Burning Russian Bt-7 litters battlefield
on the road to Kiev
Remembering the First Fight Against Fascism
New recruits board box cars
for the ride to the front.
September 16, 1941
The Kiev pocket
begins to collapse as Soviet forces begin to withdraw. General Timoshenko,
commander of the Soviet High Command (STAVKA), authorizes the withdrawal.
However, Stalin would not confirm the orders for 48 critical hours.
German forces capture the town of Pushkin, a suburb of Leningrad. The Germans captured several trams filled with workers returning home from factories in Leningrad before the service was shut down. This would mark the ?high water? mark for German advances toward Leningrad. They would get no closer.
General Keitel, in
response to the growing threat of partisan bands attacking his lines of
communications establishes standing orders that for every German soldier killed
by ?bandits?, 100 civilians were to be executed.
September 17, 1941
The withdrawal from the Kiev pocket is
finally approved by Stalin, but it is far too late. General Kirponos, commander
of the forces in Kiev, would share the fate of many of his soldiers when his
column, attempting to withdraw was ambushed and he was cut down. In
the end, only 15,000 would escape the encirclement. This was a grave blow to the
British agent, Colonel D.T. Hudson, is landed by submarine on the Adriatic coast where, to meet with Yugoslavian partisan leader Tito. Direct, coordinated action between Britain and the partisans had begun.
The Japanese 11th Corp, some 125,000 strong, launches attacks at Changsha in the Hunnan Providence, 350 miles east of Chungking.
September 18, 1941
The encircled forces at Kiev continue
to withdrawal. 37th Army is ordered to hold Kiev to the last. 5th
Army heads for the junction between the two Panzer Groups at Lookhvitsa, while
26th Army would attempt to infiltrate the German cordon at Lubny. 21st
Army was to attack Romny from the west while, outside the pocket, 2nd
Cavalry Corp attacked from the east. All efforts would fail over the course of
the next week.
A German convoy of three troop transports heading for North Africa are attacked by the British Submarine HMS Upholder. Two of the transports, Neptunia and Oceania, were sunk with heavy casualties.
September 19, 1941
Elements of the 296th Infantry Division (6th Army), break through the Russian defenses at Kiev and enter the town after nearly a month of heavy fighting.
Leningrad is struck by the heaviest air raid it would suffer during the war as 276 German bombers hit the city killing 1000 civilians.
September 20, 1941
Churchill authorizes the release of the most secret German "Vulture" to the Soviet Union. These messages detailed troop concentrations and aircraft strength in the Smolensk area.
A British convoy bound for Gibraltar is attacked by a German submarine. Five of the twenty-seven ships were sunk. One of these, the Walmer Castle, was sunk by an air attack while attempting to rescue survivors from the previous attack, the next day, the submarine returned and sunk four more merchant vessels.
September 21, 1941
After days of extremely heavy fighting, the Soviet 37th Army surrenders, giving the Germans Kiev.
The Germans strike the naval base at Kronstadt (near Leningrad) with 180 bombers. The attack destroys much of the naval dockyard.
The German 11th Army reaches the Sea of Azoz, cutting off the Crimean Peninsula.
September 22, 1941
Soviet forces in the Ukraine begin a head long retreat west as they regroup from the defeat at Kiev. Counter attacks are canceled and the new line will be Kharkov-Rostov.
The items found in this section are comments from the editors of Project 60 and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of bartcop.
The First Fight Against Fascism?
Recently, I received a note from a bartcop reader who pointed out that the tag line for this project ?The First Fight Against Fascism? is wrong. Although it?s hard, I have to admit that he was right and I was not.
Fascist aggression started when the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931, the west did nothing. When the anti-Semitic, racist, Nazis seized Germany in 1933, we did nothing. When Fascist Italy, with dreams of empire, invaded Ethiopia in 1934, the free nations of the world stood by and watched. Fascist aggression went unchecked by the forces of freedom.
In 1936, the legally elected government of Spain was overthrown by a military junta lead by the Fascist Franco. Once again, the peoples of the world saw their governments do nothing to stop the disease of fascism from spreading, but their outrage had reached its limits and they moved on their own.
Thirty-five thousand volunteers, from 52 nations, with no assistance from their home countries, went to fight Franco?s fascists in Spain. With little more than the righteousness of their cause, these brave volunteers went forward in this, the first fight against fascist tyranny.
The untrained volunteers fought bravely and were largely responsible for giving the Republicans in Spain a chance to raise their own ?people?s army? to fight the Fascists. Germany and Italy flooded Franco?s forces with modern arms and support of every variety while the Republican forces starved and begged. Three years of fighting, saw the defeat of the Republican forces and the end of freedom in Spain.
Nearly 3000 Americans fought in Spain. Their unit was known as ?The Abe Lincoln Brigade?. Few came back uninjured and 750 did not come back at all. For those who did come home, there were no parades, no speeches of thanks, and no recognition of any kind.
During McCarthy?s reign of terror in the 1950?s, most of the "Lincolns'" were harassed, and ruined by the FBI and the Subversive Activities Control Board. In many cases, they were arrested and jailed for violating the Smith Act or state sedition laws. In the end, most of the convictions were overturned, and an ungrateful nation chose to forget these brave soldiers.
Even today, the only public recognition to these first fascist fighters are two small plaques. One sits in the shade of a large tree in ?Red Square? on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, Washington. The second is near Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin. At the dedication for the monument in Madison, Lincoln Brigade veteran Clarence Kailin said, ?[People] shouldn't see this as a memorial to old soldiers. They should see it as a reminder that the struggle we joined in Spain, the struggle for economic and social justice, goes on.?
D. A. Friedrichs
Arguing Victory - "... Each nation who fought against fascist tyranny in WWII brought with it part of whole needed to defeat that evil..."
War, Glory, Honor and Remembrance - "War is a brutal and savage insult on human society..."
The Complete Collection
June 19, 1941
Germany and Italy order U.S. diplomats out of their countries by July 15. This was in retaliation to a similar action by the Americans (anybody remember those Russian diplomats Shrub ditched).
Heavy fighting continues in the Middle East as Vichy French forces stop Allied advances on Damascus (the players change but the fighting never seems to end).
U.S. stops authorizing visas for aliens with relatives in the German occupied territories.
German forces continue their concentration of forces on the Soviet border in preparation for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. Heavy artillery begins moving into firing positions and bridging equipment begins to arrive. German U-boats proceed to war stations in the Baltic while mine laying operations commence. Stalin still insists that the invasion is not immanent.
British forces continue their retreat back into Egypt after Rommel defeats Operation Battleax.
June 20, 1941
President Roosevelt calls Germany an "outlaw nation" because of the sinking of the Robin Moore by a German U-Boat on May 21.
The USS Texas , while on a "neutrality patrol," is dogged by the German submarine U-203 between Newfoundland and Greenland. The German skipper thought the Texas was a lend lease vessel and therefore fair game for his attack.
June 21, 1941
Australian forces occupy Damascus after Vichy French forces withdraw.
General Wavell having utterly failed to relieve Tobruk in Operation Battleax, is sacked by Churchill as commanding officer of the Commonwealth troops in the Middle East.
Commonwealth forces enter Iraq in order to secure oil supplies for the war effort (things really never do change do they?).
Hitler signals to his eastern troops that the invasion of the Soviet Union is on for the next day.
German commandos, the Brandenburgers, begin operations, infiltrating across the border, move to secure bridges and other important facilities in the Russian rear area in preparation for the invasion.
June 22, 1941 - BARBAROSSA! The Invasion of Russia Begins
At 3:00 A.M., three million battle hardened soldiers of German Wehrmacht, struck the ill-prepared Soviet army, starting one of the single most devastating and titanic struggles in history. Three German Army Groups, North, Center and South, struck for their respective goals of Leningrad, Moscow and Kiev.
German aircraft pounded targets deep in Russia. Airfields were a primary target and by days end, 500 Soviet planes were destroyed, mostly on the ground. Russian border forces were quickly overrun after brief but vicious fights. One notable exception, the fortress of Brest-Litovsk on the Bug River, holds against ferocious German attacks. Efforts to mobilize defensive countermeasures were chaotic as reinforcing columns are harassed by constant air attacks. By days end, German ground forces advance 15-25 miles.
Hitler declared that when he unleashed his armies to the east, "The world will hold its breath". This was one of the few statements he made that was absolutely correct.
Churchill declares Britain will assist the Soviets saying, "Any man or State who fights against Nazism will have our aid. Any man or State who marches with Hitler is our foe." One hopes these words would be remembered today.
June 23, 1941
Hungry joins Germany, Rumania, Italy, Slovakia and Croatia by declaring war on the Soviet Union.
The relentless advance in Russia continues as shattered Soviet forces flood east pursued by the German invaders. German panzer units begin to meet Soviet tank formations rushing to the front. The Soviet columns are badly organized and depleted because of constant air attacks. On the approaches to Vilnius, German tank columns bypass pockets of resistance and drive deep into the Soviet rear areas. Further to the south, German forces are met by strong resistance and a fierce tank battle develops around Dubno.
British forces advance to Palmyra in Syria against strong Vichy French resistance.
June 24, 1941
The Germans continue to advance in pursuit of the retreating Russian forces. In the north, the destruction of the Soviet armored reserves is completed and the German columns begin to break into the clear. In the center, Soviet resistance is shattered as German tank columns enter Vilnius. Heavy fighting is still reported in the south as German forces make marginal gains toward Kiev. The Germans gain air superiority over the front as 2000 Russian planes have now been destroyed since hostilities started.
Roosevelt orders all Soviet assets released and promises aid to the beleaguered nation.
June 25, 1941
German troops confront the Soviet KV-I and KV-II heavy tanks in battle. The German anti-tank guns and panzers are unable to cope with these behemoths and resort to using the 88mm anti-aircraft gun and 100mm field artillery to stop the beasts. This was a very rude surprise to the Germans.
Forces of Army Group Center (3rd Panzer Group) capture Vilnius. Army Group South meets stiff opposition as the Soviet Southwest Front concentrates large tank formations in front of the advancing 1st Panzer Group. Soviet counter attacks around Grodno continue but begin to falter. In the far north, Soviet defenses stiffen around Murmansk, stopping the Germans short of their goal. The Germans would never capture the vital supply port.
Finland joins the Axis nations by declaring war on the U.S.S.R.
Sweden, although technically neutral, allows armed German troops to move through their nation on the way to Russia.
Roosevelt signs Executive Order 8802 which calls for the " Full Participation In The Defense Program By All Persons, Regardless Of Race, Creed, Color, Or National Origin" (he knew he'd need everybody's help to crush fascism). Also, the (thrice elected in an honest vote) president, declared that the Siberian port Vladivostok, would be exempt from the neutrality statutes so supplies could flow to Russia.
June 26, 1941
Organized Soviet resistance in the fortress town of Brest-Litovsk comes to an end after four days of extremely heavy fighting. The Germans finally pummeled the defenders into submission with massive air strikes and heavy artillery bombardment.
In Army Group North, tanks of von Manstein's 4th Panzer Group capture the Dvina River bridges at Daugavipils intact. Hitler orders these forces to stop, consolidate, gather supplies and wait for the infantry forces, far to the rear, to catch up. Many "historians" have indicated that this decision was fatal for the swift capture of Leningrad. This opinion, however, ignores the terrain on the approach, the Red army, and the appalling logistics situation for the Germans.
In Army Group Center, the 7th Panzer Division (Rommel's old unit from France) driving north of Minsk, cuts the Minsk-Moscow highway, the main supply route for the Soviet West Front. Further to the south, Guderian's 2 Panzer Group is driving hard to complete the encirclement of the Soviet forces around Minsk.
In Army Group South, the Soviets launch fresh and very strong counterattacks against the German spearheads. These attacks fall particularly hard on the 16th Panzer Division in the area around Ostrov. Further to the north, 11th Panzer Division is blocked in it's advance at Dubno. The advance of the this army group is temporarily stopped.
June 27, 1941
In Army Group Center, Guderian?s Panzer Group 2 and Hoth?s Panzer Group 3 meet east of Minsk, completing the first major encirclement of soviet forces. Some 200,000 men from the Russian 3rd, 10th and 13th Armies are cut off in the west of Minsk.
In Army Group South?s sector, Soviet counter attacks north of Dubno begin to sputter as uncoordinated Soviet battle groups are destroyed by the more coordinated German efforts. However, the attacks approaching from south of Dubno are more successful and create some confusion in the German attacks. Meanwhile, 11 Panzer division drives east of Dubno, breaking through the Soviet defenses and capturing Ostrog, 30 kilometers in the Soviet?s rear.
June 28, 1941
Rioting breaks out in the newly "liberated" city of Kaunas. The German military authorities stand by as 3800 Jews are killed by the angry mobs.
counter-attacks in the Dubno region collapse. Russian forces are now withdrawing
on all fronts.
The Finns begin their advance into Russia.
The Germans capture Minsk as the death grip on the encircled Soviet armies tightens. The Gestapo also enters the city, ordering all men from 15 to 45 years of age to appear at the registration point. Thousands obey and are marched off to Drozdy camp.
June 29, 1941
The Soviet government tells the people to leave nothing for the Germans, ordering ?? the removal of all rolling stock, leaving not a single locomotive, not a truck, not a kilogram of bread, not a liter of fuel. Collective farms must drive away their cattle?. All property of value, any, including ferrous metals, bread and fuel which cannot be taken away, must, without exceptions be destroyed.? This was the famous ?Scorched Earth? policy.
Soviet marines and elements of the 67th Rifle Division defending the Libau naval base far to the rear of the Germans run out of ammunition and time. The city and base are surrendered after inflicting heavy losses on the Germans.
German troops attempted to take Riga by storming the railroad bridge over the Dvina River. They were successful in establishing a foothold on the eastern bank, but counter-attacking Russian forces destroyed the invaders.
The German advance out of Norway, directed at the vital northern port of Murmansk is stopped by determined Soviet defenses.
The Finns under Mannerheim begin a major offensive on the Karelian Isthmus north of Leningrad.
Forces of Army Group South eliminate pockets of resistance, consolidate their forces, regroup for the continued advance toward Kiev.
June 30, 1941
In heavy fighting, Army Group South captures (the formerly Polish city of) Lvov.
Stalin begins executions of the commanders who failed to stop the invasion (conveniently forgetting that he was the one who kept on ignoring reports from the frontier and his own spies that the invasion was coming). Pavlov, commander of the Western Front was most notable among those who "lost their jobs".
Vichy France decides to break diplomatic ties with the USSR (a mortal body blow to the Russians - ha).
Return to the top
July 1, 1941
Elements of Army Group North capture Riga, Latvia
The Axis nations of Japan, Germany and Italy recognize the pro-Japanese government of Henry P'u Yi (remember the movie "The Last Emperor"). They would be the only ones who would.
The U.S. Army strength reaches 1.4 million men, up from 250,000 just one year before.
July 2, 1941
German Einsatzgruppen units in Lvov murder 7000 Jews in the city.
RAF planes attack Brest, France. In the raid the German cruiser Printz Eugen is severely damaged.
July 3, 1941
Stalin, after not being seen or heard in public since the beginning of the German invasion, makes an address to his nation. He calls for patriotic fervor and fanatic resistance to the Nazi invaders. He also reiterates the "Scorched Earth" policy announced on June 29.
German General Franz Halder, echoing the opinion of most German commanders writes in his diary, "... I assert that the Russian campaign will be won within 14 days." German intelligence reports indicate the the Soviets are down to 30 effective divisions. The euphoria of victory infects the German high command.
Soviet strength continues to build after the disasters on the frontier. Despite loosing scores of divisions and tons of supplies and equipment, the Russians have 180 divisions at or in the immediate vicinity of the front. I guess the Germans were a tad overconfident.
Allied forces occupy Palmyra in Syria after the Vichy defenders withdraw.
July 4, 1941
Josip Broz, better known as Tito, general secretary of the Yugoslav Communist Party announces that he would lead a resistance movement in his country.
Ostrov falls to the panzer forces of Army Group North. The Germans are now less than 200 miles from their goal of Leningrad as they advance across the 1939 Polish-USSR border.
July 5, 1941
The Soviets launch a major counter attack between Ostrov and Pskov on the approach to Leningrad. The attacking force is heavily reinforced with heavy KV-I and KV-II tanks. The defending Germans of the 1st and 6th Panzer Divisions are hard pressed.
3rd Panzer Group (Army Group Center) establishes a bridgehead over the Dvina River.
July 6, 1941
RAF Bomber Command starts a three day terror bombing of Munster, Germany. In the end, a quarter of the city would be gutted.
Soviet forces counter-attack the 3rd Panzer Group bridgehead over the Dvina. The attacks would end in three days, with heavy losses to both sides.
July 7, 1941
U.S. Marines occupy Iceland, Trinidad and British Guiana. This action by the U.S. was intended to safeguard these important naval and air staging areas to prevent "the occupation by Germany ... for eventual attack against the Western Hemisphere" . It also just happened to free up British troops for use in defense of England and in the Middle East.
Churchill sends his first personal note to Stalin offering to forge an alliance between Britain and Russia.
In Army Group South, 11 Panzer Division takes Berdichev. The Germans are now less than 100 miles from Kiev.
July 8, 1941
Jews in the recently occupied Baltic States were ordered to wear the Star of David.
July 9, 1941
The Minsk and Vitebsk pockets were declared officially eliminated today. Although some 300,000 men were trapped in these pockets, some 100,000 escaped. However, the loss of tanks, trucks and artillery was severe.
In Army Group North, Pskov falls to the 36 Motorized Infantry Division. The Germans are 150 miles from Leningrad.
Soviet attacks against Army Group Center's 3rd Panzer Group collapse, but the heavy losses taken by the Germans force a temporary halt to their advance.
July 10, 1941
In Army Group south, Zhitomir falls and elements of the 13th Panzer Division, racing for Kiev, reach the Iprev River. The Germans are now 10 miles from the capital of the Ukraine.
Elements of the 20th Panzer Division take Vitebsk
and are now only 250 miles from Moscow.
Stalin relieves Timoshenko as commander of the Red Army, taking the job for himself. Timoshenko is placed in command of the forces opposing the German drives on the Moscow axis.
The Soviets launch heavy counter-attacks in the
Korosten-Malin area against the advancing forces of Army Group South.
Relations between the Germans and Japanese become strained as, after many requests by the Germans to attack Russia from their positions in China, the Japanese inform their allies that they will not be attacking the Soviet Union.
July 11, 1941
Guederian's 2nd Panzer Group reaches the Dniepr River in the Smolensk area.
The Russian 3rd Mechanized Corp joins in the strong counterattacks on the approaches to Kiev. The Red Army uses a large body of its new T-34 main battle tank for the first time. The Germans are stunned by the effectiveness of the new tank and tactics.
July 12, 1941
A treaty of mutual assistance is signed between the British and Russians in Moscow. Britain no longer stands alone against Nazi Germany.
The Vichy French government fails to gain Turkish permission to send military supports to their forces in Syria. With this last hope gone, the forces still in Syria seek a truce with the Allied forces.
Fourth Panzer Group, attempting to advance beyond Pskov toward Leningrad, calls a halt to their advance to allow the infantry to catch up. Since taking Pskov three days ago, the German tankers have made less than 10 miles of advance into the dismal swamp land of northern Russia against an ever strengthening Red Army.
July 13, 1941
RAF Bomber Command continues its raids on German ports. Over 100 bombers attempted to hit Bremen.
July 14, 1941
The Nazi government seized the property of all Christian Science churches in Germany.
German forces reach the Luga River, less than 100 miles from Leningrad.
Vichy forces in Syria and Lebanon surrender leaving the two Arab states occupied by British and Free French forces. Most of the Vichy forces were allowed to leave as part of the armistice agreement.
July 15, 1941
The Red Army uses the Katyusha Rocket launcher for the first time in combat in a counter-attack at Orsha. This turned out to be a remarkable effective weapon in delivering 320 132mm rockets on target in 25 seconds. The weapon became known as "Stalin's Organ". The modern day equivalent of this system is the US Army MLRS.
Heavy city fighting erupts in Smolensk as German infantry attempt to storm the city.
The Red Army officially gave the responsibility for "preventing panic, and dealing with cowardice and treachery" to the political commissars. This gave these Communist party apparatchik the power to summarily execute anyone in their command.
July 16, 1941
Smolensk falls to the Germans. The Germans are now 200 miles from Moscow. However, Soviet resistance is becoming more fierce and supplies of fuel and ammunition for the far flung panzer divisions are becoming scarce.
Stalin's son, fighting as a lieutenant in the Red Army is captured by the Germans in the fighting around Smolensk.
The Japanese government falls as hard-liners insist on not dealing with Washington.
The peculiar pre-war practice by the Red Army of "dual command" was reestablished. This scheme placed political commissars and field commanders on an equal command level, in effect each formation had two leaders - military and political. Red Army officers now not only had to deal with Germans to his front but the Commissar to his back.
July 17, 1941
Panzer forces from 2nd and 3rd Panzer Groups meet east of the city, surrounding nearly 300,000 men from in several small pockets. However, the ring around the surrounded troops was so full of holes that the bulk of the troops were able to escape in reasonably good order.
July 18, 1941
A new Japanese government is formed, which is nearly identical to the last hard-line government.
The counter-attack near Sotsy by the Russians against Manstein's 56 Panzer Corp (Army Group North) ends. Although the Germans did escape from a small encirclement, their 8th Panzer Division did take serious losses in the four-day battle.
July 19, 1941
The US Navy is ordered to escort any nation's shipping to and from Iceland.
Stalin makes his first (of many) requests to open up a second front against the Germans. In this case he asks for a combined operation (naval and ground forces) to be used in the Artic and an immediate invasion of northern France. Either action is, of course, pure fantasy, but Churchill does dispatch a sizable naval force from Scapa Flow to harass the Germans in Norway.
July 20, 1941
Stalin orders all units to "purge unreliable elements". Part of this order was to detain any officers and men who escaped German encirclements so that they could be interrogated by the NKVD (early version of the KGB) to weed out "German spies". So after defying death at the hands of the Germans, these lucky few would be turned over to the no so tender mercies of their own countrymen.
July 21, 1941
The Vichy government, completely unable to do anything about it, gives the Japanese permission to occupy military bases in French Indochina. The Japanese now have air bases capable of staging bombers in range of Singapore.
German bombers hit Moscow for the first time in the war. The attack is a fiasco as Moscow had one of the most extensive anti-aircraft defense systems of any city in the world at that time. The raid also showed a severe weakness in the German arsenal - they had no long range, heavy, four engine strategic bomber. They were completely unable to stage the kind of mass destruction the British and, later the Americans could with their massive bombers.
US authorities temporarily stopped shipping through the Panama Canal today as "maintenance work" was needed. Interestingly enough, several Japanese ships were forced to divert around South America because of the action. Coincidence, I'm sure.
July 22, 1941
For the first time in a month, the exhausted Germans temporarily halt offensive operations having driven over 400 miles into Russia in many areas during the last month. They stand at the gates of Kiev and are fighting along the last defense line before Leningrad. To date, the Germans have captured over 720,000 square miles of territory.
The Soviets, badly mauled in the attack, still field a massive army and despite losing a great deal of territory and cities has been successful in moving (literally picking up factories, putting them on rail cars) most of its industrial might into the Urals, outside the reach of German bombers and ground troops.
July 23, 1941
The US declares its intent to break talks with Japan over the occupation of Indochina, declaring that talks would be fruitless since the "Japanese government intended to pursue the policy of force and of conquest."
July 24, 1941
RAF Bombers hit the German battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and cruiser Prinz Eugen. Scharnhorst is damaged and forced to return to Brest for repairs. Seventeen bombers are lost in the raid.
July 25, 1941
Japanese Foreign Minister Toyoda informed Ambassador Grew that Japan felt that it was being surrounded by hostile forces and its occupation of Indochina was simply a defensive action similar to that of the British in the occupation of Syria.
July 26, 1941
Roosevelt seizes Japanese assets in the United States in retaliation for the Japanese strong arming the Vichy government to allow IJA forces to occupy formerly French military bases in Indochina. Roosevelt also announces an oil embargo. These actions are quickly followed up by Britain and the Netherlands. Suddenly, Japan has been denied 90% of their oil imports.
The Italians launch an attack against the port of Valetta, in Malta, using small craft in a daring raid. All attackers are sunk or captured before they can inflict any damage.
Three days of rioting begin in Lvov as locals murder 2000 Jews. in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, 120 civilians (mostly Jews), are rounded up and executed in retaliation for an attack on a military truck convoy.
Mogilev falls to the Germans after 5 days of heavy fighting. Upon entering the industrial area of the city, the Germans noted a brownish frothing liquid running down the streets and into the Dniepr River. Upon further examination it was found that the mean spirited Soviet defenders of the city had destroyed the vats at the local brewery and thousands of gallons of beer were destroyed. Now that is Scorched Earth.
July 27, 1941
Propaganda minister Ari Fliesher, errr, pardon me, just a bit confused, Joseph Goebbels declares the "Kremlin is a heap of ruin" from the "devastating" air raids over Moscow. In reality, the only bomb to come close put a hole in the street outside the building.
A notation in the German War Diary says, "The mass of the operationally effective Russian Army has been destroyed." Seems the Germans were a tad over optimistic.
After ten weeks of calm, German bombers started nightly raids against London again.
July 28, 1941
Kingisepp is abandoned as German Panzers drive in the Leningrad defenses west of the Luga River (which is still holding firm for the Russians).
Japanese troops begin landing in Indochina.
Japan freezes all US, British and Dutch assets.
July 29, 1941
Japan and the Vichy French government sign an agreement which, in essence transfers responsibility for the defense of Indochina over to the Japanese.
Japanese troops take ownership of the naval base at Camranh Bay.
Washington denounces the occupation of Indochina saying the occupation of bases was "for the purpose of further and more obvious movements of conquest in adjacent areas." and these actions "jeopardize the procurement by the United States of essential materials ... for the normal economy of this country ..."
Forces of Army Group South, unable to make a direct assault on Kiev, veer to the south. Resistance is stiff as the Soviet 6 and 12th Armies give ground toward Uman.
July 30, 1941
The Germans pocket a small group Soviet troops east of Smolensk. The encirclement was not tight and the troops inside were shattered remnants of formations ground up in the German advance. Many escaped.
Hitler decides to suspend the drive on Moscow in favor of clearing the flanks at Leningrad and Kiev. Once jump off positions for the final attack on Moscow were secured, the Panzer forces would be diverted north and south of the Moscow axis. Editors Note: Many popular historians view this as a flawed decision. This is primarily based on testimony of the surviving German generals (the losers in the war) who blamed a dead guy (Hitler) for every mistake in the war. In more recent times, serious military historians have concluded that the move on Kiev was necessary as the Soviets had nearly a million men on that flank ready to drive into the Germans rear. This had to be eliminated. The diversion of resources to Leningrad had less justification.
The Japanese bomb Chungking and manage to hit the US Navy Gunboat Tutuila. The Japanese said it was an accident (kind of like when we bombed the French embassy during the raid on Lybia).
July 31, 1941
In written instructions to Reinhard Heydrich, Goering at the behest of Hitler orders the creation of "... a general plan showing the measures for and organization for action necessary to carry out the desired final solution of the Jewish question." (emphasis added). This was the first time the term endlosung or "final solution" was used as a written state policy of Nazi Germany.
Two weeks of rioting in Kishinev ends with the death of 10,000 Jews.
Guderian's tankers (Panzer Group 2, Army Group Center), open their attacks south of Smolensk. Initially they met minimal resistance.
Return to the top
August 1, 1941
The US announces the embargo of all aviation fuel to Japan. Japan responds by halting all silk to the US.
Guderian's attacks meet and defeat the Soviet 4 Airborne Corp, but those troops buy the Russians enough time to bring up reinforcements.
August 2, 1941
Harry Hopkins, representing FDR in Moscow, announces that the US and the USSR have come to agreement on an aide package which will assist the Soviets in recouping some of their material losses to date.
Russian forces launch massive counter-attacks against German troops defending the "Yelna salient", east of Smolensk. Guedarian, further to the south is stopped in his attacks and ordered to withdraw his panzer forces from the front in preparations for redeployment.
Tanks from 1st Panzer Group and Infantry from 17th Army make contact in their advance against Uman. The Soviet 6th and 12th Armies are nearly surrounded.
August 3, 1941
Tanks from Panzer Group I (Army Group South) break through Russian defenses and threaten to surround a large body of Russian defenders in the Uman area.
The Bishop of Munster, Count Clemens von Galen, delivers a scathing sermon, denouncing the German euthanasia program.
August 4, 1941
While visiting Army Group Center's HQ, Hitler was told that his armies had destroyed of captured 12,000 tanks since the start of the invasion (actually a fairly accurate number). He was stunned and said, "Had I known they had as many tanks as that, I'd have thought twice before invading."
August 5, 1941
Rumanian forces and elements of the German 11 Army close on the Black Sea port of Odessa and begin a 73 day siege of the city.
Russian resistance in the Smolensk pocket ends with the surrender of the remaining troops.
The Soviet 5th Army launches attacks from the Korsun area to relieve the beleaguered forces of the 6th and 12th Armies trapped south of Uman. The attacks meet heavy resistance.
August 6, 1941
German infantry forces from 16 Army captures the town of Staryya Russa on the south shore of Lake Illmen.
August 7, 1941
British bombers continue their nightly bombing raids over the continent hitting Frankfurt, Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Calais, Hamm, Dortmund and Essen
August 8, 1941
The Red Airforce targets Berlin for the first time in the war. Five Ilyushin Il-4 heavy bombers took off from bases in Estonia. Two bombers were shot down, two failed to find Berlin and one dropped its bombs just outside the city.
Army Group North opens a major offensive against the Soviet Luga River defenses southwest of Leningrad. Extremely heavy fighting occurs between the German 1st and 6th Panzer Divisions attack the Soviet 125 and 111 Rifle Divisions.
Russian resistance in the Uman Pocket collapse as 100,000 survivors from the Soviet 6 and 12th Armies surrender. Some 15 Rifle and 5 Tank divisions are destroyed leaving very little to defend the Ukraine south of Kiev.
Elements of the 18th Army reach the Gulf of Finland, cutting off the Estonian capital and massive naval base at Tallinn.
August 9, 1941
Roosevelt and Churchill meet face to face at Placentia Bay in Newfoundland. The result of this historic conference would be the Atlantic Charter which outlined the broad goals for resolving the war.
The German 16th Army (part of Army Group North) begins its offensive toward Novgorod on Lake Illmen.
August 10, 1941
Local officials in Chile, Argentina and Cuba uncover attempts by the Germans to subvert those governments. These nations were ably assisted by the US FBI.
Manstein's 56 Panzer Corp (element of Army Group North) is committed to the attack on the cities of Luga and toward Novgorod. The Germans are considering abandoning this axis of attack as casualties mount for very little gain.
August 11, 1941
Soviet resistance crumbles under the intense pressure on the Luga River Line. The German 1st Panzer Division breaks through the Soviet lines at Opolye and advances 30 miles into the Soviet rear area.
August 12, 1941
The Soviet counterattack at Staraya Russa by the 34th Army succeeds in caving in the flank of the German 10th Corp. Three German divisions are threatened with encirclement on the south bank of Lake Illmen. North of Lake Illmen, German armored formations break into the clear and advance toward Leningrad.
Churchill and Roosevelt conclude their conference in Newfoundland by announcing the ?Atlantic Charter?. The eight points agreed upon include:
General Petain declares that the Vichy government will cooperate completely with the Nazi Germany.
August 13, 1941
The German 10th Corps retreats in the face of the counterattack in the Staraya Russa area.
Fighting breaks out in Paris between demonstrators and French and German police.
August 14, 1941
RAF bomber command continues its nightly raids on German targets. Tonight the British bombers hit railway yards in Hannover, Brunswick and Magdeburg.
August 15, 1941
Master spy Richard Sorge informed his Soviet masters that the Japanese would not assist the Germans by invading Siberia.
Two days of rioting at Roskiskis on the Lithuannian-Latvian border begin. 3200 Jews would be killed.
In Minsk, German authorities prohibit Jews from most public places including busses, trams, trains, parks, playgrounds, theaters, libraries or museums. The only food delivered to the ghetto would be that in excess of the needs of non-Jews.
August 16, 1941
German panzer forces reach the Volkov River.
Stalin agrees to an Anglo-US request for a conference to determine the best means to assist the Soviet Union. This would lead to the massive assistance to the Russians from the west.
Manstein's panzer forces are redirected from their attacks on Leningrad to restore the deteriorating situation south of Lake Illmen where the Soviet 34th Army continues its successful attacks.
August 17, 1941
German forces capture Novgorod, the first time the city has fallen to an invader in its thousand year history.
Roosevelt, after discussions with the Japanese ambassador, agrees to informal talks to see if a peaceful resolution to the differences between their two countries would be possible.
August 18, 1941
German troops capture Kingisepp. Fighting is very serious in the Novgorod area.
Italian troop transports are sunk in the en route to North Africa as the battle for the Mediterranean Sea begins to heat up.
August 19, 1941
56th Panzer Corp launches its attack against the Soviet 34th Army west of Staraya Russa. The Russians crumble quickly having exhausted themselves in their offensive and the German 10th Corp is saved from destruction. However, the redirection of the Panzer Corp against the Russian attack also may have saved Leningrad from direct assault.
Polish troops begin the relief of Tobruk. The Australian and Indian troops are scheduled for rest in Egypt.
August 20, 1941
Hitler, in discussion with chief architect Albert Speer, orders the inclusion of captured booty from the Russian front be included as decorations for Berlin buildings in recognition of his victory over the Bolsheviks (maybe a bit premature).
Italian troops in Yougoslavia occupy the island of Pag. There they discover evidence of mass murder of Serbs and Jews by local Ustachi fascists. The mass grave was exhumed to find 791 bodies including 293 women and 91 children.
August 21, 1941
German armored formations of Army Group North cut the Moscow-Leningrad railroad at Chudovo and take Gatchina, 25 miles from Leningrad.
Pierre Georges, a French communist who would become ?Favien? in the underground, kills Lt. Moser, a German naval attach?, in the Paris subway. This was the first German military casualty in occupied France since the armistice was signed over a year ago.
August 22, 1941
Geuderian and the rest of the commanders in Army Group Center, after weeks of attempting to subvert Hitler?s orders to suspend offensive action toward Moscow, relent, obey orders. Geuderian drives his 2nd Panzer Group south to encircle Kiev.
August 23, 1941
Italian troops from their 2nd Army begin relieving German forces from their garrison duties in Yugoslavia. The Germans thus relieved are earmarked to make up for the massive losses in Russia.
Vichy French officials begin a concerted campaign to crack down on anti-Nazi activities
August 24, 1941
counterattack the Germans at Gomel.
attack at Odessa, taking heavy losses and making little headway against the
August 25, 1941
British and Indian troops from the south and Soviet forces from the north invade Iran occupying the oil fields and securing lines of communications to Russia.
Churchill is quoted in the Times as saying that Britain would offer unhesitating aid to the US if a peaceful settlement with Japan could not be reached.
British, Canadian and Norwegian commando units attack Spitzbergen, a Norwegian island in the Artic Ocean, destroying fuel bunkers and machinery as well as freeing some 2000 Soviet citizens who would be evacuated to Murmansk.
Hitler and Mussolini meet in East Prussia. Hitler requests that more Italian troops take over garrison duties in the Balkans in order to free German troops for fighting in the east. Maybe Hitler is starting to figure out that the Russians aren?t done yet.
August 26, 1941
German tanks from 1st Panzer Group (Army Group
South) capture the major industrial city of Dnepropetrovsk. Most of the
important industries had already been moved east.
The United States sends a military mission to China to
determine what materials are needed to defend their nation from Japanese
August 27, 1941
The Baltic naval base at Tallinn begins its evacuation. 190 ships would attempt to traverse 150 miles of mine infested water with the airspace dominated by the Luftwaffe. In the end, 5000 soldiers and civilians would be killed before reaching the relative safety of Leningrad.
In the North Atlantic, the German submarine U-570, on it?s first combat mission, is attacked by an RAF patrol plane. The submarine is disabled and forced to surface. Her inexperienced crew surrendered the vessel intact. The next day, the German crew was removed and the captured vessel returned to a British port. Eventually, the ship was brought into the Royal Navy as HMS Graph.
Prince Konoye, leader of the Japanese government, personally invites Roosevelt to meet with him to discuss resolving the outstanding issues between his country and the United States in hopes of ?saving the situation?.
August 28, 1941
The great Zaporozhe Dam complex, which provided power to much of the industrial cities of the lower Dnepr, is blown up by the Soviets. One of the great symbols of Soviet modernization is utterly destroyed to prevent the Germans from using it.
The killing of 23,600 Hungarian Jews begins at Kamenets Podolsk (southwest of Kiev) as their nation refuses German demands to repatriate the deported citizens.
The Iranian Premier, Ali Furanghi, orders his forces to stop their resistance to the Anglo-Soviet invasion.
Japan requests talks with the US, indicating its desire for peace, they declared Japan ?[offers] broad assurances of its peaceful intent, including a comprehensive assurance that the Japanese Government has no intention of using without provocations military force against any neighboring nation?. (yah, right)
August 29, 1941
Finnish troops capture
Terioki, 30 miles north of
Leningrad, recovering all of the territory they were forced to surrender to the
Soviets in the Winter War. Despite the prodding of the Germans, the Finns
refused to advance on Leningrad.
General Milan Nedic establishes a government in Serbia. He, of course, is a puppet to the Nazis. The partition of Yugoslavia by the Germans is now complete.
August 30, 1941
German forces take Mga, 10 miles from Leningrad, cutting the last rail line into the city. Food and fuel would no longer reach the city in quantities needed for basic survival.
August 31, 1941
Soviet counter-attacks at Mga succeed in driving the
Germans out of the city, but the vital rail line into Leningrad remains blocked.
According to German records of the ?action? at Vilnia, 3700 Jews (2019 women, 864 men and 817 children) were trucked out to the mass graves at Ponar and shot.
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September 1, 1941
German forces recapture
Mga. The important rail hub would
be held for nearly three years.
As Geuderian launches his forces south to encircle Kiev,
General Timoshenko begins a major counter attack at Gomel.
All German Jews were ordered to wear the yellow Star of
Roosevelt indicates that he would make every effort to
defeat Germany because he fells that everyone is ?threatened by Hitler?s
violent attempts to rule the world.? An official state of war between Germany
and the United States is still 10 weeks away.
A Japanese fishing trawler strikes a mine and sinks near the Soviet port of Vladivostok. Japan demanded a guarantee of safety for their ships and reparations for the lost ship. The Russians told Japan they would pay for nothing and they should stay clear of Soviet ports. (and these folks aren?t even at war yet)
September 2, 1941
The US grants a large loan (bribe?) to Mexico for cooperation in the military and economic defense of the hemisphere.
September 3, 1941
600 Russian prisoners
and 300 Jews were killed when German authorities at Auschwitz, seeking a cost
effective and less messy method of execution than simply shooting them, used
Prussic acid for the first time. The experiment was deemed a success.
The Soviet government extends mandatory service in the military to all those born in 1922 (19 year olds) and cancels all previous deferments.
September 4, 1941
destroyer USS Greer was attacked by German submarine U-652 off Iceland. Two
torpedoes are launched but miss the target. Roosevelt declared that any German
or Italian warship entering waters under US protection would do so ?at their
September 5, 1941
Except for the Baltic Island holdouts, all of the Baltic States are cleared of Soviet troops and occupied by the Germans.
Authorities in Moscow order the evacuation of all children 12 and under from the city.
September 6, 1941
After weeks of bloody
fighting, the Soviets recapture Yelnya on the Moscow axis. The defeat for the
Germans forces Hitler to accelerate his plans for the ?final? attack against
The US flagged
merchant vessel Steel Seafarer is bombed and sunk by German aircraft 220
miles south of Suez.
September 7, 1941
Guederian?s 2nd Panzer Group driving south, behind the Soviet forces defending Kiev, reaches Lokhvista. Nearly 600,000 Russians face encirclement in the Kiev area.
September 8, 1941
German forces from Army Group North capture Schlusselberg
on the banks of Lake Ladoga. All land communications with Leningrad are now cut.
German bombers begin raids against civilian targets in
Leningrad, dropping nearly 6000 incendiary bombs on food warehouses in the city.
Hundreds of tons of food were destroyed along with four acres warehouses in the
The Soviets deport 600,000 ethnic Germans who had lived on
the upper Volga for nearly 200 years. Hundreds of villages in the area were
Finnish forces north of
Lake Ladoga cut the Murmansk railway. This would force the Russians to build
hundreds of miles of new lines to reach the important supply link to the west.
September 9, 1941
Marshal Budyenny, commanding an Army in the Kiev area, makes his first request to abandon Keiv. Stalin denies the request.
A running battle between sixteen U-boats and a convoy of 65 merchants under Canadian escort occurs. In the end, 15 merchant ships and one escort were sunk. Two submarines, U-207 and U-501, were lost.
Iran accepts the Anglo-Soviet armistice terms, in effect, accepting the occupation of their country.
Guns from the battleships October Revolution and Marat are fired in defense of Leningrad. Most of the sailors of the Red Banner Fleet have been taken off their ships and given rifles to defend the city, but the ships act as floating batteries.
September 10, 1941
German authorities in
Oslo, Norway, declare marshal law in their efforts to thwart a trade union plan
for a general strike. Scores of trade union officials were arrested by the
puppet government of Josef Terboven. Two union officials were executed.
The Luftwaffe raided Leningrad hitting the cities dairy and starting dozens of fires. 200 citizens were killed in the night?s raid.
September 11, 1941
Roosevelt, in response to the attack on the USS Greer on 4th,
announced a shoot‑on‑sight order to United States Navy in
American defense waters stating, ?It
is clear to all Americans that the time has come when the Americas themselves
must now be defended. A continuation of attacks in our own waters, or in waters
which could be used for further and greater attacks on us, will inevitably
weaken American ability to repel Hitlerism. . . .?. In effect, an undeclared
state of war now existed between German and America.
a speech at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Charles Lindbergh said ?the British,
the Jews, and the Roosevelt administrations ? [are] ? the three most
important groups who have been pressing this country toward war.? Lindbergh?s
pro-fascist stands were still embraced by a sizable portion of the American
public (sound familiar?).
makes his second appeal to Stalin to withdraw from the Kiev area. This time the
the request was co-signed by the ranking commissar, Nikita Krushchev. Budyenny
was sacked within hours. Only 60 miles separated the jaws of the great German
encirclement at Kiev.
September 12, 1941
As Guederian?s 2nd
Panzer Group drives south to encircle the Soviet forces around Kiev, an early
snowfall hits most of the front in Russia turning the landscape into mud. The
Germans, completely unprepared for the poor weather are completely incapable of
dealing with the situation, call a temporary halt to the attacks by their
One of the ?Big Lies? from World War II has been that the German Army was
stopped by the bad Russian weather. To some extent, the weather was a factor,
but one must consider that the Red Army also had to contend with bad weather. In
military terms, weather is neutral. What the Wehrmact failed to do was
adequately prepare and train for operations in poor weather conditions. This was a failure of command and planning, and
not one of fate, as many post war German/German sympathizer accounts would
Hitler halts the
advance in the Leningrad area and orders the bulk of the armored and mechanized
forces in Army Group North, to move south and prepare for the attack on
September 13, 1941
The British cruiser HMS Coventry is sunk by aircraft off Tobruk.
September 14, 1941
General Zhukov takes command of the defense of Leningrad. He orders the harshest of punishments for dereliction of duty and orders immediate counter-attacks. His actions, in large part, save the city from the Germans.
September 15, 1941
Lead elements of th
16th Panzer Division (1st
Panzer Group), meet 3rd Panzer Divions (2nd Panzer
Group) at Lokhvista, 125 miles east of Kiev. The jaws of the trap have slammed
shut. Four Soviet Armies (5, 21, 26 and 37) , over 600,000 soldiers, are
surrounded in the Kiev area. The cordon is weak, but it is there.
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Commentary and Columns Archive
People, and historians in particular, love to argue. They love to argue politics, and religion, and conspiracies, and, well, just about anything else. Wars, by their nature, bring out the absolute best and worst in humans. This provides the most fertile of ground for controversy and argument.
World War II is certainly no exception. People love to argue about its causes, who won, who lost, which country was most important to victory and so on. Although these discussions can be enjoyable, most devolve into nationalistic fervor which tends to obscure the really important element of that war.
That one important and universal element is that a very small number of fascist, in a handful of countries, were utterly and mercilessly destroyed by an alliance of most of the rest of the world. The important fact is that the world joined together to destroy an evil that knew no bounds. All other arguments pale when compared to that reality.
To argue whether the Australians at Tobruk were braver than the Marines at Guadalcanal, or whether the citizens of Leningrad suffered more than those of London is folly. All those who fought and died to stop tyranny were brave and suffered. But they did it together, in coalition against a common enemy.
So long as I am involved with this project, that factor will always be at the fore. Each nation who fought against fascist tyranny in WWII brought with it part of whole needed to defeat that evil. No one nation alone could have won this great victory. That is where the true victory lies ? in our ability to come together to destroy an evil. Perhaps that is the lesson that we need to take to heart today.
War, Glory, Honor and Remembrance
War is a brutal and savage insult on human society. For nations it is the destruction of the resources needed for the enrichment of its citizens. For families, it is the loss of loved ones and the horrors held by the survivors. For the individual, it is the loss of precious time and ultimately, life itself.
There is no honor or glory in war. The sacrifice of a generation of humans cannot be seen in anyway to be glorious. Platitudes like ?just cause? and ?noble purpose? are meaningless to the person whose body has been blown to bits. If there is honor, it is in survival. If there is glory it is returning to your families, friends and community.
What we, the people who did not have to experience war, must do, is remember those who gave so much for our freedom. We must redouble our efforts so that their sacrifice is not in vane, so tyranny will not threaten our world again, so no more young men and women of any nation, need be surrendered to the insanity of war again.
D. A. Friedrichs
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