Who was Dwight Eisenhower

Died 50 years agoThe American politician Dwight D. Eisenhower

"I hate the war, its brutality and its stupidity, as only a soldier who has lived through it can."

Dwight D. Eisenhower, who spoke these words in 1946, was an exceptional soldier. During the Second World War, as commander-in-chief of the Allied troops in Europe, he contributed more than anyone to the overthrow of fascism.

The planning of the invasion of Normandy was an unprecedented task which, in addition to energy and intelligence, required the highest degree of diplomatic skill: it was necessary to integrate British and American associations and thereby overcome the reservations of the British military elite about an American commander in chief.

From soldier to politician

Eisenhower succeeded with flying colors, as the Admiral of the Royal Navy, Andrew Cunningham, testified: "It was not long before people recognized him as the great man he is: gripping, competent, direct and far-sighted, with great charm and always with a slight childlike astonishment that he had gotten into such a high position. "

In fact, Eisenhower, who was born in 1890 and grew up in modest circumstances in the state of Kansas, had an even bigger task: the popular career officer with the contagious laugh, known by everyone as "Ike", was the ideal presidential candidate. In 1952, Eisenhower gave in to the Republicans' bidding and allowed himself to be set up - he won the election by a huge margin.

The Cold War between East and West had long been under way. On the day of his inauguration in January 1953, Eisenhower described the world situation with the words:

"We have reached the middle of a century of continuous challenges. We feel everywhere that forces of good and evil are concentrated and armed against each other as seldom before in history. ... We are called as a nation to testify to the world of our faith to abandon the fact that the future belongs to freedom. "

Appointed liberal constitutional judge

Eisenhower's appointment of the sharp anti-communist John Foster Dulles as Secretary of State fueled fears that the president was a mere puppet of the hardliners of the Republican Party. But the truce signed in July 1953 with communist North Korea showed that Eisenhower did not want to push through the "rollback" of communism called for by the right at any cost.

Eisenhower quickly took the reins in hand on domestic politics as well: He appointed the liberal Earl Warren as the highest federal judge at the Supreme Court, whose jurisdiction encouraged the civil rights movement of African Americans.

Concerned about the division of the nation, Eisenhower complained: "Warren's calling was the greatest foolishness of my life!" - But when it came down to it, Eisenhower was on the side of constitutional law and the equality of all citizens: For example, he sent federal police and the army to Arkansas after the racist governor Orval Faubus had denied blacks access to universities.

Eisenhower also supported the civil rights law passed in 1957. At this point, Eisenhower had already been re-elected for a second term by a clear margin.

Surprising farewell speech

Growing nuclear war fears overshadowed his final years at the White House. The military doctrine of "massive retaliation" issued by Eisenhower, which threatened the Soviet Union with a nuclear counter-attack in the event of military aggression in Europe, increasingly aroused criticism of the logic of deterrence.

When Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency ended in January 1961, he surprised the public in his farewell speech. Ironically, the ex-military warned of the dangerous influence of the armaments lobby on politics:

"The combination of a strong military elite and a large arms industry is a new experience in America. Its widespread influence - economic, political and even spiritual - can be felt in every city, in every provincial parliament, in every federal government agency Beware of the illegitimate influence of the military-industrial complex. "

Dwight D. Eisenhower died on March 28, 1969. Party friends as well as the democratic successors sought his advice to the last.