Categorized | Historical

This Week in World War II: 75 Years Ago

By: Phil Kohn. Dedicated to the memory of his father, GM3 Walter Kohn, U.S. Navy Armed Guard, USNR, and all men and women who have answered the country’s call in time of need. Phil can be contacted at ww2remembered@yahoo.com.

On August 29, 1941, Finnish troops take Viipuri, about 75 miles northwest of Leningrad. Of the town’s 6,287 buildings, 3,087 have been destroyed in the fighting. The Finns move on to take Zelenogorsk, Russia (formerly Terioki, Finland), and halt there, unwilling to advance beyond what had been Finland’s 1939 border. In Iran, fighting has come to an end. In Yugoslavia, the Germans — in an attempt to mollify Serbs — appoint Gen. Milan Nedić, former Minister of the Yugoslav Army and Navy, to lead the government of Occupied Serbia. In the Occupied Netherlands, Jews are forbidden from attending public schools. In Australia, Arthur Fadden becomes the nation’s 13th prime minister.German forces on August 30 capture Mga, near Leningrad, cutting the last railroad link between Leningrad and the rest of the U.S.S.R. Southeast of Smolensk, the Red Army begins a counteroffensive at Yelnya.

In Iran on August 31, Soviet and British troops link up at Qazvin, in the northwestern part of the country. On the same day, the first Allied Arctic convoy arrives in the Soviet port of Arkhangelsk, having sailed 10 days from Iceland without any incidents. In Russia, a Red Army counterattack re-takes Mga from the Germans. In London, the British War Cabinet releases a report bemoaning the fact that only one aircraft in three is able to put its bombs within 5 miles of its target. In the U.S., “The Great Gildersleeve” — a spin-off of the popular comedy “Fibber McGee and Molly” — debuts on the NBC Radio Network.

On September 1, advancing German armies are within artillery range of the city of Leningrad, with some units beginning to shell the city. The Germans are nearing the shores of Lake Ladoga, on the eastern outskirts of the city. In Washington, the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet announces the formation of a Denmark Strait Patrol, allocating two heavy cruisers and four destroyers to the force. The Navy is now permitted to escort convoys in the Atlantic that include American merchant vessels. All Jews under German rule are ordered to wear a yellow Star of David badge with the word “Jew” written clearly on it. In addition, they are forbidden to live with or marry non-Jews, and they may not leave their towns without written consent of the government.

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In Italy in 1941, the fascist newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia reports on September 2 that Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini propose to unify Europe and foster the “harmonious cooperation of all European peoples.”

In Italy, the fascist newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia reports on September 2 that Hitler and Mussolini propose to unify Europe and foster the “harmonious cooperation of all European peoples.”

On September 3, SS-Hauptsturmführer (Capt.) Karl Fritzsch experimentally uses the cyanide-based pesticide Zyklon B to execute 600 Soviet prisoners of war en masse at Auschwitz concentration camp in German-annexed Poland. Eventually the material will be used to kill about 1.2 million people, mostly at Auschwitz. The British aircraft carrier HMS Victorious launches air attacks against German installations in and around Tromsø, in northern Norway, but little damage is done. In Tokyo, the Japanese are officially informed that a meeting between Prime Minister Prince Konoe and President Roosevelt will not take place. In the Mediterranean, the Italian cargo ship Andrea Gritti, conveying supplies to North Africa, is sunk by British warplanes. Of the 349 aboard, only two survive. In the United Kingdom, the British Chiefs of Staff — with the approval of Winston Churchill — begin development of an atomic bomb under an organization code-named “Tube Alloys.”

In the North Atlantic on September 4 the German submarine U-652 fires a torpedo at the American destroyer USS Greer, escorting a convoy between Iceland and Newfoundland, but misses. Greer engages and attempts to sink the U-boat with depth charges but it escapes. President Roosevelt cites the incident as an example of German aggression against the U.S. In the Soviet Union, the first American fuel oil reaches the Pacific Ocean port of Vladivostok, in the far eastern U.S.S.R. In Russia, German forces begin an artillery bombardment of Leningrad.

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