September 5

1864: A two-day battle for the Shimonoseki Strait begins. Nine British, five Dutch and three French warships (accompanied by the US chartered steamer Takiang in a token show of support) attempts to force passage of Shimonoseki Strait. (Satow)

[See: Countdown to Infamy: Timeline to Pearl Harbor.]

1876 Birth: Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb: German field marshal: In 1923, he was involved in putting down the Beer Hall Putsch. He then commanded Wehrkreis VII as a lieutenant-general before the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Hitler was not fond of von Leeb because of his anti-Nazi attitudes and religious convictions.

When the invasion of the Soviet Union began on June 22, 1941, von Leeb's armies met with outstanding success against an overwhelmed Soviet force. By the end of September, his army had advanced 900 km into the Soviet Union and surrounded Leningrad. Hitler, however, was not pleased and said of the field marshal, "Leeb is in a second childhood; he can't grasp and carry out my plan for the speedy capture of Leningrad. He fusses over his plan of assuming the defensive in the northwestern sector and wants a drive in the center on Moscow. He's obviously senile, he's lost his nerve, and like a true Catholic he wants to pray but not fight." It was indeed true that von Leeb had no time for Hitler and the Nazis, and was also, like many of the senior German officers, a devout Christian. He was nevertheless a professional soldier and a man of the highest honor who did not take well to having his command micro-managed by an armchair would-be general, namely Hitler. In December 1941, von Leeb was relieved of his command and it was officially announced that he had stepped down voluntarily due to illness.

After the war, von Leeb was tried by a US military tribunal in Nuremberg in the High Command Trial. He was found guilty on one of four charges and sentenced to three years imprisonment, but was released after the judgment because he had already spent more time in custody. He spent his last years in quiet existence with his family until his death in 1956.

1905 Russo-Japanese peace treaty signed:

The Russo-Japanese War comes to an end as representatives of the two nations sign the Treaty of Portsmouth in New Hampshire. Russia, defeated in the war, agreed to cede to Japan the island of Sakhalin and Russian port and rail rights in Manchuria.

On February 8, 1904, following the Russian rejection of a Japanese plan to divide Manchuria and Korea into spheres of influence, Japan launched a surprise naval attack against Port Arthur, a Russian naval base in China. The Russian fleet was decimated. During the subsequent Russo-Japanese War, Japan won a series of decisive victories over the Russians, who underestimated the military potential of its non-Western opponent . . . . 

Japan emerged from the conflict as the first modern non-Western world power and set its sights on greater imperial expansion. The Russian military's disastrous performance in the war was one of the immediate causes of the Russian Revolution of 1905. (

From Special Envoy to Churchill and Stalin, 1941-1946 by W. A. Harriman and J. Abel:

Late that summer the Harriman's sailed for Japan . . . . The terms of the Portsmouth settlement . . . had provoked a great popular outcry in Japan. There was rioting in the streets, tinged with anti-Americanism, because President Roosevelt had initiated the Portsmouth negotiations, which seemed to many Japanese a sell-out. Averell, then thirteen years old, never forgot the explosive character of the demonstrations. The house of one government minister was burned to the ground, although he escaped by climbing over the back fence. Young Averell was thrilled at the sight of Japanese soldiers encamped on the lawn of the American legation compound to guard the minister, Lloyd Griscomb, and his guests, the Harriman family. Earlier than most Americans, Averell learned that the Japanese were not necessarily a submissive people.

1912 Birth: Kristina Soederbaum: Swedish-born German film actress, producer and photographer. From 1935, she starred in a number of films with her husband, director Veit Harlan. During World War II she acted in several works of Nazi propaganda, including the anti-semitic historical melodrama Jud Suess. After the war Soederbaum became a noted fashion photographer. In 1983 she wrote an autobiography Nichts bleibt immer so.

1914: World War I: Various:

First Battle of the Marne:

Thirty miles northeast of Paris, the French 6th Army under General Michel-Joseph Maunoury begins attacking the right flank of German forces advancing on the French capital. By the next day, the counterattack was total. More than two million soldiers fought in the Battle of the Marne, and 100,000 of them were killed or wounded. On September 9, the exhausted Germans began a fighting retreat to the Aisne River. The Battle of the Marne was the first significant Allied victory of World War I, saving Paris and thwarting Germany's plan for a quick victory over France.

After the outbreak of hostilities in Europe in August 1914, Germany took the offensive in the West, hoping to defeat France before the Russians were able to fully mobilize in the East. The Germans rushed across Belgium, routing the Allies, and by September the "Schlieffen Plan"--the planned outflanking of the French forces--seemed headed to a triumphant conclusion. In early September, German forces crossed the Marne River to the northeast of Paris, and the French government was evacuated to Bordeaux.

As retreating French forces and the British Expeditionary Force scrambled to prepare a counterattack, they were dealt a lucky hand when precise information about the German plan of attack was found in a knapsack retrieved from a slain German officer. The French had thought that German General Alexander von Kluck's 1st Army would march into the Oise Valley, but the plan told of a direct march on Paris. The French commander in chief, General Joseph Joffre, coordinated the information into his battle plans, and on the afternoon of September 5 the French 6th Army under General Michel-Joseph Maunoury surprised the right flank of Kluck's 1st Army near the Marne River.

Kluck turned his army to meet the French 6th Army, creating a gap between his 1st Army and German General Karl von Bulow's 2nd Army, 30 miles to the southeast. The French 5th Army then turned and rushed into the gap to attack BÝlow, and the British Expeditionary Force halted its retreat and turned to likewise advance into the gap. Meanwhile, to the west of the German 2nd Army, the newly created French 9th Army attacked the German 3rd Army.

For three bloody days, the battle shifted back and forth along a 100-mile front. The French 6th Army stubbornly held its ground under heavy counterattacks by Kluck's 1st Army, and at one point 600 Paris taxicabs were enlisted to drive 6,000 French troops from the capital to the battle front. The fighting was so near the city that the automobiles could make the trip there and back on a single tank of gas.

On September 9, General Bulow learned of the approach of the British Expeditionary Force and ordered his 2nd Army to retreat. General Kluck and the German 1st Army had no choice but to follow, and by September 11 the retreat extended to all the German armies. The Germans retreated 40 miles north to the Lower Aisne River, where they dug trenches and succeeded in repelling successive attacks by the pursuing Allied forces. Both sides then tried and failed to outflank each other in the "Race to the Sea," in which trench networks were extended northwestward by both sides until they reached the Atlantic at a point inside Belgium.

Because it defeated Germany's Schlieffen Plan and also ended Allied hopes for a quick end to the war, the First Battle of the Marne ranks as one of the most decisive battles in history. Around 100,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in its six days of heavy fighting, roughly an equal number on each side. By the end of 1914, well over a million soldiers of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and neither for the Allies nor the Central Powers was victory in sight. On the western front--the battle line that stretched across northern France and Belgium--the combatants settled down in the trenches for a terrible four-year war of attrition. (

List Regiment (Sep 1-Oct 7): Hitler's regiment begins a short but intensive basic training program, which is held in the premises of a large public school on the Elizabeth Platz in Munich. Hitler receives the first uniform of his life; basic greenish-grey with an "RIR 16" sown in red unto the epaulettes and a red stripe down the side of the trousers. The trousers are tucked into new leather boots, topped by a thick leather belt around the waist of the uniform jacket. [For further details, Click here.]

1915 World War I: Various:

List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment continue to occupy a position, at Fromelles, on a level field with water channels, willow trees and willow stalks; in the distance towards the enemy lines lies an insignificant wood with barbed wire entanglements. Under the direction of their defense-minded commander, Lieutenant General Gustav Scanzoni von Lichtenfels, the regiment works ceaselessly day and night to further fortify their position at Fromelles while fighting off repeated assaults by the enemy. [For further details, Click here.]

Tsar Nicholas II takes command of the Russian armies:

Tsar Nicholas II to Grand Duke Nikolai:

At the beginning of the war I was unavoidably prevented from following the inclination of my soul to put myself at the head of the army. That was why I entrusted you with the Commandership-in-Chief of all the land and sea forces. Under the eyes of the whole of Russia your Imperial Highness has given proof during the war of steadfast bravery which caused a feeling of profound confidence, and called forth the sincere good wishes of all who followed your operations through the inevitable vicissitudes of fortune of war. My duty to my country, which has been entrusted to me by God, impels me to-day, when the enemy has penetrated into the interior of the Empire, to take the supreme command of the active forces and to share with my army the fatigues of war, and to safeguard with it Russian soil from the attempts of the enemy. The ways of Providence are inscrutable, but my duty and my desire determine me in my resolution for the good of the State. The invasion of the enemy on the Western front necessitates the greatest possible concentration of the civil and military authorities, as well as the unification of the command in the field, and has turned our attention from the southern front. At this moment I recognize the necessity of your assistance and counsels on our southern front, and I appoint you Viceroy of the Caucasus and Commander-in-Chief of the valiant Caucasian Army. I express to your Imperial Highness my profound gratitude and that of the country for your labors during the war.

1916 World War I: List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler endures trench warfare in Flanders (Artois) with 3 Company, 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment [List Regiment]. [For further details, Click here.]

1917 World War I (July 22-September 8): Dispatch Runner Gefreiter Adolf Hitler serves at the front with 3 Company, 16 Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment during Phase 2 operations in Flanders. Most of their time in the trenches gas masks are worn, while English bombers attack from the air, and tanks attempt to advance over a long front through seas of mud. [For further details, Click here.]

1918 Various:

Russian Revolution: Red Terror:

The Council of Peoples Commissars proclaims the introduction of the Red terror campaign.

To secure our rear by means of terror is a direct necessity. It is necessary to secure the Soviet Republic against its class enemies by isolating them in concentration camps. All persons involved in White Guard organizations, plots and revolts are subject to execution by shooting. (THP)

1918 World War I: List Regiment: (August 21-September 27): Gefreiter Adolf Hitler attends a signals training course in Nuremberg. [For further details, Click here.]

1922 James Doolittle: American aviator makes the first American coast-to-coast flight in 21 hours and 19 minutes.

1925 Germany: Houston Stewart Chamberlain: The Voelkischer Beobachter hails the English author's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century as 'The Gospel of the National Socialist Movement.'

1930 League of Nations: At Geneva, compulsory arbitration is accepted by Germany.

1933 Various:

The Hamburg Amerika Line is merged, under Nazi supervision, with the North German Lloyd Company. The new line is renamed Hapag-Lloyd:

At the outbreak of WWI, many NGL ships took refuge in US ports, and these were seized by American authorities in 1917. After the Armistice, the company lost every worthwhile ocean going steamer as war reparations, and in 1920 chartered ships from the US Shipping Board to resume services. They gradually rebuilt their fleet and in 1925 took over the Hamburg-Bremen Africa Line, the Dampschiff Reederei Horn and the Roland Line. In 1928 Quebec and Montreal services were resumed. During World War II, NGL again lost almost their entire fleet.

Holocaust: Germany:

The 'Aryan Clause' (Arierparagraph) is adopted by the old Prussian church Synod. The Clause is a regulation which forbids Jews from being members of German political parties, economic groups or social and student clubs. This rule, which had been applied before the Nazis' rise to power, will become official German Law when the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 are passed. (THP)

1934 USA: Racism:

William Dudley Pelley issues what he calls the "New Emancipation Proclamation" promising to "impose racial quotas on the political and economic structure, observing rigorously in effect that no racial factions shall be allowed further occupancy of public or professional office in excess of the ratio of its blood-members to the remaining sum total of all races completing the composition of the body politic." (THP)


1937 Hjalmar Schacht takes a leave of absence from the Economics Ministry. That same month he tells Max Warburg he can no longer keep M.M. Warburg in the Reich Loan Consortium.

1938 Sudetenland: Konrad Henlein and the Nazis stage further riots and demonstrations:

The Fuehrer stated that he intended to settle the Sudeten German problem in the not-too-distant future. He could no longer tolerate Germans being oppressed or fired upon. He told Henlein that he knew how popular he (Henlein) was and that he was the rightful leader of the Sudeten German element, and as a result of his popularity and attractiveness he would triumph over circumstances. To Henlein's objection that he, Henlein, could only be a substitute, Hitler replied: I will stand by you; from tomorrow you will be my Viceroy. I will not tolerate difficulties being made for you by any department whatsoever within the Reich.

1939 World War II: Various:

German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office:

Molotov asked me to call on him today at 12:30 and transmitted to me the following reply of the Soviet Government: "We agree with you that at a suitable time it will be absolutely necessary for us to start concrete action. We are of the view, however, that this time has not yet come. It is possible that we are mistaken, but it seems to us that through excessive haste we might injure our cause and promote unity among our opponents. We understand that as the operations proceed, one of the parties or both parties might be forced temporarily to cross the line of demarcation between the spheres of interest of the two parties; but such cases must not prevent the strict execution of the plan adopted."

Today at 12:30 p. m. I again asked Molotov to have the Soviet Government continue to work on Turkey with a view to permanent neutrality. I mentioned that rumors were current to the effect that England was putting pressure on Rumania to take active part and was holding out a prospect of aid from British and French troops. Since this aid might come by sea, it was in the interests of the Soviet Government to prevail upon Turkey to close the Dardanelles completely. Molotov replied that the Soviet Government had considerable influence with Turkey and was exerting it in the sense desired by us. Molotov added that there was only the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Turkey; conversations regarding the conclusion of a mutual assistance pact had, it is true, been carried on at one time but had borne no fruit. He would have rumors about Rumania looked into through the Soviet Embassy in Bucharest.

Poland: Under the relentless pressure by the Wehrmacht, the Polish Army withdraws behind the Vistula. First British air raids on German soil against Wilhelmshaven and Cuxhaven, with negligible results (10 Wellingtons shot down by German fighters).

The speed of the German advance made effective direction and coordination of the Polish defense effort increasingly difficult as operations continued. The declaration of war by Great Britain and France on 3 September did not bring with it the relief the Polish High Command had expected. The Hitler directive immediately following the declaration had left the opening of offensive operations in the air and on the ground to the British and French, and it was only a question of time until the German Army would overrun Poland. An attempt was made to reorganize the battered Polish forces into three armies, one north of the Vistula, a second holding the front from Warsaw to the junction of the Vistula and San Rivers, and the third in the south. The rapid advance of the Germans prevented implementation of this plan.

1940 World War II: Various:

Battle of Britain:

RAF Fighter Command has lost 450 planes to date and is close to defeat. At this point, Hitler and Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering, infuriated by the ineffectual British bombing raids (August 24-29) on Berlin, decide to concentrate their air attacks on London. Note: While terror bombing has never won a major conflict, this is an example of the tactic influencing enemy strategy. By causing Hitler to switch to bombing cities instead of sticking with what is working, the destruction of radar stations, airfields, and industry, the war takes a turn in Britain's favor for the first, but certainly not the last, time.

[See: What Were Adolf Hitler's Major Blunders?]

Romania: King Carol II abdicates in favor of his son, Prince Michael and leaves the country after passing part of his royal powers to Ion Antonescu. (Hitler is said to have forced the king's abdication):

In the immediate wake of the loss of Northern Transylvania, on September 4, 1940, the Iron Guard (led by Horia Sima) and General (later Marshal) Ion Antonescu united to form a "National Legionary State" government, which forced the abdication of Carol II in favor of his 19-year-old son Mihai. Carol (and his mistress Magda Lupescu) went into exile and Romania (despite the recent betrayal over territorial cessions) leaned strongly toward the Axis. In power, the Iron Guard stiffened already harsh anti-Semitic legislation (as well as enacting legislation directed against Armenian and Greek businessmen, tempered at times by the willingness of officials to take bribes) and wreaked vengeance upon its enemies.

1942 SS Dr. Johann Paul Kremer's Auschwitz Diary:

In the morning attended a special action from the women's concentration camp ('Mussulmen'); the most dreadful of horrors. Master-Sergeant Thilo (troop doctor) was right when he said to me that this is the anus mundi. In the evening towards 8:00 attended another special action from Holland. Because of the special rations they get a fifth of a liter of schnapps, 5 cigarettes, 100 g salami and bread, the men all clamor to take part in such actions. Today and tomorrow (Sunday) work.

1943 World War II: U.S. forces seize more of New Guinea:

On this day in 1943, Gen. Douglas MacArthur's 503rd Parachute Regiment land and occupy Nazdab, just east of Lae, a port city in northeastern Papua New Guinea, situating them perfectly for future operations on the islands.

New Guinea had been occupied by the Japanese since March 1942. Raids by Allied forces early on were met with tremendous ferocity, and they were often beaten back by the Japanese occupiers. Much of the Allied response was led by forces from Australia, as they were most threatened by the presence of the Japanese in that sphere.

The tide began to turn in December 1942, as the Australians recaptured Buna—but despite numerical superiority, the Japanese continued to hang on, fighting to keep every square mile they had captured. Many Japanese committed suicide, swimming out to sea, rather than be taken prisoner. In January 1943, the Americans joined the Aussies in assaults on Sanananda, which resulted in huge losses for the Japanese—7,000 killed—and the first land defeat of the war. As Japanese reinforcements raced for the next Allied targets, Lae and Salamauam, in March, 137 American bombers destroyed the Japanese transport vessels, drowning 3,500 Japanese, as well as their much-needed fuel and spare parts.

On September 8, almost 2,000 American and Australian Airborne Division parachutists landed and seized Nazdab, which held a valuable airfield. The Allies quickly established a functioning airstrip and prepared to take the port city of Lae, one more step in MacArthur's strategy to recapture New Guinea and the Solomons—and eventually go back for the Philippines. (

1944 World War II: Various:

FDR to Churchill:

I am informed by my Office of Military Intelligence that the fighting Poles have departed from Warsaw and that the Germans are now in full control. The problem of relief for the Poles of Warsaw has therefore unfortunately been solved by delay and by German action, and there now appears to be nothing we can do to assist them. I have long been distressed by our inability to give adequate assistance to the heroic defenders of Warsaw, and I hope that we may together still be able to help Poland to be among the victors in this war with the Nazis.

Bulgaria: The Soviet Union declares war on and invades the country. During World War II, Boris was a reluctant ally of Germany. Bulgaria declared "symbolic war" on Great Britain and the United States, but did not send its forces into combat and declined to deport its Jewish population to the death camps in Poland. In September 1944 the Soviet Union suddenly declared war on Bulgaria and quickly occupied it. In conjunction with the Soviet invasion, a Communist-led coalition, called the Fatherland Front, seized power in Sofia. Under Georgi Dimitrov the Communists consolidated their power, and by the end of 1947 completely eliminated their opponents.

Romania: German-Hungarian counterattack in the area of Klausenburg fails.

1945 Various:

Nuremberg War Crimes Trials: Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson meets with President Truman, who proposes naming former attorney general Francis Biddle as the American judge at Nuremberg. Jackson, who does not think highly of Biddle, suggests alternatives, but Biddle will get the appointment. (Maser II)

Tokyo Rose: Iva Toguri D'Aquino, suspected of being the wartime radio propagandist 'Tokyo Rose,' is arrested in Yokohama.

Iva Toguri was an American stranded in Japan at the outbreak of World War II. She was forced to broadcast propaganda to the Allied troops for Japan. In these radio programs, she taunted the troops and played music from home. She took the name Orphan Ann on the program, Zero Hour. 'Tokyo Rose' is a myth: Iva Toguri, like other women who also broadcast Japanese propaganda to Allied troops, was never referred to as Rose or Tokyo Rose. It was a name given by the Allies to the various female Japanese broadcasters.

1958 Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago appears in the United States:

The book was banned in the Soviet Union, but still won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958.

Pasternak was born in Russia in 1890, and by the time of the Russian Revolution was a well-known avant-garde poet. His work fell into disfavor during the 1920s and 1930s as the communist regime of Joseph Stalin imposed strict censorship on Russian art and literature. During this time, Pasternak eked out a living as a translator. In 1956, he completed the book that would make him a worldwide name. Dr. Zhivago was an epic love story set during the tumult of the Russian Revolution and World War I. The book infuriated Soviet officials, particularly Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The Soviets argued that the book romanticized the pre-Revolution Russian upper class and degraded the peasants and workers who fought against the czarist regime. The official Soviet press refused to publish the book and Pasternak found himself the target of unrelenting criticisms. Admirers of Pasternak's work, however, began secretly to smuggle the manuscript out of Russia piece by piece. By 1958, the book began to appear in numerous translations around the world, including an edition in the United States that appeared on September 5, 1958. The book was hailed as an instant classic, and Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958.

None of the acclaim for the book helped Pasternak, though. The Soviet government refused to allow him to accept the Nobel Prize, and he was banished from the Soviet Writers Union. The latter action ended Pasternak's writing career. Pasternak died in May 1960 from a combination of cancer and heart disease. Dr. Zhivago refused to die with him, though. In 1965, it was made into a hit movie starring Omar Sharif as the title character. In 1987, as part of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's democratic reforms, Pasternak, though dead for nearly 30 years, was readmitted to the union and his book was finally published in Russia. (

1969 Vietnam War: Calley charged for My Lai massacre:

Lt. William Calley is charged with six specifications of premeditated murder in the death of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai in March 1968. Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade (Light) of the 23rd (Americal) Division had led his men in a massacre of Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, at My Lai 4, a cluster of hamlets that made up Son My village in Son Tinh District in Quang Ngai Province in the coastal lowlands of I Corps Tactical Zone on March 16, 1968. The company had been conducting a search and destroy mission as part of the yearlong Operation Wheeler/Wallowa (November 1967 through November 1968). In search of the 48th Viet Cong (VC) Local Force Battalion, the unit entered Son My village but found only women, children, and old men. Frustrated by unanswered losses due to snipers and mines, the soldiers took out their anger on the villagers, indiscriminately shooting people as they ran from their huts and systematically rounding up the survivors, allegedly leading them to nearby ditch where they were executed. [For further information, click here.]

1970 Vietnam War: U.S. forces launch last major American operation of the war:

The 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), in coordination with the South Vietnamese (ARVN) 1st Infantry Division, initiates Operation Jefferson Glenn in Thua Thien Province west of Hue. This operation lasted until October 1971, and was one of the last major large-scale military operations in which U.S. ground forces would take part.

President Nixon had begun his Vietnamization program in the summer of 1969; the objective was to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese forces so that they could assume responsibility for the war against the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese forces as U.S. combat units were withdrawn and sent home. Shortly after the completion of Jefferson Glenn, the 101st Airborne began preparations to depart South Vietnam and subsequently began redeployment to the United States in March 1972. (

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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