Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists

 






The World Wars and Interwar Period 

1914-1945


 


The first half of the 20th century saw the world entangled in two global wars, conducted with an unprecedented brutality. The First World War developed from a purely European affair into a conflict involving the colonies and the United States. It altered Europe's political landscape and shifted the power balance worldwide. In World War II, the nations of Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa were drawn into the conflict through the aggressive policies of an ambitious Nazi Germany. The war was conducted with the most up-to-date weapons technology and cost the lives of more than 55 million people. The Holocaust, the systematic annihilation of the European Jews, represented an unparalleled moral catastrophe for modern civilization.


 



Pablo Picasso "Weeping Woman", 1937

 

 

 


The Second World War
 


1939-1945
 

 


Allied forces propaganda poster, 1943

 

With its attack on Poland in September 1939, the German Nazi regime under Hitler initiated the most devastating military conflict in world history to date. Before the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, World War II claimed the lives of some 62 million people. The heavily ideological aspect of the war led to incomprehensible crimes against humanity. World War II fundamentally altered the international political situation. The victorious United States and the Soviet Union became the leading world powers.

 


Pillage and Persecution: The German Occupation Policy
 

Alongside the reordering in the East modeled on the Nazi ideology, economic exploitation characterized the German occupation policy in all the captured lands. More than a few locals cooperated with the Nazi occupiers.

 

In Poland, Denmark, Belgium, Franee, Yugoslavia, Greece, parts of the Soviet Union, and later Italy, Hungary, and Slovakia—in the whole area under German control or influence—the Nazi occupation policy was designed for, in addition to the extermination of the |ews, the exploitation of the countries for German war aims.

Local 9 industries and agriculture were made subordinate to the requirements of the German war economy.

In order to meet the need for armament materials in the course of the war, Nazi leaders also increased the use of 10 foreign workers in the homeland.

At first, only prisoners of war were forcibly transported to Germany and coerced to work, but later it was 13 civilians, too.

German industry employed a total of around 12 million forced laborers during the war.


9 German soldiers at the fish market in Copenhagen, 1940


10 Foreign worker from Eastern Europe, wearing the sign Ost ("East"), 1943


13 Poster for the recruitment of Dutch
people for work in the agricultural sector
in the East, 1942

Whereas in the Eastern countries the subjugation of the Slavic peoples took priority, German administrators actively tried to enlist the 11 support of the local populations in the occupied countries of Western and Northern Europe.

In these areas, the people mostly maintained a passive wait-and-see attitude; only a few put up any resistance, and there were some who were even willing to cooperate with the Germans.

The mass deportation of Jews from all over Europe to the extermination camps would not have been possible without collaborators. In addition, a total of 21 12 foreign volunteer units provided support to the German army in its campaigns of conquest.

The first were the Norwegians, Danes, Finns, Dutch, and Belgians who formed the "Viking Division" in 1940. The Germans received a particularly great influx of support at the beginning of the attack on the Soviet Union.

A captured Russian lieutenant general, 14 Andrei Wlassow, built up an anti-Communist army of prisoners of war and Russian volunteers in 1942.

When Germany's defeat became foreseeable, military support sank. Nevertheless, at the beginning of 1945, the volunteer units still comprised around a million non-Germans.


11 Poster promoting the international unit of the Waffen SS in France. 1941


12 Mohammedan volunteers as mountain soldiers of the Waffen SS, 1944


14 General Andrei Wlassow inspecting
his troops, 1944

 

 


The War Conferences of the Allies
 

Following the German attack on the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union formed a common alliance against Germany. At several conferences, the "Big Three" decided upon the essential outline of a postwar European order.

 

The German attack on the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 pushed the contrasting ideological and political power interests of the three great powers— the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union—into the background in favor of an anti-Hitler coalition. In October they signed a mutual armament agreement. The United States had already obligated itself in March 1941 to support all enemies of Germany through the Lend-Lease Act.

In January 1942, the United States and Britain created a 1 joint military staff for strategic coordination of the war.


1 Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower

Throughout the war convoys endured harsh weather conditions and extreme danger to transport valuable cargoes and supplies to Russian Murmansk.

Despite the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill agreed that victory over Germany should be the first priority.

In the 2 Atlantic Charter of August 14,1941, they announced "the end of Nazi tyranny" to the suppressed countries of Europe, proclaimed the right of free self-determination of nations, and declared the rejection of political and economic imperialism as the principles of the future postwar order.

Tensions developed within the anti-Hitler coalition in 1942 because Stalin was worried that the territories in Poland and the Baltic region he had gained under the Nazi-Soviet pact would not be recognized and was aggravated by the continual postponement of a "second front" in the West that would relieve pressure on the Red Army.

Stalin even explored the possibilities of peace talks with Hitler. However, he aligned himself with the demand by the United States and Britain for Germany's unconditional surrender at the conference at 3 Casablanca on January 24, 1943.

In 4 Tehran, at the first conference of the "Big Three" in late 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill took the successes of the Red Army into account and agreed to the "shifting west" in favor of the Soviet Union.

Shortly before Germany's final military defeat, the 6 partition of Germany into four occupation zones with a common control council and with the participation of France was decided at 5 Yalta in February 1945.

Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to give Stalin a free hand in politically reorganizing Eastern and Southern Europe in exchange for his aid in the war against Japan after Germany's capitulation. This paved the way for the foundation of the Communist "satellite states" of the Soviet empire after 1945.

 


2 Atlantic Charter, 1941: Roosevelt and Churchill

 

 Atlantic Charter

Main
agreement, United Kingdom-United States

joint declaration issued on Aug. 14, 1941, during World War II, by the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, and Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt of the still non-belligerent United States, after four days of conferences aboard warships anchored at Placentia Bay, off the coast of Newfoundland.

A statement of common aims, the charter held that (1) neither nation sought any aggrandizement; (2) they desired no territorial changes without the free assent of the peoples concerned; (3) they respected every people’s right to choose its own form of government and wanted sovereign rights and self-government restored to those forcibly deprived of them; (4) they would try to promote equal access for all states to trade and to raw materials; (5) they hoped to promote worldwide collaboration so as to improve labour standards, economic progress, and social security; (6) after the destruction of “Nazi tyranny,” they would look for a peace under which all nations could live safely within their boundaries, without fear or want; (7) under such a peace the seas should be free; and (8) pending a general security through renunciation of force, potential aggressors must be disarmed.

The Atlantic Charter was subsequently incorporated by reference in the Declaration of the United Nations (Jan. 1, 1942).

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 


3 Conference at Casablanca, 1943: Roosevelt, General de Gaulle and Churchill

 

Casablanca Conference

Main
United Kingdom-United States [1943]

(January 12–23, 1943), meeting during World War II in Casablanca, Morocco, between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and their respective military chiefs and aides, who planned future global military strategy for the western Allies. Though invited, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin declined to attend.

The work of the conference was primarily military—deciding on the invasion of Sicily (after completion of the North African campaign) rather than an immediate invasion of western Europe, apportioning forces for the Pacific theatre and outlining major lines of attack in the Far East, and agreeing on the concentrated bombing of Germany. Roosevelt and Churchill also found time to discuss nuclear bomb research, to consider competing claims between Henri Giraud and Charles de Gaulle for the leadership of the French war effort against the Axis powers, and, most important of all, to demand an “unconditional surrender” from Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Both the announcement and the policy of unconditional surrender were severely criticized after the war, when it was contended that opposition groups in Germany might have overthrown Adolf Hitler and negotiated an earlier peace if the German military had not been alarmed and galvanized by the prospect of Allied vindictiveness. Churchill’s reply was that any statement of terms acceptable at that time to Allied leaders and to their peoples—such as the partition of Germany, its complete demilitarization, and reparations in kind and in forced labour—would not have been acceptable to German leaders. In Japan, unconditional surrender may also have complicated termination of the Pacific War. This is a debate that lives to this day.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 


4 Conference at Tehran, 1943: Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill

 

Tehran Conference

Main
World War II

(November 28–December 1, 1943), meeting between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin in Tehrān during World War II. The chief discussion centred on the opening of a “second front” in western Europe. Stalin agreed to an eastern offensive to coincide with the forthcoming Western Front, and he pressed the western leaders to proceed with formal preparations for their long-promised invasion of German-occupied France.

Though military questions were dominant, the Tehrān Conference saw more discussion of political issues than had occurred in any previous meeting between Allied governmental heads. Not only did Stalin reiterate that the Soviet Union should retain the frontiers provided by the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact of 1939 and by the Russo-Finnish Treaty of 1940, but he also stated that it would want the Baltic coast of East Prussia. Though the settlement for Germany was discussed at length, all three Allied leaders appeared uncertain; their views were imprecise on the topic of a postwar international organization; and, on the Polish question, the western Allies and the Soviet Union found themselves in sharp dissension, Stalin expressing his continued distaste for the Polish government-in-exile in London. On Iran, which Allied forces were partly occupying, they were able to agree on a declaration (published on December 1, 1943) guaranteeing the postwar independence and territorial integrity of that state and promising postwar economic assistance.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 


5 Conference at Yalta, 1945: Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin

 

Yalta Conference

Main
World War II

(Feb. 4–11, 1945), major World War II conference of the three chief Allied leaders, President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain, and Premier Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, which met at Yalta in the Crimea to plan the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany.

It had already been decided that Germany would be divided into occupied zones administered by U.S., British, French, and Soviet forces. The conferees accepted the principle that the Allies had no duty toward the Germans except to provide minimum subsistence, declared that the German military industry would be abolished or confiscated, and agreed that major war criminals would be tried before an international court, which subsequently presided at Nürnberg. The determination of reparations was assigned to a commission.

How to deal with the defeated or liberated countries of eastern Europe was the main problem discussed at the conference. The agreements reached, which were accepted by Stalin, called for “interim governmental authorities broadly representative of all democratic elements in the population . . . and the earliest possible establishment through free elections of governments responsive to the will of the people.” Britain and the United States supported a Polish government-in-exile in London, while the Soviets supported a communist-dominated Polish committee of national liberation in Lublin. Neither the Western Allies nor the Soviet Union would change its allegience, so they could only agree that the Lublin committee would be broadened to include representatives of other Polish political groups, upon which the Allies would recognize it as a provisional government of national unity that would hold free elections to choose a successor government. Poland’s future frontiers were also discussed but not decided.

Regarding the Far East, a secret protocol stipulated that, in return for the Soviet Union’s entering the war against Japan within “two or three months” after Germany’s surrender, the U.S.S.R. would regain the territory lost to Japan in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05, and the status quo in pro-Soviet Outer Mongolia would be maintained. Stalin agreed to sign a pact of alliance and friendship with China.

The United Nations organization charter had already been drafted, and the conferees worked out a compromise formula for voting in the Security Council. The Soviets withdrew their claim that all 16 Soviet republics should have membership in the General Assembly.

After the agreements reached at Yalta were made public in 1946, they were harshly criticized in the United States. This was because, as events turned out, Stalin failed to keep his promise that free elections would be held in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Instead, communist governments were established in all those countries, noncommunist political parties were suppressed, and genuinely democratic elections were never held. At the time of the Yalta Conference, both Roosevelt and Churchill had trusted Stalin and believed that he would keep his word. Neither leader had suspected that Stalin intended that all the Popular Front governments in Europe would be taken over by communists. Roosevelt and Churchill were further inclined to assent to the Yalta agreements because they assumed, mistakenly as it turned out, that Soviet assistance would be sorely needed to defeat the Japanese in the Pacific and Manchuria. In any case, the Soviet Union was the military occupier of eastern Europe at the war’s end, and so there was little the Western democracies could do to enforce the promises made by Stalin at Yalta. The formulation by American delegation member James F. Byrnes, soon to be secretary of state (1945–47), was apt: “It was not a question of what we would let the Russians do, but what we could get the Russians to do.”

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 


6 Map showing the German occupation areas, 1945

 

 


The Advance of the Allies
 

The German army was forced to retreat on all fronts by the Allied advance from 1943. The successful Allied invasion of the French mainland in June 1944 finally brought the decisive turning point in favor of the Allies.

 

As in World War I, the entry into the war of the materially superior United States and its huge manpower in the form of the 7 US armament industry ensured the downfall of the Axis powers.

The European conflict had become a worldwide war following the 8 Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declarations of war on the United States by Germany and Italy on December 11,1941. The overwhelming strength of the Allies pressing against the German
occupation troops from the west and south from 1943 onwards put them on the defensive and forced them to retreat back to the borders of Germany.

Following the German-Italian surrender in North Africa, the Allies invaded 11 Italy in July 1943.

The Fascist government fell apart when Mussolini was overthrown on July 25,1943. Italy's new government surrendered and then joined the Allies in the war against Germany. Beginning in 1943, the German allies Romania and Bulgaria had been forced successivelyby the Allies to accept a cease-fire, and German troops had had to evacuate Greece and parts of Yugoslavia. Soviet troops stood outside East Prussia in August 1943.


7 Poster promoting the recruitment of American women for industry, 1943


8 Aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, 1941


11 US troops in Naples, 1945

The second front in the West that Stalin had demanded was established with the landing in Normandy of an enormous 12 Allied force on June 6,1944.

In an immense military operation, 326,000 soldiers with more than 50,000 vehicles went ashore on the French Atlantic Coast within five days, suffering 9 heavy losses in the process, as 10,000 aircraft secured the airspace above.

On August 25,1944, 10 Paris was retaken with the support of French troops—who were evacuated to Great Britain before the German occupation in 1940— and the French resistance movement.

In the East, the Red Army had advanced to the German border.

Nevertheless, the Germans continued to offer determined resistance despite the hopelessness of the situation. The Nazi leadership mobilized the population to "total war". Only the bloody conquest of all of Germany could end the war.


12 Landing of the Allied force in Normandy, June 6, 1944


9 Omaha Beach, cemetery for American soldiers in Normandy


10 German soldiers surrender in Paris,
Auqust 25, 1944

 

 

D-Day

The Allied invasion in France was the largest military operation of the war and went down in history as "D-Day."

The term does not stand for "Decision Day " or "Disembarkation Day," as is often assumed, but rather is the military convention for denoting the first day of a military operation.

The capitalized D, being the first letter of "day," is used to emphasize this. The actual name of the operation was "Operation Overlord."


Eisenhower talking to soldiers of the Allied forces, June 1944
 

 

 

 

Dwight D. Eisenhower



Dwight D. Eisenhower

Main
president of United States
in full Dwight David Eisenhower

born October 14, 1890, Denison, Texas, U.S.
died March 28, 1969, Washington, D.C.


34th president of the United States (1953–61), who had been supreme commander of the Allied forces in western Europe during World War II. (For a discussion of the history and nature of the presidency, see presidency of the United States of America.)

Early career
Eisenhower was the third of seven sons of David Jacob and Ida Elizabeth (Stover) Eisenhower. In the spring of 1891 the Eisenhowers left Denison, Texas, and returned to Abilene, Kansas, where their forebears had settled as part of a Mennonite colony. David worked in a creamery; the family was poor; and Dwight and his brothers were introduced to hard work and a strong religious tradition at an early age.

“Ike,” as Dwight was called, was a fun-loving youth who enjoyed sports but took only a moderate interest in his studies. The latter was perhaps a sign of one of his later characteristics: a dislike for the company of scholars. Dwight graduated from Abilene High School in 1909, worked for more than a year to support a brother’s college education, and then entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, a decision that left his mother, a pacifist, in tears. He excelled in gridiron football but injured a knee in his second year at the academy and was forced to stop playing. In the remarkable class of 1915—which was to produce 59 generals—he ranked 61st academically and 125th in discipline out of the total of 164 graduates.

Commissioned a second lieutenant, he was sent to San Antonio, Texas, where he met Mamie Geneva Doud (Mamie Eisenhower), daughter of a successful Denver, Colorado, meat packer. They were married in 1916 and had two sons: Doud Dwight, born in 1917, who died of scarlet fever in 1921, and John Sheldon Doud, born in 1922.

During World War I, Eisenhower commanded a tank training centre, was promoted to captain, and received the Distinguished Service Medal. The war ended just before he was to be sent overseas. From 1922 to 1924 he was assigned to the Panama Canal Zone, and there he came under the inspiring influence of his commander, Brigadier General Fox Conner. With Conner’s assistance, Eisenhower was selected to attend the army’s Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Then a major, he graduated first in a class of 275 in 1926 and two years later graduated from the Army War College. He then served in France (where he wrote a guidebook of World War I battlefields) and in Washington, D.C., before becoming an aide to Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur in 1933. Two years later he accompanied MacArthur to the Philippines to assist in the reorganization of the commonwealth’s army, and while there he was awarded the Distinguished Service Star of the Philippines and promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He returned to the United States shortly after Germany’s invasion of Poland initiated the European phase of World War II, and in March 1941 he became a full colonel. Three months later he was made chief of staff of the Third Army, and he soon won the attention of Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall for his role in planning war games involving almost 500,000 troops.


Supreme commander
When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, Marshall appointed Eisenhower to the army’s war plans division in Washington, D.C., where he prepared strategy for an Allied invasion of Europe. Eisenhower had been made a brigadier general in September 1941 and was promoted to major general in March 1942; he was also named head of the operations division of the War Department. In June Marshall selected him over 366 senior officers to be commander of U.S. troops in Europe. Eisenhower’s rapid advancement, after a long army career spent in relative obscurity, was due not only to his knowledge of military strategy and talent for organization but also to his ability to persuade, mediate, and get along with others. Men from a wide variety of backgrounds, impressed by his friendliness, humility, and persistent optimism, liked and trusted him. A phrase that later became one of the most famous campaign slogans in American history seemed to reflect the impression of everyone who met him: “I like Ike!”

Eisenhower was promoted to lieutenant general in July 1942 and named to head Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French North Africa. This first major Allied offensive of the war was launched on November 8, 1942, and successfully completed in May 1943. Eisenhower’s decision to work during the campaign with the French admiral François Darlan, who had collaborated with the Germans, aroused a storm of protest from the Allies, but his action was defended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. A full general since that February, Eisenhower then directed the amphibious assault of Sicily and the Italian mainland, which resulted in the fall of Rome on June 4, 1944.

During the fighting in Italy, Eisenhower participated in plans to cross the English Channel for an invasion of France. On December 24, 1943, he was appointed supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and the next month he was in London making preparations for the massive thrust into Europe. On June 6, 1944, he gambled on a break in bad weather and gave the order to launch the Normandy Invasion, the largest amphibious attack in history. On D-Day more than 156,000 troops landed in Normandy. Invading Allied forces eventually numbered 1,000,000 and began to fight their way into the heart of France. On August 25 Paris was liberated. After winning the Battle of the Bulge—a fierce German counterattack in the Ardennes in December—the Allies crossed the Rhine on March 7, 1945. Germany surrendered on May 7, ending the war in Europe. Although Eisenhower was criticized, then and later, for allowing the Russians to capture the enemy capital of Berlin, he and others defended his actions on several grounds (the Russians were closer, had more troops, and had been promised Berlin at the Yalta Conference of February 1945). In the meantime, in December 1944, Eisenhower had been made a five-star general.

Eisenhower was given a hero’s welcome upon returning to the United States for a visit in June 1945, but in November his intended retirement was delayed when President Harry S. Truman named him to replace Marshall as chief of staff. For more than two years Eisenhower directed demobilization of the wartime army and worked to unify the armed services under a centralized command. In May 1948 he left active duty the most popular and respected soldier in the United States and became president of Columbia University in New York City. His book Crusade in Europe, published that fall, made him a wealthy man.

Eisenhower’s brief career as an academic administrator was not especially successful. His technical education and military experience prepared him poorly for the post. In the fall of 1950 President Truman asked him to become supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and in early 1951 he flew to Paris to assume his new position. For the next 15 months he devoted himself to the task of creating a united military organization in western Europe to be a defense against the possibility of communist aggression.
 


Dwight D. Eisenhower


First term as president
As early as 1943 Eisenhower was mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. His personal qualities and military reputation prompted both parties to woo him. As the campaign of 1952 neared, Eisenhower let it be known that he was a Republican, and the eastern wing of the party, headed by Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, made an intensive effort to persuade him to seek the Republican presidential nomination. His name was entered in several state primaries against the more conservative Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio. Although the results were mixed, Eisenhower decided to run. In June 1952 he retired from the army after 37 years of service, returned to the United States, and began to campaign actively. At the party convention in July, after a bitter fight with Taft supporters, Eisenhower won the nomination on the first ballot. His running mate was Senator Richard M. Nixon of California. The Democrats nominated Governor Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois for president and Senator John Sparkman of Alabama for vice president.

Despite his age (61), Eisenhower campaigned tirelessly, impressing millions with his warmth and sincerity. His wide, friendly grin, wartime heroics, and middle-class pastimes—he was an avid golfer and bridge player and a fan not of highbrow literature but of the American western—endeared him to the public and garnered him vast support. Like her husband, Mamie Eisenhower projected a down-to-earth image. She remained an ardent supporter of him, though their marriage had been strained by rumours of an affair during World War II between Eisenhower and his driver-secretary Kay Summersby.

Eisenhower urged economy and honesty in government and promised to visit Korea to explore the possibilities for ending the Korean War, which had broken out in 1950 between communist North Korea and pro-Western South Korea and soon involved United Nations (mainly U.S.) troops and communist Chinese forces. Many Republicans, including Nixon, spoke of pro-communist disloyalty within the Truman administration and called for stringent antisubversive measures. The Eisenhower-Nixon ticket won handily, carrying 39 states, winning the electoral vote 442 to 89, and collecting more than 33 million popular votes. (See primary source document: First Inaugural Address.) The Republican Party won control of Congress by a slim margin but lost both houses two years later.

Eisenhower’s basically conservative views on domestic affairs were shared by his secretary of the treasury, George M. Humphrey. The administration’s domestic program, which came to be labeled “modern Republicanism,” called for reduced taxes, balanced budgets, a decrease in government control over the economy, and the return of certain federal responsibilities to the states. Controls over rents, wages, and prices were allowed to expire, and in 1954 there was a slight tax revision. At Eisenhower’s insistence Congress transferred the title to valuable tideland oil reserves to the states. But there was no sharp break with policies inherited from previous Democratic administrations. The needs of an expanding population (which grew from 155 million to 179 million during the Eisenhower era) and the country’s overseas commitments caused budget deficits during five out of eight years. The minimum wage was increased to $1 per hour; the Social Security System was broadened; and in the spring of 1953 the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was created.

The right wing of the Republican Party clashed with the president more often than the Democrats did during his first term. For example, Eisenhower expended a great deal of time and energy defeating the Bricker Amendment of 1954, the bill sponsored by Republican Senator John Bricker of Ohio that would have limited the president’s liberty to negotiate international treaties that violated the rights of U.S. states. The bill fell only one vote short; it was a victory for the president’s extensive lobbying campaign. But by far the largest challenge came from Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin. In part to preserve party unity, Eisenhower had refused to publicly condemn Senator McCarthy’s charges of communist influence within the government. Although privately Eisenhower expressed his distaste for the senator, at times he seemed to encourage the attacks of McCarthyites. Hundreds of federal employees were fired under his expanded loyalty-security program. With his approval Congress passed a law designed to outlaw the American Communist Party. Following the sensational hearings on McCarthy’s charges against army and civilian officials, televised nationally for five weeks in the spring of 1954, McCarthy’s popularity waned, as did the anticommunist hysteria.

Foreign affairs drew much of Eisenhower’s attention. He and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, worked hard at achieving peace by constructing collective defense agreements and by threatening the Soviet Union with “massive retaliatory power”; both strategies were designed to check the spread of communism. Another strategy was unknown to the public at the time but was heavily criticized in later years: the use of the Central Intelligence Agency in covert operations to overthrow governments in Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954).

Eisenhower kept his campaign promise and visited Korea shortly after his inauguration. Partly, perhaps, because of Joseph Stalin’s death in March 1953 and partly because Eisenhower hinted at his willingness to use nuclear weapons, the president was able to negotiate a truce for the Korean War in July 1953. In December of that year he proposed to the United Nations that the countries of the world pool atomic information and materials under the auspices of an international agency. This Atoms for Peace speech (see original text) bore fruit in 1957, when 62 countries formed the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In July 1955 the president met with leaders of Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union at a summit conference in Geneva. His “open skies” proposal, by which the United States and the Soviet Union would permit continuous air inspection of each other’s military installations, was welcomed by world opinion but was rejected by the U.S.S.R. In September 1954 Eisenhower and Dulles succeeded in creating the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) to prevent further communist expansion. It was composed of the United States, France, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, and Pakistan. NATO was strengthened in 1955 by the inclusion of West Germany.

Critics contended that there were frequent disparities between the administration’s words and its deeds in the field of foreign relations. While threatening to “unleash” Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek, the United States signed a defense treaty with Nationalist China in December 1954 that inhibited Chiang’s ability to attack the communist Chinese. Moreover, Dulles spoke of “liberating” captive peoples in communist countries, but the administration stopped short of this and limited itself to protests when uprisings occurred in East Germany (1953) and Hungary (1956). While the secretary of state promised “massive retaliation” against communist aggression, the president made the decision to limit the American role in the Indochina crisis between France and the guerrillas led by Ho Chi Minh to pushing for a partition of Vietnam into a communist North and a noncommunist South and to providing financial and military aid to the latter.


Dwight D. Eisenhower


Second term
A heart attack in September 1955 and an operation for ileitis in June 1956 raised considerable doubt about Eisenhower’s ability to serve a second term. But he recovered quickly, and the Republican convention unanimously endorsed the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket on the first ballot. The Democrats again selected Adlai E. Stevenson and named Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee as his running mate, but Eisenhower’s great personal popularity turned the election into a landslide victory, the most one-sided race since 1936, as the Republican ticket garnered more than 57 percent of the popular vote and won the electoral vote 457 to 73. (See primary source document: Second Inaugural Address.) Nevertheless, the Democrats once more captured both houses of Congress, a feat they were to duplicate in 1958. Eisenhower was the first president to serve with three Congresses controlled by the opposition party.

The election campaign of 1956, however, had been complicated by a crisis in the Middle East over Egypt’s seizure of the Suez Canal. The subsequent attack on Egypt by Great Britain, France, and Israel and the Soviet Union’s support of Egypt prompted the president to go before Congress in January 1957 to urge adoption of what came to be called the Eisenhower Doctrine, a pledge to send U.S. armed forces to any Middle Eastern country requesting assistance against communist aggression.

When the U.S. Supreme Court, on May 17, 1954, declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka), controversy and violence broke out, especially in the South. In September 1957 Eisenhower dispatched 1,000 federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to halt an attempt by Governor Orval E. Faubus to obstruct a federal court order integrating a high school. This action was the most serious challenge of his presidency. On several occasions Eisenhower had expressed distaste for racial segregation, though he doubtless believed that the process of integration would take time. Significantly, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was the first such law passed since 1875.

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth. Americans were stunned by the achievement, and many blamed Eisenhower for the administration’s insistence on low military budgets and its failure to develop a space program. Steps were taken to boost space research and to provide funds to increase the study of science, and these culminated in the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in July 1958. The administration again came under fire in the fall of 1957 for an economic recession that lasted through the following summer. For fear of fueling inflation, Eisenhower refused to lower taxes or increase federal spending to ease the slump.

Following the death of Dulles in the spring of 1959, Eisenhower assumed a more vigorous and personal role in the direction of American foreign policy. He traveled over 300,000 miles (480,000 km) to some 27 countries in his last two years of office, a period historians have termed the era of “the new Eisenhower.” His masterly use of the new medium of television—holding regularly televised news conferences and participating in high-profile motorcades in foreign capitals around the world—and his exploitation of the advent of jet travel captivated the public and led some scholars to term Eisenhower the first of the imperial presidents. To improve relations with the Soviet Union, he invited Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev to visit the United States. Khrushchev toured parts of the country in September 1959 and held private talks with Eisenhower. Another summit meeting was planned, and a new era of personal diplomacy seemed at hand. But when a U-2 reconnaissance plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers of the United States was shot down over the U.S.S.R. in May 1960, Khrushchev scuttled the talks and angrily withdrew his invitation to Eisenhower to visit the Soviet Union. Eisenhower admitted that the flights had gone on for four years and shouldered much of the blame for the ill-timed affair. In January 1961, during the last weeks of the Eisenhower administration, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Cuba, which for two years had been under the control of Fidel Castro.

Although his administrations had a great many critics, Eisenhower remained extraordinarily popular. In his Farewell Address (see original text) he warned against the rise and power of “the military-industrial complex,” but his successors ignored him amid the perceived demands of the Cold War. When he left office, Congress restored his rank as general of the army. He retired to his farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and devoted much of his time to his memoirs. In 1963 he published Mandate for Change, which was followed in 1965 by Waging Peace. A lighter work, At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends, appeared in 1967.

Thomas C. Reeves

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

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