World War II, unlike World War I, was truly a global conflict, fought in every one of the five continents, from the Caribbean to the South China Sea, from New Guinea to the North Cape, and by combatants from every continental region, Latin America, the Balkans, Scandinavia, the Middle East, South Asia and Africa as well as from Europe and North America. It was also, as World War I had not been, a conflict of ideologies. Its dramatis personae was therefore of a peculiar richness, including not only soldiers and statesmen of orthodox background but three dictators of world stature—Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, demagogues like Goebbels and ideologues like Alfred Rosenberg, politicians of charismatic power, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, prophets of national renaissance, like Charles de Gaulle, and of national liberation like Mahatma Gandhi, showmen, mountebanks, martyrs, heroes, traitors and quislings—a word we owe to the politics of World War II. This book attempts to assemble the most important among this vast cast of characters, from every country and from every sphere of responsibil- ity—or irresponsibility—and to convey not only the salient facts about the life and career of each but also the flavor of his individuality.
Cross-references: separate entries can be found for those personages whose names appear in capital letters within another entry or a caption.
Dates: information regarding the birth and/or death dates for some personages is unavailable. All relevant data which have been obtained are included even if incomplete.