World History 1940

About the history of the world in 1940, Germany continues World War II, Italy joins the Nazis, Roosevelt gets a third term.



Apr. 9 After months of suspenseful inactivity, Germany blitzed Norway and Denmark. Both Scandinavian countries fell to the Nazis.

May 10-29 Germany captured Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

May 15 Nylon stockings were introduced in the U.S.

May 26-June 4 Some 338,000 Allied forces, mainly British, evacuated the continent of Europe at Dunkerque, just as German troops-fresh from a spectacular panzer thrust through the Ardennes Forest and over French defensive positions on the Meuse River at Sedan-threatened to drive them into the English Channel. Cut off from supplies and reinforcements, the British army undoubtedly would have been engulfed by advancing Nazis if Hitler, for reasons still unclear, had not ordered his tanks to a halt for three crucial days just prior to the final push to Dunkerque. The small but well-trained Royal Air Force managed to rid the skies over Dunkerque of Luftwaffe bombers long enough to ensure a safe evacuation of nearly 75% of the Allied soldiers penned in there and thus denied Hitler his only chance to annihilate the British army with one stroke.

June 10 Thinking Hitler on the verge of total victory, Mussolini led Italy into the war on the side of Germany.

June 14 As the defeated French army scattered south, Nazi soldiers marched into Paris. By the end of the month, Germany had conquered all of France and dictated humiliating peace terms to an exhausted French government: Northern France, including the entire Atlantic coastal region, lay under German occupation. The southern half was left to the control of a quasi-Fascist French regime at Vichy under Marshal Petain and others who collaborated with the Germans. The Nazi juggernaut rolled on, now with nothing but Great Britain in its path.

Aug. Russian Communist Leon Trotsky, 60, living in exile in Mexico, was hacked to death by an assassin with an ice ax. (See "Assassinations," Chap. 9.)

Aug.-Nov. In the Battle of Britain, German bombers tried in vain to pound England into submission with a series of intense daylight raids over London and other cities. The Royal Air Force fought off the more numerous Luftwaffe so effectively that Berlin resorted to less accurate nighttime attacks.

Nov. 5 Pres. Franklin Roosevelt, 58, garnered 55% of the vote to become the only chief executive in U.S. history to be elected to a third term.

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