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1940

Jan 8  A Finnish force destroys the Russian 44th Assault Division, ending the Battle of Suomussalami. The Soviet force was larger but poorly equipped and lacked winter camouflage clothing. Finnish troops often intercepted Soviet communications, which relied on standard phone lines.

Feb 3  In the Soviet Union, Nicholai Yezhov, former head of the NKVD, is tried in the office of the present head of the NKVD, Navrenty Beria. Beria advises Yezhov to confess to a plot to kill Stalin. Yezhov refuses as a matter of honor.

Feb 4  Yeshov is shot.

Feb-Mar  The accord between Hitler and Stalin is functioning. Stalin's NKVD has over 82,000 of Poland's former policemen and soldiers imprisoned in camps in Poland run by the NKVD. The inmates are allowed to write letters to their familes, and this allows the NKVD to know where those families are.

Mar 5  NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria, proposes the execution of all captive members of the Polish Officer Corps. The proposal is approved and signed by members of the Politburo, including Stalin. This is the beginning of what will be known as the Katyn massacre. The Stalin regime considers the Poles as a potential danger. Family members of the captives will also be rounded up to eliminate potential enemies.

Mar 12  The Soviet Union and Finland sign a peace treaty in Moscow, ending the Winter War.

Mar 22  In Paris, Paul Reynaud becomes prime minister with support from the Left.

Mar 27  Heinrich Himmler orders construction of the Auschwitz concentration camp, near the city of Krakow in Poland.

Apr 5  Hitler's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, says in private, "Till now we have succeeded in leaving the enemy in the dark concerning Germany's real goals, just as before 1932 our domestic foes never saw where we were going or that our oath of legality was just a trick... They could have suppressed us. They could have arrested a couple of us in 1925 and that would have been that, the end. No, they let us through the danger zone. That's exactly how it was in foreign policy, too... In 1933 a French premier ought to have said (and if I had been the French premier I would have said it): 'The new Reich Chancellor [Hitler] is the man who wrote Mein Kampf, which says this and that. This man cannot be tolerated in our vicinity. Either he disappears or we march!' But they didn't do it. They left us alone and let us slip through the risky zone, and we were able to sail around all dangerous reefs. And when we were done, and well armed, better than they, then they started the war!"

Apr 9  Britain has started laying mines along Norway's coastal waters. Germany invades Norway, as planned, to keep the British from disrupting the coastal supply line from Sweden. Germany takes control also of the land between it and Norway: Denmark.

Apr 17  Germany begins the first transport of "gypsies" in Poland to concentration camps there. Some are sterilized and will be forced to work in Germany's arms industry.

Apr 22  The British bomb German-occupied Oslo, Norway.

Apr 25  The German high command issues its "third and final warning:" either Britain will stop its "aerial warfare against undefended places" or Germany will retaliate.

May 1  The US Navy has moved the base of its Pacific Ocean fleet from San Diego to its naval base at Pearl Harbor, in the Hawaiian Islands – closer to Japan. Admiral Yamamoto Isoruku, commander of Japan's Combined Fleet, describes the move as "tantamount to a dagger pointed at our throat."

May 10  Winston Churchill replaces Nivelle Chamberlain as prime minister. Britain invades Iceland. Hitler sends his armies into Belgium and Holland.

May 15  One hundred British bombers fly night-time raids against various German cities. The German high command describes the bombers as killing civilians and damaging nothing of military significance. (Human Smoke, p. 182)

May 26  The British begin evacuating troops from Dunkirk, in Belgium.

May 27  The New York Times reports that Britain has rounded up several thousand German and Austrian women, many of whom have been working as servants. (Human Smoke, p. 189)

Jun 5  Hitler sends his armies into France.

Jun 10  German forces have driven British forces from Norway. Norway's government gives up the struggle against the German invasion. It capitulates. But Norway's armed forces will continue to fight the German occupation.

Jun 10  Italy declares war on France and Britain. Norway surrenders to German forces. In England, authorities begin rounding up Italians and Germans, including recently arrived Jews from Dachau prison. (Human Smoke, p. 195-96)

Jun 14  German troops march into Paris.

Jun 15-16  Under the auspices of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, Soviet troops invade Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In a few days "popular front" governments will be established. Under Soviet surveillance, the new governments will arrange rigged elections for new "people's assemblies." Voters will be presented with a single list, and no opposition movements will be allowed to file.

Jun 17  France's Paul Reynaud has refused to sign a peace agreement with Germany and resigns as prime minister. He is replaced by the old hero of the 1914-19 war, General Philippe Petain, who asks Germany for peace terms.

Jun 22  Germany and France agree to peace and friendship. German forces are to remain in France along the coast of the English channel.

Jun 24  Italy signs a peace agreement with France.

Jul 3  The French fleet, anchored in the Algerian ports of Oran and Mers-el-Kebir, refuse an offer by the British to join the British navy. The British sink the fleet.

Jul 4  France breaks diplomatic relations with Britain.

Jul 19  In a public address, Hitler outlines his peace offer to Britain. He says he sees "no reason why the war must go on." He adds that, "A great empire will be destroyed, a world empire which it was never my intention to destroy or damage." He says that the "continuation of this war will only end with the complete destruction of one of the two warring parties. Mr. Churchill may believe that this will be Germany. I know it will be England."

Jul 21  The Soviet Union annexes Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, proclaiming them to be Soviet Socialist Republics.

Jul 25  President Roosevelt orders a partial trade embargo on aviation fuel, lubricants and high-grade scrap metal to Japan.

Aug 3  In Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, "people's assemblies" have passed by resolutions to join the Soviet Union. Latvia becomes a Soviet Socialist Republic today, Lithuania on the 5th and Estonia on the 9th. .

Aug 8  The Germans begin sending an armada of airplanes against Britain. Their targets are radar stations and forward fighter-plane air bases.

Aug 11  In a conversation at a rifle range, Prime Minister Churchill talks of the best method of killing Germans. He says that soft-nose bullets are best. Churchill's son, Randolph, points out that such bullets are not legal in war. Churchill responds that he does not see why he should have mercy on Germans when they would have none for him. (Human Smoke, p. 219)

Aug 21  Leon Trotsky has been living in Mexico. He is murdered by a Soviet agent.

Sep 4  Hitler threatens to obliterate (ausradieren) British cities if British bombing runs against Germany do not stop.

Sep 16  Because Germany has failed to destroy Britain's air power, Hitler drops his plan for a cross-channel invasion of Britain.

Sep 26  Japan's parliament has declared a holy war against China, and Japan has launched a new offensive in China. Hostility toward Japan has increased in the United States. The US imposes a total embargo on all shipments of scrap metal to Japan.

Sep 27  Germany, Italy and Japan sign Tripartite Pact.

Oct 16  President Roosevelt announces the opening of registration for the draft.

Oct 28  Mussolini invades Greece without warning Hitler, retaliating for Hitler not warning him of his invasions. Britain sends a naval force against the Italians.

Oct 31  In Germany, the government has decreed that Jews and Aryans must be segregated in air-raid shelters.

Nov 5  President Roosevelt is re-elected for a third term.

Nov 7  The New York Times reports that 10,000 Jews have been deported from Germany to France. It is part of Germany's plan to send Jews from Germany to Madagascar. French authorities express their intention to send the deportees there as soon as the sea routes reopen.

Nov 14  Around 500 German aircraft attack the English city of Coventry, a raid that lasts more than 10 hours. Reports describe 4,330 homes destroyed and three-quarters of Coventry's factories damaged.

Nov 16  The British are responding to the bombing of Coventry. More than 200 British aircraft are bombing Hamburg on two successive nights.

Nov 20  Hungary, Romania and Slovakia join an alliance with Germany and Italy.

Nov 25  The British put "illegal" Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria onto a ship, the Patria, in port at Haifa, Palestine. The Jewish paramilitary group, Haganah, blows a hole in the hull of the ship to keep it from leaving. The Patria sinks and more than 250 people die. The survivors are take to a British prison. (Human Smoke, p. 257)

Nov 29  In a radio address, President Roosevelt declares that the United States must become "the great arsenal of democracy."

Nov 30  By now, the Greeks have pushed the Italians back to Albania.

Nov 30  In Britain, a poll by the British Institute of Public Opinion describes 46 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving of bombing civilians in Germany. Eight percent were not sure. (Human Smoke, p. 249)

Dec 9  The British launch an offensive against Italy in North Africa.

Dec 13  British forces enter Italy's colony, Libya.

Dec 20  China's government charges Japan with having released plague germs over three cities. Japan denies the charges and accuses China of putting cholera germs in wells to infect Japanese forces.

Dec 21  The Roosevelt administration refuses a French request for help with Jewish emigration.

Dec 30  The German air force (Luftwaffe) has just bombed London, creating 1,500 fires. Britain's government lifts censorship for US reporters in hope of encouraging a US entry into the war. Prime Minister Churchill approves retaliatory bombing.

Dec 31  Spending is lifting the United States out of the depression. Millions are going to work in what is called the defense industry.

to 1939 | to 1941

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