The horror of Nazi death camps continued as thousands were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz and other camps in November 1943. Here is a timeline of November 1943 World War II events.
World War II Timeline: November 9-November 19
November 9: General Charles de Gaulle is named president of the French Committee of National Liberation, the "Free French," in the wake of the resignation of General Henri Giraud.
November 11: Vichy police arrest 450 demonstrators in Grenoble, France, for rallying against the Nazis.
The Nazis running the Theresienstadt death camp torture some 47,000 Jews, forcing them to stand exposed for eight hours in a bitterly cold November rain.
November 12: Unaware of the Enigma breach, German admiral Karl Dönitz claims of the Allies: "He knows all our secrets."
Japanese bases in the Marshall and Gilbert islands come under heavy air assault by Allied planes. The attacks will continue on a daily basis.
November 14: A friendly-fired torpedo narrowly misses striking the battleship USS Iowa. President Franklin Roosevelt, en route to the Tehran Conference, is on board.
November 15: Effective immediately, all Gypsies in Nazi Germany are to be deported to death camps on the order of SS chief Heinrich Himmler.
The Nazis attempt to put a lid on sabotage by the nascent Italian resistance by taking some 2,000 of Milan's industrial workers hostage.
November 16: The Nazis round up another 2,000 Jews in the Netherlands and send them to Auschwitz.
The Germans effectively abandon their atomic bomb-building ambitions when the Allies launch another raid on the Vemork, Norway, heavy-water plant.
November 19: The Fog Investigation Dispersal Operation (FIDO) is employed for the first time by British Royal Air Force (RAF) officials hoping to enable landings in heavy British fog.
World War II Headlines
These headlines and photos detail Soviet Union POW camps, the fighting at Tarawa, and more World War II news from 1943.
The Soviet Union's Red Air Force superior to Luftwaffe: Soviet Union pilot Victor Radkevich animatedly tells fellow fliers of his triumph over a German plane. On the first day of the 1941 German invasion of Russia, the Luftwaffe destroyed more than 1,000 largely outmoded Russian military aircraft -- about 800 of them still on the ground. The next year, the Soviets began a huge buildup of air forces. Instead of British- and American-style long-range bombings intended to destroy enemy infrastructure and morale, the Red Air Force focused on supporting ground forces against the German invaders. By late 1943, the Soviets had achieved clear air superiority over the Luftwaffe.
German POWs face likely death at Soviet Union POW camps: Captured German troops were transferred to Soviet Union POW camps, many of which were in Siberia. In the camps, the prisoners received a harsh education in communism, and many died from overwork and malnutrition. Of the approximately 90,000 exhausted and starving German soldiers captured at the end of the fighting at Stalingrad, fewer than 6,000 returned to their homes.
Self-propelled (SP) guns destroy tanks and more: SP guns, such as this U.S. Army 105mm howitzer, were guns mounted on tracked, turret- less chassis that provided speedy, mobile fire support as required. Among the Western Allies, the U.S. led the development of SP guns and -- for SP guns used in the anti-armor role -- "tank destroyers." However, while the Anglo-U.S. forces generally utilized their SP guns as a more maneuverable form of conventional indirect-fire artillery, the German and Russian armies used SP guns primarily as direct-fire weapons -- literally as "assault guns" -- providing close support for infantry engaged in offensive operations.
Bosnian Muslims support the Nazis: In March 1942, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, said in a radio broadcast, "If, God forbid, America and her allies are victorious in this war . . . then the world will become hell." Al-Husseini helped recruit Bosnian Muslims into the Waffen-SS with assurances that Allah would never allow the Allies to win. Bosnian SS members and their German officers wore fez hats bearing the Nazi eagle.
Tehran Conference held in Iran: Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill, The Big Three, met only twice during the war. The first time was in Tehran, Iran, from November 28 to December 1, 1943. For more than a year, Stalin had demanded the invasion of France to force Nazi Germany to shift resources to the West. In Tehran, Roosevelt and Churchill announced their decision to invade France in May 1944. Stalin agreed to simultaneously mount an aggressive offensive in the East. He also pressured his allies to accept some of his demands, including Soviet possession of the eastern part of postwar Poland and his veto on the plan to divide postwar Germany into five autonomous states. It also was determined that the Soviets would join the fight against Japan after Nazi Germany was defeated.
U.S. seizes Kwajalein, Roi-Namur in the Pacific: Hit by antiaircraft fire, a Japanese torpedo bomber explodes during an attack off Kwajalein Island. The U.S. assaults on Kwajalein and nearby Roi-Namur, deep in the Marshall Islands chain, in February 1944 surprised the Japanese, who had committed more defensive effort to the outermost islands. The Fourth Marine Division seized Roi-Namur in two days, and the Seventh Infantry Division took Kwajalein in four days. U.S. casualties were relatively light. Capture of the island air bases deprived the Japanese of a defensive shield and opened the way to the Carolines and Marianas, which were the true strategic springboards for any assault on Japan.
Japan defends Tarawa Atoll: Draped with hand grenades and ammunition, a Marine pauses to drink from his canteen on December 6, 1943, during the fight for Tarawa. The Second Marine Division had fought in the Solomons, but the amphibious assault on tiny, heavily defended Tarawa was a new experience. Japanese rear admiral Shibasaki Keiji boasted that "a million Americans couldn't take Tarawa in a hundred years." Defenses included barbed wire, mines, tetrahedrons, nearly 500 pillboxes, light tanks, heavy machine guns, and eight-inch naval rifles. Thanks to the stubborn courage of individual Marines, Shibasaki was proven wrong, but the cost was high. More than 1,000 Americans were killed or went missing.
U.S. Marines shot down by the hundreds on Tarawa Atoll: Dead Marines litter the beach following the 76-hour battle for Betio (at the southwest corner of Tarawa Atoll) and its strategically important airstrip. As the first large-scale test of U.S. amphibious doctrine against a strongly fortified enemy beach, the Tarawa assault was a costly learning experience. Preceded by an inadequate bombardment, hampered by a disastrously low tide, and lacking sufficient tracked vehicles to negotiate Betio's wide reef, Marines were shot down by the hundreds as they waded toward the heavily defended landing beaches. "It was a time of utmost savagery," wrote a witness. "I still don't know how they took the place."
Japanese troops choose suicide over surrender: Trapped in their bunker on Tarawa, two Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops chose suicide over surrender. U.S. Marines would become accustomed to such tenacity in their march through the central Pacific. Typical of what was to come on Saipan, Guam, and Iwo Jima, the enemy garrison at Tarawa fought almost to the last man. Of the approximately 5,000 enemy personnel on Betio, 4,690 were killed. Of the 146 prisoners taken by U.S. Marines, virtually all were conscripted Korean laborers. Only 17 Japanese -- all wounded -- were captured.
U.S. Admiral Raymond Spruance: low-key but successful: Admiral Raymond Spruance led Task Force 16 with its two aircraft carriers at Midway in June 1942, playing a key role in that decisive engagement. As commander of the Fifth Fleet, he subsequently directed the operations to seize the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. He also commanded the force that defeated the Japanese carrier fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944. Spruance succeeded Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz as commander of the Pacific Fleet in late 1945. Described by historian Samuel Eliot Morison as "one of the greatest fighting and thinking admirals in American naval history," Spruance shunned publicity and never received much popular acclaim.
By the end of November 1943, the Allies had conquered Tarawa. The next section's timeline summarizes this and other events of that month.
For more timelines and information on World War II events, see: