Can You Name These Significant Events of 1941?



By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: Priest, L C (Lt), Royal Navy official photographer

About This Quiz

If you had to pick five of the most momentous years of the 20th century, what would they be? Would you go with 1914, the year that the Great War began? Or perhaps you’d prefer the calamities of 1939 … or maybe 1963? 

In terms of major cataclysms, it would be tough to pick against 1941. It was the year that the Axis war machines sent German, Japanese and Italian troops swooping in with imperialistic designs the world over. In this fraught-with-danger quiz, what do you remember about the history of 1941?

There were a multitude of significant events in 1941. In Europe, Germany’s Third Reich was already in control of much of Western Europe, including Paris. And still, the United States was doing what it could to avoid direct military action. Instead, American leaders opted to inject their influence through weapons and war materiel of all kinds, hoping to the turn the tide against Hitler and his cronies. What do you recall about the biggest dates in the early war?

In response to the war, there were shifts in culture, too. Everything from movies to comics changed to reflect the world’s darkening mood.

Plunge into the fray of this history quiz now! What do you really remember about the biggest dates of 1941?

On January 20, 1941, which president was sworn into office?

On January 20, 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn into his third term as president. No other U.S. president has ever been elected three times, and thanks to current congressional limitations, no one ever will be again.


Which America superhero made his debut in 1941?

In 1941, the "Captain America" comics made their debut. As it turned out, he was just the hero that America needed for troubled and uncertain times.


On May 15, 1941, a German ship sank a U.S. merchant vessel named the Robin Moor. How did the U.S. respond?

The sinking of the Robin Moor escalated tensions between the U.S. and Germany. Roosevelt declared a national emergency … but not war.


On March 30, 1941, what did the Coast Guard do regarding Axis ships in America'a ports?

On March 30, 1941, the U.S. Coast Guard seized dozens of Axis ships still floating in America ports. Then, it held them in what was called "protective custody."


The Lend-Lease Act was signed on March 11, 1941. This act had a major impact on which event?

President Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act on March 11. This act authorized the U.S. to provide war goods to forces that aligned themselves against the Axis, namely Western Europe, China and the USSR.


Several major countries needed the Lend-Lease Act to survive the war. How much did they pay for the goods they received from the U.S.?

The Lend-Lease Act gave vital war goods to Allied nations at no cost. The benefit to the U.S., of course, was that these countries could continue to fight in the war … keeping the Axis far from America's physical shores.


In 1941, the Nazis began killing children and adults with which traits?

Hitler's dream of a perfect race of people didn't have room for people with disabilities. In 1941, the Nazis began murdering children and adults who exhibited signs of serious disabilities.


On April 13, 1941, the USSR signed a non-aggression pact with which nation?

On April 13, 1941, the USSR signed a non-aggression pact with Japan. For a while, that pact held … but the war's bloody circumstances ultimately shifted many alliances.


Which iconic film debuted in May 1941?

Directed by Orson Welles, "Citizen Kane" is one of the most iconic movies of the 20th century. It won an Oscar for best writing.


Operation Barbarossa was Germany's attempt to subdue which country?

With his offensives against Britain at a standstill, Hitler turned his attentions eastward with Operation Barbarossa. The operation targeted Germany's one-time ally, the USSR.


In 1941, what happened at a large ravine Ukrainians called Babi Yar?

In September 1941, German forces began massacring civilians -- mostly Jewish -- and throwing their bodies into the Babi Yar ravine. Nearly 34,000 Jews were executed by machine gun.


On September 8, 1941, which country initiated the Siege of Leningrad?

In September 1941, Germany began its blockade of Leningrad. The agonizing siege lasted until 1944 and killed more than 1 million civilians.


Which iconic American landmark was completed in 1941?

After 14 years of drilling, workers finally completed Mount Rushmore. The monument included four of America's iconic leaders, and no, it didn't include anyone named Donald.


In June 1941, how did President Roosevelt drastically change America's war industry?

In June 1941, racial tensions were affecting national unity. Roosevelt forcibly desegregated all war-related companies and essentially told everyone that we needed to get along in order to beat the Nazis.


Which iconic food product first appeared in America in 1941?

In 1941, Cheerios cereal was unveiled. In the decades since then, millions of toddlers have smashed the little O-shaped bits into car seats and carpet the world over.


The Siege of Tobruk lasted for 241 days in 1941. Where did this siege take place?

A battered Allied force took shelter at a garrison at Tobruk, Libya in the spring of 1941. For 241 days they held on, until finally they received reinforcements that helped them beat back the Axis.


On June 22, 1941, America extended its Lend-Lease Program to which nation?

When Germany attacked the USSR, America saw its chance to bring the Soviets into the fold of the Allies. It extended the Lend-Lease Act to the Soviets, and eventually provided the Red Army with invaluable weapons.


On September 4, a German U-boat fired on a ship from the U.S. What was America's war stance at the time of the attack?

In early September, a German sub took a shot at the USS Greer … but the U.S. was still officially neutral. The event escalated tensions between the two countries.


Who gave a famous "Four Freedoms" speech in 1941?

On January 6, President Roosevelt gave his "Four Freedoms" speech. It it, he aired the four freedoms that he felt were critical to basic human rights throughout the world.


The capture of Leningrad was one of the goals of Operation _____.

Operation Barbarossa was Germany's attempt to capture the USSR. As part of that plan, the Nazis wanted to attack and occupy Leningrad. But that plan didn't work out.


Britain's HMS Hood was a battleship that seemed invulnerable. What happened to her at the Battle of Denmark Strait?

In the May 1941 Battle of Denmark Strait, the huge, heavily-armored HMS Hood went confidently into battle … and was completely destroyed by German forces. Only three of her crew survived on the onslaught.


On February 9, 1941, British leader Winston Churchill gave a worldwide address. What did he ask for?

Churchill famously said, "Give us the tools, and we will finish the job." He asked for weapons to help beat back the Nazi attacks on Western Europe. He got his wish.


On December 7, 1941, which country attacked Pearl Harbor?

President Roosevelt called it a date which shall live in "infamy." On December 7, 1941, Japan devastated Pearl Harbor with a surprise attack and sucked the U.S. into WWII.


Operation Crusader was a major offensive by the Allies in which area?

With Operation Crusader, the Allies wanted to relieve the beleaguered men suffering at the Siege of Tobruk. But their advance failed at first, until German generals decided to withdraw due to supply problems.


Which incredibly famous candy got its start in 1941?

The candy that melts in your mouth, not in your hand first appeared in 1941. But believe us -- if you leave a handful of M&Ms on your dashboard in July, they're gonna make a mess.


In July, Congress authorized the creation of which national park?

In July 1941, Congress approved the formation of Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. The park includes parts of the enormous cave, which is the longest known cave system on the planet.


On December 23, Japanese forces attacked the U.S.-held Wake Island. What happened?

With reinforcements, Japan attacked and conquered Wake Island. The Japanese held the island until the end of the war.


In 1941, which man founded the Communist Viet Minh in Vietnam?

In 1941, Ho Chi Minh started the Communist Viet Minh in Vietnam. A generation later, that group would confront U.S. forces in the Vietnam War.


On December 6, 1941, President Roosevelt essentially pleaded for peace with which country?

On December 6, Roosevelt made a directed a plea for peace to the Emperor of Japan. The words fell on deaf ears … and the next day, Pearl Harbor was in flames.


In July 1941, U.S. officials opened the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama. How did this base become famous?

The Tuskegee Army Air Field became a famous training area for black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. These fighter pilots held their own in WWII.


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