World War II Axis Military History Day-by-Day: February

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February 1

February 1, 1942: In the East, the Red army begins an offensive toward Vjasma.

February 1, 1943: German troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Kluge) evacuate Demjansk.

February 1, 1945: In its drive toward the Oder, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) reaches the river NW of Küstrin. Since the beginning of the Soviet offensive in East Prussia that started on Jan 20, the Kriegsmarine has evacuated by sea 140,000 cvilian refugees and 18,000 wounded soldiers.

February 2

February 2, 1943: At Stalingrad, the remnants of 6.Armee under General Strecker in the northern pocket of the Kessel cease fighting and surrender to the Red Army. In all, over 96,000 survivors of the once 300,000-strong Armee are captured; of these, only about 5,000 will ever return to Germany after the war. At Moscow, the victory over the Germans is celebrated with a salute of several hundred guns.

February 2, 1944: In the Ukraine, the Red Army recaptures Luzk and Rovno.

February 2, 1945: The Soviet 1st Belorussian Front reaches the Oder south of Frankfurt. Ecuador declares war on Germany.

February 3

February 3, 1942: German forces of Heeresgruppe Mitte launch a counterattack at Vjasma, cutting off and encircling several Soviet divisions.

February 3, 1944: In the East, the beginning of renewed defensive battles against Soviet forces in the area of Vitebsk.

February 3, 1945: The US 8th Air Force, with 937 bombers and 613 fighters, carries out the heaviest attack to date against Berlin which levels large areas of the city and kills more than 25,000 civilians.

February 4

February 4, 1942: The Afrikakorps recaptures Derna in Libya.

February 4, 1943: Soviet army troops and marines achieve a landing neart the Black Sea port of Novorossisk.

February 4, 1945: Beginning of the Yalta Conference in the Crimea between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin to discuss plans for the treatment of postwar Germany, its division into zones of occupation, the question of reparations, and the future Polish western border.

February 5

February 5, 1945: On the Eastern front, the Red Army approaches Elbing and Marienburg in East Prussia.

February 6

February 6, 1941: The British 8th Army (Wavell) captures Benghasi in Cyrenaica from the Italians.

February 6, 1945: The Soviet 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) makes further advances to reach the Oder between Küstrin and Frankfurt.

February 7

February 7, 1942: The drive of the Afrikakorps toward Egypt and the Suez Canal comes to a halt before Tobruk.

February 7, 1945: In East Prussia, Soviet attacks north of Königsberg are blocked with the help of naval gunfire by the cruisers Scheer and Lützow.

February 8

February 8, 1941: The first convoy of the newly formed Afrikakorps under the command of Generaloberst Rommel leaves Naples for Tripoli in Libya.

February 8, 1943: The Red Army recaptures Kursk.

February 8, 1944: German roops evacuate Nikopol in the Ukraine.

February 8, 1945: In the West, the Canadian First Army (Crerar) begins an offensive in the area of Nijmegen in Holland. Paraguay declares war on Germany. In the East, Soviet attacks in East Prussia, Pommerania and on the Oder front opposite Berlin continue with unabated ferocity.

February 9

February 9, 1941: Great Britain breaks off diplomatic relations with Rumania.

February 9, 1943: The Red Army recaptures Belgorod.

February 9, 1945: In the East, the Red Army encircles Elbing and Posen.

February 10

February 10, 1945: In the East, the attack by 2nd Belorussian Front (Rokossovsky) against the Pommernstellung is blocked by the German defenders. In Silesia, Liegnitz is captured by the 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev). In Hungary, the remnants of the defenders of Budapest give up and surrender.

February 11

February 11, 1940: Germany and the Soviet Union sign a trade agreement that provides for the delivery of vital war materials (grains, oil, strategic minerals) by the Soviets.

February 11, 1945: In the East, the Red Army has encircled the fortress city of Küstrin on the Oder.

February 12

February 12, 1942: Protected by a constant umbrella of Luftwaffe fighters and smaller naval units, the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the cruiser Prinz Eugen make a dash from Brest up the English Channel, passing the Straits of Dover and and reaching ports in Germany (Unternehmen Cerberus). Taken by complete surprise, the British Navy and Air force are unable to stop the operation, losing a considerable number of planes and naval vessels in the attempt.

February 12, 1943: German troops of Heeresgruppe A (von Weichs) evacuate Krasnodar and reach the defensive positions in the Kuban bridgehead.

February 12, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Luga.

February 12, 1945: At Yalta, Rooevelt, Chrchill and Stalin end their conference, with agreements on the Allied occupation of Germany, the founding of the United Nations, the "resettlement" of the inhabitants of the Eastern German territories to be ceded to Poland, and the entry of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan. Thus far, 374,00 German refugees have been evacuated by sea from East and West Prussia. Peru declares war against Germany.

February 13

February 13, 1945: The RAF launches a heavy attack (over 800 bombers in two separate waves, which is followed the next day by 400 bombers of the US 8th Air Force) against Dresden that incinerates the inner city and kills between 150,000 and 200,000 civilians, including tens of thousands of refugees from the East and hundreds of Allied prisoners of war; it is by far the most deadly and devastating air raid of the Second World War. On the Eastern front in Pommerania, the Red Army captures Schneidemül.

February 14

February 14, 1943: German troops of Heeresgruppe Don (von Manstein) evacuate Rostov and withdraw to the old Mius line. In Tunisia, 5.Panzerarmee (von Arnim) forces the retreat of the US 2nd Corps (Fredenhall) in the battle of Kasserine Pass.

February 14, 1945: On the Eastern front in Silesia, the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev) encircles Breslau which has been declared a fortress under the command of Gauleiter Hanke. Uruguay declares war against Germany.

February 15

February 15, 1944: In Italy, bombers of the US 15th Air Force drop thousands of tons of bombs on the monastery located on the top of Monte Cassino. Subsequent attacks by British Commonwealth and Polish forces fail to capture its ruins now occupied and defended by paratroopers (the Green Devils) of 1.Fallschirmjäger-Division (Heidrich).

February 15, 1945: On the Eastern front, the Red Army captures Sagan in Silesia. Also, Operation Sonnenwende is launched by all three Korps from the 11.SS-Panzer-Armee (XXXIX.Panzer, III.SS-Panzer, and X.SS). They were all to attack on this date but the only divisions ready were the from the III.SS.Panzer-Korps. They began to attack on the 15th with a Kampfgruppe from the 11.SS-PzGr.Div. "Nordland" & 27.SS-Grenadier-Div. "Langemarck", of III.SS.Pz.Korps attacking south towards Arnswalde (about 30-35 kms southeast of Stargard). The KG from the 11.SS followed up the initial penetrations by the infantry of the 27.SS.

February 16

February 16, 1940: The British detroyer Cossack, entering neutral Norwegian waters, captures the German freighter Altmark, former supply ship of the Graf Spee, and frees hundreds of British merchant seamen from vessels sunk by the Graf Spee in the South Atlantic.

February 16, 1942: German U-boats, with their deck guns, bombard oil storage facilities and refineries on the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curacao in the southern Caribbean.

February 16, 1943: German troops evacuate Charkov.

February 16, 1944: In Italy, the German counterattack against the US 5th Army's bridgehead at Anzio fails.

February 16, 1945: On the Eastern front in Pommerania, the remaining units of the 11.SS-Panzer-Armee launch fully into Operation Sonnenwende, which in reality is a severely restricted counter-offensive to relieve the Kuestrin area.

February 17

February 17, 1943: German troops evacuate Demjansk. In Tunisia, the advance by 5.Panzerarmee (von Arnim) beyond Kasserine Pass is suspended.

February 17, 1944: In the Ukraine, German troops encircled in the Tcherkassy pocket achieve a breakout, but at a heavy cost in men and equipment.

February 18

February 18, 1943: In the wake of the Stalingrad disaster Dr. Goebbels, speaking before an enthuiastic audience of soldiers and civilians, announces the implementation of "total war" which, for the first time, mandates the employment of German women in the war effort.

February 18, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Staraja Russa. Heeresgruppe Nord (Schörner) falls back to the line Narva-Pleskau-Oposhka.

February 18, 1945: In the East, the Red Army encircles Graudenz on the Vistula. German troops of the 11.SS-Panzer-Armee are brought to a stand still against Soviet opposition to Operation Sonnenwende.

February 19

February 19, 1945: In East Prussia, German forces reestablish communications between Königsberg and the port of Pillau, thus again enabling tens of thousands of German refugees to be evacuated to the West by ships of the Kriegsmarine. Operation Sonnenwende is stopped in the face of fierce Soviet resistance. The operation was a complete military failure, but did achieve the political goal of delaying Soviet operations to take Berlin by several months.

February 20

February 20, 1943: The Afrikakorps halts further offensive operations in Tunisia and withdraws to the Mareth line.

February 20, 1944: 970 bombers of the US 8th Air Force carry out attacks against Hamburg, Leipzig and Braunschweig.

February 20, 1945: In the East, Soviet attacks against the lines of Heeresgruppe Kurland cut off for months from the rest of the Eastern front fail in the face of stubborn German resistance.

February 21

February 21, 1945: On the Oder front, the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev) captures Guben. The US 8th Air Force launches another heavy attack (over 1,000 bombers) against Nürnberg.

February 22

February 22, 1941: The Afrikakorps, newly arrived in Libya, launches its first probing attacks against the unpleasantly surprised British 8th Army (Wavell).

February 22, 1943: Beginning of of a counterattack by forces of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Kluge) in the area between the Dnepr and Donets.

February 22, 1944: German troops evacuate Krivoi Rog in the Ukraine.

February 23

February 23, 1945: In the West, the US Ninth Army (Simpson) begins an offensive from its bridgeheads on the Roer river leading to the bloody battle of the Hürtgen Forest. In the Esat, the Red Army captures the isolated fortress city of Posen.

February 24

February 24, 1945: In the East, the Red Army breaks through the German defenses of the Pommerstellung in Pommerania. Off the northern coast of Norway, German U-boats sink 8 ships and 2 destroyers of a convoy bound for the Soviet port of Murmansk. Egypt declares war on Germany.

February 25

February 25, 1945: 400 RAF bombers carry out attacks against Dortmund and Rheine. Turkey declares war against Germany.

February 26

February 26, 1945: Heeresgruppe Kurland repulses heavy Soviet attacks in the area of Prekuln. In the West, the attacks by the US Ninth Army into the Hürtgen Forest make little progress.

February 27

February 27, 1945: Under Soviet pressure, Rumanian King Michael I is forced to appoint a Communist government. The US 8th Air Force launches another heavy attack against Berlin which devastates the center of the city.

February 28

February 28, 1945: In the East, the Red Army suspends all offensive operations against the lines of Heeresgruppe Kurland. In the West, the US Ninth Army achieves a breakthrough near Erkelenz 30 miles W of Cologne, but losing 100 tanks in the process.

February 29

February 29, 1944: In Italy, another German counterattack against the US Fifth Army's bridgehead at Anzio is repulsed.