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Eisenhower’s Decision

Discussion in 'History of America during World War II' started by Jim, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin both regarded Berlin as a highly valuable prize that would give whichever nation captured it great prestige and a degree of political benefit as well. For this reason Churchill put heavy pressure on General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander in chief of Allied forces, to take Berlin before the Soviets could. It is not clear whether this would have been possible, since by late April 1945, the Red Army was closer to Berlin than the U.S. forces were. In any case, Eisenhower decided not to try, believing that Berlin had little military value and that the prestige gained would not be worth the lives that would be lost storming the German capital. This left the way open for the Soviets, who surrounded Berlin on April 25. Hitler killed himself on April 30, and the city surrendered on May 2. Eisenhower’s decision was much criticized, then and later, but the Soviets did not gain any benefits they would not have gotten anyway under the terms of the Yalta agreement in February 1945 that divided up post-war Germany. The Soviets are believed to have suffered 100,000 casualties taking Berlin, more than the United States sustained in the Battle of the Bulge, the biggest engagement ever fought by the U.S. Army. It was Soviet practice to squander lives for the flimsiest of reasons, but that was not Eisenhower’s way, and thousands of GIs therefore owed their lives to him.
     

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