World War II

  • Germany Invades Czechoslovakia

    Germany Invades Czechoslovakia
    Britain and France acquiesced to Germany's rearmament (1935-37), remilitarization of the Rhineland (1936), and annexation of Austria (March 1938). In Sept. ‘38 the Czech border regions, the Sudetenland, were signed away to Germany. B and F responded by guaranteeing the integrity of Poland. Hitler negotiated a nonaggression deal, the German-Soviet Pact of August 1939, which would partition Poland between the two powers. It enabled Germany to attack Poland without fear of Soviet intervention.
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    World War II

  • Westerplatte, Poland

    Westerplatte, Poland
    Germany invaded Poland without warning sparking the start of World War Two. By the evening of September 3rd, Britain and France were at war with Germany and within a week, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa had also joined the war. Westerplatte's unexpectedly fierce resistance delayed the German occupation of the narrow Polish coastline, thereby indirectly saving the Polish Navy and embarrassing the Germans. The battle lasted until Sept. 7.
  • FDR Responds

    FDR Responds
    Following the German attack on Poland on September 1, Roosevelt soon proclaims a state of “limited national emergency” and then calls a special session of Congress to repeal the arms embargo. The U-S also proclaims its neutrality.
  • FDR and Einstein

    FDR and Einstein
    Roosevelt receives August 2 letter from Albert Einstein discussing the possibilities of an atomic bomb, and he creates the President's Advisory Committee on Uranium the following day.
  • Invasion of France--Sedan

    Invasion of France--Sedan
    The tactics of Blitzkrieg -- panzers working in close corrdination with the artillery and dive bombers (Stukas) -- achieved conspicuous successes. Germany's area of victories extended from the "impregnable" French Maginot line to Belgium, the edge of the English Channel, and the Netherlands to the north. French forces in the Allied line's vital center were shattered. In the north, Dutch armed forces were all but destroyed. The battle lasted until may 28.
  • Dunkirk

    Dunkirk
    The Germans force he evacuation of the British and other Allied troops from the European Continent but failed to deliver the devastating blow that might have altered the course of the war inexorably in their favor. The Allies lost thousands of prisoners; however, 338,226 soldiers were evacuated to England. The battle lasted until June 4.
  • France Surrenders

    France Surrenders
    France signs an armistice with Nazi Germany. Other countries that already had or would surrender to Germany: Holland, 5/14/40; Belgium, 5/28/40; Norway, 6/10/40; Yugoslavia, 4/17/41; Greece, 4/27/41. Paris is libertated Aug. 25, 1944.
  • Battle of Britain

    Battle of Britain
    The Luftwaffe attempted to destroy the Royal Air Force and later to raze British cities. Initially, the Germans needed control of the skies to cover Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of Great Britain. Later, the Blitz raids were primarily terror attacks. The Luftwaffe failed to subdue the RAF and break the will of the British people. Operation Sea Lion was cancelled. The battle lasted until May 10, 1941.
  • Britain Bombs Germany

    Britain Bombs Germany
    First British air raid on Berlin. Lasts two days.
  • Axis Powers

    Axis Powers
    Tripartite (Axis) Pact signed between Germany, Italy, and Japan. Hugary follows on 11/20/40 and Romania on 11/23/40.
  • Lend Lease

    Lend Lease
    Roosevelt signs the Lend Lease Bill, providing Allied nations Britain and Russia with war materials. This is later extended to China.
  • Hunt for the Bismark

    Hunt for the Bismark
    The Bismark and the Prinz Eugen tried to attack Allied shipping but were confronted by the Royal Navy. The Germans hoped to inflict substantial losses on Allied merchant shipping, thereby strangling the supply line to Great Britain. During the epic chase, the Royal Navy sank the Bismark. The Kriegsmarine mounted no more serious surface threat to Allied shipping in the Atlantic. The battle lasted until May 27.
  • Operation Barbarossa

    Operation Barbarossa
    Barbarossa was the decisive turning point of the war. If the Soviet Union survived the German onslaught of 3.3 million men and 3,000 tanks, Hitler's Reich would face a two-front war. By July 1941, when Finland had joined the German onslaught in the north, the Eastern Front would eventually stretch from the Black Sea to the Arctic North and the Germans would almost reach the gates of Moscow. The battle lasted until Dec. 5, 1941.
  • Siege of Leningrad

    Siege of Leningrad
    A partial blockade of Leningrad by Army Group North reduced the city to starvation conditions, the blockade being broken only by a succession of Soviet offensives over nearly three years. Leningrad was an early target of Operation Barbarossa, but by the end of 1943 the German operations there had little military function besides maintaining the overall German frontline. A million civilians died from starvation, bombing, and shelling. The siege lasted until Jan. 27, 1944.
  • Pearl Harbor Attacked

    Pearl Harbor Attacked
    Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. In the face of U-S and British sanctions, Japan needed to neutralize U-S naval power in the Pacific, at least temporarily, in order to seize British and Dutch resources in the region, especially oil. On the next day, Roosevelt asked Congress to acknowledge the state of war and declared the Japanese attack “a date which will live in infamy.”
  • Declarations of War

    Declarations of War
    Germany and Italy declare war on United States.
  • Bataan

    Bataan
    Capture of the Philippine Islands was crucial to Japan's effort to control the Southwest Pacific, seize the resource-rich Dutch East Indies, and protect its Southeast Asia flank. It was the largest United States surrender since the American Revolution. On April 9, 1942, remaining starving and emaciated American and Filipino defenders surrendered. The surrender of Bataan would hasten the fall of Corregidor, a month later. American and Filipino liberation forces finally Bataan on Feb. 8, 1945.
  • Japanese Interred

    Japanese Interred
    Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 resulting in the evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the Pacific coast to interior relocation camps.
  • Coral Sea

    Coral Sea
    About 500 miles northeast of Australia. In the spring of 1942, Japanese forces planned to invade southern New Guinea, designed to knock Australia and New Zealand out of the war. Though a draw, it was an important turning point in the war in the Pacific because, for the first time, the Allies had stopped the Japanese advance. Before the battle, the Japanese had enjoyed a continual string of victories while afterwards, it suffered an almost continual series of defeats. Lasted until May 8.
  • Midway

    Midway
    A Japanese armada of four aircraft carriers carrying 256 aircraft, 11 battleships, and numerous smaller vessels opposed an American force that included three aircraft carriers, 234 carrier-and land-based planes, and a variety of smaller craft. The Japanese attempted to capture Midway atolls. A turning point in the Pacific War, the battle was a devastating defeat for Japan. 4 aircraft carriers were sunk and the invasion of Midway was cancelled. The battle lasted until June 7.
  • Guadalcanal

    Guadalcanal
    Involved the U-S, Australia, and New Zealand versus Japanese ground, air, and naval forces. The island was important for both sides as a base for future operations. With its eventual success, the Allies won their first major ground victory against the Japanese. Despite heavy losses on both sides, the island was held by the Allies an used as a forward base. The battle lasted until Feb. 9, 1943.
  • Stalingrad

    Stalingrad
    This was part of a German campaigning to occupy the Soviet Union's southern oilfields in the Caucasus. German forces nearly succeeded in conquering Stalingrad, but with massive losses. A Soviet counteroffensive trapped 250,000 Germans within the city. About 100,000 were killed and 110,000 went to almost certain death in Soviet captivity. Stalingrad marked the beginning of the German defeat on teh Eastern Front. The battle lasted until Feb. 2, 1943.
  • El Alamein

    El Alamein
    El Alamein was a small Egyptian railway halt, 60 miles west of Alexandria. Growing British material strength allowed Montgomery to shift decisively to the offensive against Rommel's over-extended forces and finally ensure the safety of the Suez Canal and the Middle Eastern oil fields. Though Rommel was able to escape with a large proportion of his army, El Alamein marked a clear turning point in the Western Desert Campaign, shifting decisively to the Allies. The battle lasted until 11/4/42.
  • U-S Bombs Germany

    U-S Bombs Germany
    United States Army Air Force Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses carry out the first U-S heavy bomber attacks on the German cities of Emden and Wilhelmhaven.
  • Operation Torch/Tunisia

    Operation Torch/Tunisia
    By 4/43 the Allies had over 300,000 men in Tunisia: a 6-to-1 advantage in troops, a 15-to-1 superiority in tanks. Allied blockade of the Mediterranean also made it difficult for Germans to be supplied adequately. On 23rd April the 300,000 man force advanced along a 40 mile front. At the same time there was a diversionary attack by the 8th Army at Enfidaville. On 7th May 1943, British forces took Tunis and the US Army captured Bizerte. By 13th May all Axis forces in Tunisia surrendered.
  • Kursk

    Kursk
    Germany grouped 900,000 soldiers, 10,000 artillery guns, 2,700 tanks and 2,000 aircraft. About 1/3rd of all Germany’s military strength was concentrated in the area. The Russians also placed vast numbers and equipment in the Kursk bulge. 1.3 million soldiers were based there, 20,000 artillery pieces, 3,600 tanks and 2,400 planes. Greatest tank battle of the war took place, involving 1,500 tanks. This was the last major offensive Germany launched in Russia. Battle lasted until 7/13.
  • Anzio

    Anzio
    The Allied VI Corps suffered over 29,200 combat casualties. German combat losses were estimated at 27,500. The Anzio Campaign continues to be controversial. Allied forces were quickly pinned down and contained within a small beachhead, and they were effectively rendered incapable of conducting any sort of major offensive action for four months. Yet the Anzio beachhead guaranteed that the already steady drain of scarce German troops and materiel would continue unabated. Battle ended May 25.
  • Monte Cassino

    Monte Cassino
    Area surrounding Monte Cassino and the nearby town, just over 62 miles south of Rome. Cassino controlled the mouth of the Liri Valley and thus the most straightforward route to Rome. It was a series of offensives against the Gustav Line, a German defensive line anchored around the imposing position of Monte Cassino. Despite Allied efforts, the Germans held their position through the first 3 costly attritional battles, before the Gustav Line was finally broken across the front on May 18, 1944.
  • Operation Overlord

    Operation Overlord
    The British and Americans had long intended to return to Northern Europe, and Normandy provided suitable beaches within range of land-based air cover. This was the largest amphibious operation in history, marking the Western Allies return to Northwestern Europe. The Allies successfully established themselves ashore, thus opening the Second Front and marking a crucial turning point in the war.
  • Philippine Sea

    Philippine Sea
    The Japanese hoped to stem the tide of the U-S advance across the Pacific. The Japanese committed the majority of their air power against the U-S fleet. A decisive victory for the U-S Navy resulted in the virtual annihilation of Japanese carrier air power. The battle was over on the 20th.
  • Breakout from Normandy

    Breakout from Normandy
    Rather than withdraw to behind the Seine River once the Allies established their beachhead, German forces were ordered to hold their ground by Hitler, leading to a six-week attritional struggle. The German position in Normandy was broken and the Allies crossed the Seine, liberated Paris on Aug. 25 and embarked on a rapid advance westward across France toward Germany. It was a decisive strategic victory. The fighting lasted until Aug. 30.
  • Warsaw Rising

    Warsaw Rising
    More than 40,000 Polish irregulars fought 25,000 Germans, who had occupied Poland for 4 years. It was part of a nationwide rebellion intended to last for only a few days until the Soviet Army reached the city. However, it developed into a long urban guerrilla campaign. The uprising was ultimately put down with great losses on both sides. It is estimated that more than 200,000 civilians died in the fighting, while 700,000 were expelled from Warsaw. The fighting lasted until October.
  • Operation "Market Garden"

    Operation "Market Garden"
    Allied airborne and ground forces were opposed by German armored and infantry units, near Arnhem, Netherlands on the Rhine River. The Allies wanted to get across the Rhine quickly, bypassing major German defenses and trapping large numbers of German forces in the Netherlands. The advance was a success at first, but German resistance was heavier than expected. The operation was a failure, prolonging the war in northwestern Europe by at least a few months. This battle lasted until Sept. 25.
  • Leyte Gulf

    Leyte Gulf
    The US lost one light carrier and two escort carriers, two destroyers and a destroyer escort. The Imperial Navy lost one large carrier, three light carriers, three battleships, six heavy cruisers, four light cruisers, and twelve destroyers. Major-General J.F.C. Fuller: “The Japanese fleet had [effectively] ceased to exist and their opponents had won undisputed command of the sea.” The Japanese defeat at Leyte was tantamount to the loss of the Philippines. Ended Oct. 26.
  • Battle of the Bulge/Ardennes

    Battle of the Bulge/Ardennes
    Hitler hoped to divide Allied army groups in the West, drive to the port of Antwerp, and change the course of the war. He sought to gain time to confront the coming Soviet offensive along the Vistula River. The battle resulted in a disastrous defeat for the Nazis. Fewer than 4 months later, WW II in Europe was over. This battle lasted until Jan. 15, 1945.
  • Vistula

    Vistula
    Successful offensive took Soviet forces from the Vistula river in Poland to the Oder river then deep in Germany, about seventy kilometers from Berlin. German intelligence had estimated that the Soviet forces had a 3:1 numerical superiority; there was in fact a 5:1 superiority. On January 27, Soviet troops the Auschwitz concentration camp, finding graphic evidence of the Holocaust there. During January, the Germans also began to 'evacuate' remaining concentration camps. Battle ended March 30.
  • Yalta Conference

    Yalta Conference
    Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill agree on the division of postwar Germany, Poland's borders, and that Stalin would declare war on Japan. He did so on August 9.
  • Iwo Jima

    Iwo Jima
    Less than 700 miles from the Japanese home islands. U-S Marines attempted to capture the island in the Volcanoes Group because it could provide a staging area for future operations and a safe haven for crippled bombers returning from raids on Japanese cities. Marines captured Iwo Jima after more than a month of savage fighting. More than 20,000 Japanese soldiers were killed; 7,000 Americans were killed and 19,000 wounded. The battle lasted until March 26.
  • Burma

    Burma
    The Allies were ready to advance onto the central plains of Burma. Employing new tactics, using tanks and infantry, long columns advanced southwards, destroying Japanese piecemeal resistance. The problem of long supply columns was solved by air drops and air support began to be used more frequently. Amphibious landings also started to take place. Mandalay was captured on 20th March by 19th Indian Division. 2 months later Rangoon fell and Japanese troops retreated. Battle lasted until May 1.
  • Okinawa

    Okinawa
    The Allies launched the largest amphibious operation of the Pacific campaign. They captured Okinawa and 90% of the buildings on the island were completely destroyed. Okinawa provided fleet anchorage, troop staging areas, and airfields in close proximity to Japan, allowing the Allies to prepare for the invasion of Japan. The battle lasted until June 21. 548,000 Allied forces were involved with 1,300 ships, versus 100,000 Japanese ground, air, and naval forces.
  • Battle for Berlin

    Battle for Berlin
    Allies believed that only with the successful assault on Berlin and defeat of the forces controlling it could the war be brought to an irreversible conclusion. The Soviet Army's final offensive broke across the Oder and after vicious street-by-street fighting took the city. Victory was eventually assured for the Soviet Union as German forces, overwhelmed by 8 Soviet armies smashing their way through Berlin. The fighting lasted until May 2.
  • Hitler Suicide

    Hitler Suicide
    Adolf Hitler commits suicide.
  • V-E Day

    V-E Day
    Victory in Europe. This followed the unconditional surrender of all German forces to the Allies the previous day.
  • Atomic Bombs Dropped

    Atomic Bombs Dropped
    Truman announces the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, by a B-29 bomber of the U.S. Army Air Force. The second atomic bomb drops on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9.
  • End of the War

    End of the War
    Truman announces the end of war with Japan.