Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Wedemeyer, Albert Coady (1897–1989)

U.S. Army general who succeeded General Joseph Stilwell as chief of staff to Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek) in China in 1944. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, on 9 July 1897, Albert Wedemeyer graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1918 in an accelerated program and was commissioned in the infantry. Between the wars, he served in the United States, the Philippines, and China and attended the Command and General Staff School, making captain in 1936. Wedemeyer's father-in-law and mentor, Colonel Stanley Embick, inspired in him a lifelong interest in strategic questions and economic issues in warfare.

From 1936 to 1938, Wedemeyer attended the German War College (Kriegsakademie), producing a lengthy final report on the German military. This document strongly impressed Major General George C. Marshall, then assistant chief of staff in the War Department General Staff War Plans Division; in fact, in 1941, after he became chief of staff, Marshall placed Wedemeyer, a major at the time, in the same division. Wedemeyer contributed heavily to the War Department's "Victory Plan," which governed overall planning for the wartime mobilization of American manpower and industrial resources. In 1942 and 1943, promoted to brigadier general, he served in the War Department Operations Division, where he fervently advocated an early cross-Channel invasion of western Europe and opposed British Prime Minister Winston L. S. Churchill's alternative proposals for Mediterranean operations.

In the fall of 1943, Wedemeyer, now a major general, became deputy chief of staff to the new South-East Asia Command. In that capacity, he helped to develop plans for future operations and unsuccessfully attempted to resolve differences between China's Jiang Jieshi, president of the Nationalist Party—the Guomindang, or GMD (Kuomintang, or KMT)—and General Joseph W. Stilwell, commander of American military forces in the China-Burma-India Theater and Jiang's chief of staff. In October 1944, Wedemeyer replaced Stilwell and soon developed a far less antagonistic working relationship with Jiang. Though critical of corruption and ineptitude within the GMD government and military, Wedemeyer, who was promoted to lieutenant general in early 1945, energetically helped to reorganize the Chinese army and enhance its fighting abilities, drafting plans—never implemented—to retake south China's coast from Japanese forces. He urged greater levels of U.S. aid for Jiang's government and the denial of such assistance to Chinese Communist leaders.

Following the Japanese surrender in August 1945, Wedemeyer supervised the demobilization of Japanese troops in China and their replacement by Jiang's forces. Despite continuing to criticize corruption and inefficiencies within the Nationalist government, he believed the United States should give it staunch backing and much-expanded economic and military aid, and he expressed misgivings over Marshall's year-long 1946 effort to establish a coalition Chinese government that would include Communist leaders. In April 1946, Wedemeyer left China. After Marshall sent him on a two-month fact-finding mission to China and Korea the following year, he repeated these recommendations, while also forcefully urging the Chinese government to institute major reforms in order to survive and to attract U.S. aid. The Truman administration ignored Wedemeyer's advice and deemed his report too politically sensitive, suppressing it for two years.

After serving on the War Department General Staff and commanding the Sixth Army, Wedemeyer retired in 1951 to become a business executive. In 1954, he was promoted to full general on the retired list. He was active in conservative Republican politics, and in his memoirs, he openly condemned the Truman administration's failure to provide greater assistance to China. Wedemeyer died at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on 17 December 1989.

Priscilla Roberts


Further Reading
Cline, Ray S. Washington Command Post: The Operations Division. Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1951.; Kirkpatrick, Charles E. An Unknown Future and a Doubtful Present: Writing the Victory Plan of 1941. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1990.; Romanus, Charles F., and Riley Sunderland. United States Army in World War II: China-Burma-India Theater—Stilwell's Command Problems. Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1956.; Stueck, William. The Wedemeyer Mission: American Politics and Foreign Policy during the Cold War. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984.; Wedemeyer, Albert C. Wedemeyer Reports! New York: Holt, 1958.
 

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