Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 79 November 18, 1939

At 10.30 AM Dutch liner Simon Bolivar hits a German magnetic mine laid yesterday in the English Channel, 10 miles east of Harwich. Out of 400 onboard, including 30 children, 86 are killed. International law requires notification of mine-laying in shipping lanes, leading to widespread public outrage in England and Holland. Holland protests to Germany in vain.

German merchant ship SS Borkum, running supplies to Germany through the British blockade, is stopped in the Denmark Strait by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS California. A British prize crew is put on board and sails Borkum towards Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands.

Hitler receives a memo from General Blaskowitz, Wehrmacht Commander in Poland, complaining about SS and Einsatzgruppen atrocities and the effects on ordinary soldiers. The memo annoys everyone from Hitler and Himmler to Chief of Staff Alfred Jodl. Blaskowitz is blacklisted from command in the invasion of France.

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