World War II Timeline: September 23, 1941-October 3, 1941
On October 3, 1941, Adolf Hitler claimed that the Soviet Union is "broken and will never rise again." Learn about this and other major World War II events in the timeline below.
World War II Timeline: September 23-October 3
September 23: Nazis murder the residents of the village of Krasnaya Gora in retaliation for the killing of three Nazi German soldiers by Soviet resistance fighters.
September 24: Nazi German U-boats enter the Mediterranean for the first time, via the Strait of Gibraltar.
September 27: The United States launches the Patrick Henry, the first of more than 2,700 so-called Liberty ships. These are relatively inexpensive, quickly constructed merchant ships used to ferry war material from the United States to Europe.
About 100,000 Japanese troops are trapped when 11 Chinese divisions cut their escape route, turning the tide in the battle for Changsha, China.
September 28-30: In the largest Nazi German mass murder of the war, 34,000 Russian Jews are ordered to the outskirts of Kiev by a resettlement order, corralled, marched to the edge of the Babi Yar ravine, and shot.
September 29: Adolf Hitler issues a directive ordering Leningrad razed to the ground. He claims that the welfare of the city's three million residents is a problem that cannot be solved.
October 1: More than 3,000 Jewish residents of Vilna, Lithuania, are murdered by Nazi occupation forces.
October 2: Adolf Hitler launches Operation Typhoon, a plan to send the Wehrmacht into the Soviet capital of Moscow.
With most of the Jews of Paris either dead or deported, the Nazi Gestapo turns its eye toward the destruction of synagogues.
October 3: In a brash and, it will soon become apparent, premature speech delivered at the Berlin Sportpalast, Adolf Hitler claims that the Soviet Union is "broken and will never rise again."
World War II Headlines
The headlines below provide details of some of other major events of World War II that took place in 1941.
Ernst Udet blamed for Luftwaffe's failings: Ernst Udet was a gifted pilot, talented aircraft designer, and World War I flying ace for Germany (rated second only to Baron Manfred von Richthofen). In 1936 he became chief of the Technical Office of the Air Ministry and inspector-general of aircraft design, production, and inspection.
However, his preoccupation with developing fighters, dive-bombers, and light bombers reduced the Luftwaffe's effective heavy bomber capability. Both Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring blamed Udet for the Luftwaffe's defeat in the Battle of Britain, and its later inability to combine effective defense against RAF bombers with full support for the Nazi German forces on the Eastern Front and in North Africa. Consequently, in a fit of depression, Udet committed suicide in November 1941.
Soviet citizens and industry relocate into the hinterland: Operation Barbarossa gave the Nazi Germans control of 60 percent of the existing Soviet armaments industry and up to 74 percent of its strategic resources and energy output. The Soviets needed to relocate much of their population and industry into the hinterland. More than 10 million people were evacuated or fled as refugees. In addition, 2,000-plus industrial plants were eventually reestablished in the Urals, Siberia, Kazakhstan, and other portions of Central Asia. By late 1944, Soviet armaments production had more than doubled.
Nazi Hans Frank's rule of terror in Poland: A Nazi Party member from the outset -- he took part in the 1923 Munich Beer Hall Putsch as a Stormtrooper -- Hans Frank rose to become leader of the NSDAP legal division. He later became Bavarian minister of justice and also held other important ministerial posts.
As governor-general of occupied Poland from 1939 to 1945, he sought to destroy that country's national identity while using its natural resources, agriculture, industry, and manpower for the exclusive benefit of Germany. Frank's rule of Poland was characterized by terror, coercion, and the extermination of Poland's Jews. He was tried and hanged at Nuremberg in 1946.
Misery and death in Poland's Warsaw Ghetto: In Poland's Warsaw Ghetto, starving children were often reduced to begging and sometimes abandoned to die on the streets. The Nazis allowed very meager food rations and no medical supplies to the Jews whom they imprisoned inside the ghetto walls. In some cases, small, emaciated children squeezed through drainage gutters at night to scrounge in nearby neighborhoods for food and medicines. At the risk of their own lives, some non-Jewish Poles helped supply them. By July 1942, more than 100,000 Warsaw Ghetto Jews had died from hunger and epidemic diseases.
Standby of Nazi German infantry: In 1939 the Mauser 7.92mm Kar98K was the standard rifle of the Nazi German armed forces. Robust, accurate, and reliable, it was used extensively throughout the war. In 1941 the updated Mauser Gewehr 98/40 (pictured above with a sniper scope) entered service, and remained the German infantryman's standard weapon until the end of the war. A shorter, folding-stock carbine version, the Gewehr 33/40, was produced for parachute troops.
All of the Type 98s were bolt-operated and had a five-round box magazine. A bayonet or grenade launcher could be fitted when required. Maximum effective range of the Gewehr, for most practical purposes, was 600 to 800 yards.
Soviet civilians seen as subhuman race: Nazi German soldiers had been indoctrinated by the Nazi ideologues to believe that the Soviets were an ethnically subhuman race, whose Bolshevik/Communist ideology presented a potentially cataclysmic danger to the civilized Western world -- and to Nazi Germany in particular. Therefore, Soviets were of absolutely no significance. Accordingly, they were mistreated, used as forced labor, or killed.
The next section details the major events of the war during early to mid-October 1941.