1941 was a crucial year for the fate of the conflict; the fronts were multiplying and even the number of victims was beginning to rise.
Trampling on the Molotov Pact, Hitler began the Operation Barbarossa on 22 June, which led to the invasion of the USSR. Russia, being unprepared, suffered a strong advance by the German people; an Italian expeditionary corps also took part in this attack.
The final attack on Moscow was launched in October, but the adverse weather conditions favoured the Soviet resistance. Hitler found himself in difficulty, while the Soviets succeed somehow in make up the losses suffered. The Soviets put in place the scorched-earth tactic, moving backwards to the hinterland, and Stalin appealed to Russian nationalism to push the civilian population to resistance against the invader and to acts of sabotage behind the lines. The Germans penetrated deeply into the enemy territory, but the offensive did not manage to reach the target. In the same year, on the African front too, the war reached its climax; the British, with the support of the Ethiopian resistance, attacked the Italian fleets. One of the most important battles is the one that took place in Gondar between May and November.
In late 1941, World War II was really turning into a global conflict.
The United States had so far limited themselves solely to financially supporting the British war effort, but in August they eventually signed the Atlantic Charter with Churchill; this was a document that condemned fascism and established some guidelines for a new democratic order to come, based on the self-determination of peoples, free trade, international cooperation and the renunciation of the use of force between countries.
Meanwhile, Japan, then the main Asian power, had joined the tripartite pact with Germany and Italy since September 1940. The main goal of the Japanese was to expand throughout Southeast Asia. In July 1941, Japan invaded French Indochina, which aroused a reaction on the side of Britain and the United States resulting in a block in the exports to these countries.
Shortly before eight o’clock in the morning of 7 December 1941, the Japanese air fleets launched a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the American naval base on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Without a doubt, it was a surprise attack: Japan had made no declaration of war against the United States. The next day, the United States approved the declaration of war on Japan, and on 11 December Germany and Italy, in accordance with the tripartite pact, declared in turn war on the United States. The Second World War had begun to take on new colours.
Disney’s animated film “Dumbo” is released in cinemas.
7 December: attack on Pearl Harbor.
24 May: Bob Dylan is born.
14 August: off the island of Terranova, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Churchill sign the Atlantic Charter.
27 November – Battle of Moscow: temperatures of -12° C and Siberian troops stop the German advance on Moscow.
Konrad Zuse invents the first computer, called Z3.
At the end of July, round-ups of Jews and deportations to concentration and extermination camps begin in Europe.
Only Oscar won by a Hitchcock film: Rebecca
Orson Welles’s film “Fourth Power”, starring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore and Everett Sloane, is released
3 April: Benghazi is reconquered by the Italian and German troops
5 May: he first “modern” perfume, Chanel No. 5, is created by the French designer Coco Chanel
28 August 1941: flight of the first jet engine aircraft, Heinkel He 178, in the UK
Jun 22 Operation Barbarossa: the Germans and their allies begin the war in Russia
Sep 23: first experiments with gas chambers at Auschwitz
Oct 31: the monument on Mount Rushmore is completed
May: Ethiopia is liberated by the British with the contribution of the Ethiopian resistance; Emperor Haile Selassie regained the throne
The Second World War
In the course of the two decades from 1920 to 1939, Europe saw the development of all the preconditions that would soon trigger the Second World War.
A devastating conflict, fought with modern weapons, which involved for the first time the entire civilian population.
World War II was fought from 1 September 1939 to 8 May 1945 in Europe, and from 7 December 1941 to 2 September 1945 in Asia. Germany, Italy and Japan, united in the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, were destroyed by the conflict, while the United States, the USSR and Great Britain would thereafter define the new world order.
During the conflict, Hitler maintained a ferocious conduct, claiming that the Aryan race was superior to all other races. Millions of people were interned in concentration camps, the most famous of which being Auschwitz. Italy was the theatre of war starting in 1943, when it was virtually divided in two, namely: the Kingdom of the South to the south, and Mussolini’s Republic of Salò to the north. The line that separated the peninsula was called the Gustav Line, which was completely broken down when the city of Cassino suffered heavy bombing.
Following numerous battles fought over seven years of war, the latter came to an end with the Japanese massacre: the USA actually dropped the first terrible atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.