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This Week in World War II: 75 Years Ago

Hjalmar Mäe, Estonian Nazi Collaborator Source: vapsid.weebly.com

Hjalmar Mäe, said to be head of an Estonian government that collaborated with the Nazis. Source: vapsid.weebly.com

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 September 12, 1941, the first snow falls on the Russian front. President Roosevelt orders the U.S. Navy to “shoot on sight” if any ship or convoy is threatened by German or Italian vessels discovered operating in U.S. operational waters. In Occupied Norway, the government headed by Nazi collaborator Vidkun Quisling bans the Boy Scouts. Henceforth, boys in Norway must join the youth organization run by Quisling’s political party.

Off Tranøy, in northern Norway, the Norwegian passenger ship SS Barøy is torpedoed and sunk by British Royal Navy planes on September 13. Of the 131 people aboard, including 37 German soldiers, 112 are lost. In Leningrad, Gen. Georgy Zhukov relieves Gen. Kliment Voroshilov as commander of the city’s garrison and takes over the position himself.

The state of Vermont “declares war” on Germany on September 14. State legislators define the United States to be in “armed conflict,” in order to extend a “wartime bonus” to Vermonters who have been drafted into the service since conscription was re-activated in 1940.

On September 15, German military authorities establish the Estonian Self-Administration — a puppet government — and appoint Hjalmar Mäe as its Director. In Russia, the Soviet fortress at Shlisselburg — on the head of the Neva River on Lake Ladoga, 22 miles east of Leningrad — falls to the Germans. In the Occupied Netherlands, Jews are ordered to transfer all sums of cash over 1,000 gulden (about $377) to a German-controlled bank.

Because of his perceived continued resistance to the Allies, Reza Pahlavi — the Shah of Iran — is forced by Great Britain and the Soviet Union to resign as ruler on September 16 in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. In the Ukraine, German forces surround and capture 600,000 Red Army soldiers east of Kiev. In Russia, the Germans take Pushkin, a suburb 15 miles south of Leningrad.

The U.S. Navy on September 17 expands its role in escorting Atlantic convoys, taking responsibility for some convoys sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, to Great Britain, and for the security of traffic heading to and from Iceland. Regulations are issued throughout the German Reich making listening to foreign radio transmissions punishable by death.

On September 18, President Roosevelt requests from Congress almost $6 billion in additional Lend-Lease aid for Great Britain. The Soviet Union announces that all males between the ages of 16 and 50 will be subject to military conscription.

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