On April 15, 1942, the newest Nazi extermination camp in Poland, Sobibór, opened its gates. Learn about this and the other important World War II events that occurred during the month of April 1942 below.
World War II Timeline: April 14-April 29
With Japanese forces closing in, British troops torch Burma's Yenangyaung oil fields to keep them out of Axis hands.
April 15: Sobibór, the newest Nazi extermination camp in Poland, opens its gates.
In an effort to minimize textile-industry labor, Britain bans the manufacture of lace on women's underwear, effective June 1.
April 16: Nazi German field marshal Gerd von Rundstedt is appointed commander-in-chief of the Atlantic Wall defenses.
Britain presents the strategically critical island of Malta with the George Cross, a medal given for valiant service to the Empire.
April 18: Japan is blindsided by a carrier-based bombing raid on Tokyo by 16 B-25 bombers from the USS Hornet.
April 20: The Luftwaffe destroys 30 Spitfire planes on the island of Malta.
April 21: General Henri Giraud, captured by the Nazis when they occupied his native France, makes a daring escape to Allied territory.
April 24: Nazi German authorities issue a decree prohibiting Jews from using public transportation of any kind.
April 26: Adolf Hitler is empowered to act outside the laws of the Reich in dealing with his subjects when the Reichstag confers on him the ultimate title of "supreme justice," among others.
April 29: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini meet to decide how to address internecine border bickering between Hungary and Romania.
Nazi saboteurs are suspected when an explosion in a Belgian chemical plant claims some 250 lives.
A critical link to China is lost when Japan's capture of Lashio, Burma, closes the Burma Road.
World War II Headlines
Below are more details that outline the events of World War II, such as the deportation of Jews to extermination camps.
Allies deliver tanks to Soviets: When Germany sent its powerful army against the USSR in June 1941, the Soviet Union dismantled and moved some of its arms factories away from highly endangered areas. That disrupted production, and by fall the nation was in urgent need of tanks and aircraft. Britain and the U.S. began supplying Russia with 400 tanks and 500 aircraft per month -- numbers that would rise as the war progressed.
English pianist Myra Hess keeps the music playing: When Nazi German air raids closed down British concert halls, internationally renowned English pianist Myra Hess organized hundreds of musicians to play lunchtime concerts at London's National Gallery. Even while bombs fell on London, Hess herself gave hugely popular performances of German composers, not merely defying Nazi violence but reminding audiences of the humanity of German culture. For her patriotic efforts, Hess was honored with the title Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) in 1941.
Jews deported to death camps: In spring 1942, trains began transporting Jews from ghettos in Germany and its occupied nations to camps. Here, Jews board trains for deportation from the ghetto in Lódz´, Poland, to the Chelmno extermination camp in Poland in April 1942. On July 19, Heinrich Himmler accelerated the program, ordering that all Jews be "resettled" by the end of 1942 -- although the deportations would extend far beyond his deadline. In all, some 3,000 trains moved about three million people. Since this was only about 15 percent of the total trains that the Reich operated each day, the economic effect on Nazi Germany was manageable during the early years of the Holocaust.
Nazi Germans prepare boys for war: Wenn die Soldaten durch die Stadt marschieren (When the Soldiers March Through Town) was a hugely popular 1942 book of verses and pictures that portrayed children enraptured by Nazi German soldiers. The Nazi regime did more than merely romanticize the military in children's eyes. Starting in 1936, preparation for military service became mandatory for boys. If he was deemed sufficiently fit and racially pure, a 10-year-old boy began his training and indoctrination in the Deutsches Jungvolk (German Youth). He then graduated to the paramilitary organization Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) at age 14.
Americans committed to stopping Adolf Hitler: After the Nazi German declaration of war on the United States in December 1941, Americans committed themselves to stopping the spread of Nazi evil in Europe. Rallies such as the one in New York's Times Square on Adolf Hitler's birthday, April 20, 1942, expressed American sympathies and also boosted the sale of War Bonds, which helped finance the war effort on both fronts.
Continue on to the next page for details on the major events of late April and early May 1942.