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- Neville Chamberlain (1869 - 1940) was a British politician and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1937 - 1940.
Chamberlain was the eldest son of the Birmingham Mayor Joseph Chamberlain and also half-brother to Sir Austen Chamberlain. Became Lord Mayor of Birmingham himself in 1915 after a successful start in business.
Served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1923 - 1924, and was Minister of Health in 1923 and from 1924 to 1929.
He became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1937, succeeding Stanley Baldwin. His policy of appeasement culminated in the Munich Pact of 1938 which effectively allowed Adolf Hitler to annex Czechoslovakia, and delayed the onset of World War II by a year.
One popular view is that Chamberlain believed passionately in peace, and wanted to avoid war at virtually any cost, which seems to have contributed to his willingness to believe that satisfying each of Hitler's escalating demands for control of more and more territory would finally be the last, and that peace would be ensured. Eventually, although too late to prevent the war that arguably could have been ended by British military intervention when the Third Reich hadn't yet built its military strength, Chamberlain was able to see through Hitler's tactics and supported the declaration of war against Germany after the invasion of Poland.
However, this view has been criticized as being inconsistent with the historical facts. Under Chamberlain, the United Kingdom undertook a massive expansion of its military and war industry and instituted a peacetime draft. According to some historians, Chamberlain was under no illusions about that aims and goals of Nazi Germany, but was informed by his military advisers that Britain was in no condition to fight Germany over Czechslovakia. Seen from this vantage point, Chamberlain's actions in Munich were less a cowardly and ignorant cave-in, but rather a calculated and necessary tactic to buy time so that Britain could rearm against the Nazi menace.
He resigned from office in 1940, weeks before the evacuation of British and French troops at Dunkirk, and was succeeded by Winston Churchill. He died from cancer a month later.
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- Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, also known in short as "Gimo", was the leader of the National Party of the Republic of China, known as the Kuomintang (KMT). A disciple and brother-in-law of Sun Yat-sen, Chiang and his wife Soong May-ling were nominal Methodists, a fact that would have enormous repercussions on the US China policy during World War II and beyond in part due to publicity generated by the publisher of Time Magazine Henry Luce, himself a child of missionaries in China.
After the death of Sun Yat-Sen, Chiang was able to take control of the Guomindang by his political tactics. In 1927, Chiang led the Northern Expedition whose aim was to unify China under the control of the Guomindang.
Chiang's strategy during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) (a theatre of World War II) opposed the strategies of both Mao Zedong and the United States. The US regarded Chiang as an important ally able to help shorten the war by engaging the Japanese occupiers in China. Chiang, in contrast, used powerful associates such as H. H. Kung in Hong Kong to build the ROC army for certain conflict with the communist forces after the end of WW2. This fact was not understood well in the US. The US liaison officer, General Joseph Stilwell, eventually deduced that Chiang was going to let the US save him from fighting Japan, but was not able to influence US policy. (As a side note, Stilwell's frustration is apparent in his diaries. He refers to Chiang as "peanut head" on a regular basis.)
After losing the Chinese Civil War, Chiang led his followers to Taiwan where he proclaimed himself President of Taiwan (while still claiming to be President of China). He died there in 1975 and was succeeded as President by his son Chiang Ching-Kuo.
Unlike his son, Chiang Kai-Shek remains a largely unpopular figure on Taiwan because of his authoritarian rule of the island. Since the 1990s, his picture has tended to disappear from public buildings, coins, and money.
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- Winston Churchill - Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (November 30, 1874 - January 24, 1965)
Born at Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill was a descendant of the first famous member of the Churchill family: John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (whose father was also a "Sir Winston Churchill"). Winston's father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was the third son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough.
The first notable appearance of Winston Churchill was as a war-correspondent in the second Anglo-Boer war between Britain and self-proclaimed Afrikaaners in South Africa. He was captured in a Boer ambush of a British Army train convoy, but managed a high profile escape and eventually crossed the South African border to Lorenzo Marques (now Maputo in Mozambique).
Churchill used the status achieved to begin a political career which would last a total of sixty-one years. At first a member of the Conservative party, he soon 'crossed the floor' to the Liberals and entered the Cabinet in his early thirties. His early career was distinctly unimpressive. He was one of the political and military engineers of the tragic and disastrous Gallipoli landings on the Dardanelles during World War I, which led to his description as "the butcher of Gallipoli". He was a signatory of the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 which established the Irish Free State. The Liberal party was now was beset by internal division. After losing his seat in the 1922 General Election to Edwin Scrymgeour he rejoined the Conservative party. Two years later in the General Election of 1924 he was elected to represent Epping as a Conservative. He was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1926 under Stanley Baldwin and was responsible for returning Britain to the Gold Standard. During the General Strike of 1926, Churchill was reported to have suggested that machine guns should be used on the striking miners. Churchill edited the Government's newspaper, the British Gazette, during the dispute he argued that "either the country will break the General Strike, or the General Strike will break the country.".
The Conservative government was defeated in the 1929 General Election. When Ramsay MacDonald formed the National Government in 1931 Churchill was not invited to join the Cabinet. He was now at the lowest point in his career in a period known as 'the wilderness years'. He spent much of next few years concentrating on his writing, including the History of the English Speaking Peoples. He became most notable for his outspoken opposition towards the granting of independence to India. Soon though, his attention was drawn to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Germany's rearmament. For a time he was a lone voice calling on Britain to re-arm itself and counter the belligerence of Germany. Churchill was a fierce critic of Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler.
At the outbreak of the Second World War Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty On Chamberlain's resignation in May, 1940, Churchill was appointed Prime Minister and formed an all-party government. He immediately made his friend and confidant, industrialist and newspaper baron, Max Aitken, (Lord Beaverbrook) in charge of aircraft production. It was Aitken's astounding business acumen that allowed Britain to quickly gear up aircraft production and engineering that eventually made the difference in the war.
His speeches at that time were a great inspiration to the embattled United Kingdom. His famous "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech was his first as Prime Minister. He followed that closely, prior to the Battle of Britain, with "We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
He paid the Royal Air Force the highest compliment after the Battle of Britain with "Never in field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many, to so few".
His good relationship with U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt secured the United Kingdom vital supplies via the North Atlantic Ocean shipping routes. Churchill had also established the Special Operations Europe (SOE) that attempted guerrilla operations in occupied France, with notable success.
Churchill was one of the driving forces behind the treaties that would re-draw post-WWII European and Asian boundaries. The boundary between North Korea and South Korea were proposed at the Yalta Conference, as well as the expulsion of Japanese from those countries. Proposals for European boundaries and settlements were discussed as early as 1943 by Roosevelt and Churchill; the settlement was officially agreed to by Truman, Churchill, and Stalin at Potsdam (Article XIII of the Potsdam protocol).
One of these settlements was the boundary between the future East Germany and Poland at the Oder-Neisse line, which was rationalized as compensation for Soviet gains in Ukraine. As part of the settlement was an agreement to continue the expulsion of ethnic Germans from the area, which arguably had begun as a program after 1920 when Poland had been given the Polish Corridor by Britain and France. The exact numbers and movement of ethnic populations over the Polish-German and Polish-USSR borders in the period between the end of World War I and the end of World War II is vastly difficult to determine. This is not least because, under the Nazi regime, many Poles were replaced in their homes by the conquering Germans in an attempt to consolidate Nazi power. In the case of the post-WWII settlement, Churchill was convinced that the only way to alleviate tensions between the two populations was the expulsion of the Germans, despite the fact that many of the ethnic Germans had lived in Poland for generations. As Churchill expounded in the House of Commons in 1944, "Expulsion is the method which, in so far as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting. There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless trouble...A clean sweep will be made. I am not alarmed by these transferences, which are more possible in modern conditions..."
Although the importance of Churchill's role in World War II was undeniable, he produced many enemies in his own country. His expressed contempt for ideas such as public health care and for better education for the majority of the population in particular produced much dissatisfaction amongst the population, particularly those who had fought in the war. Immediately following the close of the war in Europe Churchill was heavily defeated at election by Clement Attlee.
At the beginning of the Cold War he coined the term the "Iron Curtain," a phrase that entered the public consciousness after a 1946 speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri when he famously declared "From Stettin on the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere."
Following Labour's defeat in the General Election of 1951, Churchill again became Prime Minister. In 1953 he was awarded two major honours. He was knighted and became Sir Winston Churchill and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values". A stroke in June of that year led to him being paralysed down his left side. He retired because of his health in 1955 but retained his post as Chancellor of the University of Bristol.
On January 15, 1965 Churchill suffered another stroke - a severe cerebral thrombosis - that left him gravely ill. He died nine days later on January 24, 1965. His body lay in State in Westminster Hall for three days and a state funeral service was held at St. Paul?s Cathedral. This was the first state funeral for a commoner since that of the Duke of Wellington over 100 years earlier. At Churchill's request, he was buried in the family plot at Saint Martin's Churchyard, Bladon, Woodstock, England.
Churchill is believed by several writers to have suffered from bipolar disorder and in his last years, Alzheimers Disease; certainly he suffered from fits of depression that he called his "black dogs".
The United States Navy destroyer USS Winston Churchill (DD-81) is named in his honour.
Churchill is known as a great wit as well as a politician. Nancy Astor once told him "If I were your wife I'd poison your coffee," to which Churchill replied: "If I were your husband, madam, I would drink it." Another example relates to a report which he received from Admiral Pound, whom Churchill did not rate. On the report he wrote "Pennywise".
Churchill is included in the top 10 of the 2002 "100 Greatest Britons" poll sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public.
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- Charles de Gaulle - Charles-André-Joseph-Marie de Gaulle (November 22, 1890 - November 9, 1970) was a French general and statesman.
Born in Lille, De Gaulle was the son of a teacher and was educated at the Ecole Militaire de Saint-Cyr. He graduated in 1912 and joined the infantry. In World War I he was taken prisoner in March 1916 during the Battle of Verdun.
When the war ended, he remained in the military, he was part of the staff of Maxime Weygand and then Henri Philippe Pétain. He was a strong supporter of the new ideas of mechanized troops and specialized armoured divisions.
At the outbreak of World War II he was a colonel, by May 1940 he was a brigadier general and in command of the 4th Armored Division in Alsace. On June 6, 1940 Paul Reynaud appointed him undersecretary of state for war. As a member of the cabinet he resisted the call to surrender and finally left France for England on June 15 when Marshal Pétain became premier (he disagreed with Pétain's stance on seeking an armistice with the Germans). From London he formed and led the Free French Forces movement. In France he was codemned to death for treason in July 1940. Working with the French resistance and active in the French colonial holdings in Africa, following the Anglo-American invasion of North Africa in November 1942 de Gaulle moved his headquarters to Algiers in May 1943. He established the Committee of National Liberation and soon made himself the chairman.
After the war he served briefly as the President of the provisional government from October 1945 but resigned in January 1946, impatient with the speed of progress and disapproving of the constitution for the Fourth Republic. In 1947 he made a renewed attempt at transforming the political scene, but with little success he withdrew again in 1953. Following the Fourth Republic's failures in Indochina and the constitution crisis over Algeria, on June 1, 1958 de Gaulle was made premier and given wide emergency powers. He used this opportuity to rewrite the constitution, in a referendum in September 83% of those who voted supported the new constitution and the creation of the Fifth Republic. In the November 1958 elections de Gaulle and his supporters won a comfortable majority, in December de Gaulle was elected President with 78% of the vote, he was inaugurated in January 1959.
He oversaw tough economic measures to revitalize the country, including the issuing of a new franc (worth 100 old francs). Internationally he rebuffed both the USA and the USSR, pushing for an independent France with its own nuclear weapons. As one of the founder members of the EEC he took the opportunity to deny the British entry. Over the war in Algeria de Gaulle quickly believed the conflict was unwinnable and argued for the country's independence, this stance created huge anger among certain French national groups, and de Gaulle was forced to suppress risings in Algeria by French nationals. He was also targetted by the terrorist Organisation de l'Armée Secrète (OAS). In 1962 de Gaulle arranged a cease-fire in Algeria and a referendum supported his grant of independence, finally done in April 1962.
In September 1962 he sought a constitutional amendment to allow the president to be directly elected by the people. Following a censure in the National Assembly, he dissolved that body and held new elections, the Gaullists won an increased majority. Although the Algerian issue was settled the prime minister, Michel Debre, still resigned over the final settlement and was replaced with Georges Pompidou.
In 1965 de Gaulle was returned as premier for a seven year term but only after a second round of voting. His strong nationalism and a certain level of economic weakness were used against him. Internationally de Gaulle continued to annoy everyone, he again rejected British entry into the EEC, he condemned the US over Vietnam and the Israelis over the Six Day War, he also withdrew France from NATO.
On an official State visit to Canada in 1967 to celebrate that country's 100 years of nationhood, President de Gaulle ignited a storm of controversy when he stood before a crowd of 100,000 French-Canadians in Montreal and uttered the slogan of Quebec "Separatists": Vive le Quebec Libre! While this support for Quebec's separation from the rest of Canada was a monumental diplomatic blunder and interference into another country's private affairs, it was one that inflamed the passion of French-Canadians and inspired members of the radical Front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ). Following de Gaulle's remark, the Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson, cancelled plans for de Gaulle's visit to the capital of Ottawa, and asked the French President to leave the country. Criticized at home in France for the remarks, his opponents reminded the wartime general of the thousands of Canadian soldiers (see: Vimy Ridge) buried all over France who fought and died for France's freedom in both World Wars. Critics also drew the parallel for interference between Quebec independence and the Franco-German historic contestation of ownership of the German-speaking Alsace and Lorraine regions seized by France after the War.
The huge demonstrations and strikes in France in 1968 were another challenge, de Gaulle was willing to accept some of the reforms the demonstrators sought. He again considered a referendum to support his moves, but Pompidou persuaded him to dissolve parliament and hold new elections instead. The June 1968 elections were a major success for the Gaullists, offered the spectre of a Communist revolution the majority of the counry rallied to him. His party won 358 of 487 seats. Pompidou was suddenly replaced by Maurice Couve de Murville in July.
De Gaulle resigned on April 28, 1969 following the defeat of his proposals to transform the Senate into an advisory body while giving extended powers to regional councils. He retired to Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises where he died.
Many streets and public buildings in France bear his name; in particular, in Paris the former Place de l'Etoile and one of the airports, Roissy - Charles de Gaulle.
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- Karl Doenitz - lAdmiral Karl Doenitz 1891-1980 was the leader (Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote) of the German U-boat campaign during World War II. Under his administration, the U-boat fleet fought the Battle of the Atlantic attempting to starve the United Kingdom of vital supply shipments from the United States. Although Winston Churchill remarked that it was this aspect of the war which most worried him, German U-boats succeeded in intercepting only a small fraction of supply to Britain.
During 1943 the war in the Atlantic turned against the Germans, but Doenitz continued to push for more U-boat construction and technological development. At the end of the war the Nazi submarine fleet was by far the most advanced in the world, and late war examples such as the Type XXI served as models for Soviet and American construction after the war.
Doenitz was also chosen by Adolf Hitler as his successor, a choice that shows how distrustful Hitler had become of Goering and Himmler in the final days of the War in Europe. After Hitler committed suicide on April 30 1945, Doenitz became the final German Führer, ruling until the final surrender on May 8. He devoted most of his efforts to trying to ensure that German troops surrendered to the Americans and not the Soviets, since the Germans feared that the Soviets would torture or kill them in revenge for how they had treated the Soviets.
Following the war, he was tried as a war criminal in the Nuremberg Trials. Unlike many of the other defendants, he was not charged with crimes against humanity, and historians are in general agreement that Doenitz did not participate in and had no knowledge of the Holocaust. However, he was charged with being involved with the waging aggressive war, conspiracy to wage aggressive war, and crimes against the laws of war. Specifically, he was charged with waging unrestricted submarine warfare and with issuing an order after the Laconia incident not to rescue survivors from ships attacked by submarine.
As one of the witnesses in his defense, Doenitz produced an affidavit from Admiral Chester Nimitz who testified that the United States had used unrestricted warfare as a tactic in the Pacific and that American submarines did not rescue survivors in situations where their own safety was in question. Despite this he was found guilty of "crimes against peace", for which he was sentenced to, and served, 10 years in prison. Of all the defendants at Nuremberg, the verdict against Doenitz was probably the most controversial; the Soviet judge actually voted for his acquittal on all charges, and Doenitz always maintained that he did nothing that his Allied counterparts weren't doing.
His memoirs, entitles Ten Years and Twenty Days, were published in Germany in 1958 and translated into English the next year. Late in life, his reputation was rehabilitated to a large extent, and when he died in 1980, scores of his former servicemen and foreign naval officers came to pay their respects.
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- Dwight Eisenhower -Dwight David Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 - March 28, 1969) was the 34th (1953-1961) President of the United States and an Allied commander in World War II.
His first distinctive work involved exploring the feasibility of crossing the North American continent with modern mechanised equipment, shortly after World War I (see below). Between the wars he served in quasi-political aide de camp roles or similar. After his success in army maneuvers in 1941, he was vaulted over 4000 officers to an assignment as chief of operations (1942) and rose from that post to U.S. commander of the European theater of operations in June 1942. He was overall commander for the North African landings in November of that year, and in February 1943, took command of Allied forces in North Africa.
In December 1943, after the successful invasion of Sicily in July, 1943 and Italy in September, he was appointed supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces. His diplomatic skills helped keep the other allies, notably the British, particularly Gen. Bernard Montgomery, on side. Another notable achievement was his skill at combined operations, the difficult art of coordinating land, sea, and air forces toward a single strategic goal, which culminated in the Normandy landings on D-Day in June 1944. After the war, as Army Chief of Staff, he advocated merger of the army, navy, and air force into single combined military force.
When World War II was over, General Eisenhower became head of the military occupation government of Germany as the Allied Control Council. He served as president of Columbia University in 1948-1952.
Eisenhower was a complex, mercurial man. Confident and self-contained in public, he was content with his public image as president as a grinning, patriotic but somewhat inarticulate citizen-politician. In truth, he was a far more calculating man than he let on, with great natural political skills.
President Dwight David Eisenhower (called Ike for short) had a big smile and big ideas. As president, he brought many changes to the government by giving the cabinet more power. He was a military man, but fought no wars in his eight years as president, except for ending one. He resisted entreaties to get involved in Vietnam on the advice of General Matthew Ridgeway who gave him a comprehensive estimate of the massive commitment that would have been required. He signed defense treaties with Korea and Taiwan, and he severed diplomatic relations with Cuba. He forced desegregation in schools, and kept defense spending very low.
For the 1948 election, Harry S Truman secretly told Ike that if he ran for president as a Democrat, Truman would go as his running mate and Eisenhower would get a sure win. Ike refused because he didn't want to be president. For the 1952 election, he was approached again, this time by the Democrats and the Republicans. He still refused, because he did not consider himself a politician. But he changed his mind when "I Like Ike" clubs started popping up all over the country. Eisenhower had never even voted for president before, and had no political affiliation. He ran for the Republicans because he was a strong believer in the two-party system, and there hadn't been a Republican president in over twenty years.
During his campaign Eisenhower never mentioned his main competitor, Adlai Stevenson, by name. Instead he mostly criticized the ways of Truman, who had just been the Democratic president. This strategy worked, and he got 442 electoral votes, compared to Stevenson's 89. What makes this appear especially amazing is that he had never even held public office; however he had had links with the Washington system between the wars in his aide de camp capacity. But he was considered a war hero, and so he had a good image.
He got the votes of both Democrats and Republicans, because he had "middle way politics" meaning he was a moderate Republican, allowing Democrats to also agree with him. This method allowed him to get along well with the mostly Democratic senate, and it made him very popular during his presidency. On the other hand, when his terms were over he was greatly criticized for his politics.
When Arkansas governor Orval Faubus wouldn't desegregate the schools, despite the ruling of the Supreme Court, Eisenhower brought in troops because the Supreme Court ruling was the law and it had to be followed.
Eisenhower is also strongly criticized for not taking a public stand against Senator Joseph McCarthy, although he privately hated him, particularly for McCarthy's attack on his friend and World War II colleague, Secretary of State General George Marshall.
Eisenhower endorsed the United States Interstate highway Act, in 1956. It was the largest American public works program in history, providing a 41,000-mile highway system. Eisenhower had been impressed during the war with the German Autobahns and also recalled his own involvement in a military convoy in 1919 that took 62 days to cross the United States.
Another achievement was a twenty percent increase in family income during his presidency, which he was very proud of. He added a tenth cabinet position -- the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare -- and he gave all of the cabinet members more responsibilities in their areas, letting them take a lot of praise and glory. And he achieved a balanced budget three of the years that he was president.
During his campaign he promised to stop the Korean War, and it was one of the first things he accomplished as president. He flew to Korea and implied in a show of brinkmanship that he would spread the war to China, and bring in nuclear weapons. This was effective and a cease-fire was signed in 1953. He signed defense treaties with Korea and Taiwan, and entered SEATO, which was an alliance with Asian countries to try and stop Communist China. Eisenhower was very concerned about Communism, which may be the reason he did not speak out against McCarthy. He formulated the Eisenhower Doctrine, which helped justify US involvement in Lebanon during his second term. He was also concerned about too much war: in a speech at the end of his second term, he warned against the "military-industrial complex".
There were high tensions in the Middle East, particularly between Israel and Egypt. The British and French sided with Israel, and they attacked Egypt. Then Egypt tried to get the Soviet Union to help, and the Soviet Union threatened that they would. Eisenhower did not want the conflict to turn into the third World War, and he demanded that the United Nations replace the force of England and France. Britain agreed to withdraw, and the crisis was ended. The US did not become involved in any major military conflicts during his administration.
Eisenhower left an interesting legacy. He was very popular during his presidency, but soon after it ended historians rated him as one of the worst presidents in history. This was mainly because of his reluctance to help desegregation and to stop McCarthyism. Also, he made the nuclear arms race much worse, with continuous threats. But in a recent poll of historians, he was rated number eleven. This is because people understand his presidency differently now. They realize that he played up the cabinet's accomplishments and played down his own purposely. He wanted to spread the responsibility around, so that it was possible to get more done. They also remember that he accomplished the Interstate Highway Act and kept defense spending very low.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -- Speech, 1953, to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
His Farewell Address (noted for the introduction of the phrase
"military/industrial complex" into public political discussion)
The Eisenhower Presidential Library is located in Abilene, Kansas. Eisenhower and his wife are buried in a small chapel there.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
|Followed:||Harry S Truman|
|Succeeded by:||John F. Kennedy|
|Date of Birth||October 14, 1890|
|Place of Birth:||Denison, Texas|
|Date of Death:||March 28, 1969|
|Place of Death:||Washington, D.C.|
|First Lady:||Mary "Mamie" Geneva Doud|
|Vice President:||Richard Nixon|
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- Hermann Goering - Hermann Wilhelm Göring (January 12, 1894 - October 15, 1946) was a prominent and early member of the Nazi party and one of the main architects of Nazi Germany. During World War II he acted as commander of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force), and was the driving force behind the failed attempt to force Britain's surrender (or at least acquiescence) by the air battle known as the Battle of Britain. After that campaign he lost much of his influence in the Nazi hierarchy, exacerbated by the Luftwaffe's failings in Russia and against the Allied bomber raids. He was captured by American troops on May 8/9 1945 in Austria and he was taken before the Nuremberg Trials for war crimes, and despite defending himself vigorously he was sentenced to death; "His guilt is unique in its enormity" stated the judgement. He managed to commit suicide with a smuggled cyanide capsule the night before he was supposed to be hanged.
During World War I he flew in the Luftwaffe together with Manfred von Richthofen, the famous "Red Baron". He was the last commander of the Richthofen Fighter Squadron and finished the war as an 'ace', with twenty-two confirmed kills and the medals Pour le Merite and the Iron Cross.
It was Göring who is said to have originated the famous quote, "When I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun"; the version "When I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning" has a subtle shift in just who in the dialogue has the potential to be the Philistine.
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- Heinrich Himmler (October 7, 1900 - May 22, 1945) was born near Munich, Bavaria, Germany and became one of the most powerful people in Nazi Germany. Born into a middle class family, he was the son of a Bavarian schoolmaster and attended Landshut High School. After graduating Himmler joined the 11th Bavarian Regiment and fought in the First World War, by the end of which he had become an officer cadet in the German Army.
In 1918, after the war, he became active in the Freikorps, a private army of right-wing ex-German Army men resentful of Germany's loss of the war and committed to defending the borders against invasion from the Red Army and to attacking Communists and radicals within Germany. He then joined the extreme right-wing National Socialist German Worker's Party (NSDAP, also known as the Nazi Party) in 1923. He played a significant role aiding Adolf Hitler in the Munich Putsch, the Party's failed attempt at a nationwide right-wing revolution.
Despite this failure and Hitler's subsequent prison sentence, Himmler was still a devout follower of Hitler, convinced that he was the messiah sent by God to lead Germany to greatness, and had the long term job of organising Nazi Party propaganda. In 1928, after marrying and becoming a chicken farmer, Himmler joined the Sturm Abteilung, or SA, but a year later was promoted by the newly freed Hitler to lead his personal bodyguard, the Schutzstaffel or SS. This was thought by many simply as a reaction by Hitler to Himmler's kind words and not as a reflection on Himmler's military capabilities.
He mananaged to develop the SS into the strongest para-military organisation in the Third Reich. In 1929 when he was appointed to lead the SS it had only 280 members but by 1933 when the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany it had 52,000 members, even though Himmler reveiwed each membership application to ensure that all members were of Hitler's "Aryan" 'master race'. With Hitler's permission, the SS acquired vast police powers in Germany itself and the occupied territories and it also gained primary responsibilities in the areas of security, intelligence gathering, and espionage.
Himmler's army was not the largest Nazi military group in Germany, but was second only to the SA. Both Himmler, and another of Hitler's right hand men, Hermann Goering, agreed that the SA and its leader, Ernst Röhm were beginning to pose a threat to the German Army and the whole Nazi leadership of Germany itself. Röhm had strong socialist views and believed that although Hitler had successfully gained power in Germany, the 'real' revolution had not yet begun, leaving some Nazi leaders with the belief that Röhm was intent on using the SA to administer a coup. With some persuasion from Himmler and Goering, Hitler began to feel threatened by this prospect, and agreed that Röhm must die. He delegated the task of administering this death to Himmler and Goering, who, along with Reinhard Heydrich, Kurt Daluege and Walter Schellenberg, carried out the execution of Röhm and numerous other senior SA officials, in what became known as The Night of The Long Knives.
Himmler now had total control over internal German military as the SS was now the principal force in the Reich. In 1936 Himmler gained yet more power as Hitler handed the control of Germany's secret police force, the Gestapo over to him. In 1940 Himmler slightly reorganised the SS and turned it into the Waffen-SS which by six months numbered over 150,000 men.
In the Second World War the SS's Totenkopf Units was given the task of organising and administering Germany's regime of concentration camps and eventually, extermination camps. The SS, through its intelligence arm the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) had to find Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and communists and any other culture or race deemed by Hitler to be either Untermenschen (sub human) or in opposition to his regime, and place them in concentration camps. Himmler now became one of the main architects of the Holocaust, using elements of mysticism and a fanatical belief in the racist Nazi ideology. By 1944 Himmler's SS numbered over 800,000, hovwever, most of them were either in infantry or armoured units.
By 1944 Himmler was tasked to sorting out a dispute between the SD and the German military intelligence organisation, the Abwehr. Himmler resolved the issue by simply merging the Abwehr into the SD.
The increasingly desperate Nazi regime then placed Himmler in charge of the German Army facing the oncoming United States Army from the West in 1944, and in 1945 switched him to face the Red Army to the East. Himmler, however, lost faith in German victory, and came to the realization that if the Nazi regime was to have any chance of survival, it would need to seek peace with Britain and the United States. When Hitler discovered this and found Himmler attempting to make contact with the Allies, he ordered his arrest.
Attempting to evade arrest, Himmler disguised himself as a member of the Gendarmerie but was recognized and captured on May 22nd in Bremen, Germany, by an British Army unit. Himmler was scheduled to stand trial with other German leaders as a major war criminal at Nuremberg, but committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule before interrogation could begin.
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- Adolf Hitler (April 20, 1889 - April 30, 1945) was the leader of the Nazi Party (from 1919) and dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945. Widely regarded as a great orator and skillful propagandist, he inspired and mobilized many followers. He was appointed Reichskanzler (Reich Chancellor) on January 30, 1933 and assumed the twin titles of Führer und Reichskanzler (Leader and Reich Chancellor) after President Paul von Hindenburg's death on August 2, 1934. Under his leadership, Germany started World War II and committed the Holocaust, a major case of genocide.
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 in Braunau am Inn, a small town in upper Austria on the Austro-German border. He was the third of five children from Alois Hitler and Klara Polzl.
Hitler was born in a family of a customs officer. Hitler's father, Alois (born 1837), was illegitimate and for a time bore his mother's name, Schicklgruber, but by 1876 he had established his claim to the surname Hitler. Adolf never used any other name, and the name Schicklgruber was revived only by his political opponents in Germany and Austria in the 1930s.
His boyhood was spent under the strict discipline of his retired civil-servant father. Adolf read books by James Fenimore Cooper and Karl May. On January 3, 1903, Hitler's father died. On December 21, 1907 Hitler's mother died.
Hitler tried unsuccessfully to become a fine arts student at the Vienna Arts Academy in 1907. He had developed a special interest in architecture. He then had several odd jobs, but never long enough to escape poverty and he lived on the streets, working as a street painter, and eating at soup kitchens.
He spent some time in the public gallery of the Austrian Parliament. He later wrote that his observations there developed his contempt of democracy and what he saw as the contaminating dominance of Jews in parliament and society. He also cultivated his love of Germanism, and observed how political activists influenced the masses.
In Spring 1913, to avoid the Austrian Army's draft, Hitler moved to Munich and made a living selling paintings of landmarks to local shops. His draft evasion was detected, but after failing a medical exam back in Austria, he was let go and moved back to Munich.
Introduction to war and politics
In 1914, elated with Germany's entering into World War I, Hitler volunteered to the 16th Bavarian Infantry Regiment and fought on the western front. He was wounded once in the thigh and later in a gas attack at the end of the war. Hitler was an enthusiastic soldier, sometimes to the dismay of his compatriots. He was well liked by his peers and superiors but his lack of a sense of humor was notable. Later most of his comrades became Nazis. Corporal Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class for completing a dangerous delivery of a dispatch in 1918.
The war ended while Hitler was in the hospital recovering from his injuries due to gas. He was devastated by the news of German capitulation and wept. On discharge from the hospital he returned to his regiment in Munich, Germany. Bavaria was in the hands of a revolutionary government, the Rätrepublik; his barracks was governed by an elected council, to which he was elected. After the suppression of the revolutionary government, Hitler remained in the army and served as a propagandist in the reindoctination of the troops. He was noted for his talent in this work and at the request of the army joined a small political party, the German Workers' Party, Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which was to become the Nazi Party, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei .
In April 1919, while still in the army, he became the leader of the party (He was not discharged from the army until March 31, 1920). Due to Hitler's organizing and speaking talents the party gained increasing popularity. On November 8 and November 9, 1923, he was involved in an abortive coup known as the Munich Beer Hall Putsch. He was accused of state treason and received a five-year prison sentence and was jailed in Landsberg. During his imprisonment he wrote his political manifesto: Mein Kampf. After nine months he received amnesty and was released from prison. He soon rebuilt his party and again gained tremendous popularity.
Rise to Power and after the 1930 elections
Hitler became Chancellor of the Weimar Republic in 1933 through a coalition with conservative and right wing parties, who had hoped to use Hitler's popularity to gain power. Once in power he initiated what was called the "legal seizure of power." In the course of a few years he managed to consolidate dictatorial powers through parliamentary legislation. Later he turned out to be an erratic and unpredictable leader of the armed forces, often disregarding opinions of experienced generals and marshals.
Under Hitler's leadership, driven by a vision of a Nordic master race, Germany invaded several of its smaller neighbors, igniting World War II. This vision also drove an attempt to systematically exterminate other peoples--notably the Jews--later called the Holocaust, in which 5-10 million people were killed. Other hated peoples included the Romani or Tzigane (Gypsies) of which between 600,000 and 2 million were killed (about 70% of the population in German controlled areas) and Slavs, who were considered an inferior race and supposed to be partly exterminated and partly enslaved.
World War II itself brought the death of tens of millions more, including 20 million casualties in the Soviet Union alone.
After the Soviet Red Army reached Berlin, Adolf Hitler committed suicide together with Eva Braun (whom he had married just two days before) on April 30, 1945, in the Führerbunker (Leader's bunker). He was aged 56.
In the testament he left, he circumvented other Nazi leaders and appointed Admiral Karl Dönitz as his successor.
In her 1980 book "Am Anfang war Erziehung" (translated as "For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of Violence"), Alice Miller attempts an explanation of Hitler's violent urges from childhood trauma.
His mother had married a man 23 years her elder whom she called "uncle Alois"; her three small children died in the course of a few years surrounding Adolf's birth, leading to extreme pampering of Adolf by his mother. He was regularly beaten and ridiculed by his father; once when Adolf tried to escape from home he was almost beaten to death. Adolf hated his father throughout his life and there are reports of him having nightmares about his father in late life. When Nazi Germany had occupied Austria, Hitler had the village where his father grew up destroyed.
Throughout Hitler's (and his father's) life, there were speculations that the father of his father was a Jew (his grandmother was a maid in a Jewish household which later paid alimony for her son); this would have been a great shame in the pervasive anti-semitism of the times. This insecurity correlates with Hitler's later command that every German prove their non-Jewish ancestry up to the third generation.
Cultural depictions and representation
Hitler has frequently been used as a character in works of fiction. An early example of a cryptic depiction is in Bertolt Brecht's 1941 play, The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui in which Hitler (in the persona of the principal character Arturo Ui), a Chicago racketeer in the cauliflower trade, is ruthlessly satirised.
Amongst many other film representations, Charlie Chaplin made fun of Hitler in his 1940 movie The Great Dictator. Alec Guinness's depiction of Hitler in Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973) was, to say the least of it, a curiously idiosyncratic take on Hitler's persona.
The photomontage artist John Heartfield made frequent use of Hitler's image as a target for his brand of barbed satire.
Forged diaries of Hitler, known as The Hitler Diaries, were published in Germany in 1983.
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- Douglas MacArthur (January 26, 1880 - April 5, 1964) was an American general, best known for his role in Asia during and after World War II.
He was the son of the civil War hero General Arthur MacArthur and grew up on Army bases. He was accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1898 and graduated first in his class in 1903.
During World War I he served in France, first with the 42nd Division and on his promotion to brigadier general (the youngest ever in the U.S Army), as commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade. He spent most of the inter-war period on different assignments in the Philippines. He left the U.S. Army in 1937 to command the Philippines Army, but later returned in July, 1941 as commander of the U.S. forces in the Philippines.
During World War II, he fought in south-east Asia against Japan: after the defeat of his weak forces in the Philippines, he was made the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific and took command of American, British and Australian forces defending Australia, fighting mainly in the Solomon Islands and the large island of New Guinea, where they eventually overrun the Japanese resistance in 1944; afterwards, they took back the Philippines from October 1944. In September 1945 MacArthur received the formal japanese surrender which ended WWII; he then served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Japan until June 1950.
After the surprise attack of the communist North Korea army in 1950 started the Korean War, the United Nations General Assembly authorized a U.N. Force to re-unify the Korean peninsula in October. MacArthur led the U.N. coalition (whose back bone was the American military) counter-offensive, noted for a amphibious landing behind North Korean lines at Inchon. As his forces approached the Korea-China border, the Chinese warned they would become involved and on October 25 1951, the PLA attacked across the Yalu River forcing the U.N forces on a long retreat. MacArthur sought an extension of the conflict into China and was relieved of duty by Truman in April 1951. He was replaced by General Matthew B. Ridgway who stabilized the situation near the 38th parallel. MacArthur's last public appearance was a farewell address to Congress, interrupted by thirty ovations.
He returned from Korea to considerable public adulation, there was talk of him running for the presidency in 1952. When these hopes died away he spent the remainder of his life quietly in New York.
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- George Marshall - An American military leader and statesman, George C. Marshall was born December 31, 1880 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. After graduating from the Virginia Military Institute in 1901, he entered the U.S. Army, where he was to have a long and distinguished career. Until World War I, he was posted to various positions in the US and the Philippines, and was trained in modern warfare. During the war he had roles as a planner of training and operations. Between WWI and WWII, he was a key planner and writer in the War Department, spent three years in China, and taught at Army War College.
He went to France in the summer of 1917 as the director of training and planning for the First Infantry Division. In mid-1918, he was promoted to American Expeditionary Forces headquarters, where he was a key planner of American operations. In 1919 he became an aide-de-camp to General John J. Pershing. Between 1920 and 1924, while Pershing was army chief of staff, Marshall worked in a number of positions in the US Army, focusing on training and teaching modern, mechanised warfare.
He was promoted to brigadier general in October 1936. In 1939 he was selected by Franklin D. Roosevelt to be army chief of staff, a position he held until 1945. Marshall was instrumental in getting the U.S. Army and Army Air Corps reorganized and ready for war. He was characterized as the organizer of Allied victory by Winston Churchill.
Marshall "retired" in November 1945 and was named secretary of state in 1947. As such, he designed the Marshall Plan, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. In 1949 he resigned from the State Department and was named president of the American National Red Cross. He was secretary of defense 1953-54. He died October 16, 1959.
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- Vyacheslav Molotov - Vyacheslav Mikhaylovich Molotov (February 25, 1890 - November 8, 1986) was a Soviet politician.
Born in Kukarka, Russia, Molotov in 1906 joined the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party. After what appears to be an odyssey through the landscape of geographic and political Russia including an important role in the November Revolution, he started working under Joseph Stalin in 1922. At the eve of World War II, he became People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs (Foreign Minister). As such, he negotiated the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with his German counterpart, Joachim von Ribbentrop.
Molotov died on November 8, 1986, in Moscow, USSR, two years after the Communist Party rehabilitated him for his involvement in an attempted coup in 1957. The Molotov cocktail is named after him, because this weapon was created by the Finnish Army when he served as Secretary of War of the USSR at the time of the Russo-Finnish Wars of the early 1940s.
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- Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov - Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov (December 1 1896 - June 18 1974) was a Soviet military commander and politician. One of the finest and certainly the most successful army commander during World War II.
Born into a peasant family in Strelkova, Kaluga Province. He was apprenticed to work in Moscow and in 1915 was conscripted into the army. He joined the Communist Party after the October Revolution and his poor background became an asset. After recovering from typhus he fought in the civil war (1918-20). By 1923 he was commander of a regiment and in 1930 of a brigade. He was a keen proponent of the new tank warfare and was noted for his detailed planning, tough discipline and strictness. He also survived the massive and grim purges of the army command institued by Stalin in the 1930s. He left the dangerous environment of Moscow to command the First Soviet Mongolian Army Group and saw action against the Japanese on the Manchurian border (1938-39) and was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union.
Promoted to general in 1940 he was briefly chief of STAVKA before a disagreement with Stalin led to him being replaced in June with Marshal Boris Shaposnikov (replaced by Alexander Vasilievsky in November). In October, 1941, he replaced Semyon Timoshenko in command of the central front and directed the defense of Moscow. In 1942 he was made Deputy Commander-in-Chief and sent to the southwestern front to save Stalingrad, capturing the German Sixth Army in 1943 at the cost of maybe a million dead. He gave General Vatutin command in the Battle of Kursk. Following the failure of Marshal Voroshilov he lifted the siege of Leningrad in mid-1944.
He led the offensive of 1944 and the final assault on Germany in 1945, capturing Berlin in April and becoming the first commander of the Soviet occupation zone in Germany.
But in 1947 he was demoted to command the Odessa military district. After Stalin's death, Zhukov became deputy defense minister (1953) then defense minister (1955). He supported Nikita Khrushchev in 1957, and was made in June, 1957 a full member of the Central Committee. Just four months later he was relieved of his ministry and dropped from the central committee by Khrushchev. After Khrushchev was deposed (1964) Zhukov could appear in public again.
He was buried with full military honours.
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- General Montgomery - Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery 1887 - 1976.
In August 1942, Winston Churchill appointed Montgomery commander of the British Eighth Army in the North African campaign. He successfully pushed back Erwin Rommel, forcing him to retreat from Egypt after the Second Battle of El Alamein.
Under the command of Eisenhower, he successfully led the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943.
Montgomery commanded the ground forces during the Normandy landings.
He was most successful with well planned attacks with overwhelming forces, such as at Alamein. He had less fortune with dramatic strokes like Operation Market Garden which led to the defeat of the 1st Airborne outside Arnhem. When first shown the plans, one general said, "It looks like you're going a bridge too far." He was.
He was created 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein in 1946.
lasted from around May 25 to June 3, 1940. After the Phoney War the Battle
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- Benito Mussolini/a> - Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (July 29, 1883 - April 28, 1945) was the fascist dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943. Mussolini created an anti-democratic, fascist state in Italy through the use of propaganda. By using his total control of the media, he disassembled the existing democratic government system.
Mussolini was born in Predappio, near Forli, in Romagna. His father, Alessandro, was a blacksmith, and his mother, Rosa Maltoni, was a teacher. Like his father, Benito became a socialist. He qualified as an elementary schoolmaster in 1901. In 1902 he emigrated to Switzerland. Unable to find a permanent job there and arrested for vagrancy, he was expelled and returned to Italy to do his military service. After further trouble with the police, he joined the staff of a newspaper in the Austrian town of Trento in 1908. At this time he wrote a novel, subsequently translated into English as The Cardinal's Mistress. Mussolini had a brother, Arnaldo, who became one of the most important developers of the original fascist Idea.
Birth of Fascism
In November 1914 he founded a new newspaper, Il Popolo d'Italia, and the prowar group Fasci d'Azione Rivoluzionaria. He evidently hoped the war might lead to a collapse of society that would bring him to power. Called up for military service, he was wounded in grenade practice in 1917 and returned to edit his paper. Fascism became an organized political movement in March 1919 when Mussolini founded the Fasci de Combattimento. After failing in the 1919 elections, Mussolini at last entered parliament in 1921 as a right-wing member. The Fascisti formed armed squads to terrorize Mussolini's former Socialist colleagues. The government seldom interfered. In return for the support of a group of industrialists and agrarians, Mussolini gave his approval to strikebreaking, and he abandoned revolutionary agitation. When the liberal governments of Giovanni Giolitti, Ivanoe Bonomi, and Luigi Facta failed to stop the spread of anarchy, and after Fascists had organised a demonstrative "Marcia su Roma" (Oct. 28th 1922), Mussolini was invited by the king to form a new government.
At first he was supported by the Liberals in parliament. With their help he introduced strict censorship and altered the methods of election so that in 1925-1926 he was able to assume dictatorial powers and dissolve all other political parties. Skillfully using his absolute control over the press, he gradually built up the legend of the "Duce (Il duce), a man who was always right and could solve all the problems of politics and economics. Italy was soon a police state. With those who tried to resist him, for example the Socialist Giacomo Matteotti, he showed himself utterly ruthless. But Mussolini's skill in propaganda was such that he had surprisingly little opposition.
At various times after 1922, Mussolini personally took over the ministries of the interior, of foreign affairs, of the colonies, of the corporations, of the army and the other armed services, and of public works. Sometimes he held as many as seven departments simultaneously, as well as the premiership. He was also head of the all-powerful Fascist party (formed in 1921) and the armed Fascist militia. In this way he succeeded in keeping power in his own hands and preventing the emergence of any rival. But it was at the price of creating a regime that was overcentralized, inefficient, and corrupt.
Most of his time was spent on propaganda, whether at home or abroad, and here his training as a journalist was invaluable. Press, radio, education, films--all were carefully supervised to manufacture the illusion that fascism was the doctrine of the 20th century that was replacing liberalism and democracy. The principles of this doctrine were laid down in the article on fascism, reputedly written by himself, that appeared in 1932 in the Enciclopedia Italiana. In 1929 a concordat with the Vatican was signed, by which the Italian state was at last recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Under the dictatorship the parliamentary system was virtually abolished. The law codes were rewritten. All teachers in schools and universities had to swear an oath to defend the Fascist regime. Newspaper editors were all personally chosen by Mussolini himself, and no one could practice journalism who did not possess a certificate of approval from the Fascist party. The trade unions were also deprived of any independence and were integrated into what was called the "corporative" system. The aim (never completely achieved) was to place all Italians in various professional organizations or "corporations", all of them under governmental control.
Mussolini played up to his financial backers at first by transferring a number of industries from public to private ownership. But by the 1930's he had begun moving back to the opposite extreme of rigid governmental control of industry. A great deal of money was spent on public works. But the economy suffered from his exaggerated attempt to make Italy self-sufficient. There was too much concentration on heavy industry, for which Italy lacked the resources.
In foreign policy, Mussolini soon shifted from pacifist anti-imperialism to an extreme form of aggressive nationalism. An early example of this was his bombardment of Corfu in 1923. Soon after this he succeeded in setting up a puppet regime in Albania and in reconquering Libya. It was his dream to make the Mediterranean "mare nostrum ("our sea). In 1935, at the Stresa Conference, he helped create an anti-Hitler front in order to defend the independence of Austria. But his successful war against Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 1935-1936 was opposed by the League of Nations, and he sought an alliance with Nazi Germany, which had withdrawn from the League in 1933. His active intervention in 1936-1939 on the side of Gen.Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War ended any possibility of reconciliation with France and Britain. As a result, he had to accept the German annexation of Austria in 1938 and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1939. At the Munich Conference in September 1938 he posed as a moderate working for European peace. But his "axis with Germany was confirmed when he made the "Pact of Steel" with Hitler in May 1939. Clearly the subordinate partner, Mussolini followed the Nazis in adopting a racial policy that led to persecution of the Jews and the creation of apartheid in the Italian empire. However, he refused to allow Jews to be deported to concentration camps until Germany occupied Italy during the war.
World War II
As World War II approached, Mussolini announced his intention of annexing Malta, Corsica, and Tunis. In April 1939, after a brief struggle, he occupied Albania. Failing to realize that he had more to gain by trying to hold the balance of power in Europe, he preferred to rely on a policy of bluff and bluster to induce the Western democracies to give way to his increasing territorial demands. The fact that Italy had began its military buildup before other powers became a disadvantage as by 1939, its military infrastructure was becoming obsolete. His armed forces were completely unprepared when Hitler's invasion of Poland led to World War II. He decided to remain "nonbelligerant" until he was quite certain which side would win.
Only after the fall of France did he declare war in 8th of June 1940, hoping that the war had only a few weeks more to run. His attack on Greece in October was a military disaster, and his position in Greece required the assistance of German troops. Following Hitler, he declared war on the Soviet Union in June 1941 and on the United States in December 1941.
Following Italian defeats on all fronts and the Anglo-American landing in Sicily in 1943, most of Mussolini's colleagues (the Conte Ciano, his son-in-law, included) turned against him at a meeting of the Fascist Grand Council on July 25, 1943. This enabled the king to dismiss and arrest him.
He was then sent to Gran Sasso, a mountain recovery in central Italy (Abruzzo), in complete isolation.
Mussolini was substituted by the Maresciallo d'Italia Gen. Pietro Badoglio, who immediately declared in a famous speech "La guerra continua a fianco dell'Alleato Germanico" ("War continues at the side of our German allies"), but was instead working to negotiate a surrender; in a few days (Sep. the 8th) Badoglio would sign a armistice with allied troops.
Rescued by the Germans several months later in a spectacular raid by Otto Skorzeny, Mussolini set up a Republican Fascist state (RSI - Repubblica Sociale Italiana) in northern Italy with him living in Gargnano. But he was little more than a puppet under the protection of the German Army. In this "Republic of Salo'", Mussolini returned to his earlier ideas of socialism and collectivization. He also executed some of the Fascist leaders who had abandoned him, including his son-in-law, Galeazzo Ciano.
On April 28, 1945, just before the Allied armies reached Milan, Mussolini, along with his mistress Claretta Petacci, was caught by Italian partisans as he headed for Chiavenna to board a plane for escape to Switzerland. They were both shot on the spot along with their sixteen-man escort The next day the bodies were hung in Piazzale Loreto (Milan) along with those of other fascists to be abused by the crowds. Mussolini's body was then taken to Predappio and the family chapel.
The Duce was survived by his wife, Donna Rachele, by two sons, Vittorio and Romano Mussolini, and his daughter Edda, the widow of Count Ciano. A third son, Bruno, had been killed in an air accident while testing a military plane.
Mussolini's niece Alessandra, daughter of Romano Mussolini, is today a deputy in the Republican Chamber representing the Alleanza Nazionale party for Naples.
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- Navajo Code Talkers
- Chester Nimitz was the Commander in Chief of Pacific Forces for the United States and Allied forces during World War 2.
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- Chester Nimitz - Chester Nimitz was the Commander in Chief of Pacific Forces for the United States and Allied forces during World War 2.
Chester William Nimitz was born on 24 February 1885, near a quaint hotel in Fredericksburg, Texas built by his grandfather, Charles Nimitz, a retired sea captain. Young Chester, however, had his sights set on an Army career and while a student at Tivy High School, Kerrville, Texas, he tried for an appointment to West Point. When none was available, he took a competitive examination for Annapolis and was selected and appointed from the Twelfth Congressional District of Texas in 1901.
He left high school to enter the Naval Academy Class of 1905. It was many years later, after he had become a Fleet Admiral that he actually was awarded his high school diploma. At the Academy Nimitz was an excellent student, especially in mathematics and graduated with distinction -- seventh in a class of 114. He was an athlete and stroked the crew in his first class year. The Naval Academy's yearbook, "Lucky Bag", described him as a man "of cheerful yesterdays and confident tomorrows."
After graduation he joined USS Ohio in San Francisco and cruised in her to the Far East. On 31 January 1907, after the two years' sea duty then required by law, he was commissioned Ensign, and took command of the gunboat USS Panay. He then commanded USS Decatur and was court martialed for grounding her, an obstacle in his career which he overcame.
He returned to the U. S. in 1907 and was ordered to duty under instruction in submarines, the branch of the service in which he spent a large part of his sea duty. His first submarine was USS Plunger (A- 1). He successively commanded USS Snapper, USS Narwal and USS Skipjack until 1912. On 20 March of that year, Nimitz, then a Lieutenant, and commanding officer of the submarine E-1 (formerly Skipjack), was awarded the Silver Lifesaving Medal by the Treasury Department for his heroic action in saving W.J. Walsh, Fireman second class, USN, from drowning. A strong tide was running and Walsh, who could not swim, was rapidly being swept away from his ship. Lieutenant Nimitz dove in the water and kept Walsh afloat until both were picked up by a small boat.
He had one year in command of the Atlantic Submarine Flotilla before coming ashore in 1913 for duty in connection with building the diesel engines for the tanker USS Maumee at Groton, Conn. In that same year, he was sent to Germany and Belgium to study engines at their Diesel Plants. With that experience he subsequently served as Executive Officer and Engineering Officer of the Maumee until 1917 when he was assigned as Aide and Chief of Staff to COMSUBLANT. He served in that billet during World War I.
In September 1918 he came ashore to duty in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations and was a member of the Board of Submarine Design. His first sea duty in big ships came in 1919 when he had one year's duty as Executive Officer of the battleship USS South Carolina. After that he continued his duty in submarines in Pearl Harbor as Commanding Officer USS Chicago and COMSUBDIV Fourteen.
In 1922 he was assigned as a student at the Naval War College, and upon graduation went as Chief of Staff to Commander Battle Forces and later Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet (Admiral S. S. Robinson) .
In the meantime, the ROTC program had been initiated and in 1926 he became the first Professor of Naval Science and Tactics for the Unit at the University of California at Berkley. Throughout the remainder of his life he retained a close association with the University. After three years in that assignment, in 1929, he again had sea duty in the submarine service as Commander Submarine Division Twenty for two years and then went ashore to command USS Rigel and decommissioned destroyers at the base in San Diego. In 1933 he was assigned to his first large ship command, the heavy cruiser USS Augusta which served mostly as flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. Coming ashore in 1935 he served three years as Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. His next sea command was in flag rank as Commander Cruiser Division Two and then as Commander Battle Division One until 1939, when he was appointed as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation for four years. In December 1941, however, he was designated as Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, where he served throughout the war. On 19 December 1944, he was advanced to the newly created rank of Fleet Admiral, and on 2 September 1945, was the United States signatory to the surrender terms aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
He hauled down his flag at Pearl Harbor on 26 Nov. 1945, and on 15 December relieved Fleet Admiral E.J. King as Chief of Naval Operations for a term of two years. On 01 January 1948, he reported as special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy in the Western Sea Frontier. In March of 1949, he was nominated as Plebiscite Administrator for Kashmir under the United Nations. When that did not materialize he asked to be relieved and accepted an assignment as a roving goodwill ambassador of the United nations, to explain to the public the major issues confronting the U.N. In 1951, President Truman appointed him as Chairman of the nine-man commission on International Security and Industrial Rights. This commission never got underway because Congress never passed appropriate legislation.
Thereafter, he took an active interest in San Francisco community affairs, in addition to his continued active participation in affairs of concern to the Navy and the country. he was an honorary vice president and later honorary president of the Naval Historical Foundation. He served for eight years as a regent of the University of California and did much to restore goodwill with Japan by raising funds to restore the battleship Mikasa, Admiral Togo's flagship at Tsushima in 1905.
He died on 20 February 1966.
Note: This biography is from the "Naval Historical Center."
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- George Patton General George Smith Patton, Jr., was born on November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California. His military career was one of the most colorful of all 20th Century military leaders. He participated in the Pentathlon of the Stockholm Olympics in 1912 and placed fifth overall in the event. Later, he served as a member of General John J. Pershing’s staff both during the punitive Expedition to Mexico and in World War I. He joined the newly formed Tank Corps, where he served until the Corps was abolished in 1920 at Fort Meade, Maryland. After World War I, he held a variety of staff jobs in Hawaii and Washington, D.C., and completed his military schooling as the distinguished graduate of the Army War College. He served as control officer for the mechanized maneuvers in Georgia and Louisiana, which tested the entire mechanized concept of the Army.
With the formation of the Armored Force in 1940 at Fort Knox, he transferred to the 2d Armored Division at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was named the Commanding General, 2d Armored Division, on April 11, 1941.
On November 8, 1942, Patton commanded the Western Task Force, the only all American force, landing in North Africa. After the American defeat at Kasserine Pass, he was given command of all American forces in the Tunisia Combat Area.
He commanded the Seventh army during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and served in this capacity until March 1944, when he was given command of the Third Army which became operational in France in August 1944. When American forces broke through the German defenses, Patton's Third Army dashed across Europe and exploited German weaknesses with remarkable success. In October 1945, he assumed command of the Fifteenth Army in American-occupied Germany. On December 21, 1945, General Patton died in Germany as a result of an automobile accident. He is buried among the soldiers who died in the Battle of the Bulge in Hamm, Luxembourg.
Note: This biography is from the "Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor."
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- President Roosevelt - Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 - April 12, 1945) was the 32nd (1933-1945) President of the United States. He was elected to an unprecedented four terms of office - the only U.S. president elected more than twice.
He was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York, and died on April 12 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia of a cerebral hemorrhage.
He graduated from Harvard University(1903), and attended Columbia Law School. On St. Patrick's Day, 1905, he married Eleanor Roosevelt, a distant cousin. Government Positions include: Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1913-1920; Governor of New York, 1929-1933.
In 1935-1936, the Supreme Court struck down eight of FDR's New Deal programs. In response Roosevelt submitted to Congress in February of 1937 a plan for "judicial reform," which proposed adding a justice for every justice over the age of 70 who refused to retire, up to a maximum of 15 total. This came to be known as his attempt to "pack" the Court.
Campaigning for reelection in 1940 against Wendell L. Willkie, Roosevelt said that he would not send American boys to fight in foreign wars. Some have suggested Roosevelt had prior knowledge of the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and welcomed it as a way to get the U.S. into World War II. Others point out, that while U.S. code-breakers had broken Japanese codes in Washington, D.C. and knew something was about to happen, communication delays prevented the messages for getting to Pearl Harbor until 4 hours after the attack.
In hindsight, perhaps the most controversial decision Roosevelt made was Executive Order 9066 which resulted in the internment in concentration camps of 110,000 Japanese nationals and American citizens of Japanese descent on the West Coast. Considered a major violation of civil liberties, it was even opposed at the time by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover as well as Eleanor Roosevelt as well as many other groups. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Executive Order.
Some have said of all the American Presidents of the 20th century, that he was the most loved and most hated. He was so well known, he was referred to by his initials, FDR.
One speech he is famous for delivering was his State of the Union Address in 1941. This speech is also known as the Four Freedoms Speech.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
|Succeeded by:||Harry S Truman|
|Date of Birth||January 30, 1882|
|Place of Birth:||Hyde Park, New York|
|Date of Death:||April 12, 1945|
|Place of Death:||Warm Springs, Georgia|
|First Lady:||Anna Eleanor Roosevelt|
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- Eddie Slovik, a private in the United States Army, was the last U.S. solider to be executed for desertion.
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme allied commander, personally ordered the execution during the closing days of World War II in order to deter other potential deserters. Slovik was court-martialed for desertion under fire and sentenced to death by firing squad. His execution was carried out in the closing months of World War II, on January 31, 1945, near the village of Ste-Marie aux Mines.
He was buried in the Oise-Aisne Cemetery, Fere-en-Tardenois , France, in a secret cemetery with 94 American soldiers executed for the crimes of rape and murder.
In 1987, forty-two years after Slovik's execution, his remains were returned to Michigan and reburied next to his wife Antoinette.
The story of his execution was made into a motion picture with actor Martin Sheen in the role of Private Slovik.
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- Joseph Stalin (1879-1953) was the second leader of the Soviet Union. His real name was Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, and he was also known as Koba (a Georgian folk hero) to his closest sphere. The name "Stalin" (derived from combining Russian stal, "steel" with "Lenin") originally was a conspirative nickname; however, it stuck to him and he continued to call himself Stalin after the Russian Revolution. Stalin is also reported to have used at least a dozen other names for the purpose of secret communications, but for obvious reasons most of them remain unknown.
Childhood and early years
Born in Gori, Georgia to illiterate peasant parents (who had been serfs at birth), his harsh spirit has been blamed on undeserved and severe beatings by his father, inspiring vengeful feelings towards anyone in a position to wield power over him (perhaps also a reason he became a revolutionary). His mother set him on a path to become a priest, and he studied Russian Orthodox Christianity until he was nearly twenty.
His involvement with the socialist movement began at seminary school, from which he was expelled in 1899. From there on he worked for a decade with the political underground in the Caucasus. He soon followed Vladimir Lenin's ideology about centralism and a strong party of "professional revolutionaries". His practical experience made him useful in Lenin's Bolshevik party leading up to the 1917 October Revolution (in which he played no direct part).
Rise to power
Stalin spent his first years after the revolution building his post as general secretary secretly into the most powerful one in the communist party. After Lenin's death in 1924, a triumvirate of Stalin, Kamenev, and Zinoviev governed against Trotsky (on the left wing of the party) and Bukharin (on the right wing of the party). Soon after, Stalin switched sides and joined with Bukharin. Together, they fought a new opposition of Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev. By 1928 (the first year of the Five-Year Plans) Stalin's supremacy was complete. From this year, he could be said to have exercised control over the party and the country (although the formailities were not complete until the Great Purges of 1936-1938).
The final stage of Stalin's rise to power was the ordered assassination of Trotsky in Mexico in 1940, where he had lived since 1936 (he was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1929.). Indeed, after Trotsky's death only two members of the "Old Bolsheviks" (Lenin's Politburo) remained - Stalin himself and his foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov.
Purges and mass murders
Stalin consolidated his power base with the Great Purges against his political and ideological opponents, most notably the old cadres and the rank and file of the Bolshevik Party. Measures used against them ranged from imprisonment in work camps (Gulags) to assassination (such as that of Leon Trotsky and Sergei Kirov). Several show trials were held in Moscow, to serve as examples for the trials that local courts were expected to carry out elsewere in the country. There were four key trials from 1936 to 1938, The Trial of the Sixteen was the first (December 1936); then the Trial of the Seventeen (January 1937); then the trial of Red Army generals, including Marshal Tukhachevsky (June 1937); and finally the Trial of the Twenty One (including Bukharin) in March 1938.
Under the pretext of constructing `socialism in one country', Stalin terrorized large segments of the Soviet population, such as the Kulaks, a term for prosperous farmers who were disinherited when agriculture was collectivized. He also orchestrated a massive famine in the Ukraine in which an estimated 5 million people died. It is believed that with the purges, forced famines, state terrorism, labor camps, and forced migrations, Stalin was responsible for the death of as many as 40 million people within the borders of the Soviet Union. According to former National Security Advisor to US President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Stalin murdered an estimated 20 million people.
World War II
In 1939 Stalin made the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany which divided Eastern Europe between the two powers. The official Allied' version has been: In 1941, however, Hitler broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union (see Operation Barbarossa). Under Stalin's leadership the Soviet Red Army put up fierce resistance, but were ineffective against the advancing Nazi forces.
Stalin was up to this point very wary of the Germans, and would not permit his armies to even assume defensive positions for fear of sending the wrong signals to Hitler. Up to the final moment, and the invasion by the Germans, he held out hope that the Molotov-Rippentrop Pact would buy him time to modernize and strengthen his military (recently weakened by purges).
The Germans reached the outskirsts of Moscow in December, but were stopped by an early winter and a Soviet counter-offensive. At the battle of Stalingrad in 1942-43, after sacrificing an estimated 1 million men, the Red Army was able to regain the initiative of the war. With military eqipment aid of their allies the Soviet forces were able to regain their lost territory and push their over-stretched enemy back to Germany itself.
From the end of 1944 large sections of eastern Germany came under Stalin's Soviet Union occupation and on May 2nd 1945, the capital city Berlin was taken.
By some estimates, one quarter of the Russian population was wiped out in the war. There was, then, a huge shortage of men of the fighting-age generation in Russia. As a result, to this day, World War II is remembered very vividly in Russia, and May 9, Victory Day, is one of its biggest national holidays.
Following World War II Stalin continued his genocidal policies while exerting ruthless control over the Soviet Union and its satellite states until his death in 1953. Over fifteen million Germans were removed from eastern Germany and pushed into central Germany (later called GDR German Democratic Republic) and western Germany (later called FRG Federal Republic of Germany). Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Czech etc. were then moved onto German land. Other ethnic groups, like the Crimerian Tartars and Volga Germans, were moved to the Asian part of the Soviet Union. Millions of German POWs and Soviet ex-POWs were sent to the Gulags. The eastern European states occupied by the Red Army were established as communist Satellite states.
Policies and accomplishments
Stalin is often credited with successfully industrializing the Soviet Union. What can be said without controversy is that by the time of World War II, the Soviet economy had been industrialized to the point that the Soviets could resist the German invasion. That Stalin or his policies are to be credited for this is contended.
Stalin is also generally credited with destroying the concept of communal socialism (communism) and with "stealing the revolution" (although Lenin started this work).
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- Hideki Tojo (1884 - 1948) was a Japanese general and politician who led the Japanese government during much of World War II. Tojo was a member of the military clique that pushed Japan into war in the late 1930s. As War Minister in 1940 he was instrumental in leading Japan into the Axis Alliance with Nazi Germany and Italy. By 1941 he was premier and in command of the entire Japanese military, which so dominated Japan at the time that he was virtually the nation's dictator. He resigned in 1944 following a series of military disasters. After the war, he attempted suicide and failed, was tried for war crimes and executed. Because of the crimes committed under his authority, Tojo is considered responsible for the murder of perhaps four million people.
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- Harry S Truman (May 8, 1884 - December 26, 1972) was the 33rd (1945 - 1953) President of the United States. Properly, the "S" in Harry S Truman should have no period after it. "S" is not an abbreviation for a middle name; it is his middle name, itself.
Truman served in the United States Senate, representing Missouri, prior to becoming Vice President under Franklin Delano Roosevelt in March 1945. When Roosevelt died, Truman became President, and presided over the events ending World War II. It was Truman who made the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. He also established the Truman Doctrine to help fight communism is Greece and Turkey.
Truman ran for president in his own right in 1948, winning by a narrow margin over Republican challenger Thomas Dewey.
Truman issued the executive order integrating the U.S. Armed Services following World War II.
Harry S Truman
President Truman in November 1945
|Followed:||Franklin Delano Roosevelt|
|Succeeded by:||Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|Date of Birth||May 8, 1884|
|Place of Birth:||Lamar, Missouri|
|Date of Death:||December 26, 1972|
|Place of Death:||Kansas City, Missouri|
|First Lady:||Elizabeth "Bess" Virginia Wallace|
|Vice President:||Alben W. Barkley (1949-1953)|
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- Isoroku Yamamoto (April 4, 1884 - April 18, 1943) was the outstanding Japanese naval commander of World War II.
Born Isoroku Sadayoshi in the village of Kushigun Sonshomura on Hokkaido. He enrolled at the Naval Academy at Etajima, Hiroshima in 1896, graduating in 1904. In 1905 during the war with Russia he saw action as an ensign on the cruiser Nisshin in at the Battle of Tsushima against the Russian Baltic Fleet and was slightly injured. After the war he went with various ships all over the Pacific.
In 1913 he went to the Naval Staff College at Tsukiji, a sign that he was being groomed for the high command. Upon graduation in 1916, he was appointed to the staff of the Second Battle Squadron and was adopted by the Yamamoto family. From 1919-1921 he studied at Harvard University. Promoted to Commander apon his return to Japan he taught at the staff college before being sent to the new air-training centre at Kasumigaura in 1924 to direct it and to learn to fly. From 1926 to 1928, he was naval attache to the Japanese embassy in Washington. He was then appointed to the Naval Affairs bureau and made Rear Admiral, he attended the London Naval Conference in 1930. Back to Japan he joined the Naval Aviation bureau and from 1933 headed the bureau and directed the entire navy air program.
In December 1936, Yamamoto was made vice minister of the Japanese navy, from which position he argued passionately for more naval air power and opposed the construction of new battleships. He also opposed the invasion of Manchuria and the army hopes for an alliance with Germany. When Japanese planes attack a US gunboat on the Yangtze River in December 1937 he apologised personally to the American Ambassador. He became the target for right-wing assassination attempts, the entire Naval ministry had to be placed under constant guard. However on August 30, 1939 Yamamoto was promoted to full Admiral and appointed commander-in-chief of the entire fleet.
Yamamoto did not soften his logical anti-conflict stance, when the Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy in September 1940, Yamamoto warned Premier Konoe Fumimaro not to consider war with the United States: "If I am told to fight... I shall run wild for the first six months... but I have utterly no confidence for the second or third year." He also accurately envisaged the "island-hopping" and air dominance tactics such a war would have. His foresight also led him to believe that a pre-emptive strike against US Navy forces would be vital if war did occur.
Following the invasion of Indochina and the freezing of Japanese assets by the US in July 1941, Yamamoto won the argument over tactics and when in December war was declared the entire First Fleet air arm under Admiral Nagumo Chuichi was directed against the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, attacking on December 7. With around 350 planes launched from six carriers, eighteen American warships were sunk or disabled. Nagumo's failure to order a second search-and-strike against the American carriers and Yamamoto's disinclination to press him turned a tactical victory into a strategic defeat.
In the movies Tora! Tora! Tora! and Pearl Harbor, Yamamoto's character says, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." Considerable doubt exists, though, whether he actually ever said (or wrote) anything like that; it was probably invented for the movies.
Yamamato directed operations for the Battle of Java Sea on February 27-28, 1942. Without airpower playing a significant role and fought almost entirely by cruisers the Japanese defeated a combined force of Dutch, British, and American ships, thereby enabling Japan to seize Java.
Yamamoto then decided on an ambitious plan to defeat the American Pacific Fleet in a decisive battle. He chose the atoll of Midway Island as a strategic target that if the Japanese occupied it would draw out the American carriers. Yamamoto intended to drawn the Americans into a ambush to destroy the carriers. Yamamoto believed that if Japan did not soon win a decisive battle, defeat was simply a matter of time.
Yamamoto had at his disposal a massive fleet of some 250 ships, including eight carriers. Yamamoto's strategy was a very complex series of feints and diversionary attacks to trap the Americans. Unfortunately for the Japanese the Americans were well aware of the plan. Decoded intercepts of communications meant that by the end of May, the United States knew the date and place of the operation, as well as the composition of the Japanese forces. Compounding this there was poor communication on the Japanese side and the commanders were inadequately prepared.
The Battle of Midway, from June 4 to 6, 1942, was another aircraft only clash and a disaster for the Japanese, losing four carriers to the American loss of one and 3,500 men to only around 300 American dead.
Yamamoto never recovered from the defeat at Midway although he remained in command. He directed the Solomons campaign and realising the strategic importance of Battle of Guadalcanal, he initiated the efforts to remove the American troops who had landed on August 7, 1942. Yamamoto's forces suffered huge losses before he conceded that he could not could not dislodge the Americans. On January 4, 1943, he ordered the evacuation of the island. The actual evacuation was a tactical masterwork.
To boost morale following Guadalcanal, Yamamoto decided to make a inspection tour throughout the South Pacific. In April 1943, U.S. intelligence intercepted and decrypted reports of the tour. Eighteen American P-38 aircraft flew from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal to ambush Yamamoto in the air. On April 18, his transport aircraft was shot down near Kahili in Bougainville.