1940 During the months following the fall of Poland and prior to the invasion of France, a period called the "phony war," Goering maintains a clandestine communications link with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. This was an unusual, if not unheard-of, situation between key officials of two countries officially at war. (Duffy)
1940 January The Cliveden Group, led by Lady Astor, actively pressures the British government to declare war on the USSR for invading Finland. They believe the Communists, not Hitler, are Britain's real enemies.
1940 January The killing of mental patients by means of carbon monoxide gas is tried out in the jail at Brandenburg. By September 1941, more than 70,000 German mental patients will have been "euthanized" in hospitals at Grafeneck, Brandenburg, Bernburg, Hartheim, Sonnenstein, and Hadamar, using carbon monoxide provided by the I.G. Farben corporation. (Science)
1940 January 1 Generalissimo Franco officially denounces the Jews and Freemasons, quoting directly from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. (Segel/Levy)
1940 January 4 Goering is given overall control of German war industry.
1940 January 5 Professor Lenz sends a memorandum to Pancke, chief of the RuSHA, entitled: "Remarks on resettlement from the point of view of safeguarding the race." (Science)
1940 January 6 Cardinal Hlond submits a new and detailed report to Pius XII on the deportations and arrests of Polish priests, the closing of churches and the brutal treatment meted out to the Polish population. (Lewy)
1940 January 6 The German Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs issues an edict, based on the Fuehrer's amnesty of September 9, 1939, restoring the salaries of a large number of priests who had their state subsidy cut off because of minor infractions of the law. (Lewy)
1940 January 9 Hildebrandt, chief of the SS and Police in Danzig and West Prussia (and, from 1943 onwards, head of the RuSHA), reports to Himmler on the shootings of German and Polish mental patients which he has carried out: "The other two units of storm troopers at my disposal were employed as follows during October, November and December... For the elimination of about 4,400 incurable patients from Polish mental hospitals... For the elimination of about 2,000 incurable patients from the Konradstein mental hospital..." (Science)
1940 January 10 A German plane carrying plans for the invasion of France is forced down at Mechelen, Belgium. The Belgian authorities pass on details of the German invasion to the British and French. Hitler's agents suspect the British and French have learned of the plans for the invasion, scheduled for January 17, and Hitler postpones the invasion. He will use this alleged violation of neutrality by Belgium to justify the invasion of that country in May.
1940 January 15 The Belgian government refuses to let England and France move troops into Belgium before a possible German attack. This is a strange response if the captured German invasion plans called for an attack through Belgium as the British claim.
1940 January 16 Hitler cancels the German attack in the west until spring, ordering new attack plans to be drawn up.
1940 January 20 Dr. Ritter writes in a progress report to the DFG: "Through our work we have been able to establish that more than ninety per cent of so-called native Gypsies are of mixed blood... The Gypsy question can only be considered solved when the main body of asocial and good-for-nothing Gypsy individuals of mixed blood is collected together in large labour camps and kept working there, and when the further breeding of this population of mixed blood is stopped once and for all." (Science)
1940 January 23 Vatican Radio broadcasts excerpts from Cardinal Hlond's January 6 report to the Pope. (See January 6)
1940 January 29 Ambassador Bergen reports to Berlin that the Papal Secretary of State has ordered the immediate cessation of all broadcasts about atrocities in Poland.
1940 January 31 By the end of January, the Germans have driven 78,000 Jews out of their homes in Poland. (Atlas)
1940 February Fritz Thyssen is stripped of his German nationality and all of his large industrial holdings are confiscated.
1940 February 5 The British and French Supreme War Council decides to intervene in Norway and to send help to Finland. The pretext of helping Finland is primarily intended to prevent Swedish iron ore from reaching Germany.
1940 February 6 German Jews lose their eligibility for clothing coupons. (Persecution)
1940 February 11 The Germans and Soviets sign a further trade and economic agreement.
1940 February 12 The first deportations of German Jews take place. (Goebbels)
1940 February 14 Britain announces all that all British merchant ships in the North Sea will be armed.
1940 February 15 Germany announces that all armed British merchant ships will be treated as warships.
1940 February 16 The captain of the British destroyer Cossack under the direct orders of Churchill violates Norwegian neutrality and boards the German supply ship Altamark. After a short fight in which several German sailors are killed, Captain Philip Vian found 299 British sailors and merchant seaman in the ships's hold. They were prisoners of war being transported from the South Atlantic to Germany.
(Note: Norway protested the British attack, but their complaints were rebuffed. This incident along with reports of troop movements indicating a planned British invasion, sealed Norway's fate, as well as that of Denmark.) (Duffy)
1940 February 17 General Manstein outlines a new plan to Hitler for a rapid armored attack through the Ardennes Forest.
1940 February 19 Hitler receives a telegram informing him that the British have indeed captured Germany's invasion plans from the downed plane and learned of his offensive in the west. This information is said to have originated with the Duke of Windsor. (See January 10)
1940 February 21 Work begins on the German concentration camp at Auschwitz. (WWIIDBD)
1940 February 27 389 Jews are deported from Amsterdam to Buchenwald concentration camp. (Atlas)
1940 February At the end of February, the Soviets move their best troops into the battle in Finland, and the Finns began to give way to the sheer force of numbers.
1940 March The Soviet massacre 15,000 young Polish officers at Katyn in the Arctic. The killings will continue until April. Stalin blames the killings on the Germans.
1940 March The Russian invaders breach the Finns' defensive Mannerheim Line, and Finland is forced to relinquish strategic ports, a naval base, and airports.
1940 March 1-6 American Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles visits Hitler in Berlin.
1940 March 1 Hitler issues the final directive for the German invasion of Norway and Denmark.
1940 March 8 U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes has dinner with Archduke Otto von Habsburg (Hapsburg) and his brother Felix in Washington. Habsburg tells him that "Hitler had disclosed to a very confidential group, which included two Austrians, one of whom, is in the confidence of Otto, that his ultimate objective is the United States, after he has conquered Europe." Ickes writes in his diary the next day: "I am convinced that this is absolutely what Hitler would attempt to do." (Ickes)
1940 March 11 During a visit to Rome, Ribbentrop tells Pius XII that Hitler wants "to maintain their existing truce and, if possible, to expand it. In this respect Germany has made very considerable concessions. The Fuehrer has quashed no less than 7,000 indictments of Catholic clergymen." (Lewy)
1940 March 12 Russia and Finland sign a treaty of peace.
1940 March 18 Hitler meets with Mussolini at the Brenner Pass. Mussolini tells Hitler that he is ready to join Germany and its allies against Britain and France.
1940 March 20 Edouard Daladier is forced to resign as Premier of France; primarily for failing to aid Finland.
1940 March 21 Paul Reynaud forms a new French government.
1940 March 28 The British and French Supreme War Council decides to mine Norway's coastal waters and to invade Norway if the Germans interfere. The operation is scheduled to begin on April 5, but is later postponed to April 8.
1940 March 30 Japan establishes a puppet Chinese government in Nan-king
1940 March 31 One of Professor Fischer's assistants travels to the ghetto in Lodz to take photographs to be used for comparison with pictures in a book on Jewry in antiquity, which Fischer is planning. (Science)
1940 April 1 Hitler approves plans for the invasion of Norway.
1940 April 2 Hitler orders the invasion of Norway for April 9.
1940 April 3 Churchill resigns as Minister for the Coordination of Defense and is appointed to chair the Ministerial Defense Committee, significantly increasing his responsibilities, even though he had not been success in his previous post. One of his first acts is to obtain consent for the mining of the Norwegian Leads. (WWIIDBD)
1940 April 5 Britain and France notify Norway that they reserve the right to deprive Germany of Norway's resources.
1940 April 7 German ships leave port for the invasion of Norway.
1940 April 7 The British Home Fleet leaves port for Norway.
1940 April 8 Britain informs Norway that it intends to intercept German ships in Norwegian waters. London fails to reveal to Oslo that it has ordered the Royal Navy to mine Norwegian territorial waters. (Duffy)
1940 April 9 Germany invades Denmark and Norway. The German invasion of Norway beats the Franco-British invasion by only twelve hours. During the next several days Norwegian shore batteries and warhips sink three German cruisers (including the 10,000 ton Blucher), 10 destroyers and 11 troop transports. A battleship and three more cruisers are damaged so badly they have to be pulled out of service.
1940 April 9 A German parachute battalion, the first to be used in war, captures the airfield at Oslo, while transport planes drop more troops and guns.
1940 April 9 Copenhagen, Denmark, is taken by two German divisions in less than 12 hours, and the Germans begin a policy of cooperation and negotiation with the Danish government.
1940 April 9 The Danish-German Agreement is signed, resulting in Denmark's Jews being left unmolested for a time.
1940 April 10 A major naval battle takes place off Narvik.
1940 April 10 The Norwegian government and Royal family leave Oslo. Vidkun Quisling and his National Union Party seize power.
1940 April 13 Another major naval battle takes place off Narvik.
1940 April 14 The British several make small landings in Norway.
1940 April 15 Quisling is forced out by the Germans and replaced temporarily by Ingolf Christensen as the head of a German controlled puppet government.
1940 April 29 King Hakkon of Norway and his government are evacuated from Molde by the British, taking with them the national gold reserves.
1940 May 1 The Lodz ghetto, containing 160,000 Jews, is sealed off from the outside world.
1940 May 4 U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes writes in his secret diary, "Chamberlain appears to be facing a political test in Great Britain. Practically from the beginning of his premiership I have regarded him as the evil genius not only of Britain but of Western civilization. His diplomatic policy has been blundering and inept. Hitler always out-smarted him until Germany was strengthened to that point where it could go to war with confidence of a victorious result." (Ickes)
1940 May 6 Horia Sima, a young Romanian Legionary (Iron Guard) leader leaves Berlin with a group of comrades and secretly enters Romania.
1940 May 7-8 A major debate on the conduct of the war and especially the Norwegian campaign takes place in the British House of Commons. After the votes are tallied, Chamberlain's government has a majority of 281 to 200, but this is said to be insufficient to allow the government to continue claiming to be representative.
1940 May 8 Neville Chamberlain resigns as prime minister and chooses Winston Churchill to replace him. This is the first time in British history that a British prime minister has been allowed to choose his own successor. Chamberlain stays on in Churchill's cabinet. (Horace Wilson, a shadowly figure who served as Chamberlain's chief advisor, returns to obscurity.)
1940 May 9 Hitler slips out of Berlin and travels to an improvised headquarters called Felsennest near Münstereifel on the Western front. (Architect)
1940 May 10 Germany invades France and the Low Countries of Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg. Counting the ten divisions of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), the Belgian army, and the French army, the Germans are outnumbered and outgunned. Both the Dutch and Belgians fight back after receiving the brunt of the opening offensives. The Dutch mine bridges, block roads, and flood wide areas. Luxembourg, with no defensive forces, is occupied with only scattered civilian resistance. The German code word for the general attack is "Danzig." (Architect)
1940 May 10 Churchill officially takes office as Prime Minister.
1940 May 11 Great Britain begins bombing the civilian population in Germany. (Sturdza)
1940 May 13 Churchill speaks in Parliament telling Britons that he has nothing to offer but "blood, toil, tears, and sweat" in the relentless fight against Nazi Germany. In this and many subsequent addresses, Churchill helps rally his country against what he describes as a mortal threat to world civilization.
1940 May 13 The Germans establish a bridgehead at Sedan, long considered the gateway to France.
1940 May 13 The Dutch government and Queen Wilhelmina flee to England.
1940 May 14 Rotterdam is heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe.
1940 May 15 Holland surrenders to the Germans at 11AM.
1940 May 15 British Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding convinces the War Cabinet not to send any more RAF fighter aircraft to France. The decision is also made to send a strategic bombing raid against the Ruhr.
1940 May 15 Churchill begins sending a long series of telegrams to President Roosevelt asking for American aid. In his first message, which he signs as "Former Naval Person," Churchill presents a long list of requests for destroyers, aircraft and other arms.
1940 May 16 Hitler's German blitzkrieg is unleashed on northern France. German mechanized forces outflanked the Maginot Line, surprising the Allies by attacking through the rugged Ardennes Forest rather than the Belgian plain as expected.
1940 May 16 Goering's special train is parked at a railroad siding near the French border. He will direct the air war against France from this location. (Duffy)
1940 May 16 The first deportations of German Gypsies begins. Chosen for the first roundup are some 2,800 men, women, and children living in and around cities in western and northwestern Germany. Their ultimate destination is Poland. No more deportations of Gypsies will occur until late 1941. (Apparatus)
1940 May 17 Brussels is occupied by the Germans.
1940 May 17 General Halder writes in his diary, "The Führer is terribly nervous. He is frightened by his own success, is unwilling to take any risks and is trying to hold us back." (Payne)
1940 May 17-18 Hitler names Arthur Seyss-Inquart as chief executive of the Netherlands. His first order is to arrest all German refugees who had come to the Netherlands since 1933. After 10 days in a concentration camp, most are transported to Poland. (Architect)
1940 May 18 Tyler Kent, a clerk in the U.S. Embassy in London with access to correspondence between Churchill and Roosevelt, is arrested and has his diplomatic immunity waived by the U.S. ambassador. Allegedly, he had passed along this information to members of the Right Club, a pro-Fascist organization, which forwarded it to Germany through Italian diplomats.
1940 May 19 Horia Sima is arrested in Romania.
1940 May 20 German units capture the French cities of Amiens and Abbeville. Advance forces reach the coast at Noyelles, threatening to cut off the British and French forces to the north and east.
1940 May 21 The first German troops reach the Atlantic coast at the port of Abbeville. France is now count in two, with a large portion of its army and the BEF, which is actually almost the entire British army, cut off and surrounded.
1940 May 21 Admiral Raeder mentions to Hitler for the first time that it may be necessary to invade Britain. Hitler shows so little interest that the subject is not addressed at their next meeting on June 4. (Duffy)
1940 May 22 Churchill meets with the French in Paris to discuss an Allied offensive. In Britain, Parliament passes an Emergency Powers Act giving the government broad powers over British citizens and their property.
1940 May 23 Sir Oswald Mosley, the former leader of the British Union of Fascists, is arrested. Also arrested is Captain Ramsay, a member of Parliament, who has connections with the Right Club. (See May 18)
1940 May 23 British generals begin considering an evacuation by sea from the channel ports.
1940 May 23 Goering telephones Hitler and tells him it would be a political mistake to allow the German generals to destroy the Allied army at Dunkirk. Many of the generals were suspected of being unfriendly to the Nazi Party, Goering said, while the Luftwaffe was a true National Socialist fighting force. Goering then promised Hitler the Luftwaffe would wipe out the enemy troops at Dunkirk and have its "finest hour." (Duffy)
1940 May 24 British destroyers evacuate 5,000 men from the port of Boulogne.
1940 May 24 French leaders begin to admit that the war is lost.
1940 May 24 By morning, three panzer divisions and two motorized infantry divisions are within 15 miles of Dunkirk. Hitler orders the halt of Rundstedt's armored forces. Whether Hitler actually ordered the halt or merely approved Rundstedt's request is still a matter of controversy.
(Note: Earlier that same day Hitler had visited Rundstedt's headquarters and expressed his desire to come to term with the British. Rundstedt told him he wanted to temporarily stop the advance to regroup and prepare for what he saw as the more important task, the turn south and the conquest of the rest of France. On returning to his mountaintop headquarters, Hitler issued a stream of orders halting the advance of every unit now moving toward Dunkirk.) (Duffy)
(Note: After the war, Rundstedt blamed Hitler alone for the halt, telling an interrogator, "At that moment (with panzers less than 20 miles from Dunkirk) a sudden telephone call came from Colonel von Grieffenberg at OKH (Army High Command), saying that Kleist's forces were to halt on the line of the (Aa) canal. It was the Fuehrer's direct order -- and contrary to General Halder's view. I questioned it in a message of protest, but received a curt telegram in relpy, saying, "The armored divisions are to remain at medium artillery range from Dunkirk" (a distance of eight or nine miles). Permission is only granted for reconnaissance and protective movements." (Hart)
1940 May 24 General von Kleist disobeys orders and crosses the Aa Canal. His forces enter the town of Hazelbrouck, cuts the British and French lines of retreat from Belgium to Dunkirk, and barely misses capturing the commander of the BEF, General Lord Gort. Kleist was told in emphatic terms to return to the opposite side of the canal, which he did. (Duffy)
1940 May 25 King Leopold of the Belgians surrenders.
1940 May 26 The British issue orders for Operation Dynamo, the evacuation from Dunkirk.
1940 May 27 The British and French begin evacuating Dunkirk. The French, after learning of the scope of the operation, feel they are being abandoned.
1940 May 28 The evacuation at Dunkirk picks up momentum.
1940 May 28 Belgium surrenders to the Germans. King Leopold orders his troops to cease all resistance and lay down their arms in unconditional surrender.
1940 May 28 British and French troops succeed in seizing Narvik, Norway, after a month-long battle.
1940 May 29 Arthur Seyss-Inquart takes office as Reich Commissioner for Holland.
1940 May 29 The French begin allowing their troops to be evacuated from Dunkirk, even sending several ships of their own to assist.
1940 May 30 German panzer forces begin to withdraw from the line at Dunkirk and move to take up positions further to the south. During the next three days, 185,000 men (more than half of the total number evacuated from Dunkirk) will escape.
1940 May 31 President Roosevelt introduces a "billion-dollar defense program" to boost U.S. military strength.
1940 May Karl Maria Weisthor (Wiligut) moves to Goslar, which has figured so prominently in his vision of Germany's ancient past. He and his housekeeper reside at the Wederhof until 1943 when they move to a small SS guesthouse on the Worthersee in Carinthia. They spent the rest of the war in Austria. (Mund; Roots)
(Note: Ernst Junger had lived in Goslar from 1933 to 1936)
1940 June A paper by Professor Lorenz, "Disturbances of species-specific behaviour caused by domestication," appears. He writes: "There is a certain similarity between the measures which need to be taken when we draw a broad biological analogy between bodies and malignant tumours, on the one hand, and a nation and individuals within it who have become asocial because of their defective constitution, on the other hand... Any attempt at reconstruction using elements which have lost their proper nature and characteristics is doomed to failure. Fortunately, the elimination of such elements is easier for the public health physician and less dangerous for the supra-individual organism, than such an operation by a surgeon would be for the individual organism." (Science)
1940 June 4 At 0340 (3:40AM), the last evacuation ship departs from Dunkirk, leaving 40,000 French stragglers to be captured by the Germans. Official figures state that 338,226 troops were evacuated, of which 112,000 were French. There were also Czechs, Poles and Belgians among those evacuated.
(Note: Churchill turned Dunkirk, which was in reality an unmitigated defeat for the British and French forces, into a propaganda victory to prevent the British people from learning the true extent of the disaster. More than 64,000 vehicles, tanks, and trucks, along with 500,000 tons of arms, ammunition and supplies were left behind. The Allies got away with virtually nothing but the shirts on their backs.) (Duffy)
1940 June 4 The Allies begin evacuating their troops in Norway.
1940 June 5 The Germans launch another offensive southward from the Somme in France.
1940 June 5 General de Gaulle is appointed French Undersecretary of War.
1940 June 5 General Erhard Milch, Goering's deputy, inspects the beach at Dunkirk and rushes back to report to Goering, telling him that, "I recommend that this very day all our air units -- both the Second and Third Air Forces -- should be moved up the Channel coast, and that Britain should be invaded immediately. If we leave the British in peace for four weeks it will be too late." (Irving II)
1940 June 6 The Germans break the French line along the Somme between Amiens and the coast.
1940 June 7 French fighter planes bomb Berlin.
1940 June 7 The King of Norway leaves Tromso aboard the British cruiser Devonshire and is taken to England.
1940 June 9 The German conquest of Norway is completed and the Allies withdraw their remaining troops.
1940 June 9 The King of Norway and his government order all Norwegian forces to cease fighting at midnight.
1940 June 10 Italy declares war on Britain and France.
1940 June 10 Italian troops invade southern France. President Roosevelt describes Mussolini's invasion as a "stab in the back."
1940 June 10 French Prime Minister Reynaud appeals to President Roosevelt to intervene in the war in Europe.
1940 June 11 Cardinal Eugene Tisserant,a high official of the Vatican library, writes to Cardinal Suhard, Archbishop of Paris, that "our superiors do not want to understand the real nature of this conflict." Tisserant says he has pleaded with Pope Pius XII, without success, to issue an encyclical, but "I fear that history will reproach the Holy See with having practiced a policy of selfish convenience and not much else." (BA Koblenz; Lewy)
1940 June 11 Paris is declared an "open city." What remains of the French army retreats south of the Seine.
1940 June 11 Churchill returns to France and meets Reynaud at Briare. The British are determined not to allow the Germans to capture the French fleet and are prepared to use force against their ally.
1940 June 12 The Soviets issue an ultimatum to Lithuania demanding territory and the establishment of a new government.
1940 June 13 Roosevelt subverts the U.S. Neutrality Laws by having shipments of artillery and arms "sold" to a steel company and then "resold" to the British government. The first shipment leaves the U.S. on the S.S. Eastern Prince.
1940 June 13 In Romania, Horia Sima is liberated and granted an audience with King Carol.
1940 June 13 French Prime Minister Reynaud once again appeals to Roosevelt to intervene, again without success.
1940 June 14 General von Bock, commander of Army Group B, flies into the "open city" of Paris and stands at the Arc de Triomphe just in time to take the salute of the first combat troops into the city. It is a parade, not a battle, and the German army quickly occupies Paris. (Toland)
1940 June 14 The Vatican's semi-official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano announces it will no longer publish military reports. From this time on it will adhere to a strictly neutral line. (Lewy)
1940 June 14 Auschwitz is set up as a punishment camp for Polish political prisoners. 300 Jewish forced laborers are brought in to prepare the old barracks. (Atlas)
1940 June 15 Soviets troops occupy the Lithuanian cities of Vilna and Kaunas.
1940 June 15 Himmler names Oscar Dirlewanger as Obersturmfuhrer in the Waffen-SS, authorizing him to collect poachers from German prisons to serve as manhunters on Germany's eastern border. (Architect)
1940 June 16 A new government, controlled by the Soviets, is installed in Lithuania. Latvia and Estonia are also occupied.
1940 June 16 The French ask Britain to be released from its obligation not to make a separate peace. A British offer to establish a state of union between the two countries is rejected by the French. Paul Reynaud is forced to resign as Prime Minister and Marshal Philippe Petain is chosen to replace him. The French government requests an armistice and the Battle of France is over.
1940 June 17 The Petain Cabinet takes office and publicly announces it has asked Germany for an armistice.
1940 June 17 Churchill broadcasts a message declaring that the Battle of France is over and the Battle of Britain is about to begin, saying, "if the British Empire and Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say: This was their finest hour."
1940 June 17 French representatives in the U.S. allow the British to take up arms orders they have placed under the "Cash and Carry" rules.
1940 June 17 General Warlimont, Jodl's assistant at OKW, records that Hitler had not yet expressed interest in invading Britain. "Therefore even at this time, no preparatory work has been carried out at OKW. (Fleming II)
1940 June 18 General de Gaulle flees to London and attempts to rally the Free French resistance. De Gaulle issues a radio appeal for the French nation to resist and to continue the struggle.
1940 June 18 The RAF bombs Bremen and Hamburg.
1940 June 20 A new government, controlled by the Soviets, is installed in Estonia.
1940 June 20 The French delegation leaves for Compiegne to begin armistice negotiations with the Germans.
1940 June 20 Admiral Raeder again brings up the invasion of Britain. Again Hitler fails to respond. (Duffy)
1940 June 20 A new government, controlled by the Soviets, is installed in Latvia.
1940 June 22 France signs an armistice with Nazi Germany near Compiegne. As a touch of bitter irony, the Germans arrange for the signing to take place on the same spot and aboard the same railway car used by the French for the armistice of November 11, 1918.
1940 June 23 Hitler makes a brief tour of occupied Paris.
1940 June 23 Pierre Laval is appointed Deputy Premier by Petain. General Weygand cashiers General de Gaulle.
1940 June 24 An armistice is concluded between France and Italy.
1940 June 24 Reinhard Heydrich writes to Ribbentrop, reminding him that in January 1939 Goering had entrusted him (Heydrich) with authority over Jewish emigration. Since there were now 3.5 million Jews under German control, emigration could no longer provide a solution: "a territorial final solution is therefore necessary." (Architect)
1940 June 25 The Franco-German armistice takes effect. Two-thirds of France now comes under Nazi control.
1940 June 25 Increased income taxes are introduced in the U.S. to pay for Roosevelt's armament expenditures and bring in an additional 2.2 million people who never before had been required to pay income taxes.
1940 June 25 A new Romanian government is set up in Bucharest and several Legionaries are given appointments to minor positions.
1940 June 25 General Hans Jeschonnek, chief of the German air staff, is asked by the OKW to help prepare invasion plans for Britain. He refuses, telling them, "There won't be any invasion, and I have no time to waste on planning one." (Irving III)
1940 June 26 The Soviets issue an ultimatum to Romania to evacuate Bessarabia within four days. King Carol complies. The Soviets, coveting Romania's substantial oil resources,seize Bessarabia and part of Bucovina.
1940 Raczkiewicz moves the Polish government-in-exile from France to London after the defeat of France.
1940 June 28 General Charles de Gaulle is recognized by Britain as the "Leader of All Free Frenchmen."
1940 June 30 The Germans begin occupying the British Channel Islands.
1940 Summer The Kreisau Circle, an anti-Nazi group led by Count Helmuth von Moltke, is founded to discuss the political, economic and spiritual foundations of Germany that would arise after the downfall of Hitler. Jesuits Augustinus Rösch and Alfred Delp are both active members. (Lewy)
1940 Summer Fritz Thyssen is arrested by the Germans in France and is later sent to a concentration camp. He will not be liberated until 1945. Meanwhile, his book, I Paid Hitler, is published in America.
1940 July Hitler, hoping that Britain would now accept German control of the Continent, again seeks peace. Again, Britain shuns his overtures. (Grolier)
1940 July Professor Lenz expresses his views on "euthanasia" in writing: "Detailed discussion of so-called euthanasia... can easily lead to confusion about whether or not we are really dealing with a matter which affects the safeguarding of our hereditary endowment. I should like to prevent any such discussion. For, in fact, this matter is a purely humanitarian problem."
(Note: Between 1939 and 1941, Professor Lenz had proposed the following formulation for Article 2.1 of the proposed law on euthanasia "The life of a patient, who otherwise would need lifelong care, may be ended by medical measures of which he remains unaware.") (Science)
1940 July German-Jewish mental patients are murdered in the Brandenburg extermination institute. (Days)
1940 July 1 Roosevelt signs another Navy bill providing $550 million dollars to build ships and other projects.
1940 July 1 Hitler tells Italian Ambassador Dino Alfieri that he "could not concieve of anyone in England still seriously believing in victory." Hitler was still waiting for word that the British were willing to settle. (Shirer I)
1940 July 2 The German High Command issues an order entitled "The War Against England." Goering gives instructions for an air blockade and attacks on British shipping.
1940 July 3 A British task force under Admiral Somerville makes an attack on a large part of the French fleet at Oran, Algeria, to ensure that it will not fall into Axis hands. Unlike other French fleets, it had refused to submit to seizure by the British after the fall of France. More than 1,000 French sailors are killed and the battleship Befragne is sunk. Many French saw this as a perfidious act that killed more French sailors in a single day than the Germans had killed since the war began. (Duffy)
(Note: This combined with the fact that the Germans had discovered records from the Allied Supreme War Command in Paris indicating that the British air staff intended to use its newly developed long-range bombers to destroy the Ruhr industrial complex, home to 60% of German industry, convinced Hitler that Britain intended to stay in the war, no matter what.) (Duffy)
1940 July 3 Horia Sima agrees to participate in a new Romanian Government.
1940 July 4 A new Romanian Cabinet is formed with Gigurtu as prime minister and Manoilescu as foreign minister.
1940 July 5 Marshal Petain's Vichy government breaks off relations with Britain because of the attacks against the French navy at Oran and the seizure of many of its ships at Plymouth and Portsmouth.
1940 July 5 Romania adheres to the Axis system. It's policies are clearly pro-German and antisemitic.
1940 July 6 The first successful escape from Auschwitz is followed by a punitive 20-hour roll-call. (Atlas)
1940 July 7 Horia Sima resigns for the Romanian Cabinet after realizing, he says, just how cowardly King Carol is in dealing with the Soviets. (Sturdza)
1940 July 8 Hitler accepts Hans Frank's proposal that the Government General formally become part of the German Reich. (Architect)
1940 July 8 General de Gaulle criticizes the numerous British attacks on French ships during the past week.
1940 July 10 The German Ambassador in Lisbon informs Berlin that the Duke of Windsor believes that the bombing of England would help bring about a negotiated peace with Germany.
1940 July 10 The Battle of Britain, the first great air battle in history, begins. Several actions take over the channel and 70 German planes raid dock targets in South Wales. (WWIIDBD)
1940 July 10 The French National Assembly, dazed by defeat and maneuvered by Vice-Premier Pierre Laval, meets in the resort town of Vichy and votes 569 to 80 to grant Premier Henri Philippe Petain full emergency and constitution-making power. (Vichy France attempts to consummate a "National Revolution" of a corporate nature -- eliminating divisive political party and class strife, encouraging family growth and cohesion, and favoring church and patriotic organizations. Under pressure from the Germans, antisemitic measures are gradually enacted and reluctantly enforced.)
1940 July 11 French President Lebrun resigns and MarshalPetain becomes head of state after an overwhelming vote of confidence in the Vichy Parliament.
1940 July 11-24 The Luftwaffe makes a seres of attacks against shipping in the English Channel. The Germans lose a total of 93 aircraft, the British 48.
1940 July 13 Hitler issues Directive 15 on the air war with Britain. The offensive is to begin at full strength on August 5, with the intention of driving the RAF from the skies.
1940 July 14 Facilities using forced (slave) labor in the production of synthetic rubber and gasoline begin operation at Auschwitz. (Chaitkin)
1940 July 15 Plebiscites conducted in Soviet occupied Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are announced, showing what is described as a unanimous desire for union with the USSR. Stalin soon annexes the three nations into the USSR as constituent republics.
1940 July 16 Hitler issues Directive #16 concerning the invasion of Great Britain. "I have decided to begin to prepare for, and if necessary to carry out, an invasion of England," Hitler says, stressing the importance of air superiority in this regard.
1940 July 19 Hitler creates twelve new German field marshals.
1940 July 19 In a speech in the Reichstag Hitler issues what he describes as "a final appeal to common sense," urging that Britain make peace.
1940 July 19 General Brooke replaces General Ironside as the Commander in Chief, of British Home Forces.
1940 July 19 Roosevelt signs the "Two-Ocean Navy Expansion Act," ordering construction of 1.3 million tons of new warships and 15,000 naval planes.
1940 July 21 Hitler tells the Military High Command that Germany must prepare to attack the Soviet Union.
1940 July 22 Lord Halifax, British Foreign Secretary, replies to Hitler's call for peace. Saying, "We shall not stop fighting till freedom for ourselves and others is secure."
1940 July 23 Hitler travels to Bayreuth to attend a performance of Wagner's Die Gotterdammerung. A week later he will issue orders for the invasion of Great Britain and a few days later plans are presented for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Albert Speer and a number of historians believe Wagner provided the inspiration for this crucial point in WWII. (Waite) (See August 1 and August 5)
1940 July 23 A Czechoslovakian provisional government is formed in London. Edouard Benes is recognized by the British as president.
1940 July 24 The Sacred Congregation of the Holy See in Rome rules that Catholic nurses in state-run hospitals may assist in sterilization operations if a sufficiently important reason is present. (Lewy)
1940 1940 July 25 The U.S. prohibits the export of oil and metal products in several categories except under license.This action is seen by many as anti-Japanese, because of Japan's need for foreign oil. From this time on, Japanese oil stocks begin to decline.
1940 July 29 German Jews are forbidden to have telephones in their homes. (Persecution)
1940 July-August Dr. Jaspersen of Bethel attempts to persuade the heads of departments of psychiatry in German universities to make a collective protest against euthanasia. These professors make no move. Professor Ewald remains an isolated protester. (Science)
1940 August The Luftwaffe begins mounting almost daily attacks on British ports, airfields, and industrial centers in southern England. Strict orders from Hitler forbid attacking civilian targets, especially London. (Duffy)
(Note: The Germans have a total force of 900 fighters, mostly Messerschmitt BF-109s, and 1,300 bombers. The RAF has much smaller forces, about 650 Hurricanes and Spitfires, but newly developed radar enables it to concentrate its defenses.) (Grolier)
1940 August Gross-Rosen concentration camp is established by the SS in Silesia.
1940 August Mussolini's troops overruns British Somaliland, defended only by a small British garrison. Mussolini has made no secret of his desire to construct a huge Mediterranean empire at the expense of Britain. His plan is to move one army northward from Italian East Africa and send a second army eastward into Egypt from Libya. He hopes to catch the British in an African vise and eliminate them from the Mediterranean.
1940 August 1 Hitler issues Directive #17 for the invasion of Britain.
1940 August 1 The Duke of Windsor and his wife depart Lisbon for the Bahamas aboard the steamship Excalibur. Windsor becomes Governor of the Bahamas.
1940 August 3 Horia Sima and other Legionaries have an audience with King Carol and tell him that only a Legionary government can save Romania from destruction by the Soviet Union.
1940 August 3 Hitler tells the new German ambassador to Paris, Otto Abetz, that he wants to resolve the Jewish problem for all of Europe and that he wants to force the conquered countries (and persuade Germany's allies) to send their Jewish citizens away, not to Madagascar, but to the United States. (Architect)
1940 August 5 The first operational plan for the German invasion of the Soviet Union is presented to General Halder, Chief of Staff of the Military High Command.
1940 August 8 The Luftwaffe attacks on England begin in earnest.
1940 August 11 Cardinal Bertram issues an official protest from the German bishops concerning the Euthanasia Decree to the Reich Chancellery. Such destruction of the innocent, he wrote, not only violated the Christian moral law, but offended against the moral sense of the German people and threatened to jeopardize the reputation of Germany in the world. (Lewy)
1940 August 12 The Luftwaffe launches a large-scale bombing attack on six British radar facilities. Radar had become important to the British because it enabled them to spot incoming bombers at great distances and alert the fighter squadrons to meet them. In this first surprise raid, five radar facilities were damaged and one destroyed. (Duffy)
1940 August 13 Goebbels issues orders to the Gauleiters to organize memorial ceremonies for fallen soldiers in order to overcome the influence and activities of the churches in this sphere. Until now, Goebbels said, certain restraints had had to be observed. Now, after the victorious conclusion of the war with France, the offensive could again be taken.
1940 August 13 Almost 1,500 German planes sweep across the English Channel and attack Britain. (Duffy)
1940 August 14 Bad weather reduces the number of German fighters attacking Britain to 500. (Duffy)
1940 August 15 By the end of the day, a total of 190 German planes had been lost in the last three days. The British have lost 115 in the same period. (Gilbert II)
1940 August 16 RAF Fighter Command has now fallen 209 pilots below "minimum acceptable strength." Life expectancy of a British fighter pilot is less than 87 flying hours. Exhaustion takes such a heavy toll on the survivors that many of them routinely fall asleep as they taxi their aircraft to a stop. It is not uncommon for ground crews to remove a sleeping pilot from his plane when he returns from combat. (Collier)
1940 August 17 The RAF bombs German armament plants at Leuna. A number of German civilians are again killed in the attack.
1940 August 18 Hitler tells Vidkun Quisling, "I now find myself forced against my will to fight this war against Britain. I find myself in the same position as Martin Luther, who had just as little desire to fight Rome but was left with no alternative." (Irving III; Duffy)
1940 August 20 Churchill pays tribute to the RAF, saying,"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
1940 August 20 Sugehara, the Japanese Consul at Kovno in eastern Russia, begins issuing transit visas to a few Polish and Lithuanian Jews, enabling them to cross the Trans-Siberian railway to Japan. He continues to issue visas to Jews until August 31. (Atlas)
1940 August 21 Leon Trotsky is assassinated by an agent of Stalin's secret police at his fortified villa near Mexico City. (Facts about the assassination are kept secret in the Soviet Union until January 1989)
1940 August 23-24 12 German bombers, unable to locate their targets during an unusual night attack, scatter their bombs aimlessly on South London despite strict orders from Hitler forbidding attacks on civilian targets, especially the city of London. Nine civilians are killed. In retaliation British bombers will attack Berlin several times during the following weeks. (WWIIDBD; Duffy)
1940 August 24-29 British bombing raids on the civilian population of Berlin cause negligible damage and slight loss of life in the German capital, but the loss of face greatly angers and embarrasses Hitler. (Duffy;Grolier)
1940 August 24 The Luftwaffe begins attacking further inland, seeking to destroy RAF bases and production centers.
1940 August 28 The Luftwaffe launches the first of a series of four air raids on Liverpool. About 160 aircraft are sent each night.
1940 August 30 The Arbitration of Vienna transfers half of Romanian Transylvania to Hungary, and part of the province of Dobruja to Bulgaria. Hitler had been concerned that these territorial disputes among the Balkan nations might give the Soviets an opportunity for further intervention.
1940 September President Roosevelt announces that the U.S. is not going to war and disbands the War Resources Board shortly before the election of 1940.
1940 September The first peacetime draft law in U.S. history calls for the registration of 17 million men.
1940 September German Army Bishop Rarkowski issues a pastoral letter to the armed forces saying, "The German people, who for one year now have been fighting against their detractors, have an untroubled conscience and know which nations before God and history are burdened with the responsibility for this gigantic struggle that is raging now. They also know who has wickedly provoked this war. They know that they themselves are fighting a just war, born of the necessity of national self-defense, out of the impossibility of solving peacefully a heavy and burdensome question of justice involving the very existence of the state and of correcting by other means a burning injustice inflicted upon us."
(Note: The average German soldier had no way of knowing whether Holland and Belgium had actually violated their neutrality, as alleged by the Nazi propagandists, and thus provoked the German attacks in May. Most took the word of their government and their priests.) (Lewy)
1940 September Between September 1940 and July 1941, the property of more than 100 monasteries is confiscated by the Germans and the monks and nuns expelled from their houses. (Neuhäusler; Lewy)
1940 September 1 Horia Sima broadcasts a demand for the abdication of Romania's King Carol.
1940 September 2 An agreement between the U.S. and Britain is ratified. The U.S. exchanges 50 old destroyers, veterans of WWI, for British bases in the West Indies and Bermuda. The first ship is taken over by a British crew on September 9.
1940 September 3 The operational orders for Operation Sealion, the invasion of Britain, are issued. S-Day is scheduled for September 21.
1940 September 3 The Legionary Revolution breaks out at 9AM in Romania. Fighting in Bucharest, Brasov and Constanta results in the death of nine Legionaries. Most public buildings are quickly occupied and the Palace is surrounded. General Coroama, Commander of the Bucharest Army Corps, refuses to order his troops to fire on the Legionaries. (Sturdza)
1940 September 4 Hitler warns that if the British continue to bomb Berlin, he will have no choice but to level their cities. (Payne; Duffy)
1940 September 5 RAF Fighter Command has lost 450 planes to date and is close to defeat. At this point, Hitler and Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering, infuriated by the British bombing raids (August 24-29) on Berlin, decide to concentrate their air attacks on London.
1940 September 5-6 King Carol of Romania abdicates in favor of his son, Prince Michael and leaves the country after passing part of his royal powers to Ion Antonescu. Hitler is said to have forced the king's abdication.
1940 September 5-6 In Berlin, Prince Michael Sturdza meets with Admiral Canaris and Ribbentrop.
1940 September 7 In the afternoon, 300 German bombers escorted by 600 fighters attack the London docks. This change in tactics surprises the RAF and the bombing is very effective. That night, 250 German bombers use the still blazing fires to guide in their attacks, and again, the damage is quite severe.
(Note: Once the initial surprise is over, and with its defense task somewhat simplified, the RAF soon begins to inflict heavy losses on the German bomber formations. For 57 nights London is attacked by an average force of 160 bombers. The RAF, employing the fast and maneuverable Spitfire fighter, and aided by radar, destroys 1,733 German aircraft, while losing 915 fighters.)
1940 September 9 About 200 well escorted German bombers make another raid on London. Intercepted by the RAF, many drop their bombs before reaching the target.
1940 September 13 Mussolini moves an army of Italians and North African troops across the Libyan border, establishing themselves about 60 miles inside Egypt.
1940 September 13 Himmler meets in Berlin with Viktor Brack, section chief in Hitler's Chancellery responsible for running the "euthanasia" program. After the war, Brack told American interrogators that the physical destruction of the Jews was already an "open secret" in high party circles, as early as 1940, although he had "in no case heard anything officially." (Architect)
1940 September 13 Italian troops from Ethiopia penetrate about 20 miles inside Kenya.
1940 September 14 A formal understanding between the Romanian Legionary Movement and General Ion Antonescu is sanctioned by King Michael and a National Legionary State is proclaimed. Ion Antonescu becomes President; Horia Sima, Vice President and Commandant of the Legionary Movement and Prince Michael Sturdza, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
1940 September 15 The climax of the Battle of Britain begins.
1940 September 17 General Paulus, Deputy Chief of the Army General Staff, presents a plan for a massive attack on the Soviet Union.
1940 September 25 Terboven, the Reich Commissioner of Norway, formally deposes the King and appoints Quisling to lead the new Norwegian government.
1940 September 26 President Roosevelt embargoes U.S. export of scrap iron and steel.
1940 September 27-28 Germany, Italy and Japan sign a 10-year military and economic alliance, the Tripartite Pact, also known as the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis. Hitler regards Japan as a buffer against the U.S.and a distraction for the USSR. Japan takes advantage of the situation and quickly occupies northern French Indochina (Vietnam).
1940 October By early October the Luftwaffe has switched entirely to night raids on London. By the end of the month, Hitler cancels his plan for the invasion of England and the Battle of Britain has been won.
1940 October Norwegian Jews are forbidden to continue in all academic or other professions by the Nazi authorities. Fortunately, there were none of the killings, beatings, forced labor and expulsions which had become daily events in occupied Poland. (Atlas)
1940 October A wall is built around the area of Warsaw designated by the Germans for a Jewish ghetto. Jews are forced not only to build the wall, but also to pay for it. The Warsaw ghetto becomes the largest ghetto established by the Germans in Poland. The section of the city chosen for the ghetto was already home to 280,000 Jews. (Atlas)
1940 October 4 A new law gives Vichy France the power to intern Jews even outside the Unoccupied Zone. (Atlas)
1940 October 6 Antonescu assumes command of the Iron Guard, strengthening his position in Romania.
1940 October 7 German troops enter Romania, supposedly to help reorganize its army. Hitler's main aim is to protect its oil fields. (Goebbels)
1940 October 7 The Germans order all Jews in occupied France to register immediately with its authorities.
1940 October 12 Operation Sea Lion, the planned German invasion of Britain, is abandoned by Hitler.
1940 October 22 The German government deports more than 15,000 German Jews from the Rhineland to several internment camps in France, at the foot of the Pyrenees. Conditions in the camps, result in the deaths of nearly 2,000 deportees. (Atlas)
1940 October 23 Hitler meets with Franco at Hendaye.
1940 October 24 Hitler meets General Petain at Montoire.
1940 October 27 290 Jews, old people, cripples and the mentally ill from the Old Peoples Home in Kalisz, Poland, are put in a truck, taken just outside of town to the woods at Winiary, and gassed inside the truck with exhaust fumes. All 290 are buried in the woods. (Atlas)
1940 October 28 Mussolini unexpectedly and without warning attacks Greece, sending 200,000 troops through Albania.
1940 October 28 A second escape from Auschwitz results in a rollcall from 12 noon to 9PM in bitter weather, during which 200 prisoners die. (Atlas)
1940 October 28 Himmler inspects Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Silesia. (Architect)
1940 November 5 President Roosevelt is re-elected for an unprecedented third term.
1940 November 6 Cardinal Faulhaber submits a letter of protest to Minister of Justice Gürtner. Faulhaber wrote that despite all attempts at secrecy, everyone now knew that large numbers of patients were being killed in the course of a compulsory euthanasia program. The killing of these innocent people, Faulhaber ended his letter, raised a moral issue which could not be ignored. (Lewy)
1940 November 9 Neville Chamberlain dies after a sudden illness.
1940 November 9 According to Goebbel's diary, Hitler's annual speech on the Day of National Solidarity (Blutzeuge) is "directed exclusively on the domestic population and finds little support." (Goebbels)
1940 November 11 The British Mediterranean Fleet attacks the Italian naval base at Taranto. British aircraft inflict heavy losses during the night on the Italian fleet.
1940 November 12 Molotov arrives more meetings in Berlin and begins making demands.
1940 November 12 Joseph Goebbels writes in his diary: "Long talks on vegetarianism and the coming religion with Hitler. The fuehrer is totally consistent in this question and has all the arguments at his disposal." (Goebbels)
1940 November 14 Romania's Legionary (Iron Guard) government asks Germany for two tank units, which are immediately sent by Hitler along with instructors to train their Romanian crews. Mussolini protests and suggests that Romania also should ask for Italian troops. Romanian declines.
1940 November 14 A German air raid damages much of Coventry, England.
1940 November 15 The Warsaw Ghetto officially comes into existence.
1940 November 16 The Warsaw ghetto is sealed. It's ten-foots walls and guarded gates enclose nearly half a million Jews. (Apparatus)
1940 November 16 The Greeks, with little mechanized equipment and an obsolete air force, turn back the Italian invaders and penetrate into Albania. Mussolini, expecting a speedy and overwhelming victory, is embarrassed by thefailure of the poorly planned invasion.
1940 November 19 King Leopold of the Belgians visits with Hitler.
1940 November 20 Antonescu and Sturdza arrive in Berlin.
1940 November 20 Hungarian Prime Minister Count Teleki and Foreign Minister Csaky in Vienna agree to bring Hungary into the Tripartite Pact.
1940 November 23 Antonescu not Sturdza signs the Tripartite Pact that brings Romania into the Axis Alliance. Hitler, at the same time, begins efforts to bring Bulgaria and Yugoslavia into the Axis orbit.
1940 November 24 Prime Minister Tuka of the German puppet state of Slovakia joins the Tripartite Pact powers in a meeting in Berlin. Antonescu departs Berlin.
1940 November 30 Romanian Foreign Minister Sturdza leaves Berlin.
1940 December General Petain replaces Vichy France's independent-minded Vice-Premier, Pierre Laval, with Admiral Jean Darlan.
1940 December Emanuel Ringelblum begins compiling a secret archive of Jewish life in the Warsaw ghetto.
1940 December 9 The British launch a surprise attack on the Italians in the western desert and begin a push to drive them from Egypt.
1940 December 10 The British capture Sidi Barrani. 20,000 prisoners have been taken so far in the Egyptian offensive.
1940 December 13 Hitler issues Directive #20 ordering additional planning and preparation for Operation Marita, the invasion of Greece.
1940 December 13 A small British force already in Libya cuts the road to Bardia, an important Italian position.
1940 December 15 Prince Michael Sturdza is forced to resign as Romanian Foreign Minister after a conflict with Antonescu.
1940 December 15 The British invade Italian Libya in force.
1940 December 17 President Roosevelt gives a press conference announcing a "Lend-Lease" Bill, proposing massive aid for Great Britain in its war against Germany. Many, including the Germans, view this as a clear violation of American neutrality.
1940 December 17 British troops occupy Fort Capuzzo, Sollum and three other Italian positions on the Egypt-Libyan border. Italian survivors retreat to Bardia fortress.
1940 December 18 Hitler issues Directive #21 for the invasion of the Soviet Union, code-named Operation Barbarossa. Hitler orders that everything must be concluded no later than May 15, 1941.
1940 December 20 New antisemitic laws are introduced in Bulgaria. Other measures against Freemasons and secret societies are also instituted. The Jewish population of Bulgaria at this time is about 50,000.
1940 December 22 New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia announces that in the preceding six months 238 arrests have been made in N.Y. for inflammatory and antisemitic street speeches as well as other disturbances.
1940 December 23 Lord Halifax becomes British ambassador to the U.S. Anthony Eden takes over as Foreign Secretary, and David Margesson, Secretary of War (Army Minister).
1940 December 27 The German raider Komet shells a phosphate plant on the island of Naru in the central Pacific while flying a Japanese flag.
1940 December 29 President Roosevelt, in one of his famous "fireside" chats, tells the American people that he wishes the United States to become the "arsenal of democracy" and to give full aid to Britain regardless of threatss from other countries. (WWIIDBD)
1940 Charlie Chaplin, in his first talking film, "The Great Dictator," plays both the "Little Tramp" and a figure modelled after Hitler.
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