1941 (MCMXLI) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1941st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 941st year of the 2nd millennium, the 41st year of the 20th century, and the 2nd year of the 1940s decade.
|1941 in various calendars|
|Ab urbe condita||2694|
|Balinese saka calendar||1862–1863|
|British Regnal year||5 Geo. 6 – 6 Geo. 6|
|Chinese calendar||庚辰年 (Metal Dragon)|
4637 or 4577
— to —
辛巳年 (Metal Snake)
4638 or 4578
|- Vikram Samvat||1997–1998|
|- Shaka Samvat||1862–1863|
|- Kali Yuga||5041–5042|
|Japanese calendar||Shōwa 16|
|Julian calendar||Gregorian minus 13 days|
|Minguo calendar||ROC 30|
|Thai solar calendar||2484|
2067 or 1686 or 914
— to —
2068 or 1687 or 915
Below, the events of World War II have the "WWII" prefix.
The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
At the start of the war on 1 September 1939, the Allies consisted of France, Poland and the United Kingdom, as well as their dependent states, such as British India. Within days they were joined by the independent Dominions of the British Commonwealth: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. After the start of the German invasion of North Europe until the Balkan Campaign, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, and Yugoslavia joined the Allies. After first having cooperated with Germany in invading Poland whilst remaining neutral in the Allied-Axis conflict, the Soviet Union perforce joined the Allies in June 1941 after being invaded by Germany. The United States provided war materiel and money all along, and officially joined in December 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. China had already been in a prolonged war with Japan since the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of 1937, but officially joined the Allies in 1941.
The alliance was formalised by the Declaration by United Nations, from 1 January 1942. However, the name United Nations was rarely used to describe the Allies during the war. The leaders of the "Big Three"—the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—controlled Allied strategy; relations between the United Kingdom and the United States were especially close. The Big Three together with China were referred as a "trusteeship of the powerful", then were recognized as the Allied "Big Four" in the Declaration by United Nations and later as the "Four Policemen" of the United Nations. After the war ended, the Allied nations became the basis of the modern United Nations.Attack on Pearl Harbor
The Attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, led to the United States' formal entry into World War II. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.Japan intended the attack as a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with its planned military actions in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Over the course of seven hours there were coordinated Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines, Guam and Wake Island and on the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Additionally, from the Japanese viewpoint, it was seen as a preemptive strike.The attack commenced at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time (18:18 GMT). The base was attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese aircraft (including fighters, level and dive bombers, and torpedo bombers) in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four sunk. All but USS Arizona were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. Important base installations such as the power station, dry dock, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section), were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 64 servicemen killed. One Japanese sailor, Kazuo Sakamaki, was captured. Japan declared war on the United States on 8 December (9 December in Tokyo).
The surprise attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan, and three days later, on December 11, Germany and Italy each declared war on the U.S. The U.S. responded with a declaration of war against Germany and Italy. Domestic support for non-interventionism, which had been fading since the Fall of France in 1940, disappeared.There were numerous historical precedents for the unannounced military action by Japan, but the lack of any formal warning, particularly while peace negotiations were still apparently ongoing, led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy". Because the attack happened without a declaration of war and without explicit warning, the attack on Pearl Harbor was later judged in the Tokyo Trials to be a war crime.Axis powers
The Axis powers (German: Achsenmächte; Italian: Potenze dell'Asse; Japanese: 枢軸国 Sūjikukoku), also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis" (also nicknamed with the Italian name "Roberto", from the initials of "ROma", "BERlin" and "TOkyo"), were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.
The Axis grew out of the diplomatic efforts of Germany, Italy, and Japan to secure their own specific expansionist interests in the mid-1930s. The first step was the treaty signed by Germany and Italy in October 1936. Benito Mussolini declared on 1 November that all other European countries would from then on rotate on the Rome–Berlin axis, thus creating the term "Axis". The almost simultaneous second step was the signing in November 1936 of the Anti-Comintern Pact, an anti-communist treaty between Germany and Japan. Italy joined the Pact in 1937. The "Rome–Berlin Axis" became a military alliance in 1939 under the so-called "Pact of Steel", with the Tripartite Pact of 1940 leading to the integration of the military aims of Germany, Italy and Japan.
At its zenith during World War II, the Axis presided over territories that occupied large parts of Europe, North Africa, and East Asia. There were no three-way summit meetings and cooperation and coordination was minimal, with slightly more between Germany and Italy. The war ended in 1945 with the defeat of the Axis powers and the dissolution of their alliance. As in the case of the Allies, membership of the Axis was fluid, with some nations switching sides or changing their degree of military involvement over the course of the war.Continuation War
The Continuation War was a conflict fought by Finland and Nazi Germany, as co-belligerents, against the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1941 to 1944, during World War II. In Russian historiography, the war is called the Soviet–Finnish Front of the Great Patriotic War. Germany regarded its operations in the region as part of its overall war efforts on the Eastern Front and provided Finland with critical material support and military assistance.
The Continuation War began 15 months after the end of the Winter War, also fought between Finland and the USSR. There have been a number of reasons proposed for the Finnish decision to invade, with regaining territory lost during the Winter War being regarded as the most common. Other justifications for the conflict included President Ryti's vision of a Greater Finland and Commander-in-Chief Mannerheim's desire to liberate Karelia. Plans for the attack were developed jointly between the Wehrmacht and a small faction of Finnish political and military leaders with the rest of the government remaining ignorant. Despite the co-operation in this conflict, Finland never formally signed the Tripartite Pact that had established the Axis powers and justified its alliance with Germany as self-defence.
In June 1941, with the start of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Finnish Defence Forces launched their offensive following Soviet airstrikes. By September 1941, Finland occupied East Karelia and reversed its post–Winter War concessions to the Soviet Union along the Karelian Isthmus and in Ladoga Karelia. The Finnish Army halted its offensive past the old border, around 30–32 km (19–20 mi) from the centre of Leningrad and participated in besieging the city by cutting its northern supply routes and digging in until 1944. In Lapland, joint German–Finnish forces failed to capture Murmansk or cut the Kirov (Murmansk) Railway, a transit route for lend-lease equipment to the USSR. The conflict stabilised with only minor skirmishes until the tide of the war turned against the Germans and the Soviet Union's strategic Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive in June 1944. The attack drove the Finns from most of the territories they had gained during the war, but the Finnish Army managed to halt the offensive in August 1944.
Hostilities between Finland and the USSR ended with a ceasefire, which was called on 5 September 1944, formalised by the signing of the Moscow Armistice on 19 September 1944. One of the conditions of this agreement was the expulsion, or disarming, of any German troops in Finnish territory, which led to the Lapland War between the former co-belligerents. World War II was concluded formally for Finland and the minor Axis powers with the signing of the Paris Peace Treaties in 1947. The treaties resulted in the restoration of borders per the 1940 Moscow Peace Treaty, the ceding of the municipality of Petsamo (Russian: Pechengsky raion) and the leasing of Porkkala Peninsula to the USSR. Furthermore, Finland was required to pay $300 million in war reparations to the USSR.
63,200 Finns and 23,200 Germans died or went missing during the war in addition to 158,000 and 60,400 wounded, respectively. Estimates of dead or missing Soviets range from 250,000 to 305,000 while 575,000 have been estimated to have been wounded or fallen sick.Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), Poland and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe (Baltics), and Southeast Europe (Balkans) from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War (Russian: ru:Великая Отечественная война, Velikaya Otechestvennaya Voyna) in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front (German: die Ostfront), or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.The battles on the Eastern Front of the Second World War constituted the largest military confrontation in history. They were characterized by unprecedented ferocity, wholesale destruction, mass deportations, and immense loss of life due to combat, starvation, exposure, disease, and massacres. The Eastern Front, as the site of nearly all extermination camps, death marches, ghettos, and the majority of pogroms, was central to the Holocaust. Of the estimated 70-85 million deaths attributed to World War II, over 30 million, the majority of them civilian, occurred on the Eastern Front. The Eastern Front was decisive in determining the outcome in the European theatre of operations in World War II, eventually serving as the main reason for the defeat of Nazi Germany and the Axis nations.The two principal belligerent powers were Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, along with their respective allies. Though never engaged in military action in the Eastern Front, the United States and the United Kingdom both provided substantial material aid in the form of the Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union. The joint German–Finnish operations across the northernmost Finnish–Soviet border and in the Murmansk region are considered part of the Eastern Front. In addition, the Soviet–Finnish Continuation War may also be considered the northern flank of the Eastern Front.Flower-class corvette
The Flower-class corvette (also referred to as the Gladiolus class after the lead ship) was a British class of 267 corvettes used during World War II, specifically with the Allied navies as anti-submarine convoy escorts during the Battle of the Atlantic. Royal Navy ships of this class were named after flowers, hence the name of the class.
The majority served during World War II with the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). Several ships built largely in Canada were transferred from the RN to the United States Navy (USN) under the lend-lease programme, seeing service in both navies. Some corvettes transferred to the USN were manned by the US Coast Guard. The vessels serving with the US Navy were known as Temptress and Action-class patrol gunboats. Other Flower-class corvettes served with the Free French Naval Forces, the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Royal Norwegian Navy, the Royal Indian Navy, the Royal Hellenic Navy, the Royal New Zealand Navy, the Royal Yugoslav Navy, and, immediately post-war, the South African Navy.
After World War II many surplus Flower-class vessels saw worldwide use in other navies, as well as civilian use. HMCS Sackville is the only member of the class to be preserved as a museum ship.Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (, ; January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, which realigned American politics into the Fifth Party System and defined American liberalism throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II. He is often rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York, to a Dutch American family made well known by Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States and William Henry Aspinwall. FDR attended Groton School, Harvard College, and Columbia Law School, and went on to practice law in New York City. In 1905, he married his fifth cousin once removed, Eleanor Roosevelt. They had six children. He won election to the New York State Senate in 1910, and then served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Roosevelt was James M. Cox's running mate on the Democratic Party's 1920 national ticket, but Cox was defeated by Warren G. Harding. In 1921, Roosevelt contracted a paralytic illness, believed at the time to be polio, and his legs became permanently paralyzed. While attempting to recover from his condition, Roosevelt founded the treatment center in Warm Springs, Georgia, for people with poliomyelitis. In spite of being unable to walk unaided, Roosevelt returned to public office by winning election as Governor of New York in 1928. He was in office from 1929 to 1933 and served as a reform Governor, promoting programs to combat the economic crisis besetting the United States at the time.
In the 1932 presidential election, Roosevelt defeated Republican President Herbert Hoover in a landslide. Roosevelt took office while the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in the country's history. During the first 100 days of the 73rd United States Congress, Roosevelt spearheaded unprecedented federal legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New Deal—a variety of programs designed to produce relief, recovery, and reform. He created numerous programs to provide relief to the unemployed and farmers while seeking economic recovery with the National Recovery Administration and other programs. He also instituted major regulatory reforms related to finance, communications, and labor, and presided over the end of Prohibition. He harnessed radio to speak directly to the American people, giving 30 "fireside chat" radio addresses during his presidency and becoming the first American president to be televised. The economy having improved rapidly from 1933 to 1936, Roosevelt won a landslide reelection in 1936. However, the economy then relapsed into a deep recession in 1937 and 1938. After the 1936 election, Roosevelt sought passage of the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937 (the "court packing plan"), which would have expanded the size of the Supreme Court of the United States. The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented passage of the bill and blocked the implementation of further New Deal programs and reforms. Major surviving programs and legislation implemented under Roosevelt include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Social Security.
Roosevelt ran successfully for reelection in 1940. His victory made him the only U.S. President to serve for more than two terms. With World War II looming after 1938, Roosevelt gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China as well as the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union while the U.S. remained officially neutral. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, an event he famously called "a date which will live in infamy", Roosevelt obtained a declaration of war on Japan the next day, and a few days later, on Germany and Italy. Assisted by his top aide Harry Hopkins and with very strong national support, he worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in leading the Allies against the Axis Powers. Roosevelt supervised the mobilization of the U.S. economy to support the war effort and implemented a Europe first strategy, making the defeat of Germany a priority over that of Japan. He also initiated the development of the world's first atomic bomb and worked with the other Allied leaders to lay the groundwork for the United Nations and other post-war institutions. Roosevelt won reelection in 1944 but with his physical health declining during the war years, he died in April 1945, just 11 weeks into his fourth term. The Axis Powers surrendered to the Allies in the months following Roosevelt's death, during the presidency of Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman.Kingdom of Yugoslavia
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia (Serbo-Croatian: Краљевина Југославија / Kraljevina Jugoslavija; Slovene: Kraljevina Jugoslavija) was a state in Southeast Europe and Central Europe that existed from 1929 until 1941, during the interwar period and beginning of World War II.
The preliminary kingdom was formed in 1918 by the merger of the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (itself formed from territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire) with the formerly independent Kingdom of Serbia. The Kingdom of Montenegro had united with Serbia five days previously, whereas the regions of Kosovo, Vojvodina and Vardar Macedonia were parts of Serbia prior to the unification.
Initially, it was officially called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Serbo-Croatian: Краљевина Срба, Хрвата и Словенаца / Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca; Slovene: Kraljevina Srbov, Hrvatov in Slovencev), but the term "Yugoslavia" (literally "Land of Southern Slavs") was its colloquial name from its origins. The official name of the state was changed to "Kingdom of Yugoslavia" by King Alexander I on 3 October 1929.The state was ruled by the Serbian dynasty of Karađorđević, which previously ruled the Kingdom of Serbia under Peter I from 1903 (after the May Overthrow) onward. Peter I became the first king of Yugoslavia until his death in 1921. He was succeeded by his son Alexander I, who had been regent for his father. He was known as "Alexander the Unifier" and he renamed the kingdom "Yugoslavia" in 1929. He was assassinated in Marseille by Vlado Chernozemski, a member of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), during his visit to France in 1934. The crown passed to his then-still under-aged son Peter. Alexander's cousin Paul ruled as Prince regent until 1941, when Peter II would come of age. The royal family flew to London the same year, prior to the country being invaded by the Axis powers.
In April 1941, the country was occupied and partitioned by the Axis powers. A royal government-in-exile, recognized by the United Kingdom and, later, by all the Allies, was established in London. In 1944, after pressure from the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the King recognized the government of Democratic Federal Yugoslavia as the legitimate government. This was established on 2 November following the signing of the Treaty of Vis by Ivan Šubašić (on behalf of the Kingdom) and Josip Broz Tito (on behalf of the Yugoslav Partisans).Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is centered around a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created the sculpture's design and oversaw the project's execution from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son Lincoln Borglum. The sculpture features the 60-foot (18 m) heads of Presidents George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The four presidents were chosen, respectively, to represent the birth, the growth, the development, and the preservation of the United States. The memorial park covers 1,278.45 acres (2.00 sq mi; 5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region. His initial idea was to sculpt the Needles; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles because of the poor quality of the granite and strong opposition from Native American groups. They settled on Mount Rushmore, which also has the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure. Robinson wanted it to feature American West heroes such as Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud, and Buffalo Bill Cody, but Borglum decided that the sculpture should have broader appeal and chose the four presidents.
US Senator for South Dakota Peter Norbeck sponsored the project and secured federal funding; construction began in 1927, and the presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Gutzon Borglum died in March 1941, and his son Lincoln took over as leader of the construction project. Each president was originally to be depicted from head to waist, but lack of funding forced construction to end on October 31, 1941.Mount Rushmore attracts more than two million visitors annually.North African Campaign
The North African Campaign of the Second World War took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts (Western Desert Campaign, also known as the Desert War) and in Morocco and Algeria (Operation Torch), as well as Tunisia (Tunisia Campaign).
The campaign was fought between the Allies, many of whom had colonial interests in Africa dating from the late 19th century, and the Axis Powers. The Allied war effort was dominated by the British Commonwealth and exiles from German-occupied Europe. The United States officially entered the war in December 1941 and began direct military assistance in North Africa on 11 May 1942.
Fighting in North Africa started with the Italian declaration of war on 10 June 1940. On 14 June, the British Army's 11th Hussars (assisted by elements of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, 1st RTR) crossed the border from Egypt into Libya and captured the Italian Fort Capuzzo. This was followed by an Italian counter-offensive into Egypt and the capture of Sidi Barrani in September 1940 and again in December 1940 following a British Commonwealth counteroffensive, Operation Compass. During Operation Compass, the Italian 10th Army was destroyed and the German Afrika Korps—commanded by Erwin Rommel, who later became known as "The Desert Fox"—was dispatched to North Africa in February 1941 during Operation Sonnenblume to reinforce Italian forces in order to prevent a complete Axis defeat.
A fluctuating series of battles for control of Libya and regions of Egypt followed, reaching a climax in the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 when British Commonwealth forces under the command of Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery inflicted a decisive defeat on Rommel's Afrika Korps and forced its remnants into Tunisia. After the Anglo-American landings (Operation Torch) in North-West Africa in November 1942, and subsequent battles against Vichy France forces (who then changed sides), the Allies encircled several hundred thousand German and Italian personnel in northern Tunisia and finally forced their surrender in May 1943.
Operation Torch in November 1942 was a compromise operation that met the British objective of securing victory in North Africa while allowing American armed forces the opportunity to engage in the fight against Nazi Germany on a limited scale. In addition, as Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, had long been pleading for a second front to be opened to engage the Wehrmacht and relieve pressure on the Red Army, it provided some degree of relief for the Red Army on the Eastern Front by diverting Axis forces to the North African theatre. Over half the German Ju 52 transport planes that were needed to supply the encircled German and Romanian forces at Stalingrad were tied up supplying Axis forces in North Africa.Information gleaned via British Ultra code-breaking intelligence proved critical to Allied success in North Africa. Victory for the Allies in this campaign immediately led to the Italian Campaign, which culminated in the downfall of the fascist government in Italy and the elimination of Germany's main European ally.Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa (German: Unternehmen Barbarossa) was the code name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941, during World War II. The operation stemmed from Nazi Germany's ideological aims to conquer the western Soviet Union so that it could be repopulated by Germans, to use Slavs as a slave-labour force for the Axis war effort, and to seize the oil reserves of the Caucasus and the agricultural resources of Soviet territories.In the two years leading up to the invasion, Germany and the Soviet Union signed political and economic pacts for strategic purposes. Nevertheless, the German High Command began planning an invasion of the Soviet Union in July 1940 (under the codename Operation Otto), which Adolf Hitler authorized on 18 December 1940. Over the course of the operation, about three million personnel of the Axis powers – the largest invasion force in the history of warfare – invaded the western Soviet Union along a 2,900-kilometer (1,800 mi) front. In addition to troops, the Wehrmacht deployed some 600,000 motor vehicles, and between 600,000 and 700,000 horses for non-combat operations. The offensive marked an escalation of World War II, both geographically and in the formation of the Allied coalition.
Operationally, German forces achieved major victories and occupied some of the most important economic areas of the Soviet Union (mainly in Ukraine) and inflicted, as well as sustained, heavy casualties. Despite these Axis successes, the German offensive stalled in the Battle of Moscow at the end of 1941, and the subsequent Soviet winter counteroffensive pushed German troops back. The Red Army absorbed the Wehrmacht's strongest blows and forced the unprepared Germans into a war of attrition. The Wehrmacht never again mounted a simultaneous offensive along the entire Eastern front. The failure of the operation drove Hitler to demand further operations of increasingly limited scope inside the Soviet Union, such as Case Blue in 1942 and Operation Citadel in 1943 – all of which eventually failed.
The failure of Operation Barbarossa proved a turning point in the fortunes of the Third Reich. Most importantly, the operation opened up the Eastern Front, in which more forces were committed than in any other theater of war in world history. The Eastern Front became the site of some of the largest battles, most horrific atrocities, and highest casualties (for Soviet and Axis forces alike), all of which influenced the course of both World War II and the subsequent history of the 20th century. The German armies captured 5,000,000 Red Army troops, who were denied the protection guaranteed by the Hague Conventions and the 1929 Geneva Convention. A majority of Red Army POWs never returned alive. The Nazis deliberately starved to death, or otherwise killed, 3.3 million prisoners of war, as well as a huge number of civilians (through the "Hunger Plan" which aimed at largely replacing the Slavic population with German settlers). Einsatzgruppen death-squads and gassing operations murdered over a million Soviet Jews as part of the Holocaust.Pacific War
The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia–Pacific War, was the theater of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean and islands, the South West Pacific, South-East Asia, and in China (including the 1945 Soviet–Japanese conflict).
The Second Sino-Japanese War between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China had been in progress since 7 July 1937, with hostilities dating back as far as 19 September 1931 with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. However, it is more widely accepted that the Pacific War itself began on 7/8 December 1941, when Japan invaded Thailand and attacked the British colonies of Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong as well as the United States military and naval bases in Hawaii, Wake Island, Guam and the Philippines.The Pacific War saw the Allies pitted against Japan, the latter briefly aided by Thailand and to a much lesser extent by the Axis allied Germany and Italy. The war culminated in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and other large aerial bomb attacks by the Allies, accompanied by the Soviet declaration of war and invasion of Manchuria on 9 August 1945, resulting in the Japanese announcement of intent to surrender on 15 August 1945. The formal surrender of Japan ceremony took place aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. After the war, Japan lost all rights and titles to its former possessions in Asia and the Pacific, and its sovereignty was limited to the four main home islands. Japan's Shinto Emperor was forced to relinquish much of his authority and his divine status through the Shinto Directive in order to pave the way for extensive cultural and political reforms.Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore FRAS ( (listen); 7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath, a poet, musician and artist from the Indian subcontinent. He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of the "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse" of Gitanjali, he became in 1913 the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore's poetic songs were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his "elegant prose and magical poetry" remain largely unknown outside Bengal. He is sometimes referred to as "the Bard of Bengal".A Pirali Brahmin from Calcutta with ancestral gentry roots in Jessore, Tagore wrote poetry as an eight-year-old. At the age of sixteen, he released his first substantial poems under the pseudonym Bhānusiṃha ("Sun Lion"), which were seized upon by literary authorities as long-lost classics. By 1877 he graduated to his first short stories and dramas, published under his real name. As a humanist, universalist, internationalist, and ardent anti-nationalist, he denounced the British Raj and advocated independence from Britain. As an exponent of the Bengal Renaissance, he advanced a vast canon that comprised paintings, sketches and doodles, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs; his legacy also endures in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University.Tagore modernised Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms and resisting linguistic strictures. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays spoke to topics political and personal. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced) and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed—or panned—for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India's Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh's Amar Shonar Bangla. The Sri Lankan national anthem was inspired by his work.Special Air Service
The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army. The SAS was founded in 1941 as a regiment, and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950. The unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action and hostage rescue. Much of the information and actions regarding the SAS is highly classified, and is not commented on by the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to the sensitivity of their operations.The corps currently consists of the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, the regular component under operational command of United Kingdom Special Forces, as well as the 21st (Artists) Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) and the 23rd Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve), which are reserve units under operational command of the 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.The Special Air Service traces its origins to 1941 and the Second World War. It was reformed as part of the Territorial Army in 1947, named the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (Artists Rifles). The 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, which is part of the regular army, gained fame and recognition worldwide after its televised rescue of all but one of the hostages held during the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege.The Blitz
The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against Britain in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and is the German word for 'lightning'.The Germans conducted mass air attacks against industrial targets, towns, and cities, beginning with raids on London towards the end of the Battle of Britain in 1940, a battle for daylight air superiority between the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force over the United Kingdom. By September 1940, the Luftwaffe had failed and the German air fleets (Luftflotten) were ordered to attack London, to draw RAF Fighter Command into a battle of annihilation. Adolf Hitler and Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, ordered the new policy on 6 September 1940. From 7 September 1940, London was systematically bombed by the Luftwaffe for 56 out of the following 57 days and nights. Most notable was a large daylight attack against London on 15 September.
The Luftwaffe gradually decreased daylight operations in favour of night attacks to evade attack by the RAF, and the Blitz became a night bombing campaign after October 1940. The Luftwaffe attacked the main Atlantic sea port of Liverpool in the Liverpool Blitz and the North Sea port of Hull, a convenient and easily found target or secondary target for bombers unable to locate their primary targets, suffered the Hull Blitz. Bristol, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Southampton and Swansea were also bombed, as were the industrial cities of Birmingham, Belfast, Coventry, Glasgow, Manchester and Sheffield. More than 40,000 civilians were killed by Luftwaffe bombing during the war, almost half of them in the capital, where more than a million houses were destroyed or damaged.In early July 1940, the German High Command began planning Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. Bombing failed to demoralise the British into surrender or do much damage to the war economy; eight months of bombing never seriously hampered British war production, which continued to increase. The greatest effect was to force the British to disperse the production of aircraft and spare parts. British wartime studies concluded that cities generally took 10 to 15 days to recover when hit severely, but exceptions like Birmingham took three months.The German air offensive failed because the Luftwaffe High Command (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, OKL) did not develop a methodical strategy for destroying British war industry. Poor intelligence about British industry and economic efficiency led to OKL concentrating on tactics rather than strategy. The bombing effort was diluted by attacks against several sets of industries instead of constant pressure on the most vital.The Holocaust
The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide in which Nazi Germany, aided by its collaborators, systematically murdered some six million European Jews—around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe—between 1941 and 1945, during World War II. Jews were targeted for extermination as part of a larger event during the Holocaust era, in which Germany and its collaborators persecuted and murdered other groups, including Slavs (chiefly ethnic Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, and Soviet citizens); the Roma; the "incurably sick"; political and religious dissenters such as communists and Jehovah's Witnesses; and gay men, resulting in up to 17 million deaths overall.Germany implemented the persecution in stages. Following Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933, the government took steps to exclude Jews from civil society, which included organizing a boycott of Jewish businesses and passing the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. Starting in 1933, the Nazis built a network of concentration camps in Germany for political opponents and people deemed "undesirable". After the invasion of Poland in 1939, the regime set up ghettos to segregate Jews. Over 42,000 camps, ghettos, and other detention sites were established across occupied Europe.The deportation of Jews to the ghettos culminated in the policy of extermination the Nazis called the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question", discussed by senior Nazi officials at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin in January 1942. As German forces captured territories in the East, all anti-Jewish measures were radicalized. Under the coordination of the SS, with directions from the highest leadership of the Nazi Party, killings were committed within Germany itself, throughout occupied Europe, and across all territories controlled by the Axis powers. Paramilitary death squads called Einsatzgruppen, in cooperation with Wehrmacht police battalions and local collaborators, murdered around 1.3 million Jews in mass shootings between 1941 and 1945. By mid-1942, victims were being deported from the ghettos in sealed freight trains to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, they were killed in gas chambers. The killing continued until the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945.The Pentagon
The Pentagon, in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. As a symbol of the U.S. military, the phrase The Pentagon is often used as a metonym for the Department of Defense and its leadership.
The building was designed by American architect George Bergstrom and built by contractor John McShain. Ground was broken on September 11, 1941, and the building was dedicated on January 15, 1943. General Brehon Somervell provided the major motivating power behind the project; Colonel Leslie Groves was responsible for overseeing the project for the U.S. Army.
The Pentagon is the world's largest office building, with about 6,500,000 sq ft (600,000 m2) of space, of which 3,700,000 sq ft (340,000 m2) are used as offices. Some 23,000 military and civilian employees, and another 3,000 non-defense support personnel, work in the Pentagon. It has five sides, five floors above ground, two basement levels, and five ring corridors per floor with a total of 17.5 mi (28.2 km) of corridors. The central five-acre (20,000 m2) pentagonal plaza is nicknamed "ground zero" on the presumption that it would be a prime target in a nuclear war.On September 11, 2001, exactly 60 years after the building's construction began, American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and flown into the western side of the building, killing 189 people (59 victims and the five perpetrators on board the airliner, as well as 125 victims in the building), according to the 9/11 Commission Report. It was the first significant foreign attack on Washington's governmental facilities since the city was burned by the British during the War of 1812.
The Pentagon is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht (German pronunciation: [ˈveːɐ̯maxt] (listen), lit. defence force) was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe (air force). The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, one of Adolf Hitler's most overt and audacious moves was to establish the Wehrmacht, a modern offensively-capable armed force. Fulfilling the Nazi regime's long-term goals of regaining lost territory as well as gaining new territory and dominating its neighbors. This required the reinstatement of conscription, and massive investment and spending on the armaments industry.The Wehrmacht formed the heart of Germany's politico-military power. In the early part of the Second World War, the Wehrmacht employed combined arms tactics (close cover air-support, tanks, and infantry) to devastating effect in what became known as a Blitzkrieg (lightning war). It's campaigns in France (1940), the Soviet Union (1941), and North Africa (1941/42) are regarded as acts of boldness. At the same time, the far-flung advances strained the Wehrmacht's capacity to the breaking point, culminating in the first major defeat in the Battle of Moscow (1941); by late 1942, Germany was losing the initiative in all theatres. The operational art was no match to the war-making abilities of the Allied coalition, making the Wehrmacht's weaknesses in strategy, doctrine, and logistics readily apparent.Closely cooperating with the SS and the Einsatzgruppen, the German armed forces committed numerous war crimes and atrocities, despite later denials and promotion of the myth of the clean Wehrmacht. The majority of the war crimes were committed in the Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy, as part the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, the Holocaust and Nazi security warfare.
During the war about 18 million men served in the Wehrmacht. By the time the war ended in Europe in May 1945, German forces (consisting of the Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SS, the Volkssturm and foreign collaborateur units) had lost approximately 11,300,000 men, about half of whom were missing or killed during the war. Only a few of the Wehrmacht's upper leadership were tried for war crimes, despite evidence suggesting that more were involved in illegal actions. The majority of the three million Wehrmacht soldiers who invaded the USSR participated in committing war crimes.World War II
World War II (often abbreviated to WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is generally said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations on Germany by France and the United Kingdom. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Poland, Finland, Romania and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, and the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history. This Eastern Front trapped the Axis, most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States and European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U.S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers quickly declared war on the U.S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories.
The Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942 when Japan lost the critical Battle of Midway; later, Germany and Italy were defeated in North Africa and then, decisively, at Stalingrad in the Soviet Union. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, and Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands.
The war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese.
World War II changed the political alignment and social structure of the globe. The United Nations (UN) was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts; the victorious great powers—China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—became the permanent members of its Security Council. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia. Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery and expansion. Political integration, especially in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity.Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia (; Serbo-Croatian: Jugoslavija/Југославија [juɡǒslaːʋija]; Slovene: Jugoslavija [juɡɔˈslàːʋija]; Macedonian: Југославија [juɡɔˈsɫavija]; Pannonian Rusyn: Югославия, transcr. Juhoslavija; literally "Land of Southern Slavs") was a country in Southeastern and Central Europe for most of the 20th century. It came into existence after World War I in 1918 under the name of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes by the merger of the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (it was formed from territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire) with the Kingdom of Serbia, and constituted the first union of the South Slavic people as a sovereign state, following centuries in which the region had been part of the Ottoman Empire and then Austria-Hungary. Peter I of Serbia was its first sovereign. The kingdom gained international recognition on 13 July 1922 at the Conference of Ambassadors in Paris. The official name of the state was changed to Kingdom of Yugoslavia on 3 October 1929.
Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis powers on 6 April 1941. In 1943, a Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was proclaimed by the Partisan resistance. In 1944 King Peter II, then living in exile, recognised it as the legitimate government. The monarchy was subsequently abolished in November 1945. Yugoslavia was renamed the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia in 1946, when a communist government was established. It acquired the territories of Istria, Rijeka, and Zadar from Italy. Partisan leader Josip Broz Tito ruled the country as president until his death in 1980. In 1963, the country was renamed again, as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).
The six constituent republics that made up the SFRY were the SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SR Croatia, SR Macedonia, SR Montenegro, SR Serbia, and SR Slovenia. Serbia contained two Socialist Autonomous Provinces, Vojvodina and Kosovo, which after 1974 were largely equal to the other members of the federation. After an economic and political crisis in the 1980s and the rise of nationalism, Yugoslavia broke up along its republics' borders, at first into five countries, leading to the Yugoslav Wars. From 1993 to 2017, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia tried political and military leaders from the former Yugoslavia for war crimes, genocide and other crimes.
After the breakup, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro formed a reduced federation, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), which aspired to the status of sole legal successor to the SFRY, but those claims were opposed by the other former republics. Eventually, Serbia and Montenegro accepted the opinion of the Badinter Arbitration Committee about shared succession. In 2003 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was renamed to State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The union peacefully broke up when Serbia and Montenegro became independent states in 2006, while Kosovo proclaimed its independence from Serbia in 2008.