Who were the four key leaders of World War II?

The stories were originally published in IS’s World War II specialty magazine in 2019.

Crazy Führer

Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) is one of the most studied and analyzed people in history.

The arrangements for his childhood and sex life have been gone through.

Explanations have been sought for Hitler's cruelty and bigotry.

But if he hadn’t risen in Germany, it would probably have been done by someone else.

In the 1920s, Hitler was just one of the far-right instigators who made a fuss about how Germany had been subjected to injustice since the First World War.

Remember, he was distinguished by a performance ability that suited the new media, film, and radio of the time.

Twenty years later, Hitler’s roar would hardly have inspired people.

Hitler was also a cunning and ruthless politician who was able to defeat his opponents in German politics and in his own Nazi party.

He took advantage of the fear of the German elite in the communist revolution and made their own revolution by accepting them.

At the beginning of his reign, the German economy recovered, although one can doubt how long the armaments economy would have borne without war.

At the beginning of the war, Hitler accepted and was making militarily successful solutions.

But in the end, Hitler was a disaster for the world and for himself.

In the early 1910s, the German army and World War I were the salvation of a failed artist who wandered the streets of Vienna.

They provided content and companionship that a lonely young man had not experienced before.

That’s why the shock of Germany’s loss was so huge.

The more obviously Hitler embraced his anti-Semitism already in Vienna.

It was common, but not as fiery and deadly as Hitler’s version.

Hitler developed racial theories in which the Slavic peoples were below the Germans and their lands could be taken.

When the opportunity came, he took it.

Britain’s stubborn resistance in particular was just a nasty slowdown.

Hitler faced his peers in Stalin, whom he badly underestimated.

Stalin’s experience of politics and the use of violence was of a completely different category.

Hitler was still a teenager when Stalin was a thoroughbred terrorist in the Caucasus.

In the end, the more experienced won the beginner.

Along with the Soviet Union, Hitler completely underestimated and misunderstood U.S. power.

His thinking was fundamentally romantic, albeit terribly distorted.

Ultimately, Hitler was not interested in comparing the economic capacities of the countries and understanding how impossible his resistance was.

The most important thing for Hitler was the handsome ruins.

With them he met Europe and Germany.

In the end, Hitler was of the opinion that the German people did not live up to his dreams and deserved to be destroyed.

He believed it would be replaced by his more victorious soldiers, the Russians.

None of the other leaders of the Allies, and fewer of the Axis powers, believed such pompous rubbish.

In 1940, Charlie Chaplin made the film Dictator, a parody of Hitler.

As a Jew, Chaplin was horrified by Hitler’s policies and personally angry that Hitler had owned his mustache.

By the time the dictator appeared, Hitler’s expedition to the east and the actual genocide of the Jews had not yet begun.

Therefore, Chaplin was able to deal with the character of the dictator playfully and perhaps reached out to something about Hitler’s personality.

Chaplin’s dictator was flamboyant, but burst into tears like a small child when his playground broke out.

Under normal circumstances, there was no place for Hitler’s crazy dreams, but World War I and the Great Depression made him possible.

The end through your own hand was logical, but not tragic.

Hitler is not made to mourn.

British bulldogs

Winston Churchill (1874–1965) was the most knowledgeable of the political leaders of the great powers of the Second World War.

Churchill, who began his career as a soldier, fought as a young officer in Asia and Africa.

He took part in the last major assault by the British cavalry in the Battle of Omdurman in Sudan.

In the Boer War, Churchill became a renowned war reporter.

Churchill was appointed Secretary of the Navy even before World War I.

During that time, he made catastrophic mistakes.

First, the decision to confiscate the warships ordered by Turkey from Britain led to Turkey joining the war on the German side.

Then the attempt to get Turkey out of the war with the Dardanelles landing led to a huge defeat at Gallipoli.

Churchill resigned as minister and briefly served as battalion commander on the West Front.

He first returned as Minister of Armaments and after World War II as Minister of Defense.

Churchill's political career was gradual.

He started out as a Conservative, jumped on the Liberals and returned to the Conservatives after their collapse.

This did not increase confidence in the man, who was considered a aspirant and a snare.

In the 1930s, he found himself in a political position.

At the beginning of World War II, Churchill made a comeback as Secretary of the Navy.

Unlike Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, he had warned of the threat of Hitler.

After the defeat in Norway, young Conservative politicians revolted against Chamberlain and Churchill took his place just as the German invasion of France began in the spring of 1940.

Churchill’s myth dates back to a time when Britain stood alone against Germany after the fall of France.

At the time, Churchill promised the people “blood, sweat and tears” and the battle for Britain was won in the air.

It was only when the Soviet Union first and then the United States joined the war that Britain could breathe a little relief.

However, Churchill was the weakest of the “big three” whose other members were Roosevelt and Stalin.

In joint meetings, these came to the fore excellently, and Churchill really felt like a third wheel at times.

As a result, he even flattered Stalin at times.

The future judge of the Iron Curtain sketched the future division of Europe with Stalin himself.

Heavy flights and sea voyages to summits were already straining Churchill’s health.

Not all of his decisions were justified.

For example, British operations in the Aegean islands in 1943 ended in complete failure.

Churchill repeated in the region his mistakes of the previous war.

The Conservatives lost the 1945 parliamentary elections just as Churchill was negotiating with Stalin and Harry S. Truman in Potsdam.

It was a shock.

Stalin interpreted the matter as meaning that democracy really cannot be trusted.

After difficult years of war, many Britons wanted reforms that Churchill was not ready for.

He still returned as prime minister in the 1950s, but was already a very sick man.

As a young officer in the 19th century, Churchill had fought for an expanding empire.

When he died, there was little left of it.

Cold operator

Generalissimus Josif Stalin (1878–1953) never received military training, but considered himself an expert in the field.

It was not completely unfounded.

In the early 20th century, Stalin led a group of gangsterists and terrorists in the Caucasus.

It was about gangsterism because a group robbed banks and blackmailed protection money.

Terrorism because most of the money went to the Bolshevik Party and because Stalin's guerrillas struck against law enforcement.

It was then that Stalin's relentless efficiency caught Lenin's attention.

It was not about small operations.

A money laundering robbery in Tbilisi in 1907 killed about 40 people.

The catch would correspond to about 3.5 million euros in current money.

Stalin spent the First World War deported to Siberia.

With the revolution, he rose directly to the highest leadership of the Bolsheviks.

During the Civil War and the 1919–1921 expedition to Poland, Stalin accompanied the troops as a commissioner and occasionally became involved in leading the war.

Stalin despised professional soldiers.

It was sometimes life-threatening for former tsarist officers, whom the creator of the Red Army and Stalin's rival Trotsky wanted to take advantage of.

The attitude was also evident when Stalin, who rose to power, killed masses of Red Army officers in his purges in the late 1930s.

The political goal was achieved, the army did not rebel even in the most difficult moments of World War II.

But the price was, for example, the failures of the Finnish Winter War, when inexperienced officers made mistakes.

It was a direct miracle that when Hitler attacked, the Red Army was able to fight.

During World War II, Stalin participated in a cynical diplomatic game in which attempts were made to both rage and exploit German rage.

His contract with Hitler started World War II, and Stalin took over half of Poland and the Baltics.

It is a mystery how Hitler managed to surprise Stalin in 1941, who was supposed to have plenty of intelligence about the transfers of German troops.

In those days, Stalin was only indecisive and desperate for a moment.

Then the relentless efficiency returned.

The Red Army fought regardless of its own losses.

It and the enormous distances of Russia froze Hitler's war machine.

Hitler did not conquer Moscow, nor were Leningrad and Stalingrad named after Soviet leaders.

The struggle of Stalin's own city became a turning point in the whole world war.

Stalin spared no one.

When his eldest son, Jakov, was taken prisoner by the Germans, they would, according to the story, have wanted to replace him with the Marshal Friedrich Paulus imprisoned in Stalingrad.

- I'm not exchanging the marshal for a lieutenant, Stalin is said to have been ashes.

Jakov died in captivity.

His father had not unnecessarily chosen Stalin as his name, “of steel”.

The real name of the father and son was Dzhukashvili.

Stalin was the greatest winner of World War II, but part of the victory was an illusion.

The Soviet Union was a scattered, starving country.

Therefore, for Finland, Stalin was more interested in war reparations than in revolution.

But Stalin’s grip on Eastern Europe was so hard that it lasted nearly 40 years after his death.

He stole the secrets of the West and launched nuclear armaments, making post-communist Russia still a military superpower.

Stalin's ideas died, but he left his legacy.

Lame man, iron will

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945) had to lead a reluctant people to war.

Americans generally felt that participating in World War I had only cost useless lives.

This was opposed by the “America First” committee, chaired by the famous pilot Charles Linbergh, a German admirer.

Without the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the departure for the U.S. war would have been delayed.

Economically, the United States was already involved in the war.

Without its material help, Britain would have collapsed after freezing alone against Germany.

China also received help in its fight against Japan.

Roosevelt had served as a reserve naval minister during World War I, when similar support for Britain pulled the United States toward war.

He knew that would probably happen now.

Hitler incited Japan to attack the United States because he hoped this would weaken its ability to help its allies.

Hitler himself declared war on the United States, but completely underestimated the country’s resources.

Photo: Elias Goldensky

Roosevelt was a distant relative of former President Theodore Roosevelt and enjoyed his reputation, even though he represented a different party.

Roosevelt had dawned polio as an adult, as a result of which he moved mostly in a wheelchair.

Due to the special arrangements for the tactful press and public events, this was not generally known.

Roosevelt became president in 1933, amid the worst recession of the century.

His new deal policy gave hope and work to millions.

Many opposed it almost as socialism.

When World War II broke out, Roosevelt’s second presidency was coming to an end.

Relying on the situation, he ran out of office again, contrary to manners, and won.

Roosevelt's relationship with his main allies was not easy.

He got along well with both Churchill and Stalin.

Britain, however, was the weakest in the alliance, which ate the proud Churchill.

The goal of the United States was not to save the British Empire, but rather to dismantle it in a controlled manner.

This was easily accomplished as Britain became heavily indebted to the United States during the war.

In retrospect, Roosevelt has been accused of being blue-eyed towards Stalin.

Rather, it may be that he chose his allies and enemies himself.

The United States began supporting Soviet naval equipment as early as the 1930s before the war.

The nature of the Soviet regime was known at the time, although not all the details of the terror might be known.

When the United States joined the war, the flow of supplies to the Soviet Union increased.

They accelerated the progress of the Red Army across Europe.

Roosevelt died in April 1945, just before Germany surrendered.

His successor, Harry S. Truman, chose a clearly tougher policy towards the Soviet Union.

It is possible that Roosevelt, too, would have changed his attitude after the fall of Japan.

Roosevelt is the most significant U.S. Democratic president by all measures.

His reputation has been disputed.

Roosevelt's reforms were blamed on the left.

In particular, his politically active wife Eleanor was subjected to right-wing hatred.

Roosevelt became America's Bunch.

In retrospect, his four presidencies were considered too long, and the old two-term custom was enshrined in law.

His economic policy legacy has also been criticized by market liberals at times.

But what has been done cannot be explained as not being done.

Roosevelt lifted the United States from the recession and led it toward victory in the war.