I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1941 in this post.
A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1941
Hans Frank, appointed Gauleiter (Governor General) of Poland in October 1939, remarked,
I ask nothing of the Jews except that they should disappear.
The antisemitic newspaper, Der Stürmer, published by prominent member of the Nazi party, Julius Streicher, proclaimed,
Now judgment has begun and it will reach its conclusion only when knowledge of the Jews has been erased from the earth.
A pogrom (an organized massacre or slaughter of a particular ethnic group) in Romania resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 Jews.
January 9, 1941
A prototype of the British RAF Avro Lancaster aircraft made its maiden voyage. Dad’s POW roommate in Stalag Luft IV, Lawrence Newbold, was a wireless (radio) operator on a Lancaster crew that flew out of RAF Skellingthope.
January 22, 1941
Tobruk, Libya in North Africa fell to British and Commonwealth (Australian) troops.
January 27, 1941
The American Ambassador in Tokyo, Japan, Joseph Grew, secretly cabled Washington that Japan military forces planned a surprise mass attack at Pearl Harbor in case of ‘trouble’ with the United States. His later account said,
There is a lot of talk around town to the effect that the Japanese in case of a break with the United States, are planning to go all out in a surprise mass attack on Pearl Harbor. Of course I informed our Government.
Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, and Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, were both provided with the report, but both discounted it.
The Nazis sent the Afrika Korps reinforcements to North Africa.
February 7, 1941
British troops seized Beda Fomm, Libya.
February 11, 1941
British forces advanced into Italian-controlled Somaliland in East Africa.
February 12, 1941
Nazi General Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps arrived in Tripoli, North Africa.
February 22, 1941
Four hundred thirty Jewish hostages were deported from Amsterdam after a Dutch Nazi was killed by Jews.
February 26, 1941
American scientists Joseph W. Kennedy, Glenn T. Seaborg, Edward M. McMillan, and Arthur C. Wohl of the University of California, Berkley, discovered plutonium-239, which is a uranium isotope critical in the development of nuclear weapons. [Note: Plutonium (specifically, plutonium-238) was first produced and isolated on December 14, 1940.]
Adolf Hitler’s Commissar Order to his generals authorized execution of those suspected of being Communist officials in territories about to be seized from Soviet Russia. The order stated,
The war against Russia cannot be fought in knightly fashion. The struggle is one of ideologies and racial differences and will have to be waged with unprecedented, unmerciful, and unrelenting hardness. All officers will have to get rid of any old fashioned ideas they may have. I realize that the necessity for conducting such warfare is beyond the comprehension of you generals, but I must insist that my orders be followed without complaint. The commissars hold views directly opposite to those of National Socialism. Hence these commissars must be eliminated. Any German soldier who breaks international law will be pardoned. Russia did not take part in the Hague Convention and, therefore, has no rights under it.
March 1, 1941
King Boris III of Bulgaria signed the Tripartite pact and joined the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.
During his first visit to Auschwitz, Heinrich Himmler ordered Kommandant Rudolf Höss to begin massive expansion, which included building a new compound nearby at Birkenau that could hold 100,000 prisoners.
March 2, 1941
The Nazis occupied Bulgaria with its Jewish population of 50,000.
March 3 – 20, 1941
German authorities announced, established, and sealed the Krakow Ghetto in Krakow, Poland. Between 15,000 and 20,000 Jews were forced to live within the ghetto boundaries, which were enclosed by barbed-wire fences and a stone wall.
March 7, 1941
British forces arrived in Greece.
German Jews were ordered into forced labor.
March 11, 1941
President Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act. It permitted him to
sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of, to any such government [whose defense the President deemed vital to the defense of the United States] any defense article.
March 13, 1941
Glasgow, Scotland was hit by its first significant air raid of WWII when more than two hundred Luftwaffe aircraft bombed the area in the Clydebank Blitz overnight in an attempt to destroy naval, shipbuilding and munitions targets. The attack continued a second night on March 14.
March 25, 1941
Yugoslavia signed the Tripartite pact and joined the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Bulgaria.
March 26, 1941
The German Army High Command gave approval to RSHA (the Reich Main Security Office or Reichssicherheitshauptamt, which was one of Heinrich Himmler’s organizations) and its original chief Reinhard Heydrich on the tasks of SS murder squads (Einsatzgruppen) in occupied Poland.
March 27, 1941
A coup in Yugoslavia overthrew the pro-Axis government.
March 29, 1941
A ‘Commissariat’ (a military department for the supply of food and equipment) for Jewish Affairs was set up in Vichy, France.
This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:
The History Place:
Most recent post from the series:
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019