the privileged role of the United States in the world. He was a supporter of stronger solutions to problems. He opposed Truman's current doctrine of " holding back communism " and " pushing " and " balancing on the brink of war ." It was not very popular among the British and French, but it was highly praised by German Chancellor Adenauer. He was not so naive as to believe in the possibility of military liberation of the communist bloc countries. However, he believed in the collapse of this bloc from within. That is why he strongly supported Tito and his secession from Stalin, which is why he supported anti-communist propaganda, represented mainly by the broadcasting of the " Free Europe " station.

Eisenhower's policy led to several minor conflicts. In 1954, he agreed to a CIA operation in Guatemala. Here the left-wing government of Guzman Arbenz was overthrown.

In 1956, the crisis in the Middle East deepened. Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in July due to the need to finance the construction of the Aswan Dam. Britain and France, with the help of Israel, launched an attack. Eisenhower refused to join the action and even, together with the USSR, voted against its NATO allies at the UN. Eisenhower did not intend to drive the Arab nations into the arms of the USSR with a clear anti-Egyptian position.

At the same time, the crisis within the Eastern bloc culminated. The Hungarian uprising was bloodily suppressed. A free Europe promised to help, but it did not come. The crisis has confirmed the division of spheres of influence. The possibilities of the Eisenhower administration were limited, and their involvement in Hungary could provoke a general conflict. What is unforgivable, however, is the fact that the United States has not been involved in the Hungarian affair at the UN. In other words, they did not link the anti-British vote on Egypt to the vote on the situation in Hungary.

After the end of the Suez Crisis, Eisenhower promised economic and military assistance to all Middle Eastern nations in January 1957. This went down in history as the " Eisenhower Doctrine ." It was used as early as 1958, when Lebanese President Chamoun asked for help. With the support of the United States ( and the United Kingdom, which intervened in Jordan ), the situation in the area has temporarily stabilized.

Eisenhower also sought to strengthen military alliances, especially NATO. His efforts were crowned in 1955, when Germany was accepted into NATO. Eisenhower refused to engage militarily in Vietnam in favor of the French. However, he was willing, at Dulles' urging, to support the creation of military pacts. Therefore, in September 1954, SEATO was born, whose members became Australia, the Philippines, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the USA and Great Britain.

Even so, Eisenhower wanted to present himself more as a peacemaker.In addition to ending the conflict in Korea and refusing to take part in the conflict in Indochina and the Suez crisis, he presented the " Atoms for Peace " program, which sought to reduce the number of nuclear weapons.

After Stalin's death, he tried to communicate more with the USSR within the framework of " personal diplomacy ". There has been a " warming " of relations between the two great powers. Everything was crowned by a conference in Geneva in the summer of 1955. Sometimes in this context we speak of the " spirit of Geneva " or the " illusion of melting ".

However, this " warming " of relationships did not last long. In 1958, Soviet leader Khrushchev suggested the possibility of handing over occupation commitments in East Berlin to the communist government of the GDR. Thus began another Berlin crisis, which culminated in the construction of the Berlin Wall.

However, further negotiations with Khrushchev continued. At the aforementioned conference in Geneva, Khrushchev rejected Eisenhower's proposal for an " open sky, " the possibility of reconnaissance aircraft passing over enemy territory for mutual control. Although there were plenty of controversy, the US president invited the Soviet leader to visit the United States. The two statesmen then met at the rural residence of US presidents Camp David in September 1959. Eisenhower proposed a meeting in Paris to resolve the occupation administration over Berlin.

Nikita Khrushchev during his 11-day visit to the United States as a guest of President Eisenhower, September 1959

However, the " spirit of Camp David " did not last long. On May 1, 1960, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over Soviet Sverdlovsk. At a subsequent conference in Paris, Eisenhower refused to apologize to Khrushchev for the act and the negotiations failed. Khrushchev thus relied on an agreement with Eisenhower's successor.

Since 1959, US relations with Cuba have deteriorated. Dictator Batista was overthrown by another dictator Castro. In the last days of his tenure, on January 3, 1961, Eisenhower approved the CIA's action to overthrow Castro. However, the event was to take place under the auspices of the new president.

In November 1960, another election came, in which Eisenhower could no longer run as a candidate. In his farewell speech, he called for further disarmament. However, he was not allowed to do so. After leaving office, he lived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He died on March 28, 1969.

In conclusion

Official portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower at the White House

Eisenhower was one of the important figures of the Second World War and events after it. In war, he proved to be a diplomat rather than a soldier. This brought him occasional difficulties and was often blamed on him, but he was able to hold the US-UK coalition firmly together, which was not always easy. The Americans often criticized him for his excessive loyalty to the British, and he was not grateful to the British anyway.

In some times of crisis, there was even a threat of a split in the alliance. For example, after the defeat of the German winter offensive in the Ardennes. Montgomery called this virtually purely American victory the victory of all Allies at the time. This upset Eisenhower so much that he was ready to resign immediately. Churchill himself intervened in the greatest need, and he had to apologize for Montgomery, though he was very reluctant.

Eisenhower has always been able to stand up for his subordinates. For example, he very often had to save General Patton from various awkward situations. Even though Patton didn't always treat him best. He did not take any napkins when evaluating Eisenhower's decisions. He even called him "the best British general of all time. "However, Eisenhower has always been able to stand up for his subordinate. That was Eisenhower's size. Although we can sometimes have doubts about his military qualities, as a diplomat and a man in his positions he did very well.

As president, he was able to continue the policy of " detaining " his predecessor Truman. However, he tried not to provoke any serious conflicts, which he succeeded during his term of office. However, this does not mean that no germs begin to appear under his action. During his tenure, his successor, Kennedy, had to solve complex problems that had their origins in the Eisenhower era.

Eisenhower's funeral

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