Jan 2, us secretary of State John Hay announced the Open Door Policy to prompt trade with China. This policy rejected efforts to carve up China or restrict its




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1938        


Feb 20, Hitler demanded self-determination for Germans in Austria and Czechoslovakia. As Hitler’s quest for Lebensraum ("living space") expanded into Czechoslovakia, thousands of Czechoslovakian soldiers and airmen escaped to participate in the liberation of their country

Mar 2, Trials of Soviet leaders began in the Soviet Union.

Mar 12, Germany invaded Austria after the Austrian Nazi Party invited German troops to march in and the union came to be know as the Anschluss. Hitler took over Austria, as his mission to restore his homeland to the Third Reich, and a chunk of Czechoslovakia. The Nazis took over Austria and expelled all Jews and other political opponents from the universities

Apr 10, Germany annexed Austria.

Apr 19, General Francisco Franco declared victory in the Spanish Civil War.

Apr 23, Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia demanded self government.

May 3, The concentration camp at Flossenburg opened.

Aug 28, Mauthausen concentration camp began operating in Austria.

Sep 26, Hitler issued his ultimatum to Czech government, demanding Sudetenland.

Sep 29, British, French, German and Italian leaders signed the Munich Agreement, which was aimed at appeasing Adolf Hitler by allowing Nazi annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland, inhabited by a German-speaking minority. British PM Neville Chamberlain gained a brief peace agreement from Hitler at Munich and without consulting the Czechs agreed that Nazi forces could occupy Sudetenland. Some mark this "appeasement policy" as the decisive event of the century. Chamberlain predicted "peace in our time."

Oct 1, Germany annexed Sudetenland (1/3 of Czech Republic).

Oct 3, German troops occupied the Sudetenland.

Oct 14, Nazis planned Jewish ghettos for all major cities.

Oct 20, Czechoslovakia, complying with Nazi policy, outlawed the Communist Party and began persecuting Jews.

Oct 30, On a Sunday night Orson Welles and his troupe of actors in the Mercury Theater touched off mass panic with a CBS dramatic radio adaptation of the 1898 novel of Martian conquest, "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells. In spite of pre-broadcast announcements that the production was fiction, about a million Americans readied their guns for battle, fled and prayed for deliverance from what they believed was a real threat. Orson Welles (left), roundly criticized for inciting the hysteria, apologized for the realistic nature of the radio play and explained that he never expected such a severe reaction. T

Oct 31, The day after his "War of the Worlds" broadcast had panicked radio listeners, Orson Welles expressed "deep regret" but also bewilderment that anyone had thought the simulated Martian invasion was real.

Nov 9, Kristallnacht took place in Germany. Nazi leaders heard that a Jew had shot a German diplomat in Paris and ordered reprisals. Nazis killed 35 Jews, arrested thousands and destroyed Jewish synagogues, homes and stores throughout Germany and Austria in what became known as Kristallnacht. 30,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps.

Nov 21, Nazi forces occupied western Czechoslovakia and declared its people German citizens. This annexation of Sudetenland was the first major belligerent action by Hitler. The allies chose to sit still for it in return for a promise of "peace in our time," which Hitler later broke.

-Bugs Bunny made his premiere in the cartoon "Porky’s Hare Hunt."

-Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman discovered nuclear fission, the process of splitting the nucleus of the atom and releasing the stored energy.

-Swiss chemists Albert Hofmann discovered lysergic acid diethylamide-25 (LSD) in 1938 while studying the medicinal uses of a fungus found on wheat and other grains at the Sandoz pharmaceuticals firm, later part of Novartis. Hofmann was the first person to test the drug when a tiny amount of the substance seeped on to his finger during a repeat of the laboratory experiment in April 1943.


1939        


Jan 4, Hermann Goering appointed Reinhard Heydrich as head of Jewish Emigration.

Jan 17, The Reich issued an order forbidding Jews to practice as dentists, veterinarians and chemists.

Jan 20, Hitler proclaimed to German parliament his intention to exterminate all European Jews.

Mar 3, The new Goldfish swallowing craze began to sweep college campuses getting a start at the Ivy League’s Harvard University.

Mar 15, Germany occupied Bohemia and Moravia, Czechoslovakia. Slovakia  became independent

Mar 16, Germany occupied the rest Czechoslovakia.

Mar 21, Nazi Germany demanded Gdansk (Danzig) from Poland.

Mar 21, Ghandi called on the world to disarm, thinking that Hitler would follow.

Mar, Mussolini of Italy delivered an ultimatum to Albania.

Apr 6, Great Britain and Poland signed a military pact.

Apr 8, Italy, under Fascist dictatorship led by Benito Mussolini seized the country of Albania. The Albanian parliament voted to unite Albania with Italy; King Zog fled to Greece.

Apr 30, The New York World’s Fair, billed as a look at "the world of tomorrow," officially opened. Philo T. Farnsworth premiered his television at the fair.

May 7, Germany and Italy announced a military and political alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.

May 13, The SS St Louis departed Hamburg with some 937 passengers including over 900 Jewish refugees. They sought refuge in Cuba, but only 22 were allowed to disembark there. No country in the Americas would take them. It returned to Germany where a number of the Jews were later murdered.

May 23, Hitler proclaimed he wants to move into Poland.

May 27, The ship St. Louis sailed into Havana Bay with 937 Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazis. The ship was turned away and headed for the Florida coast.

May, The Ravensbruck concentration camp opened in northern Germany. It was primarily set up for women. Between 1939 and 1945, over 130,000 female prisoners passed through the Ravensbrück camp system; only 40,000 survived.

Aug 23, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav M. Molotov signed a Treaty of Non-Aggression, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact freeing Hitler to invade Poland and Stalin to invade Finland.

Aug 27, Nazi Germany demanded Danzig and Polish corridor.

Aug 31, There was a staged "Polish" assault on radio station in Gleiwitz by Nazis dressed as Poles to "provoke" war, an excuse for Germany to invade Poland the next day to start World War II.

Sep, 1, At 4:40 a.m., World War II began. The Germans attacked Poland with their strategy of Blitzkrieg, or lightning war.

Sep 1, Hitler ordered the extermination of mentally ill.

Sep 1, Switzerland proclaimed neutrality

Sep 3, Britain and France declared war on Germany, two days after the Nazi invasion of Poland. After Germany ignored Great Britain's ultimatum to stop the invasion of Poland, Great Britain declares war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II in Europe. France follows 6 hours later quickly joined by Australia, NZ, South Africa & Canada.
Sep 3-May 10, 1940, This period is know as the Sitzkreig (the Sitting War) or "Phony War." There was very little action on the Western Front.

Sep 4, German troops stormed into Danzig (Gdansk).

Sep 5, The United States under FDR proclaimed its neutrality in World War II.

Sep 9, Nazi army reached Warsaw.

Sep 10, Canada declared war on Nazi Germany.

Sep 17, The Soviet Union attacked Poland, more than two weeks after Nazi Germany launched its assault. They took 217,000 Poles prisoner and occupied eastern Poland within a week with losses of 737 dead and 2,000 wounded.

Sep 19, The British Expeditionary Force reached France.

Sep 19, Wehrmacht (German regular army) murdered 100 Jews in Lukov, Poland.

Sep 21, Reinhard Heydrich met in Berlin to discuss final solution of Jews.

Sep 27, Germany occupied Warsaw. Poland surrendered after 19 days of resistance to invading forces from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Poland had endured a brutal 3 day bombing campaign by the German Luftwaffe.

Sep 29, Germany and the Soviet Union reached an agreement on the division of Poland.

Oct 6, Hitler announced plans to resolve "The Jewish problem."

Oct 9, Finland called for full scale mobilization for war.

Oct 11, Albert Einstein wrote his famous letter to FDR about the potential of the atomic bomb. Einstein, a long time pacifist, was concerned that the Nazis would get the bomb first. In the letter, Einstein argued the scientific feasibility of atomic weapons, and urged the need for development of a US atomic program. The physicists Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, and Edward Teller, who were profoundly disturbed by the lack of American atomic action, had enlisted the aid of the Nobel prize-winner Einstein in the summer of 1939, hoping that a letter from such a renowned scientist would persuade Roosevelt into action.

Nov 1, 1st jet plane, a Heinkel He 178, was demonstrated to German Air Ministry.

Nov 15, Nazis began their mass murder of Warsaw Jews.

Nov 26, Soviets charged Finland with an artillery attack on border leading to 105-day Winter War.

Nov 30, The Russo-Finnish war began when Stalin attacked Finland with 4 armies, 540,000 men, 2485 tanks, and 2000 guns. Finnish troops were led by Field Marshall Gustaf Mannerheim. Over the next two weeks, a greatly outnumbered Finnish army resisted the invasion of nearly fifty Red Army divisions--over one million men. The Finnish used forest combat to inflict heavy damage on the Russian invaders.

Dec 13, In the Battle at La Plata 3 British cruisers fought the German "pocket battleship," Graf Spee, which took refuge in Montevideo, Uruguay. The following day, the badly damaged ship left port, deliberately ran aground in the bay, where the officers led the crew in scuttling and exploding the Graf Spee. Two days later, the commander of the German warship committed suicide in his Buenos Aires hotel room. Today, at low tide, water commuters between Buenos Aires and Montevideo can see part of the superstructure breaking the surface.

Dec 21, Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich named Adolf Eichmann leader of "Referat IV B," the group in charge of transport of Jews for Final Solution.

-Philo T. Farnsworth sold his television patents to RCA Victor for $1 million.

-Oldsmobile was the first car to offer an automatic transmission.


1940       


Feb 15, Hitler ordered that all British merchant ships would be considered warships.

Feb 21, The Germans began construction of a concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Mar 5, Stalin among others signed an Order for the massacre at Katyn, Poland. Soviet agents shot 21,768 Polish military officers, intellectuals and priests who had been taken prisoner during the invasion. Between April and May some 25,700 (15,000) Polish citizens were massacred by the Soviets in the Katyn and Miednoje (Mednoye) forests on the outskirts of Moscow and at Kharkov in western Russia (later Ukraine). Some 14,700 Polish officers were identified by their uniforms. Excavations of the sites began in 1994. 6,313 Polish officers were all shot in the back of the head near Mednoye. 9,000 Russians were also massacred at the site.

Mar 12, Finland surrendered to Russia. Finland and the Soviet Union concluded an armistice during World War II. Fighting between the two countries flared again the following year.

Mar 23, The All-India Muslim League called for a Muslim homeland.

Apr 9, The Nazi army invaded and occupied Denmark and Norway. German forces landed along the Norwegian coast and made a paratrooper assault on Oslo and Stavanger.

Apr 10, Vidkun Quisling formed a Norwegian pro-Nazi "national government."

Apr 12, Italy annexed Albania.

Apr 14, Allied troops landed in Norway.

Apr 15, French and British troops landed at Narvik, Norway.

May 8, British PM Neville Chamberlain resigned.

May 8, German commandos in Dutch uniforms crossed the Dutch border to hold bridges for the advancing German army.

May 10, Winston Churchill took office as PM. Churchill formed a new government and served as the Conservative head of a coalition government with the opposition Labor Party. The debate over the Norway campaign led directly to Churchill replacing Chamberlain.

May 10, German forces began a blitzkrieg of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxem-bourg, skirting France's "impenetrable" Maginot Line. Belgium was invaded by Germany and maintained resistance for 18 days.

May 14, German breakthrough at Sedan, France.

May 14, The Netherlands (Holland) surrendered to Nazi Germany after the bombing of Rotterdam that left 600-900 dead.

May 17, Germany occupied Brussels, Belgium, and began the invasion of France.

May 21, Nazis surrounded the British Army at Dunkirk.

May 26, Operation Dynamo was launched for the evacuation of British, French and Bel-gian soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in northern France. The new British Spitfire fighters helped provide air cover. The operation continued to June 4.

Jun 14, German troops occupied Paris and Marshal Philippe Petain became the head of the French government and sued for peace.

Jun 17, The Soviet Union occupied Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

Jun, The Germans began to loot the artwork of Paris and more than 70,000 residences were plundered.

Jul 10-1940 Oct 31, The Battle of Britain in July-October of 1940 was an earth-shakingly decisive campaign (not just a battle). Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe gathered over 2,500 combat planes for a bombing campaign that would be a prelude to "Operation Sea Lion" (an invasion of Britain). British Air Marshall Hugh C. Dowding’s Royal Air Force’s Fighter Command could mus-ter about 650 decent fighters (Hurricanes and Spitfires). The Luftwaffe came perilously close to wearing down the R.A.F., but at about that time, a German bomber accidentally dropped bombs on London, Churchill bombed Berlin, and Hitler switched the Luftwaffe’s attack from the R.A.F. to London, giving the R.A.F. a breather. The Luftwaffe’s bombers carried too small a bomb load for a strategic bombing campaign and were inadequately armed to defend themselves against R.A.F. fighters. The Luftwaffe’s Me-109 fighter lacked the range to provide sufficient escort for the bombers, which were massacred by Hurricanes and Spitfires. The Germans knew that the British radar installations existed, and did launch some attacks upon them, but never realized how vital radar truly was in directing R.A.F. fighters to intercept raiding aircraft.

Jul 16, Adolf Hitler ordered the preparations to begin on the invasion of England, Opera-tion Sea Lion.

Jul 23, German bombers began the "Blitz," the all-night air raids on London.

Jul 27, Bugs Bunny made his official debut in the Warner Bros. animated cartoon "A Wild Hare."

1940        Aug 7, Churchill recognized the De Gaulle government in exile.

Aug 17, President Roosevelt and Canadian Prime Minister William Mackenzie King met in Ogdensburg, N.Y., where they agreed to set up a joint defense commission.

Aug 20, Radar is used for the first time, by the British during the Battle of Britain.

Aug, US Army cryptoanalysts under William F. Friedman succeeded in breaking Japan's top secret Purple Code, which was used for diplomatic communications.

Sep 26, Japanese troops attacked French Indochina (Vietnam).

Oct 15, Charles Chaplin's first all-talking comedy, "The Great Dictator," a lampoon of Adolf Hitler, opened at two theaters in New York

Oct 16, The Warsaw Ghetto was formed by Nazi SS troops.

Nov 7, The middle section of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington state, nick-named "Galloping Gertie," collapsed during a windstorm.

Nov 26, The half-million Jews of Warsaw, Poland, were forced by the Nazis to live within a walled ghetto.

-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover began to compile a "Security Index," a secret list of people considered potentially dangerous to national security during an crises and who would be de-tained without judicial warrant.

Japanese warplanes dropped plague-infected fleas over southwest China.

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