WW2 Timeline and Dates

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75 million people dead. 20 million soldiers; 40 million civilians. 
6 million Jews murdered by the brutal and wicked Nazi regime. 
5 world superpowers, supported by hundreds of smaller countries and colonies.
8 years that defined the course of the world. 
2 bombs that changed history, forever.

World War II is a story of tragedy and triumph. 

Brought on by the rise of imperialistic, fascist, and cruel regimes — born in the desperation of the Great Depression and fueled by vile delusions of racial supremacy — and run by villains who more closely resemble monsters, it was the defining conflict of the 20th century.

Its impacts can be seen in nearly every aspect — within the very fabric — of our modern world. 

The World War II timeline is wrought with events that speak to the horror and misery that possessed the conflict in all forms, but it also speaks to the unbreakable will of people from all around the world who persevered through tremendous hardship to stay alive. 

It’s filled with decisions, victories, and defeats that reshaped the global political landscape and redirected the course of human history.

So while we should all hope to never have to relive the terrors of World War II, we should also do our best to not only remember, but deeply understand what occurred during the eight long years of a global war. 

We can learn from what happened, and do everything in our power to prevent it from ever happening again.

1918

11/11/1918 – World War One Armistice signed

1919

6/28/1919Treaty of Versailles signed

1920

1/16/1920League of Nations meets for the first time

1921

7/29/1921Adolf Hitler assumes control of National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party

1922

10/24/1922 – Benito Mussolini calls for fascist “Blackshirts” to March on Rome
10/29/1922 – Mussolini appointed Premier by King Victor Emmanuel III

1923

11/8-9/1923 – Hitler’s Munich Beer Hall Putsch fails

1925

1/3/1925 – Mussolini dismisses Italian parliament, begins to assume dictatorial powers
7/18/1925 – Hitler’s treatise, Mein Kampf, is published

1929

10/29/1929 – Wall Street Stock Market crashes

1931

9/18/1931 – Japanese Army invades Manchuria

1932

11/8/1932 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected President of the United States

1933

1/30/1933 – Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg
2/27/1933 – German Reichstag burns down; communists blamed, arrested.
3/23/1933 – Enabling Act passed by Reichstag; Hitler assumes dictatorial power
7/14/1933 – Nazi party declared official party of Germany; all other parties banned
10/14/1933 – Germany quits League of Nations

1934

6/30/1934 – Hitler orders murder of SA Chief Ernst Roehm in “Night of the Long Knives”
8/2/1934 – German President Paul von Hindenburg dies
8/19/1934 – Hitler combines the offices of president and chancellor; assumes the title of Fuhrer

1935

3/16/1935 – Military conscription introduced in Germany in violation of Versailles treaty
9/15/1935 – Nuremberg race laws promulgated
10/3/1935 – Italian Army invades Ethiopia

1936

3/7/1936 – German troops remilitarize the Rhineland in violation of Versailles treaty
5/9/1936 – Italian campaign in Ethiopia ends
7/17/1936 – Spanish Civil War breaks out; Hitler and Mussolini send aid to Franco
10/1/1936 – Franco becomes dictator of Spain
10/25/1936 – Rome-Berlin “Axis” alliance formed

1937

1/19/1937Japan withdraws from Washington Conference Treaty limiting the size of its navy
5/28/1937 – Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister of England
6/11/1937Josef Stalin begins purge of Red Army
7/7/1937 – Full-scale war erupts between China and Japan

1938

3/12/1938 – Germany invades Austria; Anschluss (union) proclaimed
10/15/1938 – Germany troops occupy Sudetenland
11/9-10/1938 – Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass)

1939

3/15-16/1939 – German troops occupy the rest of Czechoslovakia in violation of Munich Agreement
3/28/1939 – Spanish Civil War ends
8/23/1939 – Nazi-Soviet nonagression pact signed
9/1/1939 – German Army invades Poland
9/3/1939 – Britain and France declare war on Germany
9/17/1939 – Red Army invades Poland in accordance with Nazi-Soviet Pact
9/27/1939 – Warsaw falls to the Nazis
11/30/1939 – Red Army attacks Finland
9/14/1939 – Soviet Union kicked out of League of Nations

1940

3/12/1940 – Finland signs peace treaty with Soviet Union
4/9/1940 – German Army invades Denmark and Norway
5/10/1940 – German Army invades France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; Winston Churchill appointed British Prime Minister
5/15/1940 – Holland capitulates to Nazis
5/26/1940 – “Miracle at Dunkirk”
5/28/1940 – Belgium capitulates to Nazis
6/10/1940 – Norway capitulates to Nazis; Italy declares war on Britain and France
6/14/1940 – Nazis take Paris
6/22/1940 – France capitulates to Nazis
7/10/1940 – Battle of Britain begins
7/23/1940 – Red Army takes Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia
8/3/1940 – Italian Army invades British Somaliland
8/13/1940 – Luftwaffe begins raids on British airfields and aircraft factories
8/23-24/1940 – Off-course German bombers accidentally bomb London
8/25-26/1940 – Royal Air Force mounts reprisal raid against Berlin
9/7/1940 – German “blitz” on British cities begins in earnest
9/13/1940 – Italian Army attacks Egypt
9/16/1940 – Military conscription introduced in United States
9/27/1940 – Tripartite alliance formed between Germany, Italy and Japan
10/7/1940 – German troops occupy Romania
10/28/1940 – Italian Army attacks Greece
11/5/1940 – Roosevelt re-elected
11/10-11/1940 – RAF raid cripples Italian fleet at Taranto
11/20/1940 – Romania joins Axis
12/9-10/1940 – British counter-attack begins against Italian Army in North Africa

1941

1/22/1941 – British take Tobruk in North Africa from Nazis
2/11/1941 – British Army attacks Italian Somaliland
2/12/1941 – Erwin Rommel assumes command of German Afrika Korps
3/7/1941 – British Army comes to the aid of Greece
3/11/1941 – Lend-Lease Act signed by Roosevelt
4/6/1941 – German Army hastily invades Yugoslavia and Greece
4/17/1941 – Yugoslavia capitulates to Nazis
4/27/1941 – Greece capitulates to Nazis
5/10/1941 – Rudolf Hess flies to Scotland on “peace mission”
5/15/1941 – British counter-attack in Egypt
5/24/1941 – German battleship Bismarck sinks Hood, pride of the Royal Navy
5/27/1941 – Royal Navy sinks Bismarck
6/8/1941 – British Army invades Lebanon and Syria
6/22/1941 – Hitler launches operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union
6/28/1941 – Germans capture Soviet city of Minsk
7/3/1941 – Stalin launches “scorched earth” policy
7/31/1941 – Planning begins for “Final Solution,” the systematic destruction of the Jews
8/12/1941 – Atlantic Charter signed by Roosevelt and Churchil
8/20/1941 – German siege of Soviet city of Leningrad begins
9/1/1941 – Jews order to wear yellow Star of David
9/19/1941 – Germans capture Soviet city of Kiev
9/29/1941 – German SS mass murders Russian Jews at Kiev
10/16/1941 – Germans capture Soviet city of Odessa
10/17/1941 – Hideki Tojo becomes Prime Minister of Japan
10/24/1941 – Germans capture Soviet city of Kharkov
10/30/1941 – German Army occupies the Crimea
11/20/1941 – Germans capture the Soviet city of Rostov
11/27/1941 – Red Army retakes Rostov
12/6/1941 – Red Army launches major counter-offensive
12/7/1941 – Japanese attack naval base at Pearl Harbor
12/8/1941 – Roosevelt gives “Day of Infamy” speech; Britian and the United States declare war on Japan
12/11/1941 – Germany declares war on the United States
12/16/1941 – Rommel’s Afrika Korps forced to retreat in North Africa
12/19/1941 – Hitler assumes post of Commander in Chief of German Army

1942

1/1/1942 – Mass gassing of Jews begins at Auschwitz
1/1/1942 – Allies forge Declaration of the United Nations
1/13/1942 – German U-boats begin sinking ships off American coast in “Operation Drumbeat
1/20/1942 – Nazis coordinate “Final Solution” efforts at Wannsee Conference
1/21/1942 – Rommel counter-attacks in North Africa
4/1/1942 – American citizens of Japanese descent forced into “relocation centers
5/8/1942 – Germans launch summer offensive in the Crimea
5/30/1942 – Royal Air Force launches first 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne, German
6/4/1942 – Japanese Navy resoundingly defeated at Battle of Midway–war reaches its turning point in the Pacific; S.S. Leader Rheinhardt Heydrich dies of wounds sustained in partisan attack at Prague
6/5/1942 – German siege of Sevastopol begins
6/10/1942 – Nazis annihilate Czech town of Lidice in retaliation for Heydrich’s assassination
6/21/1942 – German Afrika Korps recaptures Tobruk
7/3/1942 – Sevastopol falls to German Army
7/5/1942 – Nazi conquest of Crimea achieved
7/9/1942 – German Army begins push towards Stalingrad
8/7/1942 – General Bernard Montgomery assumes command of British Eighth Army in North Africa
8/7/1942Battle of Guadalcanal
9/13/1942German attack on Stalingrad begins
11/3/1942 – Afrika Korps decisively defeated by British at El Alamein
11/8/1942 – Allied invasion of North Africa begins in “Operation Torch”
11/11/1942 – Axis forces occupy Vichy France
11/19/1942 – Soviet forces encircle German Sixth Army at Stalingrad
12/31/1942 – German and British ships engage in the Battle of the Barents Sea

1943

1/2-3/1943 – German Army retreats from Caucasus
1/10/1943 – Red Army begins siege of German-occupied Stalingrad
1/14-23/1943 – Roosevelt and Churchill meet at Casablanca, issue unconditional surrender demand
1/23/1943 – British forces take Tripoli
1/27/1943 – U.S. Air Force opens daylight bombing campaign with attack on Wilhelmshaven, Germany
2/2/1943 – German Sixth Army at Stalingrad surrenders to the Russians; war in Europe reaches its turning point
2/8/1943 – Red Army takes Kursk
2/14-25/1943 – Battle of Kasserine Pass fought in North Africa between German and U.S. forces
2/16/1943 – Red Army retakes Kharkov
3/2/1943 – Afrika Korps withdraws from Tunisia
3/15/1943 – Germany Army recaptures Kharkov
3/16-20/1943 – German submarines achieve their largest tonnage total of the war
4/19/1943 – S.S. begins “liquidation” of the Warsaw ghetto
5/7/1943 – Allies capture Tunisia
5/13/1943 – Remaining Axis troops in North Africa surrender to Allies
5/16-17/1943 – RAF targets German industry in the Ruhr
5/22/1943 – U-boat operations suspended in the North Atlantic due to steep losses
6/11/1943 – Nazis order destruction of Polish ghettos
7/5/1943 – Largest tank battle in history begins at Kursk
7/9-10/1943 – Allied forces land on Sicily
7/22/1943 – American forces take Palermo, Sicily
7/25-26/1943 – Mussolini and the Fascists overthrown
7/27-28/1943 – Allied bombing raid creates firestorm in Hamburg, Germany
8/12-17/1943 – Axis forces withdraw from Sicily
8/17/1943 – USAF suffers steep losses in bombing run on ball-bearing plants at Regensburg and Schweinfurt, Germany
8/23/1943 – Red Army retakes Karkhov
9/8/1943 – New Italian government announces Italy’s surrender
9/9/1943 – Allied forces land in Salerno and Taranto, Italy
9/11/1943 – German Army occupies Italy
9/12/1943 – Nazi commandos rescue Mussolini
9/23/1943 – Fascist government re-established in Italy
10/1/1943 – Allies take Naples
11/6/1943 – Red Army recaptures Kiev
11/28/1943 – “Big Three” of Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill meet at Tehran
12/24-26/1943 – Soviets begin large offensive in Ukraine

1944

1/6/1944 – Red Army advances into Poland
1/22/1944 – Allied forces land at Anzio, Italy
1/27/1944 – Red Army breaks 900-day siege of Leningrad
1/31/1944 – American forces invade Kwajalein
2/16/1944 – German 14th Army counter-attacks at Anzio
2/18-22/1944 – American forces take Eniwetok
4/8/1944 – Red Army begins offensive in the Crimea
5/9/1944 – Soviet troops recapture Sevastopol
5/12/1944 – German forces in the Crimea surrender
6/5/1944 – Allied forces enter Rome
6/6/1944 – D-Day: invasion of Europe begins with Allied landings at Normandy
6/9/1944 – Red Army advances into Finland
6/13/1944 – Germans begin launching V-1 rockets against London
6/15/1944 – American marines invade Saipan
6/19-20/1944 – “Marianas Turkey Shoot” results in destruction of over 200 Japanese aircraft
6/22/1944 – Red Army begins massive summer offensive
6/27/1944 – American forces liberate Cherbourg
7/3/1944 – Soviet forces recapture Minsk
7/9/1944 – Allied troops liberate Caen
7/18/1944 – American troops liberate St Lo.
7/20/1944 – Hitler survives assassination attempt
7/24/1944 – Soviet forces liberate concentration camp at Majdanek
7/25-30/1944 – Allied forces break-out of Normandy encirclement in “Operation Cobra”
7/28/1944 – Red Army recaptures Brest-Litovsk
8/1/1944 – Polish Home Army begins revolt against Nazis in Warsaw
8/15/1944 – Allies invade Southern France
8/19-20/1944 – Soviet forces invade Romania
8/23/1944 – Rumania capitulates to Soviets
8/25/1944 – Paris liberated
8/31/1944 – Red Army takes Bucharest
9/3/1944 – Brussels liberated
9/4/1944 – Antwerp liberated
9/8/1944 – Soviets and Finns sign peace treaty
9/13/1944 – American troops reach the Siegfried Line in western Germany
9/26/1944 – Red Army occupies Estonia
10/2/1944 – Nazis brutally crush revolt in Warsaw; Allies advance into Germany
10/5/1944 – British invade Greece
10/14/1944 – British liberate Athens; Rommel forced to commit suicide for alleged involvement in July assassination plot against Hitler
10/20/1944 – Belgrade, Yugoslavia falls to Soviet forces
10/23-26/1944 – U.S. naval forces destroy remnants of Japanese Navy at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval engagement in history
11/7/1944 – Roosevelt elected to fourth term
12/3/1944 – Civil war erupts in Greece; Japanese retreat in Burma
12/15/1944 – American forces invade Phillipine island of Mindoro
12/16/1944 – German Army launches “Battle of the Bulge” offensive on the Western Front
12/17/1944 – Waffen SS executes 81 American prisoners of war in “Malmedy Massacre”

1945

1/9/1945 – American forces invade Phillipine island of Luzon
1/16/1945 – Battle of the Bulge ends in German defeat
1/17/1945 – Red Army liberates Warsaw
1/19/1945 – German lines on Eastern Front collapse; full retreat begins
1/20/1945 – Hungary signs armistice with Allies
1/26/1945 – Soviets liberate Auschwitz
1/27/1945 – Red Army occupies Lithuania
2/4-11/1945 – Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin meet at Yalta Conference
2/13-14/1945 – Allied incendiary raid creates firestorm in Dresden
2/19/1945 – American forces land on Iwo Jima
3/1/1945The Battle of Okinawa
3/3/1945 – American forces liberate Manila in the Phillipines; Finland declares war on Germany
3/7/1945 – Allies capture Cologne; Ludendorff Rail Bridge on Rhine River captured intact at Ramagen
3/9/1945 – Tokyo firebombed
3/16/1945 – Japanese resistance on Iwo Jima ends
3/21/1945 – Allies take Mandalay, Burma
3/30/1945 – Red Army liberates Danzig
4/1/1945 – American troops encircle German forces in the Ruhr
4/12/1945 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies of stroke; Harry Truman becomes President; Allies liberate Belsen and Buchenwald concentration camps
4/16/1945 – Red Army launches Berlin offensive; Allies take Nuremberg
4/18/1945 – German forces in the Ruhr capitulate
4/28/1945 – Mussolini hanged by Italian partisans; Venice falls to Allied forces
4/29/1945 – Dachau concentration camp liberated
4/30/1945 – Adolf Hitler and wife Eva Braun commit suicide in Chancellery bunker
5/2/1945 – All German forces in Italy surrender
5/7/1945 – Unconditional surrender of all German forces
5/8/1945 – Victory in Europe (VE) Day
5/23/1945 – SS Reichfuhrer Heinrich Himmler commits suicide
6/5/1945 – Allies divide Germany into occupation zones
6/26/1945 – United Nations World Charter signed in San Francisco
7/16/1945 – First U.S. atomic bomb tested at Los Alamos, New Mexico; Potsdam Conference begins
7/26/1945 – Clement Attlee becomes British Prime Minister
8/6/1945 – First atomic bomb dropped Hiroshima
8/8/1945 – Soviet Union declares war on Japan; Soviet forces invade Manchuria
8/9/1945 – Second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki
8/14/1945 – Unconditional surrender of Japanese forces
8/15/1945 – Victory over Japan (VJ) Day
9/2/1945 – Japanese delegation signs instrument of surrender aboard battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay
11/20/1945 – Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal begins

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