10 April 1941

10 April 1941

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10 April 1941

April 1941


North Africa

Australian 9th Division withdraws to Tobruk, where it will later be besieged


Germans capture Monasti, Yannitsa and Zagreb

United States

US agrees to protect Greenland, part of Denmark

10th April 1941 Tobruk just after Prittwitz attack

Post by ClintHardware » 06 Mar 2014, 21:11

I was looking again at 2nd Support Group's War Diary and found the following about panzers destroyed but could not check against what the 11th Hussars did or saw in this respect. I suspect that 2nd Support Group were told of the two burning panzers by the 11th Hussars. Does anyone have any extra detail?

Here is a rough of what I have please feel free to amend/correct:

2nd Support Group H.Q. recorded the time of the Gruppe Prittwitz attack and then what followed next:

2nd Support Group Intelligence Summary 10th April
1137 - 1247. Activity in the ACROMA area: eventually a party of AFVs, 3 heavy tanks and 20 MET moved to the SOUTH.

1425 Our patrols withdrew in front of the AFVs and 3 heavy tanks.

1430 Enemy column halted at 387420. 11H reported the loss of one car and the destruction of two enemy vehicles. The column was engaged by F Bty.

1440 Column dispersed to SW.

1450 Column now proceeded WEST.

1500 Tac R reported enemy MET packed all the way along the road GAZALA – ACROMA and large concentration of MET and AFVs at SGGNALIS [sic] [Segnali ?].

1628 The dispersed columns joined at 377420 and were heavily shelled: they moved of SOUTH and SW. Tow [sic] [Two] light tanks were left in the original position and were reported to have been burnt. They were larger than our light tanks and can carry W T. At 1730 11 H reported the strength of the column as 2 possibly 4 large tanks, 20 lorries with infantry, a number of light armoured cars, 5 light tanks (of which two were destroyed).

1700 Australians engaged near the coast WEST of TOBRUK (WO 169/1159)

2nd Support Group H.Q. and 1st K.R.R.C. recorded different quantities of MET within their sight and within the range of ‘F’ Battery, 4th R.H.A.:

1st King’s Royal Rifle Corps
1700 Right Column (D Coy under comd) [of 2nd Support Group] engaged 150 MET with Arty at 380411 and halted coln. Considerable enemy force reported to WEST. (WO 169/1732)

2nd Support Group Intelligence Summary 10th April
1740 Enemy column of 50 vehicles halted on cross tracks 371412 and then moved to high ground (pt 166, 376413)

1800 Column moved EAST along the track.

1810 Column which consisted of 150 enemy MET now headed by AFVs halted one mile WEST to cross track 380412 and was attacked at 1825 by HURRICANES.

1915 F Bty engaged this target. After 20 minutes heavy shelling column split moving N and SW. A staff car with 3 German officers was captured.

2010 12 unidentified vehicles came from the WEST and turned NORTH into dead ground at 392405.

2015 Hurricane reported that at this time 3 Columns each about 200 MET were moving EAST along TRIGH GADD EL AHMAR towards EL ADEM: the head of the first column was some seven miles off.

The only report of activity in the SOUTH was at 1210 when 5 vehicles were reported moving EAST at 390368. (WO 169/1159)

It seems likely that the details of the two burning tanks were reported to 2nd Support Group by the 11th Hussars – sadly their War Diary is missing between the 8th– 30th April. The 4th R.H.A. recorded very few details of the same action:

4th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery
10/4 Both Troops [‘F’ and ‘G’ of ‘F’ Battery] were in action at first light. F Tp have one OP in the ACROMA area and one at the X tracks* Trigh Capuzzo – Acroma/Bir Hacheim. An enemy column south of the escarpment was engaged [time not given] and dispersed. (WO 169/1429)
* A junction of tracks.

Re: 10th April 1941 Tobruk just after Prittwitz attack

Post by nmao » 07 Mar 2014, 14:08

Thank you for all your great posts!!

I think we have to be careful about those descriptions of AFVs, ACs and METs.
In the distance and with all the fog of war things get pretty confused, it's easy to mistake numbers and to mistake an AC for an AFV, etc.
Just an example, on 9th April 11th Hussars says: "A Sqn reported an enemy column had crossed the wire at EGYPTIAN SIDI OMAR consisting of 6 ACs, 11 AFVs, 1 lorry, 1 MC and 1 staff car." As far as i know there were no tanks in this area (at least not 11).

11th hussars war diary (http://www.warlinks.com/armour/11_hussars/11huss_41.php) doesn't seem to have much info about the fighting on the approaches to Tobruk.

Re: 10th April 1941 Tobruk just after Prittwitz attack

Post by ClintHardware » 07 Mar 2014, 19:45

Thanks nmao. Yes I completely agree with not necessarily accepting any description.

Sadly that 11th Hussars link misses the dates I need, and so does the 11th's War Diary at Kew.

I have some faith in the description of the two stationary panzers because they were seen burning. If ignition was due to 25-Pdr shells from 'F' Battery, 4th RHA then it is likely that they were externally carrying fuel. A burning panzer is not normally one that can be repaired although many parts could be re-used for repairs of other panzers.

I have added these two panzers to my damaged panzers list (attached to an earlier topic) in columns A and B but not column C without German corroboration. However, I do accept that without German evidence of total loss we are left with the possibility that the panzers were either NOT damaged in anyway but only appeared to be, OR damaged but later repaired. I compiled the panzers damaged list to show what might have contributed (in addition to desert wear and tear) towards so few panzers being fielded during the 11th, 14th and 1st - 2nd May attacks.

Re: 10th April 1941 Tobruk just after Prittwitz attack

Post by Urmel » 08 Mar 2014, 10:00

Going through the D.A.K. war diary, there is no mention of tanks in this group. My guess would be mis-identified armoured cars, unless you have evidence to the contrary?

In the Acroma area there was M.G.8, while A.A.3 was in the EL Adem area, reporting a British heavy tank regiment there. Surprised the latter doesn't get a mention in the 2 Armoured Division intsum?

The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

Re: 10th April 1941 Tobruk just after Prittwitz attack

Post by ClintHardware » 08 Mar 2014, 16:26

Brigadier Gott and his newly acquired 2nd Support Group would have loved to have had their own heavy tanks somewhere to hand.

The detail of lorries and guns and types of panzers, seen/thought to have been seen, would have come from the 11th Hussars as the 1st KRRC have no depth of detail in their War Diary and were not so far forward. The 11th Hussars prided themselves on observation and surviving long enough to transmit the data back BUT without German data we have to accept that there may be an error in the report of two light panzers burning and the types of vehicles counted.

Looking at the DAK Kriegstagesbuch translations in CAB 146/10 the entries are very summary like and lacking detail. Urmel can you give us the original German entries for the 9th - 11th? What data do you have for operational and damaged panzers on those days?

I do trust the German data and German written off figures, but I don't feel that they give us the remaining operational panzer picture on any specific day.

Re: 10th April 1941 Tobruk just after Prittwitz attack

Post by Urmel » 08 Mar 2014, 16:37

Unfortunately there is no real data for the day, since I don't have the war diary of 5. leichte, only the D.A.K. and 15. Panzer, which wasn't involved at that stage.

It's only a narrative, but it makes clear that there weren't any tanks. They were stuck behind at Mechili without supplies it appears, on that day.

What makes me think either armoured cars, or armoured command half-tracks, is the mention of WT sets. Maybe they noted the big antennas on the radio ACs. If they were 8-wheelers, at a distance they may have seemed like tanks.

The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

Re: 10th April 1941 Tobruk just after Prittwitz attack

Post by ClintHardware » 08 Mar 2014, 16:42

The Imperial War Museum does have the 5. leichte Division Kriegstagesbuch or did I dream that? I really ought to visit them - sadly they do not allow you to photo anything which makes referring to anything from there costly and tricky.

Re: 10th April 1941 Tobruk just after Prittwitz attack

Post by MarkN » 04 Oct 2017, 14:19

Urmel wrote: Unfortunately there is no real data for the day, since I don't have the war diary of 5. leichte, only the D.A.K. and 15. Panzer, which wasn't involved at that stage.

It's only a narrative, but it makes clear that there weren't any tanks. They were stuck behind at Mechili without supplies it appears, on that day.

What makes me think either armoured cars, or armoured command half-tracks, is the mention of WT sets. Maybe they noted the big antennas on the radio ACs. If they were 8-wheelers, at a distance they may have seemed like tanks.

The 10 April entries in the 5.le-Div KTB Ia indicate that the pantsers were still struggling forwards from el Mechili. An entry for the morning of 11 April describes an order by Rommel for them to head for Acroma and were to take up position after they arrive. Ie. they were not there on the 10th.

For 10 April, the 5.le-Div KTB Ia describes 'A.A.3 reinforced with 2 companies from Pz.Jg.39 (less 1 zug) to move round the south of Tobruk on the Via Balbia to Bardia.' Also 'one company from M.G.2 reinforced by elements from Div Brescia to make for and hold Acroma'. M.G.8 sit astride the main Derna-Tobruk road infront of the Australian perimeter. It later mentions A.A.3 being reinforced with various flak elements but make no mention of any engagments.

There is no mention of Pz.Jg.605 on 10 April. However, according to 5.le-Div KTB Ia, it was assigned to Gruppe Prittwitz on 8 April at el Mechili for the push up to, and then from, Derna. The next mention is 11 April when it with Pz.Regt.5 in the 'first' pantser assault on the Tobruk defences (this event has its own AHF thread lurking somewhere).

Whilst the 5.le-Div KTB Ia has Pz.Jg.605 added to Gp Prittwitz on 8 April, this makes no mention of it in the forces assigned to the Gruppe.

In the round, the 5.le-Div KTB Ia and the Prittwitz Bericht tell us little new that has not already been discussed based upon DAK KTB, Olbricht and Schorm accounts and so forth: no German pantsers at or near Acroma or el Adem on 10 April. What the British saw and misidentified is unknown. There are reports - seen them here on AHF and elsewhere - that Fabris' motorcyclysists were the first to Acroma. However, the 5.le-Div KTB Ia has Kol. Fabris ordered from el Mechili to Derna at 6am on 9 April.

1. April 28, 1941

Theodor Seuss Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss, was the famous writer of whimsical children&rsquos books that manage to dazzle adults too. He took a break once upon a time and focused his energies on uniting America toward winning WWII, despite already having written a number of children&rsquos books, including &ldquoThe King&rsquos Stilts&rdquo and &ldquoHorton Hatches an Egg.&rdquo

UCSD Digital Collection

The comic above appeared in the New York daily newspaper PM almost eight months prior to America&rsquos entry in WWII, and as you can see, the cartoon is taking a shot at Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh was an American hero when he became the first person to cross the Atlantic in an airplane in 1927, but Dr. Seuss criticized him because he wanted the United States to stay out of the war.

Next: Why the ostrich?

Scholla: Brunnekill April 10, 1941

In letters to Der Ewich Yaeger Raymond Kiebach and William Keller, both of Reading, raise an interesting question for students of the origin of the names of places. They point out that Schuykill is a Niederlandisch Dutch word meaning “hidden stream,” but how did the term “Kill” happen to be attached to such German words as Brunne and Nord, forming Brunnekill and Nordkill, names of Berks County streams? The question is a puzzler.

A Dutch sea captain applied the name “Schuykill” to the river which flows through Berks County when he discovered that its mouth was formed in such manner that mariners on the Delaware were not aware of its presence. Hence the term “hidden stream”. The Delaware Indians called the river “Ganshawwe-haune,” meaning rushing river. In this case the Indian name did not survive as it did in such familiar waterways names as Tulphehocken, Maxatawny, Monocacy, Cacoosing and others.

The Brunnekill is a small stream which flows into the Tulpehocken near Mt. Pleasant, along the route 83 and the Nordkill flows into the same creek after skirting the foothills of the Blue Mountains near Strausstown and Bernville. Brunne in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect would mean a natural spring and Nord would mean north. The suffix of the word “kill” is not German and reflects a Dutch influence.

Webster informs us that the word “kill” is of Dutch or Middle Dutch origin. He tells us further that the word has come into colloquial American usage, meaning a small stream. Without being able to furnish a concise answer to the gentlemen who have raised this interesting point the writer suggests that the early settlers in Berks must have learned the word “kill” while passing through the many water ways in Holland while they were traveling to America. Possible too, the term was borrowed from the word Schuykill which is pronounced Schulkill in the dialect, exactly as the English renders it School-kill. To these early settlers there may have been some association with the word school.

Can any readers offer an explanation?

Graeff, Arthur D. Scholla: Brunnekill. Reading Times. April 10, 1941

Archival Notes: The names of both of these creeks have been anglicized. The “Nordkill” has been anglicized to Northkill creek. The “Brunnekill” is now known as Spring Creek. At the time this article was written both creeks flowed into the Tulpehocken creek. Now both creeks flow into the Blue Marsh Impoundment.

One thought on &ldquoHuge raid on London&rdquo

I spent much of my childhood in London during the Blitz. When I was about four I was in a large London building that was bombed. Part of the structure was destroyed and my end of the building was damaged. I was taken from the rubble unharmed. Indirectly, the war killed my father and changed the direction of my life. Mother met a Canadian soldier later in the war and eventually he became my stepfather. I finished growing up in Ottawa, his home town. Later, I moved to the USA and after I earned a doctorate became a university professor.

New Hope for Australia

Pearl Harbour: The Reasons Behind the Attack - 10 April 2006

There were three major reasons behind the Japanese generals and admirals’ decision to attack the United States (US) naval fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on 7 December 1941 and declare war on the US, and each reason was entwined with one another.[1] The first and the most important reason was because Japan by late 1941 was suffering from economic shortages in natural resources such as oil due to the US, Japan largest supplier of natural resources, having imposed an oil embargo on Japan on 1 August 1941.[2] This was because of Japan’s expansion into East Asia and its invasion of Manchuria and French Indochina in 1931 and 1940 respectively, which was a part of their imperial aim to build a New Order in Greater East Asia.[3] Consequently, Japan’s generals and admirals’ in the climate of World War II (WWII) believed that Japan should attack the US naval fleet at Pearl Harbor in retaliation at the embargo, and because the US naval fleet threatened Japan’s expansionist aims in Southeast Asia, and its ability to gain control of oil fields in the Dutch East Indies. Secondly, the fact that Japan had emerged with a superior navy by 1941 achieved as a result of their naval race with the US, which had began in 1905, had led Japanese generals and admirals’ to decide once and for all to destroy the US pacific fleet, in order to gain total naval dominance in the Pacific.[4] Finally, Japan’s generals and admirals’ had decided to bomb Peal Harbor after being influenced by a variety of long and short-term factors over the timing of the attack, as Japan’s generals and admirals believed that it would be better to attack the US in the short term, in order to overcome US economic sanctions and use to their advantage their naval superiority.

This issue has stimulated a continuous debate among historians ever since the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the reasons surrounding the Japanese generals and admirals’ decision to bomb the US fleet at Pearl Harbor have been widely debated. Historians and the wider public have memorialized this event and it has become an important event of WWII, because from a Japanese perspective it was a major national triumph, while from an American perspective it was traumatic event that spurred the US into WWII and eventually led them to victory in commemoration of the American lives lost at Pearl Harbor. Most historians agreed that the US embargo, the Japanese naval superiority and short term factors over timing were the three main factors behind the Japanese generals and admirals' decision to attack the US naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, and that these factors were all interconnected with one another. Nevertheless, while these historians who wrote at different points in time agreed with these as major factors, they have also presented multiple interpretations and their remains a contentious debate over what was the most important reason behind the decision to attack Pearl Harbor. Historians such as Slackman, Morely and Utley have argued like myself that the oil factor was the most important reason Pelz, Prange and Marks on the other hand have focused their argument more on the naval race, while Toland and Fies have argued that short term factors over timing was the main factor.[5]


The first and most important major reason behind the Japanese generals and admirals’ decision to attack Pearl Harbor was due to a US economic oil embargo, which had depleted Japan’s oil reserves that were vital to its war effort in China and Southeast Asia during WWII. Historically, Japan had very few raw materials of its own and thus has had to always rely heavily on foreign imports.[6] Most notably it relied on the US to obtain scrap iron, steel, oil, and other essential goods outside of Asia, and thus in Japanese terms it would be impossible to do without US trade.[7] Thus, the US strength was in the area of Japanese weakness, which was plentiful raw materials and oil.

The imposition of sanctions by the US were as a consequence of Japan's invasion of Manchuria and more importantly French Indochina in 1931 and 1940 respectively, and Japan’s desire for hegemony in East Asia.[8] Japan had invaded and expanded its empire into East Asia, according to Japan’s Prime Minister Kanoye, in order to rid Asia of Western domination and colonial rule based on their imperial concept of Greater East Asia Co-prosperity scheme, and also to become self-sufficient and free from economic dependence on the Western powers.[9] According to a Japanese Imperial Conference on 6 September 1941, the purpose of the invasion was to expel foreign influence from East Asia, to establish a sphere for the self-defence and self-preservation of our Empire, and to build a New Order in Greater East Asia.[10] Historians such as Slackman and Pelz have stated that by 1941 ‘Japan had acquired an empire of its own’ due to its invasions, but it also revealed how desperate Japan was to gain control of vital raw materials in East Asia, especially oil coal, rice, rubber, and iron, which were necessary for the maintenance of a technologically advanced military power during WWII.[11] Nevertheless, the US reacted to Japan’s expansionist push, as Japan had threatened the people of East Asia in countries such as China and broke the Kellogg-Briand treaty of 1928 of maintaining peace in the region.[12] Thus the US sought to quell their expansionist aims, as well as protect the people of East Asia from Japanese expansive aggression by imposing economic sanctions. These economic sanctions were made clear through Hoover-Stimson’s Non-Recognition Policy of Japan in 1931, which stated that economic sanctions might lead to war against Japan, but that they believed it to be necessary in order to stop Japan expanding across Asia.[13] The economic sanctions started, according to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, with a moral embargo in 1938 after the rape of Nanjing in 1937, then sanctions on aluminum in 1939, then sanctions on iron and scrap metal in 1940 and finally and most importantly an oil embargo came into force on 1 August 1941.[14] Thus, Japan’s invasions and policy of expansion brought about economic sanctions from the US.

Once the US trade embargo came into force, however, it devastated Japan’s economy, as Japan had lost its main reliable source of oil and other vital natural resources, and would give Japan only a few months before all the supplies would run out.[15] According to Statistical Abstract of the United States, US exports to Japan decreased from US$227,200,000 in 1940 to US$59,901,000 in 1941.[16] This led Prime Minster Tojo Hideki to state that: ‘the oil embargo had driven Japan into a corner’.[17] Historians have portrayed the US policy towards Japan during 1940-41 as gradually tightening the economic screws, especially on oil. Morley and Slackman have stated that in relation to the embargo, Japanese military and naval authorities calculated that Japanese industry and armed forces would grind to a halt within months if the flow were not restored, as ‘Japan depended almost entirely on oil imports, and the nation’s leadership viewed the embargo as tantamount to an act of war’.[18] Hence, the US oil embargo demoralized Japan’s economy and threatened their expansionist goals in East Asia.

The Japan generals and admirals were outraged by the US embargo and initially undertook diplomatic negotiations to restore trade links, but once these failed the Japanese retaliated against the US through their attack on Pearl Harbor. Initially, in November 1941 the Japanese sent an envoy led by diplomat Saburo Kurusu, Konoe Fumimaro and Admiral Kichisaburo to try and resolve the stand off between Japan and the US.[19] They put two proposal’s forward, Plan A and Plan B.[20] Plan A focused on China whereby the Japanese would slowly withdraw troops from China, in order to reestablish trade links.[21] While Plan B focused on Southeast Asia whereby Japan would withdraw troops from Indochina, in return for the US providing Japan with oil.[22] Although the US advisors to President Roosevelt such as Cordell Hull wanted to maintain peace in the Pacific, in the end the US refused Japan’s conditions and Plan A and Plan B, as the Japanese were never committed to fully withdraw from East Asia.[23] Consequently the Japanese generals and admirals decided to attack the US in retaliation at the US sanctions and because the US naval fleet at Pearl Harbor threatened Japan’s expansionist aims, and its ability to desperately gain much needed oil supplies in the Dutch East Indies unhindered.[24] According to Utley and Iriye, following the US embargo ‘Japan did not retreat but attacked Pearl Harbor and pushed toward the oil-rich Netherlands East Indies and Burma’.[25] Therefore, the US oil embargo played an important role in influencing Japan’s generals and admirals to attack the US naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, and showed that Japan and the US were on a collision course given Japanese ambitions and the US determination to prevent Japanese expansionism.


The fact that Japan navy had emerged superior by 1941 through their naval race with the US also influenced Japan’s generals and admirals to decide for once and for all to destroy the US Pacific fleet. This was so Japan could gain total naval dominance in the Pacific and subsequently give it the ability to expand its Empire without any interference in search for oil and other natural resources, and achieve its political objective of ridding East Asia of Western domination. Thus the Japan-US naval race was interrelated with the oil embargo. But before showing how Japan emerged with a superior navy it is important to understand that it was the history behind the naval race with the US, that led to Japan developing a more advanced navy by 1941. Historically, ever since Japan’s defeat of the Russian naval fleet in the Battle of Tsushima on 29 May 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), the US had seen Japan as a naval competitor in the Pacific, which prompted a naval race between Japan and the US for naval superiority over the Pacific.[26] Both countries sought to be better than each other and both had a long-term strategy of destroying the other country’s naval fleets.[27] According to Pelz, ‘In 1934, the Japanese government demanded naval equality with…the United States’.[28] Historians Sadao and Seiichi have also stated that, ‘the only country considered to have the power to curb Japanese aggression was the United States’, and subsequently Japan underwent a rapid transformation, as it aggressively sought to build a superior navy, to give it the ability to expand into East Asia unimpeded.[29] Hence, the long running naval race between Japan and the US influenced Japan to build a more advanced navy, in order for it to gain naval dominance in the Pacific.

By 1941 the Japanese naval fleet had emerged as superior in their naval race with the US because the militaristic regime in Japan had undertaken an aggressive naval building scheme, and had increased military expenditure through its involvement in WWII and subsequent invasions of Manchuria and Southeast Asia in 1930s and early 1940s. According to Pelz and Roskill comparative naval figures, Japan fleet consisted of 232 ships compared to the US, which had 172 ships and only three aircraft carriers compared to Japan’s ten.[30] Japanese naval superiority was also reinforced by the fact that Japan’s navy had developed the torpedo bomb and went to great lengths to minimize the chance that the secret would fall into the hands of the enemy in the US.[31] The fact that the Japanese navy had emerged superior led the Japanese Prime Minister Tojo Hideki to state that, ‘the American fleet standing by in Hawaii [was] equivalent to an American military threat aimed at Japan’, and thus Japan should take a chance and use its more advanced navy to destroy their Pacific fleet, even though there was always the possibility that Japan may be defeated.[32] Historians such as Prange and Marks have argued that the US Pacific Fleet was ‘so inferior to the Japanese navy in every category of fighting ship’, which consequently influenced the Japanese due to their naval superiority to destroy their only remaining foreseeable threat in the Pacific to their expansionist aims, which was the US.[33] While, Pelz has argued that Japan decided to strike ‘before the Americans tipped the naval balance back against the [Japanese] empire’.[34] Therefore, the fact that the Japanese navy had emerged more advanced by 1941 gave the Japanese generals and admirals’ the inspiration to decide to attack the US, as they knew the likelihood of success was great, and that success would allow Japan to be free to expand its empire unimpeded.


The final major reason behind Japan’s decision to attack the US fleet at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 was due to long and short term factors over the timing of the attack, as Japan’s generals and admirals’ believed that it would be better to attack the US in the short-term, in order to overcome US economic sanctions and due to their naval superiority. Initially, according to Prince Higashikuni, there was some initial tension between the navy and the army over the timing of the attack.[35] Nevertheless, the Japanese understood not only that if they waited too long to attack the US, the US maybe too powerful for such an attack to take place but also that they could not compete in a long war with the US as they had a large industrial base, which could provided constant supplies during a war effort.[36] Thus the Japanese generals and admirals such as, Chief of the Combined Fleet Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, the mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack, and the Emperor Hirohito at the Japanese Imperial Conference of 6 September 1941 stated that they believed that an immediate attack would be more likely to be a success, because ‘as time passes, our capacity to carry on war will decline, and our Empire will become powerless militarily’.[37] While according to admiral Nagano, ‘if we are going to fight [the US], then the sooner the better because our supplies [of fuel and oil] are fast running out’.[38] Thus in the short term it was better to attack the US quickly while they were still weak due to remaining isolated from the war. This was backed up by historian Pelz and Toland who argued that ‘Japan lacked the strength to compete with the Americans over the long term, [and that] its short-term prospects were much better’, before the naval balance had tipped against the empire.[39] Fies agreed as he argued that Japan ‘lacked the basic means for a long struggle’ and that ‘Japan had no chance to win a prolonged conflict with the US’.[40] Therefore, the Japanese generals and admirals were influenced by short term factors such as US economic sanctions and their naval superiority, and thus decided to launch an immediate attack, which also subsequently revealed that all these three factors were interconnected in the decision making process over whether Japan should attack the US.

Therefore, there were three interrelated reasons why the Japanese generals and admirals attacked Pearl Harbor, which were the US embargo, the Japanese naval superiority and short-term factors over timing. Most historians such as Morley, Pelz and Toland have agreed that these reasons were the main factors behind the Japanese generals and admirals’ decision to attack the US military forces in Pearl Harbor and declare war on the US.[41] Nevertheless, these historians have had multiple interpretations over what was their main argument in relation to this issue. Nonetheless, in hindsight we can see that Japan’s decision to attack the US, while producing a minor victory, was not well thought out, as it did not have the desired affect of allowing Japan to expand into East Asia without interference but led to a protracted Pacific War conflict with the US, which ended with the dropping of two atomic bombs by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 and Japanese defeat.

[1] There are many other reasons for the attack on Pearl Harbor, such as historical tensions, however for the purpose of this essay I will only analyze the three main reasons mentioned in the above introduction ‘Japan Wars on US and Britain makes sudden attack on Hawaii Heavy fighting at Sea reported’, in New York Times, 8 December 1941, p 1.

[2] ‘US Aviation Fuel Barred to Japan as Roosevelt Order Curbs Exports Silk to be banned for Civilian Use’, in New York Times, 2 August 1941, p 1.


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The Cars of 1941

The ’41 Ford was freshened, getting a push-button start (sound familiar?) that could only be activated after the key unlocked the steering column.

Chevy’s Suburban — yes, the same one — also got a refresh in 1941, and yes, it sat eight occupants, but it was available only with inline-six-cylinder engines. Chevy didn’t start offering V-8s in large numbers until the “small-block” V-8 arrived in 1954.

The 1941 Buick Century had a 165-horsepower inline-eight-cylinder engine that could hit 95 mph. It was nicknamed “the banker’s hot rod.”

Of course, 1941 is widely remembered by car enthusiasts as the first year of production for the Willys Jeep, a design that has stood the test of time. It’s a design that is still alive and well in today’s Jeep Wrangler.

The 1940s also had a number of automotive nameplates that are no longer with us today, including DeSoto, Plymouth, Mercury, Pontiac, Crosley, Nash, Packard and Studebaker.

The sole Jewish survivor remembers the Odessa massacre of 1941

Mihail Zaslavsky is the only known survivor among tens of thousands of Ukrainian Jews who were executed or burned alive following a bomb attack on October 22, 1941. The 93-year-old told DW how he escaped the Nazis.

Mihail Zaslavsky was 16 when his hometown Odessa, the metropolis on the Black Sea, was occupied by Romanian and German troops in October 1941. On October 22, a bomb attack on the Nazi headquarters killed 67 of the occupiers. Retaliation followed: For each German or Romanian dead officer, it was ordered that 200 "Bolsheviks" should be killed, and 100 for each dead soldier.

However, there were no more "Bolsheviks" in Odessa. Actually, hardly any men were to be found there at all. The Nazis therefore turned onto the Jewish population, predominantly women and children. They were sent to former ammunition warehouses on the outskirts of the city, where they were shot or burned alive.

Mikhail Zaslavsky, the sole survivor of the 1941 Odessa massacre, shared his memories with DW.

DW: How did you experience the events from October 1941?

Mihail Zaslavsky: I was born in Odessa and love my city. That's why I was involved in defending Odessa in August and September 1941, like all teenage boys. We set up barricades by digging cobblestones out of the street, we cleaned up destroyed houses so they would not collapse and we helped out injured people.

October 16 was a black day. The occupying forces reached our city. I am Jewish. My father, my mother and all my ancestors were Jews, as well.

On October 19, 1941, a fascist Romanian officer came to our house with two soldiers and a Ukrainian interpreter. We were told, "Jews, pack your things! You have 20 minutes." My mother grabbed what she could. When we came out, the neighbors from our house were standing at the gate.

I looked around. There were neighbors from the surrounding houses in front of every gate: the boys with whom I played football and grew up with, people I saw every day, neighbors who were friends or enemies. All these people had one question written on their faces: "Why?"

We were brought to the school number 121. That was a new school with four stories. We were detained there until the morning. The next day, escorted by barking dogs and the blows of rifle butts, we were led to the prison on the old Portofrankskaya street. On both sides of the streets, there were friends, schoolmates and their parents who couldn't help us and watched in shock. But there were also rascals who came and grabbed our bags away from us.

A model of the warehouse in Odessa's Holocaust Museum depicts the massacre

We were locked in jail, with 16 people in a cell that was conceived for one or two people, in arbitrary groups, without any consideration of the children, women or elderly people. We weren't allowed to use restrooms. We all had to — pardon me — empty ourselves right there. I was a 16-year-old boy, and there were young women, young children. I found it terribly unpleasant. We picked a corner, put up a piece of canvas and used an old pot … but I don't want to go into more details.

On October 22 at 4 p.m. the commanders' building [of the occupying forces] was blown up. About a hundred fascists were killed, as we later found out. Among them was city commander Ioan Glogojanu. Of course they blamed the Jews. The next morning we were sent to the artillery warehouse.

Did you already know about the explosion?

I was carrying my five-year-old brother, and we had barely reached the bunker when they yanked him away from me. I was given a terrible blow in the back. I could not tell if it was from a foot, a rifle butt or a baton, but in any case I was sent to the side, where men, including elders and teenagers, were standing. We were brought to the last building at the back. My mother and my siblings — I was the oldest of five — landed in another barrack.

The tragedy happened at this location, on Lustdorf street

After some time I heard a motor. A car was coming. Everything was showered with gasoline or another fuel and set on fire. After some time, when everything was burning, I noticed that the fire had burned a hole on one side of the building. I rushed through it.

As I said, I was young and athletic, and I was fighting for my life. I came out and there was a barrier, but it wasn't a barrier like in concentration camps, it didn't have barbed wire. So I found my way through the fence and ran. I immediately heard machine guns shooting in the background.

I heard screams. I heard bodies falling. I heard footsteps. I turned around and saw that the other warehouse was burning, and that the flames were raging into the sky. I reached a corn field that had already been harvested, so I snaked my way through it until I reached an area covered with trees. I fell there, breathless.

I rested there until the evening. Then in the evening I went through back areas and alleys of Odessa — I knew the city very well —until I reached the Polish cemetery. I climbed over its wall and spent the night there.

In the cemetery, in a tomb. I stayed all day in the tomb without food or water and I went into the city the next night …

What I went through during the occupation the following two and a half years is not a story I can tell you in two minutes. I went underground, I used a fake identity. I had papers from the Romanian police with my photo and even my fingerprints.

On April 10, 1944, Odessa was liberated, and I joined the army the next day.

Who did you lose in the flames of the artillery warehouse?

My sister Eva, 12 years old, and another sister, Shenja, who was 9, my young brother Ilja, who I had carried there. My mother had baby Anna in her arms. They were all burned to death. They became ashes. It is said that the smell of the burned bodies was in the air for several days.

Did you go back to the place where it all happened?

Yes, I did. The memorial, however, was only recently set up by us, the association of former concentration camp inmates. But I went back there every year.

Zaslavsky, 93, still takes the tramway to visit the location where his family died

Now there are houses, garages and vegetable gardens there. How do you feel about this?

It's normal, life prevails. The important thing is that this never happens again. Rememberance is more important than memorials.

You went to the front as soon as you could. Seeking revenge?

At the beginning there was anger and outrage, yes. Let's say that I was a deserving soldier. But you can't spend your entire life hating. Time eases the pain, and other worries take over. I have two children, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. I have told them this family tragedy, but they feel far away from it all.

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