Return to homeIn 2013 Susan Dunn authored “1940: FDR, Willkie,
Lindbergh, Hitler-the Election amid the Storm."
(Econ, 9/14/13, p.39) 1940
Jan 2, Jim Bakker, televangelist (PTL Club), was born in Muskegon,
1940 Jan 3, The Southland
Shuffle was recorded on Bluebird Records by Charlie Barnet and his
orchestra. A young trumpet player named Billy May was featured.
(440 Int'l. 1/3/99)
1940 Jan 8, Britain began
rationing sugar, meat and butter.
1940 Jan 10, German planes
attacked 12 ships off the British coast; three sank and 35 were
1940 Jan 11, Sergei Prokofiev's
ballet Romeo and Juliet premiered in Leningrad.
1940 Jan 12, Soviet bombers
raided cities in Finland.
1940 Jan 14, Julian Bond, civil
rights leader and Georgia state senator, was born.
1940 Jan 16, Hitler canceled an
attack in the West due to bad weather and the capture of German
attack plans in Belgium.
1940 Jan 21, Jack Nicklaus,
golfer (Player of Yr 1967,72,73,75,76), was born in Columbus, Ohio.
1940 Jan 23, Pianist Jan Ignaz
Paderewski became premier of Polish government in exile.
1940 Jan 25, Nazis established
a Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland.
1940 Jan 26, The Museum of
Modern Art in New York received works by Botticelli, Raphael and
Michelangelo on loan from Italy.
1940 Jan 26, Nazis forbade
Polish Jews to travel on trains.
1940 Feb 1, Frank Sinatra sang
"Too Romantic" and "The Sky Fell Down" in his first recording
session with the Tommy Dorsey Band on this day. The session was in
Chicago, IL. Frankie replaced Jack Leonard as lead singer with the
(440 Int'l, 2/1/1999)
1940 Feb 3, Fran Tarkenton, NFL
quarterback, was born.
1940 Feb 5, Glenn Miller and
his orchestra recorded "Tuxedo Junction" for RCA Victor's "Bluebird"
1940 Feb 6, Tom Brokaw, NBC
News anchorman and best-selling author of "The Greatest Generation,"
1940 Feb 7, Walt Disney's 2nd
feature-length movie, "Pinocchio," premiered in NYC.
1940 Feb 8, Ted Koppel,
American television journalist, was born in Lancashire, England, as
Edward James Koppel. His family came to the United States in 1953,
and he was naturalized as a US citizen in 1963.
1940 Feb 10, "In The Mood" by
Glenn Miller hit #1.
1940 Feb 12, The radio play
"The Adventures of Superman" debuted on the Mutual network with Bud
Collyer as the Man of Steel.
1940 Feb 12, The USSR signed a
trade treaty with Germany to aid against the British blockade.
1940 Feb 14, Britain announced
that all merchant ships would be armed.
1940 Feb 15, Hitler ordered
that all British merchant ships would be considered warships.
1940 Feb 16, The British
destroyer HMS Cossack rescue British seamen from a German prison
ship, the Altmark, in a Norwegian fjord.
1940 Feb 19, Smokey Robinson,
American singer and songwriter, was born. He was famous for his
songs "Tears of a Clown" and "Tracks of My Tears."
1940 Feb 19, Saparmurad
Niyazov, later president of Turkmenistan (1992-2006), was born.
1940 Feb 20, The Tom and Jerry
cartoon “Puss Gets the Boot," created by Hanna & Barbera,
debuted by MGM. It went on to win 7 Academy Awards.
1940 Feb 20, Christoph
Eschenbach, pianist, conductor, was born in Breslau, Germany.
1940 Feb 21, The Germans began
construction of a concentration camp at Auschwitz. Hans Munch was an
SS doctor at the camp and later reported his experiences there in
detail for the 1998 TV documentary "People’s Century." [see Mar 27]
(HN, 2/21/98)(WSJ, 6/8/98, p.A21)
1940 Feb 22, German air force
sank 2 German destroyers killing 578.
1940 Feb 23, Peter Fonda, actor
(Easy Rider, Lilith, Wild Angels, Trip), was born.
1940 Feb 23, Walt Disney's
animated movie "Pinocchio" was released.
1940 Feb 23, Woody Guthrie
dated his song "this Land Is Your Land" to this day. His original
title was "God Bless America."
(SFC, 11/27/98, p.c11)
1940 Feb 23, Russell Ohl, a
researcher at Bell Labs, discovered that light was causing a current
to flow between electrodes stuck to the ends of a rod of silicon. In
1954 Bell Labs announced a new solar battery.
(Econ., 1/9/21, TQ p.5)
1940 Feb 25, A hockey game was
televised for the first time, by New York City station W2XBS, as the
New York Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 6-2, at Madison
1940 Feb 26, The U.S. Air
Defense Command was established at Mitchell Field, Long Island, NY.
(AP, 2/26/98)(SC, 2/26/02)
1940 Feb 28, Mario Andretti,
race-car driver (1969 Indianapolis 500), was born.
1940 Feb 28, The first
televised college basketball games were broadcast, by New York City
station W2XBS, as Pittsburgh defeated Fordham, 57-37, and New York
University beat Georgetown, 50-27, at Madison Square Garden.
1940 Feb 28, The Superliner
Queen Elizabeth was launched in Britain.
1940 Feb 28, In Egypt King
Farouk arrived at Tanis for the opening of the sarcophagus of the
21st Dynasty King Psusennes I, recently discovered by French
archeologist Pierre Montet.
(Arch, 5/05, p.24)
1940 Feb 29, "Gone with the
Wind" won eight Academy Awards, including best picture of 1939.
Victor Fleming was named best director, Vivien Leigh best actress,
and Hattie McDaniel best supporting actress, the first black
performer to receive an Oscar. Best actor went to Robert Donat for
"Goodbye, Mr. Chips."
(HN, 2/29/00)(AP, 2/29/04)
1940 Feb, George Avakian, jazz
aficionado, was hired by Columbia records to research Columbia jazz
masters and assemble a series of albums. His efforts produced the
"Hot Jazz Classics," a cornerstone of the basic jazz canon.
(WSJ, 6/03/97, p.A20)
1940 Feb, The Manhattan project
was initiated with a research allocation of six thousand dollars.
1940 Mar 1, "Native Son" by
Richard Wright (1908-1960) was published. It was a narrative about
the poor young Black Chicagoan, Bigger Thomas, who in a state of
panic murders a rich white girl, later murders his Black girlfriend
and is tried and sentenced to death. This launched him as
America’s 1st best-selling black author. Wright soon began work on
“The Man Who Lived Underground," a short novel that was never
published in full until the spring of 2021.
(AP, 3/1/00)(SSFC, 8/12/01, DB p.61)(AP, 5/13/21)
1940 Mar 1, In the 12th Academy
Awards: "Gone with the Wind", Robert Donat and Vivien Leigh won.
1940 Mar 1, U.S. envoy, Sumner
Welles met with Hitler in Berlin.
1940 Mar 2, The first televised
intercollegiate track meet was seen by TV viewers in New York City
as W2XBS presented the action live from Madison Square Garden. New
York University won the meet.
(HC, Internet, 2/3/98)
1940 Mar 2, Soviet armies
conquered Tuppura Island, Finland.
1940 Mar 3, Artie Shaw and his
orchestra recorded "Frenesi" for RCA Victor.
1940 Mar 3, A Nazi air raid
killed 108 on a British liner in the English Channel.
1940 Mar 5, The British
surprised Mussolini by taking seven Italian coal ships.
1940 Mar 5, Stalin among others
signed an Order for the massacre at Katyn, Poland. Soviet agents
shot 21,768 Polish military officers, intellectuals and priests who
had been taken prisoner during the invasion. Between April and May
some 25,700 (15,000) Polish citizens were massacred by the Soviets
in the Katyn and Miednoje (Mednoye) forests on the outskirts of
Moscow and at Kharkov in western Russia (later Ukraine). Some 14,700
Polish officers were identified by their uniforms. Documents were
made public in 1992 by Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first post-Soviet
leader. They included a letter by Lavrenty Beria, head of the secret
police, recommending the execution of the Polish prisoners of war.
The letter bears the signatures of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and
three other members of the Politburo. Excavations of the sites began
in 1994. 6,313 Polish officers were all shot in the back of the head
near Mednoye. 9,000 Russians were also massacred at the site. In
2008 Andrzej Wajda directed the film “Katyn." In 2004 Russia's top
military prosecutor closed the investigation after concluding that
the massacre did not constitute genocide. In 2009 Russia's Supreme
Court rejected appeals to re-open the investigation. On April 7,
2010, Russian PM Vladimir Putin attended a memorial ceremony. Hours
later he said Stalin had ordered the atrocity as revenge for the
death of Red Army soldiers in Polish prisoner of war camps in 1920.
(AM, Jul/Aug ‘97 p.16)(SFEC, 9/3/00, p.A18)(AP,
3/6/05)(Econ, 6/21/08, p.65)(AP, 1/29/09)(SFC, 4/8/10, p.A2)(AP,
1940 Mar 9, Britain freed
captured Italian coal ships on the eve of German Foreign Minister,
Ribbentrop’s visit to Rome.
1940 Mar 10, David Rabe,
playwright (Sticks and Bones, Hurlyburly), was born.
1940 Mar 10, 1st US opera was
telecast in NYC: "Pagliacci."
1940 Mar 10, Mikhail Bulgakov
(b.1891), Russian author, died in Moscow. His novel “The
Master and Margarita," which satirized life under Stalin, was
written between 1928 and the author’s death. It was not published
until 1966-67 in the Russian journal Moskva, with some 60 pages cut.
(Econ, 3/13/04, p.86)(WSJ, 1/3/09, p.W6)
1940 Mar 12, Finland
surrendered to Russia. Finland and the Soviet Union concluded an
armistice during World War II. Fighting between the two countries
flared again the following year.
(HN, 3/12/98)(AP, 3/12/98)
1940 Mar 13, The 105-day war
between Russia and Finland ended with the signing of a treaty in
Moscow. Finland capitulated conditionally to Soviet terms, but
maintains its independence. Some 27,000 Finnish soldiers were killed
and 43,000 wounded in a population of 3.7 million. The Soviet Union
put its losses at 217,500 dead or wounded.
(HN, 3/13/01)(AP, 11/30/09)
1940 Mar 14, Rita Tushingham,
actress (Green Eyes, Dr Zhivago), was born in Liverpool, England.
1940 Mar 14, A truck full of
migrant workers collided with a train outside McAllen, Texas. 27
people were killed and 15 injured.
1940 Mar 15, Reichsmarshal
Herman Goering said 100-200 church bells are enough for Germany and
smelted the rest.
1940 Mar 16, In San Francisco
fourteen crewmen of the scuttled German liner Columbus, sailed for
the Fatherland aboard the Italian motorship Rialto. A 2nd group soon
followed. Both ships were boarded by the British in Gibraltar and
the Germans were sent to a French prison camp. 451 others remained
quartered on Angel Island.
(SSFC, 3/15/15, p.42)(SFC, 6/11/16, p.C2)
1940 Mar 16, Selma Lagerdorf
(b.1858), Swedish Nobel prize winning novelist (1909), died.
1940 Mar 16, Germany launched
an air raid on British fleet base at Scapa Flow.
1940 Mar 18, Adolf Hitler and
Benito Mussolini held a meeting at the Brenner Pass across the Alps
during which the Italian dictator agreed to join in Germany’s war
against France and Britain.
1940 Mar 20, The British RAF
conducted an all-night air raid on the Nazi airbase at Sylt,
1940 Mar 23, 1st radio
broadcast of "Truth or Consequences" on CBS.
1940 Mar 23, The All-India
Muslim League called for a Muslim homeland.
1940 Mar 25, Anita Bryant,
homophobe, singer (George Gobel Show), was born in Barnsdall, Okla.
1940 Mar 25, The U.S. agreed to
give Britain and France access to all American warplanes.
1940 Mar 26, Nancy Pelosi,
(Representative-Democrat-CA), was born.
1940 Mar 26, In California 9
homeless people, including two women, were killed after the elevated
floor of a warehouse collapsed in Santa Rosa. Eight of the3 dead
were Pomo Indians known in the area as fruit pickers and odd jib
(SSFC, 3/22/15, DB p.42)
1940 Mar 27, Himmler ordered
the building of Auschwitz concentration camp. [see Feb 21]
1940 Mar 30, The Japanese set
up a puppet government called Manchuko in Nanking, China.
1940 Mar 31, The New York
Municipal Airport, opened in October, 1939, was renamed La Guardia
airport, after the mayor, who had been a bomber pilot in World War I
and whose interest in aviation lasted throughout his lifetime,
barely a month after it opened.
1940 Apr 4, Richard Rodgers'
and Lorenz Hart's "Higher & Higher," premiered in NYC.
1940 Apr 8, German battle
cruisers sank British aircraft carrier Glorious.
1940 Apr 8, British troops
landed at Narwik to mine Norway’s territorial waters.
(ON, 11/05, p.3)
1940 Apr 9, The Nazi army
invaded and occupied Denmark and Norway. German forces landed along
the Norwegian coast and made a paratrooper assault on Oslo and
Stavanger. More than 300,000 German soldiers occupied neutral
Norway. After the Nazi invasion most of Denmark’s police were
(WSJ, 4/29/96, p.C-1)(SFEC, 1/26/97, p.A14)(AP,
4/9/97)(ON, 11/05, p.3)(AFP, 10/17/18)
1940 Apr 10, Vidkun Quisling
formed a Norwegian pro-Nazi "national government."
1940 Apr 10, The HMS Hunter, a
British destroyer, went down with 110 men in the fist Battle of
Narvik as the Royal Navy tried to keep German forces from
overrunning a strategic Norwegian port. Germany lost 4 destroyers in
the battle. In 2008 a Norwegian minehunter found the wreck
1940 Apr 12, Italy annexed
1940 Apr 13, In the 2nd battle
of Narvik, 8 German destroyers were destroyed.
1940 Apr 14, Allied troops
landed in Norway.
1940 Apr 15, Jeffrey Archer,
English novelist and politician (Kane and Abel, Honor Among
Thieves), was born.
1940 Apr 15, French and British
troops landed at Narvik, Norway.
1940 Apr 16, The 1st televised
baseball game on WGN-TV featured the White Sox vs. Cubs in
1940 Apr 17, In Egypt King
Farouk arrived at Tanis and ordered French archeologist Pierre
Montet to open the tomb of King Amenemope, son of 21st Dynasty King
(Arch, 5/05, p.25)
1940 Apr 18, Ed Garvey, labor
leader for the Major League Baseball Players Association, was born.
1940 Apr 20, RCA publicly
demonstrated its new and powerful electron microscope in
(AP, 4/20/97)(HN, 4/20/98)(MC, 4/20/02)
1940 Apr 21, The quiz show that
asked the "$64 question," "Take It or Leave It," premiered on CBS
1940 Apr 22, Rear Adm. Joseph
Taussig testified before US Senate Naval Affairs Committee that war
with Japan is inevitable.
1940 Apr 23, Some 200 people
died in a fire at the Rhythm Night Club in Natchez, Miss.
1940 Apr 25, Al Pacino, actor
(And Justice For All, Godfather, Scorpio), was born in NYC.
1940 Apr 28, Glenn Miller and
his orchestra recorded "Pennsylvania 6-5000" for RCA Victor.
1940 Apr 28, Rudolf Hoess
became commandant of concentration camp Auschwitz.
1940 Apr 28, Luisa Tetrazzini
(b.1871), celebrated Italian soprano, died in Milan.
1940 Apr 29, Robert Sherwood's
"There Shall be No Night," premiered in NYC.
1940 Apr 29, Norwegian King
Haakon and government fled to England.
1940 Apr, The Germans sealed
the Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland, with barbed wire. Lodz at this
time had some 231,000 Jews, about one-third of the city’s
population. Some 45,000 Jews from other parts of Nazi-occupied
Europe were forced into the ghetto as well as some 5,000 Gypsies.
Many died under forced labor and horrific conditions. Those
remaining were killed in August, 1944.
(SSFC, 8/30/09, p.A17)
1940 May 1, Bobbie Ann Mason,
American writer (Shiloh and Other Stories, In Country), was born.
1940 May 1, The 1940 Olympics
1940 May 1, 140 Palestinian
Jews died as German planes bombed their ship.
1940 May 4, Commander Rupert
Lonsdale (d.1999 at 93) took his submarine, the Seal, into the
Kattegat Strait between Denmark and Sweden, to place mines in the
German shipping lanes. One mine exploded and sent the vessel to the
bottom. They managed to refloat after 23 hours and Lonsdale (35)
surrendered the ship and 59 weary crewmen to a German seaplane.
Aside from a few coastal craft and abandoned ships, the Seal was the
only British warship to fall into enemy hands during WW II.
(SFC, 5/31/99, p.A17)
1940 May 5, Norwegian
government in exile formed in London.
1940 May 6, A Pulitzer prize
was awarded to John Steinbeck (Grapes of Wrath).
1940 May 7-1940 May 8, The
British House of Commons debated the disastrous Norwegian campaign.
1940 May 8, Peter Benchley,
novelist (Jaws, The Deep), was born.
1940 May 8, Ricky Nelson, rock
star (Hello Mary Lou, It's Late, Garden Party), was born in NJ.
1940 May 8, British PM Neville
1940 May 8, German commandos in
Dutch uniforms crossed the Dutch border to hold bridges for the
advancing German army.
1940 May 9, James L. Brooks,
producer, director (Broadcast News, Taxi, Critic), was born.
1940 cMay 9, The Germans made
their panzer attack across the Ardennes.
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1940 May 10, Winston Churchill
took office as PM. Churchill formed a new government and served as
the Conservative head of a coalition government with the opposition
Labor Party. The debate over the Norway campaign led directly to
Churchill replacing Chamberlain.
(WSJ, 9/3/98, p.A6)(PCh, 1992, p.864)(Econ,
1940 May 10, British Local
Defense Volunteers, the Home Guard, formed.
1940 May 10, German forces
began a blitzkrieg of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg,
skirting France's "impenetrable" Maginot Line. Belgium was invaded
by Germany and maintained resistance for 18 days.
(WSJ, 8/1/95, p.A-8)(WSJ, 4/29/96, p.C-1)(HN,
1940 May 12, The Nazi blitz
conquest of France began with the crossing at the Meuse River.
(SC, Internet, 5/12/97)(HN, 5/12/98)
1940 May 13, Bruce Chatwin,
travel writer (Patagonia), was born.
1940 May 13, The completed
Maryhill Museum in Washington state opened on founder Sam
Hill’s (d.1931), birthday. Much of the art collection was donated by
Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, wife of the California sugar magnate.
(AM, 9/01, p.10)
1940 May 13, Igor Sikorsky made
the 1st free flight of his new VS-300 helicopter, the world’s first
fully functional helicopter.
1940 May 13, In his first
speech as prime minister of Britain, Winston Churchill told the
House of Commons, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears
(AP, 5/13/97)(SS, Internet, 5/13/97)
1940 May 13, British bombed a
factory at Breda, Netherlands.
1940 May 13, Dutch Queen
Wilhelmina fled to England.
1940 May 14, British and French forces
began a general retreat from Belgium, heading southwest toward
(ON, 12/12, p.1)
1940 May 14, German
breakthrough at Sedan, France.
1940 May 14, The Netherlands
(Holland) surrendered to Nazi Germany after the bombing of Rotterdam
that left 600-900 dead.
(HN, 5/14/98)(MC, 5/14/02)
1940 May 14, Emma Goldman,
anarchist revolutionary, author (Living My Life), died in Toronto
and was buried in Chicago. In 1974 Carol Bolt wrote a play on the
formative years of Emma titled: "Red Emma: Queen of the Anarchists."
In 1995 Ms. Bolt wrote a libretto based on the play for an opera
with music by Gary Kulesha. In 1961 Richard Drinnon authored "Rebel
In Paradise: A Biography of Emma Goldman." In 1971 Alex Shulman
authored "To the Barricades: The Anarchist Life of Emma Goldman."
(WSJ, 12/11/95, p.A-1)(ON, 4/00, p.5)(MC,
1940 May 15, Nylon stockings
went on general sale for the first time in the United States. [see
Oct 24, 1939]
1940 May 15, German troops
occupied Amsterdam. Gen Winkelman surrendered.
1940 May 15, German armor
division moved into Northern France.
1940 May 16, Bernardo
Bertolucci, director (1900, Last Emperor), was born in Parma, Italy.
1940 May 16, Jacques
Goudstikker, Dutch art dealer, fell on a staircase of the SS
Bodegraven as the ship was refused entry at Dover. He died from a
broken neck. His inventory in Amsterdam totaled some 1,400 works,
which Reichsmarschall Herman Goring, Hitler’s 2nd in command, soon
(WSJ, 7/2/08, p.D7)
1940 May 17, Germany occupied
Brussels, Belgium, and began the invasion of France. [See May 12]
(AP, 5/17/97)(HN, 5/17/98)
1940 May 18, German forces
under Field Marshal Georg von Kuchler (1881-1968) occupied Antwerp,
1940 May 19, Amsterdam time
became MET (Middle European Time).
1940 May 20, British Admiral
Bertram H. Ramsay met with his staff beneath Dover Castle to draw up
a formal plan for the evacuation of British and French forces from
Dunkirk. The plan was called “Operation Dynamo."
(ON, 8/12, p.2)
1940 May 20, Igor Sikorsky
unveiled his helicopter invention.
1940 May 20, Gen. Guderian's
British expeditionary army tanks reached The Channel.
1940 May 21, Nazis surrounded
the British Army at Dunkirk. British and French forces staged a
counterattack near Arras, but failed to clear a path to Le Havre.
(HN, 5/21/98)(ON, 8/12, p.2)
1940 May 21, British tank
forces attacked General Erwin Rommel’s 7th Panzer Division at Arras,
slowing his blitzkrieg of France.
1940 May 22, Premier Winston
Churchill flew to Paris.
1940 May 23, Tommy Dorsey and
His Orchestra, the Pied Pipers and featured soloist Frank Sinatra
recorded "I’ll Never Smile Again" in New York for RCA.
1940 May 23, The 1st great
dogfight between Spitfires took place.
1940 May 23, The Polish
submarine ORP Orzel left Rosyth, Scotland, and disappeared in the
North Sea during a mission with the Allies.
1940 May 24, Joseph Brodsky,
author (Less than 1, Nobel 1987), was born in the USSR.
1940 May 24, Hitler ordered a
halt to his forces converging on Dunkirk and the British, who were
backed to the sea. This event and the next 4 days were described in
the 1999 book: "Five Days in London, May 1940" by John Lukacs.
(WSJ, 11/8/99, p.A48)
1940 May 24, Hitler affirmed
Gen. von Rundstedt's "Stopbevel."
1940 May 24, German tanks
reached Atrecht, France.
1940 May 25, The Golden Gate
International Expo reopened on Treasure Island.
1940 May 25, German troops
conquered Boulogne and captured Calais.
(SC, 5/25/02)(ON, 8/12, p.2)
1940 May 26, Operation Dynamo
was launched for the evacuation of British, French and Belgian
soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in northern France. The German
Luftwaffe launched a bombing campaign on the harbor of Dunkirk. The
new British Spitfire fighters helped provide air cover. The
operation continued to June 4.
(ON, 3/07, p.2)(AP, 5/26/97)(ON, 8/12, p.2)
1940 May 28, Maeve Binchy,
Irish writer (Circle of Friends, The Copper Beach), was born.
1940 May 28, Irving Berlin's
musical "Louisiana Purchase," premiered in NYC.
1940 May 28, During World War
II, the Belgian army surrendered to invading German forces.
(AP, 5/28/97)(HN, 5/28/98)
1940 May 28, During the
evacuation at Dunkirk a Germany torpedo boat sank the HMS Wakeful
sending over 700 men to their deaths. A Germany submarine hit the
destroyer HMS Grafton killing 35 army officers. Other British
destroyers mistook the British drifter Comfort for an enemy torpedo
boat and killed all but 5 men aboard. The Queen of the Channel was
hit by Germany bombs. Most of the 950 soldiers on board were
transferred to a rescue ship before the ferry went down.
(ON, 8/12, p.3)
1940 May 28, Walter Connolly
(53), actor (It Happened One Night, Good Earth), died.
1940 May 29, Germans captured
Ostend and Ypres in Belgium and Lille in France.
1940 May 29, The German air
force launched massive attacks on the harbor at Dunkirk. A British
destroyer and 6 of the biggest merchant ships in the harbor were
(ON, 8/12, p.4)
1940 May 29, Arthur
Seyss-Inquart was installed as Reich Commissioner of Hague,
1940 May 31, British General
Bernard Montgomery left Dunkirk. The French government allowed
French soldiers to be picked up at Dunkirk.
(MC, 5/31/02)(ON, 8/12, p.4)
1940 May 31, Winston Churchill
flew to Paris.
1940 May, Batman No. 1,
who made his first appearance in 1939 as a character in Detective
Comics No. 27, was the first solo spin-off for Batman. The debut
included the original appearances by two of Batman's key foes, the
Joker and Catwoman.
1940 May, Hansel Mieth
(d.1998), photojournalist for Life Magazine, married Ott Hagel
(d.1973), free-lance photographer.
(SFC, 2/17/98, p.B8)
1940 May, Winston Churchill
faced down the apostles of appeasement in his War Cabinet. In 2000
John Lukacs authored "Five Days in London, May 1940," which told of
struggle in the English cabinet.
(SFEC, 2/27/00, BR p.8)
1940 May-1944 Dec, In Austria
approximately 30,000 physically and mentally disabled were killed at
Hartheim Castle by gassing and lethal injection as part of the T-4
Euthanasia Program, named after the infamous Berlin address
"Tiergartenstrasse 4." The castle was regularly visited by the
psychiatrists Karl Brandt, Professor of Psychiatry at Würzburg
University, and Werner Heyde.
1940 Jun 1, Rene Auberjonois,
actor (Clayton-Benson, Star Trek Deep Space 9), was born.
1940 Jun 1, German air attacks
at Dunkirk sank 31 vessels and damaged 11. The HMS Worcester limped
back to Dover with 340 dead and 400 wounded. By midnight 64,429 men
were landed safely in England.
(ON, 8/12, p.4)
1940 Jun 2, Constantine II, the
deposed king of Greece (-1967), was born.
1940 Jun 2, Britain’s Operation
Dynamo save 26,256 men from Dunkirk.
(ON, 8/12, p.4)
1940 Jun 3, In a special Maine
election Margaret Chase Smith was elected to serve out the unexpired
term of her late husband, Clyde Smith. At the next regular election,
held 3 months later, Smith was voted to a full term in the House.
She was elected to the Senate in 1948.
1940 Jun 3, The German
Luftwaffe hit Paris with 1,100 bombs.
1940 Jun 4, A synthetic rubber
tire was unveiled.
1940 Jun 4, The Allied military
evacuation of 300,000 troops from Dunkirk, France, ended. Operation
Dynamo counted 235 vessels lost as well as 177 aircraft in combat at
Dunkirk and the English Channel. French defenders surrendered. Some
30-40,000 French troops became prisoners of war.
(AP, 6/4/97)(HN, 6/4/98)(ON, 8/12, p.4)
1940 Jun 4, German forces
1940 Jun 5, The Battle of
France began during World War II. Germany attacked French forces
along the Somme line.
(HN, 6/5/99)(AP, 6/5/07)
1940 Jun 7, Tom Jones, singer
(What's New Pussycat), was born in Pontypridd, Wales.
1940 Jun 9, Norway surrendered
to the Nazis during World War II, effective at midnight.
1940 Jun 10, Marcus Garvey
(b.1887), Jamaica-born US black leader (Back to Africa Movement),
died in London. In 1964 his remains were transferred to Jamaica,
where he was proclaimed Jamaica’s first national hero. In 2008 Colin
Grant authored “Negro With a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Garvey)(SSFC, 5/11/08, Books
1940 Jun 10, Italy declared war
on France and Britain; Canada declared war on Italy.
1940 Jun 11, Joey Dee, actor
(Hey Let's Twist, 2 Tickets to Paris), was born in Passaic, NJ.
1940 Jun 11, Princess Juliana
of the Netherlands arrived in Canada as an exile.
1940 Jun 11, The German
invasion of France was under way and the British had been forced to
abandon their defense of northwestern France and Belgium at Dunkirk.
(WSJ, 4/29/96, p.C-1)
1940 Jun 11, The Italian Air
Force bombed the British fortress at Malta in the Mediterranean.
1940 Jun 13, Paris was
evacuated before the German advance on the city.
1940 June 14. The Nazis opened
their concentration camp at Auschwitz. In German-occupied Poland the
first inmates arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp. They were
all Polish political prisoners.
(SF E&C, 1/15/1995, A-10)(AP, 6/14/97)(AP,
1940 Jun 14, German troops
occupied Paris and Marshal Philippe Petain became the head of the
French government and sued for peace. Gertrude Stein translated
Petain’s speeches and hailed him as a hero of the French nation.
(WUD, 1994, p.1683)(SFC, 6/9/96, Z1 p.5)
1940 Jun 14, The Soviets
presented an ultimatum to Lithuania that demanded the free entry of
an unlimited number of troops. The government surrendered and Pres.
Smetona left the country.
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1940 Jun 15, The French
fortress of Verdun was captured by Germans.
1940 Jun 15, The Soviets
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1940 Jun 16, Dubose Heyward, US
writer (Porgy, Star Spangled Virgin), died.
1940 Jun 16, French Chief of
State, Henri Petain, asked for an armistice with Germany. [see Jun
1940 Jun 16, Soviet Foreign
Minister Molotov presented August Rei, Estonia’s envoy in Moscow, an
ultimatum to allow an unlimited number of Soviet troops, which was
accepted. Latvia received a similar ultimatum.
1940 Jun 17, France asked
Germany for terms of surrender in World War II. Marshal Henri Petain
replaced Paul Reynaud, who chose to resign over surrender, as prime
minister and announced his intention to sign an armistice with the
Nazis. In 2000 Ernest R. May authored "Strange Victory," an account
of the French defeat.
(AP, 6/17/97)(WSJ, 9/14/00, p.A24)(MC, 6/17/02)
1940 Jun 17, Gen. Charles de
Gaulle flew to London.
(WSJ, 8/3/00, p.A12)
1940 Jun 17, The Soviet Union
occupied Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
1940 Jun 18, During World War
II, British PM Winston Churchill urged his countrymen to: "so bear
ourselves that if the British empire and its commonwealth last for a
thousand years men will say 'This was their finest hour'."
(AP, 6/18/00)(Econ, 3/21/20, p.52)
1940 Jun 18, Charles de Gaulle,
future president of France, broadcast to his nation from London,
urging it to rally to him and fight Hitler's invading army.
1940 Jun 18, Soviet occupation
was completed in the Baltics. For the Soviet intrusion into the
German sphere of influence, Stalin compensated Germany with a
payment of 7.5 million gold dollars.
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1940 Jun 18, At a meeting of
the Amer. Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, a USGS geologist
named Joseph Thomas Pardee presented evidence that the large Glacial
Lake Missoula had long ago burst its ice dam and was the source for
the floodwaters that J. Harlen Bretz said formed the Scablands.
(Smith., 4/1995, p.54)
1940 Jun 19, German 7th Armour
division under gen-maj Rommel occupied Cherbourg.
1940 Jun 21, Estonia’s Pres.
Päts appointed a new government led by PM Johannes Vares under
pressure from Andrei Zhdanov, head of the Leningrad branch of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
1940 Jun 21, Wolfgang Doblin,
German-French mathematician, died. He committed suicide in Housseras
(a small village near to Epinal), at the moment when German troops
came in sight of the place. His work to describe the random movement
of particles was later found to contain an important building block
of the Black-Scholes equation.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Doeblin)(Econ, 1/14/12, p.82)
1940 Jun 21, German occupiers
disbanded the Dutch States-General, Council of State.
1940 Jun 22, During World War
II, Adolf Hitler gained a stunning victory as France was forced to
sign an armistice eight days after German forces overran Paris.
France and Germany signed an armistice at Compiegne, on terms
dictated by the Nazis. Alsace again became part of Germany.
(AP, 6/22/97)(HN, 6/22/98)(SFEC, 1/31/99, p.T4)
1940 Jun 23, Wilma Rudolph
(d.1994), the first African American to win three gold medals in a
single Olympiad, was born. At the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, she
became the first American to win three gold medals. Her athleticism
was remarkable since Rudolph contracted polio as a small child and
spent six years in a steel brace. With therapy and hard work,
Rudolph overcame her handicap to excel in basketball and track. As a
celebrity, she worked to break many gender and racial barriers.
Rudolph died of brain cancer in 1994.
1940 Jun 24, France signed an
armistice with Italy after the axis country attacked a portion of
southern France during Germany's blitzkrieg.
(AP, 6/24/97)(HN, 6/24/99)
1940 Jun 24, The Republican
Convention, opened in Philadelphia. In 2005 Charles Peters authored
“Five Days in Philadelphia." An account of the convention and how it
freed FDR to move against Hitler.
(WSJ, 7/6/05, p.D10)(http://tinyurl.com/e3xrw)
1940 Jun 25, Adolf Hitler
viewed the Eiffel tower and tomb of Napoleon in Paris.
1940 Jun 27, USSR returned to
the Gregorian calendar.
1940 Jun 27, Soviet Army
attacked Romania. Before the end of the month the Soviet Union
delivered an ultimatum to Romania and 2 days later occupied
Bessarabia and North Bukovina.
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)(MC, 6/27/02)
1940 Jun 28, The Republican
Convention, held in Philadelphia, nominated Wendall Willkie (d.1944)
for US president. In 2005 Charles Peters authored “Five Days in
Philadelphia." An account of the convention and how it freed FDR to
move against Hitler.
(WSJ, 7/6/05, p.D10)(http://tinyurl.com/e3xrw)
1940 Jun 28, The Quiz Kids
began airing on US NBC radio from Chicago. It was created by Chicago
public relations and advertising man Louis G. Cowan, and originally
sponsored by Alka-Seltzer. In 1945 it began airing on NBC TV. Ruth
Duskin Feldman (1934-2015) joined the program at age 7 and left the
program soon after turning 16. In 1982 she authored “Whatever
Happened to the Quiz Kids: Perils and profits of Growing Up Gifted."
1940 Jun 28, Italian fascist
Marshall Italo Balbo (b.1896) was killed when his plane was shot
down over Tobruk, Libya, by friendly fire.
(SSFC, 7/5/15, DB p.50)
1940 Jun 29, In the Batman
Comics, mobsters rubbed out a circus highwire team known as the
Flying Graysons, leaving their son Dick (Robin) an orphan.
1940 Jun 29, Paul Klee
(b.1879), Swiss-German painter, tutor (Modern Art), died in
Switzerland. In 2005 the Klee Center, designed by Renzo Piano,
opened in Bern.
1940 Jun 30, "Brenda Starr," a
cartoon strip by Dale Messick, a woman, appeared in a Chicago
Tribune insert. In Dec, 2010, Tribune Media Services announced that
it was ending the feature’s newspaper syndication.
1940 Jun, President Franklin D.
Roosevelt named Vannevar Bush director of the newly formed National
Defense Research Committee to continue U.S. nuclear research. In
response to a plea by scientists Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard,
FDR initiated a modest program of uranium research in 1939. By June
1940, interest in uranium and its properties had increased to the
point that the president created a larger organization, the National
Defense Research Committee, with a broader scope of activity. He
named as director Vannevar Bush, the president of the Carnegie
Institution in Washington, D.C. The slowly growing effort gained
further impetus in mid-1941 from a startling British document
code-named the "MAUD Report." Based on British nuclear research, the
report stated that a very small amount of uranium-235 could produce
an explosion equivalent to that of several thousand tons of TNT.
Roosevelt responded by creating a still larger organization, the
Office of Scientific Research and Development, which, directed by
Bush, would mobilize scientific resources to create an atomic
1940 Jun, Hitler confided to
Mussolini his plan to ship Jews to Madagascar.
(WSJ, 3/23/04, p.D8)
1940 Jun, The Germans began to
loot the artwork of Paris and more than 70,000 residences were
plundered. A lot of artwork was sold to the Emil Buhrle Foundation
in Switzerland, the largest buyer of confiscated French art. The
story is told by Hector Feliciano in his 1997 book: "The Lost
Museum." The best book on the fate of European art in WW II was
reported to be "The Rape of Europa" by Lynn Nicholas.
(SFEC, 7/6/97, BR p.7)
1940 Jul 1, The Tacoma Narrows
Bridge in Washington state opened to the public. The initial design
by Clark Eldridge had been redesigned by NYC consultant Leo
Moisseiff, who replaced a 25-foot deep stiffening truss with an
8-foot truss to reduce costs.
(ON, 6/09, p.8)
1940 Jul 1, Australia refused
entry to Dutch Jewish refugees.
1940 Jul 2, Georgi Ivan Ivanov,
1st Bulgarian space traveler (Soyuz 33), was born.
1940 Jul 2, The Lake Washington
Floating bridge in Seattle was dedicated.
1940 Jul 3, British Royal Navy
sank a French fleet in North Africa, ten days after France had
signed an armistice with Nazi Germany.
1940 Jul 4, British destroyed
French battle fleet at Oran, Algeria, 1267 died.
1940 Jul 5, During World War
II, Britain and the Vichy government in France broke diplomatic
1940 Jul 7, Ringo Starr,
drummer for the Beatles, was born. He went on to a solo career and
1940 Jul 9, German Evangelist
Church protested against euthanasia programs.
1940 Jul 10, During World War
II, the 114-day Battle of Britain began as Nazi forces began
attacking southern England by air. By October 31, Britain managed to
repel the Luftwaffe, which suffered heavy losses. Reginald Mitchell
(1895-1937), the designer of the Spitfire, and Sydney Camm, the
designer of the Hurricane, were both saviors. Both fighters were
necessary to win the battle. The R.A.F.’s Fighter Command began the
Battle of Britain with about 650 Hurricanes and Spitfires, and lost
over 900 of same during the course of the battle; enormous
production of replacements made good the losses to such an extent
that at times during the battle, Fighter Command had over 900
operational Hurricanes and Spitfires. In his book "The Air War
1939-1945," Richard J. Overy wrote, ". . . the Spitfire took two and
a half times the man hours that it took to produce a Hurricane
fighter." In overall performance the Spitfire was slightly better
than the Hurricane, but the above production figures give some clue
to the Hurricane’s importance. Re the Luftwaffe heavy bomber: The
Luftwaffe had a couple of four-engine bombers, the Heinkel He-177
and the Focke Wulf FW-200, but neither were produced in large
numbers, and neither were in the same league as the American B-17,
B-24, or B-29, or the British Lancaster. Hitler was fascinated by
high-tech "super weapons" and attempted to produce them at the
expense of more worthwhile, conventional ones. This was a guy who,
when nearly everyone else knew Germany was finished, wanted to build
a 1,500-ton tank and a long-range rocket to attack the United
(AP, 7/10/97)(ON, 3/07, p.2)(ExH, 3/23/98)
1940 Jul 10-1940 Oct 31, The
Battle of Britain in July-October of 1940 was an earth-shakingly
decisive campaign (not just a battle). Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe
gathered over 2,500 combat planes for a bombing campaign that would
be a prelude to "Operation Sea Lion" (an invasion of Britain).
British Air Marshall Hugh C. Dowding’s Royal Air Force’s Fighter
Command could muster about 650 decent fighters (Hurricanes and
Spitfires). The Luftwaffe came perilously close to wearing down the
R.A.F., but at about that time, a German bomber accidentally dropped
bombs on London, Churchill bombed Berlin, and Hitler switched the
Luftwaffe’s attack from the R.A.F. to London, giving the R.A.F. a
breather. The Luftwaffe’s bombers carried too small a bomb load for
a strategic bombing campaign and were inadequately armed to defend
themselves against R.A.F. fighters. The Luftwaffe’s Me-109 fighter
lacked the range to provide sufficient escort for the bombers, which
were massacred by Hurricanes and Spitfires. The Germans knew that
the British radar installations existed, and did launch some attacks
upon them, but never realized how vital radar truly was in directing
R.A.F. fighters to intercept raiding aircraft. In 1969 the film
“Battle of Britain" starred Laurence Olivier as Hugh C. Dowding.
(ExC, JWL, 3/20/98)(WSJ, 1/9/09, p.W10)
1940 Jul 12, Rufus Robinson and
Earl Cooley (1911-2009) jumped out of a Travelair plane to fight the
a forest fire in Idaho’s Nez Perce National Forest. The were the
(SFC, 9/14/96, p.B5)(Econ, 11/28/09, p.102)
1940 Jul 13, Patrick Stewart,
actor (Picard-Star Trek Next Generation), was born in England.
1940 Jul 14, Due to beanball
wars, Spalding advertised batting helmet with earflaps.
1940 Jul 14, A force of German
Ju-88 bombers attacked Suez, Egypt, from bases in Crete.
1940 Jul 14, Lithuania became
1940 Jul 16, Adolf Hitler
ordered the preparations to begin on the invasion of England,
Operation Sea Lion.
1940 Jul 18, The Democratic
national convention in Chicago nominated President Roosevelt for an
unprecedented third term in office.
1940 Jul 18, The 1st successful
helicopter flight was made at Stratford, Ct.
1940 Jul 19, Hitler ordered
Great Britain to surrender.
1940 Jul 21, The new
USSR-organized parliaments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania held
simultaneous sessions. They declared their countries to be soviet
socialist republics and applied for admission to the USSR.
1940 Jul 23, German bombers
began the "Blitz," the all-night air raids on London.
1940 Jul 23, Don Imus, later
radio personality, was born in Riverside, Ca.
(SSFC, 4/21/02, Par p.22)
1940 Jul 23, John Nichols,
novelist and essayist (The Milagro Beanfield War), was born.
1940 Jul 25, John Sigmund began
swimming for 89 hrs 46 mins in the Mississippi River.
1940 Jul 26, Mary Jo Kopechne
(d.1969), killed while driving with Ted Kennedy, was born.
1940 Jul 26, In Iran the Shah's
police squad unexpectedly arrived at the residence of opposition
politician Mohammad Mossadegh (1888-1967), searching and ransacking
his house. Although no incriminating evidence against him was found,
he was taken to the central prison in Tehran nonetheless. Mossadegh
was released in November, but was kept under house arrest until 1941
when Mohammad Reza, ascended to the throne.
1940 Jul 27, Bharati Mukherjee,
Indian novelist (The Middleman and Other Stories), was born.
1940 Jul 27, Bugs Bunny made
his official debut in the Warner Bros. animated cartoon "A Wild
Hare." This marked the beginning of the Bugs Bunny series by Fred
"Tex" Avery along with the rhetorical "What’s up, Doc?"
(AP, 7/27/97)(SFEC, 10/5/97, Z1 p.6)
1940 Jul 28, Phil Proctor,
comedian (Firesign Theater), was born.
1940 Jul 30, A bombing lull
ended the first phase of the Battle of Britain.
1940 Jul, In Japan Mount
Mijakejima erupted and left 11 people dead.
(SFEC, 4/2/00, p.A17)
Jul, Jan Zwartendijk, a Dutch diplomat, and Chiune Sugihara, a
Japanese diplomat, worked together to save some 2,000 thousand
Polish Jews, who had fled to Lithuania by issuing them visas for
Japan, China and the Dutch colonies in South America. Zwartendijk
wrote out the so called Curacao visas, while Sugihara issued the
transit visas weeks after the Red Army entered the Baltic state. The
Sugihara family was later captured by the Russians and placed in a
concentration camp for 1½ years. None of the refugees actually
arrived in Curacao, but many of them reached free countries or ended
up in Shanghai where they survived the war.
9/7/96, p.A13)(SFC, 9/9/96, p.A16)(AFP, 6/15/18)
1940 Jul, Avila Camacho was
elected president of Mexico. He agreed to compensate the
multi-nationals for their oil losses and a new market for Mexican
oil opened, i.e. the US.
1940 Aug 1, The idea of the
Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was formally announced by
Japan’s Foreign Minister Matsuoka Yosuke, in a press interview, but
had already existed in various forms for many years. Japan urged the
nations of the region to unite in one economic sphere, ousting the
colonial powers and enjoying economic prosperity together. The
concept was used to justify Japan's seizure of raw materials from
throughout Southeast Asia to further its drive for economic,
political and military domination of East Asia. The Sphere was
intended to include, in addition to Japan, China, Manchukuo,
Southeast Asia and the Pacific mandates islands.
2/8/00)(Econ, 4/11/09, p.43)
1940 Aug 2, Clermont-Ferrand
sentenced Gen. Charles de Gaulle to death. [see Aug 4]
1940 Aug 3, John W. Carlin,
Gov-D-KS, was born.
1940 Aug 3, Martin Sheen, actor
(Subject Was Roses, Wall St), was born.
1940 Aug 3, The Supreme Soviet
officially registered the acceptance of Estonia, Latvia and
Lithuania into the USSR.
1940 Aug 4, The Paris Soir
reported that Gen. Charles de Gaulle had been condemned to death in
absentia for treason by a Vichy military court.
(WSJ, 8/3/00, p.A12)
1940 Aug 4, Zeev Jabotinsky
(b.1880), a revisionist Zionist leader, died in NY. He co-founded
the Jewish Legion of the British army in World War I and later
established several Jewish organizations, including Beitar, Hatzohar
and the Irgun. He had argued that no concession could appease Arabs.
1940 Aug 7, Churchill
recognized the De Gaulle government in exile.
1940 Aug 8, The German
Luftwaffe attacked Great Britain for the first time, beginning the
Battle of Britain.
1940 Aug 11, 38 German
aircrafts were shot down over England.
1940 Aug 11, Italian forces
attacked Observation Hill in British Somaliland. Capt. Wilson and
Somali gunners under his command beat off the attack and opened fire
on the enemy troops attacking Mill Hill, another post within his
range. The enemy finally overran the post at 5 p.m. on the 15th
August when Capt. Wilson, fighting to the last, was reportedly
killed. 2 months later he was awarded a Victoria Cross. In April
1941, however, Wilson was found alive in a prisoner of war camp in
Eritrea. Wilson died at age 96 on Dec 23, 2008.
1940 Aug 12, Luftwaffe bombed
British radar stations and lost 31 aircraft.
1940 Aug 13, Der Adler Tag
(Eagle Day) was the name given to the day the German Luftwaffe
launched an all-out offensive against the Royal Air Force and the
British aircraft industry in southern England. With this action,
Adolf Hitler hoped to knock out any aerial resistance to his planned
invasion of the British Isles. RAF fighter pilots successfully held
off the numerically superior Luftwaffe, in spite of the loss of 415
pilots out of a force of 1,500.
1940 Aug 15, In the
largest–scale raids in the history of aerial warfare, hundreds of
Germany planes struck against London and its suburbs. Hitler’s
planned Operation Sea Lion was to have commenced on this day.
However it was cancelled on Aug 17 following heavy German air raid
losses. In 2008 Michael Korda authored “With Wings Like Eagles: A
History of the Battle of Britain."
(WSJ, 1/9/09, p.W10)
1940 Aug 16, Bruce Beresford,
Australian film director, was born. His films include "Breaker
Morant" and "Driving Miss Daisy."
1940 Aug 16, 45 German
aircrafts were shot down over England.
1940 Aug 17, President
Roosevelt and Canadian Prime Minister William Mackenzie King met in
Ogdensburg, N.Y., where they agreed to set up a joint defense
1940 Aug 17, Wendell Willkie, a
former Democrat, delivered his formal acceptance speech as the
Republican nominee for president from his home in Elwood, Indiana.
(WSJ, 7/22/96, p.A12)(SFEC, 7/30/00,
1940 Aug 18, Walter Chrysler
(b.1875), the founder of Chrysler Corporation, died. He was a
locomotive mechanic who founded Chrysler in 1924 with money and
experience gained as general manager of Buick and executive VP of
GM. He oversaw the purchase of Dodge Brothers, which was much bigger
than Chrysler at the time. In 2000 Vincent Curcio authored
"Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius."
(WSJ, 6/19/96, Adv. Supl)(HNQ, 8/21/99)(WSJ,
1940 Aug 18, The Duke of
Windsor (1894-1972), was installed as Governor of the Bahamas. He
had served as Britain’s King Edward VIII in 1936. Edward continued
as governor of the Bahamas to 1945.
1940 Aug 18, 71 German aircraft
were shot down above England.
1940 Aug 20, Radar is used for
the first time, by the British during the Battle of Britain.
1940 Aug 20, British Prime
Minister Winston Churchill paid tribute to the Royal Air Force,
saying, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so
many to so few."
1940 Aug 20, Ramon Mercador
(Mercader) del Rio, a Spanish Communist, posed as a Canadian
businessman (aka Frank Jackson) and fatally wounded Leon Trotsky
with an alpine ax to the back of the head in Mexico City. Trotsky
died the next day.
(WSJ, 3/29/96, p.A-14)(TMC, 1994, p.1940)(SFC,
7/19/96, p.B1)(HN, 8/20/01)
1940 Aug 21, Leon Trotsky,
exiled Communist revolutionary, died in Mexico City from wounds
inflicted by an assassin the day before. Earlier this year Josef
Grigulevich (27), a Lithuania-born KGB agent, established a safe
house at Zook's Pharmacy in Santa Fe, NM, for the assassins of Leon
Trotsky. The pharmacy, visible in archive photos, was replaced in
1990 by a Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop. Grigulevich was recruited by
Soviet strongman Josef Stalin's secret police as a university
student in Paris and learned the assassin's trade during the Spanish
civil war. He later published 58 books on Latin American history. In
2011 intelligence expert E.B. Held authored "A Spy's Guide to
Albuquerque and Santa Fe."
(AP, 8/21/08)(AFP, 2/4/11)
1940 Aug 23, German Luftwaffe
began night bombing on London.
1940 Aug 24, Luftwaffe bombed
1940 Aug 25, The first
parachute wedding ceremony was performed by Rev. Homer Tomlinson at
the New York City World’s Fair for Arno Rudolphi and Ann Hayward.
The minister, bride and groom, best man, maid of honor and four
musicians were all suspended from parachutes.
1940 Aug 25, Jose Van Dam,
bass-baritone, was born in Brussels, Belgium.
1940 Aug 25, The 1st (British)
night bombing of Germany was over Berlin.
1940 Aug 25, The ‘parliaments’
of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania declared themselves ‘provisional
Supreme Soviets’ and adopted new constitutions that were composed
according to the example of the constitutions of already existing
union republics of the USSR.
1940 Aug 31, US National Guard
1940 Aug 31, Jack Thompson of
Australia, actor (Breaker Morant), was born.
1940 Aug 31, Joseph Avenol
stepped down as Secretary-General of the League of Nations.
1940 Aug 31, 56 U-boats were
sunk this month (268,000 ton).
1940 Aug 31, Fighter Command
lost 39 and the Luftwaffe lost 41 airplanes.
1940 Aug, The Armies of
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were reorganized as territorial rifle
corps of the Red Army and placed under the control of the political
leaders of the Red Army.
1940 Aug, US Army
cryptoanalysts under William F. Friedman succeeded in breaking
Japan's top secret Purple Code, which was used for diplomatic
(WSJ, 12/7/99, p.A24)
1940 Aug, In France Jacques
Robert (d.1998 at 83) joined the French Resistance. He set up the
Resistance group named Phratrie in 1942. In 1943 he was arrested in
Nice, but escaped to London. He parachuted back to France to lead
guerrilla operations in 1944 during the Normandy invasion.
(SFC, 2/18/98, p.A18)
1940 Sep 1, Gen. George
Marshall was sworn in as chief of staff of US army.
1940 Sep 2, The US Great Smoky
Mountains National Park dedicated.
1940 Sep 3, Artie Shaw and his
Gramercy Five recorded "Summit Ridge Drive," "Special Delivery
Stomp," "Keepin’ Myself for You" and "Cross Your Heart" in Hollywood
for RCA Victor.
1940 Sep 3, The 1st showing of
high definition color TV.
1940 Sep 3, US gave Britain 50
destroyers in exchange for Newfoundland base lease.
1940 Sep 3, In France more than
700,000 books were seized from bookshops and destroyed. The "Otto
lists," or liste Otto, were comprised of books banned by the German
occupying authorities in Vichy France. By September, 1940, 1,060
titles were on the list. The list aimed to ban anti-German,
antifascist, pro-Marxists books, works by Jewish authors and British
and American books.
(HNQ, 8/16/98)(AP, 8/15/98)
1940 Sep 3, In Germany the SS
banned Free Masons, Rotary & Red Cross.
1940 Sep 7, Nazi Germany began
its initial blitz on London during the World War II Battle of
Britain. The German Luftwaffe blitzed London for the 1st of 57
consecutive nights. Nazi Germany launched the aerial bombing of
London that Adolf Hitler believed would soften Britain for an
invasion. The invasion, "Operation Sea Lion," never materialized.
The Luftwaffe lost 41 bombers over England. The blitz only
strengthened Britain's resistance. The defense of London was for the
Royal Air Force what Churchill called "their finest hour."
(AP, 9/7/97)(HN, 9/7/98)
1940 Sep 9, 28 German aircraft
were shot down above England.
1940 Sep 9, Italian troops
under Marshal Graziani attacked Egypt. Rodolfo Graziani (1882-1955)
was already known as the “Butcher of Ethiopia."
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodolfo_Graziani)(Econ, 9/14/13, p.20)
1940 Sep 11, Brian DePalma,
film director (Body Double, Dressed to Kill), was born in Newark,
1940 Sep 12, The Lascaux Caves
in France, with their prehistoric wall paintings, were discovered in
the Dordogne region. 4 teens, following their dog down a hole near
Lascaux France discover 17,000-year-old drawings now known as
Lascaux Cave Paintings. The paintings consisting mostly of animal
representations (horses), are among the finest examples of art from
the Paleolithic period.
(SFEC, 5/30/99, p.T4)(HN, 9/12/00)(MC, 9/12/01)
1940 Sep 13, Buckingham Palace
was hit by German bombs causing superficial damage.
1940 Sep 14, Congress passed
the Selective Service Act, providing for the first peacetime draft
in U.S. history. It passed by one vote.
(AP, 9/14/97)(SFEC, 8/27/00, BR p.4)
1940 Sep 15, The tide turned in
Battle of Britain in WW II. A reported 185 German planes were shot
down by Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots, forcing Nazi leader Adolf
Hitler to abandon his invasion plans.
1940 Sep 15, Sergeant Ray
Holmes (1915-2005) slammed his Hurricane into a German Dornier
bomber to prevent it attacking Buckingham Palace. The date of 15
September has come to be known as Battle of Britain Day and has been
commemorated every year since.
1940 Sep 16, President
Roosevelt signed into law the Selective Training and Service Act,
which set up the first peacetime military draft in U.S. history.
(AP, 9/16/97)(HN, 9/16/98)
1940 Sep 16, Samuel T. Rayburn
of Texas was elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
1940 Sep 16, The Luftwaffe
bombed the Bristol Aeroplane Company.
1940 Sep 17, Nazis deprived
Jews of possessions.
1940 Sep 17, Lithuanian
Activist Front or LAF (Lithuanian: Lietuvos aktyvistų frontas), a
short-lived resistance organization, was established after Lithuania
was occupied by the Soviet Union. The LAF was ferociously
anti-Polish and anti-Jewish.
1940 Sep 18, 19 German aircraft
were shot down above England.
1940 Sep 19, A Nazi decree
forbade gentile woman to work in Jewish homes.
1940 Sep 24, Luftwaffe bombed
the Spitfire factory in Southampton. [see Sep 25]
1940 Sep 25, German High
Commissioner in Norway set up the Vidikun Quisling government.
(SFC, 6/25/97, p.A10)(MC, 9/25/01)
1940 Sep 25, Luftwaffe bombed
the Spitfire factory in Southampton. [see Sep 24]
1940 Sep 26, During the London
Blitz, the underground Cabinet War Room suffered a hit when a bomb
exploded on the Clive Steps.
1940 Sep 26, W.H. Davies
(b.1871), a Welsh poet, died in England. He had lived the life of a
hobo in America and authored “Autobiography of a Supertramp" (1908).
1940 Sep 26, Japanese troops
attacked French Indochina (Vietnam).
1940 Sep 27, Black leaders
protested discrimination in US armed forces.
1940 Sep 27, 55 German
aircrafts were shot down above England.
1940 Sep 27, Nazi-Germany,
Italy and Japan signed a formal alliance called Tripartite Pact, a
10 year military and economic alliance strengthening the Axis
1940 Sep 29, In the SF Bay Area
the $7.8 Int'l. Exposition on Treasure Island closed at a financial
loss. During its 2 seasons some 17 million people visited the
404-acre man made island. It had been organized to compete with the
1939 New York World's Fair.
(Ind, 1/23/99, p.5A)(SFC, 8/16/13, p.C3)(SFC,
1940 Sep 30, 47 German
aircrafts were shot down above England.
1940 Sep, 59 U-boats were sunk
1940 Sep, Frank B. Rowlett
(d.1998 at 90), cryptographer, supervised a team of code-breakers,
who after 18 months work, cracked the chief Japanese diplomatic
cipher machine, called PURPLE by US officials.
(SFC, 7/4/98, p.C2)
1940 Sep, Witold Pilecki
(1901-1948), a Catholic cavalry officer and founder of the Secret
Polish Army (1939), infiltrated Auschwitz to spy on what was
happening there. He escaped Auschwitz in April 1943, but was
executed by the Soviets in 1948.
1940 Autumn, Maurice Schumann
(d.1998 at 86), "the voice of France," began wartime broadcasting
"The French Speak to the French" from London as the official
spokesman for Gen’l. de Gaulle.
(SFC, 2/11/98, p.A24)
1940 Oct 1, The first section
of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, 160 miles in length, was opened to the
1940 Oct 2, 17 German aircrafts
were shot down above England.
1940 Oct 2, The British liner
Empress, loaded with refugees for Canada, sank.
1940 Oct 3, U.S. Army adopted
airborne, or parachute, soldiers.
1940 Oct 3, In France a law was
passed that placed great restrictions on French Jews.
(SFC, 10/2/97, p.A9)
1940 Oct 4, Adolf Hitler and
Benito Mussolini conferred at Brenner Pass in the Alps, where the
Nazi leader sought Italy’s help in fighting the British.
1940 Oct 5, Silvestre
Revueltas, Mexican composer: Cuauhnahuac/Planos, died at 40.
1940 Oct 6, San Francisco’s new
Fleishhacker Zoo opened.
(SFC, 7/30/04, p.E15)
1940 Oct 7, Artie Shaw and his
Orchestra recorded Hoagy Carmichael’s "Stardust" for RCA Victor.
1940 Oct 8, German troops
1940 Oct 9, Otto Kallir, owner
of the Galerie St. Etienne in Manhattan, opened a show featuring the
art work of Anna Mary Moses (77). A reported embellished her name as
Grandma Moses. Three paintings of 34, priced from $20-250, were
sold. Her popularity rose rapidly following a Thanksgiving show at
Gimbels department store.
(ON, 8/20/11, p.11)
1940 Oct 9, John Winston Lennon
(d.1980) was born in Liverpool, England. Composer; musician; one
fourth of the idolized rock group, The Beatles; 2nd wife was Yoko
Ono he had two children Julian (from his first wife who he mostly
abandoned emotionally and financially) and Sean. On December 8,
1980, John Lennon was shot to death outside his New York City
apartment building. "The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened
of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams,
illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that. Unknown is what it is.
Accept that it's unknown and it's plain sailing."
(HN, 10/9/98)(AP, 12/8/98)(MC, 10/9/01)
1940 Oct 10, General Fulgencio
Batista (1901-1973) began serving a 4-year term as Cuba's 14th
1940 Oct 15, Charles Chaplin's
first all-talking comedy, "The Great Dictator," a lampoon of Adolf
Hitler, opened at two theaters in New York with Chaplin and his
wife, co-star Paulette Goddard, making appearances in both
1940 Oct 15-16, London's
Waterloo Station was bombed by Germans. The bombing continued on
London for 2 days and killed 400 people.
1940 Oct 16, Benjamin O. Davis
became the U.S. Army’s first African American Brigadier General.
1940 Oct 16, The 1st lottery
for US WW II draftees was held; #158 drawn 1st.
1940 Oct 16, The Warsaw Ghetto
was formed by Nazi SS troops.
1940 Oct 17, California Gov.
Culbert Olson commuted the prison sentence of Warren K. Billings,
who spent 23 years in prison for his alleged role in the July 22,
1916, Preparedness Day bombing in San Francisco.
(SSFC, 1/4/15, DB p.42)
1940 Oct 18, Kaufman's &
Harts "George Washington Slept Here," premiered in NYC.
1940 Oct 18, Britain reopened
the Burma Road linking Myanmar with China, three months after
1940 Oct 20, Robert Pinsky,
former U.S. Poet Laureate, was born.
1940 Oct 20, German troops
reached the approaches to Moscow.
1940 Oct 21, Ernest Hemingway's
novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls" was published.
1940 Oct 22, Guy Bailey
(b.1876), Vermont politician and educator, died. He was elected
secretary of state in 1908 and was reelected four times until
resigning in August 1917. In August 1919, Bailey was appointed
acting president of the University of Vermont. In June 1920 he
became president, and held this position until his death. In 2018
his name was removed from the school library in Burlington because
of his support in research for the eugenics movement of the 1920s
and 1930s that helped lead to sterilizations.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_W._Bailey)(SFC, 10/29/18, p.A5)
1940 Oct 23, Pele, legendary
Brazilian soccer player who scored 1,281 goals in 22 years, was
1940 Oct 24, F. Murray Abraham,
actor (Amadeus, Mad Man), was born in Pittsburgh, Pa.
1940 Oct 24, The 40-hour work
week went into effect in the US under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards
1940 Oct 24, Hitler met Marshal
1940 Oct 24, Protestant
churches [in Germany?] protested against the dismissal of Jewish
1940 Oct 25, The musical play
“Cabin in the Sky" opened with an all black cast at the Martin Beck
Theater on Broadway. It featured Katherine Dunham (1909-2006) and
her dance troupe.
1940 Oct 25, Col. Benjamin O.
Davis Sr. (1877-1970), commander of the 369th Infantry of New York,
was promoted to brigadier general. In 1955 his son became the first
black brigadier general in the Air Force. In 1989 Biographer Marvin
Fletcher authored “America's First Black General, Benjamin O. Davis,
Sr., 1880-1970." Fletcher presented evidence of Davis’ birth records
indicating that he was born in May 1880 and later lied about his age
so that he could enlist in the Army without the permission of his
1940 Oct 25, German troops
captured Kharkov and launched a new drive toward Moscow.
1940 Oct 25, Hitler visited
Mussolini in Florence.
1940 Oct 25, The Greek Army
beat back an invasion by Mussolini’s forces.
1940 Oct 26, Mario Orosco, the
1st victim of NYC's Zodiac killer (survives), was born.
1940 Oct 27, Maxine Hong
Kingston, writer, was born. Her work included "The Woman Warrior"
and "China Men."
1940 Oct 27, The 1939 New York
World’s Fair officially closed. In 2010 James Mauro authored
“Twilight at the world of tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the
1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War."
1940 Oct 28, Greece said no to
an ultimatum from Benito Mussolini who demanded that PM Metaxas
allow the Italian army free passage to enter and occupy strategic
sites in Greece unopposed. Italy invaded Greece, launching six
divisions on four fronts from Albania, which it had occupied the
previous year. Greece successfully resisted Italy's attack. From
1942 Greeks celebrated From 1942 Greeks celebrated October 28 as Ohi
Day (No Day).
1940 Oct 28, A meeting between
Hitler and Mussolini took place in Florence.
1940 Oct 29, John Gotti, mafia
head, was born.
1940 Oct 29, Secretary of War
Henry L. Stimson drew the first number -- 158 -- in America’s first
peacetime military draft.
1940 Oct 30, Cole Porter
musical "Panama Hattie," premiered in NYC.
1940 Oct 31, 63 U boats were
sunk this month (325,000 ton).
1940 Oct 31, In the Battle of
Britain, the German and British duel for control of English Channel,
1940 Oct 31, This was the
deadline for Warsaw Jews to move into the Warsaw Ghetto.
1940 Oct, The 634-page "Ohio
Guide" was published by Oxford Univ. Press. It was a product of the
Ohio branch of the Federal Writer’s Project.
(MT, Sum. ‘98, p.6)
1940 Oct, In San Francisco six
German officers escaped from Angel Island and fled to Japan aboard
the liner Asama Maru. Their flight was only disclosed in Jan, 1941.
On Jan 15, 1941, the Justice Dept. decided to transfer some 400 Nazi
sailors from Angel Island to New Mexico.
(SSFC, 1/10/16, DB p.50)
1940 Nov 1, 1st US air raid
shelter was made in Fleetwood, Pa.
1940 Nov 1, The Iceland skating
rink opened in Berkeley, Ca., with an appearance by Sonya Henie, the
former Olympic champion and Hollywood actress. The facility closed
(SFC, 1/19/07, p.B2)
1940 Nov 4, Lewis Hine,
American social-documentary photographer, died. Hine, a former
geography teacher, had quit his job in 1908 to become a full-time
photographer for the National Child Labor Committee.
(WSJ, 11/12/99, p.W10)(ON, 3/07, p.6)
1940 Nov 5, President Roosevelt
won an unprecedented third term in office, beating Republican
challenger Wendell L. Willkie along with Surprise Party challenger
(AP, 11/5/97)(HN, 11/5/98)(WSJ, 10/27/04, p.B1)
1940 Nov 6, The Immigration and
Naturalization Service abandoned its Angel Island Station after a
fire destroyed the administration building.
(SFEC, 3/1/98, p.W39)(SSFC, 11/1/15, DB p.50)
1940 Nov 7, The middle section
of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington state, nicknamed
"Galloping Gertie," collapsed during a windstorm. In 1950 a new
fortified bridge was built on the original piers.
(AP, 11/7/08)(ON, 6/09, p.9)
1940 Nov 8, The MV City of
Rayville, an American freighter carrying a cargo of lead, wool and
copper from Australia to New York, sank in the Bass Strait after
striking a German mine, a year before the United States entered the
war. One seaman drowned while trying to recover personal items from
the sinking vessel but 37 other crew survived. In 2009 the wreck was
found off of Australia’s southeastern coast.
1940 Nov 9, Arthur Neville
Chamberlain (b.1869), British premier (1937-40), died.
1940 Nov 11, Willys unveiled
its General Purpose vehicle, the "Jeep." The Willys Quad, featuring
4-wheel drive, was one entry in a US government competition for a
small military utility vehicle.
(MC, 11/11/01)(WSJ, 9/16/05, p.W12)
1940 Nov 11, Blizzard struck
midwestern US killing over 100.
1940 Nov 11, Frank Taussig
(b.1859), former president of the American Economic Association
(1904-1905) and Harvard professor, died. In 1911 he authored the
“Principles of Economics." In 1912 he stated: “We must accept the
consumer as the final judge."
1940 Nov 11, Britain’s Royal
Navy attacked the Italian fleet at Taranto.
1940 Nov 12, Walt Disney
1940 Nov 12, Blizzard struck
the Midwest. 154 died including 69 on a boat on the Great Lakes.
1940 Nov 13, The Walt Disney
animated movie "Fantasia" had its world premiere in New York.
1940 Nov 13, U.S. Supreme Court
ruled in Hansberry v. Lee that African Americans cannot be barred
from white neighborhoods.
1940 Nov 14, Coventry, England,
was devastated by German bombers in the worst air raid of World War
II, killing 1,000.
(AP, 11/14/97)(HN, 11/14/98)
1940 Nov 15, The first US
75,000 men were called to Armed Forces duty under peacetime
1940 Nov 15, In San Francisco
Negro singer Paul Robeson and eight other men and women filed suit
in Superior Court asking $22,500 in damages from Vanessi Inc. for
being denied service at Vanessi’s, a restaurant at 498 Broadway
following his concert at the Opera House.
(SSFC, 11/15/15, DB p.50)
1940 Nov 15, NY Midtown tunnel
linking Manhattan and Queens opened to traffic.
1940 Nov 17, The Wisconsin
Green Bay Packers became the 1st NFL team to travel by plane.
1940 Nov 19, A German air raid
on Birmingham failed.
1940 Nov 22, Terry Gilliam,
comedy author-animator (Monty Python), was born in Minneapolis.
1940 Nov 25, Woody Woodpecker
debuted with the release of Walter Lantz's "Knock Knock."
1940 Nov 25, The ship Patria,
carrying illegal immigrants, sank in port of Haifa, 200 died.
1940 Nov 26, The half-million
Jews of Warsaw, Poland, were forced by the Nazis to live within a
1940 Nov 27, Bruce Lee, [Lee
Yuen Kam], karate star and actor (Green Hornet), was born in SF,
1940 Nov 27, Astonescu's Iron
Guard massacred over sixty aides of the exiled king, including
Nicolae Iorga, a former minister and acclaimed historian. Two months
prior General Ion Antonescu seized power in Romania and forced King
Carol II to abdicate.
1940 Nov, The Nazi Bielfield
memorandum argued for the seizure of Belgian and French Congo,
Equatorial French Africa and a large portion of French West Africa;
naval bases were earmarked for Dakar, Conakry and the Canary
Islands, while Madagascar was reserved as a ‘dumping-ground’ for
Jews. This vast area was to be exploited for its natural resources,
upon which Germany’s European empire would be built.
1940 Dec 1, Richard Pryor Ill,
comedian and actor (Lady Sings the Blues, Stir Crazy), was born.
1940 Dec 5, Jan Kubelik (60),
1940 Dec 6, The Gestapo
arrested Helen Ernst, German resistance fighter and poster artist.
1940 Dec 8, During the Battle
of Britain, the German Luftwaffe launched a massive attack on London
as night fell. For nearly 24 hours, the Luftwaffe rained tons of
bombs over the city, causing the first serious damage to the House
of Commons and Tower of London.
1940 Dec 9, British troops
opened their first major offensive in North Africa during World War
II and seized 1,000 Italians in a sudden thrust in Egypt.
(AP, 12/9/97)(HN, 12/9/98)
1940 Dec 9, Illegal Jewish
immigrants to Haifa were deported to Mauritius.
1940 Dec 16, British carried
out an air raid on Italian Somalia.
1940 Dec 18, Hitler dictated
Directive No. 21 to crush Russia in a quick campaign. Adolf Hitler
signed a secret directive ordering preparations for a Nazi invasion
of the Soviet Union. (Operation "Barbarossa" was launched in June
(SFC, 10/29/97, p.A23)(AP, 12/18/97)
1940 Dec 19, Phil Ochs,
anti-war folk singer (Joe Hill, War is Over), was born in El Paso,
1940 Dec 21, Frank Zappa,
rocker (Mothers of Invention, Catholic Girls), was born in
1940 Dec 21, F. Scott
Fitzgerald (44), American author (Zelda, The Great Gatsby), died of
a heart attack.
1940 Dec 22, Nathanael West
(b.1902), [Weinstein], US writer (Cool Million), died in an auto
accident at age 37. In 1962 Stanley Edgar Hyman authored “Nathanael
West." In 1970 Jay Martin authored the biography: "Nathanael West:
The Art of His Life." In 2010 Marion Meade authored “Lonely Hearts:
The Screwball world of Nathanael West and Eileen McKeney."
(WUD, 1994, p.1623)(WSJ, 8/11/97, p.A12)(SFC,
1940 Dec 23, Chiang Kai-shek
dissolved all Communist associations in China.
1940 Dec 26, J.A. Fields' and
J. Chodorov's "My Sister Eileen," premiered in NYC.
1940 Dec 29, In a radio
interview, President Roosevelt proclaimed the U.S. is the ‘arsenal
1940 Dec 29, During World War
II, Germany began dropping incendiary bombs on London, setting off
what came to be known as "The Second Great Fire of London." In 2006
Margaret Gaskin authored “Blitz: The Story of December 29, 1940."
(AP, 12/29/97)(SSFC, 12/17/06, p.M3)
1940 Dec 30, In California the
Arroyo Seco Parkway, connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena, officially
opened as the first freeway in the Western US.
(AP, 12/30/97)(SFC, 3/7/98, p.A18)
1940 Martin Sheen, actor, was
born as Ramon Estevez in Dayton, Ohio.
(SSFC, 12/2/01, Par p.4)
1940 A group of 14 bronze
sculptures by Swedish sculptor Carl Miles were installed in St.
Louis to celebrate the meeting of the Missouri and Mississippi
(SFC, 10/12/97, p.T5)
1940 Max Beckman (d.1950),
German-American painter, painted his oil "Acrobat on a Trapeze."
(SFC, 10/29/96, p.F3)
1940 Andre Breton held the
Int’l. Surrealist Exhibition in Mexico City. Included was the
photograph "The Good Reputation Sleeping" by Alvarez Bravo.
(WSJ, 3/12/97, p.A16)
1940 Alexander Calder created
his mobile sculpture "Little Spider" from sheet metal and wire.
(SFC, 3/28/98, p.D1)
1940 Frederick C. Flemister
painted his self-portrait "Man With a Brush." It was used as the
cover painting for the 1999 book "To Conserve a Legacy: American Art
from Historically Black Colleges and Universities."
(SFEC, 9/26/99, Par p.13)
1940 Frido Kahlo created her
"Self-Portrait With Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird."
(SFC, 1/7/99, p.D3)
1940 Eric Ambler wrote his spy
thriller "Journey into Fear."
(SFC, 10/24/98, p.A22)
1940 The photography book
"California and the West" was written by Chris Wilson with photos by
Edward Weston. It was the first really successful book of
(SFEC, 7/5/98, BR p.7)
1940 Mortimer Adler (d.2001),
philosopher and author, authored "How to Read a Book."
(SFC, 6/30/01, p.A18)
1940 Gracie Allen, with the
help of a ghostwriter, authored “How to Become President."
(WSJ, 10/27/04, p.B1)
1940 Jean Potter Chelnov wrote
"Alaska Under Arms."
(SFC, 1/8/96, p.A17)
1940 Wang Chi-ch’ien, aka C.C.
Wang, wrote "Seals of Chinese Painters and Collectors of the Ming
and Ch’ing Periods" with German art historian Victoria Contag.
(WSJ, 7/24/97, p.A16)
1940 The misleadingly titled
"An Outline of Psychoanalysis" by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was
(WSJ, 5/5/06, p.A16)
1940 John F. Kennedy
(1917-1963) authored "Why England Slept," a critique of appeasement
(Econ., 10/17/20, p.71)
1940 Arthur Koestler
(1905-1983) authored "Darkness At Noon." The novel introduced to the
public the dark side of Stalinism.
(SFEC, 1/2/00, BR p.5)
1940 "Pat the Bunny" by Dorothy
Kunhardt was published.
(SFEC, 2/27/00, BR p.12)
1940 Maud Hart Lovelace
(d.1980) published her first "Betsy-Tacy" book for children. The
last of 10 books in the series with 3 satellite volumes was
published in 1955.
(SFC, 10/6/97, p.A24)
1940 Anne Morrow Lindbergh
authored "The Wave of the Future" in which she spoke on behalf of
anti-democratic movements and against American involvement in WW II.
(WSJ, 11/29/99, p.A26)
1940 Denis de Rougemont
(1906-1985), Swiss writer who wrote in French, authored “Love in the
Western World," a sweeping history of 8 centuries of romantic
1940 American Latino scholar
George I. Sanchez (1906-1972) authored “Forgotten People," one of
the first studies to document how Latinos were losing land and
influence to poverty and white encroachment.
(SFC, 2/12/15, p.D2)
1940 Fred Schwed Jr. authored
"Where Are the Customer’s Yachts?," a book on investment advice.
(SFC, 4/10/01, p.C8)
1940 Prof. Orson Shepard
(1902-1997) published his basic textbook on fire assaying. He served
as the first Stanford chairman of the new Materials Science Dept.
(SFC, 10/27/97, p.C2)
1940 Gertrude Stein published
her memoir "Paris France." A limited edition was reprinted in 2000
by Yolla Bolly Press with illustrations by Ward Schumaker.
(SFC, 5/20/00, p.E1)
1940 John Steinbeck journeyed
aboard the Western Flyer, a chartered 76-foot sardine boat, to the
Sea of Cortez. He traveled with his wife and Edward "Doc" Ricketts,
a marine biologist, who wrote "Between Pacific Tides," a classic
field guide to the Pacific Coast intertidal zone. Steinbeck’s "Log
from the Sea of Cortez" was published in (1951).
(SFEC, 5/18/97, p.T8)(PacDis, Summer ’97,
p.6)(SFC, 2/7/13, p.D5)
1940 Mark Van Doren
(1894-1972), the brother of Carl Van Doren and father of Charles Van
Doren, won a Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his "Collected Poems
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Van_Doren)(SFC, 4/12/19, p.C5)
1940 Rebecca West authored
“Black Lamb and Grey Falcon," an account of her travels in
Yugoslavia beginning in 1936.
(West, BLGC, single volume 1943 ed.)
1940 The play "Long Day’s
Journey Into Night" by Eugene O’Neill was published posthumously. It
was about the Tyrone family on an August day in 1912.
(WSJ, 3/30/98, p.A16)
1940 The show "Morning Star" by
Sylvia Regan was first produced on Broadway. The show tracked 3
generations of the Felderman family.
(WSJ, 5/17/99, p.A24)
1940 Randolph Carter produced
on Broadway a dramatization of "Wuthering Heights."
(SFC, 10/24/98, p.A22)
1940 The blues opera "De
Organizer," written by Langston Hughes and James P. Johnson, was
performed in NYC.
(SFC, 12/30/02, p.D3)
1940 The "Dead End Kids" moved
to the Warner Bros. Studio and became the "East Side Kids." The
group included Huntz Hall (d.1999), Leo Gorcey, Gabriel Dell, Billy
Halop, and Bobby Jordan. After WW II the group moved to Monogram
Pictures and made 49 films as the "Bowery Boys."
(SFC, 2/2/99, p.A19)
1940 Bela Bartok, Hungarian
composer, fled Budapest, Hungary, and arrived in New York.
(WSJ, 8/18/95, p.A-1)
1940 Nancy Hamilton wrote the
hit song "How High the Moon."
(WSJ, 2/2/00, p.W8)
1940 The Ink Spots made a hit
with their song Java Jive: “I like coffee, and I like tea, I love
the java jive and it loves me."
1940 Prokofiev composed the
opera "Betrothal in a Monastery." It was based on Richard Brinsley
Sheridan’s 1775 work "The Duenna."
(WSJ, 5/7/98, p.A21)
1940 Richard Strauss composed
the opera "Die Liebe der Danae." The libretto by Joseph Gregor was
based on a scenario by Hugo von Hoffmanstahl and conflated two
stories, the love affair of Jupiter and Danae and the story of King
(WSJ, 1/31/00, p.A42)
1940 Igor Stravinsky composed
his "Symphony in C."
(WSJ, 4/17/01, p.A18)
1940 The Spanish song "Bésame
Mucho" was written Mexican Consuelo Velázquez before her sixteenth
birthday. The phrase "besame mucho" can be translated into English
as "kiss me a lot". She wrote this song even though she had never
been kissed yet at the time. She was inspired by the aria "Quejas, o
la Maja y el Ruiseñor" from the Spanish 1916 opera Goyescas by
Enrique Granados. The lyrics were translated into English by Sunny
1940 San Francisco commissioned
artist Anton Refregier (1905-1979) to paint murals depicting the
city's history at the Rincon Annex post office as part of a New Deal
federal arts program. In 1953 Congress opened a debate on whether to
destroy the 27 murals. The murals stayed, but were again threatened
when the post office closed in 1979. Preservationists organized a
campaign and saved them.
(SFC, 6/15/19, p.C1)
1940 The SF Ballet staged the
first US full-length "Swan Lake."
(SFEC, 8/17/97, DB p.36)
1940 Jussi Bjoerling made his
SF Opera debut in "La Boheme," and his first performance anywhere in
"Un Ballo in Maschera."
(SFEC, 8/17/97, DB p.36)
1940 The SF Opera staged "Der
Rosenkavalier" with Lotte Lehmann, Rise Stevens, Alexander Kipnis,
with Erich Leinsdorf conducting.
(SFEC, 8/17/97, DB p.36)
1940 In San Francisco a 7-story
residential, Art Moderne tower was built at 290 Lombard St. It was
designed by H.C. Baumann. Dismayed neighbors called for a 40-foot
limit on future hillside structures.
(SSFC, 12/15/13, p.C6)
1940 In SF, Ca., the public
library in Bernal Heights, designed by Frederick H. Meyer, was built
with federal job creation funds. In 2010 a $5.7 million renovation
(SFC, 2/11/05, p.F1)(SFC, 1/30/10, p.C1)
1940 The Bay View Boat Club was
founded in Hunters Point, SF. In 1964 members moved their building
on Innes Ave. by barge to the Mission Rock area, where land was
leased from the city.
(SFC, 10/7/05, p.B5)
1940 Thomas Chinn founded the
Chinese News in San Francisco, the first English language weekly for
Chinese Americans, which he published and edited.
(SFC, 9/16/97, p.A18)
1940 In the San Francisco Bay
to Breakers race Bobbie Burke ran disguised as a man because women
weren’t allowed to participate.
(SFC, 9/19/96, p.A17)
1940 Gov. Earl Warren of
California signed a $2 million appropriation for Moffitt Hospital, a
teaching facility in San Francisco. It was completed 16 years later
at a cost of $24 million. [Note: Warren was attorney general at this
time and was elected governor in 1942].
(SFC, 5/12/96, p.A-10)
1940 C.B. Johnson (1914-1996),
Bernal Heights sculptor and a founding member of the Artist’s
Cooperative on Union St., decided to marry Louisa Saiki, but their
marriage was forbidden by California law. They went to Washington
state to be wed.
(SFC, 8/13/96, p.A20)
1940 Modernists Bob Anshen and
Steve Allen founded their Anshen + Allen architectural firm. They
specialized in residential architecture and designed the Eichler
homes in 1949.
(SFEM, 2/22/98, p.22)(SFC, 9/29/99, Z1 p.7)
1940 Ed Gaffney, democrat house
painter, was elected to the State Assembly from the Irish SF Castro
(SFEM, 11/17/96, p.12)
1940 Attorney Alfred Fuhrman
bequeathed SF an oil field near Bakersfield that earned over
$400,000 a year to help support GG Park and the SF Public Library.
(SFC, 2/13/98, p.A23)
1940 WPA workers created a
41-by-37-foot raised relief map of San Francisco. The disassembled
map was re-discovered in 2010 in a UC Berkeley warehouse.
(SFC, 9/6/10, p.C1)
1940 Larry Ching (d.2003 at
82), a singing bartender at the Chinese Village, was hired by
Charlie Low to perform at the Forbidden City, which folded 1961. Low
was dubbed "the Chinese Frank Sinatra."
(SFC, 7/7/03, p.B4)
1940 Lead-based paint for the
San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge was priced at about $30,000 this
year. Fifteen workers were paid $10.50 for a seven-hour day to
scrape and paint the 1937 bridge.
(SSFC, 1/25/15, DB p.42)
1940 Georges de Latour, owner
of Beaulieu Vineyard in Napa Valley, Ca., died. BV Burgundy was
renamed by his wife and released as Georges de Latour Private
Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, California’s first private reserve
(SFC, 10/10/08, p.F3)
1940 John Sengstacke (d.1997 at
84) took over the Defender newspaper after the death of his uncle,
Robert Abbott. It was the largest black-owned newspaper in the
country with a circulation of some 200,000 and was a major voice in
luring Southern blacks to factory jobs in Northern cities.
(SFC, 5/30/97, p.A26)
1940 Forrest Mars Sr. (d.1999),
son of Frank C. Mars, created the M&Ms candies.
(SFC, 7/3/99, p.A21)
1940 The 1990 Atlanta-based
International Time Capsule Society, established at Oglethorpe Univ.
to promote the study of time capsules, planted a time capsule called
the "Crypt of Civilization" that was scheduled to be opened May 28,
8113. Souvenir medals were sold for $1 granted holders free
admittance to the 8113 opening.
(SFEC, 1/2/00, p.D4)(WSJ, 1/5/05, p.B1)
1940 In Kansas City, Mo., the
Winstead’s restaurant opened and established a reputation for the
world’s best hamburgers. They were commonly served with a chocolate
(WSJ, 4/15/98, p.A20)
1940 Joyce Matthews won the
Miss America pageant. In 1953 she married Milton Berle.
(SFC, 5/29/00, p.E4)
1940 Hugh Mulcahy was the first
Major League baseball player called up by the Army after U.S.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Service Act in
1940. During the 1940 baseball season, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher
Hugh "Losing Pitcher" Mulcahy won 13 games but lost a league-leading
22. He was called up by the Army later that year. The drafting of
Detroit Tigers slugger Hank Greenberg 19 games into the 1941 season
had a far greater impact. Tiger pitching ace Hal Newhauer was
declared 4-F (physically deferred from the draft) because of a heart
murmur. Bert Shepard, a former Army pilot who had part of his right
leg amputated in a German prison camp, pitched 5 1/3 innings on
August 4, 1945 for the Washington Senators. On June 10, 1944,
15-year-old Joe Nuxhall pitched for the Cincinnati Reds against the
St. Louis Cardinals, becoming the youngest player in major-league
history. He did not make another appearance with the Reds until
called up from the minors in 1952.
1940 A college all-star team
with Ralph Giannini (1918-1996) defeated the Harlem Globetrotters,
44-42, in overtime before 22,000 fans in New York’s Madison Square
(SFC, 7/14/96, p.C8)
1940 Art Rooney renamed the
Pittsburgh Pirates football team to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
(WSJ, 7/8/08, p.A17)
1940 Pres. Franklin Delano
Roosevelt began recording presidential meetings to ensure that he
was quoted accurately.
(AH, 6/03, p.10)
1940 The US Hatch Act limited
political gifts to candidates to $5,000 annually and total
expenditures by a political committee to $3 million.
(SFEC, 10/5/97, p.D9)
1940 The US helped Britain by
providing 50 overage destroyers and started its first peacetime
(TMC, 1994, p.1940)
1940 The US government
established a civilian pilot training program that accepted women.
(SFC, 4/29/97, p.A20)
1940 FBI director J. Edgar
Hoover began to compile a "Security Index," a secret list of people
considered potentially dangerous to national security during a
crises and who would be detained without judicial warrant. A 1943
order to destroy the list was ignored. In 1954 the list contained
the names of 26,174 people.
(SSFC, 6/9/02, p.F3)
1940 The US Marine Corps
published it "Small Wars Manual."
(WSJ, 4/8/04, p.A1)
1940 The US census categorized
the population as "White, Negro, Chinese, Japanese, Hindu, Filipino,
Korean, Indian and Mexican. Other nationalities or races could be
1940 In Florida George Owen
Smith (14), disappeared from the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.
In 2013 researchers found the remains of 55 people during a
four-month excavation last year. Official records indicated 31
burials at the school. In 2014 they said DNA and other tests
identified the remains of Smith, but they couldn't say how he had
1940 The Bob Marshall
Wilderness, an area of a million acres in two national forests in
northwest Montana was designated.
(NG, May 1985, M. Edwards, p.667)
1940 Congress enacted the Bald
Eagle Protection Act.
(SFC, 6/18/99, p.A3)
1940 The United States Weather
Bureau, a division of the Dept. of Agriculture, was moved to the
Dept. of Commerce. In 1967 it was renamed the National Weather
(ON, 2/06, p.7)
1940 The US Investment Company
Act (IAA) included a requirement for the disclosure of debt. The act
also defined mutual fund operations.
(SSFC, 2/24/02, p.D1)(Econ, 2/19/05, p.63)
1940 The SEC recommended that
corporate boards establish audit committees elected by shareholders
at annual meetings.
(WSJ, 1/14/08, p.R2)
1940 Fred Koch (1900-1967)
joined partners to create the Wood River Oil and Refining Company.
It was renamed Koch Industries in 1968. In 1927 Koch had developed a
more efficient thermal cracking process for turning crude oil into
gasoline which allowed smaller players in the industry to better
compete with the oil majors.
1940 In Tennessee the Great
Smokey Mountains National Park was dedicated.
(SFC, 6/9/97, p.A3)
1940 King’s Canyon wilderness
was added to Sequoia National Park, the nation’s 2nd oldest.
(SFC, 7/21/96, p.T3)
1940 In Washington DC the
Dumbarton Oaks mansion was donated to Harvard Univ.
(SFEC, 6/29/97, p.T10)
1940 In Chicago Moses
Annenberg, father of Walter Annenberg, was sentenced to 3 years in
prison for tax evasion. In 1999 Christopher Ogden published "Legacy:
A Biography of Moses and Walter Annenberg."
(WSJ, 6/18/99, p.W6)
1940 Missouri became the first
US state to use merit selection for judges. This became known as the
(Econ, 11/14/15, p.30)
1940 The first US turnpike
opened in Pennsylvania.
(WSJ, 6/19/96, Adv. Supl)
1940 The first of the Ford
"Family Pickups" was manufactured.
(SFC, 9/1/96, Par. p.3)
1940 The Mountain Dew beverage,
a lemon-lime mixer, was trademarked by Barney and Ally Hartman of
Knoxville, Tenn. In 1948 a cartoon drawing of Willy the Hillbilly
was trademarked and used on bottles until the early 1970s. Pepsi
bought Mountain Dew in 1964.
(SFC, 6/25/08, p.G3)
1940 Packard introduced
air-conditioning in cars. The units were huge with evaporator and
blower units installed in the trunk. [see 1939]
(WSJ, 6/19/96, Adv. Supl)(F, 10/7/96, p.69)
1940 Industry experts in 1996
picked the 1940 Lincoln Zephyr as the number 3 favorite car.
(WSJ, 6/19/96, Adv. Supl)
1940 Max Factor invented
Tru-Color lipstick, an indelible lip rouge that did not smear or
(SFC, 6/9/96, p.B-6)
1940 The term "genetic
engineering" was coined in Poland, by Danish microbiologist A. Jost
while giving a lecture on the sex life of yeast at the Technical
Institute in Lwow, Poland.
1940 B. Edlen, Swedish
physicist, solved the mystery of spectral lines that were not
understood as being due to highly ionized atoms of common elements.
1940 Martin Kamen (d.2002 at
89) discovered carbon-14. Kamen was fired in 1944 from his position
at UC Berkeley due to suspicions arising from a dinner with 2
officials from the Russian consulate.
(SFC, 9/14/02, p.A19)
1940 Rupert Wildt, American
astrophysicist, theorized that the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
of Venus kept heat from escaping and raise the temperature of the
planet. This phenomena came to be called "the greenhouse effect."
(SFEC, 12/19/99, Par p.16)
1940 Philip H. Abelson
(1913-2004) and Edwin McMillan discovered Neptunium, element No. 93.
They named it after the planet Neptune.
(NH, 7/02, p.36)(SFC, 8/9/04, p.B6)
1940 Plutonium was first
isolated during research on the atomic bomb. Glenn Seaborg (d.1999
at 86) and Edwin Mullen discovered plutonium and together received
the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1951.
(WUD, 1994, p.1108)(SFC, 2/27/99, p.A1,19)
1940 The Los Angeles Water
Dept. began diverting water from Mono Lake. The diversion was
stopped in Sep 1994 with the lake 40 feet shallower.[see 1941]
(Pac. Disc., summer, ‘96, p.52)
1940 The population of Mesa,
Arizona, was about 7,000. this roughly doubled in each of the next 5
decades and by 2008 Mesa numbered almost half a million residents.
(Econ, 12/6/08, p.42)
1940 The mummy, known as the
Spirit Cave Man, was found in Nevada in 1940, but in 1996 was dated
to be more than 9,400 years old. The mummy was discovered by
archeologists S.M. and Georgia Wheeler in a cave 13 miles east of
Fallon. The mummy was wrapped in a skin robe and sewn into two mats
woven of a marsh plant called tule.
(SFC, 4/27/96, p.A-5)
1940 Some 2,000 Jews, who fled
to England from Austria and Germany, were put on the passenger ship
Dunera and sent to Australia, where they were interned in camps
until 1942. Their story was the subject of the 1988 Australian film
“The Dunera Boys."
(SFC, 10/8/05, p.B5)
1940 British soldiers found
bones on Gardner Island, later renamed Nikumaroro Island, in
Kiribati that they suspected might be the remains of Amelia Earhart.
A report identifying the remains as those of a male was forwarded to
England but not to America. In 1998 the bones were identified as
belonging to a woman about 5 foot 7, of northern European
(SFC, 12/2/98, p.A4)
1940 Isaac Babel,
Russian-Jewish author, was killed by a Soviet firing squad. In 2001
Nathalie Babel edited the "Complete Works of Isaac Babel,"
translated by Peter Constantine.
(SSFC, 11/25/01, p.M3)
1940 Charles Frye, Seattle
meat-packing mogul, died. He earmarked a fortune to the Frye Art
Museum stipulating that his collection remain intact, that it be
displayed under natural light, and that it be free to the public.
(WSJ, 3/19/97, p.A16)
1940 John Monk Saunders,
Hollywood screenwriter and former husband to actress Fay Wray
(1928-1939), hanged himself.
(SFC, 8/10/04, p.B7)
1940 Australia found itself
with a hung parliament. Robert Menzies (1894-1978) relied on 2
independent parties to stay in power, but the arrangement collapsed
a year later.
1940 Moritz Hochschild, a
German-born tin baron in Bolivia, wrote a letter to James Rosenberg,
a Jew living in New York, asking for financial help. Hochschild said
he's managed to transport to Bolivia "between 9,000 and 10,000" Jews
and that his plan, which had the support of Bolivia's military
leader of the time, German Busch, was to bring 30,000 people to the
country. In 2018 In her historical novel "Los Infames" (the
villains), Ormachea Veronica Ormachea authored a novel, based
Hochschild, on relating how thousands of European Jews arrived in
Bolivia as they fled Nazi terror.
1940 The Brazilian Reinsurance
Institute, later called IRB, was founded by Pres. Getulio Vargas.
The self-regulating institution remained a state monopoly into 2006.
(Econ, 1/7/06, p.68)
1940 British economist John
Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) published a pamphlet titled "How to Pay
for the War: A Radical Plan for the Chancellor of the Exchequer." It
is an application of Keynesian thinking and principles to a
practical economic problem.
1940 Churchill took over power
in Britain and the French general, De Gaulle, moved to London.
(TMC, 1994, p.1940)
1940 Britain’s PM Churchill set
up the Special Operations Executive (SOE) to organize agents abroad.
In 1942 the SOE began recruiting women. In 2005 Sarah Helm authored
“A Life in Secrets: The Story of Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of
(Econ, 8/6/05, p.69)(AFP, 4/21/15)
1940 Britain’s PM Winston
Churchill sent a handful of young British officers to Washington,
DC, to ingratiate themselves on the social scene and advance the
British cause through good manners. They included Roald Dahl, Ian
Fleming and David Ogilvy. In 2008 Jennet Conant authored “The
Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime
(WSJ, 9/11/08, p.A13)
1940 P.A. Wodehouse (d.1975),
British writer, was put into an internment camp after Germany
defeated France, where he and his wife, Edith, were living. He was
released the following year and made five lighthearted radio
broadcasts to England and America from Berlin.
1940 The Belgian colonial
government in Leopoldville (later Kinshasa), Congo, ordered private
mining companies to turn over their records to help the Allies find
resources to help the war effort against Germany. Millions of tons
of copper and tin, as well as some uranium, were shipped to the US.
After the war records were shipped to Belgium’s Royal Museum for
Central Africa in Brussels.
(WSJ, 3/20/07, p.A13)
1940 Herbert Yardley, American
cryptographer, was hired to help set up Canada’s wartime
(Econ, 12/19/15, p.41)
1940 A Cuban constitution
offered the promise of a democratic government. The Constitution
established by a national assembly that included Blas Roca, a young
shoemaker who helped organize the Revolution of 1933. The document
struck a balance between the rich and the working class, protected
individual and social rights, supported full employment and a
minimum wage, extended social security, called for equal pay for
equal work and outlawed the huge plantations known as latifundias.
General Fulgencio Batista (1901-1973) was elected Cuba's 14th
1940 In France Aristides de
Sousa Mendes (1885-1954), a Portuguese diplomat posted in Bordeaux,
issued 30,000 visas to Jews and 20,000 to other refugees against the
instructions of his government. Dictator Antonio Salazar responded
by removing him from the diplomatic corps, denying him a pension and
blacking out his actions from official state records.
(SFC, 9/7/96, p.A13)(SFC, 9/9/96, p.A16)(SFC,
1940 American journalist Varian
Fry headed to the southern French city of Marseille with just $3,000
and a list of about 200 people to try to save. In the end, he
shepherded to safety about 2,000 people via the American-sponsored
Emergency Rescue Committee, including artists Marc Chagall, Andre
Breton and Max Ernst. Justus Rosenberg (19) delivered messages to
refugees and searched for possible routes for safe passage.
Rosenberg later served with the French Resistance and the US Army.
1940 Francois Lehideux (d.1998
at 95), the minister of industrial production, agreed that Renault
would furnish parts to the German army, repair tanks and provide
technical assistance in the war effort. He was arrested and jailed
after liberation, but was freed in 1946. He went on to head Ford of
France until 1953.
(SFC, 6/26/98, p.D4)
1940 Following the fall of
France Claude Peri commandeered the merchant ship Le Rhin and placed
it at the disposal of British naval intelligence. Peri got his
mistress, Madeleine Bayard, the job of cipher officer on the ship.
It was renamed the HMS Fidelity and got torpedoed in 1942. In 2005
Edward Marriot authored “Claude and Madeleine: A True Story of Love
War and Espionage."
(Econ, 8/6/05, p.69)
1940 Vichy authorities
appointed Prof. Bernard Fay (1893-1978) as head of France’s
Bibliotheque Nationale. In 1941 Fay was responsible for the
imprisonment of some 6,000 Freemasons and for more than 500 of them
being sent to their deaths during the German occupation. In 1946 Fay
was tried and convicted for collaboration and sentenced to life in
prison. In 1951 Gertrude Stein helped to finance his escape from a
prison hospital. He fled to Switzerland and lived there until
he was granted pardon in 1958.
1940 Germany overran most of
(TMC, 1994, p.1940)
1940 In Germany James Helmuth
von Moltke set about to establish what has come to be know as the
Kreisau Circle. It was a collection priests, professors and members
of the German foreign office that stressed a form of passive
resistance to the Nazi regime. [see Helmuth von Moltke]
(WSJ, 11/7/95, p.A-21)
1940 In Germany Gen’l. Eduard
Dietl led a surprise capture of Narvik, the Norwegian Atlantic
(SFC, 3/19/97, p.A12,14)
1940 From Greece the occupying
Germans started transporting the 50,000 Jews of Thessaloniki to
Auschwitz. Up to 1943 there were 36 synagogues in the city. In 1997
there was one.
(WSJ, 4/29/97, p.A20)
1940 The US opened a consulate
in Greenland folowing the Nazi occupation of Denmark. It closed in
1953. In 2019 the Trump administration planned to re-open its
(SSFC, 8/25/19, p.A8)
1940 In India the Muslim League
demanded a separate homeland for the Muslim-majority regions of
(SFEC, 8/3/97, p.A15)
1940 Japan joined the Axis
(TMC, 1994, p.1940)
1940 Japanese warplanes dropped
plague-infected fleas over southwest China. In 2001 Chinese doctors
testified in a Tokyo trial and said at least 109 people died as a
result. In 2002 a symposium of historians reported that the Japanese
killed at least 440,000 Chinese in the 1930s and 1940s by dropping
disease carrying fleas and cholera-coated flies from planes.
(WSJ, 1/25/00, p.A1)(WSJ, 10/22/07, p.B12)
1940 The German occupiers of
Jersey set a maximum tax rate of 20%. The low tax rate later
attracted the bank deposits of British expatriates.
(Econ, 2/24/07, SR p.5)
1940 Mexico's President Lazaro
Cardenas legalized heroin and opened injection rooms. The US cutoff
supplies of morphine, a heroin substitute, and Cardenas retreated.
(Econ., 11/21/20, p.30)
1940 In Tecate, Mexico, at the
foot of Mt. Kuchumaa Rancho, La Puerta was opened as a fitness spa,
the first in North America.
(SFEM, 11/24/96, p.24)
1940 Moldova was formed from
the former Republic of Moldavia and the ceded Romanian territory of
(WUD, 1994 p.922)(Econ, 9/30/06, p.60)
1940 In Poland "the Nazis
packed 450,000 human beings into 75 square blocks of the Warsaw
ghetto, then walled it off and left them to starve."
(SFC, 7/10/97, p.A7)
1940 In Poland a mass murder of
Polish Jews took place at Lublin. A report of the killings to the
Red Cross was discounted.
(SFC, 10/8/97, p.A8)
1940 Russia imposed the
Cyrillic alphabet over the Roman alphabet upon Turkmenistan and
(SFC, 1/2/97, p.A10)
1940 The Soviet Union and Iran
signed more agreements concerning the Caspian Sea.
(SFC, 8/11/98, p.A8)
1940 Russia seized Estonia’s
presidential seal and regalia as it annexed the country. As of 2010
Russia continued to refuse to hand the items back.
(Econ, 4/10/10, p.64)
1940 In Saudi Arabia the
religious police, formally known as the Commission for the Promotion
of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (the mutaween), was founded.
(Econ, 10/22/16, p.41)
1940 In Saudi Arabia the Ahmad
Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers Company (AHAB) was founded. AHAB
branched out from its roots in pearling and farming into finance,
soft-drinks bottling, tires and more.
(Econ., 3/21/15, p.59)
1940 In South Africa Nelson
Mandela was expelled from the Univ. of Fort Hare for his role in a
student strtike with Oliver Tambo.
(SFC, 12/6/13, p.A18)
1940 Swiss police chief Paul
Grueninger was convicted of falsifying immigration documents to
rescue up to 3,000 Austrian Jews fleeing the Nazis. He was fired and
stripped of pension rights and died in poverty in 1972. In 1995 he
was granted a full pardon.
(WSJ, 12/1/95, p.A-1)
1940s Anthony Boucher was a mystery reviewer for
the SF Chronicle under his book editor Joseph Henry Jackson. Boucher
moved on to write the "Criminals at Large" column in the New York
Times in the 1950s.
(SFEC,10/26/97, BR p.2)
1940s In Los Angeles adolescent Mexican-Americans
known as los pachucos established the zoot suit dress style. The War
Production Board outlawed the zoot suit. The "Sleepy Lagoon Murder"
of several Americans of Mexican descent led to the Zoot Suit Riots
where American sailors stripped and beat zoot suiters as white LA
police stood by. Luis Valdez later authored the play "Zoot Suit."
(WSJ, 7/111/00, p.A24)
1940s The Albert and Mary
Lasker Foundation was set up as a way to raise awareness of the
value of biomedical research. Albert Lasker was a pioneering
(SFEC, 9/17/00, p.A16)
1940s The US Navy acquired
two-thirds of Vieques, Costa Rica, a 20-by-4-mile island for $1.4
1940s Part airplane, part boat,
the Grumman J2F Duck was as agile in the air as it was comfortable
in the water. The Navy Department had requested Grumman to free its
facilities for the manufacture of vitally needed F6F Hellcat
fighters, and to transfer the production of 330 J2F-6 Ducks to
Columbia Aircraft. The amphibious Duck not only was capable of
taking off and touching down on land or water but also was sturdy
enough to be used with an arresting gear for aircraft carrier
1940s US Sec. Henry Morgenthau
held that every country should have its own central bank and unique
currency. He deemed it a clever way to tap into nationalist
(WSJ, 11/7/03, p.A10)
1940s The US Army Corps of
Engineers, at the behest of state and federal governments, drained
the area to the south of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee to create vast
(Econ, 10/8/05, p.31)
1940s Cloud seeding to produce
rain was discovered by Vincent J. Schaefer. He used dry ice to
induce water droplet formation. His colleague, Bernard Vonnegut
(d.1997 at 82), brother of novelist Kurt Vonnegut, improved the
process using silver iodide.
(SFC, 4/29/97, p.A20)
1940s Karl von Frisch, Austrian
ethologist, first described the method by which honeybees describe
the source of gathered pollen to their fellow bees. The bees perform
a dance is that integrates information about the orientation of the
sun and the distance to the pollen source.
(WUD, 1994, p.569)(NH, 9/97, p.60)
1940s In the late 1940s Gordon
L. Harwell and a partner started Uncle Ben’s Inc. under the name
Converted Rice. The namesake was a Texas rice grower who lived near
Houston many years ago.
(BS, 5/3/98, p.6F)
1940s George Rochester
(d.2002), English physicist, discovered the kaon, a type of meson
particle that became the 1st in the "strange" category.
(SFC, 1/21/02, p.B5)
1940s Moshe Feldenkrais, a
Russian-born Israeli physicist, developed a methodology of
therapeutic body movement.
(SSFC, 10/14/01, p.B3)
1940s Some time before Fidel
Castro took over Cuba, the mayor of Santiago was the father of Desi
Arnaz, later husband to Lucille Ball.
(SFC, 9/23/96, D3)
1940s The Formosa termite was
probably imported to the US aboard military cargo ships. By 2000 it
had spread to 11 states and caused an estimated $1 billion in annual
(SFEC, 5/14/00, p.A4)
1940s The brown tree snake
arrived on Guam and began to feed on the native bird population. By
1998 an estimated 9 of 11 native birds were eliminated.
(SFC, 7/25/98, p.A8)
1940-1941 Jun-Jul, After a Communist coup leading
Estonian Republic officials were mass-murdered in Tallinn.
(BN, 10/97, p.3)
1940-1941 A 59-man team under Adm. Richard E. Byrd
spent the winter on Antarctica. Dr. Harrison Holt Richardson (d.1999
at 80), was the youngest member of the team and took the first color
movies there. This was Byrd's 3rd mission there.
(SFEC, 8/1/99, p.D8)
1940-1941 In France the Emergency Rescue
Committee, led by New York writer Varian Fry, saved some 2,000
cultural elite. The group operated out of the Villa Air-Bel in
Marseille. In 2006 Rosemary Sullivan authored “Villa Air-Bel: World
War II, Escape and a House in Marseille.
(SSFC, 12/3/06, p.M3)
1940-1941 Japan extended war into Southeast Asia.
(Jap. Enc., BLDM, p. 216)
1940-1941 A secret Nazi program, code-named T4,
killed an estimated 70,000 disabled or mentally ill adults in
specially established death camps during this period.
(SFC, 10/7/06, p.A9)
1940-1941 German paratroopers were decimated in
the battle for Crete.
1940-1942 U Saw served as prime minister of Burma.
As head of the Myochit party, U Saw became prime minister of the
then British colony in 1940. When the British entered the war
against Japan, U Saw pressed the British for full independence,
while secretly negotiating with the Japanese. Upon learning of his
contacts with Japan, the British arrested him and removed him from
office. U Saw was responsible for the assassination of his rival
Aung San after the war.
1940-1943 George Metesky plagued New York City’s
electrical utility with bombs and accusatory notes over this period.
As a token to the war effort he left a note promising not to plant
any more bombs till after the war. He kept his word and resumed
planting bombs after the war until 1950. He remained at large for
some 16 years until company records identified similar notes from a
former employee. His story was depicted in a NOVA PBS show
commemorating the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.
(WSJ, 4/15/96, p.A-16)
1940-1943 This period in Italy was cover by
Roderick Bailey in his book “"Target Italy: The Secret War against
(Econ, 6/21/14, p.80)
1940-1944 Britain’s Special Operations Executive,
an agency set up by Winston Churchill, carried out operations in
Albania to support anti-German partisans. In 2008 Roderick Bailey
authored "The Wildest Province: SOE in the Land of the Eagle."
(Econ, 3/22/08, p.97)
1940-1944 Germany occupied France. In 1998 Ian
Ousby published "Occupation: The Ordeal of France 1940-1944." In
2009 Frederic Spotts authored “The Shameful Peace: How French
Artists and Intellectuals Survived the Nazi Occupation." In 2009
Charles glass authored “American in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi
Occupation 1940-1944." In 2010 Alan Riding authored “And the Show
Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied France."
(SFEC, 8/16/98, Par p.8)(WSJ, 1/3/09, p.W6)(Econ,
5/2/09, p.84)(Econ, 11/20/10, p.96)
1940-1944 Members of the Lithuanian Security
Police persecuted Jews and other civilians in collaboration with the
Nazi government. In 1998 in New York Aloyzas Balsys, suspected of
collaboration, refused to answer questions on his wartime activities
based on the US 5th amendment and fear of foreign prosecution. He
claimed to have lived in hiding in Plateliaia at the time and filed
to enter the US in 1961. The case was to be heard by the US Supreme
(SFC, 1/17/98, p.A3)
1940-1945 Willys-Overland Motors was a principal
manufacturer of Jeeps during World War II. In the late 1930s, the
U.S. military wanted a lightweight, four-wheel drive,
general-purpose vehicle. Although Willys submitted a design, the
government chose one by the Bantam Car Company. However,
Bantam was unable to meet the military demand and so the government
contracted multiple suppliers, including Willys-Overland and Ford.
Willys-Overland produced around 360,000 Jeeps for the military
between 1940 and 1945. As a smaller automotive manufacturer, most of
its production facilities had been retooled to produce Jeeps and so
it was decided to continue making Jeeps for the military and also
the civilian market. The company was bought out and renamed numerous
times. Today it is a part of Daimler-Chrysler.
1940-1945 The Benes decrees were issued by Pres.
Edvard Benes, head of the Czechoslovak government in exile. Part of
the decrees later dealt with the status of Germans and Hungarians in
postwar Czechoslovakia. From 1945-1948 they were used to legalize
brutal measures against the country’s German and Hungarian
1940-1945 In 2006 the 2002 German book “The Fire:
The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945" by Jorg Friedrich (b.1944), was
made available in English.
(Econ, 12/2/06, p.85)
1940-1945 About 2,000 Luxembourg Jews were
killed during the Holocaust.
1940-1945 Turkey supplied Germany and the Allies
with chromite ore, an essential metal for stainless steel.
(SFEC, 6/21/98, p.A13)
1940-1945 Turkey placed a wealth tax on all
non-Muslims during WW II; those who could not pay were sent to labor
(Econ, 8/5/06, p.46)
1940-1949 During the 1940s the Associated
Sportsmen of California repeatedly warned of damage to the salmon
population near Redding and urged the government to release water
from Shasta Lake to dilute the poisons from Iron Mountain.
(SFEC,11/2/97, p.A13)(SSFC, 8/29/10, p.A15)
1940s-1950s Alberto Vargas made air-brushed
pictures of pin-up girls in Esquire and Playboy magazines.
(WSJ, 8/14/98, p.W10)
1940s-1950s Radiation spiked cereal produced by
Quaker Oats and Massachusetts Institute of Technology was fed to
residents of the Fernald State School in Waltham, Mass., without
their knowledge. A 1995 suit, filed by 15 plaintiffs, resulted in a
1997 settlement of $1.85 million to over 100 residents.
1940s-1950s Civilian and military medical
practitioners commonly used nasal applicators containing 50
milligrams of radium to shrink tissues at the entrance of the
eustachian tubes to help drain and balance pressure on the inner and
outer ear. The treatment was later associated with nasopharyngeal
(SFC, 4/26/99, p.A2)
1940-1953 John W. Nason (d.2001 at 96) served as
president of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. From 1942-1945 he
served as chairman of the National Japanese American Student
Relocation Council and helped over 3,000 students out of detention
camps and into institutions of higher learning.
(SFC, 11/24/01, p.A21)
1940-1953 The radio game show "The Quiz Kids"
featured exceptional children answering questions from the audience.
Vanessa Brown (born as Smylla Brind in Vienna) began her acting
career on the show. Brown later authored the play "Europa and the
Bull," and the nonfiction work "The Manpower Policies of Secretary
of Labor Willard Wirtz."
(SFC, 5/24/99, p.C4)
1940-1954 Virgil Thomson worked as the music
critic for the New York Herald-Tribune.
(WSJ, 6/16/97, p.10)
1940-1955 The Age of Churchill. Andrew Roberts
published a book in 1995 titled: "Eminent Churchillians," in which
he examines how some of Churchill’s contemporaries rose in the world
while easing the decline of England. Lord Mountbatten, Sir Walter
Monckton, and Sir Arthur Bryant are featured.
(WSJ, 8/15/95, p. A-14)
1940-1955 Mexican cinema turned out some 100 films
a year during this period, later dubbed as the golden age of Mexican
(Econ, 11/20/10, p.45)
1940-1957 This period is covered in the book by
John Charmley: "Churchill’s Grand Alliance: the Anglo-American
Special Relationship" published in 1995.
(WSJ, 10/16/95, p. A-12)
1940s-1950s In Quebec, Canada, thousands of poor
or illegitimate children were falsely labeled as mentally deficient
and sent to church-run psychiatric institutions under the government
of Maurice Duplessis. More federal funds were thus secured for their
assistance. In 2001 some 1000 surviving victims accepted a
government offer of $16,650 each in compensation for mistreatment.
(SFC, 7/2/01, p.B1)
1940s-1986 In Maryland Building E5625, the "Pilot
Plant," at the US Army Aberdeen Proving Ground was built and used
for experiments and production of agents in chemical and biological
(SFEC, 1/11/98, p.A11)
1940-1996 The history of gay life in America over
this period is documented by Charles Kaiser in his book: "The Gay
(SFEC,11/16/97, BR p.6)