America bombs Rome

America bombs Rome

On July 19, 1943, the United States bombs railway yards in Rome in an attempt to break the will of the Italian people to resist—as Hitler lectures their leader, Benito Mussolini, on how to prosecute the war further.

On July 16, President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appealed to the Italian civilian population to reject Mussolini and Hitler and “live for Italy and civilization.” As an “incentive,” American bombers raided the city, destroying its railways. Panic broke out among the Romans. Convinced by Mussolini that the Allies would never bomb the holy city, civilians poured into the Italian capital for safety. The bombing did more than shake their security in the city—it shook their confidence in their leader.

The denizens of Rome were not alone in such disillusion. In a meeting in northern Italy, Hitler attempted to revive the flagging spirits of Il Duce, as well as point out his deficiencies as a leader. Afraid that Mussolini, having suffered successive military setbacks, would sue for a separate peace, leaving the Germans alone to battle it out with Allied forces along the Italian peninsula, Hitler decided to meet with his onetime role model to lecture him on the manly art of war. Mussolini remained uncharacteristically silent during the harangue, partly due to his own poor German (he would request a translated synopsis of the meeting later), partly due to his fear of Hitler’s response should he tell the truth—that Italy was beaten and could not continue to fight.

Mussolini kept up the charade for his German allies: Italy would press on. But no one believed the brave front anymore. Just a day later, Hitler secretly ordered Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to take command of the occupied Greek Islands, better to “pounce on Italy” if and when Mussolini capitulated to the United States. But within a week, events would take a stunning turn.


What If America Hadn’t Dropped the Atom Bombs?

As we learn more and more about the Second World War, we begin to see that some things we were initially taught may not be completely accurate. For instance, it’s widely believed that Japan only surrendered due to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the reality is that the two atom bombs may have been less of a catalyst than they appear to have been.

The question is straightforward: What would have happened if the United States hadn’t dropped the bombs on Japan’s cities? Would World War II have concluded when it did? Was there another force approaching in the Pacific Theater to force Japan’s hand?

In this brief look back, we consider what might have happened had the United States chosen a different route.


15 Centurion (2010) - 61%

While it's set in the Ancient Roman period and stars definitively Roman characters, Centurion is not actually set in Rome, but rather in Britain. Michael Fassbender plays Quintus Dias, a centurion stationed with the fabled Ninth Legion in Caledonia, which is northern Britain, in the second century.

He's joined by Olga Kurylenko as Etain, a Brigantes warrior and scout who's out for revenge against the Romans who brutally murdered her family. Though the film did okay but not great with the critics, it only made back half of its $12 million budget at the box office, making it an official bomb.


America bombs Rome - HISTORY

Hamas claimed responsibility for this 1996 suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed 26 Israelis in addition to the Palestinian bomber. The phenomenon of suicide bombing remains poorly understood by most Americans.

Editor's Note:

Since the attack on the World Trade Center in on September 11, 2001 the world has grown accustomed to reports of "suicide bombers." They are often portrayed as deluded or crazed, and they hold an almost lurid fascination for their willingness to kill themselves while killing others. This month, historian Jeffrey William Lewis puts what many of us see as a recent phenomenon in a longer historical perspective. He argues that it is more useful to think about suicide bombers as a type of human military technology that is controlled by an organization rather than as a form of individual fanaticism.

On February 1, 2013, a suicide bomber killed himself and a security guard at America’s embassy in Ankara, Turkey. This attack, carried out more than a decade after 9/11, reveals a great deal about the phenomenon we have come to know as suicide bombing.

First, a radical left-wing group with a vaguely Marxist agenda (The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party in Turkey) claimed responsibility, demonstrating that suicide bombing is not the exclusive domain of religious fanatics.

Second, the bomber detonated his explosives before he had the opportunity to enter the embassy complex. This shows that individual initiative and fallibility are important aspects of the organizational process of suicide bombing—a process that requires expertise and practice to be truly effective.

Finally, the attack confirms that suicide bombing will continue to be a dangerous security nuisance for the foreseeable future.

A decade after the attacks on the World Trade Center, suicide bombing remains frustratingly mysterious to most Americans. Horror at the devastation caused by such attacks and a lurid fascination with the mindset of suicide bombers have tended to keep most people at an intellectual distance, preventing a deeper understanding.

If we step back, however, and examine not only the mindset of the bombers, but the motivations of the organizations that deploy them and the cultures that approve of their violence, suicide bombing becomes understandable as a type of weapon. It is an alternative technology—the systematic mechanization of human beings—that confers upon militant groups many of the same capabilities of the sophisticated weapon systems of advanced states.

Suicide bombing finds its origins in nineteenth century Russia, and has been employed from Japan to the Middle East to Sri Lanka and elsewhere. To succeed, campaigns of suicide bombing need three factors: willing individuals, organizations to train and use them, and a society willing to accept such acts in the name of a greater good.

A Human-Centered Weapon System

The 9/11 attacks provide a useful case in point.

Suicide attacks had been used against American interests previously—for example the bombings of American embassies in East Africa in 1998 and the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. Yet the 9/11 attacks came as a surprise since they completely re-wrote the rules of airliner hijacking. Until then, hijackings had been theatrical affairs in which the hijackers traded power over their hostages’ lives for political concessions.

The September 11 hijackings, however, were about the aircraft, not the people on board. The passengers, in fact, were a liability rather than an asset, as demonstrated by the brave resistance of the passengers on United Flight 93.

The goal of the hijackings was to reprogram the guidance systems of the airliners so they could be used as massive cruise missiles. To direct these missiles to their targets, the hijackers installed their own control systems—human pilots.

The September 11 attacks therefore had more in common with America’s arsenal of precision-guided munitions than with the history of aviation terrorism.

From such a perspective, the pilots of the four hijacked aircraft were not typical hijackers carrying out a common terrorist tactic. Instead, they were the control elements of a weapon system whose destruction was a necessary and anticipated consequence of a successful mission.

This system—aircraft, “muscle” hijackers, and pilots—was in turn used by other actors who were not even physically present—the al Qaeda leadership that planned and directed the mission. This basic relationship, in which human beings are used by other human beings, is the defining characteristic of suicide bombing.

Since the 9/11 attacks, a host of terrorist groups have used suicide bombers in increasingly innovative and destructive ways. The global number of suicide bombings peaked in 2007, but the use of this weapon has continued at a very high level, regularly wreaking havoc in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Mechanizing Humans

Suicide bombing integrates people with material devices to create a weapon both inexpensive and intelligent in the truest sense.

Throughout history, human beings have been used by other humans as components of economic and technological systems indeed, Aristotle thought of human slaves as “living tools.”

Not only human physical labor, but also mental labor, can be exploited in technological systems. By the late 1800s people were used as data processors within extremely sophisticated computational systems. By the Second World War, human and machine elements were integrated into hybrid control systems in which both human and machine were engineered and modified to improve system performance.

One designer of such systems, an MIT engineer, wrote: “This whole point of view of course makes the human being … nothing more or less than a robot, which, as a matter of fact, is exactly what he is or should be.”

Suicide bombing therefore draws on a long history of the human use of human beings as the data processing centers in technological systems.

Between Martyrdom and Suicide: What is Suicide Bombing?

Because organizations increasingly sponsor and facilitate suicide bombings, it has become increasingly difficult to understand these events as self-sacrificial violence.

Suicide bombers’ communities and sponsoring organizations have understood them as martyrs in the traditional sense of the word—individuals who sacrifice their lives for a cause. Historically, however, martyrs have mostly suffered, rather than inflicted, harm. Since suicide bombing by its nature often inflicts grievous, indiscriminate damage, many analysts now believe that suicide bombing cannot be understood in terms of conventional martyrdom.

The term martyr is derived from the Greek martus which literally means witness. In the early Christian Church, the term was initially applied to the Apostles, signifying their personal witness to the public life and teachings of Christ.

Since such testimony was risky in the Roman Empire of the time, the term quickly evolved to incorporate elements of its current meaning—one who serves as witness at great personal risk to him- or herself. The word now defines the willing sacrifice of one’s life on behalf of a larger cause, such as faith or community.

Historically, the decision to die on behalf of others has been the right of the individual. But now, that decision has been at least partially appropriated by the organizations that train and deploy suicide bombers.

By guaranteeing that individual suicide bombers will be remembered as martyrs dying for their communities, organizations play on broad trends of altruism and self-sacrifice that can be found in nearly any community. This use of martyrdom imbues the role of suicide bomber with reverence and heroism, rendering it more attractive to recruits.

The organization thus gains a measure of control over the prospective bombers. Control of this kind should not be understood as “brain-washing,” but as a reciprocal process. Prospective bombers exchange the glories of martyrdom for the necessity of their own deaths while retaining a degree of individual initiative. Indeed, this combination of reliability and creativity is what makes suicide bombers so dangerous.

Since suicide bombing stems simultaneously from individual and organizational motivations, it is indeed different from most historical instances of martyrdom. But suicide bombers, often motivated by community or religious obligation, retain the traditional martyr’s willingness to die on behalf of others.

In this new, mechanized form of martyrdom, organizations participate in what would otherwise be an individual act, and in so doing make martyrdom predictable and usable.

Suicide bombers are not individual suicides, moreover, since suicide is lethal self-violence driven by personal rather than social motivations. Certainly some suicide attackers appear to have been motivated by despair, fatalism, and even self-aggrandizement, making their choice selfish, but many are motivated by social causes and most are probably driven by some combination of both.

Suicide bombers therefore do not fit easily into either category. Depending on individual motivations some may fall closer to the ideal of classical martyrdom, while some resemble individual suicide. Neither exactly martyrdom nor exactly suicide, suicide bombing is something different—the human manipulation of human self-sacrifice.

Origins of Suicide Bombing

It is tempting to look for the wellspring of suicide bombing in historical groups such as the Assassins (a group of radical Shiite Muslims active between the 11th and 13th centuries who were characterized by their willingness to die for their beliefs)—tempting, but inappropriate.

Such self-sacrificing zealotry is common in the history of armed conflict, but the use of human beings as guidance systems, rather than as fighters, is relatively novel. The first human bombs did not arrive on the scene until shortly after conventional bombs were first used by militant groups.

The invention of dynamite in the 1860s presented radical groups with a frightening new weapon nearly twenty times more powerful than gunpowder. Revolutionary and terrorist groups in Europe began using dynamite bombs but soon found that despite their power, technical challenges such as detonating dynamite in the right place at the right time were daunting, making failure more common than success.

Almost by accident, Russian terrorist Ignaty Grinevitsky found that one effective way to use a dynamite bomb was to couple it to a human trigger.

Grinevitsky was a member of the People’s Will, a terrorist organization committed to murdering Alexander II, leader of Imperial Russia. The People’s Will tried on numerous occasions to kill Alexander using dynamite bombs between 1879 and early 1881. All of these attempts failed, so by the time Grinevitsky was called upon to participate in a plot to kill Alexander, both he and the organization were desperate.

Grinevitsky and another bomber planned to ambush Alexander using small, hand-thrown bombs with a lethal area of about one meter in diameter. The first man threw his bomb from a short distance away, damaging Alexander’s carriage and forcing it to stop. He was immediately arrested.

Inexplicably, Alexander remained in the area, allowing Grinevitsky to get very close to him and throw the small bomb he had been carrying against the ground, causing it to detonate and kill both men.


Where the Buffalo No Longer Roamed

A pile of American bison skulls in the mid-1870s. Photo: Wikipedia

The telegram arrived in New York from Promontory Summit, Utah, at 3:05 p.m. on May 10, 1869, announcing one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of the century:

The last rail is laid the last spike driven the Pacific Railroad is completed. The point of junction is 1086 miles west of the Missouri river and 690 miles east of Sacramento City.

The telegram was signed, “Leland Stanford, Central Pacific Railroad. T. P. Durant, Sidney Dillon, John Duff, Union Pacific Railroad,” and trumpeted news of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. After more than six years of backbreaking labor, east officially met west with the driving of a ceremonial golden spike. In City Hall Park in Manhattan, the announcement was greeted with the firing of 100 guns. Bells were rung across the country, from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. Business was suspended in Chicago as people rushed to the streets, celebrating to the sounding of steam whistles and cannons booming.

Back in Utah, railroad officials and politicians posed for pictures aboard locomotives, shaking hands and breaking bottles of champagne on the engines as Chinese laborers from the West and Irish, German and Italian laborers from the East were budged from view.

Celebration of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, May 10, 1869. Photo: Wikipedia

Not long after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862, railroad financier George Francis Train proclaimed, “The great Pacific Railway is commenced.… Immigration will soon pour into these valleys. Ten millions of emigrants will settle in this golden land in twenty years.… This is the grandest enterprise under God!”  Yet while Train may have envisioned all the glory and the possibilities of linking the East and the West coasts by “a strong band of iron,” he could not imagine the full and tragic impact of the Transcontinental Railroad, nor the speed at which it changed the shape of the American West. For in its wake, the lives of countless Native Americans were destroyed, and tens of millions of buffalo, which had roamed freely upon the Great Plains since the last ice age 10,000 years ago, were nearly driven to extinction in a massive slaughter made possible by the railroad.

Following the Civil War, after deadly European diseases and hundreds of wars with the white man had already wiped out untold numbers of Native Americans, the U.S. government had ratified nearly 400 treaties with the Plains Indians. But as the Gold Rush, the pressures of Manifest Destiny, and land grants for railroad construction led to greater expansion in the West, the majority of these treaties were broken. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s first postwar command (Military Division of the Mississippi) covered the territory west of the Mississippi and east of the Rocky Mountains, and his top priority was to protect the construction of the railroads. In 1867, he wrote to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, “we are not going to let thieving, ragged Indians check and stop the progress” of the railroads. Outraged by the Battle of the Hundred Slain, where Lakota and Cheyenne warriors ambushed a troop of the U.S. Cavalry in Wyoming, scalping and mutilating the bodies of all 81 soldiers and officers, Sherman told Grant the year before, “we must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children.” When Grant assumed the presidency in 1869, he appointed Sherman Commanding General of the Army, and Sherman was responsible for U.S. engagement in the Indian Wars.  On the ground in the West, Gen. Philip Henry Sheridan, assuming Sherman’s command, took to his task much as he had done in the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War, when he ordered the “scorched earth” tactics that presaged Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Early on, Sheridan bemoaned a lack of troops: “No other nation in the world would have attempted reduction of these wild tribes and occupation of their country with less than 60,000 to 70,000 men, while the whole force employed and scattered over the enormous region…never numbered more than 14,000 men.  The consequence was that every engagement was a forlorn hope.”

The Army’s troops were well equipped for fighting against conventional enemies, but the guerrilla tactics of the Plains tribes  confounded them at every turn.  As the railways expanded, they allowed the rapid transport of troops and supplies to areas where battles were being waged.  Sheridan was soon able to mount the kind of offensive he desired. In the Winter Campaign of 1868-69 against Cheyenne encampments, Sheridan set about destroying the Indians’ food, shelter and livestock with overwhelming force, leaving women and children at the mercy of the Army and Indian warriors little choice but to surrender or risk starvation.  In one such surprise raid at dawn during a November snowstorm in Indian Territory, Sheridan ordered the nearly 700 men of the Seventh Cavalry, commanded by George Armstrong Custer, to “destroy villages and ponies, to kill or hang all warriors, and to bring back all women and children.” Custer’s men charged into a Cheyenne village on the Washita River, cutting down the Indians as they fled from lodges. Women and children were taken as hostages as part of Custer’s strategy to use them as human shields, but Cavalry scouts reported seeing women and children pursued and killed “without mercy” in what became known as the Washita Massacre. Custer later reported more than 100 Indian deaths, including that of Chief Black Kettle and his wife, Medicine Woman Later, shot in the back as they attempted to ride away on a pony. Cheyenne estimates of Indian deaths in the raid were about half of Custer’s total, and the Cheyenne did manage to kill 21 Cavalry troops while defending the attack. “If a village is attacked and women and children killed,” Sheridan once remarked, “the responsibility is not with the soldiers but with the people whose crimes necessitated the attack.”

Gen. Philip Sheridan photographed by Matthew Brady. Photo: Library of Congress

The Transcontinental Railroad made Sheridan’s strategy of “total war” much more effective. In the mid-19th century, it was estimated that 30 milion to 60 million buffalo roamed the plains. In massive and majestic herds, they rumbled by the hundreds of thousands, creating the sound that earned them the nickname “Thunder of the Plains.”  The bison’s lifespan of 25 years, rapid reproduction and resiliency in their environment enabled the species to flourish, as Native Americans were careful not to overhunt, and even men like William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, who was hired by the Kansas Pacific Railroad to hunt the bison to feed thousands of rail laborers for years, could not make much of a dent in the buffalo population. In mid-century, trappers who had depleted the beaver populations of the Midwest began trading in buffalo robes and tongues an estimated 200,000 buffalo were killed annually. Then the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad accelerated the decimation of the species.

Massive hunting parties began to arrive in the West by train, with thousands of men packing .50 caliber rifles, and leaving a trail of buffalo carnage in their wake. Unlike the Native Americans or Buffalo Bill, who killed for food, clothing and shelter, the hunters from the East killed mostly for sport.  Native Americans looked on with horror as landscapes and prairies were littered with rotting buffalo carcasses.  The railroads began to advertise excursions for “hunting by rail,” where trains encountered massive herds alongside or crossing the tracks.  Hundreds of men aboard the trains climbed to the roofs and took aim, or fired from their windows, leaving countless 1,500-pound animals where they died.
Harper’s Weekly described these hunting excursions:

Nearly every railroad train which leaves or arrives at Fort Hays on the Kansas Pacific Railroad has its race with these herds of buffalo and a most interesting and exciting scene is the result. The train is “slowed” to a rate of speed about equal to that of the herd the passengers get out fire-arms which are provided for the defense of the train against the Indians, and open from the windows and platforms of the cars a fire that resembles a brisk skirmish. Frequently a young bull will turn at bay for a moment. His exhibition of courage is generally his death-warrant, for the whole fire of the train is turned upon him, either killing him or some member of the herd in his immediate vicinity.

Hunters began killing buffalo by the hundreds of thousands in the winter months. One hunter, Orlando Brown brought down nearly 6,000 buffalo by himself and lost hearing in one ear from the constant firing of his .50 caliber rifle. The Texas legislature, sensing the buffalo were in danger of being wiped out, proposed a bill to protect the species. General Sheridan opposed it, stating, ”These men have done more in the last two years, and will do more in the next year, to settle the vexed Indian question, than the entire regular army has done in the last forty years. They are destroying the Indians’ commissary. And it is a well known fact that an army losing its base of supplies is placed at a great disadvantage. Send them powder and lead, if you will but for a lasting peace, let them kill, skin and sell until the buffaloes are exterminated. Then your prairies can be covered with speckled cattle.”

Chief Black Kettle, leader of the Southern Cheyenne. Photo: Wikipedia

The devastation of the buffalo population signaled the end of the Indian Wars, and Native Americans were pushed into reservations.  In 1869, the Comanche chief Tosawi was reported to have told Sheridan, “Me Tosawi. Me good Indian,” and Sheridan allegedly replied, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.”  The phrase was later misquoted, with Sheridan supposedly stating, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Sheridan denied he had ever said such a thing.

By the end of the 19th century, only 300 buffalo were left in the wild. Congress finally took action, outlawing the killing of any birds or animals in Yellowstone National Park, where the only surviving buffalo herd could be protected. Conservationists established more wildlife preserves, and the species slowly rebounded. Today, there are more than 200,000 bison in North America.

Sheridan acknowledged the role of the railroad in changing the face of the American West, and in his Annual Report of the General of the U.S. Army in 1878, he acknowledged that the Native Americans were scuttled to reservations with no compensation beyond the promise of religious instruction and basic supplies of food and clothing—promises, he wrote, which were never fulfilled.

“We took away their country and their means of support, broke up their mode of living, their habits of life, introduced disease and decay among them, and it was for this and against this they made war. Could any one expect less? Then, why wonder at Indian difficulties?”


Empire restored

Gallienus was succeeded by Claudius II, called Gothicus after he fought off an invasion of the Goths. Claudius was one of the few who escaped assassination, dying of plague in 270 AD.

The next emperor, Aurelian, self-proclaimed 'restorer of the world', brought the divergent parts of the empire back under his control. But the reunification did not halt the constant usurpations and rebellions.

With the accession of Diocletian in 284 AD, the empire enjoyed greater stability for the next two decades, and some of the material and financial damage was repaired, although not entirely successfully.

Faced with multiple problems and slow communications the emperors could do very little to help.

The province of Britain declared independence under Carausius, and held out for nearly ten years.

Prolonged civil wars broke out after Diocletian's death in 308 AD, brought to an end when Constantine finally emerged supreme in 324 AD.

Roman society was increasingly divided in the third century. Class distinction was accentuated, impoverishment of the middle classes created a reluctance or inability to play any part in local government, which was expensive to the point of annihilation.

Internal law and order broke down. Soldiers bullied and exploited civilians. Foreign peoples invaded Roman provinces, killing and destroying, carrying off people and plunder.

Fear escalated. Provincials passed on their grievances to the emperors, but faced with multiple problems, vast distances and slow communications the emperors could do very little to help.

Endemic insecurity bred its own problems. Any population that feels threatened, but cannot rely on the normal authorities to protect itself, usually ends by taking the law into its own hands.


The Most Dangerous Nuclear Weapon in America's Arsenal

The B61-12 isn't America's most destructive nuclear bomb, but it could very well be its most dangerous.

The United States maintains an extensive nuclear arsenal. According to the Federation of Atomic Scientists, in April of this year the United States maintained an arsenal of over 7,200 nuclear bombs. Of those, more than 2,000 were deployed (1,900 strategic nuclear weapons and 180 non-strategic weapons).

America also maintains a plethora of delivery options for its nuclear bombs. As part of its nuclear triad, it maintains some 94 nuclear-capable bombers (B-2s and B-52s), over 400 Minuteman III ICBMs and 12 Ohio-class ballistic missile nuclear submarines. The latter are equipped with modern Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which are drastic improvements over their land-based competitors.

Indeed, as Keir Lieber and Daryl Press have noted, “In 1985, a single U.S. ICBM warhead had less than a 60 percent chance of destroying a typical silo… Today, a multiple-warhead attack on a single silo using a Trident II missile would have a roughly 99 percent chance of destroying it.”

Yet the most dangerous nuclear bomb in America’s arsenal may be the new B61-12.

Much has been written about the B61-12, most of which has focused on its enormous cost. And for good reason—it is the most expensive nuclear bomb project ever.

In terms of sheer destructive capability, the B61-12 is nowhere near America’s most dangerous nuclear weapon. Indeed, the bomb has a maximum yield of just 50-kilotons, the equivalent of 50,000 tons of TNT. By contrast, the B83 nuclear bomb has a maximum yield of 1.2 megatons (1,200 kilotons).

What makes the B61-12 bomb the most dangerous nuclear weapon in America’s arsenal is its usability. This usability derives from a combination of its accuracy and low-yield.

In terms of the former, the B61-12 is America’s first nuclear-guided bomb, As Hans Kristensen of FAS notes, “We do not have a nuclear-guided bomb in our arsenal today…. It [the B61-12] is a new weapon.”

Indeed, according to Kristensen, existing U.S. nuclear bombs have circular error probabilities (CEP) of between 110-170 meters. The B61-12’s CEP is just 30 meters.

The B61-12 also has a low-yield. As noted above, the bomb has a maximum yield of 50 kilotons. However, this yield can be lowered as needed for any particular mission. In fact, the bomb’s explosive force can be reduced electronically through a dial-a-yield system.

This combination of accuracy and low-yield make the B61-12 the most usable nuclear bomb in America’s arsenal. That’s because accuracy is the most important determinate of a nuclear weapon’s lethality (Yield of warhead^2/3/ CEP^2).

As one scholar explains: “Making a weapon twice as accurate has the same effect on lethality as making the warhead eight times as powerful. Phrased another way, making the missile twice as precise would only require one-eighth the explosive power to maintain the same lethality.” Furthermore, radiological fallout operates according to Newton’s inverse square law.

In practical terms, all this means that the more accurate the bomb, the lower the yield that is needed to destroy any specific target. A lower-yield and more accurate bomb can therefore be used without having to fear the mass, indiscriminate killing of civilians through explosive force or radioactive fallout.

Lieber and Press have documented this nicely. Indeed, using a Pentagon computer model, they estimated that a U.S. counterforce strike against China’s ICBM silos using high-yield weapons detonated at ground blast would still kill anywhere between 3-4 million people. Using low-yield weapons and airbursts, this figure drops to as little as 700 fatalities!

This makes using nuclear weapons thinkable for the first time since the 1940s. The B61-12 only encourages this trend further.

Zachary Keck is managing editor of The National Interest. You can find him on Twitter: @ZacharyKeck.


America bombs Rome - Jul 19, 1943 - HISTORY.com

TSgt Joe C.

On this day in 1943, the United States bombs railway yards in Rome in an attempt to break the will of the Italian people to resist—as Hitler lectures their leader, Benito Mussolini, on how to prosecute the war further.

On July 16, President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appealed to the Italian civilian population to reject Mussolini and Hitler and “live for Italy and civilization.” As an “incentive,” American bombers raided the city, destroying its railways. Panic broke out among the Romans. Convinced by Mussolini that the Allies would never bomb the holy city, civilians poured into the Italian capital for safety. The bombing did more than shake their security in the city—it shook their confidence in their leader.

The denizens of Rome were not alone in such disillusion. In a meeting in northern Italy, Hitler attempted to revive the flagging spirits of Il Duce, as well as point out his deficiencies as a leader. Afraid that Mussolini, having suffered successive military setbacks, would sue for a separate peace, leaving the Germans alone to battle it out with Allied forces along the Italian peninsula, Hitler decided to meet with his onetime role model to lecture him on the manly art of war. Mussolini remained uncharacteristically silent during the harangue, partly due to his own poor German (he would request a translated synopsis of the meeting later), partly due to his fear of Hitler’s response should he tell the truth—that Italy was beaten and could not continue to fight. Mussolini kept up the charade for his German allies: Italy would press on. But no one believed the brave front anymore. Just a day later, Hitler secretly ordered Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to take command of the occupied Greek Islands, better to “pounce on Italy” if and when Mussolini capitulated to the United States. But within a week, events would take a stunning turn.


Battle Records of the Members of the Roman Triumvirates

A Brief History This article presents tables showing the battle records of the members of the Roman triumvirates. In a number of these battles, the individuals listed below shared command with one or more other commanders or served as a subordinate to a superior commander. Digging Deeper The Battle Record of Marcus Licinius Crassus The Battle Record of Pompey The Battle Record of Julius Caesar The Battle Record of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus The Battle Record of Mark Antony The Battle Record of Augustus Question for students (and subscribers): Which member of either triumvirate do you consider to have been the greatest&hellip


Allies Bomb Northern Nazi Germany: June 1943-December 1943

In early 1943, President Frankli­n Roosevelt and Winston Churchill discussed the future direction of the war and agreed to maintain a relentless bombing campaign against the European Axis states to ease the pressure on the Red Army. This Combined Bomber Offensive was the Allies' substitute for a seco­nd front, which was deemed too risky in 1943. In May 1943, the German navy lost 41 submarines while Allied merchant vessel losses dropped sharply. Over the next two months, a further 54 submarines were sunk, prompting the German naval commander-in-chief, Admiral Karl Dönitz, to withdraw from the North Atlantic.

The Allies' critical victory over the submarine menace made possible the broad extension of American military and economic power into the European Theater.

In 1943, that power was principally represented in the air. The Combined Bomber Offensive was officially launched as Operation Pointblank in June 1943, although British Bomber Command and the U.S. Eighth Air Force had begun around-the-clock bombing -- the British by night, the Americans by day -- from the winter of 1942-43. The offensive was aimed at the enemy's military-economic complex -- the source of German airpower and the morale of the urban workforce.

Efforts to attack identifiable industrial or military targets could not be achieved with prevailing technology without a high cost to civilians. From July 24 to 28, a succession of attacks on the northern German port city of Hamburg resulted in the first "firestorm," which killed an estimated 40,000 people. Over the course of the war, more than 420,000 German civilians would die from the bombing attacks a further 60,000 civilians would be killed in attacks on Italian cities.

The bomb attacks immediately affected German strategy. The Germans established a large air defense sector. To do so, they had to withdraw valuable resources of manpower, artillery, shells, and aircraft from the military front line. There, German armies were forced to fight with shrinking air cover. Though military production continued to rise in Nazi Germany during 1943, the increase was much lower than it would have been otherwise. Bombing placed a ceiling on the German war effort and brought the war to bear directly on German and Italian society.

The Allies capitalized on these growing advantages. In North Africa, the Axis forces that were bottled up in Tunisia were slowly starved of supplies by Allied naval and air power in the Mediterranean. By May 13, when the battle was over, 275,000 Italian and German troops had surrendered. As had been decided at Casablanca, the Western Allies launched an attack on Sicily on July 9-10, 1943. During the capture of the island, Mussolini's regime was overthrown by the Fascist Grand Council and the monarchy. On September 3, an armistice was agreed upon, and on September 8, Italy surrendered.

That same week, American and British Commonwealth forces landed in southern Italy against limited German resistance. However, German forces were reinforced as the battle took shape. Though Naples was liberated on October 1, Allied progress slowed in the difficult mountain terrain. By the end of 1943, the German army -- which had formally occupied Italy as an enemy state -- consolidated a strong line of defense, the Gustav Line, south of Rome.­

The Allies' pressure at sea, in the air, and on the southern front made the Axis task in the Soviet Union more difficult. Following the collapse of the German assault on the Caucasus and Stalingrad, the Red Army became overly ambitious. After the Soviets pressed the German army back, a swift counteroffensive around Kharkov in early 1943 was a reminder that the huge German army remained a formidable foe. Hitler listened to the advice of his generals, who argued that in summer weather, with good preparation, they could smash a large part of the Soviet Union army in a single pitched battle. They chose a large salient that bulged into the German front line around the city of Kursk as their battleground.

Operation Citadel lacked the geographical scope of previous operations, but it became one of the largest set-piece battles of the whole war. It followed a classic German pattern: Two heavily armored pincers would close around the neck of the salient, trapping the Soviet Union armies in the salient and creating conditions for a possible drive into the areas behind Moscow. Manstein, who commanded the southern pincer, wanted to attack in April or May, before the Red Army had time to consolidate its position. But Hitler, in agreement with General Model (who commanded the northern pincer), ordered a delay until German forces were fully armed with a new generation of heavy tanks and guns -- the Panthers and Tigers.

The Soviet Union, for the first time, guessed the German plan correctly. Stalin had to be persuaded by Georgi Zhukov and the General Staff that a posture of embedded defense was better strategy than seeking open battle against a powerful mobile enemy. Stalin accepted it only because the defensive stage was to be followed by a massive blow struck by Soviet Union reserves against the weakened and retreating German armies.

In May and June, a vast army of Soviet Union civilians turned the Kursk salient into a veritable fortress. Six separate defense lines were designed to absorb the expected shock of the German armored assault. The Red Army numbered 1.3 million, the Germans 900,000. Each side had approximately 2,000 aircraft and more than 2,500 tanks. On July 5, German forces began the attack. They made slow progress over the first week against determined Soviet Union resistance. Zhukov's plan worked, and for the first time in the two years of fighting on the Eastern Front, a large-scale German campaign was held and then reversed without the crisis and retreat that had preceded other victories.

On July 13, Hitler canceled Operation Citadel after news of Allied landings in Italy. But at just the moment that German forces pulled back, the Soviet Union punch into the rear of the northern pincer was delivered. The German army had not expected a counterstroke of such size and ferocity. Over three months, they were pushed back across the whole area of southern and central Russia. On November 6, Russian forces reentered the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. The Battle of Kursk, more than any other single engagement of the war, unhinged the German war machine and opened the way to victory in the East.

In the midst of the euphoria of victory, Stalin traveled to the Iranian capital of Tehran for the first summit conference with his Western partners. The central issue was a second front in the West. Though Stalin now privately argued that his forces could finish the job without Western help, the Red Army continued to suffer a terrible level of loss that could not be sustained indefinitely in a single-front ground war. After two days of argument, in which Churchill tried to insist on a strengthened Mediterranean strategy at the expense of invasion, Roosevelt was able to promise Stalin an operation in the spring of 1944 that would bring American and British forces in strength into northwestern Europe. One witness recalled a sober, pale-faced Stalin replying, "I am satisfied with this decision."

In the atmosphere at Tehran, it was easy to forget that another war was being fought in Asia and the Pacific that was quite distinct from the conflict in Southern and Eastern Europe. There, it was still possible for the Japanese to attempt further expansion. In October 1943, the Japanese army undertook military operations in central China designed to erode the spread of Chinese communism. The Communist forces were led by Mao Zedong, who had devoted much of the Communist efforts to maintaining independence from the Chinese Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek.

In the Pacific Theater, the Japanese defeat on Guadalcanal was followed by a slow American advance through the Solomon Islands and a combined American and Australian campaign in New Guinea. Japanese air and naval strength could not match the United States' huge production programs. And though the Allies' move through the islands of the southern and central Pacific, code-named Operation Cartwheel, was slow and costly, it proved unstoppable. By the end of 1943, the central Solomons had been occupied and progress had been made on New Guinea. Japan's major base at Rabaul was bypassed.

Throughout the region, Japanese garrisons were left to themselves in strategically unimportant places, increasingly hungry and sick but supplied by submarines. In the rest of the Japanese empire of occupation, imperial rule was consolidated. Anticolonial and anti-European movements were encouraged. The Japanese encouraged the formation of the Indian National Army under the leadership of nationalist Subhash Chandra Bose, who recruited 18,000 Indian prisoners of war to the cause in Southeast Asia. They were tolerated only as long as they fought for the Japanese. For millions of others in the so-called Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, one form of domination had been exchanged for another. In China, more than 10 million people died during the course of the war with Japan in a conflict largely unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Continue to the next section to learn more about crucial World War II events in the second half of 1943. A detailed timeline of events from late June to early July 1943 is included.

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World War II Timeline: June 24, 1943-July 5, 1943

The war continued in earnest through the summer of 1943, with air strikes in Italy and new operations in the Pacific. The World War II timeline below summarizes important events that occurred during late June 1943 and early July 1943.

World War II Timeline: June 24-July 5

June 24: African American troops and American military police engage in a gun battle in the streets of the village of Bamber Bridge, England, after the MPs attempted to detain the soldiers in a pub.

June 25: The ghettoized Jews of Czestochowa, Poland, are transported to Auschwitz after the SS crushes their resistance.

June 27: Following Jewish resistance, the ghetto at Lvov, Poland, is officially closed. Most of its 20,000 residents are en route to the Belzec or Auschwitz death camps.

The Allies attack the Greek mainland with a bombing raid. They target air facilities near Athens.

June 28: The air war continues in earnest, with Allied planes hitting such targets as Livorno, Italy, and Messina, Sicily.

June 30: The U.S. launches Operation Cartwheel in the Pacific, beginning in the central Solomon Islands.

As Washington closes the books on its fiscal year, it is revealed that a full 93 percent of the federal budget was allocated to national defense spending.

July 4: Prime Minister-in-Exile General Wladyslaw Sikorski and other members of Poland's ruling elite die when their plane crashes immediately after takeoff from the airport at Gibraltar. With the Soviet Union and Axis alike potentially benefiting from Sikorski's demise, there will be no shortage of conspiracy theories in the aftermath.

July 5: A German attack on Red forces at Kursk ends with a decisive Soviet victory.

Boise City, Oklahoma, is inadvertently bombed by a B-17 pilot who mistakes the lights on the town square for his training target.

World War II Headlines

More World War II highlights and images related to events in 1943 appear below.

The reliable, versatile P-38 sees action worldwide: The P-38 was designed to meet a 1936 U.S. Air Corps specification for a twin-engined interceptor. Lockheed's first military aircraft, the P-38 faced teething problems and went through numerous modifications before and after deliveries began in 1941. Ultimately, its reliability, exceptional range, and versatility compensated for its slightly inferior maneuverability. About 10,000 were built, including versions that carried rockets, lugged up to 4,000 pounds of bombs, and acted as ambulances and photographic aircraft. Lightnings, as the British and then Americans called them, saw action in North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific.

Three Allied cruisers damaged in the Battle of Kolombangara: Sailors examine the bow of the USS Honolulu, blasted by a Japanese torpedo in the Battle of Kolombangara. This cruiser and two others, as well as 10 destroyers, intercepted a Japanese naval force attempting to land reinforcements at the island on the night of July 12-13, 1943. U.S. commander Admiral W. L. Ainsworth relied on radar to give him the advantage, but he failed to reckon with the lethal "Long Lance" torpedoes carried by Japanese destroyers. The Japanese lost the cruiser Jintsu to naval gunfire, but severely damaged all three Allied cruisers. The Japanese landed their reinforcements as planned.

America's female pilots contribute to the war effort: Shirley Slade, with the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD), appears on the cover of Life. In August 1943, the WFTD merged with the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) to form the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP). The WASPs were American civilian pilots who freed male pilots for combat duty. Some, including Slade, were ferry pilots, transporting military aircraft from factories to embarkation ports and training bases. Others served as test pilots, trainers, and combat simulators. Despite their noncombat status, they faced real dangers. Of the 1,074 WASPs active during the war, 38 lost their lives.

Navajo code-talkers help the U.S. seize Iwo Jima: Navajo Indians radio a message during fighting in the Pacific. The Navajo code-talker teams were used to relay radio and phone messages in their native dialect during combat operations. The method was fast and indecipherable to enemy eavesdroppers. At the time of World War II, the Navajo language was understood by fewer than 30 non-Navajos. The code was never broken by the Japanese, and its security has been credited with contributing significantly to the seizure of Iwo Jima in 1945. Approximately 400 Navajo code-talkers served with the six U.S. Marine divisions during the war.

Nazis kidnap Polish children: A Polish girl is chosen for inclusion in the Nazi Heuaktion (Hay Action) program. This program involved the kidnapping of "Germanic- looking" children and taking them to Lebensborn (source of life) institutions. Even though the Nazis considered Poles inferior, they took selected children with "Aryan" characteristics from their parents and raised them as Germans. Estimates of children kidnapped from Eastern countries run as high as 250,000. Only about 25,000 were returned to their families after the war. Some German families refused to give up the children, and some children refused to believe they were not originally German. Many children who did not adapt well were exterminated in concentration camps.

"War without mercy" waged in the Pacific: This photograph was taken on Tulagi, near Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, in July 1943. Admiral William "Bull" Halsey commanded the South Pacific Area at that time. He galvanized the tired ground and naval American forces fighting in the Solomons, and led them to the signal victory at Guadalcanal. Halsey was unconventional, but his full-blooded hatred of the Japanese was not. The Pacific conflict has been called a "war without mercy." Allied troops' ruthlessness was prompted by prewar racism and personal experience of the extraordinary viciousness of their opponents.

In the next section, see a detailed timeline of key World War II events during the first half of July 1943.

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World War II Timeline: July 5-6, 1943-July 15, 1943

In July 1943, World War II saw the death of French Resistance leader Jean Moulin, and the largest tank battle in history. The following timeline has details of these events and more.

World War II Timeline: July 5-July 15

July 5-6: The light cruiser USS Helena is sunk in the overnight Battle of Kula Gulf. More than 150 of its sailors perish in the oil-slicked waters off the Solomon Islands.

July 7: The island of Malta, which suffered hundreds of punishing raids in the early days of the air war, receives word that Britain will grant it independence after the conclusion of hostilities.

July 8: Jean Moulin, the celebrated French Resistance leader, dies after weeks of torture at the hands of Klaus Barbie, the "Butcher of Lyon."

July 9: The U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) and British Royal Air Force (RAF) drop paratroopers on Sicily. However, they are mistakenly dropped in an area too far remote from their destination to fulfill their mission of securing airfields for the imminent Allied invasion.

July 10: More than 150,000 Allied soldiers land on Sicily, catching the meager Axis defensive force completely by surprise.

July 12: Some 3,000 tanks clash in the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in world history. Although the Soviets will lose more tanks than the Germans, they can replace them more quickly.

July 13: In a desperate bid to realign his forces, Hitler reallocates troops from the Russian front to reinforce the defense of Italy.

July 14: The Allies stage an intense bombing raid on the Sicilian city of Messina, which serves as the importation point for Axis troops and materiel.

July 15: The Japanese naval air force suffers a stunning defeat, losing 45 of 75 planes while knocking out only three U.S. aircraft in a daylight raid against the Allies in the Solomon Islands.

World War II Headlines

The headlines below show how America dealt with the war at home and include other World War II-related news from 1943.

American Kids contribute to war effort: American youngsters participated enthusiastically in wartime "victory drives," collecting scrap metal, aluminum foil, rubber, and other materials that could be reused. Some pulled their wagons from door to door collecting old tools and appliances from their neighbors. Kids also helped cultivate homegrown vegetables in community or family "victory gardens," and they took over jobs such as mixing yellow dye into the white butter substitute called oleomargarine.

The Three Stooges take on the Führer in the movies: Because Hitler struck Americans as eccentric as well as intimidating, the Führer became ripe for parody. In a 1943 comedy short called They Stooge to Conga, the Three Stooges are inept handymen who stumble into a nest of German and Japanese agents. In short order, the boys impersonate Nazis, kick a few spies in the pants, and successfully foul up an Axis scheme to direct a German U-boat into New York Harbor. Moe Howard (far right) had lampooned Hitler, and the imaginary Axis nation of Moronica, in two earlier Stooges comedies, You Nazty Spy! (1940) and I'll Never Heil Again (1941).

Bombing raids devastate Hamburg, Germany: The residents of Hamburg, Germany, had suffered through many British and American air raids since British planes began bombing runs in mid-November 1940. They were not prepared, however, for the payload that the Allies dropped on July 27-29, 1943. High-explosive and incendiary bombs dropped on those two nights unleashed firestorms that consumed nine square miles of the city in fire. The attacks killed more than 45,000 civilians and soldiers and left more than a million residents homeless.

Non-Germans join Nazi Germany'sWaffen-SS: Beginning in 1942, Heinrich Himmler sought to expand the Waffen-SS by recruiting in other nations. The multinational forces, operating under German officers, included French, Danish, Flemish, Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch, and others. They even included Russians, Albanians, Hungarians, Ukrainians, and Bosnian Muslims -- all of whom the Nazis generally classed as inferior Untermenschen. As many as 30 British citizens and about five Americans joined. Some volunteers supported Nazi ideas. Others, including the Nederlanders (Dutchmen) appealed to on this poster, could escape forced labor by becoming SS members.

In the next section, learn more World War II history and see a timeline for July 16-26, 1943.

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There were walls of flame round them now. Suddenly into the square came a fire engine drawn by two startled horses. They swerved aside, and one of the terrified children rushed down a side street. The mother followed, leaving her boy behind. As the first child reached a burning house, some blazing wood fell near her, setting her clothes alight. The mother threw herself on top of the child to try and smother the flames, but as she did so the whole top floor of the house opposite crashed down on the two of them.

--Hamburg resident Else Wendel, recalling the July 27, 1943, Allied bomb raid on Hamburg

World War II Timeline: July 16, 1943-July 26, 1943

In July 1943, the Allies attacked Sicily, and Hitler ordered reinforcements to the Balkan States. The following timeline highlights these and other World War II events from this period.

World War II Timeline: July 16-July 26

July 16: In an Allied leaflet drop over Italy, President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill ask the Italian people if they would like to "die for Mussolini and Hitler. or live for Italy and for civilization."

July 17: Hitler orders reinforcement of German forces to the Balkan States, believing the region will be the site of the Allies' next move.

July 19:Pope Pius XII offers to shelter Italians in Vatican City as the Allies drop more than 500 tons of munitions on strategic targets around Rome.

July 20: Reversing an earlier order, Roosevelt directs his Los Alamos team to share advances in atomic weapons research with America's British allies.

July 22: The Allies capture Palermo, the administrative seat of Sicily and the provincial capital.

July 25: Having lost the support of fellow politicians, his own military, and a majority of the Fascist Grand Council, Mussolini is ousted in a bloodless coup.

Naunita Harmon Carroll christens the destroyer escort Harmon, which is named for her late son. Leonard Roy Harmon, a hero of the Battle of Guadalcanal, is the first African American to be honored with a U.S. Navy ship.

Still thoroughly fooled by Operation Mincemeat, Hitler believes that the attack on Sicily is a diversion and sends Erwin Rommel, one of his better generals, to Greece.

Krupp steelworks in Essen, Germany, is put out of commission by a punishing air raid executed by more than 600 British Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers.

July 26: Pietro Badoglio, appointed by King Victor Emmanuel III to head the Italian government following the deposition of Mussolini, abolishes the Fascist political party.

World War II Headlines

Here are more headlines describing World War II news in 1943.

The B-26 Marauder exceeds its reputation: An engine of a B-26 Marauder is blown off by ground fire over the French city of Toulon. The American-made medium bomber was dubbed the "Widowmaker" after a number of disastrous early tests. Indeed, the plane was never popular with pilots, who jokingly claimed that it required half the state of Texas for takeoff and glided like a flatiron. Nevertheless, it had the lowest loss record of any combat plane flown during WWII. In mid-1943, when the U.S. Ninth Air Force began serving a key tactical role in the European Theater, the Marauder was its primary bomber.

Fierce fighting on New Georgia in the Solomon Islands: Alert for Japanese snipers, GIs patrol a jungle track on New Georgia in the central Solomon Islands. The 43rd Infantry Division landed on New Georgia in July 1943 after U.S. intelligence learned that the Japanese were constructing an airfield on the island, at Munda. Enemy troop strength was greater than expected, and the offensive quickly bogged down. The Japanese sent in 4,000 reinforcements by sea via a convoy system dubbed the "Tokyo Express" to aid the 10,000 troops already on New Georgia. The battle settled into a slugfest, as the Americans also brought in reinforcements, including the 37th Infantry Division. The Allies finally occupied Munda on August 5.

Humane treatment for German POWs: Axis soldiers imprisoned in America were treated much better than Allied prisoners in German and Japanese camps. A May 1945 Newsweek article noted that American POWs lost an unhealthy amount of weight during their confinement while Axis prisoners in America generally gained weight. Allied prisoners were often forced to march hundreds of miles when transferred from one German camp to another, while Germans were generally transported between camps by passenger trains. German prisoners also experienced freedoms that were not allowed to their Allied counterparts, such as saluting a Nazi flag at Camp Crossville, Tennessee.

Next, learn about John F. Kennedy's wartime experience, along with other important World War II events in late July and early August 1943.

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As soon as the 275,000 German and Italian members of the Afrika Korps surrendered at Tunisia in May 1943, Allied commanders faced a serious problem. They did not have the resources to sustain that many prisoners in North Africa. Allied leaders decided to transport the POWs to camps in the United States.

The first group of prisoners, arriving in the U.S. in August 1943, was transported to abandoned Civilian Conservation and military camps. Special camps were built in mid-America, far from the coasts and Canadian and Mexican borders. During the war, nearly 500,000 Axis prisoners were confined in 155 main POW camps or in more than 500 branch camps. In accordance with the Geneva Convention, these prisoners were put to work in nonmilitary jobs: logging, mining, harvesting crops, building roads, and other jobs important to the American economy.

The captives lived in comfortable barracks and were provided with basic necessities, such as food, clothing, and medical attention. If the jobs were outside the camp, the workers received pay enough to buy cigarettes or other items available in camp canteens. "When I was captured, I weighed 128 pounds," one POW remembered years later. "After two years as an American POW, I weighed 185. I had gotten so fat you could no longer see my eyes." It was a stark contrast to the treatment of American POWs by their German captors.

World War II Timeline: July 27-28, 1943-August 4, 1943

A variety of worldwide World War II operations took place in early July and late August 1943. Here is a timeline describing key events.

World War II Timeline: July 27-August 4

July 27-28: Some 20,000 German civilians die when an RAF raid on Hamburg ignites a series of deadly firestorms.

July 28: The U.S. continues to develop plans for an invasion of Kiska, unaware that the Japanese have secretly withdrawn from the Aleutian island.

August 1: The Americans hit Axis fuel supplies with a damaging air raid on the oil refineries in Ploesti, Romania.

German troops begin to execute a plan to seize control of Italy in the wake of Mussolini's fall from power. The Germans infiltrate northern Italy and disarm Italian forces on Crete.

With the occupation of Burma complete, the Japanese announce that Burma is henceforth independent, no longer a colony of Britain.

Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels broadcasts an announcement on Berlin radio recommending the evacuation of all nonessential personnel. For many Germans in the capital city, this is the first admission that Berlin could be in jeopardy from heavy air raids.

August 2: An uprising at the Treblinka death camp leads to the deaths of 16 SS guards, while about 150 of the approximately 700 prisoners manage to escape in the melee.

The Japanese destroyer Amagiri rams and sinks USS PT-109. Lieutenant John F. Kennedy and 10 of the 12 men under his command will survive the incident. Though Kennedy will be hailed by most for saving the crew, General MacArthur will be unimpressed with Kennedy and will question why the highly maneuverable PT boat was unable to evade the Amagiri.

August 4: About 150 Italian civilians die when the USAAF bombs the southern port of Naples.

World War II Headlines

Learn how homesick American soldiers dealt with war, how the Nazis viewed the Roosevelts, how John F. Kennedy became a wartime hero, and more by reading these headlines from 1943.

American GIs' favorite pinup girl, Betty Grable: Far from home during World War II, American GIs found escape in the movies and image of actress, singer, and dancer Betty Grable. In 1943 the bubbly, accessible-seeming Grable was Hollywood's No. 1 star, and probably the highest-paid woman in America. In a publicity stunt engineered by her studio, 20th Century-Fox, her shapely legs were insured for $1 million. Servicemen voted her their favorite pinup girl, and her image decorated not just barracks walls but bomber jackets and aircraft. Even when Grable posed for pinups in bathing suits, she preserved her image as the wholesome "girl next door."

Allied raid on Ploesti, Romania: By summer 1943, refineries in Ploesti, Romania, produced 60 percent of Germany's crude oil supply. The location was too far for bombers to reach from England, but the capture of Libya made such a raid possible. At dawn on August 1, 1943, 177 U.S. B-24 bombers flew out of Libya for a raid on Ploesti, one of the most heavily defended targets in Europe. Confusion after the lead navigators were shot down reduced the effectiveness of the raid. By the end, 54 bombers were lost. About 42 percent of the refineries' production capacity was lost, although they were rebuilt by the Germans within weeks.

The Nazis' portrayal of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: In a 1943 German cartoon, President Franklin Roosevelt holds the war casualty list as Eleanor Roosevelt asks, "Have we lost many dollars, Delano?" The president replies, "Don't worry, Eleanor, we are paying only in human lives." Eleanor Roosevelt wears a Star of David and has exaggerated lips. Nazi propaganda frequently presented the Roosevelts as puppets of the Jews, and also made fun of the first lady's support of African American singer Marian Anderson.

Japanese demolish John F. Kennedy's PT boat: Naval lieutenant and future U.S. president John F. Kennedy was at the helm in the early morning hours of August 2, 1943, when his PT boat (a motor torpedo boat) was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri in the South Pacific. PT-109 was sliced in half, and two crewmen were killed. Though Kennedy was later awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his actions following the sinking, some officers felt he should have been court-martialed for negligence. PT-109 was the only PT boat in the war to be surprised and rammed by an enemy ship.

Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh helps the Allies: Ho Chi Minh cooperated with the Allies during the war in hopes of obtaining Vietnamese independence from French rule. A fervent nationalist, Ho formed the Communist-dominated Viet Minh independence movement in 1941. Traveling to China in 1942 to seek military assistance, he was arrested as a spy and spent 13 months in jail. Returning to Vietnam upon his release, he worked with the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), rescuing Allied pilots shot down over Indochina and conducting operations against the Japanese. Despite his efforts, the U.S. government supported a return to French colonial rule after the war. Ho and his Communist forces would battle the United States in the Vietnam War.

FDR's vice president Henry Wallace speaks against segregation: Henry Wallace was President Roosevelt's secretary of agriculture from 1933 to '40 and vice president from 1941 to '44. A committed anti-segregationist, he declared in a 1943 speech that America could not fight the Nazis abroad and condone racism at home. Wallace's vision of a postwar America included close relations with the Soviet Union. This position put him at odds with Roosevelt's successor to the presidency, the staunch Cold Warrior Harry Truman, who fired him from his cabinet post as secretary of commerce in 1946. Wallace made an unsuccessful run as the Progressive Party's presidential candidate in 1948.

To learn how World War II progressed during the first weeks of August 1943, continue to the next section of this article.

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World War II Timeline: August 5, 1943-August 14-24, 1943

In August 1943, Nazi forces began withdrawing from Sicily and the Allies won key battles in the Pacific. Highlights of this period are presented in the timeline below.

World War II Timeline: August 5-August 24

August 5: The Soviets recapture the city of Orel, Russia, from the Germans.

Sweden revokes the right of troop transit it had granted to the Germans at the beginning of the war.

A series of fierce battles concludes in the Pacific island chain of New Georgia, where the Japanese fled following their defeat on Guadalcanal. The Allies emerge victorious, capturing the airfield at Munda on New Georgia.

August 6-7: A small Japanese fleet attempting to resupply Japan's Solomon Islands base at Kolombangara is intercepted and badly damaged by a fleet of American destroyers.

August 9: In one of the first viable challenges to National Socialism in years, several German leaders form the Kreisau Circle, a resistance group calling for, among other things, the "acknowledgement of the inviolability of human dignity as the foundation for an order of peace and justice."

August 12: With Sicily all but lost to the Allies, Nazi Germany begins the successful withdrawal of a substantial portion of its reeling defensive force. Casualties include 32,000 Germans and 132,000 Italians.

More than 600 British Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers pummel Milan, Italy.

August 14: On orders from General Dwight Eisenhower, foul-tempered General George Patton apologizes to the two American soldiers he slapped in field hospitals after accusing them of malingering.

August 14-24: Allied leaders meet in Quebec for the Quadrant Conference, at which they hammer out details for the next phase of the war. It is decided that both the invasion of France and the occupation of Italy remain on the table. The invasion of France will take precedence.

World War II Headlines

The following World War II events were among those that made headlines in 1943.

Allies' Operation Strangle continues in Italy: British general Bernard Montgomery and American General Dwight Eisenhower study the Italian mainland. The lack of coordination between Allied commands in Sicily not only prolonged the fighting but also contributed to the escape of more than 100,000 Axis troops and thousands of vehicles across the Strait of Messina to the mainland. For several months, the Allied air force had been active in its own operation over Italy, Operation Strangle. The objective was to shut down the Axis supply lines throughout Italy. Rail facilities, railroads, and bridges were pounded from spring 1943 to 1944.

Battles rage for Soviet Union city of Kharkov: Kharkov, the fifth largest Soviet Union city, was captured by the German Sixth Army on October 24, 1941. Soviet Union troops failed to recapture the city in May 1942. German defenders held off another Soviet Union attack in February 1943, but abandoned the city on the 16th when it was obvious they would be surrounded. Reinforced, these Germans mounted a counterattack in early March. Holding off Soviet Union attacks, the Germans retook the city on March 15. In the offensive thrust following their victory at Kursk, the Soviets drove German troops out of Kharkov for good in August.

Germans meet Corsican resistance: From their mountainside position, a group of Corsican patriots fires upon occupation forces. When German and Italian troops occupied the French island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea, they were harried by highly effective resistance fighters. The tangled scrubby foliage on Corsica's mountainous terrain, called maquis, not only gave patriots a place to hide but also gave its name to the entire French resistance movement -- the Maquis. On September 9, 1943, Corsicans rose up to participate in their liberation by the Free French and other Allies.

Italy surrenders to Nazi Germany: When Italy surrendered in early September 1943, there was much celebration in America's Italian communities, for many had immigrated to escape Mussolini and his Fascist policies. Once Hitler learned of Italy's surrender, he ordered the German occupation of his onetime ally and the arrest of all Italian troops. More than 6,500 Italian soldiers were executed in Greece for allegedly resisting arrest. The Germans also removed 50,000 Allied prisoners from Italy and sent them and 268,000 Italian troops to labor camps in Germany.

In the next section, learn about a major Allied victory over the Japanese, the relationship between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, and more World War II history from 1943.

For more timelines and information on World War II events, see:

For those who doubt that the principal scene of conflict of World War II was other than the Eastern Front, the Russian casualty figures settle the issue. During almost four years of total war fought across the unending vastness of the Russian Steppes, among the ruins of the Soviet Union's towns and cities, and through the devastation of Eastern Europe to the very heart of the Third Reich in Berlin, nearly nine million Red Army soldiers were killed and 18 million were wounded.

From October 1944 to May 1945 alone, the Red Army sustained 319,000 fatal casualties. Also, of more than 4.5 million Red Army prisoners captured by the Wehrmacht, only 1.8 million ultimately survived. Many of them were then persecuted by an unforgiving and suspicious Soviet Union regime. The wholesale destruction of Russian towns and villages during combat, and the reprisal operations and executions carried out by the SS and the Wehrmacht during an uncompromising counter-partisan campaign, resulted in at least 18 million Soviet Union civilian war dead. Altogether, some 26 million to 27 million Soviets died. In contrast, this was more than five times greater than the total German war dead incurred from 1939 to 1945.

World War II Timeline: August 15, 1943-August 29, 1943

Among the important World War II events of August 1943 were an Allied victory over the Japanese at New Guinea and extensive Allied bombing of Nazi rocket factories. This timeline details these and more August 1943 events.

World War II Timeline: August 15-August 29

August 15: A 34,300-man Allied invasion force lands on Kiska, the last Japanese-occupied island in Alaska's Aleutians, only to discover it was abandoned weeks earlier.

August 16: The Nazis purge the Jewish ghetto at Bialystok, Poland, sending most of the remaining 25,000 inhabitants to the death camps at Majdanek and Treblinka.

August 17-18: Nearly 600 British Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers target the Nazis' rocket factories in Peenemünde on the German island of Usedom.

The Americans score a major victory over the Japanese on New Guinea when they ambush the airfield at Wewak and destroy an entire bombing formation of 150 planes.

August 18:Luftwaffe chief Hans Jeschonnek kills himself in despair over the failure of the Luftwaffe to defend Nazi Germany against the Allies. The Nazi command will lie about his cause of death to conceal their concerns about the status of the Reich.

August 22: Allied forces declare Kiska secure (and uninhabited) after a weeklong sweep of the island and a few friendly-fire casualties.

August 27: Germans and Italians clash in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

August 28: Bulgaria's King Boris III dies following an audience with Hitler, leading to rampant, though unproven, speculation that he was assassinated.

August 29: Washington puts Berlin on notice, saying it has become aware of German atrocities against Poles and that the perpetrators will pay for any war crimes when the day of reckoning arrives.

Following Nazi suppression of Danish civil rights and the arrest of King Christian X, the Danes sink most of their naval fleet to prevent it from falling into Nazi hands.

World War II Headlines

Here are more World War II highlights and images from 1943.

The Grumman F6F Hellcat naval fighter plane proves potent: Despite its inelegant appearance and hasty development, the Grumman F6F Hellcat naval fighter contributed hugely to Allied victory. An improvement on the Wildcat, it proved superbly reliable and potent. Production figures reflected its effectiveness: 12,272 built from 1942, mainly in 1944 and 1945. Altogether, Hellcats destroyed some 6,000 enemy aircraft, most of which were Japanese. First sent into action in August 1943, Hellcats were usually carrier-borne and armed with six .5-inch machine guns. They could carry bombs, and ground-attack Hellcat aircraft employed rockets, notably at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Night-fighter and reconnaissance versions also were made.

German General KurtStudent plans Benito Mussolini's rescue: German general Kurt Student, a pilot during World War I, pioneered the tactic of parachuting troops into battle. In 1940 Student's paratroops performed brilliantly in Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The staggering casualties of Student's otherwise successful 1941 paratroop invasion of Crete caused Hitler to forbid any further major airborne operations. However, in 1943 Student planned a daring and successful hilltop rescue in September of the deposed and imprisoned Benito Mussolini. In 1944 his troops served as infantry in Italy, then in France after the invasion of Normandy.

Nazi Colonel Otto Skorzeny's performs daring feats: After Italian king Victor Emmanuel stripped away Mussolini's power on July 25, 1943, he placed Il Duce under arrest and imprisoned him on the island of Ponza. After Mussolini was transferred to the mountain resort of Abruzzi a few months later, Hitler sent his best agent, Colonel Otto Skorzeny, and a commando unit to Italy in September 1943 to free Mussolini. Skorzeny's exploits later in the war included kidnapping Hungarian leader Miklos Horthy to prevent him from signing an armistice with the Soviets. Skorzeny also placed German agents in American uniforms behind Allied lines during the Battle of the Bulge.

The Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini relationship uncovered: As he reshaped Nazi Germany's government and society in the 1930s, Hitler turned to Benito Mussolini as a mentor for implementing his Fascist reforms. The war was not very old when Hitler realized that the Italian army could not be depended on to stop the Allied advances in the Mediterranean, but that did not affect his relationship with Mussolini. The situation changed, however, when Il Duce was deposed and imprisoned in July 1943. Hitler arranged for Mussolini's rescue and installed him as head of a puppet Fascist government. However, he no longer considered Mussolini a mentor or an equal.

Vilna's resistance leader, Abba Kovner, helps Jews: In the Vilna Ghetto, Lithuanian Jews in the Fareinikte Partisaner Organizatzie (FPO United Partisan Organization) followed poet and resistance leader Abba Kovner's motto: "Let us not go like sheep to the slaughter." When the Nazis liquidated the Vilna Ghetto in September 1943 -- transferring its residents to death camps or killing them outright -- Kovner helped FPO fighters escape into the Rudninkai Forest. For 10 months, he led the Jewish partisans in guerrilla attacks against the Nazis. Here, Kovner is pictured after the 1945 Soviet liberation of Vilna.

Civilians led to their deaths by Nazis: The Nazis spread their plans for genocide throughout each occupied country, killing Jews, political opponents, and anyone else they believed was a threat or an inferior to the Aryan race. They often took pictures to denigrate victims as they were led to their deaths. German officers showed these to their troops in order to dehumanize the victims, making it easier for them to perform their gruesome assignments.

Follow World War II history in early September 1943 by reading the timeline and headlines in the next section of this article.

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World War II Timeline: September 1, 1943-September 7, 1943

The timeline below describes day-to-day World War II events in early September 1943, including operations in Italy and the Pacific.

World War II Timeline: September 1-September 7

September: The efficacy of Allied forces in India is jeopardized by a devastating famine in the Bengal province.

September 1: The U.S. military introduces its F6F Hellcat fighter during an attack on the Japanese base on Marcus Island.

September 2: The Polish government-in-exile publishes a report detailing atrocities against concentration camp inmates. The atrocities include bizarre medical experiments on healthy inmates at Ravensbrück and human skin "tanneries" at Dachau and Buchenwald.

September 3: A substantial Allied force lands in southern Italy and captures the town of Reggio in the province of Calabria.

Italy signs a treaty with American officials in Sicily, effectively surrendering to the Allies. The treaty will be kept secret for a time, both to aid Allied operations in Italy and prevent immediate Nazi reprisals against the Italian people.

September 6: For the first time in this war, Allied merchant ships are able to safely operate in Italy's Strait of Messina.

U.S. General Joseph Stilwell, Chiang Kai-shek's chief of staff, suggests that the Chinese Nationalists join forces with the Communists to defeat the Japanese. Chiang is disgusted by the suggestion and will ask the U.S. high command to recall Stilwell.

September 7: Corsicans take up arms against the Axis troops that have been occupying their French Mediterranean island.

Hitler permits his German troops, badly battered by the Red Army as they attempted to hold the Ukraine, to retreat to the Dnieper River.

World War II Headlines

The headlines and images below present more World War II history from 1943.

Gruesome experiments conducted at Ravensbrück in Nazi Germany: During the course of the war, the Nazis built concentration camps throughout Europe. Ravensbrück, a camp primarily for women from many different nationalities, religions, and lifestyles, was located about 60 miles north of Berlin. As in most of the other camps, the Ravensbrück prisoners were required to do heavy labor or work in sweatshops making military supplies. Medical experiments were also conducted on helpless inmates. Two types were performed at Ravensbrück: testing the effects of sulfanilamide drugs on infected wounds, and studying the regeneration of bones, nerves, and muscles. This picture of Polish inmate Bogumila Babinska, smuggled out of the camp, shows the effect of four deep cuts on her thigh muscles.

Anne Frank writes diary: A German Jewish girl in Amsterdam, Anne Frank was given a diary for her 13th birthday on June 12, 1942. Three weeks later, her family went into hiding to escape deportation to a labor camp in Nazi Germany. Anne faithfully kept a diary during her two years in hiding. "It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical," Anne wrote less than a month before her arrest. "Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart." Anne died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in February or March 1945. The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the best-selling books of all time, with more than 25 million copies published.

Reich minister of the interiorWilhelmFrick falls from power: Nazi Wilhelm Frick became Reich minister of the interior in 1933. He drafted anti-Jewish laws and other legislation that sent political foes to concentration camps. In 1943, after losing a power struggle with Heinrich Himmler, Frick was demoted to the ceremonial post of protector of Bohemia and Moravia. He refused to defend himself at the 1946 Nuremberg Trials, where he was found guilty and hanged. Frick's final words were "long live eternal Germany."

Adolf Hitler's chief architect, Albert Speer, helps German economy: Albert Speer (right) watches a 1943 weapons demonstration with Adolf Hitler (center). Soon after joining the Nazi Party in 1931, Speer became the Führer's chief urban architect. Speer designed monumental structures -- such as the Nuremberg parade grounds -- to exploit classical themes for Nazi spectacles. Appointed armaments minister in 1942 and given economic responsibilities in 1943, the ever-efficient Speer used concentration camp labor to increase war production, thus strengthening the economy. At the Nuremberg Trials, Speer professed both remorse and ignorance concerning the most inhumane Nazi practices. He kept a diary during his 20-year jail term and became a successful memoirist after his 1966 release.

The battle for control of Italy dominated wartime operations in September 1943. See the timeline in the next section for more World War II history.

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In 1912 Italy seized the 12 Dodecanese islands, located in the Aegean Sea, from Turkey. By 1940 Italian and German troops garrisoned the islands, just off the Turkish coast. Italy's surrender on September 8, 1943, prompted Winston Churchill to try to seize the islands so the Allies could strike at Germany's Balkan flank.

After British officers failed to incite the Italians to disarm the smaller German garrisons, Churchill ordered British infantry brigades and special-forces units to eight of the islands and the Greek Aegean Sea island of Samos. The Germans reacted swiftly. With naval and air forces already in the Aegean, they added reinforcements from Greece and Crete. These included Luftwaffe paratroops and a coastal raiding unit of the elite Brandenburg Division.

Airpower was crucial to the defeat of the scattered British garrisons. British (and South African) planes fought a losing fight against the Luftwaffe over the islands. By early October, the Germans had recaptured Cos. They seized Leros a month later and took Samos by late November.

German losses were minimal, while British casualties included more than 4,000 troops captured and the loss of more than a hundred aircraft. Losses also included four cruisers and seven destroyers sunk or damaged (including several Greek ships). The hapless Italians and the islands' people (who had welcomed the British landings) suffered from German reprisals.

The venture exposed Allied tensions over a Mediterranean strategy. Churchill persisted in his aim, ignoring his generals' arguments against a campaign far from the nearest Allied bases (in Cyprus and Egypt). Eisenhower and other U.S. and British commanders saw the diversion from the Italian campaign as unjustified. The two-month campaign was the Allies' last defeat of the war.

World War II Timeline: September 8, 1943-September 20, 1943

In September 1943, the Allies and Axis powers continued battling for control of Italy. The World War II timeline below has details and these and other events of September 1943.

World War II Timeline: September 8-September 20

September 8: General Eisenhower announces Italy's surrender under Marshal Badoglio. Nazi officials characterize the act, undertaken by the new government under Badoglio, as treason.

September 9: The Allies land in Italy in full force, with the Americans establishing a beachhead near Salerno and the British landing on Italy's "heel." The city of Brindisi will fall to the British within two days, securing the region for the Allies.

Nazi Germany attacks the Allied base on the Arctic whaling island of Spitsbergen, causing considerable damage.

September 10: In answer to Italy's surrender, the German army captures Rome, taking control of the Eternal City from its former Axis partner.

September 12: Benito Mussolini, under arrest at Abruzzi's Hotel Campo Imperatore, is freed in a dramatic raid by German troops, on Adolf Hitler's order.

September 13: The Allies' position at Salerno, Italy, is in serious jeopardy, as several German divisions come within a few miles of completely repelling the Americans and British from their beachhead.

More than a month after the death of his predecessor, Lin Sen, Chiang Kai-shek is appointed president of Nationalist China.

September 15: Mussolini reorganizes Italy's National Fascist Party in an effort to regain power and restore ties to Hitler.

September 17: A depleted and heavily bombarded German force begins to withdraw from the Salerno beachhead as the Americans push inland to rendezvous with the British.

September 20: U.S. forces pushing in from Salerno in the west and British troops marching from Calabria in the southeast link up at Eboli, bisecting Italy with a solid Allied force.

World War II Headlines

Check out the headlines and images below to learn about the destruction of Nazi factories, the Japanese military police, the war's effect on mapmaking, and more 1943 news.

B-17s bombers pound factories in Nazi Germany: Beginning in January 1943, Allied bombing runs focused on German wartime industries. The first mass-produced, four-engine heavy bombers were Boeing B-17s, known as Flying Fortresses. These heavily armed bombers were designed to be able to protect themselves, but a loss of one plane in every 10 was standard. Although the Allies destroyed many German factories with B-17 bombers during 1943, the Nazis quickly compensated by stepping up production in others.

Mapmaking experiences boom during World War II: World War II revolutionized mapping. Aviation and aerial photography allowed the mapping of previously uncharted regions and much more detailed maps of known areas. Here, an Army Map Service Cartographer uses a Japanese map of a city to enter man-made works, such as factories and docks, on an Army chart. These will be potential bombing targets. By the end of the war, two U.S. armed forces agencies had reportedly produced approximately 650 million copies of 50,000 different maps.

Japan's occupation currency called "Mickey Mouse money": Japanese authorities minted money, usually banknotes, for use in the territories they invaded. For example, they produced shillings and pounds for Singapore (where it was labeled "banana money") and centavos and pesos for the Philippines (where it was called "Mickey Mouse money"). Though supposedly at par with the existing local currencies, the occupation money was issued in excessive amounts and quickly depreciated. The pre-invasion currencies tended to be hoarded. The Allies made propaganda versions of the currency with persuasive messages on the reverse side. After the Japanese defeat, the "occupation currency," or "invasion money," became worthless.

Beheadings performed behind Japanese lines in New Guinea: Naval civil service officer Chikao Yasuno prepares to decapitate Sergeant Leonard George Siffleet, an Australian Army radioman caught operating behind Japanese lines in New Guinea. Siffleet and two comrades were beheaded on October 24, 1943, at Aitape after natives betrayed them to the Japanese. American troops found this film on the body of a dead Japanese man during the invasion of Hollandia in 1944. The photo received wide publicity, reinforcing the perception that the Japanese were savages who gave no mercy and deserved none. Chikao was sentenced to hang after the war, but his sentence was later commuted to 10 years in prison.

The Kempeitai (Japanese military police) doles out harsh justice: Members of the Kempeitai pose with British POWs. Though the Kempeitai's authority over Japanese civilians was limited, the organization had free rein in the occupied territories, where harsh military justice prevailed. The Kempeitai dealt severely with anti-Japanese efforts in occupied territories. It was also responsible for travel permits, labor recruitment, rear area security, counterintelligence, operating POW camps, and providing "comfort women" to military brothels. Though the Kempeitai is sometimes equated with the Gestapo or secret police, that description is more accurately applied to the Kempeitai's civilian counterpart, the Tokkou keisatsu, which combined criminal investigation and counter-espionage functions.

Continue to the next section to learn about critical events in World War II's Pacific and Atlantic operations from late September 1943 to early October 1943.

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World War II Timeline: September 21, 1943-October 5, 1943

Hundreds lost their lives in the bombing of Frankfurt, Germany, in early October 1943. Read about other World War II events in late September and early October 1943 in the following timeline.

World War II Timeline: September 21-October 5

September 21: Japan leaves the central Solomon Islands to the Allies after losing 600 men in an unsuccessful bid to defend Arundel Island.

September 22: British submarine troops sabotage the Tirpitz, Nazi Germany's preeminent battleship, as it sits in port at Norway's Altenfjord.

Recognizing that a two-front war is straining the Reich's resources, Joseph Goebbels suggests that Adolf Hitler agree to a separate peace with the Soviet Union, but Hitler declines.

September 23: Mussolini announces the creation of the Salò Republic, in the Axis-controlled part of Italy beyond the scope of the Badoglio administration.

September 27: German troops abandon the Italian province of Foggia, with its strategically critical airstrips, to the Allies.

Chiang Kai-shek orders the execution of Chen Tu-hsiu, the founder of China's Communist Party.

October 1: The Allies occupy Naples, southern Italy's largest port city. It will become an important Allied naval and supply base.

The Nazis come up short in their effort to relocate Denmark's Jews, testimony to the character of the Danish people who have enabled their Jewish friends and neighbors to escape to Sweden. Most Danish Jews will survive the war.

October 3: Nazi Germany recaptures the British Aegean island of Kos.

Japanese troops complete their retreat from the Solomon island of Kolombangara.

October 4: More than 500 die on the ground when the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) and British Royal Air Force (RAF) join forces to keep bombs falling on Frankfurt day and night.

October 5: Nazi Germany incorporates the Istrian Peninsula, much of the Italian Alps, and the eastern Italian city of Trieste into the Reich.

World War II Headlines

The following World War II headlines and images cover additional wartime news from 1943.

Alternative fuel sources in Europe and South America: Due to wartime fuel shortages, alternative power sources were put to use in some European and South American countries. Seen here, the chauffeur of a "charcomobile" shows Brazilian women how to light the charcoal burner that powers their car. Although the charcoal-powered car took some time to get started and had poor acceleration and speed, its fuel supply could be regenerated by a simple stop to gather combustible materials. Brazilian army trucks were fitted with both charcoal burners and gasoline tanks -- and with adjustable carburetors that could switch from one fuel to the other.

The Soviet Union's Yak fighter planes: The Yak series of fighter planes was manufactured by the Soviet Union's Yakovlev company throughout World War II. Beginning with 1940's Yak-1, Yaks were regarded as among the war's finest aircraft. The Yak-3 first saw service in 1944. Although it was manufactured in fewer numbers than the longer-range Yak-9 (which went into service in 1942, despite its higher designation number), the Yak-3 was widely favored by pilots for its strength, lightness, and maneuverability. At lower altitudes, it was considered superior to any of the Luftwaffe's sophisticated fighters.

Louis Mountbatten named Allied commander of SEAC: A great-grandson of Queen Victoria, the aristocratic Louis Mountbatten rose to military prominence during World War II as captain of the HMS Kelly and commander of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla. He was appointed supreme Allied commander of the South East Asia Command (SEAC) in October 1943. In that post, which he held until 1946, he successfully directed international forces in the liberation of Burma and Singapore from the Japanese. After the war, Mountbatten became the last British viceroy of India, overseeing the independence of India and Pakistan from colonial rule.

Yugoslavian women fight the Axis: After the Axis powers seized Yugoslavia in 1941, Marshal Tito's Yugoslav Partisans proved themselves more capable of effective armed resistance than their rivals, the royalist Chechniks. By 1943 the Western Allies supported the Partisans over the Chechniks, despite misgivings about the Communist commitment of Tito's group. Some two million women (12 percent of Yugoslavia's prewar population) joined the Partisans in all capacities. Most of them were under 20 years of age. Many served in combat side by side with men.

The rest of October 1943 was an eventful period in World War II history. For a detailed timeline for this period, see the next section of this article.

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World War II Timeline: October 8, 1943-October 19-30, 1943

In October 1943, the United States launched an air raid on the island of Bougainville and helped plan the invasion of France. The following World War II timeline describes these and other major events of the period.

World War II Timeline: October 8-October 30

October 8: Civil war erupts in Greece when the country's pro- and anti-Communist factions face off.

October 10: A German U-boat lays mines at the eastern end of the Panama Canal.

The U.S. attacks the Axis-held islands of Crete and Rhodes with B-17 Flying Fortress bombers.

October 12: The Allies obtain permission to establish a convoy defense base on the Azores, an important island chain in the Atlantic that belongs to Portugal.

October 13: Italy joins the Allies when Premier Pietro Badoglio declares war on Hitler's Germany.

Yugoslavian partisans sabotage the Krupp steelworks in the city of Zeneca.

October 14: An uprising at the Nazis' Sobibór death camp claims the lives of 11 guards, while more than 100 prisoners manage to escape.

October 18: The Nazis begin the "resettlement" of Italian Jews to death camps in Poland.

The U.S. launches an air raid on the Japanese base on the northern Solomon island of Bougainville.

October 19: Some 5,000 seriously wounded German POWs and about the same number of British captives are heading home after the first British-German prisoner exchange of the war.

A civilian uprising in Jesselton, North Borneo, claims the lives of 40 occupying Japanese soldiers.

October 19-30: Allied foreign ministers meet in Moscow. They confirm the May 1944 date for the invasion of France, and agree that the Soviets will join the fight against the Japanese once the Germans are neutralized. They also announce plans for the postwar trials of war criminals. The Soviet Union promises to join a new international organization to keep the peace.

World War II Headlines

These news headlines and images describe other important events of 1943, including U.S. operations on Bougainville, one of the Solomon Islands.

America enjoys Pacific triumphs: The turn of the strategic tide in the Pacific began in 1942 with the decisive U.S. naval victories at the Coral Sea (May) and Midway (June), followed by the successful operations on Guadalcanal from August. The subsequent "island-hopping" campaign concluded with the end of Japanese resistance on Okinawa on June 22, 1945. Other notable Allied successes during a consistently hard-fought series of amphibious landings and battles were Kokoda (1942) Bougainville (1943) Saipan, Guam, and Leyte Gulf (1944) and Iwo Jima and Corregidor (1945). Meanwhile, from November 1944, the capture of the Marianas enabled U.S. bombers to fly strategic missions against Japan -- including the atomic bomb missions in August 1945.

"Sunny Jim" Vandegrift praised as commander of the U.S. First Marine Division at Guadalcanal: General Alexander Archer Vandegrift, nicknamed "Sunny Jim" for his upbeat personality and courteous style, gained acclaim as the commander of the First Marine Division at Guadalcanal. Thrown into battle before his division was fully prepared, Vandegrift earned a Navy Cross for his landing on Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Later, his stubborn defense of Henderson Field stymied the Japanese and earned him a Medal of Honor. He later commanded the First Marine Amphibious Corps in the landings at Bougainville. On January 1, 1944, he was sworn in as the 18th commandant of the Marine Corps.

American troops land on Bougainville island: U.S. troops clamber into assault boats assembling for the landing on Bougainville, the largest of the Solomon Islands. Part of the effort to neutralize the Japanese base at Rabaul 220 miles away, the landing was spearheaded by the Third Marine Division on November 1, 1943, at Cape Torokina. Though the Japanese had some 17,000 troops on southern Bougainville alone, they had not considered swampy Cape Torokina a likely target, and the landing was lightly opposed. Work began on an airfield, and U.S. Army troops were brought ashore. Futile enemy attacks on the perimeter began immediately, the last occurring in March. Australian forces took over the fighting on the island until the Japanese surrendered in 1945.

Nasty fighting seen in theBougainvillejungle: Much of the fighting on Bougainville focused on efforts to dominate valuable high ground and the few trails that traversed the swampy terrain. Roadblocks, ambushes, and terrifying patrol encounters at point-blank range in the thick jungle were routine. Japanese machine gunners sheltered in well-concealed log and earthen bunkers had to be reduced one by one by infantrymen using hand grenades, small arms, and flamethrowers.

Rookie GIs seize Makin Atoll in the Pacific: U.S. Army troops in November 1943 view a wrecked Japanese seaplane in the lagoon at Makin Atoll, which was seized along with Tarawa as part of Operation Galvanic. The operation was a stepping-stone toward the more valuable Marshall Islands. Unlike Tarawa, which lay fewer than 100 miles to the south, Makin was not heavily fortified. Only about 300 of the 800-man garrison could be considered combat troops the rest were mostly Korean laborers. Nevertheless, it took nearly 6,500 men from the rookie U.S. 27th Infantry Division more than three days to secure Makin.

For an outline of historical World War II events in late October 1943 and early November 1943, see the timeline in the next section.

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World War II Timeline: October 20, 1943-November 6, 1943

In late October 1943 and early November 1943, the Soviet Union's Red Army isolated Nazi troops in Crimea and recaptured Kiev. Follow the timeline below for more events in World War II history.

World War II Timeline: October 20-November 6

October 20: The Allies take one step closer to Nuremberg with the establishment of a commission charged with the investigation of war crimes.

October 23: A brief uprising on the threshold of an Auschwitz gas chamber results in the death of a hated SS guard and the wounding of several others. The mutineers are then shot.

October 24: For the first time, the Allies stage an air raid on Axis targets from bases in the former Axis nation of Italy.

October 29: Dockworkers on England's Thames River go on strike, forcing soldiers to pick up the slack.

The U.S. Navy heavily mines the waters off French territory in Indochina.

October 31: The Red Army has cut the supply line and isolated some 150,000 German and Romanian troops in Crimea.

November 2: The Battle of Empress Augusta Bay erupts when the U.S. Navy attacks a small Japanese fleet attempting to reinforce Bougainville, where the Marines landed the day before.

November 3: A massive force of 539 U.S. planesbombs the key German port of Wilhelmshaven.

The Red Army launches an offensive across the Dnieper River in a bid to retake Kiev from the Germans.

The Nazis purge the population of the Majdanek death camp, murdering some 17,000 Jews in a single day.

November 4: The United States begins to manufacture plutonium at a facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

November 6: The Red Army recaptures Kiev from the Germans with relative ease. This third-largest Soviet city has been largely reduced to a smoldering ruin.

World War II Headlines

Coastwatchers were crucial to Allied success in the Pacific. For more information on coastwatchers and other World War II news, see the headlines and images below.

U.S. sinks Japanese merchant ships in the Pacific: Its seagoing days at an end, the 7,000-ton Japanese transport Kinugawa Maru lies stranded on the Guadalcanal shore. Japan's merchant fleet was crucial for transporting raw materials to the home islands and for carrying supplies and reinforcements to the empire's far-flung outposts. As the war in the Pacific turned against Japan in 1943, U.S. planes and submarines began sinking Japanese merchant ships more quickly than they could be replaced. The mounting losses wreaked havoc on the Japanese war machine.

Aircraft carrier landings pose danger: A crewman on the USS Enterprise scrambles to help the pilot of a burning F6F Hellcat, which crashed on the flight deck during operations off Makin Island. Flying on and off the heaving carrier decks was hazardous under the best of circumstances. One miscalculation could send the plane hurtling into the crash barrier at the end of the deck, or over the side. The process was also dangerous for the deck crews, known as "deck apes," who were exposed to everything from crash landings and spinning props to loose bombs. As one seaman remarked, "every landing was a potential casualty."

Britain's RAFspeaks of mythical "gremlins": Faced with unexpected and seemingly inexplicable mechanical problems during WWII, British Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots added a supernatural, gnome-like creature to world folklore: the "gremlin." Perhaps more than semi-seriously, pilots discussed gremlins, their mischievous expertise, and methods of placating and controlling them. Gremlins were said to often ride on wings, sometimes manipulating ailerons to tip the plane, but they were nothing but a myth.

Pacific island coastwatchers help Allies: Working on remote Pacific island locations, "coastwatchers" reported enemy activity and guided Allied attacks and guerrilla operations. They also rescued hundreds of civilians and Allied servicemen, including future U.S. president John F. Kennedy. White Australian, New Zealander, American, and Solomons Islands civilians provided most personnel, but they relied on natives as spies, guards, messengers, and laborers.

Allied supreme commander General Douglas MacArthur criticized: General Douglas MacArthur was supreme commander of Allied forces in the South West Pacific Area during World War II. After commanding the futile defense of the Philippines in 1941-42, he escaped to lead the defense of Australia and later the recapture of New Guinea and the Philippines. MacArthur's personal attachment to the Philippines led him to insist on a speedy return to the islands, a course criticized by some strategists. During his southwest Pacific campaigns, MacArthur astutely bypassed heavily defended areas whenever possible, leapfrogging to strike where the enemy was weakest. He was a powerful personality -- talented but also vain, imperious, a political machinist, and a shameless publicity seeker. During his career, he gained a reputation in the public mind as a military genius -- a stature now in dispute among historians.

American planes clear the Himalayasto supply Chinese nationalists: American aircraft of the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAV) were able to fly over the Himalayas from China to India. After the Burma Road closed in 1942, such flights over "The Hump" were the only means of supplying the Chinese Nationalists. It was a 500-mile flight over 15,000-feet-high mountain ranges. In 1943 the C-46 Commando replaced the C-47 as the main carrier. More than 1,000 C-46s took the journey, usually fully loaded. They battled severe turbulence, ice, and monsoonal storms. Unarmed, they risked air attack. CNAV aircraft made some 35,000 journeys over the Hump, carrying 71,000 tons in July 1945 alone.

The Nazis continued to send thousands to death camps in 1943. See the next section for a summary of this and other wartime news from November 1943.

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World War II Timeline: November 9, 1943-November 19, 1943

The horror of Nazi death camps continued as thousands were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz and other camps in November 1943. Here is a timeline of November 1943 World War II events.

World War II Timeline: November 9-November 19

November 9: General Charles de Gaulle is named president of the French Committee of National Liberation, the "Free French," in the wake of the resignation of General Henri Giraud.

November 11: Vichy police arrest 450 demonstrators in Grenoble, France, for rallying against the Nazis.

The Nazis running the Theresienstadt death camp torture some 47,000 Jews, forcing them to stand exposed for eight hours in a bitterly cold November rain.

November 12: Unaware of the Enigma breach, German admiral Karl Dönitz claims of the Allies: "He knows all our secrets."

Japanese bases in the Marshall and Gilbert islands come under heavy air assault by Allied planes. The attacks will continue on a daily basis.

November 14: A friendly-fired torpedo narrowly misses striking the battleship USS Iowa. President Franklin Roosevelt, en route to the Tehran Conference, is on board.

November 15: Effective immediately, all Gypsies in Nazi Germany are to be deported to death camps on the order of SS chief Heinrich Himmler.

The Nazis attempt to put a lid on sabotage by the nascent Italian resistance by taking some 2,000 of Milan's industrial workers hostage.

November 16: The Nazis round up another 2,000 Jews in the Netherlands and send them to Auschwitz.

The Germans effectively abandon their atomic bomb-building ambitions when the Allies launch another raid on the Vemork, Norway, heavy-water plant.

November 19: The Fog Investigation Dispersal Operation (FIDO) is employed for the first time by British Royal Air Force (RAF) officials hoping to enable landings in heavy British fog.

World War II Headlines

These headlines and photos detail Soviet Union POW camps, the fighting at Tarawa, and more World War II news from 1943.

The Soviet Union's Red Air Force superior to Luftwaffe: Soviet Union pilot Victor Radkevich animatedly tells fellow fliers of his triumph over a German plane. On the first day of the 1941 German invasion of Russia, the Luftwaffe destroyed more than 1,000 largely outmoded Russian military aircraft -- about 800 of them still on the ground. The next year, the Soviets began a huge buildup of air forces. Instead of British- and American-style long-range bombings intended to destroy enemy infrastructure and morale, the Red Air Force focused on supporting ground forces against the German invaders. By late 1943, the Soviets had achieved clear air superiority over the Luftwaffe.

German POWs face likely death at Soviet Union POW camps: Captured German troops were transferred to Soviet Union POW camps, many of which were in Siberia. In the camps, the prisoners received a harsh education in communism, and many died from overwork and malnutrition. Of the approximately 90,000 exhausted and starving German soldiers captured at the end of the fighting at Stalingrad, fewer than 6,000 returned to their homes.

Self-propelled (SP)guns destroy tanks and more: SP guns, such as this U.S. Army 105mm howitzer, were guns mounted on tracked, turret- less chassis that provided speedy, mobile fire support as required. Among the Western Allies, the U.S. led the development of SP guns and -- for SP guns used in the anti-armor role -- "tank destroyers." However, while the Anglo-U.S. forces generally utilized their SP guns as a more maneuverable form of conventional indirect-fire artillery, the German and Russian armies used SP guns primarily as direct-fire weapons -- literally as "assault guns" -- providing close support for infantry engaged in offensive operations.

Bosnian Muslims support the Nazis: In March 1942, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, said in a radio broadcast, "If, God forbid, America and her allies are victorious in this war . . . then the world will become hell." Al-Husseini helped recruit Bosnian Muslims into the Waffen-SS with assurances that Allah would never allow the Allies to win. Bosnian SS members and their German officers wore fez hats bearing the Nazi eagle.

Tehran Conference held in Iran: Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill, The Big Three, met only twice during the war. The first time was in Tehran, Iran, from November 28 to December 1, 1943. For more than a year, Stalin had demanded the invasion of France to force Nazi Germany to shift resources to the West. In Tehran, Roosevelt and Churchill announced their decision to invade France in May 1944. Stalin agreed to simultaneously mount an aggressive offensive in the East. He also pressured his allies to accept some of his demands, including Soviet possession of the eastern part of postwar Poland and his veto on the plan to divide postwar Germany into five autonomous states. It also was determined that the Soviets would join the fight against Japan after Nazi Germany was defeated.

U.S. seizes Kwajalein, Roi-Namur in the Pacific: Hit by antiaircraft fire, a Japanese torpedo bomber explodes during an attack off Kwajalein Island. The U.S. assaults on Kwajalein and nearby Roi-Namur, deep in the Marshall Islands chain, in February 1944 surprised the Japanese, who had committed more defensive effort to the outermost islands. The Fourth Marine Division seized Roi-Namur in two days, and the Seventh Infantry Division took Kwajalein in four days. U.S. casualties were relatively light. Capture of the island air bases deprived the Japanese of a defensive shield and opened the way to the Carolines and Marianas, which were the true strategic springboards for any assault on Japan.

Japan defends Tarawa Atoll: Draped with hand grenades and ammunition, a Marine pauses to drink from his canteen on December 6, 1943, during the fight for Tarawa. The Second Marine Division had fought in the Solomons, but the amphibious assault on tiny, heavily defended Tarawa was a new experience. Japanese rear admiral Shibasaki Keiji boasted that "a million Americans couldn't take Tarawa in a hundred years." Defenses included barbed wire, mines, tetrahedrons, nearly 500 pillboxes, light tanks, heavy machine guns, and eight-inch naval rifles. Thanks to the stubborn courage of individual Marines, Shibasaki was proven wrong, but the cost was high. More than 1,000 Americans were killed or went missing.

U.S. Marines shot down by the hundreds on Tarawa Atoll: Dead Marines litter the beach following the 76-hour battle for Betio (at the southwest corner of Tarawa Atoll) and its strategically important airstrip. As the first large-scale test of U.S. amphibious doctrine against a strongly fortified enemy beach, the Tarawa assault was a costly learning experience. Preceded by an inadequate bombardment, hampered by a disastrously low tide, and lacking sufficient tracked vehicles to negotiate Betio's wide reef, Marines were shot down by the hundreds as they waded toward the heavily defended landing beaches. "It was a time of utmost savagery," wrote a witness. "I still don't know how they took the place."

Japanese troops choose suicide over surrender: Trapped in their bunker on Tarawa, two Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops chose suicide over surrender. U.S. Marines would become accustomed to such tenacity in their march through the central Pacific. Typical of what was to come on Saipan, Guam, and Iwo Jima, the enemy garrison at Tarawa fought almost to the last man. Of the approximately 5,000 enemy personnel on Betio, 4,690 were killed. Of the 146 prisoners taken by U.S. Marines, virtually all were conscripted Korean laborers. Only 17 Japanese -- all wounded -- were captured.

U.S. Admiral RaymondSpruance:low-key but successful: Admiral Raymond Spruance led Task Force 16 with its two aircraft carriers at Midway in June 1942, playing a key role in that decisive engagement. As commander of the Fifth Fleet, he subsequently directed the operations to seize the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. He also commanded the force that defeated the Japanese carrier fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944. Spruance succeeded Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz as commander of the Pacific Fleet in late 1945. Described by historian Samuel Eliot Morison as "one of the greatest fighting and thinking admirals in American naval history," Spruance shunned publicity and never received much popular acclaim.

By the end of November 1943, the Allies had conquered Tarawa. The next section's timeline summarizes this and other events of that month.

For more timelines and information on World War II events, see:

Considering Nazi Germany's aggression toward the Soviet Union, it is not surprising that the Soviets treated German POWs without mercy. The Germans not only invaded Soviet territory, but the SS and Wehrmacht committed a litany of atrocities against those who Nazi leadership called Soviet Untermenschen (sub-humans). Despite some isolated instances of Russian compassion, conditions in the POW camps were generally abysmal, with a daily death rate of one percent in the camp hospitals.

German POWs were often forced to build their own camps -- but with underground earth bunkers rather than huts for accommodation. The bunkers regularly flooded in the spring and autumn. Suicide, disease, dysentery, summary execution, and death by freezing were all commonplace. Even POWs who were fit when captured often succumbed to a below-starvation diet of unground millet and a punishing program of hard labor. POWs worked on major construction projects, such as the reconstruction of Stalingrad, hydroelectric schemes, and excavation of the Don-Volga canal.

In Soviet philosophy, man was just another material to be used to maximum effect and then discarded. In May 1945, the Soviets held nearly 1.5 million POWs in Germany alone. Several million more had already been transported to the Soviet Union to join the several hundred thousand German POWs captured earlier in the war. Of the POWs, two-thirds survived to return home to Germany. The final 9,626, who were sentenced for war crimes, were not released from the Soviet Union until 1955.

World War II Timeline: November 19, 1943-December 2, 1943

The conquest of Tarawa is just one of the history-making World War II events of November 1943. War highlights from late November-early December 1943 are included in the following timeline.

World War II Timeline: November 19-December 2

November 19: Fourteen British sailors, survivors of the mine-sunk freighter Penolver, are rescued by the American freighter DeLisle. The DeLisle promptly strikes another mine, sending the British back into the Atlantic, where they are miraculously rescued for a second time.

November 20: U.S. forces battle fierce Japanese resistance as they land on the Gilbert islands of Makin and Tarawa.

November 21: In one of the most overpowering air raids in the history of warfare, Berlin comes under assault by 775 British Royal Air Force (RAF) planes.

November 22-26: At the Cairo Conference, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Chiang Kai-shek discuss strategy for the Burma front. They announce that all areas seized by Japan since 1894 will be returned to their former owners.

November 25: The Allies bomb Japanese positions in Rangoon, Burma.

November 28: Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin hold their first face-to-face meeting in Tehran, Iran. They restate their commitment to prepare for Operation Overlord, the invasion of France.

The Allies complete their conquest of the island of Tarawa. Some 4,600 Japanese and 1,100 Americans lose their lives in the battle.

December 2: The U.S. brings 15 noted atomic scientists to New Mexico to help build the bomb.

Facing a sharp decline in the number of miners working on the home front, British labor minister Ernest Bevin decrees that one of every 10 draftees will be sent to the coal mines instead of the front lines.

The southern Italian port of Bari is devastated by a German air raid. Nineteen ships are destroyed when bombs strike two shipboard ammunition stores.

World War II Headlines

The headlines and photos below provide even more insight into World War II events of 1943.

Germans fight on in Italy: Since the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, Churchill pushed for the invasion of Italy, the "soft underbelly of Europe." Roosevelt and his military advisers believed such an invasion would be an unwise distraction from preparation for the invasion of France. The third allied partner, Stalin, was also against the Italian campaign. The fighting in Sicily had not yet started when discussions were renewed about Italy. It was finally decided not to stop the offensive momentum. British and Canadian troops invaded Italy on September 3 with little opposition. Before the second landing at Salerno on September 9, the troops learned that Italy had surrendered. German troops, however, stubbornly contested the Salerno landing and every inch of the Allied advance.

The Gustav Line extends across the Italian peninsula: To block the Allied advance, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, the German commander in Italy, constructed defenses south of Rome. The Gustav Line was the most formidable of four lines of defense that extended across the Italian peninsula. The Gustav Line was a series of concrete bunkers and artillery positions on the rocky faces of mountains fronted by a no-man's-land of barbed wire and land mines. Allied infantry, airborne, and rangers fought stubbornly along this line, as seen here.

Hitler's mistress, Eva Braun, is isolated from the war: Eva Braun, Hitler's longtime mistress, is pictured at the Berghof, the Führer's Bavarian mountain home. Isolated from the political realities of the Third Reich and the war, Braun was permitted luxuries that Hitler denied to other German women, including makeup and the use of alcohol and tobacco. Although Hitler was said to become uncharacteristically lighthearted in her presence, he never publicly acknowledged their relationship, and Braun was reportedly lonely and unhappy. Hitler and Braun finally married in a civil ceremony on April 29, 1945, the day before they committed suicide together.

U.S. Army General Mark WayneClark fights the Nazis in Italy: Capable but overly confident, General Mark Wayne Clark was appointed commander of the U.S. Fifth Army in 1943. His September assignment, to land his troops in the port of Salerno and direct a portion of the invasion of Italy, seemed easy enough. Mussolini had already been removed from power, and the Italian government had surrendered to the Allies. But Clark and other Allied commanders failed to grasp Hitler's determination not to lose Italy. The Italian Campaign wore on bitterly at such places as Anzio and Monte Cassino until the Fifth Army entered Rome in June 1944. The Allied commanders finally accepted the surrender of Italy's last German defenders on May 2, 1945.

Food for Russian soldiers includes bread, soup: Red Army rations varied from adequate to nonexistent depending on the supply situation. Bread and soup were staples. A type of cabbage soup called shchi was common, as was kasha, which is boiled buckwheat. Supplements included macaroni, salted fish, tea, salt, lard or bacon fat, and whatever vegetables the soldier could forage. American Spam became a common source of meat. Bread and sausage were often issued prior to combat operations since they would last for days without spoiling.

The Nazis' Atlantic Wall includes armed bunkers: From spring 1942 to 1944, Nazi Germany built fortifications along 3,000 miles of French and Belgian coastline. Called the Atlantikwall (Atlantic Wall), the defense system was designed by engineer Fritz Todt. Under the direction of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the wall was intended to protect Europe against seaborne Allied invasions. Defenses included 14,000 concrete bunkers armed with mortars, machine guns, and larger gun emplacements, such as this Fernkampfbatterie (distant battle battery). The beach and waters below were protected by antitank obstacles, steel "Belgian Gates" intended to damage landing craft, and six million mines.

December 1943 began with Nazi Germany's plan to intensify its bombing campaign over Britain. Find out what else happened in December 1943 by reading the timeline in the next section.