Wednesday, May 11, 2016

January 25, 1940: Auschwitz Site Selected

Thursday 25 January 1940

Pilot Officer John R "Jack" Urwin-Mann, 25 January 1940
Pilot Officer John R "Jack" Urwin-Mann, who is posted to RAF No 253 Squadron based at Manston on 25 January 1940. DFC 26 November 1940.
Winter War: A British delegation of the National Council of Labour headed by Sir Walter Citrine sets off for Finland on 25 January 1940.

Winter War Army Operations: At Lahde, the Soviets have been scouting out Finnish positions. The Soviet 123rd Rifle Division (Col. Alyabushev) has built dugouts with stoves and engaged in a training program in preparation for a new offensive. The three regiments of the division are kept well back from the front, approximately 2 km, with company-strength forces to keep an eye on the Finns.

Alyabushev is a taskmaster who gets his men ready. Morale is high. New guns are brought up and put into position, so many that it is difficult to locate them all to the best advantage. The scouts capture some Finnish prisoners and also locate the key defensive features. One is the large "Millionaire bunker" on Tongue Hill, another the "Poppius bunker" in the center of the line. This is one of the best-fortified sections of the entire Mannerheim Line.

Two 152 mm guns are sited for the express purpose of destroying the Millionaire bunker. The Soviet troops have enough time and manpower to construct elaborate wooden casements for the guns. They are in position and ready for action by today, but there is some thick fog which cancels the opening of the assault until the weather clears.

At Summa, the 7,000-shell daily bombardment continues.

The Orange Leader (Orange, Tex.),25 January 1940
"Ski Troops Halt Mechanized Soviets." The Orange Leader (Orange, Tex.), Vol. 27, No. 21, Ed. 1 Thursday, January 25, 1940.
Winter War Naval Operations: The weather is extremely poor, enough so that a patrol of Kriegsmarine destroyers turns back to base.

Soviet planes sink Finnish freighter Notung in a bomb attack. The crew reports that the Soviets strafed the survivors in their lifeboat.

Battle of the Atlantic: There continues to be a rash of sinkings of neutral vessels, especially Norwegian ones. The British would dearly love for the Norwegians to join the fight, but they refuse to budge on their neutrality - though it is obvious they tilt toward the Allies.

U-14 (Oberleutnant zur See Herbert Wohlfarth) torpedoes and sinks 1,752-ton Norwegian freighter SS Biarritz. 36 miles northwest of Ymuiden. There is only time to launch a single lifeboat. There are 21 survivors, while 37 people perish (11 passengers, including some women, and 26 crew).

U-19 (Kapitänleutnant Joachim Schepke) continues its stellar patrol by torpedoing and sinking 4,434-ton Latvian freighter SS Everene (re-flagged as Belgian vessel Louvain) five miles off Longstone Lighthouse, Farne Islands at 09:12. There are 30 survivors, one perishes.

U-19 also torpedoes and sinks 1,300-ton Norwegian freighter SS Gudveig nearby at 09:30. There are eight survivors, ten perish. Schepke is proving adept at attacks in quick succession, which takes a bit of nerve due to the chances of being spotted and attacked himself.

U-44 (Kapitänleutnant Ludwig Mathes) torpedoes and sinks 2,769-ton French freighter SS Tourny at 04:11, 20 miles off Porto, Portugal. There are 9 survivors and 8 perish. U-44 sets up on another freighter in the same convoy (56-KS), but an escort vessel spots the U-boat and launches an unsuccessful depth-charge attack.

British destroyer HMS Exmoor is launched.

Convoy OA 79 departs from Southend, OB 79 departs from Liverpool.

Carole Lombard on the cover of Photoplay,,January 1940
Carole Lombard on the cover of Photoplay, January 1940.
European Air Operations: A RAF reconnaissance fails to return from a mission over northwest Germany.

Occupied Poland: The "Goering-Frank Circular" is issued. All occupied territory is to be fully exploited for the benefit of the Reich. This is a top-secret document that soon finds its way to the Polish government-in-exile.

1940 Lincoln Continental,
A 1940 Lincoln Continental.
US Navy: US Navy icebreaker USS Bear (AG-29), constructed in 1874, advances further south into the Antarctic than any ship previously. She is commanded by Lieutenant Commander Richard H. Cruzen, fated to lead Operation Highjump in 1948. This is part of the 1939-1941 United States Antarctic Expedition led by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd.

Canada: Lord Tweedsmuir announces that Parliament is dissolved for elections to be held on 28 March. The issue at hand is the thoroughness of war preparation.

Belgium: The Belgian Foreign Minister rejects the 20 January 1940 appeal by First Lord of the Admiralty for neutral countries to join the Allies.

Vivien Leigh on the cover of Paris Match, 25 January 1940
Vivien Leigh on the cover of Paris Match, 25 January 1940.
Holocaust: The SS selects the village of  Oswiecim (Auschwitz) for the construction of a concentration camp.

China: Chinese 3rd War Area attacks the Japanese 22nd Infantry Division west of Shaohsing.

In the Battle of South Kwangsi, Japanese units from Nanning open an offensive in the direction of Pinyang.

Jimmy Stewart and Frank Morgan in The Shop Around the Corner, released 25 January 1940
Jimmy Stewart and Frank Morgan in "The Shop Around the Corner," released 25 January 1940. 
American Homefront: "The Shop Around the Corner" starring Jimmy Stewart and directed by Ernst Lubitsch opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

25 January 1940 Millionaire bunker Lahde Finland
The "Millionaire" bunker at Lahde.
Future History: Ian Watkin is born in Greymouth, New Zealand. He becomes an actor, getting his first film credits in the early 1970s. His first major role is as Dr. Ryder on New Zealand television series "Pukemanu," and he works steadily thereafter in minor roles on both television and film. He is perhaps best known for "Braindead" (1992) and "Sleeping Dogs" (1977). Fans of "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys might recognize Watkin from his various supporting roles in the series. Ian Watkin passes away in Australia on 18 May 2016.

Ricardo Costa is born in Peniche, Portugal. He becomes a filmmaker in the mid-1970s, producing a series of low-budget films that focus on Portugal.

January 1940

January 1, 1940: Finns Carve up the Soviets
January 2, 1940: Finnish Counterattacks Continue
January 3, 1940: Soviets Trapped
January 4, 1940: Soviet Breakout Attempts Fail
January 5, 1940: Dicing Up the Soviets
January 6, 1940: Soviet 44th Division Runs
January 7, 1940: Shakeup in Soviet High Command
January 8, 1940: Ratte Road Battle Ends
January 9, 1940: British Submarines in Peril
January 10, 1940: Mechelen Incident
January 11, 1940: Finns Surround More Soviets
January 12, 1940: New Soviet Attacks at Taipale
January 13, 1940: Fall Gelb Postponed
January 14, 1940: Japan's Government Falls
January 15, 1940: Soviets Prepare More Carefully
January 16, 1940: German Atrocities Uncovered
January 17, 1940: Bletchley Park in Action
January 18, 1940: New Hope for Allied Shipping
January 19, 1940: Finnish Attacks at Salla
January 20, 1940: Churchill Urges Cooperation
January 21, 1940: Asam Maru Incident
January 22, 1940: Dissension Within British Government
January 23, 1940: Dissension in South Africa
January 24, 1940: NKVD Blocking Detachments
January 25, 1940: Auschwitz Site Selected
January 26, 1940: Millionaire Bunker Destroyed
January 27, 1940: U-20 Sinks Four Ships
January 28, 1940: Softening Up the Finns
January 29, 1940: Moscow Willing to Talk
January 30, 1940: Hitler Throws Down the Gauntlet
January 31, 1940: Timoshenko Is Ready


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