The People History

What Happened in 1941 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture

What happened in 1941 Major News Stories include US Joins World War II after Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, The war in Europe continues to escalate, Germany attacks the Soviet Union, Thanksgiving Day Bill Passed, Churchill launches the "V for Victory" campaign across Europe, GI-bill signed into law, first RAF aircraft equipped with radar, Siege of Leningrad begins,

1941 The war in Europe continued to dominate world affairs but a new threat was growing which would soon involve America as the Japanese caused a threat Asia in the Pacific and preparations for war continued . The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the joint session of congress asking for help in the form of Arms . The US still continued as normal with 2 great movies produced that year that would stand the test of time "Citizen Kane" and "Dumbo". After many years where parents had decided what teenagers wore a new revolution was happening where teenagers became fashion conscious , also drive in Movies and drive in fast food were growing in popularity. On December 7th the US was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii more than 2400 American servicemen were killed that day and America entered the WAR . And with neutrality ended some 950 tanks were sent to Britain together with food, trucks, guns and ammunition.
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Cost of Living 1941

How Much things cost
Average Cost of new house $4,075.00
Average wages per year $1,750.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 12 cents
Average Cost for house rent $32.00 per month
Beautyrest mattress $39.50
Average Price for a new car $850.00
Apples, Pippin, 25 cents for 2 pounds
Bacon Sliced 59 cents per pound

World War II 1941


  • The war in Europe continues to escalate with countries joining on one side or the other , and large number of civilian casualties on both sides due to the use of bombing
  • In the North Atlantic, the German battleship Bismarck sinks the HMS Hood on May24th killing all but three crewman on what was the pride of the Royal Navy. Fairey Swordfish aircraft from the carrier HMS Ark Royal fatally cripple the German battleship Bismarck in torpedo attack. and the attack that follows by Navy Warships sinks the Bismark on May 27th
  • Germany attacks the Soviet Union on October 11th and then begins an all out offensive of Moscow.
  • Nazi Germany launches Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.
More Information for Operation Barbarossa
1. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact on August 23rd of 1939.
2. World War II begins in September when Germany invades Poland.
3. Hitler orders the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22nd in what was known as "Operation Barbarossa," breaking the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
4. Germany invaded the Soviet Union with an estimated force of 3 million soldiers covering over 2,000 miles of Soviet front. Germany's soldiers were better trained and had better equipment than those of the U.S.S.R.
5. Despite the appearance of German superiority, the Nazis had severely underestimated the Soviet Union. German troops were unprepared for the incoming Russian winter and the Soviet Union's forces outnumbered the German troops. This meant that despite being able to break through the Soviet armies, there were always more Soviet soldiers waiting. They also underestimated the strength of the Soviet regime, as the German leadership was sure that it would be toppled within a few months due to lack of support.
6. By July , German troops were within about 200 miles from Moscow.
7. In September, Germany begins the Siege of Leningrad which will last until 1944.
8. By October , German and Soviet troops begin the Battle of Moscow. The Battle of Moscow is a failure for Germany and ends in January of 1942.
9. The invasion left Germany vulnerable, opening itself to a two-front war. The weakness caused by the failing German invasion of the Soviet Union was made evident when the United States and Allied forces successfully invaded Western Europe through France in the Battle of Normandy (D-Day) during June of 1944.
10. Operation Barbarossa ultimately failed and although the war did not end until 1945, the invasion of the U.S.S.R. hastened Nazi Germany's defeat during World War II.
11. The cost of the invasion was heavy for both sides, but especially for the Soviet Union as the estimated number of lives lost was in the millions, many of them civilians.
  • German Aircraft sink a Russian Hospital Ship killing 7,000
  • Germany invades Yugoslavia
  • Nazis take and occupy Athens in Greece
  • Germany gets within 50 miles of Kiev in Russia

United States

  • Japanese Navy launches a surprise attack consisting by the Imperial Japanese Navy on December 7th of the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor, thus drawing the United States into World War II.
  • United Stated officially declares war on Japan
  • Hitler and Mussolini announce they are at war with America who retaliates with its own declaration of war .
  • Willy's Jeep Introduced for use by the US Army
  • U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated for his 3rd term as US President.
  • U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Lend Lease Act providing military aid to the Allies
More Information for the Lend-Lease Act
The Lend-Lease Act was introduced to the United States Congress during January . The Lend-Lease Act was proposed by President Roosevelt who had implored legislators to adopt the Act in his annual address to Congress. The Act would allow the United States, who had not yet entered World War II, to give military supplies and defense materials as well as food and oil to the Allies (particularly Great Britain) fighting against the Axis Powers during World War II. The Lend-Lease Act was passed in March after much debate and remained in effect until August of 1945.
  • U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the GI-bill to provide financial aid to veterans returning from World War II.
  • Churchill and Roosevelt meet to discuss what will happen after the end of World War II.
More Information for the Atlantic Charter
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt met during August to discuss goals and the future for the Allies after the end of World War II. They met on naval ships in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland and came up with eight common goals for the end of the war in what was known as the Atlantic Charter. While the Atlantic Charter was not a treaty, it laid the foundation for the creation of the United Nations. Some of the principles in the agreement included that the United States and United Kingdom would not try to gain territory from the war and there should be international cooperation to improve living conditions worldwide.
  • The United Service Organizations (USO) begins operations providing coffee, donuts, and entertainment to US military forces.
More Information for the U.S.O.
The United States Service Organizations, also known as the U.S.O., was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during February . The non-profit organization was founded during World War II with the intention of providing entertainment and support services to U.S. troops and their families. Many celebrities soon became involved with the U.S.O. and would visit and put on live shows for troops, with Bob Hope most noticeably involved in the organization. The U.S.O. was well-liked by many and created a home away from home for military personnel who had been stationed away from their own homes and families. The U.S.O. closed down in 1947 but was later reactivated during the Korean War and has been operational during conflicts since.
  • Winston Churchill addresses a joint meeting of the United States Congress about War In Europe

United Kingdom

  • The HMS Ark Royal is torpedoed by a German U-boat

  • Rudolf Hess, parachuted into Scotland on a peace mission and is captured by British forces.
  • Churchill launches the "V for Victory" campaign across Europe
  • Enigma Code Is Broken


  • The USSR and Japan sign a non-aggression pact during World War II.
More Information for the USSR - Japan Neutrality Pact.
During April Japan and the Soviet Union signed a five-year non-aggression pact. The two nations agreed to remain neutral with each other after World War II began. The two nations had historically been enemies in the past but agreed to the non-aggression pact in order for both countries to concentrate troops on larger problems rather than each other. The Soviet Union had signed a similar agreement with Nazi Germany in 1939 but in June Germany invaded the USSR and broke their pact. The USSR and Japan's pact stayed intact until 1945 when Stalin agreed to declare war on Japan at the Yalta Conference to end the war more quickly.
  • Germany Begins the Siege of Leningrad which lasts until 1944

North Africa

  • Allies push back against German troops in North Africa during Operation Crusader.
More Information for Operation Crusader
1. Operation Crusader, during World War II, begins in November .
2. The operation took place in North Africa where the British were nearly defeated by the German and Italian forces during the Siege of Tobruk.
3. Operation Crusader saw the British Eighth Army relieve the British Seventh Armored Division, ending the siege by launching a surprise attack against the Axis troops.
4. The attack was completely unexpected and caught German Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel off-guard, leading to the first British victory over German ground troops during WWII in Africa.
5. Operation Crusader went on until the end of December and when it ended Rommel was able to quickly re-group and gain back much of what the Axis forces had lost.
6. It was, however, important in proving that Germany's Africa Corps could be defeated and gave hope for the Allies to make future gains in Africa during World War II.

 Back In Time Gifts

U.S. -- Citizen Kane Premieres

  • The classic American film created by Orson Welles, "Citizen Kane," is released during this year.
More Information for the film Citizen Kane
1. The classic film "Citizen Kane" premieres in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles during May .
2. The film was released in the rest of the United States later that year.
3. The film was written by Orson Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz.
4. It was directed by Welles who also starred in the title role.
5. "Citizen Kane" was Welles' first feature film and he was given mostly free reign to create the film as he wished, which was unheard of at the time.
6. It told the life story of fictional newspaper magnate "Charles Foster Kane," who was widely believed to be based on real life magnate William Randolph Hearst.
6. Filmed in a style completely different to most movies of the era, it is often praised for its unique and revolutionary storytelling which featured a lot of flashbacks.
7. The initial reception of the film was tepid as many theaters refused to show it due to Hearst's opposition.
8. It was, however, nominated for nine Academy Awards and won for Best Writing.
9. "Citizen Kane" is still considered by many to be the greatest American film of all time.

Calendar For The Year 1941

1941 Calendar


Thanksgiving Day
  • A bill creates the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day

Popular Culture

  • Dumbo
  • The Maltese Falcon

Popular Musicians

  • "Chattanooga Choo Choo " by Glenn Miller
  • "Daddy " by Sammy Kaye
  • "Green Eyes " by Jimmy Dorsey
  • "I'll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time " Andrews Sisters

Born This Year

Linda McCartney September 24th
Chubby Checker October 3rd
Paul Simon October 13th
Pete Best ( Original Beatle ) November 24th
Paul Anka July 30th -- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Joan Baez January 9th -- Staten Island, New York, U.S.
Beau Bridges December 9th -- Los Angeles, California, USA
Mama Cass September 19th -- Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Dick Cheney January 30th -- Lincoln, Nebraska, United States
Julie Christie April 14th -- Chabua, Assam, British India
Desmond Dekker July 16th -- Kingston, Jamaica
Neil Diamond January 24th -- New York City, United States
Placido Domingo January 21st -- Madrid, Spain
Art Garfunkel November 5th -- Forest Hills, New York, U.S.
Wilson Pickett March 18th -- Prattville, Alabama, U.S.
Otis Redding September 9th -- Dawson, Georgia, U.S.
Percy Sledge November 25th -- Leighton, Alabama, U.S.
Martha Stewart August 3rd -- Jersey City, New Jersey U.S.
Tommy Thompson November 19th -- Elroy, Wisconsin, U.S.
Susannah York January 9th -- Chelsea, London, England


  • The first RAF aircraft equipped with radar
  • The Gloster-Whittle E 28/39 Jet aircraft flies successfully over Cranwell, England

Major World Political Leaders

Australia -- Prime Minister -- Robert Menzies -- Till 28 August
Australia -- Prime Minister -- Arthur Fadden -- From 28 August
Australia -- Prime Minister -- Arthur Fadden -- Till 7 October
Australia -- Prime Minister -- John Curtin -- From 7 October
Brazil -- President -- Getúlio Vargas --
Canada -- Prime Minister -- William Lyon Mackenzie King --
Germany -- Chancellor -- Adolf Hitler --
Italy -- Prime Minister -- Benito Mussolini --
Japan -- Prime Minister -- Fumimaro Konoe -- Till 18 October
Japan -- Prime Minister -- Hideki Tojo -- From 18 October
Mexico -- President -- Manuel Ávila Camacho --
Russia / Soviet Union -- General Secretary of the Central Committee -- Joseph Stalin --
South Africa -- Prime Minister -- Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts --
United States -- President -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --
United Kingdom -- Prime Minister -- Winston Churchill --