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WWII Timeline – Summer 1941

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1941 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1941

Summer 1941

Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS (Schutzstaffel), was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and was a main architect of the Holocaust. In the Summer of 1941, he summoned Auschwitz Kommandant Rudolf Höss to Berlin to inform him,

The Führer has ordered the Final Solution of the Jewish question. We, the SS, have to carry out this order…I have therefore chosen Auschwitz for this purpose.

July 1941

As the German Army advanced, SS Einsatzgruppen (Action Groups) followed behind and carried out mass murder of Jews in seized lands.

Jewish Ghettos were established at Kovno, Minsk, Vitebsk and Zhitomer.

The government of Vichy France seized Jewish owned property.

July 3, 1941

German Army Group Centre (a strategic German Army Group that was created on June 22, 1941 as one of three German Army formations assigned to the invasion of the Soviet Union) eradicated the Bialystok pocket capturing 290,000 Soviet prisoners, 2,500 tanks, and 1,500 guns.

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin called for the “scorched earth” policy (a military strategy of burning or destroying crops or other resources that might be of use to an invading enemy force) to slow down the German armies.

July 10, 1941

The Germans crossed the River Dnieper in the Ukraine.

July 12, 1941

A mutual assistance agreement was reached between the British and the Soviets.

July 14, 1941

The British occupied Syria.

July 17, 1941

Alfred Rosenberg, a Baltic German who has been described as a Nazi racial ‘philosopher’, theorist, and influential ideologue of the Nazi Party, was appointed Reich Minister for the Eastern Occupied Territories to administer territories seized from the Soviet Union.

July 21, 1941

Majdanek concentration camp in occupied Poland near Lublin became operational.

July 25 – 26, 1941

Thirty-eight hundred Jews were killed during a pogrom (an organized massacre or slaughter of a particular ethnic group) by Lithuanians in Kovno.

July 26, 1941

The United States froze Japanese assets in America and suspended diplomatic relations.

July 31, 1941

Nazi Party leader Hermann Göring ordered SS leader Reinhard Heydrich to begin preparations for the Final Solution, a “general solution of the Jewish question” in conquered territories.

The Final Solution Order from Hermann Göring to Reinhard Heydrich

Berlin, July 31, 1941

To Gruppenführer Heydrich:

Supplementing the task assigned to you by the decree of January 24, 1939, to solve the Jewish problem by means of emigration and evacuation in the best possible way according to present conditions, I hereby charge you to carry out preparations as regards organizational, financial, and material matters for a total solution (Gesamtlösung) of the Jewish question in all the territories of Europe under German occupation.

Where the competency of other central organizations touches on this matter, these organizations are to collaborate.

I charge you further to submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution (Endlösung) of the Jewish question.

Göring

August 1941

Jews in Romania were forced into Transnistria, a thin strip of land wedged between Moldova and Ukraine. By December, 70,000 perished.

Jewish ghettos were established at Bialystok and Lvov.

August 1, 1941

The U.S. announced an oil embargo against “aggressor states.”

August 3, 1941

Catholic Bishop Clemens von Galen, in a sermon delivered in Münster Cathedral, called the Nazi euthanasia program “plain murder.” In publicly condemning the program, von Galen urged German Catholics to

withdraw ourselves and our faithful from their [Nazi] influence so that we may not be contaminated by their thinking and their ungodly behavior.

The sermon so affected Nazi leadership that as a result, on August 23, Adolf Hitler suspended Aktion T4, which had already accounted for nearly a hundred thousand deaths.

Regardless, the Nazi euthanasia program continued, but without widespread gassings. Instead, drugs and starvation were used, and doctors were encouraged to decide in favor of death whenever euthanasia was being considered.

Nazi retaliation against the Bishop was carried out by beheading three parish priests who had distributed his sermon. The Bishop was left unharmed to avoid making him into a martyr.

August 9 – 12, 1941

The Atlantic Conference took place aboard a warship off the coast of Newfoundland. The conference resulted in the Atlantic Charter, a joint proclamation by American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in which they declared they were together fighting the Axis powers to

ensure life, liberty, independence and religious freedom and to preserve the rights of man and justice.

The charter served as the foundation for the later establishment of the United Nations, and set forth several principles for the nations of the world, including the renunciation of all aggression, right to self-govern, access to raw materials, freedom from want and fear, freedom of the seas, and disarmament of aggressor nations.

August 15, 1941

German authorities sealed off the Kovno Ghetto, with approximately 30,000 Jewish inhabitants inside. It was in an area of small primitive houses and no running water and was overcrowded, enclosed by barbed wire, and closely guarded.

August 20, 1941

German authorities opened a Jewish internment and transit camp for foreign Jews in France in Drancy, France, a northeastern suburb of Paris. The SS eventually deports Jews captured in France from Drancy to Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Sobibor killing center.

August 26, 1941

The Hungarian Army rounded up 18,000 Jews at Kamenets-Podolsk.

September 1, 1941

The Nazis ordered German Jews to wear yellow stars, the “Jewish badge.” Reinhard Heydrich decreed that all Jews over six years of age in the Reich, Alsace, Bohemia-Moravia and the German–annexed territory of western Poland (called the Warthegau), were to wear the yellow Star of David on their outer clothing in public at all times.  The word “Jew” was to be inscribed inside the star in German or the local language. The badge was used not only to stigmatize and humiliate Jews, but also to segregate them, to watch and control their movements, and to prepare them for deportation.

September 3, 1941

The first experimental use of the gas chambers at Auschwitz occurred with the first test of Zyklon-B gas on the concentration camp’s prisoners, Jews and Russian POWs.

September 6, 1941

The Vilna Ghetto was established with 40,000 Jews.

September 8, 1941

The Nazi siege of Leningrad began. It would last nearly 900 days and claim the lives of 800,000 civilians.

September 11, 1941

Aviator Charles Lindbergh, a member of the America First Committee, delivered a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, in which he blamed the deepening US involvement in WWII on Britain, the Roosevelt administration, and Jews.

September 12, 1941

Days after the start of the Nazi siege of Leningrad, the first snow of the season was reported on the Russian Front.

September 17, 1941

The general deportation of German Jews began.

In the German Bavarian city of Wuerzburg (or Würzburg), Jews were taken by police officials into the Platzscher Garten hotel. In one room, luggage was inspected by Gestapo officials and all valuables were confiscated before it was taken to a collecting area, where it was to then be taken to the deportation train. However, the deportees never saw their luggage again.

In another room, deportees surrendered all personal papers showing ownership of securities and property, and were left only with identification cards, watches, and wedding rings.

In the last room, deportees underwent body searches for concealed valuables and gold fillings were removed from their teeth. Their identification cards were stamped “evakuiert” [deported].

An SS detachment took control of the deportees until they left for the railway station. Jewish ordners (simply defined as one who keeps order or a security person) organized the deportees into groups to march through the city and board the trains. The group first traveled to Nuremberg, where it joined a larger Judentransport departing for ghettos and concentration camps in the East.

September 19, 1941

Almost three months after the initial German attack on Kiev, the capital of Soviet Ukraine, Germans forces took Kiev and 600,000 Soviet prisoners.

Jews comprised about twenty percent of Kiev’s population before the war with about 160,000 Jews residing in the city. One hundred thousand fled ahead of the German occupation.

Soviet military engineers set off two major explosions at the beginning of the occupation which destroyed part of Kiev’s city center and the German headquarters. The Nazis used this event as an excuse to murder the remaining Jews in Kiev ten days later.

September 27 – 28, 1941

Twenty-three thousand Jews were killed at Kamenets-Podolsk in the Ukraine.

September 29 – 30, 1941

Nazi SS Einsatzgruppen (Action Groups) and German police and auxiliary units murdered 33,771 Jews at Babi Yar, a ravine northwest of Kiev over two days.

In the following months, the Nazis killed thousands more Jews at Babi Yar, as well as non-Jews including Roma (Gypsies), Communists, and Soviet prisoners of war.

The location is known as one of the largest individual mass murder locations during World War II, with the total people murdered at Babi Yar estimated to be 100,000.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

The History Place, Excerpt of the sermon by Catholic Cardinal Clemens von Galen

The History Place, Atlantic Charter

Charles Lindbergh Speech in Des Moines, Iowa

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1941

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019


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