A Year In History: 1944

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This Year in History:


Discover what happened in this year with HISTORY’s summaries of major events, anniversaries, famous births and notable deaths.

January 31

D-Day is postponed

June 6, 1944 is considered one of the most pivotal moments in modern history. Better known by its codename, D-Day, the Allied assault on five beaches in Nazi-occupied France was the result of over a year of planning and jockeying amongst various military and political leaders. On January 31, 1944, several key leaders agreed to […]

February 21

Japanese prime minister Hideki Tojo makes himself “military czar”

On February 21, 1944, Hideki Tojo, prime minister of Japan, grabs even more power as he takes over as army chief of staff, a position that gives him direct control of the Japanese military. After graduating from the Imperial Military Academy and the Military Staff College, Tojo was sent to Berlin as Japan’s military attache […]

March 4

Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, the head of Murder, Inc., is executed

Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, the head of Murder, Inc., is executed at Sing Sing Prison in New York. Lepke was the leader of the country’s largest crime syndicate throughout the 1930s and was making nearly $50 million a year from his various enterprises. His downfall came when several members of his notorious killing squad turned into […]

June 6

D-Day: Allies storm Normandy’s coast

On June 6, 1944, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the go-ahead for the largest amphibious military operation in history: Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of northern France, commonly known as D-Day. By daybreak, 18,000 British and American parachutists were already on the ground. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover […]

June 15

American bombers deluge Budapest—with leaflets

On June 15, 1944, American aircraft bomb German-occupied Budapest—with leaflets threatening “punishment” for those responsible for the deportation of Hungarian Jews to the gas chambers at Auschwitz. The U.S. government wanted the SS and Hitler to know it was watching, to deter further deportations. Admiral Miklas Horthy, regent and virtual dictator of Hungary, vehemently anticommunist […]

June 19

In Battle of the Philippine Sea, U.S. cripples Japanese naval air power

On June 19, 1944, the U.S. begins a two-day attack that decimates Japan’s aircraft carrier force—and shifts the balance of naval air power in World War II‘s Pacific theater. The Battle of the Philippine Sea, an epic carrier duel that came to be known as the “Marianas Turkey Shoot,” would incur only a minimum of […]

June 22

FDR signs G.I. Bill

On June 22, 1944, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill, an unprecedented act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services—known as G.I.s—for their efforts in World War II. As the last of its sweeping New Deal reforms, Roosevelt’s administration created the G.I. Bill (officially the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act […]