Project 60 - "The First Fight Against Fascism" - Archives

September, 1941

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 David.

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

The American 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 peril”.

With the immanent loss of their forward airbases in Estonia, the Soviets launch the fifth, (and last for some time) air raid against Berlin. It causes no significant damage.

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 Moscow.

The US flagged merchant vessel Steel Seafarer is bombed and sunk by German aircraft 220 miles south of Suez.

In conference with his military and civilian subjects, Emperor Hirohito concludes that the defeat of America is impossible but shifting the American public opinion by inflicting as much damage on their military as possible, might force a settlement more favorable to Japan.” This was a grave misjudgment.

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 Badayev district.

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 emptied.

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

President 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. 

In 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?). 

General Budyenny 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. 

The Soviet Far East command begins moving forces facing the Japanese to Moscow.

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 mechanized forces. 

Editor’s Note: 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 claim. 

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 Moscow. 

Royal Air Force planes went into action against the Germans in the Murmansk area for the first time. In the action, the British pilots shot down three enemy planes at a loss of one to themselves. The Russians were so pleased with the action that three of the pilots involved were awarded “Order of Lenin”, the only non-Russian given the award.

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. 

All Jews six years and older throughout all of “Greater Reich” are ordered to wear the Star of David.

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.

Convoy HX 150 set sail from Nova Scotia, escorted for the first time by U.S. Naval vessels. Royal Navy vessels were freed from escort duties between North America and Iceland.

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 Red Army.

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.

September 23, 1941

The Free French became a reality today as Charles de Gaulle became the head of the French government-in-exile.

September 24, 1941

Tito, leading a poorly armed and equipped band of 70,000 partisans, attacks and takes the town of Uzice with it’s rifle factory capable of making 400 guns a day. Tito and his troops would hold the city for two months.

The Japanese Cousul in Hauaii, Nagai Kita is instructed to report on the precise number and type of warships moored at Pearl Harbor. The message is intercepted by American intelligence services but lack of descriptors and transport problems would delay translation until October 9, when officials decided to ignore the message and consider it the same as routing espionage activities already going on in Mania, Panama and Seattle. 

September 25, 1941

Army Group South launches its attacks toward Kharkov and the Crimean Peninsula. The still shattered defenders gave ground quickly on the Kharkov axis. However, the 11th Army attacks into the Perkov isthmus leading into the Crimean were stopped cold by dogged defense on the narrow defile. 

Hitler orders and end to all attacks against Leningrad. The formal siege of the city, which would last for some 900 days, begins in earnest.

Italy begins the occupation of Croatia.

September 26, 1941

A Lithuanian policeman in Kovno thought he heard a shot fired in a street of the Jewish ghetto. When the German authorities were informed, the 1800 men, women and children living on the street were taken to the local fortress and executed. 

The first reports of “bandit bands” operating in the Balkans are received in Berlin. 

Rain and snow fall in Russia, turning the landscape to mud and hindering the German attacks in the Ukraine.

September 27, 1941

Heavy fighting breaks the Soviet defenses in the Crimean Peninsula as the town of Perkov is captured by the German 11th Army.

The Patrick Henry  is launched from the Baltimore Navla Yard. The 10,000 ton cargo ship is the first of 2742 “liberty ships” which would be launched in the next few years.

Japanese forces land paratroops behind the Chinese lines and penetrated into Changsha. The Chinese counterattacked the paratroops, destroying them, and in an uncharacteristically decisive move, wheeled there forces north of the city, cutting off the Japanese troops in the city. About 100,000 Japanese troops found themselves surrounded.

September 28, 1941

Convoy PQ-1 leaves Iceland for Archangel. This was the first of many of the lend lease convoys between England and the Soviet Union.

Syria was declared and independent state by the Vichy government.

Einsatzgruppe C, operating in the Kiev area, stated in their official report that, “The Jewish population was invited by posters to present themselves for resettlement…More than 30,000 Jews appeared; by a remarkably efficient piece of organization, they were led to believe in the resettlement story until shortly before their execution.” 34,000 Jews were marched into the Babi Yar Bulka and massacred.

September 29, 1941

Being rebuffed by Roosevelt three times during September for a call to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Konoye, the Japanese make a fourth attempt stating “(". . . if nothing came of the proposal for a meeting between the chiefs of our two Governments it might be difficult for Prince Konoye to retain his position and that Prince Konoye then would be likely to be succeeded by a less moderate leader."

September 30, 1941

2nd Panzer Army begins its attack as the southern prong of Operation Typhoon – the attack on Moscow finally begins. The forward panzers break through the Russian 13th Army positions and advance up to 10 miles toward Orel.

By the end of September, 1360 Soviet heavy industrial plants had been moved from areas that were now occupied by the Germans to the Urals and points east. Russia was beginning its recovery from the summer onslaught.

Japanese forces fight their way out of the encirclement at Changsha. They suffer serious losses in the retreat to Yoochow. Chinese estimates range up to 40,000 losses for the Japanese, a major victory for the Chinese.

Editor’s Note – The end of September is viewed by most historians as the end of Operation Barbarossa. The advance of the German Army into Russia is nearly unparalleled in the history of warfare. In one season, the Wehrmacht had destroyed some 2 million of their enemy and advanced nearly 500 miles on a 1000 mile front. However, despite this triumph of arms, the Germans fell far short of their goals for the campaign. Leningrad was surrounded, but not captured. Moscow was still 180 miles away and Rostov slightly further. The Soviet Army was hurt, but far from destroyed and still in the field. Germay had lost half of their tank strength and nearly 10% of fighting soldiers.

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