The Soviet Union began evacuating the besieged city of Leningrad on January 22, 1942. Learn about this and the other important World War II events that occurred during the month of January 1942 below.
World War II Timeline: January 12-January 22
January 12: The Inter-Allied Conference meets in London and resolves to try Axis officials with war crimes at the end of the conflict.
January 13: The first 700 of 10,000 Polish Jews from the city of Lódz´ scheduled for "resettlement" are shipped to the newly established Chelmno death camp in Poland.
The Nazi Germans launch Operation Drum Roll, a U-boat offensive along the American East Coast.
January 14: American and British war planners, meeting in Washington, D.C., agree to focus on Adolf Hitler's defeat before turning their attention to Japanese domination in the Pacific.
Nearly 2,000 European companies with Axis interests are barred from doing business with any American entity, public or private.
The tanker Norness, flying Panamanian colors, is torpedoed off North Carolina's Cape Hatteras. It is the first ship attacked off the U.S. East Coast by a Nazi German U-boat.
January 20: At the Wannsee Conference in Berlin, the Nazis draw most German government agencies into the European portion of the "Final Solution" for the Jews. Reinhard Heydrich suggests that they should be worked to death, and those that don't succumb should be executed.
Facing a certain threat by Japan, Winston Churchill calls on British troops to defend Singapore "to the death."
January 21: Erwin Rommel shocks his British foes by directing his Afrika Korps in a tactical about-face. He launches an offensive in Libya that will see him regain lost territory almost immediately.
January 22: The Soviets begin the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from the besieged city of Leningrad.
World War II Headlines
Below are more highlights and images that outline the events of World War II in 1942, including Japan's victories after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Japan gathers a string of victories in the Southeast: Soon after Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces invaded Thailand and Malaya. Landings also took place in the Philippines, North Borneo, and the Dutch East Indies. On December 26, the fall of Hong Kong ended an 18-day Japanese onslaught. During January 1942, Manila and Kuala Lumpur were occupied and the Solomon Islands invaded. From February to April, the British stronghold of Singapore fell, and Japanese landings were made at Bali, Mindanao, and Dutch New Guinea.
Then, just as the overextended Japanese forces sought to consolidate their newly won territories, a series of U.S. victories from May to August -- in the Coral Sea, at Midway, and at Guadalcanal -- finally reversed the strategic situation.
The political cartoons of Dr. Seuss: A decade before he broke through as a famous children's book author, Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) created more than 400 political cartoons for the liberal New York tabloid PM during the war. Primary targets for his biting caricatures were Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, conservative politicians, and isolationists. Dr. Seuss also condemned anti-black and anti-Semitic beliefs, but he targeted all Japanese as potential enemies of America.
In cartoon pictured aboved, which appeared in PM on February 13, 1942, he expressed the fear that most of the Japanese Americans on the Pacific coast were potential saboteurs. His cartoons contributed to the hysteria that led to the internment of Japanese Americans in 1942.
Italy routed at Tobruk, Libya: In January 1942, the Italian garrison of Tobruk, Libya, fell to the Allied Western Desert Force. Some 25,000 prisoners, 208 guns, 23 tanks, 200 trucks, and a multiplicity of rations and supplies were captured -- as was a guaranteed source of fresh water. The British also acquired a major port vital to their logistic plans.
Meanwhile, the Italian navy suffered from defective operating concepts, underfunding, poor gunnery, and general mismanagement. Accordingly, the part-submerged remains of the Italian destroyer pictured above, sunk by the Royal Navy outside the harbor, symbolized the totality of the Italian defeat at Tobruk.
Nazi Germans freeze on Eastern Front: Nazi German soldiers huddle around a fire during their first winter in the Soviet Union in 1941-1942. Daytime temperatures were routinely -30ºF. Although Nazi German morale generally held up remarkably well, the Wehrmacht high command was unprepared for campaigning in the Soviet winter. Lubricants froze, and consequently vehicles and weapons refused to work. Many horses upon which the army -- especially the artillery units -- still depended died during the bitterly cold nights. Meanwhile, many infantry companies were quickly reduced to platoon strength due to their lack of winter clothing. The Red Army was much better prepared.
Australians ambush Japanese: Trapped in a defile, Japanese troops are cut down near the Gemencheh Bridge near Gemas, Malaya. On January 14, 1942, a company of Australians ambushed Japanese bicycle-mounted troops who were passing through a cutting that led to the bridge on the Sungei Gemencheh River. Despite inflicting heavy casualties in their first major confrontation with the Japanese, the Australians were eventually forced to withdraw. The Japanese Fifth Division lost an estimated 1,000 men in the ambush and subsequent fighting closer to Gemas. The Australian 2/30th Battalion suffered just 81 casualties.
Find a World War II timeline detailing the important events of January 1942 on the next page.