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1944

Jan 1 DNA, the nucleic acid that contains genetic instructions involved in the development and functioning of all known living organisms, is discovered by Oswald Avery (1877-1955), a Canadian born medical researcher, working in New York City.

Jan 18 The Soviet Army is driving the Germans back from around Leningrad. The siege of Leningrad is lifted. Around 830,000 civilians have died at Leningrad since the siege began in late 1941.

Jan 20  US Secretary of War Henry Stimson announces that Japanese-Americans are eligible for the draft.

Jan 22  British and US forces, totaling 36,000 soldiers and 3,200 vehicles, land on the beaches around Anzio – about 60 kilometers south of Rome. They meet little resistance.  Thirteen of the invading force are killed and 97 wounded. They take 200 German prisoners.

Jan 26  After several days of fighting in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, the Australians have won a major battle, sending the Japanese in retreat.

Feb 3  The Germans have sent troops against the Allies around Anzio. Hard fighting there begins.

Feb 14  On the island of Java some Indonesians revolt against Japanese rule.

Feb 26   In a six-week campaign moving in the direction of Estonia, the Red Army has destroyed three German divisions, routed 17 other German divisions, captured 189 tanks and 1800 artillery pieces, and guerrilla forces have killed more than 21,500 Germans soldiers and derailed 136 military trains.

Mar 1  Amin Al-Husseini, in one of his many broadcasts from Berlin, heard in much of the Arab world, tells Muslim SS soldiers: "Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, History and Religion. This saves your honor. God is with you."

Mar 12  Britain prohibits travel to Ireland following accusations that Ireland, a proclaimed neutral in the war, is collaborating with Germany.

Mar 19  Hitler sends troops into Hungary to defend his Eastern Front against the Red Army.

Mar 22  Japan is not succeeding well in defending territory that it already holds, but it tries to extend its power farther in Asia. It sends an army on a march from Burma to a new objective: Delhi, India.

Mar 24  Roosevelt warns Hungary to refrain from anti-Jewish measures.

Mar 27  In Kaunas, Lithuania's second largest city, about 1,800 people in a Jewish ghetto, mostly elderly and children, have been dragged from their homes and murdered. Also killed are 40 officers of the Jewish police for having given aid to the Jewish underground in the ghetto. Less than 18,000 persons remain in the ghetto.

Apr 2  Field Marshall Erich von Manstein has been advocating tactical withdrawals to shorter and more defensible lines while Hitler has been insisting on "standing fast." Hitler replaces Manstein with a more compliant commander.

Apr 14  The first Jews from Athens, numbering about 5,200, arrive at Auschwitz.

Apr 16  Hungary's government begins registering Jews and confiscating their property.

May 6  Gandhi's health has been deteriorating. The British release him from prison.

May 16  The first of 180,000 Hungarian Jews arrive at Auschwitz.

May 18  Stalin has accused Tatars of having collaborated with the Germans. He begins to expel more than 200,000 of them from the Crimea.

May 19  The Germans transport 245 "gypsies" from the city of Westerbork, in the Netherlands, to Auschwitz.

May 31  The Japanese have made it no deeper into India than 70 kilometers – in Nagaland.  They are without supplies and starving. Their commander begins to retreat without permission from a superior commander to his rear, who has ordered him to hold his position.

Jun 6  D-Day. From England 50,000 British, Canadian and US troops land on the beaches of Normandy. The hardest going is at "Omaha Beach," where about 1000 are killed, mostly in earlier hours. It is the largest amphibious landing ever. Allied bombing has helped by limiting supplies to the Germans.

Jun 7  Pesident Roosevelt tells Polish exile leader Stanislaw Mikolajczyk: "Stalin doesn't intend to take freedom from Poland. He wouldn't dare do that because he knows that the Unied States govenment stands solidly behind you." (Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain, p21)

Jun 12  Approximately 40,000 Polish children, ages ten to fourteen, are being taken from concentration camps to Germany for slave labor.

Jun 13  From France, Germany begins to send V1 rockets to London, daily. An average of 75 people per day will be killed during these attacks.

Jun 15  US Marines make it ashore at Saipan and suffer 2,000 casualties. The fight for Saipan begins – about 20,000 US forces against 30,000 Japanese troops.

Jun 18  The Japanese are on the offensive in central China, eager to push back US airforce bases. They overrun Changsha.

Jun 22  The Soviet Union begins a summer offensive, "Operation Bagration," at the middle of its line, opposite 34 German divisions. The Russian offensive has 200 divisions, 2.3 million soldiers, almost 6,000 tanks and massed artillery.

Jun 29  The Allies are well established on the ground in Normandy. Hitler fires Field Marshal Rommel and Field Marshal von Rundstedt for suggesting that Germany should sue for peace.

Jul 7  The Soviet army is approaching, and Hungary's ruler, Admiral Horthy, halts the deportation of Jews.

Jul 20   An attempt by German Army officers to assassinate Hitler fails.

Jul 22  Representatives from the 44 Allied nations sign an agreement at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The agreement creates the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. It creates what will be the "pegged rate" currency system for international monetary exchanges. The dollar is to be the reserve currency, capable of conversion to gold.

Jul 22  Japan's government cannot hide the loss of Saipan. Public sentiment and the outrage of fervent patriots force Prime Minister Tojo to resign.

Jul 23  The Red Army liberates inmates of the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland, near Lublin.

Jul 24  US forces land at Tinian, 5 kilometers southwest of Saipan. Napalm is used for the first time. Tinian is suitable for a bomber airbase within range of Japan.

Aug 1  The Red Army is about 50 kilometers east of Warsaw and coming to a halt after a 900-kilometer (562-mile) advance since June 22. The Polish government-in-exile in London, with whom Stalin has severed relations, has ordered an uprising in Warsaw, and underground members of their Polish Home Army in Warsaw begin to attack the Germans.

Aug 4  Anne Frank and family are arrested by the Gestapo in Amsterdam.

Aug 8  Eight German army officers are hanged, with piano wire, for their part in the attempted assassination of Hitler on June 20.

Aug 10  US troops have completed their victory over the Japanese on the island of Guam, south of Saipan and Tinian.

Aug 23  King Michael of Romania orders his forces to stop fighting the Allies.

Aug 25  The German in command of Paris, Dietrich von Choltitz, disobeys Hitler's order to destroy the city. He surrenders Paris to de Gualle's Free French.

Aug 28  On the 28th day of the Warsaw uprising, Polish resistance fighters are forced by German air power and artillery fire to take cover in the city's sewers.

Aug 29  Slovak troops, numbering about 60,000, have turned against the pro-German government of Jozef Tiso. Germany occupies Slovakia. The deportation of Jews from Slovakia begins again.

Aug 31  Soviet troops overrun the capital of Romania: Bucharest.

Sep 6  Bulgaria declares war on Germany.

Sep 8   The Red Army enters Bulgaria unopposed. The Bulgarians are friendly in keeping with their history of Russian relations with Bulgarians, especially in 1878 when Bulgarians won freedom from Turkish rule.

Sep 8  Germans can no longer launch their V1 rockets from France. They now have a longer range rocket, the V2, which they launch from the Netherlands. Hitler has hoped that his rockets will turn the war around for Germany.

Sep 9   Finland and the Soviet Union sign a preliminary peace agreement. The borders of 1940 are reestablished. Finland agrees to expel all German troops from its territory, to abolish various rightwing political organizations, to give legal status to its Communist Party, to a restriction of the size of its armed forces and to hold war crimes trials.

Sep 11  US troops cross Germany's western border. The Allies are only 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the German city of Darmstadt. There, Britain's airforce creates another firestorm. The number of German military personnel who die is 936. Prisoners of war who die number 368. Also killed are 492 foreigners doing forced labor. Identifiable German civilians who die number 1,766 men, 2,742 women and 2,129 children. Those who die and are not identifiable will be estimated as roughly 6,000. Nothing is accomplished that would speed the end of the war.

Sep 17  Paratroops and gliders land behind the German line in the Netherlands, in operation "Market Garden," the largest of airborne operations, consisting of US, British and Polish troops. It is hoped that by taking key bridges the Allies will be in Berlin before the end of the year.

Sep 27  Thousands of British troops are killed trying to capture the Arnhem Bridge that crosses the Rhine River in the Netherlands. The Germans hold to a new line in the Netherlands, frustrating operation Market Garden. 

Sep 28   Yugoslavia's partisan leader, Josip Broz Tito, agrees to the Soviet army entering Yugoslavia temporarily.

Oct 1  The Soviet army pushes into Yugoslavia.

Oct 2   In Warsaw, the last of the Polish Home Army surrenders to the Germans. The uprising has proven to be poor judgment by the London based Polish government in exile. The uprising has suffered from a lack of cooperation by Stalin, who preferred his own Poles to that of the London government in exile. 150,000 Poles have died and 26,999 Germans. The Germans are evacuating and destroying the city in accordance with Hitler's orders. It will be January before Soviet troops arrive.

Oct 4   British troops land at Crete and in Greece. An anti-fascist partisan army, the ELAM, led by Communists, controls much of Greece's countryside. ELAM soldiers number about 50,000.

Oct 10  Churchill is in Moscow and without a representative of the United States present he makes a secret agreement with Stalin concerning spheres of influence. Stalin stays with his old policy of getting along with the capitalist West rather than pursuing revolution. He cedes interest in Italy to Britain. From Churchill he receives 90 percent interest in Romanian affairs and he gives Britain 90 percent interest in Greece. They split Yugoslavia fifty-fifty.

Oct 14  British troops enter Athens and land on the Island of Corfu. Communist Party leadership in Greece have been advised by Moscow not to precipitate a crisis that would risk Stalin's post-war objectives of cooperation with the Western powers. Greece's Communist Party leadership is ready to accept membership in a liberal coalition government, led by George Papendreou.

Oct 14  Field Marshall Rommel is suspected of complicity with the attempted assassination of June 20. Because of Rommel's popularity with the German people, Hitler gives Rommel the option of committing suicide with cyanide or facing a humiliating trial and the murder of his family and staff. Rommel dies by suicide.

Oct 15-17 In a radio broadcast, Hungary's ruler, Horthy, asks for a non-aggression treaty with the Soviet Union. He is seized by German commandos. The German army occupies Budapest. Count Szalasi becomes prime minister. Adolf Eichmann arrives in Budapest and orders 50,000 able-bodied Jews to be marched to Germany, on foot, to serve as laborers. 

Oct 16  The Red Army is at Germany's eastern border in East Prussia.

Oct 18  General Joseph Stillwell has been leading the US effort to help the Chinese fight the Japanese. He has been urging reforms by Chiang. Stillwell has wanted a united front against the Japanese while Chiang has seen the Communists as more of a threat than the Japanese. Chiang dislikes Stillwell. Roosevelt replaces Stillwell.

Oct 19  The Germans evacuate Belgrade.

Oct 20   The Soviet army enters Belgrade.

Oct 25  The Japanese are outgunned in the Pacific and are losing their war, but rather than starting to bargain with the United States, today, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Japanese resort to its first kamikaze ("divine wind") suicide airplane attacks against US ships.

Oct 27  A US submarine sinks a Japanese

Oct 28  In an agreement signed in Moscow by the Soviet Union, Britain and the United States, Bulgaria accepts an armistice, agreeing to sever relations with Germany and to withdrawal from Greece.

Nov 3  The pro-German government of Hungary flees.

Nov 7  Roosevelt has done something Hitler does not have to do. He has stood for election, and he wins a fourth four-year term.

Nov 20  Hitler retreats from his East Prussian headquarters to a bunker below the "Reichskanzlei" in Berlin.

Nov 24  From the Island of Tinian, approximately 100 B29 bombers journey 1550 miles for their first raid on Tokyo. Sixteen bombs hit their target: a factory. The Japanese capture the city of Nanning in south-central China.

Nov 25  In the Philippines the Japanese are resorting to a god-is-on-their-side strategy. They believe Japan was saved by a divine wind (kami-kaze) from a Mongol invasion in 1281. The Japanese believe that they will be saved again. Their pilots launch suicide – kamikaze - attacks against the US Navy in the Philippines, damaging four aircraft carriers, two battleships, two cruisers and two destroyers.

Nov 29  The last German troops are withdrawn from Albania. The Communist leader of Albania's coalition partisan movement, Enver Hoxha, a former school teacher, has taken control of Albania.

Dec 12  In Greece, the Communist dominated partisan army has balked at giving up its weapons, fearing that it would leave them vulnerable to rightist militias. Fighting has erupted. The left takes control of Athens and the nearby port of Piraeus. 

Dec 16  Hitler launches an offensive against the US forces in Belgium – called Operation Watch on the Rhine by Germans and Battle of the Bulge by Americans. Hitler hopes it will defeat four Allied armies and result in the US and Britain negotiating a settlement in his favor. 

Dec 24  The British have flown in a force from Italy, which has regained control of Athens. Churchill flies into Athens but fails to persuade the ELAS to stop fighting.

Dec 25  The first goal of Operation Watch on the Rhine has been the port city of Antwerp. The German offensive toward Antwerp has been halted more than 100 kilometers short of the city. 

Dec 29  A top secret German report describes Allied bombing as having destroyed telephone usage and roads and railways in the Saar region, making impossible the re-routing of supply trains.

Dec 31 The British bomb the Gestapo headquarters in Oslo, Norway. They destroy half of the building, but the results do not add up to a success. There is the usual collateral damage, including a bomb striking a tram filled with people. All but four are killed.

to 1943 | to 1945

Copyright © 2006-2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.