Wednesday, May 18, 2016

March 17, 1940: Enter Dr. Todt

Sunday 17 March 1940

17 March 1940 Dr. Todt Hitler
Hitler and Fritz Todt. Today, Hitler makes Todt his Minister of Armaments and Munitions.
Winter War: The last Finnish civilians evacuate Viipuri on 17 March 1940. A Finnish officer comments, "All belongings being hastily taken away to deprive Russians, who occupy city tomorrow."

Battle of the Atlantic: Shipping losses during the week ended 17 March are:
  • British 3 ships
  • French 1
  • Neutral 3
  • German 3
U-38 (Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe) torpedoes and s5,375-ton5 ton Danish freighter Argentina at 23:25 east of Unst, Shetlands in the North Sea. All 33 crew perish. The freighter is running with its lights on, indicating a neutral vessel, but U-38 fires two torpedoes at it anyway. Argentina takes only 10 minutes to sink after one hits.

The British Admiralty, reacting to the previous night's successful attack by Luftwaffe Ju-88 bombers on Scapa Flow, orders the Home Fleet to put to sea during the full-moon period of March 19-26. This, presumably, would be safer than waiting at anchor for an air attack.

Convoy HG 23F departs from Gibraltar.

Western Front: French soldier Jean-Paul Sartre, working as a meteorologist, comments: "The war machine is running in neutral; 1 man said to me, insane hope in his eyes: 'England will climb down.'"

German/Italian Relations: Hitler and Mussolini depart by trains from their respective capitals for a meeting at the Brenner Pass.

Italian/Romanian Relations: Italy announces that it will defend Romanian neutrality against attacks.

German Government: Hitler appoints Dr. Fritz Todt as the Reich Minister for Armaments and Munitions. Todt's workers are known as the Todt Organization (Organisation Todt). Todt means "death" in German, so this has a sinister ring to it, but it basically is nothing more than a national construction service. Todt has been the Inspector General of German Roadways since June 1933 and built his Organization Todt from the ground up to construct the Autobahns, one of Germany's great technical achievements. Todt's elevation in rank marks an acknowledgment that Organization Todt would be focusing henceforth on military and paramilitary projects of utmost national importance. It also illustrates the gradual re-orientation of the German economy from a peacetime to a wartime footing.

German Military: Admiral Raeder advises Hitler to invade Norway pursuant to Operation Weserubung no later than 15 April.

British Homefront: To aid the war effort, ten thousand miners in Nottinghamshire agree to forego most of their holidays to increase coal production.

American Homefront: With spring training in full swing, Major League Baseball holds an exhibition all-star game for the benefit of the people of Finland. The game raises $20,000 for the Finnish Relief Fund. The NL wins, 2-1.

China: The Battle of Wuyuan continues. The Japanese 22nd Army captures Lingshan.

17 March 1940 M/V Argentina
Freighter Argentina (Photo courtesy of Danish Maritime Museum, Elsinore).

March 1940

March 1, 1940: Soviet Breakthroughs Past Viipuri
March 2, 1940: Soviets Swarm West in Finland
March 3, 1940: Soviets Across Gulf of Viipuri
March 4, 1940: USSR Apologizes to Sweden
March 5, 1940: Katyn Forest Massacre Approved
March 6, 1940: Finns Head to Moscow
March 7, 1940: The Coal Ships Affair
March 8, 1940: Peace Talks Begin in Moscow
March 9, 1940: Soviets Harden Peace Terms
March 10, 1940: Germany Draws Closer to Italy
March 11, 1940: Winter War Peace Terms Finalized
March 12, 1940: War is Over (If You Want It)
March 13, 1940: Winter War Ends
March 14, 1940: Evacuating Karelia
March 15, 1940: The Bletchley Bombe
March 16, 1940: First British Civilian Killed
March 17, 1940: Enter Dr. Todt
March 18, 1940: Mussolini To Join the War
March 19, 1940: Daladier Resigns
March 20, 1940: Soviets Occupy Hango Naval Base
March 21, 1940: Paul Reynaud Leads France
March 22, 1940: Night Fighters Arise!
March 24, 1940: French Consider Alternatives
March 25, 1940: Reynaud Proposes Action
March 26, 1940: C-46 First Flight
March 27, 1940: Himmler Authorizes Auschwitz Construction
March 28, 1940: Allies Ponder Invading Norway
March 29, 1940: Soviets Prefer Neutrality
March 30, 1940: Allied Uncertainty
March 31, 1940: The Tiger Cage


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