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Like many heroes of the Second World War, General Albert C. Wedemeyer’s career has been largely overshadowed by such well-known figures as Marshall, Patton, Montgomery, and Bradley. Wedemeyer’s legacy as the main planner of the D-Day invasion is almost completely forgotten today, eclipsed by politics and the capriciousness of human nature.
Yet during America’s preparation for the war, Wedemeyer was the primary author of the “Victory Program” that mobilized US resources and directed them at crucial points in order to secure victory over the Axis. In the late 1930s, he had the unique experience of being an exchange student at the German Kriegsakademia, the Nazis’ equivalent of Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff School. As the only American to attend, he was thus the only ranking officer in the US who recognized the tactics of blitzkrieg once they were unleashed, and he knew how to respond.
As US involvement in the European conflagration approached, Wedemeyer was taken under the wing of George C. Marshall in Washington. Wedemeyer conceived the plans for US mobilization, which was in greater gear than realized at the time of Pearl Harbor. The Victory Program, completed in the summer of 1941, contained actual battle plans and called for the concentration of forces in England in preparation for an early cross-channel invasion into France. However, to Wedemeyer’s great disappointment (reflecting Marshall’s), he was not appointed to field command in the ETO once the invasion commenced; further, he had run afoul of Winston Churchill due to the latter’s insistence on emphasizing the Mediterranean theater in 1943.
Perhaps because of Churchill’s animosity, Wedemeyer was transferred to the Burma-China theater, where a year later he would replace General Stilwell. Ultimately, Wedemeyer’s service in the Asian theater became far more significant, though less known. Had the US political establishment listened to Wedemeyer’s advice on China during the years 1943–48, it is possible China would not have been lost to the Communists and would have been a functioning US ally from the start, thus eliminating the likelihood of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Despite Wedemeyer’s key position at the crux of modern history, his contributions have been overlooked in most accounts of World War II and the Cold War beyond. In this work, we gain an intimate look at a visionary thinker who helped guide the Allies to victory in their greatest challenge, but whose vision of the post-war world was unfortunately not heeded.