Dwight D. Eisenhower
Highest Rated: 89% Hearts and Minds (1975)
Lowest Rated: 89% Hearts and Minds (1975)
Birthplace: Denison, Texas, USA
Dwight David Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas. Hewas the third of seven sons born to David Jacob Eisenhower and Ida ElizabethStover. Both parents were of German descent. Eisenhower studied at the WestPoint Military Academy from 1911-1915. He served with the infantry, becamethe #3 leader of the tank corps, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonelby the end of the First World War. From 1922-1924 he served in the PanamaCanal Zone as executive officer to Gen. Fox Conner. From 1925-1926 hestudied at the Command and General Staff College in Kansas, and from1928-1933 he served as executive officer to Gen. George V. Moseley:Assistant Secretary of War, in Washington, DC.Eisenhower was chief military aide to Gen. Douglas MacArthur from 1933-1935.He accompanied MacArthur to the Philippines in 1935, and served there asassistant military adviser to the Philippine government until 1939. Back inWashington, he held various staff positions and was promoted to BrigadierGeneral in September 1941. Shortly after the Japanese attack on PearlHarbor, Eisenhower was assigned to the General Staff. There he graduallyrose to Assistant Chief of Staff under the Chief of Staff, Gen. George C.Marshall. Although Eisenhower had no experience in active military command,Marshall recognized his organizational and administrative strength. It washis association with Marshall that brought Eisenhower to London in June 1942as Commanding General of the European Theater of Operations. He was alsoappointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces of the North AfricanTheater of Operations, which was renamed the Mediterranean Theater ofOperations after the capitulation of the German army in Africa. In September1943 Eisenhower oversaw the Allied invasion of Sicily and then of Italy,which led to the immediate surrender of Italian forces in southern Italy.However, the German Winter Line fortifications in Italy kept fighting evenafter the fall of Berlin.Eisenhower was in charge of planning and carrying out the Allied landings inNormandy, France, and the invasion of Germany. The first part of his plan,named Operation Overlord, was the largest seaborne operation in history.Under this plan, 2.8 million Allied troops from 12 nations crossed theEnglish Channel. Starting on June 6, 1944, known as "D-Day", they landed onthe beaches of Normandy. After heavy fighting, the Allies breached thefortifications and pushed back the defending German forces. Two months laterthey reached Paris. Adolf Hitler had ordered the German commander of Paristo destroy the city rather than let it fall into Allied hands, but thatofficer refused to carry out those orders and eventually surrendered thecity to the Allies. After fighting that was not as fierce as was expected,the city of Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944. Eisenhower was withFrench Gen. Charles de Gaulle at the Hotel de Ville, where they greeted theAllied forces and took part in the French victory parade. After liberatingBelgium and the Netherlands, the Allied troops crossed into Germany. In 1945US and Soviet armies linked up on the Elbe River, west of Berlin. SoonEisenhower met with Russian Gen. Georgi Zhukov and the two made a trip tothe Soviet Union; the first (and only) time Eisenhower did so. After theGerman surrender on May 8, 1945, Eisenhower was made the Military Governorof the US Occupied Zone in Germany, based in Frankfurt. He ordered thedetailed search, documentation, photographing and widespread disseminationof what went on in the Nazi death camps. By actions such as these,Eisenhower began the process of documenting the horrors of the Holocaust.Although he had never been in action himself, Eisenhower was respected as abrilliant military strategist and skilled political leader during the SecondWorld War. He successfully dealt with conflicting demands from many sides,and managed to mollify such tough and determined personalities as WinstonChurchill, Joseph Stalin, Gen. Bernard L. Montgomery and Gen. George S.Patton. From 1945 to 1948 Eisenhower was Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army,and from 1950-1952 was Supreme Commander of all NATO forces.Eisenhower won the 1952 US presidential elections, with Richard Nixon as hisVice President, and brought the Republicans back to national power after 20years. He was President from 1953-1960, becoming the first and only armygeneral to serve as President in the 20th century, formally becoming acivilian during his term in office. He ended the Korean War and offeredpeaceful co-existence with the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin in1953. He invited Nikita Khrushchev to his first visit to the US in 1959, andhosted him at his farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where his children andgrandchildren met the family of the Soviet leader. Shortly after that,however, the Soviets shot down an American U2 spy plane, captured the pilotand canceled Eisenhower's reciprocal visit to the Soviet Union. Relationsbetween the two superpowers deteriorated very quickly, leading to anincreasingly rapid nuclear arms race and a dangerous standoff in the ColdWar.Domestically, Eisenhower began the modernization and integration of Americanroads into the interstate highway system, modeled after the autobahn, whichhe saw in Germany. In spite of some serious setbacks with US-Sovietrelations, overall his presidency was a successful example of a non-partisanapproach to politics.After his presidential term expired (US Presidents can only serve twoterms), Eisenhower was again commissioned a five-star general in the army.He lived in retirement on his farm in Gettysburg, where he wrote hismemoirs. He died on March 28, 1969, at the Army Hospital in Washington, DC,and was laid to rest in Abilene, Kansas, at the Eisenhower PresidentialLibrary.
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