Monday, December 24, 2018

September 29, 1941: Babi Yar Massacre

Monday 29 September 1941

Babi Yar Ravine massacre 29 September 1941
Babi Yar ravine in northwest Kyiv, Ukraine. It is the site of a massacre of over 33,000 people on 29 September 1941.
US/Japanese Relations: The Japanese have been trying to arrange a summit meeting between their Prime Minister Prince Konoye and President Roosevelt for at least a month. However, President Roosevelt repeatedly has refused such a meeting, considering it pointless. On 29 September 1941, the Japanese give their first hint that there may be consequences for this refusal.

Babi Yar Ravine massacre 29 September 1941
German SS troops interacting with Kiev civilians at Babi Yar prior to their execution, circa 29 September 1941.
Japanese Ambassador to the United States Kichisaburō Nomura is an extremely skilled diplomat who secretly does not desire war. He has engaged in quiet diplomacy with Secretary of State Cordell Hull which has included lunches downtown in addition to official meetings. Today, however, he has to deliver a message from Tokyo that decidedly escalates the rhetoric. It reads in part:
. . . if nothing came of the proposal for a meeting between the chiefs of our two Governments it might be difficult for Prince Konoye to retain his position and that Prince Konoye then would be likely to be succeeded by a less moderate leader.
While the message is phrased as diplomatically as possible, the message is clear: deal, or there will be trouble. Everyone knows - including Washington, which is kept well-informed by its ambassador in Tokyo Joseph Grew - that the Japanese military is eager for war and dominates the Cabinet.

Babi Yar Ravine massacre 29 September 1941
The Babi Yar massacre in progress circa 29 September 1941 (Ernst Klee Archive via United States Holocaust Memorial Museum).
Spy Stuff: The air war is not going particularly well for the Chinese. Their outdated fighters are no match for the new Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero, and their pilots are not trained to the high standards of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service and the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (Kōkūtai). On 29 September 1941, those problems are compounded when the commander of the 2nd BS, Zhang Tiqing, defects during a raid at Changsha. While leading his command of SBs of the Chinese 1st and 2nd BGs, Tiqing leaves his fellow pilots and willingly lands at the Japanese-held aerodrome at Hankou. In addition to presenting a complete SB to the Japanese for study, Zhang Tiqing's desertion causes the others in his flight to get lost. Eight SBs must make forced landings in fields. This leads to losses of pilots and planes. The Chinese have to replenish the unit from men and equipment from the 6th BG.

Joe Louis defeats Lou Nova at Yankee Stadium 29 September 1941
Joe Louis defeats Lou Nova at the Polo Grounds on 29 September 1941 to retain his heavyweight championship. This is the 19th successful defense of his title by Joe Louis (Joe Costa).
China: At Changsha, China, the fighting turns in favor of the defending Chinese. The Chinese 9th War Area goes over to the offensive against the Japanese 11th Army, reinforced by relief troops. The Chinese may not have many modern weapons to equal the Japanese planes and guns, but they have one thing in abundance: men. The Japanese are forced to retreat.

Babi Yar Ravine massacre 29 September 1941
Babi Yar Ravine.
Holocaust: It is day two of the Babi Yar Massacre. On 28 September 1941, the Germans posted the following message on billboards throughout the recently captured city of Kyiv:
All Jews living in the city of Kiev and its vicinity are to report by 8 o'clock on the morning of Monday, September 29th, 1941, at the corner of Melnikovsky and Dokhturov Streets (near the cemetery). They are to take with them documents, money, valuables, as well as warm clothes, underwear, etc. 
Any Jew not carrying out this instruction and who is found elsewhere will be shot. Any civilian entering flats evacuated by Jews and stealing property will be shot.
The common conclusion of those reading this notice was that the Germans would follow their typical practice and deport the Jews. This would not be the case.

The Pittsburgh Press 29 September 1941
The 29 September 1941 Pittsburgh Press is full of stories of condemnation of German atrocities in Occupied Europe and efforts to fight them. There are false claims of "victories" by both sides in Europe. For instance, the Italians claim major naval victories and the Soviets claim to be advancing through a "graveyard of tanks" left behind by retreating German forces southwest of Bryansk.
Instead, on 29 September 1941, the Germans and their local auxiliaries force tens of thousands of Jews who are collected to march to a nondescript area in the northwestern section of Kyiv. The Jews are forced to go through a narrow corridor lined with barbed wire and German soldiers to the Babi Yar Ravine. The Jews are taken in small groups to the edge of the ravine, lined up, and shot so that they fall into the ravine. The killings continue for 48 hours. It is estimated that 33, 771 people are killed. However, this is just the opening stage of the pogrom, as ultimately over 100,000 people, primarily Jewish but also including others who are out of favor with the German authorities, are executed in the same way. These executions are later adjudged to be crimes against humanity and are a key step in the progression of the Holocaust.
USS Philadelphia change of command ceremony at the Hotel Astor in New York, 29 September 1941
The crew and their family members of the USS Philadelphia (CL-41) gather at the Hotel Astor in New York City to celebrate a change in command. Captain Vance D. Chapline was being relieved by Captain C.J.Moore (CL-41 Tribute Home).

September 1941

September 1, 1941: Two Years In
September 2, 1941: Germans Pushed Back at Yelnya
September 3, 1941: FDR Refuses to Meet with Japanese
September 4, 1941: Hitler Furious at Guderian
September 5, 1941: Germans Evacuate Yelnya
September 6, 1941: Japan Prepares for War
September 7, 1941: Hitler Orders Drive on Moscow
September 8, 1941: Leningrad Cut Off
September 9, 1941: Germans Attack Leningrad
September 10, 1941: Guderian Busts Loose
September 11, 1941: Convoy SC-42 Destruction
September 12, 1941: Starve Leningrad!
September 13, 1941: Zhukov at Leningrad
September 14, 1941: Germany's Growing Casualties
September 15, 1941: Sorge Warns Stalin Again
September 16, 1941: Soviets Encircled at Kiev
September 17, 1941: Iran Conquest Completed
September 18, 1941: Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in Action
September 19, 1941: Germans Take Kiev
September 20, 1941: Death at Kiev
September 21, 1941: Raging Soviet Paranoia
September 22, 1941: Defense of Nickel Mines
September 23, 1941: Air Attacks on Leningrad
September 24, 1941: Japanese Spying Intensifies
September 25, 1941: Manstein at the Crimea
September 26, 1941: Kiev Pocket Eliminated
September 27, 1941: Massacre at Eišiškės
September 28, 1941: Ted Williams Hits .400
September 29, 1941: Babi Yar Massacre
September 30, 1941: Operation Typhoon Begins


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