Visit the German Corner Home Page

On-Line Books
History Essays
German Mall

Terms of Use
Privacy Statement

German Corner Website     German-American Mall     Contact

EISENHOWER, Dwight David (1890-1969)

Biography Main Menu

Previous Page

Next Page

Hosted by WebCom

EISENHOWER, Dwight David (1890-1969), American military leader, whose great popularity as Allied supreme commander during World War II secured him election as the 34th president of the U.S. (1953-61).Early Life. Born in Denison, Tex., on Oct. 14, 1890, Eisenhower grew up on a small farm in Abilene, Kans. His devout and industrious parents, David (1863-1942) and Ida (1862-1946), raised six sons. Interested in sports and history, young Dwight went to West Point for the free education. Eisenhower was commissioned an infantry officer upon graduation in 1915 and married Mamie Doud (1896-1979) the following year. They had two sons, one of whom died in childhood. Eisenhower did not see combat duty during World War I, but he was decorated and promoted to lieutenant colonel for his administrative skills in commanding a tank corps training center. In the interwar years, he was recognized as a promising leader at the Command and General Staff school and served as an industrial mobilization planner and as aide to the army chief of staff and later military adviser to the Philippines, Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Service in World War II. During training exercises in 1940-41, Eisenhower won praise in several army staff positions, culminating in that of chief of staff of the Third Army; at the same time he was promoted to brigadier general. Called to the War Department as a Philippines expert a few days after the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, he won further promotion to major general and was named chief of the newly organized Operations Division of the General Staff three months later. By this time the army's top planner, he then prepared plans for the European theater of operations, and in June 1942 he was given command of U.S. forces in Europe by Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall. Subsequently as Allied commander in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, he demonstrated outstanding skill in forging the allies into an effective fighting force and managing the large-scale operations. Appointed supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force for the invasion of France, Eisenhower, by then a full general, began his new assignment in January 1944. In the months prior to the invasion, on June 6, 1944, he supervised the preparation of air, sea, and land forces and all other strategic planning and made the crucial decision on the date of the assault. During the fighting that ensued until the end of the war in Europe, Eisenhower, who became General of the Army in December 1944, had the overall responsibility of strategic and administrative control of an Allied force that eventually numbered more than 4,500,000. Because it was strategically safer and logistically sounder, Eisenhower employed a broad-front strategy, requiring all his armies to advance more or less simultaneously. This caused disagreement with the British commander, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who favored the risky single-thrust theory of concentrating the attack in one area. As supreme commander, Eisenhower prevailed, skillfully using his knowledge and experience combined with charm and tact to achieve success in his task, which involved not only fighting the Germans but also dealing with sometimes difficult allies and troublesome subordinates. In the fall of 1945, Eisenhower became army chief of staff. During his tenure in that office slightly more than two years he had the dual role of demobilizing the wartime army while maintaining a suitable defense force. Although he accepted the presidency of Columbia University in 1948, he still served as a military adviser, and, some three years later, he returned to Europe as supreme commander for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.Eisenhower as President. Although he had previously rejected numerous overtures from members of both parties to run for the presidency, Eisenhower yielded to the appeal of liberal Republicans in 1952. As a war hero of enormous popularity, he appealed to many Democrats as well, and he handily defeated Adlai Stevenson by more than 6.6 million votes. When he ran again in 1956, the margin was 9.5 million.Domestic policy. Although his cabinet featured prominent businessmen, and his own desire was for less government involvement in society and the economy, Eisenhower pursued a moderate course in domestic affairs to the evident satisfaction of most Americans. Throughout all but the first two years of his administration, his power was limited by the Democrats' control of Congress. He did trim some government activities but also expanded the Social Security program, aid to education, and the Interstate Highway System. Never-the-less, in his farewell address, he returned to his concern about the dangers of big government with a strong warning against the "military-industrial complex." During his administration, critics pointed out his failure to oppose Senator Joseph McCarthy's smear tactics against alleged subversives in government and his lack of support for the emerging civil rights movement. McCarthyism soon collapsed without presidential intervention, however, and Eisenhower did send federal troops to Little Rock, Ark., to enforce school integration in 1957.Foreign policy. As was natural for a man of his background, Eisenhower took particular interest in military and diplomatic affairs. This led him to invigorate the National Security Council, bring a quick end (July 27, 1953) to the stalemated war in Korea, and reduce the strength of the conventional forces. His emphasis on airpower, which meant nuclear weapons a strategy of massive retaliation rather than response tailored to the specific situation evoked strong dissent from army leaders. Despite temporary thaws, the cold war with the Soviet Union continued throughout his presidency. Eisenhower supported the strong moralistic, anti-Communist stance of his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles. Although Dulles talked of "going to the brink" of war to gain diplomatic ends, his rhetoric outstripped the administration's actions. Eisenhower did not intervene militarily in Vietnam to save the French (1954) or in Eastern Europe to aid German and Hungarian revolts against Soviet domination (1953 and 1956). He did, however, dispatch a small expedition to Lebanon in 1958, and he built up alliances with Third World nations. Soviet threats, as well as such technological and psychological coups as the launching of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, in Octo ber 1957, drew a typically cautious response from him. In the spring of 1960, his acceptance of responsibility for a U-2 plane's spy flight over the USSR brought a temporary end to hopes for harmonious relations with the Soviet Union. In retirement, the former president wrote several volumes of memoirs and enjoyed his hobbies of golf and painting. Both presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson consulted the still popular elder statesman. He died on March 28, 1969, in Washington, D. C. E.M.C. For further information on this person.


In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, speech (farewell address, 1961)[This is the earliest known use of the term "military-industrial complex."]

[Home] [Biographies] [On-Line Books] [History Essays] [Stamps] [Teaching] [Links]

Copyright © 1996-2000
Davitt Publications.
All rights reserved.
For more information contact

This German-American history website is financially sponsored by the German Corner, and does not generate any revenues for the German Corner or Davitt Publications.  The sole purpose of this site is to be of service to the public.