The Arrowhead Club

Home » Posts tagged 'WWII Timeline'

Tag Archives: WWII Timeline

WWII Timeline – Fall 1941

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

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1941

October 1941

Thirty-five thousand Jews from Odessa, Ukraine were shot and killed.

October 2, 1941

The main German drive on Moscow, called Operation Typhoon, began.

October 16, 1941

German forces took Odessa, Ukraine.

October 23, 1941

The Nazis forbid further emigration of Jews from the Reich.

October 24, 1941

German forces took Kharkov, Ukraine.

October 30, 1941

German forces reached Sevastopol, Ukraine on the Crimean Peninsula.

November 1941

SS Einsatzgruppe (Action Group) B reported a tally of 45,476 Jews killed.

November 11, 1941

German forces capture Yalta, Ukraine on the south coast of the Crimean Peninsula.

November 13, 1941

The British aircraft carrier Ark Royal was sunk off Gibraltar by a German U-boat.

November 17, 1941

Japan demanded that the U.S. lift its trade embargo.

November 20, 1941

German forces took Soviet Rostov.

November 24, 1941

German authorities established the camp-ghetto Theresienstadt in the garrison town of Terezin in the German-controlled Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Theresienstadt existed for three and a half years, until May 9, 1945. Neither exactly a ghetto nor strictly a concentration camp, Theresienstadt was an assembly camp and a concentration camp, and had recognizable features of both ghettos and concentration camps. It was a unique facility that served as a tool of deception for propaganda purposes for the Germans.

November 25, 1941

Adolf Hitler met Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in Berlin. They agreed on the need for the destruction of the Jews.

November 27, 1941

Soviet troops took Rostov back.

November 30, 1941

A mass shooting of Latvian and German Jews occurred near Riga, Latvia.

December 4, 1941

The temperature fell to -30°F (-34°C) on the Russian Front.

December 5, 1941

The German attack on Moscow was abandoned.

December 6, 1941

The Soviet Army launched a major counter-offensive around Moscow and drove the German forces from the Moscow suburbs.

U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt made a final appeal to the Emperor of Japan for peace. There was no reply.

Later in the day, the U.S. code-breaking service in Washington, D.C. intercepted a fourteen-part Japanese message and deciphered the first thirteen parts. The deciphered messages were passed on to the President and Secretary of State. The Americans believed a Japanese attack was imminent, but believed it most likely to occur somewhere in Southeast Asia.

December 7, 1941

The attack on Pearl Harbor, the date which will live in infamy…

Japanese naval and air forces attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The Japanese also attacked the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand, Shanghai and Midway.

The last part of the fourteen-part Japanese message reached Washington in the morning and was decoded by 9 a.m. Washington time. It stated that diplomatic relations with the U.S. were to be broken off. About an hour later, another Japanese message was intercepted. It instructed the Japanese embassy to deliver the main message to the Americans at 1 p.m.

The Americans realized the stated time corresponded with early morning in Pearl Harbor, several hours behind Washington. The U.S. War Department issued an alert, but used commercial telegraph as radio contact with Hawaii was down. Delays prevented the alert from arriving at headquarters in Oahu until noon Hawaii time, four hours after the attack had already begun.

The Japanese attack force, under the command of Japanese Admiral Nagumo, consisted of six aircraft carriers with four hundred twenty three planes.

At 6 a.m., one hundred eighty-three planes took off from the Japanese carriers located two hundred thirty miles north of Oahu for their target, the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, in the first wave of the attack.

At 7:02 a.m., two Army operators at Oahu’s northern shore radar station detected the Japanese planes approaching. They contacted a junior officer who disregarded their reports, believing they were American B-17 planes which were expected in from the U.S. west coast.

A future airman of the 384th Bomb Group, Robert Thacker, was piloting one of those American B-17’s flying into Hickam Field that morning. His account may be viewed in this video.

At 7:15 a.m., a second Japanese attack wave of one hundred sixty-seven planes took off from the Japanese carriers and headed for Pearl Harbor.

At 7:53 a.m., the first Japanese assault wave arrived at Pearl Harbor.

The first attack wave targeted airfields and battleships. The second wave targeted other ships and shipyard facilities. The air raid lasted almost two hours, until 9:45 a.m.

American losses included:

  • Two thousand three hundred thirty-five servicemen killed, including eleven hundred four men aboard the battleship USS Arizona.
  • Sixty-eight civilians killed.
  • Eleven hundred seventy-eight wounded.
  • Eight battleships damaged, with five sunk.
  • Three light cruisers lost.
  • Three destroyers lost.
  • Three smaller vessels lost.
  • One hundred eighty-eight aircraft lost.

Japanese losses included:

  • Twenty-seven planes.
  • Five midget submarines.

The prime target of the Japanese, the three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers Lexington, Enterprise, and Saratoga, escaped damage because they were not in port at the time of the attack. Base fuel tanks also escaped damage.

At 2:30 p.m. (Washington time), Japanese diplomats presented their war message to Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, at the same time Hull was reading the first reports of the air raid at Pearl Harbor.

Public radio bulletins interrupted Sunday afternoon radio programs to inform the American people of the attack.

Navy Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and Army Lt. General Walter C. Short, senior commanders at Pearl Harbor, were relieved of their duties following the attack. Subsequent investigations faulted both for failing to adopt adequate defense measures.

Note: The U.S. annexed Hawaii in 1898 and it became a U.S. Territory in 1900. Hawaii did not become a U.S. state until 1959.

Adolf Hitler’s Night and Fog decree

In Germany, on December 7, 1941, Adolf Hitler issued “Nacht und Nebel” – the Night and Fog Decree.

The previous Nazi policy meant to undermine Underground activities was to take hostages, but the method was unsuccessful. Now those suspected of underground activities would simply vanish without a trace, into the night and fog.

SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler issued the following instructions to the Gestapo,

After lengthy consideration, it is the will of the Führer that the measures taken against those who are guilty of offenses against the Reich or against the occupation forces in occupied areas should be altered. The Führer is of the opinion that in such cases penal servitude or even a hard labor sentence for life will be regarded as a sign of weakness. An effective and lasting deterrent can be achieved only by the death penalty or by taking measures which will leave the family and the population uncertain as to the fate of the offender. Deportation to Germany serves this purpose.

German Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel also issued a letter stating,

Efficient and enduring intimidation can only be achieved either by capital punishment or by measures by which the relatives of the criminals do not know the fate of the criminal…The prisoners are, in future, to be transported to Germany secretly, and further treatment of the offenders will take place here; these measures will have a deterrent effect because: A. The prisoners will vanish without a trace. B. No information may be given as to their whereabouts or their fate.

Victims were primarily from France, Belgium and Holland. Arrested in the middle of the night, they would be secreted away to far away prisons where they would be questioned and tortured. If they survived, they would be placed in the concentration camps of Natzweiler or Gross-Rosen.

December 8, 1941

The United States and Great Britain declared war on Japan.

The United States entered World War II and President Roosevelt delivered a speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in which he described the previous day as “a date which will live in infamy…”

Japanese troops landed in the Philippines, French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), and British Singapore.

The Chelmno extermination camp became operational in occupied Poland near Lodz. Jews taken to Chelmno were placed in mobile gas vans and driven to a burial place. Carbon monoxide fed from the engine exhaust into the sealed rear compartment killed them. The first victims included 5,000 Roma (Gypsies) who had been deported from the Reich.

December 9, 1941

China declared war on Japan.

December 10, 1941

Japanese forces invaded the Philippines and seized Guam.

December 11, 1941

Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

Hours later, President Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war on Germany saying,

Never before has there been a greater challenge to life, liberty and civilization.

The U.S. entered the war in Europe.

Japanese forces invaded Burma.

December 12, 1941

The ship Struma, carrying 769 Jews, left Romania for Palestine. British authorities later denied permission for the passengers to disembark. (In February 1942, it sailed back into the Black Sea where it was intercepted by a Russian submarine and sunk as an “enemy target.”)

December 15, 1941

The first Japanese merchant ship was sunk by a U.S. submarine.

December 16, 1941

Japanese forces invaded British Borneo.

German General Erwin Rommel began a retreat to El Agheila in North Africa.

During a cabinet meeting, Hans Frank, Gauleiter (Governor General) of Poland, stated,

Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourselves of all feeling of pity. We must annihilate the Jews wherever we find them and wherever it is possible in order to maintain there the structure of the Reich as a whole…

December 17, 1941

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz became Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

December 18, 1941

Japanese forces invaded Hong Kong.

December 19, 1941

Adolf Hitler took complete control of the German Army.

December 22, 1941

Japanese forces invaded Luzon in the Philippines.

December 23, 1941

In the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur began a withdrawal from Manila to Bataan.

Japanese forces took Wake Island.

December 25, 1941

The British surrendered at Hong Kong.

December 26, 1941

Manila was declared an open city.

December 27, 1941

The Japanese bombed Manila.

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.

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1941

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

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

WWII Timeline – Spring 1941

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

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1941

April 3, 1941

A pro-Axis regime was set up in Iraq.

April 6, 1941 – June 1941

Germany and Bulgaria invaded Greece (Greece’s Jewish population was 77,000) in support of the Italians. Resistance in Greece ceased in early June 1941.

The Axis powers of Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria invaded Yugoslavia (Yogoslavia’s Jewish population was 75,000).

April 9, 1941

The Danish ambassador to the United States, Henrik Kauffmann, against the instructions of his government, signed an executive agreement with US Secretary of State Cordell Hull, which allowed the presence of American troops in Greenland and made it a de facto United States protectorate.

April 10, 1941

The leaders of the terrorist Ustasa, or Ustashe, movement proclaimed the so-called Independent State of Croatia. Germany and Italy immediately recognized the new state which included the province of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Ustasa was a Croatian fascist, racist, ultra-nationalist and terrorist organization whose members murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Roma as well as political dissidents in Yugoslavia during World War II.

April 14, 1941

German General Erwin Rommel, known as the Desert Fox, attacked the port of Tobruk in Libya.

April 16, 1941

The first American “Lend-Lease” food aid shipments arrived in Britain.

April 17, 1941

Yugoslavia surrendered to the Nazis following the April 6 invasion. 

April 27, 1941

German troops occupied Athens as Greece surrendered to the Nazis.

May 1, 1941

The German attack on Tobruk was repulsed.

May 10, 1941

Adolf Hitler’s Deputy Führer Rudolph Hess flew from Augsburg, Germany to Scotland in an unauthorized solo attempt to persuade Britain to stop the war with Germany. He was confined until the end of the war, when he was brought to trial as a war criminal at Nuremberg.

May 10/11, 1941

The Germans heavily bombed London and the British bombed Hamburg.

May 14, 1941

Thirty-six hundred Jews were arrested in Paris by the occupying Nazi Gestapo.

May 15, 1941

The British counter-attack in Egypt known as Operation Brevity began.

May 16, 1941

French Marshal Philippe Petain approved collaboration with Adolf Hitler during a radio broadcast.

May 20, 1941

German paratroopers invaded Crete, Greece’s largest island.

May 24, 1941

The German battleship Bismarck sank the British battleship HMS Hood, resulting in the death of 1,500 of its crew.

May 27, 1941

British Navy warships sank the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic. The German death toll was more than 2,000.

June 1, 1941

British forces evacuated Crete. Final figures for the British were 16,500 killed, wounded or captured, while the Germans lost about 6,200.

Nazi SS Einsatzgruppen (Action Groups) began a campaign of mass murder of Jews throughout eastern Poland.

June 4, 1941

A pro-Allied government was installed in Iraq after Britain again assumed control at the end of May.

June 8, 1941

The Allies invaded Syria and Lebanon.

June 14, 1941

The United States froze German and Italian assets in America.

June 15, 1941

Croatia formally joined the Axis powers.

June 22, 1941 – November 1941

The Nazis invaded Soviet Russia (the Russian Jewish population was 3 million). This massive invasion was called Operation Barbarossa, and with the German and other Axis forces except Bulgaria, comprised 183 divisions (3,500,000 men), 3,350 tanks, and 1,945 aircraft. It was the biggest military operation in history on an 1,800-mile front. Finland aided the Axis in the invasion (they were seeking redress for their territorial losses in the armistice concluding the Winter War), however, Finland was never truly a member of the Axis powers as it never signed the Tripartite Pact.

The Germans quickly overran the Baltic States and, joined by the Finns, lay siege to Leningrad (St. Petersburg) by September. In the center, the Germans captured Smolensk in early August and drove on Moscow by October. In the south, German and Romanian troops captured Kiev (Kyiv) in September and captured Rostov on the Don River in November.

SS Einsatzgruppen (Action Groups), tasked with identifying, concentrating, and killing Jews by RSHA Chief Reinhard Heydrich, followed the frontline troops of the German armies into the Soviet Union, killing Soviet Jews in mass shootings.

June 25, 1941

In the US, under pressure from civil rights activists, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, which banned discrimination in hiring in defense factories and established the Fair Employment Practices Committee. Hiring and workplace discrimination against African Americans continued despite the order.

June 28, 1941

The Germans captured Minsk.

June 29/30, 1941

Romanian troops conducted a pogrom (an organized massacre or slaughter of a particular ethnic group) against Jews in the town of Jassy, killing 10,000.

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.

Wikipedia Ustashe

Wikipedia Greenland in WWII

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1941

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Winter 1941

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

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1941

1941

Hans Frank, appointed Gauleiter (Governor General) of Poland in October 1939, remarked,

I ask nothing of the Jews except that they should disappear.

January 1941

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.

February 1941

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.]

March 1941

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.

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.

Wikipedia, Lend-Lease Act

Wikipedia, Avro Lancaster

Wikipedia, Joseph Grew

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1940

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Fall 1940

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1940 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1940

October 3, 1940

Vichy France passed its own version of the Nuremberg Laws against the Jews.

October 7, 1940

Nazis invaded Romania, with their Jewish population of 34,000, with the pretext of protecting its oil fields from the British.

October 12, 1940

After many previous postponements, the Germans again postponed Operation Sea Lion until Spring of 1941.

October 22, 1940

Twenty-nine thousand German Jews were deported from Baden, the Saar, and Alsace-Lorraine into Vichy France.

October 23, 1940

Spain’s Fascist leader, Francisco Franco, met with Adolf Hitler at the Hendaye Railway Station near the Spanish-French border in Hendaye, France. In the seven- to nine-hour meeting, Franco and Hitler could not come to an agreement for the conditions for Spain to join the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. The only outcome of the meeting was the signing of a secret agreement in which Franco committed to entering the war at a future date he would choose and Hitler gave vague guarantees that Spain would receive “territories in Africa.”

October 28, 1940

Italy invaded Greece from Albania, which Mussolini justified by claiming that Greece had attacked Albania.

In Great Britain, 489,000 children were evacuated from the London area.

October 31, 1940

The Battle of Britain air war ended in defeat for Nazi Germany and proved Great Britain’s air superiority.

November 1940

The Krakow Ghetto was sealed off with 70,000 Jews inside.

November 5, 1940

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was re-elected to his third term as U.S. president.

November 11/12, 1940

The Battle of Taranto took place overnight between British naval forces and Italian naval forces. The British Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history using aerial torpedoes from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean Sea against the battle fleet of the Italian Royal Navy anchored in the harbour of Taranto. The raid crippled the Italian fleet at Taranto. The Japanese noted the superiority of naval aviation over the big guns of the battleships as they planned their Pearl Harbor attack.

November 14/15, 1940

The city of Coventry, England was bombed many times during WWII, but the most devastating attacks occurred on the evening of November 14 and continued into the morning of November 15.

November 20, 1940

Hungary joined the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan.

November 22, 1940

The Greeks defeated the Italian 9th Army.

November 23, 1940

Romania joined the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, and Hungary.

November 24, 1940

Slovakia joined the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, and Romania.

December 9/10, 1940

The British began a western desert offensive in North Africa against the Italians.

December 29/30, 1940

President Roosevelt delivered his Arsenal of Democracy speech on December 29 in a radio broadcast to the United States, Europe, and Japan in which he pledged to supply Great Britain with war materials. He began his address at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time from Washington D.C.

Before his re-election, Roosevelt pledged during the campaign that America would not declare war on the Axis unless it were attacked. He held to that promise, but during his almost forty minute speech, made a case to provide military support to Great Britain and warned,

If Great Britain goes down, the Axis powers will control the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the high seas. … It is no exaggeration to say that all of us, in all the Americas, would be living at the point of a gun.

On the evening of that same day, the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) firebombed London. Keep in mind, London is five hours ahead of Washington, D.C. I don’t know what time the bombing started in London that evening, but it likely started before Roosevelt started his radio address.

It was London’s most devastating air raid of the Blitz at the hands of the Nazis and the resulting fire from approximately 100,000 bombs dropped from one hundred thirty-six German bombers became known as the Second Great Fire of London. The raid focused on a part of the city with churches, offices, warehouses, and other non-residential buildings.

Hundreds of fires burned in London, but firefighters saved much of the city from the destruction caused by the exploding bombs even as the bombs rained down all around them, and even while hindered by a water shortage. St. Paul’s Cathedral was in the midst of the smoke and flames and could not be seen well during the firefight, but in the end, when the flames died down and the smoke cleared, the cathedral still stood.

Ernie Pyle, the Pulitzer Prize–winning American journalist and war correspondent, witnessed the raid in London and wrote,

Into the dark shadowed spaces below us, while we watched, whole batches of incendiary bombs fell. We saw two dozen go off in two seconds. They flashed terrifically, then quickly simmered down to pin points of dazzling white, burning ferociously…

The greatest of all the fires was directly in front of us. Flames seemed to whip hundreds of feet into the air. Pinkish-white smoke ballooned upward in a great cloud, and out of this cloud there gradually took shape—so faintly at first that we weren’t sure we saw correctly—the gigantic dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. St Paul’s was surrounded by fire, but it came through. It stood there in its enormous proportions—growing slowly clearer and clearer, the way objects take shape at dawn. It was like a picture of some miraculous figure that appears before peace-hungry soldiers on a battlefield.

Ernie Pyle was killed by enemy fire on the island of Iejima, Japan (then called Ie Shima) during the Battle of Okinawa on April 18, 1945.

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.

Battle of Taranto

Roosevelt’s Arsenal of Democracy Speech

Roosevelt’s Arsenal of Democracy Speech

Worst Air Raid on London

Second Great Fire of London

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1940

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Summer 1940

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1940 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1940

July 1, 1940

German U-boats attacked merchant ships in the Atlantic. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign of WWII, lasting from 1939 to 1945.

The French government of Prime Minister Marshal Philippe Pétain moved to Vichy, France.

July 5, 1940

Great Britain and the French Vichy government broke off diplomatic relations.

July 10, 1940

The Battle of Britain began. After the fall of France, the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) conducted unremitting and highly destructive air raids over Britain from July through September 1940. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) successfully defended Great Britain in what has been described as the first major military campaign fought entirely by air forces.

July 14-15, 1940

The Soviet Union engineered a Communist coup d’états in the Baltic States after their June occupation.

July 17, 1940

The first French anti-Jewish laws were decreed by Vichy government Prime Minister Marshal Philippe Pétain. The laws were not mandated by Germany. They affected metropolitan France and its overseas territories. The measures designated Jews as a lower class and deprived them of citizenship and a right to hold public office. Many Jews were first confined to the Drancy Internment Camp before being deported for extermination in Nazi concentration camps.

July 23, 1940

Per the Soviet-German non-aggression agreement (also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) of August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union officially absorbed Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

August 3-6, 1940

The Soviet Union annexed the Baltic States as Soviet Republics after their June occupation.

August 3-19, 1940

The Italians occupied British Somaliland in East Africa.

August 8, 1940

Romania introduced anti-Jewish measures restricting education and employment, then later began “Romanianization” of Jewish businesses.

August 13, 1940

The German bombing of British airfields began. Eagle Day (Adlertag) was the first day of Operation Eagle Attack (Unternehmen Adlerangriff), the codename for the Nazi Luftwaffe operation to destroy the British Royal Air Force. It was an attempt to gain air superiority in preparation for the invasion of Britain by sea, code named Operation Sea Lion. The main target was RAF Fighter Command. The attack caused significant damage and casualties on the ground, but did not cause enough damage to the British Fighter Command’s ability to defend British air space.

August 15, 1940

Air battles and daylight raids over Britain continued.

Franz Rademacher, head of the Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ordered Adolf Eichmann to start the resettlement of a million Jews per year for four years to Madagascar as a police state under the SS. The “Madagascar Plan” project was later abandoned.

August 17, 1940

Hitler declared a blockade of the British Isles.

August 23/24, 1940

The first German air raids began on Central London.

August 25/26, 1940

In retaliation of the air raids on London, the first British RAF air raid on Berlin was carried out.

August 30, 1940

The Second Vienna Award was the second territorial dispute arbitrated by Germany and Italy. It assigned the territory of North Transylvania from Romania to Hungary. Losing North Transylvania forced Romanian King Carol to abdicate the throne to his son, Michael, and brought the dictatorship of Fascist General Ion Antonescu and his Iron Guards to power.

September 4, 1940

The America First Committee was established with the goal of keeping the United States out of WWII. Aviator Charles Lindberg was one of the most famous of it’s 800,000 members. The committee was disbanded four days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

September 7, 1940

The German Blitz against Great Britain began when the Luftwaffe began targeting civilian rather than British military targets.

September 13, 1940

Italian forces invaded British-controlled Egypt from Italian-controlled Libya.

September 15, 1940

The Blitz continued with German air raids on London, Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester.

September 16, 1940

The United States military conscription bill passed and the first U.S. peacetime draft was enacted.

September 27, 1940

Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite (Axis) Pact, an economic and military alliance. The “Axis powers” formally took the name after the Tripartite Pact was signed.

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.

Madagascar Plan

Vichy anti-Jewish legislation

Adlertag

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1940

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Spring 1940

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1940 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1940

April and May 1940

Soviet secret police committed a series of mass executions of Polish military and intelligence officers in April and May of 1940 in several areas. Because of the later discovery of the first mass graves in the Katyn Forest, the executions have come to be known as the Katyn Forest Massacre. The number of victims has been estimated to be about 22,000.

April 5, 1940

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain unwisely claimed,

Hitler has missed the bus, a German invasion of the West is now unlikely to succeed.

April 9, 1940

The Nazis invaded Denmark, with a Jewish population of 8,000, and Norway, with a Jewish population of 2,000.  Denmark surrendered the day of, or day after, the attack. Norwegian leader Vidkun Quisling moved to create a pro-Nazi government.

April 27, 1940

Heinrich Himmler ordered the construction of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

April 30, 1940

The gates were closed on the Lodz Ghetto in occupied Poland, sealing it off from the outside world with estimates ranging from 164,000 to 230,000 Jews locked inside. Lodz was reported to be one of the largest ghettos in all of German-occupied Europe, second only to the Warsaw Ghetto.

May 1, 1940

Rudolf Höss was selected as Kommandant of Auschwitz.

May 7, 1940

President Roosevelt directed the U. S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet to remain at the ready off the coast of Hawaii.

May 10, 1940

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned and Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister.

The Nazis invaded France, with a Jewish population of 350,000, Belgium, with a Jewish population of 65,000, the Netherlands, with a Jewish population of 140,000, and Luxembourg, with a Jewish population of 3,500. Hitler feared that the Allies were planning to use the neutral nations as staging areas for attacks on Germany.

The first RAF (British Royal Air Force) bombing raids over Germany targeted communication centers.

May 12, 1940

England and Scotland began detaining German and Austrian men, and eventually Italian men, ages sixteen to sixty, in interment camps.

May 13, 1940

New British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made his “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech in the House of Commons,

I would say to the House as I have said to those who have joined this Government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” You ask, what is our policy? I will say: it is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength God can give us. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: it is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

The Nazis established bridgeheads (the strategically important area of ground around the end of a bridge which is sought to be defended) across the Meuse River in Belgium.

The Netherlands’ Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch royal family arrived in London, establishing themselves in exile after fleeing the Hague.

May 15, 1940

The Dutch Army of the Netherlands surrendered to the Nazis.

May 20, 1940

The largest concentration camp of the Nazis, the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, was established.

May 26, 1940

Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of British, French, and Belgian troops surrounded by the Axis powers from Dunkirk, France began.

May 27, 1940

Germany captured the port city of Calais, France, which is twenty-six miles across the English Channel from Dover, England.

May 28, 1940

Belgium surrendered to the Nazis.

June 3, 1940

The Nazis bombed Paris, and two hundred fifty Parisian citizens died from the air assault of two hundred Luftwaffe planes.

The Dunkirk evacuation ended with the total rescue of 224,686 British troops, and 121,445 French and Belgian troops.

Franz Rademacher sent out the first of several memos on the “Madagascar Project.”

June 4, 1940

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ended a speech before the House of Commons with,

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

June 8, 1940

The British aircraft carrier, HMS Glorious, and its escort of two destroyers, the HMS Acasta and HMS Ardent, were sunk by German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. More than 1,500 sailors were lost on the three British ships.

June 9, 1940

Norway surrendered to the Nazis.

June 10, 1940

Italy declared war on Britain and France.

Canada declared war on Italy.

June 14, 1940

South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand joined Canada in declaring war on Italy.

The Nazis marched into Paris, beginning a four-year occupation. All remaining British troops in France were ordered to return to England.

The Soviet Union occupied the Baltic States June 14–18.

June 15, 1940

The U. S. Congress continued to refuse to intervene in the war in Europe despite pleas from France and Britain.

June 16, 1940

Marshal Philippe Pétain replaced Paul Reynaud as French Prime Minister.

Italy sank the British submarines Grampus and Orpheus.

June 17, 1940

Five Luftwaffe bombers attacked the Cunard luxury ocean liner Lancastria, which was being used to transport troops, of which 2,500 died.

The U. S. Navy requested $4 billion from Congress to build an Atlantic fleet equal in strength to its Pacific fleet.

June 18, 1940

Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met in Munich. Hitler did not offer the large tracts of French land that Mussolini expected to be granted.

June 21, 1940

Italy invaded southern France.

June 22, 1940

France surrendered to and signed an armistice with Nazi Germany. In the agreement, Germany would occupy the northern half of France and the entire Atlantic coastline. A collaborationist regime with its capital in Vichy would be established in southern France,

June 23, 1940

Adolf Hitler toured Paris accompanied by architect Albert Speer.

June 28, 1940

Britain recognized General Charles de Gaulle, in exile in London, as the Free French leader.

The Soviet Union forced Romania to cede the eastern province of Bessarabia and the northern half of Bukovina to the Soviet Ukraine.

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.

Winston Churchill Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat Speech

Winston Churchill Beaches Speech

The Katyn Forrest Massacre

Civilian Internment

The Sinking of the HMS Glorious

Franz Rademacher’s Madagascar Project

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1940

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Winter 1940

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1940 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1940

January 1940

The antisemitic newspaper, Der Stürmer, quoted its publisher and prominent member of the Nazi party, Julius Streicher,

The time is near when a machine will go into motion which is going to prepare a grave for the world’s criminal – Judah – from which there will be no resurrection.

January 8, 1940

Butter, sugar, and bacon rationing began in Britain.

January 9, 1940

SS chief of Danzig and West Prussia, Richard Hildebrandt, told Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler that he instructed his troops to execute more than four thousand mentally ill Polish citizens.

The British ocean liner MV Dunbar Castle, with a crew of one hundred fifty and forty-eight passengers, hit a German mine and foundered off the English coast. The captain and two of the crew were killed, and two storekeepers were missing, but no other lives were lost.

January 16, 1940

Adolf Hitler issued orders to postpone his attack in the west until Spring.

January 21, 1940

The British destroyer HMS Exmouth was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the Moray Firth. Capt. R. S. Benson, fifteen officers, and one hundred seventy-three crew were killed.

January 24, 1940

Chief of Nazi Gestapo Reinhard Heydrich was appointed to oversee the evacuation of all Jews from the Reich.

January 25, 1940

The Nazis selected the town of Oswiecim (Auschwitz) near Krakow, Poland for the site of a new concentration camp.

February 10, 1940

In Czechoslovakia, the Nazis prohibited Jewish-owned businesses from selling art, jewels, and precious metals, and forced the closure of Jewish-owned textile and leather shops.

February 12, 1940

The first German Jews were deported into occupied Poland.

Paper rationing began in Britain.

February 14, 1940

Britain declared it would outfit all merchant ships with guns.

February 15, 1940

Germany declared it would treat all British merchant ships as hostile combatants.

February 29, 1940

Food and gas rationing began in France.

March 7, 1940

The Cunard luxury ocean liner Queen Elizabeth safely reached New York after a harrowing crossing of the German U-boat infested Atlantic.

March 12, 1940

Finland signed a peace treaty with the Soviets and ceded the northern shores of Lake Lagoda and the small Finnish coastline on the Arctic Sea to the Soviet Union. The cost of the Russian aggression which resulted in the treaty was 25,000 Finnish lives and nearly 70,000 Soviet lives. After the end of hostilities, a half million Finns left the Soviet-occupied territory.

Seventy-two of one thousand German Jews deported to Poland died during an eighteen hour march in a blizzard in Lublin, Poland.

March 14, 1940

Hermann Göring ordered all German citizens to relinquish all metals that could be turned into war materials.

March 16, 1940

The Nazis bombed the Scapa Flow (a body of water in the Orkney Islands) naval base near Scotland.

March 18, 1940

Adolf Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini met to discuss Italy’s entry into the war. They determined that Mussolini’s troops would attack France.

March 30, 1940

Japan established a Chinese puppet government controlled by Wang Ching-wei, a defector from the Nationalist cause, in Nanking. The US refused to recognize it.

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.

Loss of the MV Dunbar Castle

Loss of the HMS Exmouth

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1939

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Fall 1939

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1939 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1939

October 1939

In October of 1939 in Germany, Adolf Hitler ordered widespread “mercy killings” by gassings of the sick and disabled. Code named “Aktion T4,” an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 Germans were murdered under this action during the next two years. It was a euthanasia program with the goal to eliminate “life unworthy of life.” The first focus was on newborn babies and very young children.

The Reich Health Ministry required midwives and doctors to fill out a questionnaire and register children up to the age of three who were deemed to be mentally retarded or physically deformed. Three medical experts reviewed the questionnaires, and without examining the children or any of their other medical records, decided whether each child would be allowed to live.

All three experts had to agree for a child to be transferred to the “Children’s Specialty Department” where those deemed mentally retarded or physically deformed would be euthanized by injection or allowed to gradually starve to death. If the decision was not unanimous, the child would be observed until a unanimous decision could be reached.

The program soon expanded to include older disabled children and adults. A decree directly from Hitler, back dated to September 1, increased

the authority of certain physicians to be designated by name in such manner that persons who, according to human judgment, are incurable can, upon a most careful diagnosis of their condition of sickness, be accorded a mercy death.

The euthanasia program was expanded further with the questionnaires used in mental institutions, hospitals, and other institutions for the chronically ill. Patients suffering from a host of diseases and conditions, and those who had been housed in institutions continuously for five or more years, or were judged criminally insane fell under the program’s guidelines. Also those who were not German citizens or were not of German or related blood, including Jews, Negroes, and Gypsies were included.

Eventually the program was headed by SS man Christian Wirth and six killing centers were established, including a well known psychiatric clinic at Hadamar and a former prison at Brandenburg, where the first Nazi experimental gassings took place. These served as training centers for the SS, and the technical knowledge and experience was used to create the extermination camps at Auschwitz, Treblinka and other concentration camps in Hitler’s goal to wipe out the entire Jewish population of Europe.

October 5, 1939

In September, more than 500,000 Polish troops fought the Nazis. Most were taken prisoner, but 100,000 died fighting or fled Poland. On this date, the remainder of the Polish army surrendered to Nazi Germany.

October 6, 1939

Hitler declared victory over Poland and accused Poland of initiating hostilities.

Hitler called for peace with Britain and France and insisted he had no ambitions towards them or Belgium, Holland, and several others.

Hitler issued a proclamation on the isolation of Jews.

October 9, 1939

Hitler issued orders for the creation of an invasion plan of France and the Low Countries, after calling for peace only three days earlier.

The German battleship Deutschland captured the American cargo ship City of Flint, which was carrying farming supplies to England.

October 12, 1939

The Nazis began the consolidation of Jews in Germany’s occupied territory. Jews were evacuated from Vienna. Austrian and Czechoslovakian Jews were sent to Poland.

October 14, 1939

A German U-boat (submarine) torpedoed and sank Britain’s HMS Royal Oak battleship while it was anchored in Scapa Flow (a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland), killing 883.

October 21, 1939

The United States budgeted $6,000 for atomic experiments.

October 26, 1939

Hans Frank was appointed Nazi Gauleiter (Governor General) of Poland.

A forced labor decree was issued for all Polish Jews from age fourteen to sixty.

October 28, 1939

An amendment to the US Neutrality Act allowing the sale of arms to besieged allies passed the US Senate.

November 1, 1939

Western Poland officially became part of the German Reich. (Date alternately reported as October 19, 1939).

November 3, 1939

Eastern Poland officially became part of the Soviet Union.

November 4, 1939

The amendment to the US Neutrality Act, passed by the US Senate on October 28, cleared the US House of Representatives and was signed by President Roosevelt. It required that arms were not transported by American ships.

Jews in Warsaw were all moved into a ghetto.

November 8, 1939

In a Munich beer hall, at the annual meeting of the veterans of the 1923 Nazi Putsch, a concealed bomb exploded, killing nine. It was an assassination attempt against Hitler, but he had left the beer hall twenty minutes earlier.

November 23, 1939

All Jews over age ten living in Nazi-occupied Poland were ordered to wear yellow stars symbolizing the Star of David.

November 28, 1939

The Australian government agreed to send troops to Europe.

November 30, 1939

The Soviet Union invaded Finland, initiating the “Winter War.”

December 1939

Adolf Eichmann took over Section IV B4 of the Gestapo, dealing solely with Jewish affairs and evacuations. (See link below to Eichmann biography).

December 14, 1939

The League of Nations expelled the Soviet Union following its aggression against Finland.

December 17, 1939

The British Royal Navy engaged the German warship Graf Spee off the coast of Uruguay. After a particularly long battle, the captain of the damaged Graf Spee scuttled her near Montevideo.

December 18, 1939

Canada sent more than 7,000 troops to Britain to assist the Allies and the first of them arrived in Britain on this date.

December 24, 1939

Pope Pius XII made a Christmas appeal for peace.

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 Biography of Adolf Eichmann

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1939

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Summer 1939

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1939 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1939

July 4, 1939

German Jews were denied the right to hold government jobs.

July 9, 1939

British Parliament member Winston Churchill called for a British-Russian alliance when he realized that Britain could not defend Poland against Nazi aggression on their own. Stalin declined.

July 21, 1939

Adolf Eichmann was appointed director of the Prague Office of Jewish Emigration.

July 26, 1939

US Secretary of State Cordell Hull informed the ambassador of Japan that the US would not extend the 1911 commercial treaty between them.

August 1939

The Nazi SS dressed one hundred fifty (150) concentration camp prisoners in Polish army uniforms and then shot them. They planted the bodies as evidence of Polish aggression at the German border. Hitler used the ruse as a pretext for war.

August 1, 1939
The President of the German Lottery forbid the sale of lottery tickets to Jews.

August 2, 1939

Physicist Albert Einstein, a German Jew who had emigrated to the United States in 1932, sent a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt explaining that scientists had discovered how to create a nuclear chain reaction and warning that Germany might develop a nuclear weapon.

August 4, 1939

General Francisco Franco established authoritarian rule in Spain, calling himself El Caudillo (The Leader). He would answer only “to God and to history.”

August 12, 1939

Military representatives from France and Britain met with those of the Soviet Union in Moscow to discuss an alliance. However, Russia preferred an agreement with Germany.

Italian foreign minister Galeazzo Ciano informed Hitler that it would take two years before the Italian military could be rebuilt in order to fight alongside Germany.

August 20 – 31, 1939

The Soviets attacked the Japanese army along Mongolia’s Khalka River. Seventeen thousand (17,000) Soviets were killed, but forty-five thousand (45,000) Japanese soldiers died.

August 22, 1939

In a speech to his military leadership at Obersalzberg, Adolf Hitler said he intended to,

Kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of the Polish race or language.

August 23, 1939

Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a nonaggression agreement known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and a secret codicil dividing eastern Europe into “spheres of influence.” This facilitated Germany invading Poland from the west and the Soviet Union invading from the east.

August 25, 1939

Britain and Poland signed a Mutual Assistance Treaty.

August 31, 1939

Britain mobilized their fleet and civilian evacuations began from London.

In another of Hitler’s ruses as a pretext to war, German operatives broadcast a message to Poles from a seized radio station in Gleiwitz, Germany. They were urged to attack Germans and the operation worked, which gave the impression that insurgents were attacking Germans.

September 1939

Julius Streicher published this quotation in the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer,

The Jewish people ought to be exterminated root and branch. Then the plague of pests would have disappeared in Poland at one stroke.

September 1, 1939

The Nazis invaded Poland, which had the largest Jewish population in Europe, 3.35 million, initiating World War II in Europe.

General mobilization was declared in Britain and France.

Jews in Germany were forbidden to be outdoors after 8 p.m. in winter and 9 p.m. in summer.

September 2, 1939

Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Germany to withdraw their troops from Poland within 12 hours or find themselves at war with Britain and France.  The German Luftwaffe (air force) raided Warsaw, Poland.

September 3, 1939

Britain, France, Australia, and New Zealand declared war on Germany.

British Parliament member Winston Churchill is named First Lord of the Admiralty.

A German U-boat submarine torpedoed a British passenger ship named the Athenia traveling from England to Canada. One hundred eighteen (118) of the fourteen hundred (1400) civilians aboard were killed.

George Edwin Farrar turned eighteen years old on this day.

September 4, 1939

The British RAF (Royal Air Force) attacked German Navy vessels for the first time. Only eight of the twenty-nine bombers hit German naval bases. Ten of the RAF bombers got lost, seven were shot down, one attacked neutral Denmark, and three attacked one of Britain’s own ships.

The land connection between East Prussia and the Reich that had been severed with the 1919 Treaty of Versailles was reestablished by the German army and Warsaw was cut off.

General Francisco Franco publicly declared neutrality, but offered his support to the Axis powers.

September 5, 1939

The United States proclaimed its neutrality.

German troops crossed the Vistula River in Poland and occupied the city of Kraków.

September 7, 1939

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) began daily radio broadcasts in Polish.

September 9, 1939

Advance elements of the British Expeditionary Force (the BEF, or British Army in western Europe during WWII) arrived in France.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s cabinet planned for a three year war with Nazi Germany.

September 10, 1939

Canada declared war on Germany.

The Battle of the Atlantic began. It was the longest running battle of WWII and did not end until Germany surrendered to the Allies in May 1945.

September 14, 1939

British destroyers sank a German U-boat submarine through the use of depth charges. It was the first German ship lost in the war.

September 17, 1939

Soviets troops invaded eastern Poland, supposedly to protect Poland’s Byelorussian and Ukrainian populations.

The British navy lost its first ship of the war, the Courageous, when it was sunk by a U-boat off the coast of Ireland. Five hundred died.

The war in Europe split Americans. Non-interventionists did not want to get involved in the war. Interventionists, concerned about German invasion, did. Non-interventionists included former President Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Henry Ford, and many U.S. senators and congressmen. American aviation hero Charles A. Lindbergh was another non-interventionist and on this date, Lindbergh made his first anti-intervention radio speech.

September 18, 1939

The Wehrmacht army of Nazi Germany and Soviet Red Army staged a joint parade in Brest-Litovsk, Poland.

Members of the Polish Cipher Bureau escaped from Poland with two German Enigma code machines. They arrived in Paris on October 1.

September 19, 1939

The first British casualty list of the war was published.

September 20, 1939

The first air battle of the war between the German Luftwaffe and British RAF occurred over the border between Germany and France. The RAF lost two aircraft and the Luftwaffe lost one.

September 21, 1939

SS leader Reinhard Heydrich issued orders to special SS action squads (Einsatzgruppen) in Poland that Jews were to be gathered into ghettos near railroads for the future “final goal.”

September 22, 1939

Germany and Russia agreed on the division of Poland.

Two hundred seventeen thousand (217,000) Polish troops surrendered to the Soviet Red Army at Lvov (L’viv) in southeastern Poland. There were 200,000 Jews in Lvov at the time, 100,000 of which were refuges from German-occupied Poland.

Britain began gas rationing due to war shortages.

September 23, 1939

German Jews were forbidden to own wireless radios.

September 24, 1939

German Special Task Force troops executed eight hundred (800) Polish intellectuals.

Small scale food rationing, bread and flour, was introduced in Germany.

September 25, 1939

The German Luftwaffe bombed Warsaw with four hundred (420) aircraft. Civilian deaths in Warsaw reached forty thousand (40,000).

September 27, 1939

Warsaw surrendered to the Nazis and the exiled Polish government set up in Paris.

Himmler’s second in command of the SS, Reinhard Heydrich, was put in charge of the new Reich Main Security Office (RSHA). The RSHA combined the SS Security Service (SD), the Secret State Police (Gestapo), the Criminal Police (Kripo), and the foreign intelligence service into one huge centralized organization. In WWII, it was the RSHA that terrorized all of Europe and performed mass murder on a scale unprecedented in human history.

September 29, 1939

The Nazis and Soviets divided Poland between them. Over two million Jews resided in Nazi controlled areas, and 1.3 million in the Soviet controlled areas.

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

Antisemitic Legislation 1933 – 1939

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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

Albert Einstein History

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1939

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019