Role of World War II Leadership

World War II remains one of the most significant historic events in the world alongside with the prior World War I. It is caused by its importance in shaping power balance in the world, as well as starting an era of peace enjoyed today. Although, the war resulted in numerous deaths, it helped reach the world order, as well as establish effective foreign policies. However, its advantages and disadvantages are attributed to the issue of leadership and the leaders both political and military. The war was fought by many countries led by individuals who used different military tactics, propaganda, negotiations, and mobilization to win (Kindsvatter 92). Some leaders encouraged their people to perform aggressive attacks against other countries in an attempt to gain power. On the other hand, some leaders helped bring democracy through negotiations or forming alliances against the enemies. At the same time, different rulers remained neutral to save their countries from war, while other could not stand stronger powers and were taken captives. Therefore, the paper discusses the roles of leadership on the example of various leaders during World War II.

World War II was mainly instigated by aggressive leaders, whose ambitions were to gain both military and economic power across the world. Consequently, their actions were directed against the foreign policy and human rights and their desire for power boosted their activities, which led to attacks on other countries. Moreover, such leaders enjoyed immense power over the citizens of their countries, which enabled them performs their acts without opposition. Nonetheless, any protests were subdued ruthlessly giving them courage to proceed. Some of these leaders included the German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, who planned and started the Second World War, Benito Mussolini and General Hideki Tojo.


Adolf Hitler

Military Leadership. Despite his strong military leadership, Adolf Hitler is mainly remembered for the extremely cruel acts he caused during the war. His experience in military craft was attributed to the experience gained during WWI as a common soldier, where he was awarded an Iron Cross First Class. Moreover, Dick and Daniel maintains that he possessed essential characteristics, such as nerves of steel, strong will, and undeniable intelligence as a military leader (94). He also demonstrated high versatility by being able to adjust to the mentality of the audience. He could engage industrialists on technical issues, discuss political matters with diplomats, or hold reasonable conversations with the common working class. Nevertheless, he also possessed negative characteristics, which affected his leadership. For example, Hitler highly distrusted his generals, which led to some negative outcomes.

As a military leader, Hitler was well-versed in armament issues and technical matters. He had good knowledge of guns, ships, tanks and their importance in the war, which promoted his ambitions. Moreover, he had excellent knowledge of the speed of foreign and internal warships, which enabled him to plan attacks effectively. For instance, Hitler knew where to place demolition charges for great effects, as well as where and how fortifications could be constructed. He also knew about capabilities of the gasoline engines, which were used in various attacks to his success. Hitler could effectively analyze previous attacks and plan appropriately for the next actions and defense tactics. His military leadership was also characterized by great negotiation skills, which helped him successfully engage local weapon manufacturers in enhancing Germany’s weapon production (Dick, and Daniel 105).

Hitler’s formidable military leadership was also accredited to self-confidence built from his strong memory talent. Although his educational background was low, no one with higher education has ever managed to intimidate him. It enabled Hitler to successfully persuade people to accept his ideas, hence act together against their enemies.

Decision-Making. Decision-making skills were important among the leaders during the war. They had to make important decisions on whether to remain neutral or take sides considering the interests of their countries (Lecture). Hitler’s leadership during World War II was also based on his decisive characteristic as he planned every step meticulously. He could analyze every situation carefully to make sound decisions, which made the country wage successful wars against others. Nonetheless, his decisions were not logical as he relied on his intuition rather than facts.

General Hideki Tojo

General Hideki Tojo was known for his aggressive behavior during his reign as prime minister in Japan. He became a minister when Japan was extremely aggressive and militarist under the governance of military leadership. As denoted by Kindsvatter, his actions as a leader of Japan army in opposition with the United States ended in failure (143). He started a war against the United States where his army attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941 after failed attempt to bring peace between the two countries. Similar to Adolf Hitler, Tojo was a dictator and even made himself Commander in Chief. He later resigned after realizing that his troops were going to lose. As a result, the war for Japan ended with a surrender order from Emperor Hirohito.

Though Tojo’s leadership did not bring positive results, his confidence and self-conviction were clear during his reign. His failure to improve relations with the U.S. made him develop the army to wage war against the country. Tojo’s political leadership also enabled him to subdue the empire and lead the country in aggressive attacks with the aim of expanding its territory.

Benito Mussolini

Italy was also involved in war under the leadership of Benito Mussolini, whose fascist ideology promoted the existence of a one-party state. Through his leadership, Mussolini promoted total obedience, aggressive militarism, and patriotic nationalism. Initially, he led right-wing coalition, which resulted in forming became one-party state later. He gained immense popularity due to his policy directed at reducing unemployment but finally failed due to his military aggression instigated by his fascism ideology. He used weaker neighbors as a way of demonstrating the strength of his new regime. For example, he attacked and occupied Ethiopia from the nearby East African colony. He also formed an alliance with Hitler to promote his aggressive acts (Dick, and Daniel 86).

Mussolini also took advantage of its alliance with Hitler to attack Britain and France, which he felt had been weakened by the Germans. For instance, he used his large army in Libya to attack small British army in Egypt. However, despite their great number they were severely beaten by the British on several occasions and could not defeat them without German’s help. Eventually, Italian and German forces were defeated by British-American forces that also performed military operations in Italy.

Mussolini’s leadership played a significant role in Italy’s rise, as well as its fall. He started as a great leader by treating well the unemployed layers of the society leading to improved economic growth in the country. Nonetheless, as Dick and Daniel asserts, his personal ambitions overcame the general idea of ensuring democracy when he introduced and promoted fascism (94). Compared to his alliance partner Hitler, he practiced the dictatorial type of leadership, where his word was final in any situation. It made Mussolini lead unsuccessful wars against his close neighbors resulting in decay of the country both politically and regarding power.

Some treaties and foreign policies were violated by the aggressive leaders, such as Hitler and Mussolini. They performed unlawful attacks against weak countries forcing them to ally or defeating them. Fortunately, there were leaders who directed their powers at protecting and upholding democracy by defending themselves from the aggressors. Such leaders include Winston Churchill, who defended Britain from Germans, and Roosevelt, who was the statesman of the United States.

Winston Churchill

Churchill is one of the most heroic and prominent leaders of Great Britain who fought fiercely against the Germans. He became Prime Minister after the failed policy of appeasement directed at Germany by his predecessor. He came into power the same day Germany started invading France. After Germany’s victory, Britain appeared under threat of attacks. Finally, German forces started both ground and water invasion using German U-boat submarines. However, Churchill led Britain to victory against the ambitious German invaders using his great leadership skills. His remarkable fighting spirit boosted the morale of British citizens, while his remarkable negotiation skills also enabled him to form a strong alliance with the United States to lead successful war against the aggressors.

The leadership of Winston Churchill was undeniably crucial for the victory of Britain against Germans. He used formidable military tactics, which provided a strong defense against German warships, as well as ground attacks. His ability to raise people’s morale also enabled him to gain great voluntary military support from the citizens. It helped expand the British army, which was composed of dedicated fighters. Churchill’s negotiation skills as a leader were also significant in forming alliances against a common enemy. It was demonstrated during the defeat of Italy and Germany in North Africa, where Britain formed an alliance with the United States of America against the common enemy. Furthermore, strategic planning enabled Britain wage successful wars and provided strong defense against Germans.

Joseph Stalin

Although Stalin’s leadership helped provide a strong defense against Germans, he was initially a communist dictator, who imprisoned and murdered many USSR military officers and citizens. His actions led to a weakening of the Soviet Union making it vulnerable to German attacks. As a result, he decided to form an alliance with Germany due to a possible threat from Britain and France (Dick, and Daniel 121). His decisions were based on the fact that the two countries were against his brutal communism and military weakness of the USSR. It led to the USSR invading Poland during the World War II as a part of the deal with Germany. However, Hitler broke the agreement and attacked Soviet Union citing its great military weakness due to lack of experienced officers.

As a leader, Stalin enforced obsessive war tactic among his fighter ignoring the intelligent warnings from his subordinates leading to the numerous victories of Germans. Fortunately, he realized his mistake and started leading a more professional war by involving the generals resulting in the final victory of the USSR. His change of leadership tactic made him hire experienced military personnel, which changed the situation on the front.

Franklin Roosevelt

Another prominent leader during World War II was Franklin Roosevelt who led successful wars against his enemies. He strictly followed the initial U.S. political demand of remaining neutral until Nazi aggression and attacks by Japan on its shipments, which made him sanction war against the Nazi forces (Kindsvatter 211). Later, he joined forces with Britain and the USSR to fight the Japan militarism, German Nazi, and Fascists of Italy.

In conclusion, World War II was majorly instigated by ideologies or different points of view held by various leaders. Very often, they imposed their ideologies on the citizens regardless of the support they received, and even managed to spread their view points across the borders. Their disparate leadership roles were significant in promoting or ending the Second World War. Although, they were able to mobilize their countries to fight for their beliefs, the aggressors were driven by personal intuitions. Such leaders as, for example, Hitler, were driven by their self-conviction that they were the only leaders worthy of the positions. Consequently, they applied dictatorial techniques and experiences gained from their previous positions in the military to control and manipulate others. Therefore, their leadership roles can be categorized under the major drivers or causes of the war. On the other hand, there were leaders prominent for their determination, who fought to protect democracy and defend others from aggressors. Therefore, their leadership roles were vital in ending the war and restoring peace worldwide.

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