The year 1942 was a year of blood and strength. The man whose name means steel in Russian, whose few words of English include the American expression "tough guy" was the man of 1942. Only Joseph Stalin fully knew how close Russia stood to defeat in 1942, and only Joseph Stalin fully knew how he brought Russia through.
But the whole world knew what the alternative would have been. The man who knew it best of all was Adolf Hitler, who found his past accomplishments turning into dust.
Had German legions swept past steelstubborn Stalingrad and liquidated Russia's power of attack, Hitler would have been not only man of the year, but he would have been undisputed master of Europe, looking for other continents to conquer. He could have diverted at least 250 victorious divisions to new conquests in Asia and Africa. But Joseph Stalin stopped him. Stalin had done it beforein 1941when he started with all of Russia intact. But Stalin's achievement of 1942 was far greater. All that Hitler could give he tookfor the second time.
Men of Good Will. Above the heavy tread of nations on the march, above the staccato uproar of the battlefields, only a few men of peace were heard in 1942.
Britain's William Temple, who made his pilgrimage to Canterbury in 1942 and became the new Archbishop, was one of them. His church-approved program of reforms brought religion closer to the center of British national life than at any time since Cromwell's Roundheads. Temple challenged all Britain's well-established institutions of economic privilege, espoused the cause of mankind's economic freedom (which Britain loosely calls socialism), probably to leave a lasting mark on British history.
Another man who may leave a similar mark is Henry J. Kaiser, the man who launched one of his Liberty ships in four days and 15 hours and, more important, preached as a practical businessman "full production for full employment." His gospel challenged U.S. industry to lead the post-war world out of depression.
A third man who left a mark was Wendell Willkie, whose world-circling trip as the politician without office had an effect perhaps more lasting than the U.S. yet realizes on U.S. relations with Russia and the Orient.
But Willkie's accomplishment was dimmed by his failure to command the firm support of his party (see p. 18), and the plain fact was that in 1942, a year of war, men of good will had no achievements to match those of men of arms and men of power.
Men of War. Flamboyant Erwin Rommel and cold-mouthed Fedor von Bock were Germany's two top generals in a year whose laurels were reserved primarily for fighting men. Rommel, who drove to within 70 miles of Alexandria before he was stopped by the British, established himself as one of the great virtuosos among field commanders. Bock directed a brilliant campaign which reached the west bank of the Volga, but the final spark that would have meant victory was not in him.