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tv   George Marshall Dwight Eisenhower  CSPAN  August 20, 2019 1:18pm-2:29pm EDT

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mind. brought to you as a public service by your cable or satellite provider. next on american history tv, historian david mills discusses the world war ii military partnership between george marshall and dwight eisenhower. m this is just over an hour. >> good evening. i'm with the public affairs staff at the kansas city public library. it's great to have you. great to have david mills, our speaker. tonight's program has been a long time and coming. david was originally scheduled to be here in february, but was grounded by bad weather, by winter weather and we're so happy that he hung with us and so happy to have him here now. this happens to be kind of a
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happy confluence of kansas city public library programming. it's the latest in our series with the u.s. army command and general staff in fort levin worth on the marking the 75 years since world war ii. but also it comes in the middle of the library's partnership, and it's from january through may with the eisenhower presidential library and foundation in abilene. and it's on the dwight eisenhower exhibit that's up on the second floor art gallery here at the library, the mountain gallery. we have a series of programs running on dwight eisenhower through may. the next one of those, in fact, is next wednesday. tonight we focus on eisenhower and george marshall. the army chief of staff who targeted ike for advancement as
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a military officer, keen eye for talent. among others with ike, he spied george patent and omar bradley. and he became one of ike's primary mentors as the army chief of staff from 1939 to 1945. marshall, of course, went onto become the secretary of state and win a nobel peace prize. david mills is an assistant professor of military history at the command and general staff college. he has a ph.d. in history from north dakota state university and the distinction of being the first person to earn a doctorate in history from the school in 2009. he spoke at the library two years ago on operation snow bound about the mammoth federal response to the blizzard of 1949 which stretched from kansas to the canadian border. please welcome david mills.
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thanks, everybody, for coming out tonight. as steve mentioned, i was supposed to be here a few weeks ago but we got snowed out. it looks like we might have some inclement weather tonight. that may look like a pattern to you, but believe me, it's just a coincidence. so thanks for coming out, and i'm going to go ahead and incorporate some of the information i was going to talk about earlier. if it looks like at some point i wander off talking about marshall a little bit, then that's probably why. all right. so this is the story of two great men. both were revered as well as famous in their time. since world war ii, however, it could be argued that general
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dwight eisenhower has probably eclipsed general marshall in fame, at least when it comes to what each of them did in world war ii. most know general eisenhower was the commander in the invasion of france during world war ii, but they'd be hard prezzed to tell you what general marshall did. marshall built the army eisenhower used to defeat the germans. both men were from humble backgrounds, but both were extremely patriotic. driven by a desire to end the war quickly rather than seeking glory for themselves. this is their story. general george marshall was born december 31st, 1880, in uniontown, pennsylvania. he graduated from the virginia military institute. he served as the chief of staff of the army during world war ii and secretary of state and
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secretary of defense after the war was over. he advocated the plan that bears his name, the marshall plan were which he won the nobel peace prize helping europe to recover economically from the war. you may not know he loved to ride horses. this is how he relaxed and he called it great exercise. although, i would think it would be better exercise for the horse. but what do i know? so his personal life was very difficult. he graduated from college in 1901. in 1902 he married lily carter coals, who was born with a heart defect. he had to be very careful with her. he was a doting husband, always trying to make sure she was comfortable, and had everything that she needed. she died in 1927. they never had any children. he married katherine bois up thor in 1930.
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she was a widow with three children of her own, and marshall became very close to the children. two of the boys, in fact, were army officers during world war ii and the youngest, allen, was actually killed by a sniper in italy during the war. his stepdaughter was also married to an army officer who served. although, marshall never used his position to influence their careers. he was -- he was above all a very honorable man, and he would never do anything that he thought would tarnish that. marshall served in a variety of positions throughout the world upon graduation from vmi. before world war i promotions were pretty slow and coming, but marshall did pretty well. when world war ii broke out, he went to france in the summer of 1917. he was a member of the division
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staff for the first infantry division. his plan is -- his job was planning and training the draftees and national guardsman that rounded out the first infantry division. there were two significant episodes that were pretty risky career-wise, but really made a difference for marshall when he was endeared to two very influential men. the first of those episodes began during world war i, and that's when general john j persian, the commander of the american expedition force came to check on training. you got to understand that he was under a ton of pressure from the french to get the american army up and ready to go take a position in the trenches. he comes out and is looking at training, and he's not happy. he thinks the training is too slow and it's not very challenging and he's really upset by what he sees.
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he takes it out on the division commander, a guy by the name of general william seebert. the first infantry commander. he chews him out in front of all his entoosubordinates. marshall thought it was extremely disrespectful and uncalled for. he pulled the general by the arm and told him it was uncalled for. when he was done, the general pulled his arm away, mumbled something and stormed off. all of marshall's friends took his hand, wished him farewell, because his career is over. but don't you know when the general came back to check on the first infantry division, he would go find marshall and ask him how things were going. and so the two actually formed a very important relationship that would effect both of them throughout their lives.
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so in mid 1918 marshall went to the aef staff and worked directly for general pershing. after the war was over he became an aide to general pershing. general pershing was the best man in marshall's wedding when he got married the second time. so after the war, marshall ended the war as -- actually, he finished as a lieutenant colonel, and then he's reverted back to major, but he did pretty well in the inner war period. he commanded a regimen and then division and then commanded 35 ccc camps throughout oregon and washington. in 1938 he was brought to washington as a brigadier general by then chief of staff of the army, general maelyn craig. craig wanted marshall to succeed him as chief of staff of the army, and so he brought him there and made him the chief of the war plans division.
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eventually made him deputy to the chief of staff, and becoming chief of staff was really a dream job for marshall. so let's talk about marshall and roosevelt, particularly, and a little bit about churchill. roosevelt and marshall worked very well together, although the two were never close, personally. they were almost exact opposites. in fact, marshall confessed he didn't really like roosevelt very much when he first moved to washington. general marshall was very guarded. he was formal. he was serious. and he above all, he valued dignity. roosevelt was -- or sorry, so marshall valued dignity. and nobody would ever call him funny, and there were very few pictures of him ever smiling. although if you notice the first picture i showed you was marshall smiling. don't believe anything that you
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read. just believe what i'm telling you. there just aren't that many pictures of the man with a smile on his face. roosevelt, however, was a politician. he never met a man or a person he wouldn't want to shake hands with. he always had a joke. he was always smiling, and laughing. and he also had that politician's deep-seeded aversion to ever answering a question with a straight answer. he didn't want to get tied down to one particular answer. he always wanted plausible deniability. he always wanted to be able to change his mind and go a different direction. which drove marshall absolutely nuts. because as a military guy, he needs decisions. he needs to know what direction the country is going so he can make things happen. marshall also never let the president get too close to him personally. he never laughed at any of the president jokes. he never allowed the president to call him george, and he never went to visit the president at
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his home in hyde park, new york. marshall was also an army man whereas the president was a navy man. he had served as the assistant secretary of the navy. he loved the navy. he loved the sea, and he was an accomplished sailor himself. at one point marshall had to ask the president to stop saying they when talking about the army and stop saying we when talking about the navy. so roosevelt had also succumbed to the power or the suggestion of air power and the promise of air power. and he thought that all of america's problems could be solved through just buying more planes. he's constantly trying to purchase more airplanes at the expense of the army, but the other branches as well. marshall objected. he thought there should be a more balanced approach to how we procure equipment for the different branches. i have one specific example to point out.
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so in november of 1938 roosevelt had a meeting with all of his top advisers. and he kind of off the top of his head, he said you know, america ought to buy about 20,000 airplanes and that would keep us safe. and we ought to give a couple thousand to england for being a good ally. and you know how it is when your boss comes up with an idea, everybody is like great idea, boss. everybody is shaking their head yes, and then kind of off the top of his head, he turns around and says don't you think so, george? so marshall winced, because he called him george. marshall never allowed anybody to call him george exemcept for his wife, and he fundamentally disagreed with the president and told him so. he said mr. president, i'm sorry. i don't agree with any of that at all. so the president was rather surprised as everybody else was in the meeting. they all got up and left and shaking hi hand, wishing him good luck because your career is
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over. but roosevelt never held it against him. and so this was the second episode in his life that proved to marshall and only reinforced the idea that his values were something that he should always stand up for. churchill also had great respect for smar shall. in fact, he rarely ever challenged him directly. if marshall was doing something that churchill didn't agree with, he'd talk to eisenhower or roosevelt. he'd talk to anybody but sm marshall and try to get them to change their mind. he had respect for marshall. church hill called marshall the organizer of victory, and he wept openly when he visited marshall on his death bed in 1959. so in april 23rd, 1939, roosevelt brought marshall in to his office and offered him chief of staff of the army. and although it was a dream job,
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marshall had a few -- a list of demands, if you will. so he says, you know, mr. president, i will work as hard for you as i can. i will do the best job i can, but i need to be able to come in here and speak honestly with you. i need to be able to bring you bad news. and roosevelt apparently reluctantly agreed to that. but roosevelt also pointed out that he had some demands. he expected to get the very best that marshall had. so they came to an agreement. and marshall became the acting army chief of staff. so this is in april of 1939. he was acting in that capacity up until the first of september, 1939 when maelyn craig retired. september 1st, also the day germany attacks poland, world war ii begins. marshall becomes the chief of staff of the army.
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germany attacks poland in 1939. they attack france in 1940. and the loss of france is a complete shock to the united states. begins to bring the united states out of its complacency. not out of its isolationism. congress and the american people wanted absolutely nothing to do with the war in europe. but congress understands that they got to begin preparing for war. and so the louisiana maneuvers held in 1940 and 1941 were designed to see how well the army performed. and the answer was not well. the exercises that revealed a number of equipment problems such as iron pipes being labeled cannons. and trucks being labeled tanks. and single seat biplanes being labeled bombers. the army was not only understaffed. there were about 20 0,000
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soldiers total in the army at this point. we also had a number of equipment problems, as you can see. marshall determined it's time to start building up the army. in october of 1940 after this first series of exercises, marshall and the president go to congress, and enact the selective service act bringing 900,000 draftees into the army and also activating the national guard. so initially marshall has a large number of soldiers to train. but soon they're only in the army for a year. and so their term of enlistment is almost up and nobody is more excited about that than the soldiers themselves. so the louisiana maneuvers of 1941 were fundamentally different. marshall's insisting on
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preparation paid off. he said he wanted mistakes made in certain places. so there were 400,000 service member. twice as in the army the year before. 19 divisions are participating in the war games. the war games are over in 1941. we're on our way to creating a much better army. but our army is about to go away with the expiration of the selective service act. so marshall and a number of members of the administration go talk to congress members and get them to extend the selective service act for 18 months which will guarantee we keep getting soldiers into the army. so there's one other aspect of the louisiana maneuvers that deserves to be mentioned. and that is that marshall came around and he was watching and he was always on the lookout for new tall ebt.
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rumor was he had a little black book that when he spotted somebody with high potential and hiatal end, he would write their name down in this little book. and one of the people they identified in these maneuvers was colonel diviwight eisenhowe responsible for the blue tors coming up with the exercises. another person that he identified in these exercises was major general george patton. and so a number of other folks that were supposedly had their names in this book were folks like omar bradley and mark clark. joseph collins, jacob deevers and maxwell taylor. the book has never been found. did it exist? did it not exist? if there was no book, marshall must have kept the names in his mind, but these folks were identified and groomed for
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higher command once the war broke out. so england had been at war with germany since 1939. above all, they were intent on preserving the british empire after the war. the imperial or british general staff also thoroughly and completely rejected the idea of ever having a cross channel attack in confronting the germans in europe itself. they preferred an approach that attacked the periphery of germany. in other words, they would have a blockade. their navy would block ports restricting the amount of trade and their bomber campaign would keep hitting german cities night after night. and so what churchill believed was this would undermine morale. and so you didn't really need to confront them directly. you could attack them in places like north africa and italy on the borders or on the periphery
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of the german empire. but marshall fundamentally disagreed with that. he said the only way you're going to defeat germany is to fight germany. this is going to be a fundamental confrontation between the americans and british throughout the war. when germany invaded the soviet union in 1941 both churchill and roosevelt believed we had to supply everything that we could to the soviets to keep them in the war. marshall fundamentally disagreed with that. he didn't believe the soviet union was going to be able to survive the attack by the germans. if you think about it, the russian air force was largely eliminated in the first few weeks of the war. millions of men were killed or taken prisoner. the germans are on the outskirts of moscow. he just fundamentally didn't believe there was any way the soviets could survive. why waste all that equipment when the u.s. and the british
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were going to need that? and if the soviets are knocked out of the war, it's up to the americans and the british to defeat these huge german armies. all right. you probably are wondering when the eisenhower piece of this talk on marshall and eisenhower is ever going to kick in. here we are. let's talk about general eisenhower for a few minutes. he's born in texas, october 14th, 1890,. he's the third of seven boys. here's the eisenhower brothers with their mother. the family moved to abilene, kansas in 1892, but they never had a lot of money. in fact, ike and one of his brothers agreed they would alternate years going to college. one worked and the other went to college and then they switched so they could find enough money for tuition. eisenhower after a couple years figures out the only way he's
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getting to college is if somebody else pays for it. he applied to west point and became a member of the west point class of 1915. 59 members of this class were to achieve general officer rank. known as the class the stars fell on. while at west point, he makes the varsity football team but not the baseball team. he's supposedly devastated by that. and he meets and marries maymy doubt in 1916. he asks for combat duty continuously when world war i breaks out finally they say okay and he's scheduled to get on a ship november 18th, 1918. needless to say, he never makes it to france. he thinks his career is over for not having seen combat during world war i. eisenhower's career was actually not bad. not great, but pretty good for not having been in combat. he's a brigadier general when
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pearl harbor is attacked. he spent five years working for douglas mcarthur in the philippines. not surprisingly, he doesn't get along well with douglas mcarthur. but hey, ike was a great staff officer. made his bosses look really good. and so even though mcarthur and eisenhower didn't get along great, he still wouldn't let eisenhower go because he was such a great staff officer. while other officers were being weeded out of the army, particularly during the great depression, eisenhower continued to get promoted pretty steadily. so during the great depression, the leadup to world war ii, marshall is looking for a commander who can work with seen yore commanders from other nations and organize diverse nations in a common goal. he had not identified that man in december when pearl harbor takes place, although eisenhower's stock was pretty high. eisenhower and marshall were
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opposites. marshall was reserved and proper and ike was very outgoing. he was always smiling and joking. he's ready to chat with anyone for extended periods of time. and he hosted dinner parties on a pretty regular basis. he's very social. again, the opposite of marshall. eisenhower was never called ike. marshall never called anybody by their first name. it was always eisenhower, patton, clark, bradley. no matter how high a rank you were, it was always very formal address by marshall. although, a little later in life he did relent from calling him eisenhower and did call him mr. president. if that's loosening up a little, i don't know. so less than a week after the attack on pearl harbor, eisenhower gets a phone call. it's marshall's office. hey, the boss wants to see you. get up to washington d.c. and so marshall calls ike into
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his office and sits him down and proceeds to explain all the problems the army will have in defeating the japanese. and then he says, then he asks eisenhower, how do we solve the problems? eisenhower stands up and says give me a couple hours. he walks off, finds a quiet place, starts with a blank piece of paper and proceeds to think through the problem. how would we operate in the pacific? a couple hours later he comes back and says here's what i think we ought to do. i think we ought to start staging troops autoof australia, build a coalition of willing nations to go to work with us in order to beat back the japanese, and we got to make sure our lines of communications are always open. we can always supply those coalition soldiers with all the equipment that they need. marshall listens quietly, nods at all the right places and says i agree with you. go make it happen. so he had just gotten a new job
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and also he had just heard from marshall. he says don't wait for me to approve every move. solve the problems and tell me about it later. ike understood. he was there to make important decisions and to make things happen. he also just figured out he had just been given a test, and apparently he had passed. he was tired as the head of the pacific and far eastern section of the war plans division. as eisenhower worked on the problems, he began to do a better job than his boss. normally that's a career problem. when you start doing better than your boss, but that's exactly what marshall was looking for. in fact, he ended up promoting eisenhower's boss out of that position ahead of the war plans division so he could give it to eisenhower. so eisenhower's promoted to major general in march of 1942.
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pearl harbor was a disaster, and quite an emotional event for america. however, for the british it was a stroke of luck who were struggling in their war with germany. so churchill led a contingent of military planners to washington right after pearl harbor in december of 1941. and they begin planning what they're going to do going forward. so one of the greatest headaches believe it or not, for the american generals during the war was dealing with the british. they constantly questioned the readiness of the american army and tried to implement plans that suited them and always have a british officer as the commander. one of the first conferences between the principle players or these two countries was called the arcadia conference when they sought to develop a common strategy. so again, church hill is all about let's attack the periphery. north africa, sicily, italy, and marshall is adamant. he's like the only way we're
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going to win is by confronting the germans. he wants a cross channel attack in 1942 nearly immediately. so they didn't agree on a strategy for going forward. what they did agree on was a europe first strategy, and they agreed on the idea of unity of command. somebody's got to be in charge. you can't have a vast number of commanders with an everybody having an equal say. you can only have one. that person needs to be in charge of all army, all grounds, sea, and air assets. so when the arcadia meeting was over the allies emerged determined to work together for the common cause of defeating the germans, but they still didn't have a coherent war strategy. the british were adamant that north africa was the logical place to start, but as we said, marshall and eisenhower
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disagreed. they wanted to build combat power in england for a cross channel attack as soon as possible, and so they started making all of the preparations. they understood they needed to do something dramatic to draw some of the german forces away from the soviets who had their hands full at this point. they were trying to keep the soviet union from collapsing. either being defeated or either negotiating a separate piece with the germans. either would be catastrophic for the british and the americans. the americans suggested operation sledge hammer which envisioned not really a large scale invasion of france, but more of a real enforced raid. kind of running -- you know, into france waving their arms saying here we are. and pulling off a number of units from the eastern front. and then in 1943 once they built up enough combat power n that's when the real cross channel would occur. that's when they really dig in their heels and go to war with
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the germans. fdr, roosevelt approved the plan and sent a small group of americans to england to brief churchill and some of the other folks on this plan. and the british to say the least were not enthusiastic. they argued that they didn't have enough troops in europe to be able to pull this off. and any attack like this would be an enormous gamble with the army that they did have, and so they were simply not ready to do this. however, rather than argue with their allies, they said okay, we'll consider it. we'll make this plan a, but we'll keep thinking. and so the americans walk away from this plan thinking that they've got approval, and agreement, but they don't. in fact, in june, lord louis mount batten says we're opposed to your idea. marshall explodes. he thinks he has had gotten the
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word of the british that the plan was a cross channel attack, and now they're reniging. so the british are a cross-chan attack where can we go? kind of planting the idea that north africa, and again they leave this meeting with not really settling the idea or settling the notion of where they're going to attack and so the americans are still convinced that perhaps the cross-channel attack is in the offing. perhaps we can still make that happen in 1942. so we've got to figure out who the commander is going to be. the british, as you can imagine recommended a number of their own officers. marshall was adamantly against it. he understood that the americans were providing the majority of the manpower and the equipment that is going to be used to take back europe. it's going to be an american commander, but who? so marshall in the back of his
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mind is actually hoping that he will be drafted as the commander. he's kind of laying it out there for roosevelt to kind of bite on this worm, but he's just not having any of it. roosevelt doesn't want to let marshall go, and so eventually they settle on eisenhower as the commander for europe, the invasion of europe. so eisenhower goes to england to be planning the invasion of europe and the cross-channel attack and he writes his first letter to marshall. eisenhower will write 108 letters to marshall throughout the war. in fact, marshall never really bothers to write him back very often and it's not like they corresponded and it's eisenhower letting marshall know what's going on. here's what we're planning and here are some of the issues with the commanders and here's what's going on. marshall is to simply support eisenhower in everything that he did. hey, i just want you to know
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you've got our support and you're doing a great job. keep it up. by the way, have you thought about doing this? it's more of a guiding hand than a superior talking to a junior officer. so i began to plan the invasion of france and it soon became clear, frustratingly, that the british were right. we are not ready for a cross-channel attack in 1942. so here's the cross-channel attack in 1944. we simply didn't have any of this stuff available in 1942. so the british stepped up pressure to get them to agree to an offensive in north africa. it didn't help the americans' cause at all when president roosevelt kind of changed sides and agrees with churchill. now you have the president and the prime minister arguing that north africa is the logical place. so roosevelt being the consummate politician doesn't want to be the guy to have to
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deliver the bad news. he wants somebody else to do it and when nobody does he contacts the commanders and says, look, you need to come up with a place in 1942 that will take the pressure off the russians. cross-channel attack is off the table and it becomes north africa. to help matters along, the british agreed to a unified command. in other words, they agreed to let eisenhower become the overall commander. now here's a map. you will see this map a couple of times, a, because i'm lazy and b because this works. so you can see the different invasions here, but what we're kind of talking about at this point is the operation. here's casa blanca, here's iran and here's algiers. in summary, these are the places where the operation torch is going to take place. at the same time the american g.i.s continue to come over to england. we're building up combat power
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because eventually we'll cross the channel into france. as more americans continue to show up in england, this gives rise to the statement that the americans were overfed, overpaid, oversexed and over here. eventually the americans and the british hammer out a lan for north africa and they take place just where i pointed out so general patton is responsible for invading and taking casa blanca in the west. the general is responsible for taking iran in the center and british general anderson is responsible for the offensive in the east in algiers. so the campaign in africa, as you probably well know goes back and forth and back and forth and eventually the allies are victorious, forcing the germans to surrender or evacuate.
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so, as you can imagine, the next question is what do we do now? the americans want to focus europe. the brits have promised that 1943 is the year of the cross-channel attack. guess what happens? three guesses is what the british come to the table with. we're not ready to cross to the channel in 1943. let's go to sicily followed by the invasion of italy. so eisenhower and marshall are adamantly opposed to this idea. what else can we do? let's promote eisenhower out of this position and let's promote him out of the stratosphere so we can put a brit in charge and make it a whole lot easier to get what we want and that didn't happen and let's put a deputy to help eisenhower who will actually take over everything and undermine everything that the americans are doing and well, that didn't work either, and it didn't help that the british were so frustrated that they gave a number of interviews
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to british newspapers arguing that, yeah, the americans didn't really do much in north africa. it was mostly a british campaign. you can understand, that didn't go well. that didn't sit well with their allies, the americans. of all of the calculated risks during world war ii nothing was bolder than the decision in 1943 to maintain the combat's army at 90 division and the 90 division is an important number and we'll keep coming back to that. early estimates in ma1941 and 12 to win is very high and the american army anticipated they would need somewhere in the neighborhood of 215 divisions, which would take, as you can imagine a whole lot of manpower. so these numbers were premised on a whole lot of offensive operations in europe and the
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probability that the soviets would be knocked out of the war making it necessary for the british and the americans to take on the huge german armies. however, there were many other demands for american manpower at the time and people power and women power. don't let my use of the term manpower confuse you, as you can see. so the army not only needs folks and the army corps and so does the marine and so does the army and heavy industry and farms need a whole lot of people and it becomes clear that the arsenal of democracy will have tank, plane, wheat and cotton and corn and beef coming out of america's farms and factories. so of the 25 million young men who were physically fit enough to join the military, the drop
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dead top number of men that would ever be actually be brought into the service was 15 million. so 25 million physically fit, 15 million the top number, but really the number that we're working with is 8 million and in fact, that number will drop to 7.7 million in 1944. so the american army starts with 200,000 soldiers in 1939. gets up to 8.8 million in 1943 and drops to 7.7 million in 1944. one of the first changes marshall makes when preparing for the war was to change the organization of u.s. infantry divisions. so he goes from the square division or four regiments to the try angular division with three regiments. as you can imagine, if you have the number of infantry divisions
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and they have the bulk of a whole lot of infantry division and you're also trying to make. for example, the 23rd infantry division known as the americal division because it was formed in new caledonia was made up of orphan regimens of national guard moments from north dakota and massachusetts. so a number of other divisions were farmed in this way, as well. square division was better for trench warfare and the try angular division better for maneuver. so in addition to reorganizing the infantry division, was there a definite trend toward increasing the number of infantry divisions and airborne divisions during 1943 and they were simply, you were able to field them a whole lot faster making it possible to ship them overseas much faster. so as a result there were fewer armored divisions and more standard infantry divisions and originally, planners estimated
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that we needed 61 armored divisions and no more than 16 were actually fielded, if that gives you an idea. so by mid-1943, the last infantry division was formed and in total there were 90 divisions. 67 infantry, 16 armored, two cavalry and five airborne. the question of would 90 divisions, would that be the right number or did we just make a colossal mistake is going to be a question that would come back and haunt the wartime planners over and over again. hey, here's that map again. so may 12, 1943, the same day the germans surrendered in north africa, the conference in washington, d.c. opened up where churchill was adamant that the allies had changed sicily followed by italy and they kept calling them the soft, underbelly of europe and it didn't quite turn out that way,
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but he was convinced and he was the prime minister and his vote counts with most folks. again, marshall, mro explodes w churchill had promised and they had promised a cross-channel attack in north africa. he feels like they're going back on their word and this is the way they'll end the war by confronting germany directly. they argued the cross-channel attack was no longer necessary because the soviets were winning. after stalin grad they were pushing them back to their own boarders and there was no longer this need to pull units off of the eastern front, and besides that, they are still under strength. there are 37 divisions in europe ready for this cross-channel attack and the germans have 50 divisions in france. it's a math question, right? they're too outnumbered to make a cross-channel attack.
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>> and soon the compromise strategy begins to take shape. the british agreed to a cross-channel attack and no kidding this time in 1944 if the americans will agree to an attack in sicily and then an attack on italy proper. so the only difference was that after the attack on sicily the americans will pull seven infantry divisions out of mediterranean and send them to italy to prefair for the cross channel attack. the invasion of italy is the sideshow and not the invasion of france. so sicily is captured on august 17th. many of the germans escaped to italy, and it's just after this that eisenhower heard of soldiers that he accused of cowardice. eisenhower simply kind of glossed over this in his reports to marshall. he made the decision that having patton on his side and defeating
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the germans was more important than some of the other questions that might come up. in fact, he felt even more so that this was the right course of action that he apologized when the soldiers took police. >> so they met in kenec br the main question was what to do mix? >> they insist in 1944 while the british were arguing for the invasion of italy. this time marshall selling to compromise. he would continue the invasion of italy as long as they did not interfere about overlord. on that he was as firm as roosevelt. for 12 days that this quadrant conference, the americans and the british are working out to hammer out the details. finally, they agreed.
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the british wanted a full invasion of italy, and the americans said no. and you can't make us. we are going to france in 1944. y so eventually the british are worn down and they give in. they still aren't done on this cross-channel invasion. so in november of '43, the big three, roosevelt, stalin and churchill meet in tehran for the first time. this is the first time they've met with stalin and here churchill tries to convince stalin that the best idea, the only real idea is to attack italy in force. no. that's a dumb idea. you said no, the best idea is on an attack on france, and he said, overlord, invasion of
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france. so that's what we're going to do. so now we are -- we are not kidding, going across the channel and we're going to invade france and make sure we understand who the commander is going to be. marshall walks into roosevelt's office and kind of serves up pretty easily the opportunity for roosevelt to make marshall the commander. he won't ask for the job, but he really wants it and roosevelt is not biting and roosevelt with the silence and breaks the stalemate and says well, i guess eisenhower is the man and marshall says okay. y he never complained about it. he was disappointed, but he understood the main thing, the most important point was to defeat the germans. so eisenhower wants to take him with him to be the commander and ufrp which ilobjects and if
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eisenhower is no longer the commander in the mediterranean, and why not put a british officer in charge down there and so they named alexander as the -- as the commander of all forces down there. however, just like in north africa, there's going to be a deputy commander for air and sea and ground, but this time there's going to be a force deputy commander. the deputy commander responsible for lighting, implementing the final plan was general montgomery who most people didn't get along with and eisenhower didn't get along with them that well and one of the reasons was montgomery had been a soldier in world war i, and he was shot in the chest and he was shot in the lungs and he was pronounced dead on the battlefield. guess what?
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he didn't die. when you are pronounced dead and you arrived from the dead you've got this complex that says you were safe for a reason, so what you are going to do next is probably pretty important, but he was labeled as kind of an arrogant person and difficult to deal with, but nobody ever accused him of not being a meticulous planner. he was an incredibly detail oriented person and he was selected to write the plan for operation overlord. so it was his job to make sure that the landing force is not pushed off the normandy beaches. and so what we're looking if are and so what we'll be talking about is operation anvil which is the invasion of southern france in addition to overlord up here in normandy. so the major asset that montgomery brought to the table is he was a meticulous planner,
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as i said. excuse me. the original scope of the operation called for three divisions attacking into the normandy beachhead, and it was montgomery and it was a minimum of five and everyone agreed that was a much better plan and they insisted on the invasion of southern france and operation anvil and one that would require numerous landing craft. more landing craft than they had available in france. hey, guess where those landing craft were going come from. italy. so if you didn't guess, the british had a fundamental problem again with operation overlord and starts a whole new series of arguments and the british argued that they would deplete italy and eisenhower didn't care and so not only were the british putting up a hard time and now the airport planners were convinced of their superiority that airport bombers
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would end the war and they had any part in operation overlord and they called for them to bomb all of the rail heads in the rail facilities throughout normandy and to keep the germans from reinforcing germany, and they didn't want to play. if you guys would just leave us alone with clear skies without having to invade france. that didn't really sit too well with eisenhower and he's getting a lot of pushback on his plan and he starts to cave in. he starts to negotiate with people and marshall is livid and he writes back to -- he's nice at first and he takes on more of a dictatorial tone, and you can't give in to the british again. they had canceled the cross-channel attack in 1942 and 1943 and they've gotten their
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way to north africa, sicily and italy. it's time for you to stand firm, and in fact, it's up to the -- the idea is for the germans to divert their forces away from normandy, and not the allies and so marshall went from suggesting to demanding, and i got the message. he put anvil back on the table firmly. we are going to exercise operation anvil and you're going to give me all of the landing crap that i need. hey, airport guy, you better get yn board with the plan, as well. >> so things weren't going well for the british in italy and eisenhower simply didn't care, and marshall had a serious disagreement over the plan, but it was a temporary setback and they got over it, and they got operation overlord and got ashore on that morning and three airport divisions successfully
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behind the landing and the divisions landing and by the end of the first day 156,000 allied troops are in france. so the allies are short in france, but the germans are good at keeping them bottled up for quite a while. eventually they broke out and the ammunition stopped the rapid advance of patton's army and it was at this point that eisenhower agreed to montgomery's plan to operation market garden and it was to seize a series of bridges and the last one being over the rhine and that bridge too far and they just couldn't hold on to that bridge and the operation was not successful and awe eventually get the red ball express bringing fuel and ammunition to the front.
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by the end of september 1944 there were four more divisions enroute and the germans attacked the battle of the bulge in december of 1944 and the americans were hoping to keep a strategic reserve in america somewhere between five and 15 divisions, but everybody has put on a ship and sent to europe at this point. so there are three army groups by the beginning of the battle of the bulge. so there's montgomery's 21st army group and the sixth army group. in all, the allies had 87 divisions and 6,000 tanks. and the germans had 50-some divisions and like 1500 tanks and so eisenhower stripped, and
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he still needed combat power and in other words, there are more people responsible for supply in world war ii than there are combat soldiers in world war ii and even though they have 1.5 million sold wrers and 350,000 combat soldiers and he starts flipping the logistics companies of typists and mechanics and cooks and start sending those guys to the front to be infantrymen. so the allies beat back the german offensive that it had begun on december 16th effectively breaking the back of the german army. however, the british had one more opportunity to annoy marshall and eisenhower, and that is when british newspapers, for some mysterious reason begin to attribute all of the success
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to general montgomery's 21st army group and the papers hardly mentioned patton, and montgomery decides that he should be in charge of most of the american army, as well for various reasons and he sends a very sternly worded message to eisenhower and by this time eisenhower had absolutely had it. he picked up the phone and he's looking to montgomery and tell him to come to my headquarters. he picked up the phone and middle really sir, what's going on? >> he came and calmed down eisen how to how eisenhower to relief command. he tells him he's about to lose his job. montgomery rushes over to eisenhower and says hey, that poorly worded request. hey, just forget that i even said that.
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let's just ignore that and so eisenhower does. he forgets them and the war's nearly over, why go through that hard ache. >> in the spring of 1945 the allies go deeper into germany and then they slow down and then they stop. the soviets were in the act or in the process of taking berlin which is really the prize. they lose 352,000 soldiers simply taking berlin, a cost that eisenhower and marshall were simply not willing to pay. the soviets had the honor of taking berlin and paying that bloody cost. so it's time to end the war. the long partnership proved successful if not always cheerful. they'd done their duty.
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marshall and eisenhower had made a formidable team and they didn't always get along. marshall was the chief of staff and viewed eisenhower as working for him. however, he never made it seem like it was a -- a senior and a subordinate type of relationship. he knew that eisenhower was under tremendous strain being the overall commander for years. in fact, marshall would send in the cable, i need to see you in washington and the only reason he did that was to give eisenhower a rest and to bring him back and to give him an easy schedule for a week or so and let him catch his breath and behind eisenhower's back and the coordinating and talking to members of eisenhower's staff and asking how many hours of sleep is he getting a night? is he getting exercise? and make sure he's relaxed and he put the pressure off of them.
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so their relationship isser mo of a partnership with eisenhower telling mike that he needed to make decisions supporting them at every turn. so given their relationship and the fact that marshall selected eisenhower and he performed admirably throughout the entire war and it was really marshall's guidance and leadership that set eisenhower up for success and gave him president eisenhower eventually. a couple of books that i would recommend with partners and commands really looks at the relationship between eisen hower and marshall and that's a new one that's come out and i haven't had a chance to read it. marshall and the atomic bomb. eisenhower didn't know anything about the atomic bomb and when it was detonated twice in japan, he was beside himself, outraged that we would do something like that and so that probably carried over into his
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presidency, as well and then there's one simply called george marshall, a biography by debbie unger, and i suppose her husband whose name i can't quite recall. so with that, if anybody has any questions that i probably won't be able to answer, you are more than welcome to ask, but please make sure that you use the microphones. [ applause ] >> i've always been fascinated by the africa corps, and you mentioned in sicily the germans got away and the entire africa corps, was that a big deal that we took, i think, 250,000 german
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and the africa core was the elite of the german army. and that was the entire africa corps? strategically, was that a big deal? are you okay? >> yes, sir. it was a big deal. if you recall the british were one of the main reasons for trying to take control of the operations was their argument that the american army was simply not trained and they were not ready and they were constantly being ridiculed. and the victory in africa gave the americans the credibility that they needed to go back to the british and say, no, no, no. we are no longer the untrained
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force of which you speak. we are just as bloodied as you are and our army can go anywhere and do anything. >> it was a truly, leet force and the german army, and that was exaggerated. >> i would hesitate to say with the folks fighting on the russian front and the s.s. units that were fighting there, as well and i think they were a very good army. they had been fighting for years already, but i think they were just as good as many of the other german units. >> it was important -- it was important that they were bloodied and survived and eventually went on to be victorious in africa. yes, sir. >> if montgomery had not absorbed all of the gasoline and ammunition that pat needed, do you think patton would have
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shortened the war. >> that would call for a fair amount of speculation and even montgomery and ammunition and fuel and one of the arguments is eisenhower wanted a broad front strategy and he wanted all three army groups moving forward and moving east in the line. montgomery said we don't have the fuel or ammunition to be able to do that and you need to give me the priority and give me the fuel and ammo and we'll have a narrow front strategy and i think once they did figure out the fuel problem they would set up the red ball express and they're moving all kind of fuel forward and once patton does get the fuel that he needs, i think it's indicative of what does happen or patton is able to move forward kind of at will at least until the battle of the bulge.
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>> quickly. it seems like the british didn't know much about geography. the roads to go to holland were one name surrounded by dikes and things and in italy there was one mountain range after another and they were still fighting two years after they invaded. >> the italy campaign was a fundamental disastrous -- such an ugly word, but it certainly didn't go the way folks had envisioned and italy was still in 1945 and it was not the soft underbelly that churchill kept thinking it was. it looked cool on the map and once you get there, they were confronted with these things called out and they get harder. >> maybe churchill needed geography lessons. >> he was that and he had his ideas and wasn't going to be convinced. >> yes, sir? >> with what happened in notre dame this last week and i was
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wondering of the marshall plan when he rebuilt europe and i was watching the history channel and they had found a salt mine with hitler's stash with the stuff he stole and i was wondering how much did america really pay to rebuild europe? >> two ways to make this a short story. one version is you have to understand that germany is a conquered country after world war ii and there was absolutely a move afoot to punish germany and the plan envisioned taking all of the industry away and making germany an agricultural nation, but they figured it out pretty quickly that you just can't do that. rebuilding germany is fundamental to rebuilding all of europe and it was making all of the nations in europe that needed loans to rebuild the countries and made them come up with plans like, okay, if we give you money, what are we
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going do? rebuild roads, infrastructure and that sort of thing. back when a billion there adolle a lot of money, $13 billion spread over the course of five years, but it did a number of things. it gave europeans the confidence that they weren't simply being abandoned and that america was there as their ally and even for germany. we are a conqueror, but we are also a liberator. we are going to make sure that germany is rebuilt as well as all of the other nations in europe. so the marshall plan -- the reason he wins the peace prize, the nobel peace prize is because there were folks starving, fundamentally starving throughout europe and the marshall plan gave people hope and it did, more than anything to rebuild europe, if that answers your question, sir. >> david, i think we have time for one last question. >> one more question. yes, sir? >> did things change and did the
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dynamic change when truman became president? >> when truman becomes president in april 1945 when most of the fighting was already over. truman was instrumental in the peace process between germany and japan and as you well know, the decision to drop the atomic bomb on japan and so truman really inherited roosevelt administration and throughout the rest of the war he believed what roosevelt would have done, and he didn't fundamentally start doing different things or breaking from what he thought roosevelt would do. ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for coming out. [ applause ] we'll see you next time.
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