As January 1940 ended, Nazi Germany increased its attacks on Britain and the Soviet Union marched toward victory in Finland. Meanwhile, the United States and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt found it increasingly difficult to remain neutral. The World War II timeline below traces important events from January and February of 1940.
World War II Timeline: January 24-February 11
January 24: Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the Nazi Gestapo, is charged with overseeing the evacuation of all Jews from the Reich.
February 3: For the first time since WWI, a German plane is shot down over England.
February 4: The Soviet Union attacks Finland from the sky, killing 14 in the capital city of Helsinki.
February 5: France and England commit to providing the Finns with military aid to help them fend off the Soviets.
February 6: Britain launches a new poster campaign admonishing citizens not to discuss sensitive war information in public. The posters feature comical images of an eavesdropping Adolf Hitler and the slogan "Careless Talk Costs Lives."
February 9: U.S. Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles leaves Washington on a futile mission to examine the possibility of a peace settlement in Europe.
February 10: The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany agree to strengthen their alliance through increased trading of war material.
President Franklin Roosevelt expresses American support for Finland in the face of Russian aggression.
Two British ships, Salve and Servitor, successfully sweep a German magnetic mine for the first time.
The occupying Nazis in Czechoslovakia place restraints on Jewish-owned businesses. They prohibit Jews from selling art, jewels, and precious metals, and force the closure of Jewish-owned textile and leather shops.
February 11: Some 140,000 Soviet Union troops attack Finnish defenses on the Karelian Isthmus in a bid to break Finnish resistance. This assault will prove successful for the Soviets, who will overwhelm the Finns with their sheer numbers.
World War II Headlines
Below is a World War II image and headlines about Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany, and Russia's war with Finland.
Adolf Hitler survives assassination plots: Adolf Hitler spoke at a beer hall on November 8, 1939, to commemorate the Nazi Party's failed coup of 1923. The Führer ended his speech earlier than expected. Minutes after he left the hall, an explosion buried the speaking platform under debris. Johann Georg Elser, a carpenter, had set the timer and planted the bomb. Elser was arrested and later executed. From 1939 to 1945, at least 17 other attempts to assassinate Hitler were made. Most were planned by officers who despised his military policies.
On the following page you'll find a World War II timeline detailing the events of February, 1940.