How did the way commanders ask their troops to deal with the immediate death of their comrades vary by country/culture during WWII?

How did the way commanders ask their troops to deal with the immediate death of their comrades vary by country/culture during WWII?

I have researched extensively but may not be asking the right question. I am interested in learning how military forces were asked to deal with the death of their comrades immediately after the fact during WWII, with the understanding that answers could (should?) vary by culture. In particular, I am interested in knowing about America/Germany/Russia -- bonus points for info on smaller players that vary by any degree of significance from the others.

My only frame of reference is my own experience through multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. When a member of our company was killed, our Senior NCO or company commander would brief us within 24 hours. We would be given 2 minutes following the announcement to pay respects silently, collect ourselves, and get back to work (so to speak). A ceremony/vigil was usually arranged as early as a week to as late as 3 months later, as mission parameters permitted.

Of course, the garrisoned environment we know/enjoy today varies significantly from the garrisoned battlefront conditions troops knew during WWII. Can anyone offer insight into how different countries/cultures dealt with the death of their comrades within the first 24 hours of their demise?

In Once a Patricia, the memoir of Lt. C. Sydney Frost as platoon commander in Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in Sicily (July-August 1943), Italy (August-September 1943 & September 1944 - March 1945), and Netherlands (March -May 1945), almost no mention of casualties is made except for the occasional "We lost so-and-so." The three exceptions are:

  • On the unnecessary casualties caused by the desk Captains who came over as replacement company and battalion commanders in preference to the battle-hardened lieutenants already in Italy;
  • During his flight from Italy to Netherlands in March 1944, where he briefly reminisces on the lost friends left behind in Italy; and
  • A recap f casualties suffered in Italy by First Canadian Corps: 5,400 dead, 2,800 wounded of an authorized establishment 45,000 with about 13,000 battle-troops at the sharp end at any given time.

I can only venture from this that the casualties were routine enough, after the initial battle introduction, that the men and officers simply got on with their task at hand.

Death is part of your daily life

At least for the soviet army in WW2, unless you saw the death yourself, you would not be officially informed of the fate of your comrades. Once somebody is out of action, you don't get info on if they die in hospital, or if they're MIA or KIA. Even for official purposes, the records we have complain of 'inadequate accounting of casualties', lack of identification of soldiers (for a period of 1940-1941 soldiers were required to give up their personal documents), and for hundreds of thousands of soldiers their fate was unclear for years after the war ended. Corpses would regularly be buried without identifying them or notifying anyone about the number of those corpses, much information has been found during exhumations after the war.

For the common soldier, disclosing information about your platoon casualties to other platoons (or simply discussing it) would be a breach of secrecy and punishable - casualty information was treated as a state secret and would also be limited for understandable practical reasons such as the effect on morale. E.g., if a whole platoon was eliminated, then the same platoon number would be filled with fresh people and the company would move on as usual.

Things most likely have been different for the Axis and Allied armies, they have much different policies on accounting for people in general.

In all previous wars death of comrades was far more common, from disease even when out of battle and higher by far when in battle. I imagine that the overriding requirement to collect the dead and wounded - which might be up to a third to a half of the units numbers - and then the burial and services would provide the time for reflection.


Entry in Scholarly Reference Grossman, D., & Siddle, B.K., "Psychological Effects of Combat," in Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict, Academic Press, 2000.

"Psychological Effects of Combat"

By Dave Grossman and Bruce K. Siddle

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECT OF COMBAT is a concept which encompasses a wide variety of processes and negative impacts, all of which must be taken into consideration in any assessment of the immediate and long term costs of war. This entry will address the wide-spectrum psychological effects of combat, to include:

Psychiatric casualties suffered during combat

Physiological arousal and fear

The physiology of close combat

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Introduction: A Legacy of Lies

An examination of the psychological effects of combat must begin by acknowledging that there are some positive aspects to combat. Throughout recorded history these positive aspects have been emphasized and exaggerated in order to protect the self-image of combatants, o honor the memory of the fallen and rationalize their deaths, to aggrandize and glorify political leaders and military commanders, and to manipulate populations into supporting war and sending their sons to their deaths. But the fact that these positive aspects have been manipulated and exploited does not deny their existence. There is a reason for the powerful attraction of combat over the centuries, and there is no value in going from the dysfunctional extreme of glorifying war to the equally dysfunctional extreme of denying its attraction.

The ability to recognize and confront danger, the powerful group bonding that occurs in times of stress, the awe-inspiring spectacle of a nation focused and aligned to achieve a single aim, selfless dedication to abstract concepts and goals, and the ability to overcome the powerful imperatives of the survival instinct and willingly die for others: these common aspects of war represent both important survival traits and a potentially positive comment on basic human nature. But if war does have a capacity for reflecting some usually hidden, positive aspects of humanity, it irrefutably does so at a great and tragic cost.

One obvious and tragic price of war is the toll of death and destruction. But there is an additional cost, a psychological cost borne by the survivors of combat, and a full understanding of this cost has been too long repressed by a legacy of self-deception and intentional misrepresentation. After peeling away this "legacy of lies" that has perpetuated and glorified warfare there is no escaping the conclusion that combat, and the killing that lies at the heart of combat, is an extraordinarily traumatic and psychologically costly endeavor that profoundly impacts all who participate in it.

This psychological cost of war is most readily observable and measurable at the individual level. At the national level, a country at war can anticipate a small -- but statistically significant -- increase in the domestic murder rate, probably due to the glorification of violence and the resultant reduction in the level of "repression" of natural aggressive instincts which Freud held to be essential to the existence of civilization. At the group level, even the most elite unit is usually psychologically destroyed when between 50 and 60% casualties have been inflicted, and the integration of the individual into the group is so strong that this destruction often leads to depression and suicide. However, the nation (if not eliminated by the war) is generally resilient, and the group (if not destroyed) is inevitably disbanded. But the individual who survives combat may well end up paying a profound psychological cost for a lifetime. The cumulative impact of these effects on hundreds of thousands of veterans is pervasive, with significant potential to have a profound effect on society at large.

Psychiatric Casualties in War

Richard Gabriel has noted that: "Nations customarily measure the 'costs of war' in dollars, lost production, or the number of soldiers killed or wounded." But, "rarely do military establishments attempt to measure the costs of war in terms of individual suffering. Psychiatric breakdown remains one of the most costly items of war when expressed in human terms." Indeed, for the combatants in every major war fought in this century, there has been a greater probability of becoming a psychiatric casualty than of being killed by enemy fire.

A psychiatric casualty is a combatant who is no longer able to participate in combat due to mental (as opposed to physical) debilitation. Psychiatric casualties seldom represent a permanent debilitation, and with proper care they can be rotated back into the line. (However, Israeli research has demonstrated that, after combat, psychiatric casualties are strongly predisposed toward the more long-term and more permanently debilitating manifestation of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.)

The actual casualty can manifest itself in many ways, ranging from affective disorders to somatoform disorders, but the treatment for the many manifestations of combat stress involves simply removing the soldier from the combat environment. But the problem is that the military does not want to simply return the psychiatric casualties to normal life, it wants to return them to combat. And these casualties are understandably reluctant to do so.

The evacuation syndrome is the paradox of combat psychiatry. A nation must care for its psychiatric casualties, since they are of no value on the battlefield (indeed, their presence in combat can have a negative impact on the morale of other combatants) and they can still be used again as valuable seasoned replacements once they have recovered from combat stress. But if combatants begin to realize that insane combatants are being evacuated, the number of psychiatric casualties will increase dramatically.

Continued "proximity" to the battlefield (through forward treatment, usually within enemy artillery range) combined with an "expectancy" of rapid return to combat, are the principles developed to overcome the paradox of the evacuation syndrome. These principles of proximity and expectancy have proven themselves quite effective since World War I. They permit the psychiatric casualty to get the rest that is the only current cure for his problem, while not giving a message to still healthy comrades that insanity is a ticket away from the madness of the battlefield.

But even with the careful application of the principles of proximity and expectancy the incidence of psychiatric casualties is still enormous. During World War II, 504,000 men were lost from America's combat forces due to psychiatric collapse--enough to man 50 divisions. The United States suffered this loss despite efforts to weed out those mentally and emotionally unfit for combat by classifying more than 800,000 men 4-F (unfit for military service) due to psychiatric reasons. At one point in World War II, psychiatric casualties were being discharged from the U.S. Army faster than new recruits were being drafted in.

Swank and Marchand's World War II study of US Army combatants on the beaches of Normandy found that after 60 days of continuous combat, 98% of the surviving soldiers had become psychiatric casualties. And the remaining 2% were identified as "aggressive psychopathic personalities." Thus it is not too far from the mark to observe that there is something about continuous, inescapable combat which will drive 98% of all men insane, and the other 2% were crazy when they got there. Figure 1 presents a schematic representation of the effects of continuous combat.

It must be understood that the kind of continuous, protracted combat that produces such high psychiatric casualty rates is largely a product of 20th-century warfare. The Battle of Waterloo lasted only a day. Gettysburg lasted only three days--and they took the nights off. It was only in World War I that armies began to experience months of 24-hour combat, and it is in World War I that vast numbers of psychiatric casualties were first observed.

The democratic nations of this century have been better than most at admitting and dealing with their combat psychiatric casualties, and information from non-Western sources is extremely limited, but we now know that America's World War II experience is representative of a universal cost of modern, protracted warfare. Armies around the world have experienced similar mass psychiatric casualties, but many have simply driven these casualties into battle at bayonet point, shooting those who refused or were unable to continue. Japanese units in World War II employed a unique set of powerful cultural and group processes to delay psychiatric breakdown, but they only succeeded in temporarily delaying the cost of combat, a cost that eventually manifested itself in mass suicide. Ultimately the toll of modern combat is truly fearful, and no nation or culture has been able to escape it.

Physiological Arousal and Fear

The soldier in combat endures many indignities. Among these can be endless months and years of exposure to desert heat, sweltering jungle, torrential rains, or frozen mountains and tundras. Usually the soldier lives amidst swarming vermin. Very often there is lack of food, lack of sleep, and the constant uncertainty that eats away at the combatants' sense of control over their lives and their environment. But, bad as they are, all of these stressors can be found in many cultural, geographic, or social circumstances, and when the ingredient of war is removed individuals exposed to these circumstances do not suffer mass psychiatric casualties.

To fully comprehend the intensity of the stress of combat, we must keep these other stressors in mind while understanding the body's physiological response to combat, as manifested in the sympathetic nervous system's mobilization of resources. And then we must understand the impact of the parasympathetic nervous system "backlash" that occurs as a result of the demands placed upon it. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) mobilizes and directs the body's energy resources for action. It is the physiological equivalent of the body's front-line soldiers who actually do the fighting in a military unit. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the body's digestive and recuperative processes. It is the physiological equivalent of the body's cooks, mechanics, and clerks who sustain a military unit over an extended period of time.

Usually the body maintains itself in a state of homeostasis, which ensures that these two nervous systems maintain a balance between their demands upon the body's resources. But during extremely stressful circumstances the "fight-or-flight" response kicks in and the SNS mobilizes all available energy for survival. This is the physiological equivalent of throwing the cooks, mechanics, and clerks into the battle. This process is so intense that soldiers very often suffer stress diarrhea due to redirecting of energies from nonessential parasympathetic processes, and it is not at all uncommon to lose control of urination and defecation as the body literally 'blows its ballast" and redirects all available energy in an attempt to provide the resources required to ensure survival. This is reflected in World War II surveys in which a quarter of combat veterans admitted that they urinated in their pants in combat, and a quarter admitted that they defecated in their pants in combat.

A combatant must pay a physiological price for an enervating process so intense. The "price" that the body pays is an equally powerful "backlash" when the neglected demands of the parasympathetic nervous system become ascendant. This parasympathetic backlash occurs as soon as the danger and the excitement is over, and it takes the form of an incredibly powerful weariness and sleepiness on the part of the soldier.

Napoleon stated that the moment of greatest danger was the instant immediately after victory, and in saying so he demonstrated a powerful understanding of the way in which soldiers become physiologically and psychologically incapacitated by the parasympathetic backlash that occurs as soon as the momentum of the attack has halted and the soldier briefly believes himself to be safe. During this period of vulnerability a counterattack by fresh troops can have an effect completely out of proportion to the number of troops attacking.

It is basically for this reason that the maintenance of an "unblown" reserve has historically been essential in combat, with battles often revolving around which side can hold out and deploy their reserves last. Clausewitz understood the danger of reserve forces becoming prematurely enervated and exhausted (and he provides insight into the root cause of the enervation) when he cautioned that the reserves should always be maintained out of sight of the battle.

In continuous combat the soldier roller-coasters through a seemingly endless series of these surges of adrenaline and their subsequent backlashes, and the body's natural, useful, and appropriate response to danger ultimately becomes extremely counterproductive. Unable to flee, and unable to overcome the danger through a brief burst of fighting, posturing, or submission, the bodies of modern soldiers in sustained combat exhaust their capacity to enervate. They slide into a state of profound physical and emotional exhaustion of such a magnitude that it appears to be almost impossible to communicate it to those who have not experienced it.

Most observers of combat lump the impact of this physiological arousal process under the general heading of 'fear," but fear is really a cognitive or emotional label for nonspecific physiological arousal in response to a threat. The impact of fear and its attendant physiological arousal is significant, but it must be understood that fear is just a symptom and not the disease, it is an effect but not the cause. To truly understand the psychological effects of combat, we must understand exactly what it is that causes this intense fear response in individuals. It has become increasingly clear that there are two key, core stressors causing the psychological toll associated with combat. These stressors are: the trauma associated with being the victim of close-range, interpersonal aggression and the trauma associated with the responsibility to kill a fellow human being at close range.

The Trauma of Close-Range, Interpersonal Aggression

During World War II the carnage and destruction caused by months of continuous German bombing in England, and years of Allied bombing in Germany, was systematically inflicted in order to create psychological casualties among civilian populations. Day and night, in an intentionally unpredictable pattern, civilians, relatives and friends were mutilated, killed and their homes were destroyed. These civilian populations suffered fear and horror of a magnitude that few humans will ever experience.

This unpredictable, uncontrollable reign of shock, horror, and terror is exactly what psychiatrists and psychologists prior to World War II believed to be responsible for the vast numbers of psychiatric casualties suffered by soldiers in World War I. And yet, incredibly, the Rand Corporation's Strategic Bombing Study published in 1949 found that there was only a very slight increase in the psychological disorders in these populations as compared to peacetime rates and that these occurred primarily among individuals already predisposed to psychiatric illness. These bombings, which were intended to break the will of the population, appear to have served primarily to harden the hearts and increase the determination to fight among those who endured them.

The impact of fear, physiological arousal, horror, and physical deprivation in combat should never be underestimated, but it has become clear that other factors are responsible for psychiatric casualties among combatants. One of those factors is the impact of close-range, interpersonal, aggressive confrontation.

Through roller-coasters, action and horror movies, drugs, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, scuba diving, parachuting, hunting, contact sports, and a hundred other means, modern society pursues fear. Fear in and of itself is seldom a cause of trauma in everyday peacetime existence, but facing close-range interpersonal aggression and hatred from fellow citizens is a horrifying experience of an entirely different magnitude.

The ultimate fear and horror in most modern lives is to be raped, tortured, or beaten, to be physically degraded in front of loved ones or to have the sanctity of the home invaded by aggressive and hateful intruders. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association affirms this when it notes that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) . . . may be especially severe or longer lasting when the stressor is of human "design." PTSD resulting from natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes is comparatively rare and mild, but acute cases of PTSD will consistently result from torture or rape. Ultimately, like tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes, bombs from 20,000 feet are simply not "personal" and are significantly less traumatic to both the victim and aggressor.

Death or debilitation is statistically far more likely to occur by disease or accident than by malicious action, but statistics have nothing to do with fear. Statistically speaking, cigarette smoking is an extraordinarily dangerous activity that annually inflicts slow, hideous deaths upon millions of individuals worldwide, but this fact does not dissuade millions of individuals from smoking, and around the globe few nations are motivated to pass laws to protect their citizens from this threat. But the presence of one serial rapist in a large city can change the behavior of hundreds of thousands of individuals, and there is a broad tradition of laws designed to protect citizens from rape, assault, and murder.

When snakes, heights, or darkness cause an intense fear reaction in an individual it is considered a phobia, a dysfunction, an abnormality. But it is very natural and normal to respond to an attacking, aggressive fellow human being with a phobic-scale response. This is a universal human phobia. More than anything else in life, it is intentional, overt human hostility and aggression that assaults the self-image, sense of control and ultimately, the mental and physical health of human beings.

The soldier in combat is inserted straight into the inescapable midst of this most psychologically traumatic of environments. Ultimately, if the combatant is unable get some respite from the trauma of combat, and if not injured or killed, the only escape available is the psychological escape of becoming a psychiatric casualty and mentally fleeing the battlefield.

The Physiology of Close Combat

An understanding of the stress of close combat begins with an understanding of the physiological response to close-range interpersonal aggression. The traditional view of combat stress is most often associated with combat fatigue and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which are actually manifestations that occur after, and as a result of, combat stress. Bruce Siddle has defined combat stress as the perception of an imminent threat of serious personal injury or death, or when tasked with the responsibility to protect another party from imminent serious injury or death, under conditions where response time is minimal.

The debilitating effects of combat stress have been recognized for centuries. Phenomenon such as tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, the loss of fine and complex motor control, irrational behavior, and the inability to think clearly have all been observed as byproducts of combat stress. Even though these phenomena have been observed and documented for hundreds of years, very little research has been conducted to understand why combat stress deteriorates performance.

The key characteristic which distinguishes combat stress is the activation of the SNS. The SNS is activated when the brain perceives a threat to survival, resulting in a immediate discharge of stress hormones. This "mass discharge" is designed to prepare the body for fight-or-flight. The response is characterized by increasing arterial pressure and blood flow to large muscle mass (resulting in increased strength capabilities and enhanced gross motor skills--such as running from or charging into an opponent), vasoconstriction of minor blood vessels at the end of appendages (which serves to reduce bleeding from wounds), pupil dilation, cessation of digestive processes, and muscle tremors. Figure 2 (below) presents a schematic representation of the effects of hormone induced heart rate increase resulting from SNS activation.

The activation of the SNS is automatic and virtually uncontrollable. It is a reflex triggered by the perception of a threat. Once initiated, the SNS will dominate all voluntary and involuntary systems until the perceived threat has been eliminated or escaped, performance deteriorates, or the parasympathetic nervous system activates to reestablish homeostasis.

The degree of SNS activation centers around the level of perceived threat. For example, low-level SNS activation may result from the anticipation of combat. This is especially common with police officers or soldiers minutes before they make a tactical assault into a potential deadly force environment. Under these conditions combatants will generally experience increases in heart rates and respiration, muscle tremors, and a psychological sense of anxiety.

In contrast, high-level SNS activation occurs when combatants are confronted with an unanticipated deadly force threat and the time to respond is minimal. Under these conditions the extreme effects of the SNS will cause catastrophic failure of the visual, cognitive, and motor control systems. Although there are endless variables that may trigger the SNS, there are six key variables that have an immediate impact of the level of SNS activation. These are the degree of malevolent, human intent behind the threat the perceived level of threat, ranging from risk of injury to the potential for death the time available to response the level of confidence in personal skills and training the level of experience in dealing with the specific threat and the degree of physical fatigue that is combined with the anxiety.

Once activated, the SNS causes immediate physiological changes, of which the most noticeable and easily monitored is increased heart rate. SNS activation will drive the heart rate from an average of 70 beats per minute (BPM) to more than 200 BPM in less than a second. As combat stress increases, heart rate and respiration will increase until catastrophic failure, or until the parasympathetic nervous system is triggered.

In 1950, S.L.A. Marshall's The Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a Nation was one of the first studies to identify how combat performance deteriorates when soldiers are exposed to combat stress. Marshall concluded that we must reject the superstition that under danger men can be expected to have more than their normal powers, and that they will outdo their best efforts simply because their lives are in danger. Indeed, in many ways, the reality is just the opposite and individuals under stress are far less capable of doing anything other than blindly running from or charging toward a threat. Humans have three primary survival systems: vision, cognitive processing, and motor skill performance. Under stress, all three break down.

Bruce K. Siddle's landmark research at PPCT involved monitoring the heart rate responses of law enforcement officers in interpersonal conflict simulations using paintball-type simulation weapons. This research has consistently recorded heart rate increases to well over 200 beats per minute, with some peak heart rates of up to 300 beats per minute. These were simulations in which the combatants knew that their life was not in danger. The combatant, in a true life-and-death situation (whether soldier or law enforcement officer), faces the ultimate universal human phobia of interpersonal aggression and will certainly experience a physiological reaction even greater than that of Siddle's subjects. The fundamental truth of modern combat is that the stress of facing close-range interpersonal aggression is so great that, if endured for months on end without any other means of respite or escape, the combatant will inevitably become a psychiatric casualty.

Even greater than the resistance to being the victim of close-range aggression is the combatant's powerful aversion to inflicting aggression on fellow human beings. At the heart of this dread is the average healthy person's resistance to killing one's own kind.

The kind of psychiatric casualties usually identified with long-term exposure to combat are notably reduced among medical personnel, chaplains, officers, and soldiers on reconnaissance patrols behind enemy lines. The key factor that is not present in each of these situations is that, although they are in the front lines and the enemy may attempt to kill them, they have no direct responsibility to participate personally in close-range killing activities. Even when there is equal or even greater danger of dying, combat is much less stressful if you do not have to kill.

The existence of a resistance to killing lies at the heart of this dichotomy between killers and nonkillers. This is an additional, final stressor that the combatant must face. To truly understand the nature of this resistance of killing we must first recognize that most participants in close combat are literally "frightened out of their wits." Once the bullets start flying, combatants stop thinking with the forebrain, which is the part of the brain which makes us human, and start thinking with the midbrain, or mammalian brain, which is the primitive part of the brain that is generally indistinguishable from that of an animal.

In conflict situations this primitive, midbrain processing can be observed in the existence of a powerful resistance to killing one's own kind. During territorial and mating battles, animals with antlers and horns slam together in a relatively harmless head-to-head fashion, rattlesnakes wrestle each other, and piranha fight their own kind with flicks of the tail, but against any other species these creatures unleash their horns, fangs, and teeth without restraint. This is an essential survival mechanism that prevents a species from destroying itself during territorial and mating rituals.

One major modern revelation in the field of military psychology is the observation that this resistance to killing one's own species is also a key factor in human combat. Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall first observed this during his work as the official US historian of the European Theater of Operations in World War II. Based on his post-combat interviews, Marshall concluded in his landmark book, Men Against Fire, that only 15 to 20% of the individual riflemen in World War II fired their weapons at an exposed enemy soldier. Specialized weapons, such as a flame-thrower, usually were fired. Crew-served weapons, such as a machine gun, almost always were fired. And firing would increase greatly if a nearby leader demanded that the soldier fire. But, when left to their own devices, the great majority of individual combatants throughout history appear to have been unable or unwilling to kill.

Marshall's findings have been somewhat controversial. Faced with scholarly concern about a researcher's methodology and conclusions, the scientific method involves replicating the research. In Marshall's case, every available, parallel, scholarly study validates his basic findings. Ardant du Picq's surveys of French officers in the 1860s and his observations on ancient battles, Keegan and Holmes' numerous accounts of ineffectual firing throughout history, Richard Holmes' assessment of Argentine firing rates in the Falklands War, Paddy Griffith's data on the extraordinarily low killing rate among Napoleonic and American Civil War regiments, the British Army's laser reenactments of historical battles, the FBI's studies of nonfiring rates among law enforcement officers in the 1950s and 1960s, and countless other individual and anecdotal observations all confirm Marshall's fundamental conclusion that man is not, by nature, a killer.

The exception to this resistance can be observed in sociopaths who, by definition, feel no empathy or remorse for their fellow human beings. Pit bull dogs have been selectively bred in order to ensure that they will perform the unnatural act of killing another dog in battle. Similarly, human sociopaths represent Swank and Marchand's 2% who did not become psychiatric casualties after months of continuous combat, since they were not disturbed by the requirement to kill. But sociopaths would be a flawed tool that is impossible to control in peacetime, and social dynamics make it very difficult for humans to breed themselves for such a trait. However, humans are very adept at finding mechanical means to overcome natural limitations. Humans were born without the physical ability to fly, so we found mechanisms that overcame this limitation and enabled flight. Humans also were born without the psychological ability to kill our fellow humans. So, throughout history, we have devoted great effort to finding a way to overcome this resistance. From a psychological perspective, the history of warfare can be viewed as a series of successively more effective tactical and mechanical mechanisms to enable or force combatants to overcome their resistance to killing.

Overcoming the Resistance to Killing

By 1946 the US Army had accepted Marshall's conclusions, and the Human Resources Research Office of the US Army subsequently pioneered a revolution in combat training that eventually replaced firing at bullseye targets with deeply ingrained "conditioning" using realistic, man-shaped, pop-up targets that fall when hit. Psychologists know that this kind of powerful "operant conditioning" is the only technique that will reliably influence the primitive, midbrain processing of a frightened human being, just as fire drills condition terrified school children to respond properly during a fire, and repetitious, "stimulus-response" conditioning in flight simulators enables frightened pilots to respond reflexively to emergency situations.

Throughout history the ingredients of groups, leadership, and distance have been manipulated to enable and force combatants to kill, but the introduction of conditioning in modern training was a true revolution. The application and perfection of these basic conditioning techniques increased the rate of fire from near 20% in World War II to approximately 55% in Korea and around 95% in Vietnam. Similar high rates of fire resulting from modern conditioning techniques can be seen in FBI data on law enforcement firing rates since the nationwide introduction of modern conditioning techniques in the late 1960s. Figure 3 presents a schematic representation of the interaction between the killing enabling factors that have been manipulated throughout history, including the key, modern ingredient of conditioning.

One of the most dramatic examples of the value and power of this modern, psychological revolution in training can be seen in Richard Holmes' observations of the 1982 Falklands War. The superbly trained (i.e., "conditioned") British forces were without air or artillery superiority and consistently outnumbered three-to-one while attacking the poorly trained but well-equipped and carefully dug-in Argentine defenders. Superior British firing rates (which Holmes estimates to be well over 90%), resulting from modern training techniques, has been credited as a key factor in the series of British victories in that brief but bloody war. Any future army that attempts to go into battle without similar psychological preparation is likely to meet a fate similar to that of the Argentines.

The Price of Overcoming The Resistance to Killing

The extraordinarily high firing rate resulting from modern conditioning processes was a key factor in America's ability to claim that US ground forces never lost a major engagement in Vietnam. But conditioning that overrides such a powerful, innate resistance carries with it enormous potential for psychological backlash. Every warrior society has a "purification ritual" to help returning warriors deal with their "blood guilt" and to reassure them that what they did in combat was "good." Features of the ritual are a "group therapy" session and a ceremony embracing the veteran back into the tribe. Modern Western rituals traditionally involve long periods while marching or sailing home, parades, monuments, and the unconditional acceptance from society and family.

Table I outlines some of the key factors in the killing experience rationalization and acceptance processes, using the example of US troops in Vietnam as a case study of an extreme circumstance in which the purification rituals broke down. For example, combatants do not do what they do in combat for medals, they are motivated largely by a concern for their comrades, but after the battle medals serve as a kind of "Get Out of Jail Free Card": a powerful talisman that proclaims to them and to others that what the combatant did was honorable and acceptable. Although medals were issued after Vietnam, the social environment was such that veterans could not wear the medals or their uniforms in public. Similarly, the young combatant needs the presence of mature, older comrades to seek guidance and support from, but in Vietnam, especially in the peak years of the war, the average age of the combatant was probably less than during any other war in US history. Other key factors unique to the American experience in Vietnam include the absence of any truly safe, secure area in-country. Also, the individual replacement system that hampered bonding and ensured that soldiers often arrived and left as strangers. The use of aircraft to immediately return veterans to America, without the usual cool-down, group therapy period, which has been experienced for thousands of years as veterans sailed or marched home.

For America's Vietnam veterans the purification ritual was largely denied, and a host of studies have demonstrated that one of the the most significant causal factors in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the lack of support structure after the traumatic event, which in this case occurred when the returning veteran was attacked and condemned in an unprecedented manner. The traditional horrors of combat were magnified by modern conditioning techniques, combining the nature of the war with an unprecedented degree of societal condemnation. This created a circumstance of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among the 3.5 million US veterans of Southeast Asia. Estimations are between 0.5 and 1.5 million cases, although the results of these studies vary greatly. This mass incidence of psychiatric disorders among Vietnam veterans resulted in the "discovery" of PTSD, a condition that we now know has always occurred as a result of warfare, but never before in this quantity. Armies around the world have integrated these lessons from Vietnam, and in Britain's Falklands War, Israel's 1982 Lebanon incursion, and in the U.S.'s Gulf War the lessons of Vietnam and the need for the purification ritual have been closely and carefully considered and applied. In the former U.S.S.R.'s Afghanistan War this need was again ignored, and the resulting social turmoil was a one of the factors that eventually led to the collapse of that nation. Indeed, the Weinberger Doctrine, later referred to as the Powell Doctrine, which holds that the United States will not engage in a war without strong societal support, is a reflection of the tragic lessons learned from the psychological effects of combat in Vietnam.

PTSD is a psychological disorder resulting from a traumatic event. PTSD manifests itself in persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, numbing of emotional responsiveness, and persistent symptoms of increased arousal, resulting in clinically significant distress or impairment in social and occupational functioning. There is often a long delay between the traumatic event and the manifestation of PTSD. Among Vietnam veterans in the United States, PTSD has been strongly linked with greatly increased divorce rates, increased incidence of alcohol and drug abuse, and increased suicide rates. Indeed, Veterans Administration data indicate that, as of 1996, three times more Vietnam veterans have died from suicide after the war than died from enemy action during the war, and this number is increasing every year.

But PTSD seldom results in violent criminal acts, and US Bureau of Justice Statistics research indicates that veterans, including Vietnam veterans, are statistically less likely to be incarcerated than a nonveteran of the same age. The key safeguard in this process appears to be the deeply ingrained discipline which the soldier internalizes with military training. However, with the advent of interactive "point-and-shoot" arcade and video games there is significant concern that society is aping military conditioning, but without the vital safeguard of discipline. There is strong evidence to indicate that the indiscriminate civilian application of combat conditioning techniques as entertainment may be a key factor in worldwide, skyrocketing violent crime rates, including a sevenfold increase in per capita aggravated assaults in America since 1956. Thus, the psychological effects of combat can increasingly be observed on the streets of nations around the world.

Conclusion: A Cultural Conspiracy

It is essential to acknowledge that good ends have been and will continue to be accomplished through combat. Many democracies owe their very existence to successful combat. Few individuals will deny the need for combat against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War II. And around the world the price of civilization is paid every day by military units on peacekeeping operations and domestic police forces who are forced to engage in close combat. There have been and will continue to be times and places where combat is unavoidable, but when a society requires its police and armed forces to participate in combat it is essential to fully comprehend the magnitude of the inevitable psychological toll.

It is often said that "All's fair in love and war," and this expression provides a valuable insight into the human psyche, since these twin, taboo fields of sexuality and aggression represent the two realms in which most individuals will consistently deceive both themselves and others. Our psychological and societal inability to confront the truth about the effects of combat is the foundation for the cultural conspiracy of repression, a deception and denial that has helped to perpetuate and propagate war throughout recorded history.

In the field of developmental psychology a mature adult is sometimes defined as someone who has attained a degree of insight and self-control in the two areas of sexuality and aggression. This is also a useful definition of maturity in civilizations. Thus two important and reassuring trends in recent years have been the development of the science of human sexuality, which has been termed "sexology," and a parallel development of the science of human aggression, which D. Grossman has termed "killology." There is universal consensus that continued research in this previously taboo realm of human aggression is vital to the future development, and perhaps to the very existence, of our civilization.

Glossary of Terms. "Psychological Effects of Combat"

Evacuation Syndrome : The paradox of combat psychiatry. Psychiatric casualties must be treated, but if soldiers begin to realize that psychiatric casualties are being evacuated, the number of psychiatric casualties will increase dramatically.

Fear : A cognitive or emotional label for nonspecific physiological arousal in response to a threat.

Midbrain : Sometimes referred to as the mammalian brain, it is the primitive part of the brain that is generally indistinguishable from that of any other mammal. During times of extreme stress cognition tends to localize in this portion of the brain.

Operant Conditioning : Training that prepares an organism to react to a specific stimulus with a specific voluntary motor response. Operant conditioning is highly effective in preparing individuals to respond with desired actions in highly stressful circumstances.

Parasympathetic Nervous System : The branch of the autonomic nervous system that is responsible for the body's digestive and recuperative processes.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) : A psychological disorder resulting from a traumatic event. PTSD manifests itself in persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, numbing of emotional responsiveness, and persistent symptoms of increased arousal, resulting in clinically significant distress or impairment in social and occupational functioning. There is often a long delay time between the traumatic event and the manifestation of PTSD. PTSD has been strongly linked with greatly increased divorce rates, increased suicide rates, and increased incidence of alcohol and drug abuse.

Psychiatric Casualty : A combatant who is no longer able to participate in combat due to mental (as opposed to physical) debilitation.

Purification Ritual : A set of symbolic social mechanisms that help returning veterans to come to terms with their actions in combat and successfully integrate back into peacetime society.

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) : The branch of the autonomic nervous system that mobilizes and directs the body's energy resources for action.

Bibliography . "Psychological Effects of Combat"

Gabriel, R. A. (1987). No more Heroes: Madness and psychiatry in war. New York: Hill and Wang.

Greene, B. (1989). Homecoming. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.

Griffith, P. (1989). Battle tactics of the (American) civil war. London.

Grossman, D. (1995, 1996). On killing: The psychological cost of learning to kill in war and society. New York: Little, Brown, and Co.

Holmes, R. (1985). Acts of war: the behavior of men in battle. New York: The Free Press.

Keegan, J. (1976). The face of battle. Harmondsworth, England: The Chaucer Press.

Keegan, J., & Holmes, R. (1985). Soldiers. London: Hamish Hamilton.

Marshal, S. LA. (1978). Men against fire. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith.

Siddle, B. K. (1995). Sharpening the warrior's edge: The psychology and science of training. Millstadt, IL: PPCT Management Systems.

Swank, R. L., & Marchand, W. E. (1946). Combat neuroses: development of combat exhaustion. Archives of Neurology and Psychology, 55, 236-247.

©1999 by Academic Press. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.

The 10 Most Extraordinary Things About The Battle Of Stalingrad

Thomas Hobbes is an Australian uni student hiding out in his mother's basement waiting for the singularity to arrive. As a backup plan he is secretly hoping to avoid the perils of an actual career by becoming a writer and travelling the world.

Stalingrad by Antony Beevor is a book every man should read. The brutal, five-month struggle between the German Wehrmacht and the Red Army broke new records in human brutality. The Soviet counter-offensive towards the battle’s end, trapping and annihilating the Sixth Army, became the high water mark of the German Reich. It is perhaps the closest humanity has ever come to answering the question – what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

10. Striving for intoxication

The Russian strategy in a nutshell

In an attempt to forget the living hell they were fighting in, soldiers on both sides went to enormous lengths to dull their senses. After passing it through a gas mask filter, many drank antifreeze, or industrial or surgical alcohol. Many were poisoned, blinded, or even died as a result.

Tobacco, too, was heavily valued, with most soldiers smoking constantly in battle. Finding paper with which to roll up cigarettes sometimes proved difficult. Soldiers risked execution for picking up enemy propaganda leaflets for such a purpose.

9. Being in the 13th Guards Rifle Division

You may have heard of these guys if you’ve ever seen the film “Enemy at the Gates” or played the Russian campaign in Call of Duty. Both start with a scene where a boatload of soldiers crosses the Volga River into the burning inferno of Stalingrad.

Of the 10,000 men who began crossing the Volga on September 14 th 1942, over half were dead within a few days and only about 300 survived the “Stalingrad academy of street fighting.” This was hardly atypical. The average life expectancy of Russian soldiers fighting in the city often dropped below 24 hours.

One craft was recorded with 436 bullet holes after a single crossing. Many went across with no training or ammunition, or had to wait for the man next to them to die so they could pick up his rifle.

8. Women warriors

Your average woman today has to do very little to be declared a “hero” in the media. A key feature of Soviet Russia however was that everyone was equally oppressed, meaning woman could be sent in to do the dirtiest of work just as men. Many served as pilots, anti-aircraft gunners, snipers and surgeons.

Take Zinaida Gavrielova, an eighteen-year-old medical student. As the head of the Russian 62 nd Army’s hundred-strong “sanitary company” her job consisted of crawling forward under fire to rescue wounded soldiers and dragging them back to the Volga bank.

Or Gulya Koroleva, a twenty-year-old who left her baby son home in Moscow to volunteer as a nurse. During the battle she was credited with having “brought over a hundred wounded soldiers back from the front line and killed fifteen fascists herself.” She was awarded the Order of the Red Banner…posthumously.

In the air, several all-women aviation regiments were formed, led by the famous Marina Raskova. Flying outdated biplanes whose top speed was below the stalling speed of Luftwaffe fighters, the Germans soon nicknamed them the “night witches.” They flew more than 24,000 sorties during the war at a time when Western women had barely left the kitchen.

7. The NKVD

How do you convince a million Russian peasants to fight and die in a living hell like Stalingrad?

The military wing of the communist party, the NKVD, was tasked with “maintaining discipline” at Stalingrad. They carried out 13,500 executions during the battle. Some heinous crimes meriting death included –

  • Retreating without orders
  • Self-inflicted wounds
  • Corruption
  • Desertion
  • Attempting to surrender
  • Failing to shoot at any comrades trying to desert or surrender
  • Being in command of any troops which had deserted or surrendered

The list of possible infringements, described as “extraordinary events,” was endless. One lieutenant captured shortly before the battle in August managed to escape his German captors. Upon reporting for duty again he was arrested, treated as a deserter and sent to a penal company.

Even a soldier who discharged himself from a field hospital to return to his unit could be condemned as a deserter. One man was convicted of a self-inflicted wound according to the logic that he had tried to “hide his crime by applying a bandage…”

Paranoia was so great behind the Russian lines that groundcrews at airfields were forbidden to count the number of airplanes on the ground at any one time. It soon became common practice to place a second line of NKVD troops behind the frontlines to prevent desertions and shoot at any who wavered.

6. The feldgendarmerie

Not to be outdone, the Germans had their own equivalents of the NKVD – among them the Feldgendarmerie.

Even out in the steppes of southern Russia, 2,000 km from Berlin, Jews were forced to wear a yellow star on their sleeve and anyone found to be a member of the Communist party was handed over to the SS. Over 60,000 civilians were deported back to Germany as slave labor. Farmers were tortured to find where they had hidden their grain and their homes were torn down for firewood.

Maintaining law and order grew harder as the battle turned against the Germans, particularly among their so-called “allies.” To make up the numbers promised, one Romanian division contained 2,000 convicts previously sentenced for crimes such as rape and murder.

Tens of thousands of Russian defectors soon made up the 6th Army’s ranks as well. Loathing the Soviet regime and fearful of reprisals, they were perhaps the German’s most reliable helpers, though as Slavs, they all had to be re-labelled as “Cossacks” before they were allowed to wear German uniforms.

5. Being a civilian

Nearly a million people lived in Stalingrad on the verge of the battle. While hundreds of thousands fled in last-minute evacuations many remained trapped on the west bank of the Volga. Despite all odds, about ten thousand were still alive upon the German surrender in February 1943.

How the Korean War forced the U.S. Coast Guard to change

Posted On April 29, 2020 15:42:14

The U.S. Coast Guard has served in every American war since the Revolution, but there was a major shift between World War II and Korea, thanks in part to the critical peacetime role the Coast Guard had assumed in 1946: training and preparing the South Korean Navy and Coast Guard before the war.

Commander William Achurch discusses the value of training aids with a Korean naval officer and another U.S. adviser.

See, in Korea, the Coast Guard ceased to fight as a subordinate of the Navy and started to fight as its own branch, even during war.

During World War II, and nearly every war before that, the Coast Guard was shifted under the Navy during conflict and fought within the Navy ranks. Coast Guardsmen piloted most landing craft in World War II, from Normandy to Guadalcanal, but they did so under Navy command.

Even where Coast Guard officers were holding senior ranks over other Coast Guardsmen, the senior officers were still folded in with their Navy brethren. So, you could be an enlisted Coast Guardsman who was receiving orders from Coast Guard officers and Coast Guard admirals, but that admiral still fell under the fleet admirals and you were all tasked to the Navy Department.

The destruction at the South Korean capital of Seoul was extensive. The last Coast Guard officers left the city as it fell to the North Korean communists.

But in 1947, just after the Army asked the Coast Guard to come to the Korean peninsula and help the democratic forces build a naval arm, the U.S. Navy proposed that the Coast Guard should focus on an expansion of its peacetime duties during times of war instead of trying to assume Navy duties.

So, in 1950, the Communist forces in North Korea invaded South Korea. The initial invasion was wildly successful, and democratic forces were forced to consolidate and withdraw, giving up most of the country before finally holding a tiny toehold on the southern coast.

By 1950, the active duty Coast Guard had been withdrawn from Korea and a few retired officers remained, drawing paychecks from the Army. After the invasion, even these men were withdrawn. One escaped Seoul as the city was destroyed, barely passing one of the key bridges before it blew up.

A Coast Guard Martin PBM-5G commonly used in search and rescue operations.

(U.S. Coast Guard Bill Larkins)

So, as the war drug on, the Coast Guard was forced to build its own infrastructure to perform its new wartime duties. Two of the most important tasks were to provide weather observations and to conduct search and rescue missions. Both of these tasks required extensive deployment across the Pacific Ocean.

Weather operations rely on observations from a wide area, especially before the advent of satellites. And while search and rescue is typically restricted to a limited area, the Navy and Army needed search and rescue capabilities across their logistics routes from the American west coast to Korea.

So, the Coast Guard was forced to establish stations on islands across the Pacific, placing as many cutters along the routes as they could to act as radio relays and to augment search and rescue stations.

A Navy P2V-5 maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare plane like the one that was downed while spying on China in January 1953.

And one of those search and rescue missions went horribly for those involved. On January 18, 1953, a Navy P-2V Neptune was shot down while spying on Communist forces. The Coast Guard dispatched a rescue seaplane into the rough, cold seas.

The Coast Guard crew managed to land in the seas and pull the seven Navy survivors aboard, but they still needed to get back out of the sea. The Coast Guardsmen placed jet-assisted take-off devices onto the plane and the pilot attempted to get airborne.

Unfortunately, the rough waves doomed the takeoff attempt, and the plane broke up as it slammed into an oncoming wave.

Five Coast Guardsmen were lost before the remaining survivors of the dual wrecks were rescued. All five were posthumously awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal.

Of course, the Coast Guard also had duties back home, guarding ports and conducting investigations to ensure that the people working at docks were loyal to the country to prevent sabotage.

The lifesaving service’s Korea performance would help lead to their role supporting Air Force combat search and rescue in Vietnam. But all of this was a massive departure from World War II where they saw extensive combat but worked almost solely as an entity folded into the U.S. Navy.

More on We are the Mighty

More links we like



The Eisenhauer (German for "iron hewer/miner") family migrated from Karlsbrunn in Nassau-Saarbrücken, to America, first settling in York, Pennsylvania, in 1741, and in the 1880s moving to Kansas. [2] Accounts vary as to how and when the German name Eisenhauer was anglicized to Eisenhower. [3] Eisenhower's Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors, who were primarily farmers, included Hans Nikolaus Eisenhauer of Karlsbrunn, who migrated to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1741. [4]

Hans's great-great-grandson, David Jacob Eisenhower (1863–1942), Eisenhower's father, was a college-educated engineer, despite his own father Jacob's urging to stay on the family farm. Eisenhower's mother, Ida Elizabeth (Stover) Eisenhower, born in Virginia, of predominantly German Protestant ancestry, moved to Kansas from Virginia. She married David on September 23, 1885, in Lecompton, Kansas, on the campus of their alma mater, Lane University. [5] Dwight David Eisenhower's lineage also included English ancestors (on both sides) and Scottish ancestors (through his maternal line). [6] [7]

David owned a general store in Hope, Kansas, but the business failed due to economic conditions and the family became impoverished. The Eisenhowers then lived in Texas from 1889 until 1892, and later returned to Kansas, with $24 (equivalent to $691 in 2020) to their name at the time. David worked as a railroad mechanic and then at a creamery. [5] By 1898, the parents made a decent living and provided a suitable home for their large family. [8]

Dwight David Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas, the third of seven sons born to David J. Eisenhower and Ida Stover. [9] His mother originally named him David Dwight but reversed the two names after his birth to avoid the confusion of having two Davids in the family. [10] All of the boys were called "Ike", such as "Big Ike" (Edgar) and "Little Ike" (Dwight) the nickname was intended as an abbreviation of their last name. [11] By World War II, only Dwight was still called "Ike". [2]

In 1892, the family moved to Abilene, Kansas, which Eisenhower considered his hometown. [2] As a child, he was involved in an accident that cost his younger brother Earl an eye, for which he was remorseful for the remainder of his life. [12] Dwight developed a keen and enduring interest in exploring the outdoors. He learned about hunting and fishing, cooking, and card playing from an illiterate named Bob Davis who camped on the Smoky Hill River. [13] [14] [15]

While Eisenhower's mother was against war, it was her collection of history books that first sparked Eisenhower's early and lasting interest in military history. He persisted in reading the books in her collection and became a voracious reader on the subject. Other favorite subjects early in his education were arithmetic and spelling. [16]

His parents set aside specific times at breakfast and at dinner for daily family Bible reading. Chores were regularly assigned and rotated among all the children, and misbehavior was met with unequivocal discipline, usually from David. [17] His mother, previously a member (with David) of the River Brethren sect of the Mennonites, joined the International Bible Students Association, later known as Jehovah's Witnesses. The Eisenhower home served as the local meeting hall from 1896 to 1915, though Eisenhower never joined the International Bible Students. [18] His later decision to attend West Point saddened his mother, who felt that warfare was "rather wicked", but she did not overrule his decision. [19] While speaking of himself in 1948, Eisenhower said he was "one of the most deeply religious men I know" though unattached to any "sect or organization". He was baptized in the Presbyterian Church in 1953. [20]

Eisenhower attended Abilene High School and graduated with the class of 1909. [21] As a freshman, he injured his knee and developed a leg infection that extended into his groin, which his doctor diagnosed as life-threatening. The doctor insisted that the leg be amputated but Dwight refused to allow it, and surprisingly recovered, though he had to repeat his freshman year. [22] He and brother Edgar both wanted to attend college, though they lacked the funds. They made a pact to take alternate years at college while the other worked to earn the tuitions. [23]

Edgar took the first turn at school, and Dwight was employed as a night supervisor at the Belle Springs Creamery. [24] When Edgar asked for a second year, Dwight consented and worked for a second year. At that time, a friend "Swede" Hazlett was applying to the Naval Academy and urged Dwight to apply to the school, since no tuition was required. Eisenhower requested consideration for either Annapolis or West Point with his U.S. Senator, Joseph L. Bristow. Though Eisenhower was among the winners of the entrance-exam competition, he was beyond the age limit for the Naval Academy. [25] He then accepted an appointment to West Point in 1911. [25]

At West Point, Eisenhower relished the emphasis on traditions and on sports, but was less enthusiastic about the hazing, though he willingly accepted it as a plebe. He was also a regular violator of the more detailed regulations and finished school with a less than stellar discipline rating. Academically, Eisenhower's best subject by far was English. Otherwise, his performance was average, though he thoroughly enjoyed the typical emphasis of engineering on science and mathematics. [26]

In athletics, Eisenhower later said that "not making the baseball team at West Point was one of the greatest disappointments of my life, maybe my greatest". [27] He made the varsity football team [28] [29] and was a starter as running back and linebacker in 1912, when he tackled the legendary Jim Thorpe of the Carlisle Indians. [30] Eisenhower suffered a torn knee while being tackled in the next game, which was the last he played he re-injured his knee on horseback and in the boxing ring, [2] [13] [31] so he turned to fencing and gymnastics. [2]

Eisenhower later served as junior varsity football coach and cheerleader. He graduated in the middle of the class of 1915, [32] which became known as "the class the stars fell on", because 59 members eventually became general officers.

While Eisenhower was stationed in Texas, he met Mamie Doud of Boone, Iowa. [2] They were immediately taken with each other. He proposed to her on Valentine's Day in 1916. [33] A November wedding date in Denver was moved up to July 1 due to the pending U.S. entry into World War I. They moved many times during their first 35 years of marriage. [34]

The Eisenhowers had two sons. Doud Dwight "Icky" Eisenhower (1917–1921) died of scarlet fever at the age of three. [35] Eisenhower was mostly reluctant to discuss his death. [36] Their second son, John Eisenhower (1922–2013), was born in Denver, Colorado. [37] John served in the United States Army, retired as a brigadier general, became an author and served as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium from 1969 to 1971. Coincidentally, John graduated from West Point on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He married Barbara Jean Thompson on June 10, 1947. John and Barbara had four children: David, Barbara Ann, Susan Elaine and Mary Jean. David, after whom Camp David is named, [38] married Richard Nixon's daughter Julie in 1968.

Eisenhower was a golf enthusiast later in life, and he joined the Augusta National Golf Club in 1948. [39] He played golf frequently during and after his presidency and was unreserved in expressing his passion for the game, to the point of golfing during winter he ordered his golf balls painted black so he could see them better against snow on the ground. He had a small, basic golf facility installed at Camp David, and became close friends with the Augusta National Chairman Clifford Roberts, inviting Roberts to stay at the White House on numerous occasions. [40] Roberts, an investment broker, also handled the Eisenhower family's investments. [41]

Oil painting was one of Eisenhower's hobbies. [36] He began painting while at Columbia University, after watching Thomas E. Stephens paint Mamie's portrait. In order to relax, Eisenhower painted about 260 oils during the last 20 years of his life. The images were mostly landscapes, but also portraits of subjects such as Mamie, their grandchildren, General Montgomery, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. [42] Wendy Beckett stated that Eisenhower's work, "simple and earnest, rather cause us to wonder at the hidden depths of this reticent president". A conservative in both art and politics, he in a 1962 speech denounced modern art as "a piece of canvas that looks like a broken-down Tin Lizzie, loaded with paint, has been driven over it". [36]

Angels in the Outfield was Eisenhower's favorite movie. [43] His favorite reading material for relaxation were the Western novels of Zane Grey. [44] With his excellent memory and ability to focus, Eisenhower was skilled at card games. He learned poker, which he called his "favorite indoor sport", in Abilene. Eisenhower recorded West Point classmates' poker losses for payment after graduation and later stopped playing because his opponents resented having to pay him. A friend reported that after learning to play contract bridge at West Point, Eisenhower played the game six nights a week for five months. [45] Eisenhower continued to play bridge throughout his military career. While stationed in the Philippines, he played regularly with President Manuel Quezon, earning him the nickname, the “Bridge Wizard of Manila". [46] During WWII, an unwritten qualification for an officer's appointment to Eisenhower's staff was the ability to play a sound game of bridge. He played even during the stressful weeks leading up to the D-Day landings. His favorite partner was General Alfred Gruenther, considered the best player in the U.S. Army he appointed Gruenther his second-in-command at NATO partly because of his skill at bridge. Saturday night bridge games at the White House were a feature of his presidency. He was a strong player, though not an expert by modern standards. The great bridge player and popularizer Ely Culbertson described his game as classic and sound with "flashes of brilliance", and said that "You can always judge a man's character by the way he plays cards. Eisenhower is a calm and collected player and never whines at his losses. He is brilliant in victory but never commits the bridge player's worst crime of gloating when he wins." Bridge expert Oswald Jacoby frequently participated in the White House games, and said, "The President plays better bridge than golf. He tries to break 90 at golf. At bridge, you would say he plays in the 70s." [47]

After graduation in 1915, Second Lieutenant Eisenhower requested an assignment in the Philippines, which was denied. He served initially in logistics and then the infantry at various camps in Texas and Georgia until 1918. In 1916, while stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Eisenhower was football coach for St. Louis College, now St. Mary's University. [48] Eisenhower was an honorary member of the Sigma Beta Chi fraternity at St. Mary's University. [49] In late 1917, while he was in charge of training at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia, his wife Mamie had their first son.

When the U.S. entered World War I, he immediately requested an overseas assignment but was again denied and then assigned to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. [50] In February 1918, he was transferred to Camp Meade in Maryland with the 65th Engineers. His unit was later ordered to France, but to his chagrin, he received orders for the new tank corps, where he was promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel in the National Army. [51] He commanded a unit that trained tank crews at Camp Colt – his first command – at the site of "Pickett's Charge" on the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Civil War battleground. Though Eisenhower and his tank crews never saw combat, he displayed excellent organizational skills, as well as an ability to accurately assess junior officers' strengths and make optimal placements of personnel. [52]

Once again his spirits were raised when the unit under his command received orders overseas to France. This time his wishes were thwarted when the armistice was signed a week before his departure date. [53] Completely missing out on the warfront left him depressed and bitter for a time, despite receiving the Distinguished Service Medal for his work at home. [54] In World War II, rivals who had combat service in the first great war (led by Gen. Bernard Montgomery) sought to denigrate Eisenhower for his previous lack of combat duty, despite his stateside experience establishing a camp, completely equipped, for thousands of troops, and developing a full combat training schedule. [55]

In service of generals

After the war, Eisenhower reverted to his regular rank of captain and a few days later was promoted to major, a rank he held for 16 years. [4] The major was assigned in 1919 to a transcontinental Army convoy to test vehicles and dramatize the need for improved roads in the nation. Indeed, the convoy averaged only 5 miles per hour (8.0 km/h) from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco later the improvement of highways became a signature issue for Eisenhower as president. [56]

He assumed duties again at Camp Meade, Maryland, commanding a battalion of tanks, where he remained until 1922. His schooling continued, focused on the nature of the next war and the role of the tank in it. His new expertise in tank warfare was strengthened by a close collaboration with George S. Patton, Sereno E. Brett, and other senior tank leaders. Their leading-edge ideas of speed-oriented offensive tank warfare were strongly discouraged by superiors, who considered the new approach too radical and preferred to continue using tanks in a strictly supportive role for the infantry. Eisenhower was even threatened with court-martial for continued publication of these proposed methods of tank deployment, and he relented. [57] [58]

From 1920, Eisenhower served under a succession of talented generals – Fox Conner, John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur and George Marshall. He first became executive officer to General Conner in the Panama Canal Zone, where, joined by Mamie, he served until 1924. Under Conner's tutelage, he studied military history and theory (including Carl von Clausewitz's On War), and later cited Conner's enormous influence on his military thinking, saying in 1962 that "Fox Conner was the ablest man I ever knew." Conner's comment on Eisenhower was, "[He] is one of the most capable, efficient and loyal officers I have ever met." [59] On Conner's recommendation, in 1925–26 he attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he graduated first in a class of 245 officers. [60] [61] He then served as a battalion commander at Fort Benning, Georgia, until 1927.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Eisenhower's career in the post-war army stalled somewhat, as military priorities diminished many of his friends resigned for high-paying business jobs. He was assigned to the American Battle Monuments Commission directed by General Pershing, and with the help of his brother Milton Eisenhower, then a journalist at the U.S. Agriculture Department, he produced a guide to American battlefields in Europe. [62] He then was assigned to the Army War College and graduated in 1928. After a one-year assignment in France, Eisenhower served as executive officer to General George V. Moseley, Assistant Secretary of War, from 1929 to February 1933. [63] Major Dwight D. Eisenhower graduated from the Army Industrial College (Washington, DC) in 1933 and later served on the faculty (it was later expanded to become the Industrial College of the Armed Services and is now known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy). [64] [65]

His primary duty was planning for the next war, which proved most difficult in the midst of the Great Depression. [66] He then was posted as chief military aide to General Douglas MacArthur, Army Chief of Staff. In 1932 he participated in the clearing of the Bonus March encampment in Washington, D.C. Although he was against the actions taken against the veterans and strongly advised MacArthur against taking a public role in it, he later wrote the Army's official incident report, endorsing MacArthur's conduct. [67] [68]

In 1935 he accompanied MacArthur to the Philippines, where he served as assistant military adviser to the Philippine government in developing their army. Eisenhower had strong philosophical disagreements with MacArthur regarding the role of the Philippine Army and the leadership qualities that an American army officer should exhibit and develop in his subordinates. The resulting antipathy between Eisenhower and MacArthur lasted the rest of their lives. [69]

Historians have concluded that this assignment provided valuable preparation for handling the challenging personalities of Winston Churchill, George S. Patton, George Marshall, and Bernard Montgomery during World War II. Eisenhower later emphasized that too much had been made of the disagreements with MacArthur and that a positive relationship endured. [70] While in Manila, Mamie suffered a life-threatening stomach ailment but recovered fully. Eisenhower was promoted to the rank of permanent lieutenant colonel in 1936. He also learned to fly, making a solo flight over the Philippines in 1937, and obtained his private pilot's license in 1939 at Fort Lewis. [71] [72] Also around this time, he was offered a post by the Philippine Commonwealth Government, namely by then Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon on recommendations by MacArthur, to become the chief of police of a new capital being planned, now named Quezon City, but he declined the offer. [73]

Eisenhower returned to the United States in December 1939 and was assigned as commanding officer (CO) of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment at Fort Lewis, Washington, later becoming the regimental executive officer. In March 1941 he was promoted to colonel and assigned as chief of staff of the newly activated IX Corps under Major General Kenyon Joyce. In June 1941, he was appointed chief of staff to General Walter Krueger, Commander of the Third Army, at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. After successfully participating in the Louisiana Maneuvers, he was promoted to brigadier general on October 3, 1941. [74] [75] Although his administrative abilities had been noticed, on the eve of the American entry into World War II he had never held an active command above a battalion and was far from being considered by many as a potential commander of major operations.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Eisenhower was assigned to the General Staff in Washington, where he served until June 1942 with responsibility for creating the major war plans to defeat Japan and Germany. He was appointed Deputy Chief in charge of Pacific Defenses under the Chief of War Plans Division (WPD), General Leonard T. Gerow, and then succeeded Gerow as Chief of the War Plans Division. Next, he was appointed Assistant Chief of Staff in charge of the new Operations Division (which replaced WPD) under Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, who spotted talent and promoted accordingly. [76]

At the end of May 1942, Eisenhower accompanied Lt. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, commanding general of the Army Air Forces, to London to assess the effectiveness of the theater commander in England, Maj. Gen. James E. Chaney. [77] He returned to Washington on June 3 with a pessimistic assessment, stating he had an "uneasy feeling" about Chaney and his staff. On June 23, 1942, he returned to London as Commanding General, European Theater of Operations (ETOUSA), based in London and with a house on Coombe, Kingston upon Thames, [78] and took over command of ETOUSA from Chaney. [79] He was promoted to lieutenant general on July 7.

Operations Torch and Avalanche

In November 1942, Eisenhower was also appointed Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force of the North African Theater of Operations (NATOUSA) through the new operational Headquarters Allied (Expeditionary) Force Headquarters (A(E)FHQ). The word "expeditionary" was dropped soon after his appointment for security reasons. [ failed verification ] The campaign in North Africa was designated Operation Torch and was planned in the underground headquarters within the Rock of Gibraltar. Eisenhower was the first non-British person to command Gibraltar in 200 years. [80]

French cooperation was deemed necessary to the campaign and Eisenhower encountered a "preposterous situation" [ according to whom? ] with the multiple rival factions in France. His primary objective was to move forces successfully into Tunisia and intending to facilitate that objective, he gave his support to François Darlan as High Commissioner in North Africa, despite Darlan's previous high offices of state in Vichy France and his continued role as commander-in-chief of the French armed forces. The Allied leaders were "thunderstruck" [ according to whom? ] by this from a political standpoint, though none of them had offered Eisenhower guidance with the problem in the course of planning the operation. Eisenhower was severely criticized [ by whom? ] for the move. Darlan was assassinated on December 24 by Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle. Eisenhower did not take action to prevent the arrest and extrajudicial execution of Bonnier de La Chapelle by associates of Darlan acting without authority from either Vichy or the Allies, considering it a criminal rather than a military matter. [81] Eisenhower later appointed, as High Commissioner, General Henri Giraud, who had been installed by the Allies as Darlan's commander-in-chief, and who had refused to postpone the execution. [82]

Operation Torch also served as a valuable training ground for Eisenhower's combat command skills during the initial phase of Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel's move into the Kasserine Pass, Eisenhower created some confusion in the ranks by some interference with the execution of battle plans by his subordinates. He also was initially indecisive in his removal of Lloyd Fredendall, commanding U.S. II Corps. He became more adroit in such matters in later campaigns. [83] In February 1943, his authority was extended as commander of AFHQ across the Mediterranean basin to include the British Eighth Army, commanded by General Sir Bernard Montgomery. The Eighth Army had advanced across the Western Desert from the east and was ready for the start of the Tunisia Campaign. Eisenhower gained his fourth star and gave up command of ETOUSA to become commander of NATOUSA.

After the capitulation of Axis forces in North Africa, Eisenhower oversaw the invasion of Sicily. Once Mussolini, the Italian leader, had fallen in Italy, the Allies switched their attention to the mainland with Operation Avalanche. But while Eisenhower argued with President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill, who both insisted on unconditional terms of surrender in exchange for helping the Italians, the Germans pursued an aggressive buildup of forces in the country. The Germans made the already tough battle more difficult by adding 19 divisions and initially outnumbering the Allied forces 2 to 1. [84]

Supreme Allied commander and Operation Overlord

In December 1943, President Roosevelt decided that Eisenhower – not Marshall – would be Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. The following month, he resumed command of ETOUSA and the following month was officially designated as the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), serving in a dual role until the end of hostilities in Europe in May 1945. [85] He was charged in these positions with planning and carrying out the Allied assault on the coast of Normandy in June 1944 under the code name Operation Overlord, the liberation of Western Europe and the invasion of Germany.

Eisenhower, as well as the officers and troops under him, had learned valuable lessons in their previous operations, and their skills had all strengthened in preparation for the next most difficult campaign against the Germans—a beach landing assault. His first struggles, however, were with Allied leaders and officers on matters vital to the success of the Normandy invasion he argued with Roosevelt over an essential agreement with De Gaulle to use French resistance forces in covert and sabotage operations against the Germans in advance of Operation Overlord. [86] Admiral Ernest J. King fought with Eisenhower over King's refusal to provide additional landing craft from the Pacific. [87] Eisenhower also insisted that the British give him exclusive command over all strategic air forces to facilitate Overlord, to the point of threatening to resign unless Churchill relented, which he did. [88] Eisenhower then designed a bombing plan in France in advance of Overlord and argued with Churchill over the latter's concern with civilian casualties de Gaulle interjected that the casualties were justified in shedding the yoke of the Germans, and Eisenhower prevailed. [89] He also had to skillfully manage to retain the services of the often unruly George S. Patton, by severely reprimanding him when Patton earlier had slapped a subordinate, and then when Patton gave a speech in which he made improper comments about postwar policy. [90]

The D-Day Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, were costly but successful. Two months later (August 15), the invasion of Southern France took place, and control of forces in the southern invasion passed from the AFHQ to the SHAEF. Many thought that victory in Europe would come by summer's end, but the Germans did not capitulate for almost a year. From then until the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945, Eisenhower, through SHAEF, commanded all Allied forces, and through his command of ETOUSA had administrative command of all U.S. forces on the Western Front north of the Alps. He was ever mindful of the inevitable loss of life and suffering that would be experienced on an individual level by the troops under his command and their families. This prompted him to make a point of visiting every division involved in the invasion. [91] Eisenhower's sense of responsibility was underscored by his draft of a statement to be issued if the invasion failed. It has been called one of the great speeches of history:

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone. [92]

Liberation of France and victory in Europe

Once the coastal assault had succeeded, Eisenhower insisted on retaining personal control over the land battle strategy, and was immersed in the command and supply of multiple assaults through France on Germany. Field Marshal Montgomery insisted priority be given to his 21st Army Group's attack being made in the north, while Generals Bradley (12th U.S. Army Group) and Devers (Sixth U.S. Army Group) insisted they be given priority in the center and south of the front (respectively). Eisenhower worked tirelessly to address the demands of the rival commanders to optimize Allied forces, often by giving them tactical latitude many historians conclude this delayed the Allied victory in Europe. However, due to Eisenhower's persistence, the pivotal supply port at Antwerp was successfully, albeit belatedly, opened in late 1944. [93]

In recognition of his senior position in the Allied command, on December 20, 1944, he was promoted to General of the Army, equivalent to the rank of Field Marshal in most European armies. In this and the previous high commands he held, Eisenhower showed his great talents for leadership and diplomacy. Although he had never seen action himself, he won the respect of front-line commanders. He interacted adeptly with allies such as Winston Churchill, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and General Charles de Gaulle. He had serious disagreements with Churchill and Montgomery over questions of strategy, but these rarely upset his relationships with them. He dealt with Soviet Marshal Zhukov, his Russian counterpart, and they became good friends. [94]

In December 1944, the Germans launched a surprise counteroffensive, the Battle of the Bulge, which the Allies turned back in early 1945 after Eisenhower repositioned his armies and improved weather allowed the Army Air Force to engage. [95] German defenses continued to deteriorate on both the Eastern Front with the Red Army and the Western Front with the Western Allies. The British wanted to capture Berlin, but Eisenhower decided it would be a military mistake for him to attack Berlin, and said orders to that effect would have to be explicit. The British backed down but then wanted Eisenhower to move into Czechoslovakia for political reasons. Washington refused to support Churchill's plan to use Eisenhower's army for political maneuvers against Moscow. The actual division of Germany followed the lines that Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin had previously agreed upon. The Soviet Red Army captured Berlin in a very large-scale bloody battle, and the Germans finally surrendered on May 7, 1945. [96]

In 1945, Eisenhower anticipated that someday an attempt would be made to recharacterize Nazi crimes as propaganda (Holocaust denial) and took steps against it by demanding extensive still and movie photographic documentation of Nazi death camps. [97]

Military Governor in Germany and Army Chief of Staff

Following the German unconditional surrender, Eisenhower was appointed military governor of the American occupation zone, located primarily in Southern Germany, and headquartered at the IG Farben Building in Frankfurt am Main. Upon discovery of the Nazi concentration camps, he ordered camera crews to document evidence of the atrocities in them for use in the Nuremberg Trials. He reclassified German prisoners of war (POWs) in U.S. custody as Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEFs), who were no longer subject to the Geneva Convention. Eisenhower followed the orders laid down by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in directive JCS 1067 but softened them by bringing in 400,000 tons of food for civilians and allowing more fraternization. [98] [99] [100] In response to the devastation in Germany, including food shortages and an influx of refugees, he arranged distribution of American food and medical equipment. [101] His actions reflected the new American attitudes of the German people as Nazi victims not villains, while aggressively purging the ex-Nazis. [102] [103]

In November 1945, Eisenhower returned to Washington to replace Marshall as Chief of Staff of the Army. His main role was the rapid demobilization of millions of soldiers, a job that was delayed by lack of shipping. Eisenhower was convinced in 1946 that the Soviet Union did not want war and that friendly relations could be maintained he strongly supported the new United Nations and favored its involvement in the control of atomic bombs. However, in formulating policies regarding the atomic bomb and relations with the Soviets, Truman was guided by the U.S. State Department and ignored Eisenhower and the Pentagon. Indeed, Eisenhower had opposed the use of the atomic bomb against the Japanese, writing, "First, the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing. Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon." [104] Initially, Eisenhower hoped for cooperation with the Soviets. [105] He even visited Warsaw in 1945. Invited by Bolesław Bierut and decorated with the highest military decoration, he was shocked by the scale of destruction in the city. [106] However, by mid-1947, as East-West tensions over economic recovery in Germany and the Greek Civil War escalated, Eisenhower agreed with a containment policy to stop Soviet expansion. [105]

1948 presidential election

In June 1943, a visiting politician had suggested to Eisenhower that he might become President of the United States after the war. Believing that a general should not participate in politics, Merlo J. Pusey wrote that "figuratively speaking, [Eisenhower] kicked his political-minded visitor out of his office". As others asked him about his political future, Eisenhower told one that he could not imagine wanting to be considered for any political job "from dogcatcher to Grand High Supreme King of the Universe", and another that he could not serve as Army Chief of Staff if others believed he had political ambitions. In 1945, Truman told Eisenhower during the Potsdam Conference that if desired, the president would help the general win the 1948 election, [107] and in 1947 he offered to run as Eisenhower's running mate on the Democratic ticket if MacArthur won the Republican nomination. [108]

As the election approached, other prominent citizens and politicians from both parties urged Eisenhower to run for president. In January 1948, after learning of plans in New Hampshire to elect delegates supporting him for the forthcoming Republican National Convention, Eisenhower stated through the Army that he was "not available for and could not accept nomination to high political office" "life-long professional soldiers", he wrote, "in the absence of some obvious and overriding reason, [should] abstain from seeking high political office". [107] Eisenhower maintained no political party affiliation during this time. Many believed he was forgoing his only opportunity to be president as Republican Thomas E. Dewey was considered the probable winner and would presumably serve two terms, meaning that Eisenhower, at age 66 in 1956, would be too old to have another chance to run. [109]

President at Columbia University and NATO Supreme Commander

In 1948, Eisenhower became President of Columbia University, an Ivy League university in New York City, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. [110] The choice was subsequently characterized as not having been a good fit for either party. [111] During that year, Eisenhower's memoir, Crusade in Europe, was published. [112] Critics regarded it as one of the finest U.S. military memoirs, [ citation needed ] and it was a major financial success as well. [113] Eisenhower sought the advice of Augusta National's Roberts about the tax implications of this, [113] and in due course Eisenhower's profit on the book was substantially aided by what author David Pietrusza calls "a ruling without precedent" by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It held that Eisenhower was not a professional writer, but rather, marketing the lifetime asset of his experiences, and thus he had to pay only capital gains tax on his $635,000 advance instead of the much higher personal tax rate. This ruling saved Eisenhower about $400,000. [114]

Eisenhower's stint as the president of Columbia University was punctuated by his activity within the Council on Foreign Relations, a study group he led as president concerning the political and military implications of the Marshall Plan, and The American Assembly, Eisenhower's "vision of a great cultural center where business, professional and governmental leaders could meet from time to time to discuss and reach conclusions concerning problems of a social and political nature". [115] His biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook suggested that this period served as "the political education of General Eisenhower", since he had to prioritize wide-ranging educational, administrative, and financial demands for the university. [116] Through his involvement in the Council on Foreign Relations, he also gained exposure to economic analysis, which would become the bedrock of his understanding in economic policy. "Whatever General Eisenhower knows about economics, he has learned at the study group meetings," one Aid to Europe member claimed. [117]

Eisenhower accepted the presidency of the university to expand his ability to promote "the American form of democracy" through education. [118] He was clear on this point to the trustees involved in the search committee. He informed them that his main purpose was "to promote the basic concepts of education in a democracy". [118] As a result, he was "almost incessantly" devoted to the idea of the American Assembly, a concept he developed into an institution by the end of 1950. [115]

Within months of beginning his tenure as the president of the university, Eisenhower was requested to advise U.S. Secretary of Defense James Forrestal on the unification of the armed services. [119] About six months after his appointment, he became the informal Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. [120] Two months later he fell ill with what was diagnosed as acute gastroenteritis, and he spent over a month in recovery at the Augusta National Golf Club. [121] He returned to his post in New York in mid-May, and in July 1949 took a two-month vacation out-of-state. [122] Because the American Assembly had begun to take shape, he traveled around the country during mid-to-late 1950, building financial support from Columbia Associates, an alumni association.

Eisenhower was unknowingly building resentment and a reputation among the Columbia University faculty and staff as an absentee president who was using the university for his own interests. As a career military man, he naturally had little in common with the academics. [123]

He did have some successes at Columbia. Puzzled as to why no American university had undertaken the "continuous study of the causes, conduct and consequences of war", [124] Eisenhower undertook the creation of the Institute of War and Peace Studies, a research facility whose purpose was to "study war as a tragic social phenomenon". [125] Eisenhower was able to use his network of wealthy friends and acquaintances to secure initial funding for it. [126] Under its founding director, international relations scholar William T. R. Fox, the institute began in 1951 and became a pioneer in International security studies, one that would be emulated by other institutes in the United States and Britain later in the decade. [124] The Institute of War and Peace Studies thus become one of the projects which Eisenhower considered constituted his "unique contribution" to Columbia. [125]

The contacts gained through university and American Assembly fund-raising activities would later become important supporters in Eisenhower's bid for the Republican party nomination and the presidency. Meanwhile, Columbia University's liberal faculty members became disenchanted with the university president's ties to oilmen and businessmen, including Leonard McCollum, the president of Continental Oil Frank Abrams, the chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey Bob Kleberg, the president of the King Ranch H. J. Porter, a Texas oil executive Bob Woodruff, the president of the Coca-Cola Corporation and Clarence Francis, the chairman of General Foods.

As the president of Columbia, Eisenhower gave voice and form to his opinions about the supremacy and difficulties of American democracy. His tenure marked his transformation from military to civilian leadership. His biographer Travis Beal Jacobs also suggested that the alienation of the Columbia faculty contributed to sharp intellectual criticism of him for many years. [127]

The trustees of Columbia University declined to accept Eisenhower's offer to resign in December 1950, when he took an extended leave from the university to become the Supreme Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and he was given operational command of NATO forces in Europe. [128] Eisenhower retired from active service as an army general on June 3, 1952, [129] and he resumed his presidency of Columbia. Meanwhile, Eisenhower had become the Republican Party nominee for president of the United States, a contest that he won on November 4. Eisenhower tendered his resignation as university president on November 15, 1952, effective January 19, 1953, the day before his inauguration. [130]

NATO did not have strong bipartisan support in Congress at the time that Eisenhower assumed its military command. Eisenhower advised the participating European nations that it would be incumbent upon them to demonstrate their own commitment of troops and equipment to the NATO force before such would come from the war-weary United States.

At home, Eisenhower was more effective in making the case for NATO in Congress than the Truman administration had been. By the middle of 1951, with American and European support, NATO was a genuine military power. Nevertheless, Eisenhower thought that NATO would become a truly European alliance, with the American and Canadian commitments ending after about ten years. [131]

Presidential campaign of 1952

President Truman sensed a broad-based desire for an Eisenhower candidacy for president, and he again pressed him to run for the office as a Democrat in 1951. But Eisenhower voiced his disagreements with the Democrats and declared himself to be a Republican. [132] A "Draft Eisenhower" movement in the Republican Party persuaded him to declare his candidacy in the 1952 presidential election to counter the candidacy of non-interventionist Senator Robert A. Taft. The effort was a long struggle Eisenhower had to be convinced that political circumstances had created a genuine duty for him to offer himself as a candidate and that there was a mandate from the public for him to be their president. Henry Cabot Lodge and others succeeded in convincing him, and he resigned his command at NATO in June 1952 to campaign full-time. [133]

Eisenhower defeated Taft for the nomination, having won critical delegate votes from Texas. His campaign was noted for the simple slogan "I Like Ike". It was essential to his success that Eisenhower express opposition to Roosevelt's policy at the Yalta Conference and to Truman's policies in Korea and China—matters in which he had once participated. [134] [135] In defeating Taft for the nomination, it became necessary for Eisenhower to appease the right-wing Old Guard of the Republican Party his selection of Richard Nixon as the Vice-President on the ticket was designed in part for that purpose. Nixon also provided a strong anti-communist reputation, as well as youth to counter Eisenhower's more advanced age. [136]

Eisenhower insisted on campaigning in the South in the general election, against the advice of his campaign team, refusing to surrender the region to the Democratic Party. The campaign strategy was dubbed "K1C2" and was intended to focus on attacking the Truman administration on three failures: the Korean War, Communism, and corruption. [137]

Two controversies tested him and his staff during the campaign, but they did not damage the campaign. One involved a report that Nixon had improperly received funds from a secret trust. Nixon spoke out adroitly to avoid potential damage, but the matter permanently alienated the two candidates. The second issue centered on Eisenhower's relented decision to confront the controversial methods of Joseph McCarthy on his home turf in a Wisconsin appearance. [138] Just two weeks before the election, Eisenhower vowed to go to Korea and end the war there. He promised to maintain a strong commitment against Communism while avoiding the topic of NATO finally, he stressed a corruption-free, frugal administration at home.

Eisenhower defeated Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson II in a landslide, with an electoral margin of 442 to 89, marking the first Republican return to the White House in 20 years. [135] He also brought a Republican majority in the House, by eight votes, and in the Senate, evenly divided with Vice President Nixon providing Republicans the majority. [139]

Eisenhower was the last president born in the 19th century, and he was the oldest president-elect at age 62 since James Buchanan in 1856. [140] He was the third commanding general of the Army to serve as president, after George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant, and the last to have not held political office prior to being president until Donald Trump entered office in January 2017. [141]

Election of 1956

The United States presidential election of 1956 was held on November 6, 1956. Eisenhower, the popular incumbent, successfully ran for re-election. The election was a re-match of 1952, as his opponent in 1956 was Stevenson, a former Illinois governor, whom Eisenhower had defeated four years earlier. Compared to the 1952 election, Eisenhower gained Kentucky, Louisiana, and West Virginia from Stevenson, while losing Missouri. His voters were less likely to bring up his leadership record. Instead what stood out this time, "was the response to personal qualities— to his sincerity, his integrity and sense of duty, his virtue as a family man, his religious devotion, and his sheer likeableness." [142]

Truman and Eisenhower had minimal discussions about the transition of administrations due to a complete estrangement between them as a result of campaigning. [143] Eisenhower selected Joseph M. Dodge as his budget director, then asked Herbert Brownell Jr. and Lucius D. Clay to make recommendations for his cabinet appointments. He accepted their recommendations without exception they included John Foster Dulles and George M. Humphrey with whom he developed his closest relationships, as well as Oveta Culp Hobby. His cabinet consisted of several corporate executives and one labor leader, and one journalist dubbed it "eight millionaires and a plumber". [144] The cabinet was known for its lack of personal friends, office seekers, or experienced government administrators. He also upgraded the role of the National Security Council in planning all phases of the Cold War. [145]

Prior to his inauguration, Eisenhower led a meeting of advisors at Pearl Harbor addressing foremost issues agreed objectives were to balance the budget during his term, to bring the Korean War to an end, to defend vital interests at lower cost through nuclear deterrent, and to end price and wage controls. [146] He also conducted the first pre-inaugural cabinet meeting in history in late 1952 he used this meeting to articulate his anti-communist Russia policy. His inaugural address was also exclusively devoted to foreign policy and included this same philosophy as well as a commitment to foreign trade and the United Nations. [147]

Eisenhower made greater use of press conferences than any previous president, holding almost 200 over his two terms. He saw the benefit of maintaining a good relationship with the press, and he saw value in them as a means of direct communication with the American people. [148]

Throughout his presidency, Eisenhower adhered to a political philosophy of dynamic conservatism. [149] He described himself as a "progressive conservative" [150] and used terms such as "progressive moderate" and "dynamic conservatism" to describe his approach. [151] He continued all the major New Deal programs still in operation, especially Social Security. He expanded its programs and rolled them into the new Cabinet-level agency of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, while extending benefits to an additional ten million workers. He implemented racial integration in the Armed Services in two years, which had not been completed under Truman. [152]

In a private letter, Eisenhower wrote:

Should any party attempt to abolish social security and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group of course, that believes you can do these things [. ] Their number is negligible and they are stupid. [153]

When the 1954 Congressional elections approached, it became evident that the Republicans were in danger of losing their thin majority in both houses. Eisenhower was among those who blamed the Old Guard for the losses, and he took up the charge to stop suspected efforts by the right wing to take control of the GOP. He then articulated his position as a moderate, progressive Republican: "I have just one purpose . and that is to build up a strong progressive Republican Party in this country. If the right wing wants a fight, they are going to get it . before I end up, either this Republican Party will reflect progressivism or I won't be with them anymore." [154]

Eisenhower initially planned on serving only one term, but he remained flexible in case leading Republicans wanted him to run again. He was recovering from a heart attack late in September 1955 when he met with his closest advisors to evaluate the GOP's potential candidates the group concluded that a second term was well advised, and he announced that he would run again in February 1956. [155] [156] Eisenhower was publicly noncommittal about having Nixon as the Vice President on his ticket the question was an especially important one in light of his heart condition. He personally favored Robert B. Anderson, a Democrat who rejected his offer, so Eisenhower resolved to leave the matter in the hands of the party. [157] In 1956, Eisenhower faced Adlai Stevenson again and won by an even larger landslide, with 457 of 531 electoral votes and 57.6-percent of the popular vote. The level of campaigning was curtailed out of health considerations. [158]

Eisenhower made full use of his valet, chauffeur, and secretarial support he rarely drove or even dialed a phone number. He was an avid fisherman, golfer, painter, and bridge player, and preferred active rather than passive forms of entertainment. [159] On August 26, 1959, he was aboard the maiden flight of Air Force One, which replaced the Columbine as the presidential aircraft. [160]

Interstate Highway System

Eisenhower championed and signed the bill that authorized the Interstate Highway System in 1956. [161] He justified the project through the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 as essential to American security during the Cold War. It was believed that large cities would be targets in a possible war, so the highways were designed to facilitate their evacuation and ease military maneuvers.

Eisenhower's goal to create improved highways was influenced by difficulties that he encountered during his involvement in the Army's 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy. He was assigned as an observer for the mission, which involved sending a convoy of Army vehicles coast to coast. [162] [163] His subsequent experience with the German autobahn limited-access road systems during the concluding stages of World War II convinced him of the benefits of an Interstate Highway System. The system could also be used as a runway for airplanes, which would be beneficial to war efforts. Franklin D. Roosevelt put this system into place with the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944. He thought that an interstate highway system would be beneficial for military operations and would also provide a measure of continued economic growth for the nation. [164] The legislation initially stalled in Congress over the issuance of bonds to finance the project, but the legislative effort was renewed and Eisenhower signed the law in June 1956. [165]

Foreign policy

In 1953, the Republican Party's Old Guard presented Eisenhower with a dilemma by insisting he disavow the Yalta Agreements as beyond the constitutional authority of the Executive Branch however, the death of Joseph Stalin in March 1953 made the matter a moot point. [166] At this time, Eisenhower gave his Chance for Peace speech in which he attempted, unsuccessfully, to forestall the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union by suggesting multiple opportunities presented by peaceful uses of nuclear materials. Biographer Stephen Ambrose opined that this was the best speech of Eisenhower's presidency. [167] [168] Eisenhower sought to make foreign markets available to American business, saying that it is a "serious and explicit purpose of our foreign policy, the encouragement of a hospitable climate for investment in foreign nations." [169]

Nevertheless, the Cold War escalated during his presidency. When the Soviet Union successfully tested a hydrogen bomb in late November 1955, Eisenhower, against the advice of Dulles, decided to initiate a disarmament proposal to the Soviets. In an attempt to make their refusal more difficult, he proposed that both sides agree to dedicate fissionable material away from weapons toward peaceful uses, such as power generation. This approach was labeled "Atoms for Peace". [170]

The U.N. speech was well received but the Soviets never acted upon it, due to an overarching concern for the greater stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal. Indeed, Eisenhower embarked upon a greater reliance on the use of nuclear weapons, while reducing conventional forces, and with them, the overall defense budget, a policy formulated as a result of Project Solarium and expressed in NSC 162/2. This approach became known as the "New Look", and was initiated with defense cuts in late 1953. [171]

In 1955, American nuclear arms policy became one aimed primarily at arms control as opposed to disarmament. The failure of negotiations over arms until 1955 was due mainly to the refusal of the Russians to permit any sort of inspections. In talks located in London that year, they expressed a willingness to discuss inspections the tables were then turned on Eisenhower when he responded with an unwillingness on the part of the U.S. to permit inspections. In May of that year, the Russians agreed to sign a treaty giving independence to Austria and paved the way for a Geneva summit with the US, UK and France. [172] At the Geneva Conference, Eisenhower presented a proposal called "Open Skies" to facilitate disarmament, which included plans for Russia and the U.S. to provide mutual access to each other's skies for open surveillance of military infrastructure. Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev dismissed the proposal out of hand. [173]

In 1954, Eisenhower articulated the domino theory in his outlook towards communism in Southeast Asia and also in Central America. He believed that if the communists were allowed to prevail in Vietnam, this would cause a succession of countries to fall to communism, from Laos through Malaysia and Indonesia ultimately to India. Likewise, the fall of Guatemala would end with the fall of neighboring Mexico. [174] That year, the loss of North Vietnam to the communists and the rejection of his proposed European Defence Community (EDC) were serious defeats, but he remained optimistic in his opposition to the spread of communism, saying "Long faces don't win wars". [175] As he had threatened the French in their rejection of EDC, he afterwards moved to restore West Germany as a full NATO partner. [176] In 1954, he also induced Congress to create an Emergency Fund for International Affairs in order to support America's use of cultural diplomacy to strengthen international relations throughout Europe during the cold war. [177] [178] [179] [180] [181] [182] [183]

With Eisenhower's leadership and Dulles' direction, CIA activities increased under the pretense of resisting the spread of communism in poorer countries [184] the CIA in part deposed the leaders of Iran in Operation Ajax, of Guatemala through Operation Pbsuccess, and possibly the newly independent Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville). [185] In 1954, Eisenhower wanted to increase surveillance inside the Soviet Union. With Dulles' recommendation, he authorized the deployment of thirty Lockheed U-2's at a cost of $35 million (equivalent to $337.29 million in 2020). [186] The Eisenhower administration also planned the Bay of Pigs Invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba, which John F. Kennedy was left to carry out. [187]

Space Race

Eisenhower and the CIA had known since at least January 1957, nine months before Sputnik, that Russia had the capability to launch a small payload into orbit and was likely to do so within a year. [188] He may also privately have welcomed the Soviet satellite for its legal implications: By launching a satellite, the Soviet Union had in effect acknowledged that space was open to anyone who could access it, without needing permission from other nations.

On the whole, Eisenhower's support of the nation's fledgling space program was officially modest until the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957, gaining the Cold War enemy enormous prestige around the world. He then launched a national campaign that funded not just space exploration but a major strengthening of science and higher education. The Eisenhower administration determined to adopt a non-aggressive policy that would allow "space-crafts of any state to overfly all states, a region free of military posturing and launch Earth satellites to explore space". [189] His Open Skies Policy attempted to legitimize illegal Lockheed U-2 flyovers and Project Genetrix while paving the way for spy satellite technology to orbit over sovereign territory, [190] however Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev declined Eisenhower's proposal at the Geneva conference in July 1955. [191] In response to Sputnik being launched in October 1957, Eisenhower created NASA as a civilian space agency in October 1958, signed a landmark science education law, and improved relations with American scientists. [192]

Fear spread through the United States that the Soviet Union would invade and spread communism, so Eisenhower wanted to not only create a surveillance satellite to detect any threats but ballistic missiles that would protect the United States. In strategic terms, it was Eisenhower who devised the American basic strategy of nuclear deterrence based upon the triad of B-52 strategic bombers, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). [193]

NASA planners projected that human spaceflight would pull the United States ahead in the Space Race as well as accomplishing their long time goal however, in 1960, an Ad Hoc Panel on Man-in-Space concluded that "man-in-space can not be justified" and was too costly. [194] Eisenhower later resented the space program and its gargantuan price tag—he was quoted as saying, "Anyone who would spend $40 billion in a race to the moon for national prestige is nuts." [195]

Korean War, Free China and Red China

In late 1952 Eisenhower went to Korea and discovered a military and political stalemate. Once in office, when the Chinese People's Volunteer Army began a buildup in the Kaesong sanctuary, he threatened to use nuclear force if an armistice was not concluded. [ disputed – discuss ] His earlier military reputation in Europe was effective with the Chinese communists. [196] The National Security Council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Strategic Air Command (SAC) devised detailed plans for nuclear war against Red China. [197] With the death of Stalin in early March 1953, Russian support for a Chinese communists hard-line weakened and Red China decided to compromise on the prisoner issue. [198]

In July 1953, an armistice took effect with Korea divided along approximately the same boundary as in 1950. The armistice and boundary remain in effect today. The armistice, which concluded despite opposition from Secretary Dulles, South Korean President Syngman Rhee, and also within Eisenhower's party, has been described by biographer Ambrose as the greatest achievement of the administration. Eisenhower had the insight to realize that unlimited war in the nuclear age was unthinkable, and limited war unwinnable. [198]

A point of emphasis in Eisenhower's campaign had been his endorsement of a policy of liberation from communism as opposed to a policy of containment. This remained his preference despite the armistice with Korea. [199] Throughout his terms Eisenhower took a hard-line attitude toward Red China, as demanded by conservative Republicans, with the goal of driving a wedge between Red China and the Soviet Union. [200]

Eisenhower continued Truman's policy of recognizing the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the legitimate government of China, not the Peking (Beijing) regime. There were localized flare-ups when the People's Liberation Army began shelling the islands of Quemoy and Matsu in September 1954. Eisenhower received recommendations embracing every variation of response to the aggression of the Chinese communists. He thought it essential to have every possible option available to him as the crisis unfolded. [201]

The Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty with the Republic of China was signed in December 1954. He requested and secured from Congress their "Free China Resolution" in January 1955, which gave Eisenhower unprecedented power in advance to use military force at any level of his choosing in defense of Free China and the Pescadores. The Resolution bolstered the morale of the Chinese nationalists, and signaled to Beijing that the U.S. was committed to holding the line. [201]

Eisenhower openly threatened the Chinese communists with the use of nuclear weapons, authorizing a series of bomb tests labeled Operation Teapot. Nevertheless, he left the Chinese communists guessing as to the exact nature of his nuclear response. This allowed Eisenhower to accomplish all of his objectives—the end of this communist encroachment, the retention of the Islands by the Chinese nationalists and continued peace. [202] Defense of the Republic of China from an invasion remains a core American policy. [203]

By the end of 1954 Eisenhower's military and foreign policy experts—the NSC, JCS and State Dept.—had unanimously urged him, on no less than five occasions, to launch an atomic attack against Red China yet he consistently refused to do so and felt a distinct sense of accomplishment in having sufficiently confronted communism while keeping world peace. [204]

Southeast Asia

Early in 1953, the French asked Eisenhower for help in French Indochina against the Communists, supplied from China, who were fighting the First Indochina War. Eisenhower sent Lt. General John W. "Iron Mike" O'Daniel to Vietnam to study and assess the French forces there. [205] Chief of Staff Matthew Ridgway dissuaded the President from intervening by presenting a comprehensive estimate of the massive military deployment that would be necessary. Eisenhower stated prophetically that "this war would absorb our troops by divisions." [206]

Eisenhower did provide France with bombers and non-combat personnel. After a few months with no success by the French, he added other aircraft to drop napalm for clearing purposes. Further requests for assistance from the French were agreed to but only on conditions Eisenhower knew were impossible to meet – allied participation and congressional approval. [207] When the French fortress of Dien Bien Phu fell to the Vietnamese Communists in May 1954, Eisenhower refused to intervene despite urgings from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Vice President and the head of NCS. [208]

Eisenhower responded to the French defeat with the formation of the SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) Alliance with the UK, France, New Zealand and Australia in defense of Vietnam against communism. At that time the French and Chinese reconvened the Geneva peace talks Eisenhower agreed the US would participate only as an observer. After France and the Communists agreed to a partition of Vietnam, Eisenhower rejected the agreement, offering military and economic aid to southern Vietnam. [209] Ambrose argues that Eisenhower, by not participating in the Geneva agreement, had kept the U.S. out of Vietnam nevertheless, with the formation of SEATO, he had, in the end, put the U.S. back into the conflict. [210]

In late 1954, Gen. J. Lawton Collins was made ambassador to "Free Vietnam" (the term South Vietnam came into use in 1955), effectively elevating the country to sovereign status. Collins' instructions were to support the leader Ngo Dinh Diem in subverting communism, by helping him to build an army and wage a military campaign. [211] In February 1955, Eisenhower dispatched the first American soldiers to Vietnam as military advisors to Diem's army. After Diem announced the formation of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, commonly known as South Vietnam) in October, Eisenhower immediately recognized the new state and offered military, economic, and technical assistance. [212]

In the years that followed, Eisenhower increased the number of U.S. military advisors in South Vietnam to 900 men. [213] This was due to North Vietnam's support of "uprisings" in the south and concern the nation would fall. [209] In May 1957 Diem, then President of South Vietnam, made a state visit to the United States for ten days. President Eisenhower pledged his continued support, and a parade was held in Diem's honor in New York City. Although Diem was publicly praised, in private Secretary of State John Foster Dulles conceded that Diem had been selected because there were no better alternatives. [214]

After the election of November 1960, Eisenhower, in a briefing with John F. Kennedy, pointed out the communist threat in Southeast Asia as requiring prioritization in the next administration. Eisenhower told Kennedy he considered Laos "the cork in the bottle" with regard to the regional threat. [215]

Legitimation of Francoist Spain

The Pact of Madrid, signed on September 23, 1953, by Francoist Spain and the United States, was a significant effort to break international isolation of Spain after World War II, together with the Concordat of 1953. This development came at a time when other victorious Allies of World War II and much of the rest of the world remained hostile (for the 1946 United Nations condemnation [216] of the Francoist regime, see "Spanish Question") to a fascist regime sympathetic to the cause of the former Axis powers and established with Nazi assistance. This accord took the form of three separate executive agreements that pledged the United States to furnish economic and military aid to Spain. The United States, in turn, was to be permitted to construct and to utilize air and naval bases on Spanish territory (Naval Station Rota, Morón Air Base, Torrejón Air Base and Zaragoza Air Base).

Eisenhower personally visited Spain in December 1959 to meet dictator Francisco Franco and consolidate his international legitimation.

The Middle East and Eisenhower doctrine

Even before he was inaugurated Eisenhower accepted a request from the British government to restore the Shah of Iran (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) to power. He therefore authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. [217] This resulted in increased strategic control over Iranian oil by U.S. and British companies. [218]

In November 1956, Eisenhower forced an end to the combined British, French and Israeli invasion of Egypt in response to the Suez Crisis, receiving praise from Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Simultaneously he condemned the brutal Soviet invasion of Hungary in response to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. He publicly disavowed his allies at the United Nations, and used financial and diplomatic pressure to make them withdraw from Egypt. [219] Eisenhower explicitly defended his strong position against Britain and France in his memoirs, which were published in 1965. [220]

After the Suez Crisis, the United States became the protector of unstable friendly governments in the Middle East via the "Eisenhower Doctrine". [221] Designed by Secretary of State Dulles, it held the U.S. would be "prepared to use armed force . [to counter] aggression from any country controlled by international communism". Further, the United States would provide economic and military aid and, if necessary, use military force to stop the spread of communism in the Middle East. [222]

Eisenhower applied the doctrine in 1957–58 by dispensing economic aid to shore up the Kingdom of Jordan, and by encouraging Syria's neighbors to consider military operations against it. More dramatically, in July 1958, he sent 15,000 Marines and soldiers to Lebanon as part of Operation Blue Bat, a non-combat peace-keeping mission to stabilize the pro-Western government and to prevent a radical revolution from sweeping over that country. [223]

The mission proved a success and the Marines departed three months later. The deployment came in response to the urgent request of Lebanese president Camille Chamoun after sectarian violence had erupted in the country. Washington considered the military intervention successful since it brought about regional stability, weakened Soviet influence, and intimidated the Egyptian and Syrian governments, whose anti-West political position had hardened after the Suez Crisis. [223]

Most Arab countries were skeptical about the "Eisenhower doctrine" because they considered "Zionist imperialism" the real danger. However, they did take the opportunity to obtain free money and weapons. Egypt and Syria, supported by the Soviet Union, openly opposed the initiative. However, Egypt received American aid until the Six-Day War in 1967. [224]

As the Cold War deepened, Dulles sought to isolate the Soviet Union by building regional alliances of nations against it. Critics sometimes called it "pacto-mania". [225]

1960 U-2 incident

On May 1, 1960, a U.S. one-man U-2 spy plane was reportedly shot down at high altitude over Soviet airspace. The flight was made to gain photo intelligence before the scheduled opening of an east–west summit conference, which had been scheduled in Paris, 15 days later. [226] Captain Francis Gary Powers had bailed out of his aircraft and was captured after parachuting down onto Russian soil. Four days after Powers disappeared, the Eisenhower Administration had NASA issue a very detailed press release noting that an aircraft had "gone missing" north of Turkey. It speculated that the pilot might have fallen unconscious while the autopilot was still engaged, and falsely claimed that "the pilot reported over the emergency frequency that he was experiencing oxygen difficulties." [227]

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced that a "spy-plane" had been shot down but intentionally made no reference to the pilot. As a result, the Eisenhower Administration, thinking the pilot had died in the crash, authorized the release of a cover story claiming that the plane was a "weather research aircraft" which had unintentionally strayed into Soviet airspace after the pilot had radioed "difficulties with his oxygen equipment" while flying over Turkey. [228] The Soviets put Captain Powers on trial and displayed parts of the U-2, which had been recovered almost fully intact. [229]

The Four Power Paris Summit in May 1960 with Eisenhower, Nikita Khrushchev, Harold Macmillan and Charles de Gaulle collapsed because of the incident. Eisenhower refused to accede to Khrushchev's demands that he apologize. Therefore, Khrushchev would not take part in the summit. Up until this event, Eisenhower felt he had been making progress towards better relations with the Soviet Union. Nuclear arms reduction and Berlin were to have been discussed at the summit. Eisenhower stated it had all been ruined because of that "stupid U-2 business". [229]

The affair was an embarrassment for United States prestige. Further, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a lengthy inquiry into the U-2 incident. [229] In Russia, Captain Powers made a forced confession and apology. On August 19, 1960, Powers was convicted of espionage and sentenced to imprisonment. On February 10, 1962, Powers was exchanged for Rudolf Abel in Berlin and returned to the U.S. [227]

Civil rights

While President Truman had begun the process of desegregating the Armed Forces in 1948, actual implementation had been slow. Eisenhower made clear his stance in his first State of the Union address in February 1953, saying "I propose to use whatever authority exists in the office of the President to end segregation in the District of Columbia, including the Federal Government, and any segregation in the Armed Forces". [230] When he encountered opposition from the services, he used government control of military spending to force the change through, stating "Wherever Federal Funds are expended . I do not see how any American can justify . a discrimination in the expenditure of those funds". [231]

When Robert B. Anderson, Eisenhower's first Secretary of the Navy, argued that the U.S. Navy must recognize the "customs and usages prevailing in certain geographic areas of our country which the Navy had no part in creating," Eisenhower overruled him: "We have not taken and we shall not take a single backward step. There must be no second class citizens in this country." [232]

The administration declared racial discrimination a national security issue, as Communists around the world used the racial discrimination and history of violence in the U.S. as a point of propaganda attack. [233]

Eisenhower told District of Columbia officials to make Washington a model for the rest of the country in integrating black and white public school children. [234] [235] He proposed to Congress the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and of 1960 and signed those acts into law. The 1957 act for the first time established a permanent civil rights office inside the Justice Department and a Civil Rights Commission to hear testimony about abuses of voting rights. Although both acts were much weaker than subsequent civil rights legislation, they constituted the first significant civil rights acts since 1875. [236]

In 1957 the state of Arkansas refused to honor a federal court order to integrate their public school system stemming from the Brown decision. Eisenhower demanded that Arkansas governor Orval Faubus obey the court order. When Faubus balked, the president placed the Arkansas National Guard under federal control and sent in the 101st Airborne Division. They escorted and protected nine black students' entry to Little Rock Central High School, an all-white public school, marking the first time since the Reconstruction Era the federal government had used federal troops in the South to enforce the U. S. Constitution. [237] Martin Luther King Jr. wrote to Eisenhower to thank him for his actions, writing "The overwhelming majority of southerners, Negro and white, stand firmly behind your resolute action to restore law and order in Little Rock". [238]

Eisenhower's administration contributed to the McCarthyist Lavender Scare [239] with President Eisenhower issuing his Executive Order 10450 in 1953. [240] During Eisenhower's presidency thousands of lesbian and gay applicants were barred from federal employment and over 5,000 federal employees were fired under suspicions of being homosexual. [241] [242] From 1947 to 1961 the number of firings based on sexual orientation were far greater than those for membership in the Communist Party, [241] and government officials intentionally campaigned to make "homosexual" synonymous with "Communist traitor" such that LGBT people were treated as a national security threat stemming from the belief they were susceptible to blackmail and exploitation. [243]

Relations with Congress

Eisenhower had a Republican Congress for only his first two years in office in the Senate, the Republican majority was by a one-vote margin. Senator Robert A. Taft assisted the President greatly in working with the Old Guard, and was sorely missed when his death (in July 1953) left Eisenhower with his successor William Knowland, whom Eisenhower disliked. [244]

This prevented Eisenhower from openly condemning Joseph McCarthy's highly criticized methods against communism. To facilitate relations with Congress, Eisenhower decided to ignore McCarthy's controversies and thereby deprive them of more energy from the involvement of the White House. This position drew criticism from a number of corners. [245] In late 1953, McCarthy declared on national television that the employment of communists within the government was a menace and would be a pivotal issue in the 1954 Senate elections. Eisenhower was urged to respond directly and specify the various measures he had taken to purge the government of communists. [246]

Among Eisenhower's objectives in not directly confronting McCarthy was to prevent McCarthy from dragging the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) into McCarthy's witch hunt for communists, which might interfere with the AEC's work on hydrogen bombs and other weapons programs. [247] [248] In December 1953, Eisenhower learned that one of America's nuclear scientists, J. Robert Oppenheimer, had been accused of being a spy for the Soviet Union. [249] Although Eisenhower never really believed that these allegations were true, [250] in January 1954 he ordered that "a blank wall" be placed between Oppenheimer and all defense-related activities. [251] The Oppenheimer security hearing was conducted later that year, resulting in the physicist losing his security clearance. [252] The matter was controversial at the time and remained so in later years, with Oppenheimer achieving a certain martyrdom. [248] The case would reflect poorly on Eisenhower as well, but the president had never examined it in any detail and had instead relied excessively upon the advice of his subordinates, especially that of AEC chairman Lewis Strauss. [253] Eisenhower later suffered a major political defeat when his nomination of Strauss to be Secretary of Commerce was defeated in the Senate in 1959, in part due to Strauss's role in the Oppenheimer matter. [254]

In May 1955, McCarthy threatened to issue subpoenas to White House personnel. Eisenhower was furious, and issued an order as follows: "It is essential to efficient and effective administration that employees of the Executive Branch be in a position to be completely candid in advising with each other on official matters . it is not in the public interest that any of their conversations or communications, or any documents or reproductions, concerning such advice be disclosed." This was an unprecedented step by Eisenhower to protect communication beyond the confines of a cabinet meeting, and soon became a tradition known as executive privilege. Eisenhower's denial of McCarthy's access to his staff reduced McCarthy's hearings to rants about trivial matters and contributed to his ultimate downfall. [255]

In early 1954, the Old Guard put forward a constitutional amendment, called the Bricker Amendment, which would curtail international agreements by the Chief Executive, such as the Yalta Agreements. Eisenhower opposed the measure. [256] The Old Guard agreed with Eisenhower on the development and ownership of nuclear reactors by private enterprises, which the Democrats opposed. The President succeeded in getting legislation creating a system of licensure for nuclear plants by the AEC. [257]

The Democrats gained a majority in both houses in the 1954 election. [258] Eisenhower had to work with the Democratic Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (later U.S. president) in the Senate and Speaker Sam Rayburn in the House, both from Texas. Joe Martin, the Republican Speaker from 1947 to 1949 and again from 1953 to 1955, wrote that Eisenhower "never surrounded himself with assistants who could solve political problems with professional skill. There were exceptions, Leonard W. Hall, for example, who as chairman of the Republican National Committee tried to open the administration's eyes to the political facts of life, with occasional success. However, these exceptions were not enough to right the balance." [259]

Speaker Martin concluded that Eisenhower worked too much through subordinates in dealing with Congress, with results, "often the reverse of what he has desired" because Members of Congress, "resent having some young fellow who was picked up by the White House without ever having been elected to office himself coming around and telling them 'The Chief wants this'. The administration never made use of many Republicans of consequence whose services in one form or another would have been available for the asking." [259]

Judicial appointments

Supreme Court

Eisenhower appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:

Whittaker was unsuited for the role and soon retired. Stewart and Harlan were conservative Republicans, while Brennan was a Democrat who became a leading voice for liberalism. [260] In selecting a Chief Justice, Eisenhower looked for an experienced jurist who could appeal to liberals in the party as well as law-and-order conservatives, noting privately that Warren "represents the kind of political, economic, and social thinking that I believe we need on the Supreme Court . He has a national name for integrity, uprightness, and courage that, again, I believe we need on the Court". [261] In the next few years Warren led the Court in a series of liberal decisions that revolutionized the role of the Court.

States admitted to the Union

Two states were admitted to the Union during Eisenhower's presidency.

Health issues

Eisenhower began chain smoking cigarettes at West Point, often three or four packs a day. He joked that he "gave [himself] an order" to stop cold turkey in 1949. But Evan Thomas says the true story was more complex. At first, he removed cigarettes and ashtrays, but that did not work. He told a friend:

I decided to make a game of the whole business and try to achieve a feeling of some superiority . So I stuffed cigarettes in every pocket, put them around my office on the desk . [and] made it a practice to offer a cigarette to anyone who came in . while mentally reminding myself as I sat down, "I do not have to do what that poor fellow is doing." [262]

He was the first president to release information about his health and medical records while in office, but people around him deliberately misled the public about his health. On September 24, 1955, while vacationing in Colorado, he had a serious heart attack. [263] Dr. Howard Snyder, his personal physician, misdiagnosed the symptoms as indigestion, and failed to call in the help that was urgently needed. Snyder later falsified his own records to cover his blunder and to protect Eisenhower's need to portray he was healthy enough to do his job. [264] [265] [266]

The heart attack required six weeks' hospitalization, during which time Nixon, Dulles, and Sherman Adams assumed administrative duties and provided communication with the President. [267] He was treated by Dr. Paul Dudley White, a cardiologist with a national reputation, who regularly informed the press of the President's progress. Instead of eliminating him as a candidate for a second term as president, his physician recommended a second term as essential to his recovery. [268]

As a consequence of his heart attack, Eisenhower developed a left ventricular aneurysm, which was in turn the cause of a mild stroke on November 25, 1957. This incident occurred during a cabinet meeting when Eisenhower suddenly found himself unable to speak or move his right hand. The stroke had caused aphasia. The president also suffered from Crohn's disease, [269] chronic inflammatory condition of the intestine, [270] which necessitated surgery for a bowel obstruction on June 9, 1956. [271] To treat the intestinal block, surgeons bypassed about ten inches of his small intestine. [272] His scheduled meeting with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was postponed so he could recover at his farm. [273] He was still recovering from this operation during the Suez Crisis. Eisenhower's health issues forced him to give up smoking and make some changes to his dietary habits, but he still indulged in alcohol. During a visit to England he complained of dizziness and had to have his blood pressure checked on August 29, 1959 however, before dinner at Chequers on the next day his doctor General Howard Snyder recalled Eisenhower "drank several gin-and-tonics, and one or two gins on the rocks . three or four wines with the dinner". [274]

The last three years of Eisenhower's second term in office were ones of relatively good health. Eventually after leaving the White House, he suffered several additional and ultimately crippling heart attacks. [275] A severe heart attack in August 1965 largely ended his participation in public affairs. [276] In August 1966 he began to show symptoms of cholecystitis, for which he underwent surgery on December 12, 1966, when his gallbladder was removed, containing 16 gallstones. [275] After Eisenhower's death in 1969 (see below), an autopsy unexpectedly revealed an adrenal pheochromocytoma, [277] a benign adrenalin-secreting tumor that may have made the President more vulnerable to heart disease. Eisenhower suffered seven heart attacks from 1955 until his death. [275]

End of presidency

The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1951, and it set a two-term limit on the presidency. The amendment exempted the incumbent president (Truman) at the time of its ratification, making Eisenhower the first president constitutionally prevented from serving a third term.

Eisenhower was also the first outgoing President to come under the protection of the Former Presidents Act two living former Presidents, Herbert Hoover and Harry S. Truman, left office before the Act was passed. Under the act, Eisenhower was entitled to receive a lifetime pension, state-provided staff and a Secret Service detail. [278]

In the 1960 election to choose his successor, Eisenhower endorsed Nixon over Democrat John F. Kennedy. He told friends, "I will do almost anything to avoid turning my chair and country over to Kennedy." [135] He actively campaigned for Nixon in the final days, although he may have done Nixon some harm. When asked by reporters at the end of a televised press conference to list one of Nixon's policy ideas he had adopted, Eisenhower joked, "If you give me a week, I might think of one. I don't remember." Kennedy's campaign used the quote in one of its campaign commercials. Nixon narrowly lost to Kennedy. Eisenhower, who was the oldest president in history at that time (then 70), was succeeded by the youngest elected president, as Kennedy was 43. [135]

It was originally intended for President Eisenhower to have a more active role in the campaign as he wanted to respond to attacks Kennedy made on his administration. However, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower expressed concern to Second Lady Pat Nixon about the strain campaigning would put on his heart and wanted the President to back out of it without letting him know of her intervention. Vice President Nixon himself also received concern from White House physician Major General Howard Snyder, who informed him that he could not approve a heavy campaign schedule for the President and his health problems had been exacerbated by Kennedy's attacks. Nixon then convinced Eisenhower not to go ahead with the expanded campaign schedule and limit himself to the original schedule. Nixon reflected that if Eisenhower had carried out his expanded campaign schedule he might have had a decisive impact on the outcome of the election, especially in states that Kennedy won with razor-thin margins. It was years later before Mamie told Dwight why Nixon changed his mind on Dwight's campaigning. [279]

On January 17, 1961, Eisenhower gave his final televised Address to the Nation from the Oval Office. [280] In his farewell speech, Eisenhower raised the issue of the Cold War and role of the U.S. armed forces. He described the Cold War: "We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method . " and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex." [280]

He elaborated, "we recognize the imperative need for this development . the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist . Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." [280]

Because of legal issues related to holding a military rank while in a civilian office, Eisenhower had resigned his permanent commission as General of the Army before entering the office of President of the United States. Upon completion of his presidential term, his commission was reactivated by Congress and Eisenhower again was commissioned a five-star general in the United States Army. [281] [282]

Following the presidency, Eisenhower moved to the place where he and Mamie had spent much of their post-war time. The home was a working farm adjacent to the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 70 miles from his ancestral home in Elizabethville, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. [283] [284] They also maintained a retirement home in Palm Desert, California. [285] In 1967 the Eisenhowers donated the Gettysburg farm to the National Park Service.

After leaving office, Eisenhower did not completely retreat from political life. He flew to San Antonio, where he had been stationed years earlier, to support John W. Goode, the unsuccessful Republican candidate against the Democrat Henry B. Gonzalez for Texas' 20th congressional district seat. [286] He addressed the 1964 Republican National Convention, in San Francisco, and appeared with party nominee Barry Goldwater in a campaign commercial from his Gettysburg retreat. [287] That endorsement came somewhat reluctantly because Goldwater had in the late 1950s criticized Eisenhower's administration as "a dime-store New Deal". [288] On January 20, 1969, the day Nixon was inaugurated as President, Eisenhower issued a statement praising his former vice president and calling it a "day for rejoicing". [289]

On the morning of March 28, 1969, Eisenhower died in Washington, D.C., of congestive heart failure at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, at age 78. The following day, his body was moved to the Washington National Cathedral's Bethlehem Chapel, where he lay in repose for 28 hours. [290] He was then transported to the United States Capitol, where he lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda March 30–31. [291] A state funeral service was conducted at the Washington National Cathedral on March 31. [292] The president and First Lady, Richard and Pat Nixon, attended, as did former president Lyndon Johnson. Also among the 2,000 invited guests were U.N. Secretary General U Thant and 191 foreign delegates from 78 countries, including 10 foreign heads of state and government. Notable guests included President Charles de Gaulle of France, who was in the United States for the first time since the state funeral of John F. Kennedy, [293] Chancellor Kurt-Georg Kiesinger of West Germany, King Baudouin of Belgium and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran. [292]

The service included the singing of Faure's The Palms, and the playing of Onward, Christian Soldiers. [294]

That evening, Eisenhower's body was placed onto a special funeral train for its journey from the nation's capital through seven states to his hometown of Abilene, Kansas. First incorporated into President Abraham Lincoln's funeral in 1865, a funeral train would not be part of a U.S. state funeral again until 2018. [295] Eisenhower is buried inside the Place of Meditation, the chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Presidential Center in Abeline. As requested, he was buried in a Government Issue casket, and wearing his World War II uniform, decorated with: Army Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit. Buried alongside Eisenhower are his son Doud, who died at age 3 in 1921, and wife Mamie, who died in 1979. [290]

President Richard Nixon eulogized Eisenhower in 1969, saying:

Some men are considered great because they lead great armies or they lead powerful nations. For eight years now, Dwight Eisenhower has neither commanded an army nor led a nation and yet he remained through his final days the world's most admired and respected man, truly the first citizen of the world. [296]

Eisenhower's reputation declined in the immediate years after he left office. During his presidency, he was widely seen by critics as an inactive, uninspiring, golf-playing president. This was in stark contrast to his vigorous young successor, John F. Kennedy, who was 26 years his junior. Despite his unprecedented use of Army troops to enforce a federal desegregation order at Central High School in Little Rock, Eisenhower was criticized for his reluctance to support the civil rights movement to the degree that activists wanted. Eisenhower also attracted criticism for his handling of the 1960 U-2 incident and the associated international embarrassment, [297] [298] for the Soviet Union's perceived leadership in the nuclear arms race and the Space Race, and for his failure to publicly oppose McCarthyism.

In particular, Eisenhower was criticized for failing to defend George C. Marshall from attacks by Joseph McCarthy, though he privately deplored McCarthy's tactics and claims. [299]

Historian John Lewis Gaddis has summarized a more recent turnaround in evaluations by historians:

Historians long ago abandoned the view that Eisenhower's was a failed presidency. He did, after all, end the Korean War without getting into any others. He stabilized, and did not escalate, the Soviet–American rivalry. He strengthened European alliances while withdrawing support from European colonialism. He rescued the Republican Party from isolationism and McCarthyism. He maintained prosperity, balanced the budget, promoted technological innovation, facilitated (if reluctantly) the civil rights movement and warned, in the most memorable farewell address since Washington's, of a "military–industrial complex" that could endanger the nation's liberties. Not until Reagan would another president leave office with so strong a sense of having accomplished what he set out to do. [300]

Although conservatism in politics was strong during the 1950s, and Eisenhower generally espoused conservative sentiments, his administration concerned itself mostly with foreign affairs (an area in which the career-military president had more knowledge) and pursued a hands-off domestic policy. Eisenhower looked to moderation and cooperation as a means of governance. [301]

Although he sought to slow or contain the New Deal and other federal programs, he did not attempt to repeal them outright. In doing so, Eisenhower was popular among the liberal wing of the Republican Party. [301] Conservative critics of his administration thought that he did not do enough to advance the goals of the right according to Hans Morgenthau, "Eisenhower's victories were but accidents without consequence in the history of the Republican party." [302]

Since the 19th century, many if not all presidents were assisted by a central figure or "gatekeeper", sometimes described as the president's private secretary, sometimes with no official title at all. [303] Eisenhower formalized this role, introducing the office of White House Chief of Staff – an idea he borrowed from the United States Army. Every president after Lyndon Johnson has also appointed staff to this position. Initially, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter tried to operate without a chief of staff, but each eventually appointed one.

As president, Eisenhower also initiated the "up or out" policy that still prevails in the U.S. military. Officers who are passed over for promotion twice, are then usually honorably but quickly discharged, in order to make way for younger, and more able officers. (As an army officer, Eisenhower had been stuck at the rank of major for 16 years in the interwar period.)

On December 20, 1944, Eisenhower was appointed to the rank of General of the Army, placing him in the company of George Marshall, Henry "Hap" Arnold, and Douglas MacArthur, the only four men to achieve the rank in World War II. Along with Omar Bradley, they were the only five men to achieve the rank since the August 5, 1888 death of Philip Sheridan, and the only five men to hold the rank of five-star general. The rank was created by an Act of Congress on a temporary basis, when Public Law 78–482 was passed on December 14, 1944, [304] as a temporary rank, subject to reversion to permanent rank six months after the end of the war. The temporary rank was then declared permanent on March 23, 1946, by Public Law 333 of the 79th Congress, which also awarded full pay and allowances in the grade to those on the retired list. [305] [306] It was created to give the most senior American commanders parity of rank with their British counterparts holding the ranks of field marshal and admiral of the fleet. This second General of the Army rank is not the same as the post-Civil War era version because of its purpose and five stars.

Eisenhower founded People to People International in 1956, based on his belief that citizen interaction would promote cultural interaction and world peace. The program includes a student ambassador component, which sends American youth on educational trips to other countries. [307]

During his second term as president, Eisenhower distinctively preserved his presidential gratitude by awarding individuals a special memento. This memento was a series of specially designed U.S. Mint presidential appreciation medals. Eisenhower presented the medal as an expression of his appreciation and the medal is a keepsake reminder for the recipient. [308]

The development of the appreciation medals was initiated by the White House and executed by the United States Mint, through the Philadelphia Mint. The medals were struck from September 1958 through October 1960. A total of twenty designs are cataloged with a total mintage of 9,858. Each of the designs incorporates the text "with appreciation" or "with personal and official gratitude" accompanied with Eisenhower's initials "D.D.E." or facsimile signature. The design also incorporates location, date, and/or significant event. Prior to the end of his second term as president, 1,451 medals were turned in to the Bureau of the Mint and destroyed. [308] The Eisenhower appreciation medals are part of the Presidential Medal of Appreciation Award Medal Series. [308]

Tributes and memorials

The Interstate Highway System is officially known as the "Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways" in his honor. It was inspired in part by Eisenhower's own Army experiences in World War II, where he recognized the advantages of the autobahn system in Germany. [164] Commemorative signs reading "Eisenhower Interstate System" and bearing Eisenhower's permanent 5-star rank insignia were introduced in 1993 and now are displayed throughout the Interstate System. Several highways are also named for him, including the Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate 290) near Chicago. the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70 west of Denver, and Interstate 80 in California. [310]

Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy is a senior war college of the Department of Defense's National Defense University in Washington, DC. Eisenhower graduated from this school when it was previously known as the Army Industrial College. The school's building on Fort Lesley J. McNair, when it was known as the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, was dedicated as Eisenhower Hall in 1960.

Eisenhower was honored on a US one dollar coin, minted from 1971 to 1978. His centenary was honored on a commemorative dollar coin issued in 1990.

In 1969 four major record companies – ABC Records, MGM Records, Buddha Records and Caedmon Audio – released tribute albums in Eisenhower's honor. [311]

In 1999, the United States Congress created the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, to create an enduring national memorial in Washington, D.C. In 2009 the commission chose the architect Frank Gehry to design the memorial. [312] [313] The memorial will stand on a four-acre site near the National Mall on Maryland Avenue, SW across the street from the National Air and Space Museum. [314]

In December 1999 he was listed on Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th century. In 2009 he was named to the World Golf Hall of Fame in the Lifetime Achievement category for his contributions to the sport. [315] In 1973, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. [316]

  • Military Division 1945
  • Civil Division 1957
  • Member Military Division June 12, 1945

Eisenhower received the Freedom honor from several locations, including:

  • Freedom of the City of London on June 12, 1945 [323][324]
  • Freedom of the City of Belfast on August 24, 1945 [325]
  • Freedom of the City of Edinburgh in 1946 [326]
  • Freedom of the Burgh of Maybole in October 1946 [327]

Eisenhower received many honorary degrees from universities and colleges around the world. These included:

Location Date School Degree Gave Commencement Address
Northern Ireland August 24, 1945 Queen's University Belfast Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [328] [329]
England 1945 University of Oxford Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) [330]
Massachusetts 1946 Harvard University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [331]
Pennsylvania 1946 Gettysburg College Doctorate [332]
Ontario 1946 University of Toronto Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [333]
Pennsylvania 1947 University of Pennsylvania Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [334]
Connecticut 1948 Yale University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [335]
New York 1950 Hofstra University Doctorate [336]
New Hampshire June 14, 1953 Dartmouth College Doctorate Yes [337]
District of Columbia November 19, 1953 Catholic University of America Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [338]
Virginia 1953 College of William and Mary Doctor of Laws (LL.D)
Illinois 1954 Northwestern University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [339]
Maryland June 7, 1954 Washington College Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [340] Yes
Maryland 1958 Johns Hopkins University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [341]
India December 17, 1959 University of Delhi Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [342]
Indiana June 5, 1960 University of Notre Dame Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [343]
New York June 20, 1964 Bard College Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [344]
Iowa 1965 Grinnell College Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [345]
Ohio October 5, 1965 Ohio University Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) [346] Yes

No insignia Cadet, United States Military Academy: June 14, 1911
No pin insignia in 1915 Second Lieutenant, Regular Army: June 12, 1915
First Lieutenant, Regular Army: July 1, 1916
Captain, Regular Army: May 15, 1917
Major, National Army: June 17, 1918
Lieutenant Colonel, National Army: October 20, 1918
Captain, Regular Army: June 30, 1920
(Reverted to permanent rank.)
Major, Regular Army: July 2, 1920
Captain, Regular Army: November 4, 1922
(Discharged as major and appointed as captain due to reduction of Army.)
Major, Regular Army: August 26, 1924
Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army: July 1, 1936
Colonel, Army of the United States: March 6, 1941
Brigadier General, Army of the United States: September 29, 1941
Major General, Army of the United States: March 27, 1942
Lieutenant General, Army of the United States: July 7, 1942
General, Army of the United States: February 11, 1943
Brigadier General, Regular Army: August 30, 1943
Major General, Regular Army: August 30, 1943
General of the Army, Army of the United States: December 20, 1944
General of the Army, Regular Army: April 11, 1946

Note – Eisenhower relinquished his active duty status when he became president on January 20, 1953. He was returned to active duty when he left office eight years later.

This airman gave his life to rescue soldiers from a massive firefight

Posted On April 29, 2020 16:02:37

This article is sponsored by The Last Full Measure, now playing in theatres! Get your tickets here.

The Air Force Pararescue community lives according to the motto, “These Things We Do, That Others May Live.” There may be none who lived that motto more fully than Airman 1st Class William Pitsenbarger who was killed in action in March, 1966, after intentionally placing himself in harm’s way to rescue infantryman pinned down by snipers, mortars, and machine gun fire.

For his valor, he became the first enlisted airman to receive the Medal of Honor.

Pitsenbarger, or “Pits,” as he was known, first tried to join the military as a Green Beret when he was 17, but his parents prevailed upon him to wait until after high school. In 1962, he became a graduate and answered the call — this time, with the Air Force instead of the Army. As a pararescuemen, he would be responsible for grabbing downed airmen and others from contested and enemy-held areas around the world. Becoming a PJ was no easy feat, and it wasn’t a job for the timid.

After completing SCUBA training with the Navy, paratrooper training with the Army, and survival and medical training with the Air Force, he was ready to go to work. Before his deployment to Vietnam, he was called upon to help rescue two hunters stuck in the California wilderness. After rappelling down a sheer cliff face to reach them, he and another pararescueman encountered an angry bear. Pits charged the bear, yelling and screaming, chasing it off. It was immediately clear that he was cut out for this kind of work.

Pitsenbarger finally got orders overseas — to Okinawa, Japan. Wanting to go where his help was needed most, he requested to go to Vietnam instead, and his request was approved. Before shipping out, his parents later said that they were sure they would never see him alive again. Sadly, they were right.

In Vietnam, Pits proved himself an exceptionally capable medical and rescue professional. He helped treat lepers at a colony in Vietnam, escorted singer Mary Martin during a USO tour, and inserted into a burning minefield to rescue a South Vietnamese soldier who had lost a foot trying to stomp out a grass fire. For the minefield rescue, Pitsenbarger was awarded the Airman’s Medal.

A1C Pitsenbarger receiving the Airman’s Medal in Vietnam.

But Pitsenbarger’s most consequential moments came in 1966. On April 11, three companies of the Big Red One, the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, were engaged in a risky sweep across two provinces in search of Viet Cong units. Charlie Company was on one end of the formation and realized too late that it had drifted from the others — and was exposed to sniper fire.

Company leadership realized they were in danger and set up a defensive perimeter, but they were already outnumbered and surrounded. The North Vietnamese triggered their attack, sending mortar and sniper fire ripping through the American formation. The other companies attempted to come to their aid, but mounting casualties quickly made it clear that Charlie Company needed a rescue.

The Air Force sent two rescue helicopters to begin getting the wounded out. The first flight was challenging but, for a jungle firefight in Vietnam, fairly uneventful. Both helicopters took the first flight of wounded to a nearby hospital and doubled back for more. Once back in the field, it became clear to Pits that the Army soldiers no longer had the manpower necessary to hold back the attacks, treat the wounded, and put them on litters for extraction. He volunteered to insert into the jungle and help out.

The pilot reluctantly agreed to the risky request, and Pits began sending men up to the two helicopters despite bursts of fierce mortar and machine gun fire. Pitsenbarger was responsible for getting nine wounded men out in three flights, refusing his own extraction each time, before ground fire nearly downed one of the helicopters and forced them to leave.

Poster art for ‘The Last Full Measure’ depicting Pitsenbarger’s rescue in Vietnam.

On the ground, Pits continuously exposed himself to enemy fire to recover rifles and ammunition from the dead to redistribute to the living. He was wounded at least twice before he reached his final position. He had given away his pistol to a soldier too wounded to use any other weapon, and so Pits used one of the recovered rifles to resist a North Vietnamese advance until he was hit again — this time fatally.

The Army fought on through the night, relying on danger close artillery and airstrikes to survive the night. When the Air Force was able to get rescue helicopters back in the next morning, an Army captain told the next pararescueman on the ground what had happened to Pits.

Charlie Company had 134 men when the battle started. 106 of them were wounded or killed in the fighting, but Pits had gotten an extra nine of them out and kept others alive overnight.

Five months later, on Sept. 22, 1966, the Air Force presented the Air Force Cross to Pitsenbarger’s parents. It was the first awarding of the Air Force Cross to an enlisted airman for service in Vietnam. After decades of campaigning from the men he saved from what seemed like certain demise, Pitsenbarger’s citation was finally upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Pitsenbarger is the first enlisted airman to receive such an award.

Now, Pits’ story is headed to the big screen. The Last Full Measure is scheduled to release on Jan. 24, 2020. Be sure to watch the trailer below and secure your tickets to honor this true American hero.

This article is sponsored by The Last Full Measure, now playing in theatres! Get your tickets here.

6. Germany

(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The largest humanitarian assistance operation in history was actually launched to overcome a man-made shortage, not recover from a natural disaster. The Soviet blockade of West Berlin caused a massive food shortage in the Western-government occupied sectors of the city.


How did the way commanders ask their troops to deal with the immediate death of their comrades vary by country/culture during WWII? - History

The Jewish–Roman wars were a series of large-scale revolts by the Jews of Judea against the Roman Empire between 66 and 136 CE. The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE) and the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–136 CE) were nationalist rebellions, striving to restore an independent Judean state, while the Kitos War was mostly fought outside the Judea.

Losing these wars made the Jews stateless so they became a scattered and persecuted minority in other countries. It also also had a major impact on Judaism. Central worship in Jerusalem ended with the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans. Although having a sort of autonomy in the Galilee until the 4th century such as the Council of Jamnia (or Yavne), and later a limited success in establishing the short-lived Sasanian Jewish autonomy in Jerusalem in 614–617 CE. Jewish statehood was only re-established with the founding Israel in 1948 CE.

The First Jewish–Roman War, 66 - 70 CE,

originating in the Greek and Jewish religious tensions, and later escalated due to anti-taxation protests and attacks upon Roman citizens. In response to the Roman plunder of the Second Jewish Temple and the execution of up to 6,000 Jews in Jerusalem, a full-scale rebellion erupted. The Roman military garrison of Judaea was quickly overrun by rebels, while the pro-Roman king Agrippa II together with Roman officials fled Jerusalem. As it became clear the rebellion was getting out of control, Cestius Gallus, the legate of Syria, brought the Syrian army, based on XII Fulminata and reinforced by auxiliary troops, to restore order and quell the revolt. Despite initial advances, the Syrian Legion was ambushed and defeated by Jewish rebels at the Battle of Beth Horon with 6,000 Romans massacred and the Legio aquila lost – a result that shocked the Roman leadership.

The experienced and unassuming general Vespasian was then tasked with crushing the rebellion in Judaea province. His son Titus was appointed second-in-command. Vespasian was given four legions and assisted by forces of King Agrippa II. In 67 CE he invaded Galilee. While avoiding a direct attack on the reinforced city of Jerusalem which was packed with the main rebel force, Titus' forces launched a persistent campaign to eradicate rebel strongholds and punish the population. Within several months Vespasian and Titus took over the major Jewish strongholds of Galilee and finally overran Jotapata under command of Yosef ben Matitiyahu, following a 47-day siege. Meantime in Jerusalem, an attempt by Sicarii leader Menahem to take control of the city failed, resulting in his execution. A peasant leader Simon Bar-Giora was ousted from the city by the new moderate Judean government and Ananus ben Ananus began reinforcing the city.[citation needed]

Driven from Galilee, Zealot rebels and thousands of refugees arrived in Judea, creating political turmoil in Jerusalem. Zealots were at first sealed in the Temple compound. However, confrontation between the mainly Sadducee Jerusalemites and the mainly Zealot factions of the Northern Revolt under the command of John of Giscala and Eleazar ben Simon became evident. With Edomites entering the city and fighting on the side of the Zealots, Ananus ben Ananus was killed and his forces suffered severe casualties. Simon Bar Giora, commanding 15,000 troops, was then invited into Jerusalem by the Sadducee leaders to stand against the Zealots, and quickly took control over much of the city. Bitter infighting between factions of Bar Giora, John and Elazar followed through the year 69 CE.[citation needed]

After a lull in the military operations, owing to civil war and political turmoil in Rome, Vespasian returned to Rome and was accepted as the new Emperor in 69 CE. With Vespasian's departure, Titus besieged the center of rebel resistance in Jerusalem in early 70 CE. While the first two walls of Jerusalem were breached within three weeks, a stubborn stand prevented the Roman Army from breaking the third and thickest wall. Following a brutal seven-month siege, in which Zealot infighting resulted in the burning of the entire food supply of the city to enhance "fighting to the end", the Romans finally succeeded in breaching the weakened Jewish forces in the summer of 70 CE. Following the fall of Jerusalem, Titus left for Rome, while Legion X Fretensis defeated the remaining Jewish strongholds later on, finalizing the Roman campaign in Masada in 73/74 CE.

The Kitos War, also known as mered ha'galuyot or mered ha'tfutzot (Rebellion of the exile), is the name given to the second of the Jewish–Roman wars. The Kitos War consisted of major revolts by diasporic Jews in Cyrene (Cyrenaica), Cyprus, Mesopotamia and Aegyptus, which spiraled out of control, resulting in a widespread slaughter of Roman citizens and others (200,000 in Cyrene, 240,000 in Cyprus according to Cassius Dio) by the Jewish rebels. The rebellions were finally crushed by Roman legionary forces, chiefly by the Roman general Lusius Quietus, whose nomen later gave the conflict its title, as "Kitos" is a later corruption of Quietus.


(Hebrew: מרד בר כוכבא‎‎ or mered bar kokhba), was the third major rebellion by the Jews of Judaea Province and Eastern Mediterranean against the Roman Empire and the last of the Jewish–Roman Wars. Simon bar Kokhba, the commander of the revolt, was acclaimed as a Messiah, a heroic figure who could restore Israel. The revolt established an independent state of Israel over parts of Judea for more than two years, but a Roman army made up of six full legions with auxiliaries and elements from up to six additional legions finally crushed it. The Romans then barred Jews from Jerusalem, except to attend Tisha B'Av. Although Jewish Christians hailed Jesus as the Messiah and did not support Bar Kokhba, they were barred from Jerusalem along with the rest of the Jews.[citation needed] The war and its aftermath helped differentiate Christianity as a religion distinct from Judaism (see also Split of early Christianity and Judaism). The rebellion is also known as The Third Jewish–Roman War or The Third Jewish Revolt, though some historians relate it as Second Jewish Revolt, not counting the Kitos War, 115–117 CE.

The defeat of the Jewish revolt altered the Jewish diaspora, as many of the Jewish rebels were scattered or sold into slavery. Before Vespasian's departure, the Pharisaic sage and Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai obtained his permission to establish a Judaic school at Yavne. Zakkai was smuggled away from Jerusalem in a coffin by his students. This school later became a major center of Talmudic study (see Mishnah).

Hadrian (emperor 117-138 CE) attempted to root out Judaism, which he saw as the cause of continuous rebellions. He prohibited the Torah and the Hebrew calendar and executed Judaic scholars. The sacred scroll was ceremonially burned on the Temple Mount. At the former Temple sanctuary he installed two statues, one of Jupiter, another of himself. In an attempt to erase any memory of Judea or Ancient Israel, he wiped the name off the map and replaced it with Syria Palaestina, supplanting earlier terms, such as Judaea. Similarly, he re-established Jerusalem, this time as the Roman polis of Aelia Capitolina, and Jews were barred from entering the city, except on the fast day of Tisha B'Av.

Rabbinic Judaism became a religion centered around synagogues, and the Jews themselves dispersed throughout the Roman world and beyond. With the destruction of Jerusalem, important centers of Jewish culture developed in the area of Galilee and in Babylonia and work on the Talmud continued in these locations.

On Lag Ba'Omer, Israeli children celebrate the Jewish rebels' victory over the Romans 2,000 years ago. Yet as victories go, Simon Bar Kochba's was a Pyrrhic one. Elon Gilad May 06, 2015

On Lag Ba'Omer, Israeli children light bonfires across Israel, supposedly in celebration of the heroic victory of Simon Bar Kochba over the Roman Empire. This is a modern-day contrivance - earlier generations weren’t inclined to celebrate what amounted to the destruction of Jewish life in Judea for over a millennium.

While many view the Bar Kochba Revolt as a tale of heroism, - it is equally a case study in the folly of religious and nationalistic fanaticism. Either way, it is a seminal moment in Jewish history.

The late Second Temple Period and the century following the destruction of the Temple (from the 2nd century BCE to the 2nd century CE) were a time of apocalyptic fervor for the Jewish people. The lessons of Jewish history had taught – at least, so many believed - that God would intervene on the side of the Jews. Had God not ended the Babylonian Exile and restored the Jerusalem Temple? Had the prophets not promised that a messiah would come and lead the Jews to a new age of righteousness?

These expectations led to a steady stream of would-be messiahs. A partial list includes the Essenes’ Teacher of Righteousness, Hezekiah “the chief bandit,” Simon of Peraea, Athronges, Judas the Galilean, and most famously, Jesus of Nazareth.

Usually, the death of the charismatic leader by the Romans was held as proof that the would-be savior had not been a true messiah, though in some of these cases, followers continued to assert the slain leader's supernatural nature even after his death.

The destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD did not allay these expectations, but according to the beliefs at the time, rather served to demonstrate that the time was nigh. And a new crop of would-be messiahs came about, of whom Menahem ben Hezekiah was the most famous, until Simon of Kosevah came along – the man who would become "Bar Kochba".

We know little personally about Simon-to-be-Bar Kochba, despite the fact that a number of his letters were discovered in 1960. These teach us that he was a strong-willed, charismatic leader, but not much else.

In 132 CE, Simon led a revolt against the Romans. It was not a spontaneous uprising - as the Great Revolt 70 years before had been - but rather a well-planned civil war fought in the Judean hills.

The Jews didn’t need much reason to revolt against their Roman overlords, but the immediate cause for this outbreak of violence seems to have been a pledge by Roman Emperor Hadrian to have the Temple rebuilt, only to change his mind - and order a temple to Jupiter be erected on the Temple Mount instead. Hadrian apparently also prohibited circumcision, never a popular measure among Jews. Banning it, that is.

This was an asymmetric conflict. Simon’s forces could not best the Roman legions in open battle, so they employed guerrilla tactics. The Jewish fighters would hide in the vast, complex tunnel system carved into the soft, chalky bedrock in the build-up to the war, emerge to ambush and raid the regular Roman army, then escape back into their underground labyrinths.

With the support of the Judean populace, Simon and his men succeeded in hitting the Romans hard and recapturing much of Judea.

Whether or not the Judean rebels were able to capture Jerusalem is disputed. In any case, their early success and the establishment of an independent Jewish state led many to proclaim Simon as the messiah.

That is how he got the name Bar Kochba - “son of a star” - a reference to a prophecy in the Book of Numbers: “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth" (24:17). His letters however were signed with the name “Simon the Prince” (“HaNasi”).

The Romans: Not star-struck

The Romans responded with characteristic brutality, marshaling reinforcements from throughout the empire to crush the Jewish revolt.

The war ensuing was massive, even by the Roman scale of doing things: the Romans wielded 12 legions, probably close to 100,000 men, against the rebellious Jews.

Though not as well equipped or trained as the Romans, the Jews of Judea (there is some question whether Jews in the Galilee also participated) had a fighting force more than twice that size. The grueling war would last four brutal years, with massive casualties on both sides.

Eventually the Roman war machine ground down the Jewish resistance, systematically destroying the Jewish towns.

In 136 CE, the beleaguered rebels pulled back to a stronghold southwest of Jerusalem, called Betar.

That is where the revolt, and its leader Simon Bar Kochba, would meet their end.

After a siege, the Roman forces seized the stronghold and slaughtered all they found inside. According to rabbinic sources, the Roman war horses were nostril-deep in rebel blood.

Judea was completely devastated. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were put to the sword, and many more died of famine. Hundreds of towns were destroyed, never to arise anew. Those who survived were sold on the Roman slave market: they numbered so many that the price of a Jewish slave dropped to the price of a horse.

In fact, few Jews remained in Judea at all, and the Roman province was reconstituted into the new province "Syria Palaestina."

Bar Kochba's defeat would have a profound effect on the Jewish people.

Judea found itself practically depopulated of Jews, crushing any hope of Jewish independence for nearly 2,000 years. In fact, Jews in the Diaspora did not exactly celebrate Bar Kochba’s heroism: he was instead viewed as a progenitor of the calamity that caused all Jews to be displaced persons for millennia.

Only recently, with the advent of Zionism, had his memory been exhumed as a Jewish hero, a dogged freedom fighter who against all odds, founded a Jewish state. And he did achieve that. But not for very long.

Simon bar Kokhba (Hebrew: שמעון בר כוכבא, also transliterated as Bar Kokhva or Bar Kochba) was a messianic Jewish leader who led a major revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 C.E., establishing an independent Jewish state of Israel which he ruled for three years as Nasi ("prince," or "president"). His state was conquered by the Romans in late 135 C.E. following a bloody two-year war.

Originally named ben Kosiba (בן כוזיבא), he was given the surname Bar Kokhba, meaning "Son of the Star," by the leading Jewish sage Rabbi Akiva, who believed him to be the promised Messiah.

The eventual failure of Bar Kokhba’s revolt resulted in the deaths of possibly hundreds of thousands of Jews, the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem, and the end of the Jewish intellectual center at Jamnia. Henceforth, Babylon would be the primary center of Talmudic scholarship until the rise of European Jewry in the late Middle Ages. Judaism would not become a political force in Palestine again until the emergence of Zionism in the twentieth century.

In an ironic way, Bar Kokhba could be seen as the most successful would-be Messiah in Jewish history. Despite the folly and self-defeating outcome of a violence-based project, he can be described as the only messianic claimant to have actually established an independent Jewish nation (fleeting though it was).[1]

The first Jewish Revolt of 66-73 C.E. had left the population and countryside in ruins. The Temple of Jerusalem had been destroyed, tens of thousands of Jews in Jerusalem had been killed, and most of the remainder were driven from the city by the future Emperor Titus.

Emperor Hadrian ascended to the throne in 118 C.E. in the aftermath of continuing Jewish unrest in Egypt, Cyrene and Cyprus. However, he sought to mollify the Jews of Judea and Jerusalem, where a substantial Jewish population had now resettled. He even seems to have ordered the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem, though on terms that outraged pious Jews, in that it was to be constructed on a new site.

A potential rebellion was averted through the intervention of Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah (Gen. R. 64). Secret anti-Rome factions, however, began to prepare for war, reportedly stockpiling weapons and converting caves in the mountains into hidden fortifications, connected by subterranean passages.

The situation came to a head when Hadrian forbade the circumcision of infants, which the Jews found intolerable.[2] The fact that nearly every living Jew in Judea must have had relatives who had been killed in the earlier revolt added fuel to the revolutionary fire, as did the Roman policy of insisting that pagan sacrifice be offered in the holy city. Although Bar Kokhba himself is not yet heard from, it is likely that he was already one of the organizers of this movement. [3]

There is little historical information about the early stages of the revolt. It apparently began in 132, when the rebuilding of Jerusalem as a Roman city damaged the supposed tomb of Solomon. According to the ancient historian Cassius Dio, (Roman history 69.13:1-2):

Soon, the whole of Judaea had been stirred up, and the Jews everywhere were showing signs of disturbance, were gathering together, and giving evidence of great hostility to the Romans, partly by secret and partly by open acts many others, too, from other peoples, were joining them from eagerness for profit, in fact one might almost say that the whole world was being stirred up by this business.

In this situation Simon ben Kosiba emerged as a decisive and effective military and political leader. His surviving letters make it clear that he was in a position of authority among the revolutionary forces by April 132 until early November 135.

Rabbi Akiva, who proclaimed Bar Kokhba to be the Messiah.

According to Eusebius of Ceasaria (c.260-c.340), Bar Kokhba claimed to have been sent to the Jews from heaven (Church History 4.6.2). However, Simon’s own letters show him to be of a pragmatic military and political mind. There is indeed evidence, however, that the Talmudic sage Rabbi Akiva considered him to be the deliverer. Akiva reportedly said of him, "This is the King Messiah" (Yer. Ta'anit iv. 68d).

On some of his coins and in his letters, Bar Kokhba calls himself "Prince" (Nasi), a word that some believe had strong messianic connotations. However, it should be noted that presidents of the Sanhedrin were also called Nasi, with no hint of messianic allusion. The name Bar Kochba itself has messianic connotations, however. It could be that Bar Kokhba accepted the messianic role, conceived as essentially political, even if he did not think of it in apocalyptic terms. The common Jewish expectation, it should be remembered, was that the Messiah was a deliverer from foreign rule, indeed sent by God, but not a supernatural being.

Coin of the Bar Kokhba era. Obverse: the Temple in Jerusalem with the rising star above it. Reverse: "Year one of the redemption of Israel."

Akiva was joined by at least two other prominent rabbis—Gershom and Aha—in recognizing Bar Kokhba as the Messiah. However, others disagreed, having already soured on opposition to Rome or wanting more certain confirmation from God before supporting any messianic candidate.

The new Jewish state minted its own coins and was called "Israel." Although Bar Kokhba’s forces apparently never succeeded in taking Jerusalem, their control of Judea was extensive, as evidenced by the fact that coins minted by the new Jewish state have been found throughout the rest of the area. Legal documents show that former Roman imperial lands were confiscated by the state of Israel and leased to Jews for farming.

As a result of Bar Kokhba’s success, Hadrian was forced to send several of his most able commanders to deal with the rebellion, among them Julius Severus, had previously been governor of Britain, Publicius Marcellus end Haterius Nepos, the governors of Syria and Arabia, respectively. Hadrian himself eventually arrived on the scene as well.

The Romans committed no less than 12 legions, amounting to one third to one half of the entire Roman army, to re-conquer this now independent state. Outnumbered and taking heavy casualties, but confident nevertheless of their long-term military superiority, the Romans refused to engage in an open battle and instead adopted a scorched earth policy which decimated the Judean populace, slowly grinding away at the will of the Judeans to sustain the war.

Jewish sources report terrible atrocities by the Romans, including children being wrapped in Torah scrolls and burned alive (Bab. Talmud, Gittin 57a-58b). The absolute devotion of the rebels to their leader and his cause resulted in very few of them surrendering, and in the end very few survived.

Some Jews began to regret the rebellion. The fourth century Christian writer Hieronymus reported that the “citizens of Judea came to such distress that they, together with their wives, children, gold and silver remained in underground tunnels and in the deepest caves.” (Commentary on Isaiah 2.15). His claim has been confirmed by archaeologists who found human remains, cooking utensils, and letters it digs at caves at Wadi Murabba at and Nahal Hever.

Eventually the Romans succeeded in taking one after another of the Jewish strongholds. Bar Kokhba took his final stand at Bethar, possibly located a short march southwest of Jerusalem.[4] The siege continued until the winter of 135-136. When the fortress was finally taken, Bar Kokhba’s body was among the corpses. Most of the dead succumbed to disease and starvation, not battle wounds. Hadrian reportedly stated, upon being presented with the would-be Messiah’s head: “If his God had not slain him, who could have overcome him?”

According to Jewish tradition, Bethar fell on July 25, 136. However, the fact that Hadrian assumed the title of Conqueror late in 135 leads historians to assume an earlier date of November or December of that year.[5]

Cassius Dio stated 580,000 Jews were killed in the war against Bar Kokhba, with 50 fortified towns and 985 villages being razed. Jerusalem also was destroyed, and the new Roman city, Aelia Capitolina, was built in its place, this time with no accommodation to Jewish sensibilities whatsoever.

Yet so costly was the Roman victory over Bar Kokhba’s state that Hadrian, when reporting to the Roman Senate, did not see fit to begin with the customary greeting "I and my army are well," and is the only Roman general known to have refused to celebrate his victory with a triumphal entrance into his capital.

In the aftermath of the war, Hadrian consolidated the older political units of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria into the new province of Syria Palaestina (Palestine), a name that has since passed into most European languages as well as into Arabic. The new provincial designation, derived from the ancient sea-faring Philistine people who occupied the coastal plain around the first millennium B.C.E.

Expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem in 135 C.E.

Bar Kokhba’s defeat was followed by a persecution of Jews by Hadrian, who now saw the religion itself as incompatible with Roman order. Prisoners from the war were sold as slaves and Jews were forbidden to teach the Mosaic law or to own Torah scrolls. The Palestinian center of Jewish learning at Jamnia came to an end, resulting in the ascendancy of the Babylonian Talmud, rather than the Palestinian version, in later Jewish tradition.

In Jerusalem, a temple to Jupiter was built on the site of the Temple of Yahweh, and a sanctuary devoted to goddess Aphrodite was built where the Christians—-viewed by Hadrian as a Jewish sect—venerated the tomb of Jesus. Jews were banned both from living in and even visiting Jerusalem. Rabbi Akiva violated this law, becoming a martyr for his act, along with nine of his colleagues.

In the aftermath, rabbinical tradition turned strongly against messianic claims in general, an attitude that persists to this day. Talmudic sources began to call the Messiah of Rabbi Akiva “bar Kozeva',” meaning “son of lies.”[6]

Judaism as a political force suffered a defeat from which it would not recover until the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. Bar Kokhba became a hero among some of the Zionists, and is remembered by many during the Israeli holiday of Lag BaOmer, which had previously been associated with Akiva and his colleague Simon Ben Yochai.

↑ Jesus of Nazareth would be recognized as more successful than Bar Kokhba in Christian tradition, as well as in Islam, which also accepts Jesus as the Messiah. However, from the Jewish perspective, Jesus was not a successful messianic claimant, for he did not restore an independent Jewish state.

↑ Jews are commanded to circumcise their son on the eighth day after birth. Hadrian's edict also banned castration and did not affect voluntary circumcision by legally adult males.

↑ Bar Kokba Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 15, 2007.

↑ Some hold that Bethar must have been in Samaritan territory, basing their opinion on a Talmudic tradition (Yer. Ta'anit 68d Lam. R. to chap. ii. 2) that blames the fall of Bethar on Samaritan treachery.

↑ A letter from Bar Kokhba himself dated Oct/November 135 is accepted as evidence that Bethar could not have fallen earlier than this.

↑ Akiva himself remains highly revered in Jewish tradition and liturgy, however.

From ‘A History of the Jews’ by Paul Johnson pp137 et seq

The Great Revolt of 66 AD and the siege of Jerusalem constitute one of the m ost important and horrifying events in Jewish history. Unfortunately it is badly recorded. Tacitus left a long account of the war but only fragments survive. Rabbinic accounts are made up of anecdotes with no clear historical context, or of sheer fantasy. There is very little epigraphical or archaeological evidence. Virtually our only authority for the war is Josephus, and he is tendentious, contradictory and thoroughly unreliable. The broad outline of events is as follows. After the massacre of the garrison in Jerusalem, the legate in Syria, Cestius Gallus, assembled a large force in Acre and ma rched on the city. When he reached the outskirts he was dismaye d by the strength of the Jewish resistance and ordered a retreat which turned into a rout. Rome then took charge and reacted with enormous force, no fewer than four legions, the v, x, xii and xv, being concentrated on Judaea, and one of the empire’s most experienced generals, Titus Flavius Vespasian, being given the command. He took command, leaving Jerusalem severely alone until he had cleared the coast and secured his communications, reduced most of the fortresses held by Jews and settled the countryside. In 69 CE Vespasian was named emperor, and at the end of the year he left for Rome, leaving his eldest son, the twenty-nine-year-old Titus, in charge of the final ph ase of the campaign, the siege and capture of Jerusalem, which lasted from April to September 70 CE .

Josephus took a prominent part in these events (the Jewish Wars) and left two different accounts of them. His Jewish War, describing the years 66-70 CE in detail and preceded by a history of the Jews in Palestine from the •Macabees onwards, was largely written while Titus, who succeeded Vespasian, was still alive. Then, about twenty years later, Josephus •finished his Antiquities of the Jews, giving the entire history from the Creation onwards (based mainly on the Bible), ending in 66, but including an autobiographical Vita as an appendix. There are discrepancies between the War and the Vita. 1 Most historians of antiquity wrote from tendentious motives. The trouble with Josephus is that his motives changed between writing the two works. In his Vita he was responding, for instance, to an attack on his character by the Jewish writer Justus of Tiberias . 114 But the main reason for his change of viewpoint was that he was an example of a Jewish phenomenon which became very common over the centuries: a clever young man who, in his youth, accepted the modernity and sophistication of the day and then, late in middle age, returned to his Jewish roots. He began his writing career as a Roman apologist and ended it close to being a Jewish nationalist.

The overwhelming impression is that Jews were throughout irreconcilably divided into many factions. The original massacre of the garrison was the work of a small minority. Only when Cestius Gallus was driven back and his force destroyed did the aristocratic element decide to raise troops, and even then it mixed motives. Its object seems to have been to carry on government and await events. So bronze coins — shekels, half-shekels and small change - were minted. Josephus, a senior priest attached to the house of one of the aristocrats, Eleazar ben Ananias, was sent to the Galilee with two other priests to prepare the population for the conflict. He found most of the population opposed to the war. The farmers hated brigands (including the ultra-Jewish nationalists) and hated the cities too. They did not like the Romans either but were not anxious to fight them. Of the cities, Sephoris was pro-Roman Tiberias was divided Gabara favoured John of Giscala, one of the insurgent leaders. Josephus says he tried to unite the cities, the peasants and the brigands but failed the peasants would not join up and when conscripted soon deserted. So he retired on Herod’s old fortress of Jotapata and, after a token resistance, surrendered to Vespasian. Thereafter he served Romans, first as an interpreter at the siege of Jerusalem, later as a propagandist. He took the same line as Jeremiah at the first fall Jerusalem: it was all God’s will, and the Romans were His instruments to fight the Romans was therefore not only foolish but wicked .

Josephus was probably correct to see this long, savage disastrous war as the work of small, malignant minorities on both sides. Later, he came to see the force of the Jewish demand for religious and political rights, to have some respect for the Maccabees, and to take pride and pleasure in Jewish particularism. Yet his original contention, that the resistance of Jerusalem was unconscionable, remains valid. Titus had 60,000 men and the latest siege equipment, He could rely on starvation and Jewish divisions to do their work. The defenders had about 25,000 fighters, split into groups: the Zealots, under Eleazar ben Simon, held the Antonia and the Temple the extremist Simeon ben Giora and his Sicarii ran the upper city and there were Idumeans and other partisans under John of Giscala. The mass of the citizens and refugees were the helpless prisoners of these militants. Josephus described the final stages of the siege in horrifying detail. The Romans had to fight all the way. They stormed the Antonia, then took the Temple, which was burned, then Herod’s under a month later. The people were sold as slaves, or massacred, or saved to die in the arenas of Caesarea, Antioch and Rome. Simeon ben Gior a was captured alive, taken to Rome for Titus’ triumphal process, then executed in the Forum. Titus’ arch still stands there, the Temple mono orah he captured carved on its stone. He also preserved, in his palace, the curtain which screened the Holy of Holies and a copy of the scriptures — would that it had survived!

by Frederic Raphael Pantheon, 336 pages

Opinions of JOSEPHUS vary when History Is Written by the Loser

Captured by the Romans, the Jewish soldier-historian Flavius Josephus became a counselor to the commanders who sacked Jerusalem.
By Benjamin Balint Jan. 18, 2013 Wall Street Journal

Until recently, no ancient historian was more widely read than the first-century soldier-statesman Flavius Josephus, the greatest source of our knowledge of the Holy Land "between the Testaments." In many a Victorian home and American Sunday-school library, a copy of William Whiston's translation of Josephus' works, first published in 1737 and reprinted more than 200 times since, held pride of place next to the Scriptures.

Yet to his own people Josephus remained a pariah—a man who betrayed them in the hour of their greatest crisis. Voicing the view of many, Israeli archaeologist and general Yigael Yadin called Josephus "a great historian and a bad Jew."

To recalibrate Josephus' legacy in modern times, the screenwriter and novelist Frederic Raphael, who was trained in classics at Cambridge University, has written "A Jew Among Romans," an eloquent appraisal of Josephus. In the book's first part, he skillfully recounts the transformation of Joseph ben Mattathias, a descendant of priests, into Titus Flavius Josephus, confidant of emperors.

As a young man, Joseph acquainted himself with Jewish law and for three years lived as an ascetic in the Judean desert. In 66 A.D., at age 29, he was entrusted by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem with the commission of governor-general of Galilee. In that role, he overcame numerous plots and calumnies as he tried in vain to persuade the Jewish rebels against Rome, bent on war and inflamed by volatile messianic fantasies, to lay down their arms. He endeavored, as he put it, "to repress these promoters of sedition" in order to save his country from political suicide.

Captured by the Romans in the town of Jotapata, Josephus saved his skin by switching sides and predicting to Vespasian, the Roman commander, that he would soon become emperor. Like his biblical namesake, Josephus ventured an oracular prediction and when Two years later, in the year 70, Josephus accompanied Titus—Vespasian's son and his successor as Rome's commander in Judaea—to the fateful siege of Jerusalem. He faced a difficult position: "My life was frequently in danger," he wrote, "both from the Jews, who were eager to get me into their hands to gratify their revenge, and from the Romans, who attributed every reverse to some treachery on my part."

Again and again, the "embedded historian," as Mr. Raphael calls him, advocated the path of moderation in an attempt to avert what was sure to be a disastrous war. His appeals were met only with the derision of his former comrades. Summing up these efforts, Mr. Raphael writes: "If he was a coward because he had failed to die, he was also egregiously brave if a traitor, it was to a reckless nationalism he never favored, not to Judaism."

Josephus had to hide his anguish as he witnessed thousands of Jews massacred, Jerusalem sacked, the Temple destroyed. His life, writes Mr. Raphael, was "broken in half by the war of which he supplied the sole extant account."

Returning to Rome with Titus and the loot from Jerusalem, Josephus was rewarded with Roman citizenship, the imperial family name (he was now Titus Flavius Josephus) and comfortable lodging in a former palace of Vespasian. He spent the last three decades of his life haunted by memories of Jewish humiliation and sovereignty lost, currying favor with the very men who had laid waste to his native land.

He also spent those years setting down the four remarkable works that have come down to us: "The Jewish Antiquities," in which he shows himself an adept exegete of the Bible "The Jewish War," in which, with the imprimatur of Titus, he chronicled the death throes of his country "Vita," the oldest autobiography that has come down to us from antiquity and "Against Apion," a stirring polemic against anti-Jewish prejudices that joins a learned knowledge of Greek philosophy with a valiant defense of his people and his faith. Mr. Raphael describes him as "the first Jewish writer to advertise his people's merits and religion to an alien audience."

As Mr. Raphael's sharply etched account makes clear, the turncoat Josephus may have been a "sponsored propagandist," over-praising the virtues of his Roman benefactors he may have been guilty of servility and opportunism in accepting the favors of emperors but in the end he was not false to Jerusalem. Though cosmopolitan in his outlook, Josephus remained a faithful Jew to the end. Josephus died sometime around the year 100. A statue was erected in Rome in his honor.

In the second and bolder part of "A Jew Among Romans," Mr. Raphael casts Josephus as a prototype of the alienated "un-Jewish Jew" in the Diaspora. Josephus, he contends, was "the first of many exiles who, whatever their internal dissidence, impersonated conformity with a dominant culture." There follows a litany of solitaries that Mr. Raphael regards as prefigured by Josephus, from the poet Yehuda Halevi in 11th-century Andalusia to the philosopher Baruch Spinoza in 17th-century Holland, to Sigmund Freud in turn-of-the-century Vienna, to the French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, director of "Shoah," who is likened to "some kind of modern Flavius Josephus, unflaggingly persistent in the retrieval and recording of painful memories." Torn between contradictory affinities, each bore something of the pathos so evident in Josephus, "a writer whose Sisyphean exercise was to retrieve what had been lost to his people and to himself."

Inevitably, with a list so wide-ranging, some of the comparisons are more tenuous than others. But in capturing Josephus' ambivalences and ambiguities, Mr. Raphael has with great subtlety shed light on the heirs of that fascinating figure: those memory-haunted thinkers, living on the borderlines of nations and religions, defined by the attempt to transcend the very tradition to which they were so richly indebted.

Causes of the War Against the Romans These excerpts are provided to give the general reader a knowledge of Josephus' writings on various subjects. I have added my own commentary to provide context.

What would you have done? 6 terrible choices people had to make during the Second World War

Laurence Rees, who has interviewed hundreds of people who faced awful Second World War choices, asks what we can learn from these individuals' darkest hours.

This competition is now closed

Published: January 17, 2020 at 5:00 am

How could Japanese airmen “volunteer” to become Kamikaze pilots? Why did the SS believe the Nazi state’s racist values?

For nearly 20 years I have tried to answer questions such as these by meeting hundreds of people from the Second World War. I was interested in what motivated the perpetrators, but I also encountered victims confronted with awful choices.

I travelled across the world met rapists, murderers and cannibals talked to heroic soldiers, survivors of atrocities and a man who shot children.

I used some of this material in a number of TV series that I wrote and produced (including Nazis: a Warning from History in 1997 and Auschwitz: the Nazis and the Final Solution in 2005), but a great deal of material has never been published. So in 2007 I wrote a book, Their Darkest Hour, about the 35 most extraordinary people I met on my travels.

I was struck by how relevant the testimonies are today. The experiences demonstrate that the past is not some alien world. Certainly, circumstances were different from today. But these dilemmas were faced by people who were like us in many fundamental ways, and I believe we can thus learn more about ourselves by asking a simple question: “What would we have done?”

It was vital to treat the oral testimonies we gathered with an element of scepticism. We researched all interviewees thoroughly, and checked that the facts were consistent with documents of the period, such as military unit war diaries. If we had any doubts then we excluded the interviewee.

Then there’s the question of how much we can expect human beings to recall. If you interview someone about what seems to them insignificant details, their recollections will be unreliable. But if you focus on key emotional moments then people have very powerful and accurate recall.

Historians must ask questions of all source material, and oral testimony is no exception. But it’s important to remember that documents are capable of lying as much as people.

Above all, I found oral testimony allows us not just to reach intimately back into history, but to powerfully interrogate the past, in search of what all historians seek – understanding.

Chose life or death for Jewish children

As a teenager Estera Frenkiel, a secretary in a Lodz ghetto, was given 10 certificates excusing Jews from the death camps

At the heart of many of the stories I encountered lay a stark choice. Whether to pull the trigger, drop the bomb, hide your neighbour or save yourself to die for your principles or live by expediency.

I’ve met people who confronted all of these issues, but no one faced a more stark problem than Polish woman Estera Frenkiel. She had to make a devastating choice – who should live and who should die.

In the spring of 1940 Estera Frenkiel and her parents were among the 160,000 Jews forced by the Nazis into a ghetto in the Polish city of Lodz. Germans seldom entered the ghetto, so the Nazis made the Jews establish a council of elders to deal with daily administration.

This meant that the Jewish Council of Elders in Lodz, and especially its chairman, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, possessed considerable power over the lives of their fellow Jews. It also meant that those close to Rumkowski could live a “better” life than the majority in the ghetto.

The teenage Estera Frenkiel – in the context of the privations of the ghetto – was “fortunate”, since she worked as a junior secretary in Rumkowski’s office. This was to be of crucial importance in September 1942, when the Nazis ordered the deportation of all those people unable to work – the children, the sick and the elderly – because Rumkowski and those close to him were given the opportunity by the Nazis to save their own offspring.

“Biebow [the Nazi ghetto manager] came to our office,” said Estera Frenkiel, “and said ‘I shall give you 10 release forms for the release of your children’. And quickly as I could, I typed them up on my machine so that he could sign them. Not only I got these forms, but my colleagues did as well.”

Estera Frenkiel now had the chance to save 10 lives. Who would she choose? How much would she agonise over this terrible choice? She didn’t agonise for a second. She acted purely by instinct: “What could I do? I also had close family. I had an uncle who had to be saved. I had a cousin. To me, one’s own family is always closer. I had to take care of them all out of these 10 certificates I had first to consider my own relatives… in these cases tears are shed, but when there are so many tears, then one thinks only of one’s own situation.”

Having saved her own relatives, she then turned to the people closest to her: “I gave the neighbours two certificates and also gave the caretaker, who had a little girl, one as well, so that these three release forms were used up almost immediately… The children [of the neighbour] used to come to my home, to my flat. I knew them. They weren’t my children, but they were children I had known and once one knows someone, it gets very difficult…”

Estera Frenkiel has never pretended that she was driven by anything other than a desire to protect those nearest to her. She did confess that she experienced a “guilty conscience” when she saw the despair of mothers whose children had been deported. Once or twice she felt she should have saved the most useful people, but these feelings didn’t last very long. Ultimately, she was never shaken from the belief that she had done the right thing. In crisis, she believed, we look after ourselves and those closest to us first.

In any event, the certificates brought only a stay of execution. “Later,” she said, “everyone was sent away whom one had previously rescued. That’s how it is. That’s the reality.”

After the Lodz ghetto was liquidated by the Nazis in 1944, Estera Frenkiel was transported to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Here she survived a “selection” process and then worked in a Nazi labour camp until liberation. After the war she settled in Israel, but returned to Lodz for her filmed interview.

My last memory of this remarkable woman is of her standing defiantly dry-eyed in Lodz cemetery. I remarked to her that she was one of the toughest and most decisive people I had ever met. “If I wasn’t tough and decisive,” she replied, “I wouldn’t be standing here today”.

Survived as a Japanese POW

Peter Lee was a young RAF officer. Imprisoned in Borneo, he had to cope with hunger, beatings and sickness

The North of England and a solid working class background was what made Peter Lee. The values he absorbed growing up in the 1930s helped him face one of the worst experiences of the Second World War – imprisonment by the Japanese.

He was incarcerated at Sandakan in Borneo. The Japanese wanted an airport, and the prisoners of war were to build it. The heat at the site was intense. When I filmed there, the fierce sun and humidity were scarcely bearable – and I was not malnourished and forced to carry heavy loads. “It was basically shifting earth,” recalled Lee. “There were no machines to assist. It was all human labour.”

If the prisoners did not work as the Japanese wanted, they were beaten. Special Japanese soldiers, known as “the bashers”, smashed the British about. “Whether you were an officer or another rank you had to obey the orders of the lowest-rank Japanese private. If you didn’t obey immediately, depending on the personality of that soldier, you’d get a crack over the head or a crack over the backside with a stick. There was one occasion on which a [British] officer intervened when one of his men was being beaten up by some Japanese guards and he was horribly beaten up by quite a number of them.”

All of which led Lee to this conclusion: “My considered opinion, over the whole range of our experience, was that the Japanese treatment of prisoners of war was brutal, sadistic and uncivilised.”

So, given all that, how did he manage to survive? “The natural emotion is anger. That’s the natural emotion of anyone – any reasonable person. If they’re attacked it’s to defend themselves. But as a Prisoner of War of the Japanese you very quickly realised that was not on. If you attempted to defend yourself you were bashed senseless… And the law of survival comes in. You have to realise the situation you’re in and order your actions according to that situation. In other words, you have to take it. In the old British phrase, you have to ‘grin and bear it'”.

Lee sat in front of me as he said this, looking like a well-turned-out schoolmaster. It was hard to imagine him sweating and steaming in Sandakan. But then I realised that while he would, of course, have sweated, he would never have steamed. Not for him the intense expression of personal emotions proselytised by the “Me” generation in the 1960s. No, by an exercise of phenomenal self discipline, he had banished hatred and even anger from his emotional make-up.

And he didn’t just eliminate hatred and anger at Sandakan, he excised another “negative” force, self-pity. He saw that it was a “positive disadvantage to have that frame of mind. The best thing you could do was to think of ways of assisting the community… in those circumstances, keep your mind and body occupied as much as you can and don’t mope about and never feel sorry for yourself”.

Lee believed it was vital to focus only on “living in the present – to take the situation as it was, not as I wished it to be… There was no point in reminiscing about the past – about your family, about your friends, because the past was the past and all you did if you reflected on the past in relation to the horrible present was to torture yourself”.

And so he took what he could from each moment – even finding positives: “We were fortunate that many people had gone into prison camps with books, and we passed them around. So if you had a spare moment you’d read a book.”

It wasn’t that he denied the harsh realities rather that he chose not to focus upon them. His strength of mind, his stoicism, his toughness, all of these qualities became his protection against self-pity and physical and mental decline. It was these “old-fashioned” values that helped him survive the horror.

Volunteered to fight for the SS

Even though he had lost an eye and an arm, Jacques Leroy decided to fight again with comrades in “their hour of need”

In popular culture the link between Germany and Nazism is explicit. Not everyone realises that Nazism and Fascism appealed to many non-Germans. Indeed, the most fanatical member of the SS that I met was Belgian.

Jacques Leroy was brought up in Bache in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium. During his youth he subscribed to the views of Léon Degrelle, leader of the fascist Rexist party. And so, racist and deeply anti-Communist, it’s no surprise that he volunteered to fight Stalin in a special Walloon division within the SS.

“The ideological aim of the Waffen SS was to train men – elite men,” said Leroy. “This word is no longer appreciated in our multi-pluralist society, but it was to train men who could take over a command and serve their country.” The purpose was clear. “It was the war against Russia, against Communist and Bolshevik Russia, that was the motive for everything.”

Leroy and the rest of the volunteers in the 5th SS Volunteer Sturmbrigade Wallonien were transferred to the Eastern Front. Leroy proved himself a fierce and brave fighter: “One fought with weapons, one hid behind trees, one fought hand-to-hand.” He won a special medal for courage in hand-to-hand-fighting.

But, in the snow of the forest of Teklino in the west of Ukraine in 1943, they faced a Red Army force that massively outnumbered them – with disastrous consequences: “These fights were truly terrible. We lost 60 per cent of our men. Two or three panzer tanks were there to protect us, but they couldn’t get into the forest.” As he remembered these events, Leroy became animated: “We fought like lions! We attacked and we took position after position!”

But then Leroy’s luck evaporated.

“I was kneeling behind a birch tree – quite a slim tree – and then suddenly I felt something like an electric shock. I dropped my weapon, I dropped it and at that moment I saw blood, blood dripping into the snow. It was my eye which had been hit by a bullet, which burned it. And [I had] three bullets in my shoulder.” Leroy lay bleeding in the snow until two of his comrades carried him to a field hospital.

Surgeons failed to save his eye or his arm.

And now we come to the extraordinary part of his story. For, badly disabled as he was, he rejoined his unit. Why?

“So as not to fall into mediocrity, and to stay with my comrades,” Leroy answered. “Of course I had lost an arm and an eye, but when young, one isn’t affected by troubles in the same way that an older person might be. And, above all, so as not to fall into mediocrity. I don’t like mediocrity. I don’t like doing nothing, being idle and not having any aim in life… Sometimes you have to be a symbol in life. Otherwise what is your life for? Life is not about watching television all the time! You have to think, you must have a goal.” (Ironically, Leroy’s house had a huge television set, and he clearly spent a great deal of time watching it.)

Leroy emphatically denied seeing any atrocities committed against the Jews: “Never, never, never never! I have never seen a scene like that, that’s why I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it! You know, the answers that I’m giving you, it could be serious for me because you have to feel sympathy towards them these days.”

When I pointed out that there was photographic evidence of dead bodies at Nazi concentration camps, he said: “And you really believe these pictures are true?”

Leroy died shortly after our interview. I’m sure he went to his grave consistent to the last a fanatical former member of the SS, denying the reality of the Holocaust, and shouting at his TV whenever it told him the truth.

Killed a German prisoner

Having joined SMERSH, the notorious Soviet counter-intelligence unit, Zinaida Pytkina was expected to kill a German prisoner

At first glance, as she sat huddled in her rickety little house in Volgograd, Zinaida Pytkina looked like a typical Russian granny. She was, after all, in her late 70s when I met her. However, the directness of her stare was at odds with her age. This was a woman who unemotionally appraised everyone she met – and appeared to find most of them wanting.

She had been an officer in SMERSH, the secret Soviet intelligence unit so loved by thriller writers, and she had specialised in gathering intelligence from German prisoners. These captured Germans, claimed Pytkina, were not ordinary “Prisoners of War” since they’d been taken by Soviet snatch squads. As a result of this, SMERSH operatives felt they could treat them as they liked. German soldiers were ordered to reveal their units, their mission, battle plans, the names of their commanders. And if they didn’t co-operate to the satisfaction of their captors, said Pytkina, they were treated “gently”.

“Gently” was her way of describing torture because if the Germans didn’t talk then a “specialist” was brought in who would “give them a wash” (the SMERSH euphemism for a beating) to make them “sing”. After all, said Pytkina: “No one wants to die”.

Even today, Pytkina was proud of the actions of SMERSH. She thinks it was right to treat German prisoners “the same way they treated us – what should we do – worship him? He kills our soldiers, what should I do?”

She didn’t just witness the interrogation and torture of German soldiers, she personally participated in their murder. One day her superior officer told her to “sort out” a young German major. She knew exactly what that meant – she was being asked to kill him.

“When they brought prisoners after the interrogations, it was a normal thing to do… If they had brought a dozen of them my hand wouldn’t have trembled to shoot them all… He had to be destroyed – the same way they treated us we had to treat them the same way…

“…Now I wouldn’t do it whether he was an enemy or not, because I have got over it and I would leave it to others to sort things out, but at that time if they had lined up all those Germans I would have shot them all down, because so many Russian soldiers lost their lives at the age of 18,19 or 20 who hadn’t lived, who had to go and fight against the Germans because they just wanted more land. What would you have felt?”

Pytkina was almost ecstatic as she raised her pistol to shoot the young German major: “I felt joy… My hand didn’t tremble when I killed him… The Germans didn’t ask us to spare them. They knew they were guilty and I was angry. I was seeing an enemy and my father and uncles, mothers and brothers, died because of them”.

She didn’t look down as his body tumbled into the pit: “I was pleased. I had fulfilled my task. I went into the office and had a drink”.

“I understand the interest in how a woman can kill a man,” said Pytkina towards the end of the interview. “I wouldn’t do it now. Well, I would do it only if there was a war and if I saw once more what I had seen during that war, then I would probably do it again… One person less I thought.

“Ask him how many people he killed – did he not think about this? I wanted to go on a reconnaissance mission, to crawl to the enemy’s side and to capture a prisoner, perhaps kill him. I could have been killed too… that was my mood… and now if an enemy attacks I will do the same.”

That night I dreamt about the story I had just heard. I saw the body of the major decaying in the pit and Pytkina and her friends partying nearby. Perhaps the nightmare was inspired by the last words Pytkina spoke in her interview: “People like him [the young major she shot] had killed many Russian soldiers… should I have kissed him for that?”

Falsified Yugoslav handover to Tito

British Intelligence officer Nigel Nicolson was told to lie about the likely fate of Croats handed over to Tito’s partisans. Could he obey orders and still find a way of telling the truth?

Many people prefer studying historical documents to questioning people who actually participated in historical events. “Interviewees can be so unreliable,” they say, so “trust the documents”. Whenever anyone says this I think of Nigel Nicolson, who revealed the danger of believing that any historical source is inherently accurate.

In the summer of 1945, Nigel Nicolson, a 28-year-old intelligence officer to the 1st Guards Brigade, participated in the deportation of thousands of Yugoslav soldiers who had sought refuge in southern Austria from the Communist Marshal Tito and his partisans.

Winston Churchill’s policy was clear: they should not be handed over to Tito. Yet senior officers in the British army decided that they should be handed over, against Allied policy.

Nigel Nicolson’s daily Sit Rep (Situation Report) recorded on 18 May, the eve of the forced repatriation, makes interesting reading: “About 2,000 Croats [non-Tito Yugoslavs] are being evacuated tomorrow morning from two large camps on the northern shore of the Wörther See… among whom are many women and children…

“The Croats have been given no warning of their fate and are being allowed to believe that their destination is not Yugoslavia but Italy until the actual moment of their handover. The whole business is most unsavoury and British tps [troops] have the utmost distaste in carrying out the orders. At the moment it is not known what higher policy lies behind the decision”.

The report was circulated to Battalion and upwards to Division. “There was the most frightful row,” said Nicolson. “I was sent for by the General or his chief of staff and told that, whatever truth there was in this, I should never have stated it in a public document and, further than that, I was told, and it was more or less dictated to me, that in the next day’s situation report I must deny what I’d written the day before and say that we have every reason to believe that they would be well treated once they got to Yugoslavia. That was totally untrue.”

And so after a day of handing over the non-Tito troops to the Communists, Nigel Nicolson wrote this on 19 May: “The transfer was efficiently organised by 3 WG [the Welsh guards unit involved] and the Tito Major, the latter showing considerable tact in clearing away all Tito soldiers from the area with the exception of himself.

“First impressions of the reception accorded to the Croats was definitely good. They were kindly and efficiently handled and provided with light refreshments before continuing their journey by train into Jugo-Slavia. A Tito representative said that only the war criminals among them would be punished, and the remainder sent to work on their farms. We have every reason to believe that this policy which accords with previous practice of Tito’s men, will be faithfully carried out”.

This daily Situation Report of 19 May is a significant document. Nigel Nicolson told me that he had used deliberately ludicrous language to make it clear to anyone subsequently reading the document that it was a piece of fiction. After all, he said to me, who could believe that Tito’s bloodthirsty Communists would provide “light refreshments”?

But Nicolson’s subterfuge didn’t work. I know of at least one historian who took the document at face value, and used it to try and prove that Tito’s partisans had behaved responsibly when presented with enemy prisoners.

The fate of many of the anti-Tito troops handed over to the Communists by Nigel Nicolson and the rest of 5 Corps was horrific. Thousands were murdered in the forest of Kocevje in Slovenia.

We are lucky that Nigel Nicolson admitted before he died in 2004 that he had lied in his Situation Report. If he hadn’t, the precise nature and detail of this appalling action would be obscured. His fictitious report would rest quietly in the archives, ready to lie to future generations.

Accepted a mission of certain death

Japanese pilot Kenichiro Oonuki was asked if he wanted to become a Kamikaze and fly his aircraft into an Allied warship

The target Kenichiro Oonuki flew towards on 5 April 1945 was an Allied fleet off the Japanese island of Okinawa. His mission was simple: to smash his fighter plane, laden with high explosives, into an Allied warship. He would blow himself into a million pieces, and also, he was told, become a kind of god. For Oonuki was one of the infamous warriors of the Second World War – a Kamikaze.

These Japanese suicide pilots were called “madmen” by the Allied servicemen who faced them. In war, the belief that one’s foe is insane unites everyone around a common goal.

But the Kamikaze weren’t mad at all. A study of Japanese history reveals that, paradoxically, the only “inscrutable” Japanese were probably the tiny number who – when asked – didn’t volunteer to become Kamikazes.

In the autumn of 1944, a senior Japanese Air Force officer visited Oonuki’s training base, seeking “volunteers” for a “special mission”. He made it clear that anyone who volunteered had no hope of surviving. Oonuki and his comrades were told to think it over and then, the next morning, give one of three responses – “No”, “Yes,” or “Yes, I volunteer with all my heart”.

The immediate reaction was predictable. “We were taken aback,” said Oonuki, “I felt it was not the type of mission I would willingly apply for”. But, as the night wore on, they thought about what might happen if they said “No”. They might be accused of cowardice and be ostracised their relatives shunned.

Apart from a brief period at the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th, Japan had been one of the most culturally insular countries in the world. The government that had come to power in the 1930s had called for a return to the “traditional values” that existed before contact with the west. So in 1944, for anyone to be excluded from a cultural group they had been told for years was acceptable was a terrible humiliation.

Then Oonuki and his friends realised those who didn’t come forward could be “sent to the forefront of the most severe battle and meet a sure death anyway”. Surely, on reflection, the easiest action was to “volunteer with all my heart” as Oonuki and all the other pilots on his course did. “Probably it’s unthinkable in the current days of peace,” said Oonuki. “Nobody wanted to, but everybody said ‘Yes, with all my heart’. That was the surrounding atmosphere. We could not resist.”

It would have taken an exceptional person to withstand this pressure. Propaganda trumpeted that the Kamikaze were heroes – they would receive a “promotion”, their families would get a bigger pension after their death. They would be gods. Their souls would live in Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine where the Emperor would worship them.

Oonuki survived because his plane was forced to land by American fighters. He was not pleased: “It was dishonour the special mission attack means you must meet an honourable death”.

Judged without knowledge of this background, Oonuki’s experience is a straightforward example of the insane behaviour of the Japanese during the Second World War. Yet on closer examination it was anything but irrational: “We were very calm and we went through a very calm, dispassionate process of analysis [before agreeing to take part]”.

Indeed, as Oonuki saw it, sometimes the only sane choice is to take the option others consider “mad”.

Laurence Rees is the author of Their Darkest Hour (Ebury, 2007).

This article was first published in the October 2007 issue of BBC History Magazine

362nd PSYOP Company

Global War on Terrorism Campaign for units deployed abroad in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

This ends our very short look at the history of the United States Army’s 10th PSYOP Battalion. Readers who wish to comment or send further information are encouraged to write the author at [email protected]

Watch the video: Ο έλληνας Στάλιν ΝΙΚΟΣ ΖΑΧΑΡΙΑΔΗΣ α μέρος