World War II Timeline

  • Japanese Invasion of China

    Japanese Invasion of China
    In the 1930s, China was a divided country as the communists fought the nationalist for control. In 1931, Japan saw this and invaded Manchuria for resources. In 1937, conflict emerged between the two empires. Many nations including the USSR and Nazi Germany(for a sort time) provided aid. A stalemate was reached in 1940 as western intervention(especially oil) costed Japan severely. This provoked Japan to attack Pearl Harbor. (
  • Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact

    Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact
    The German-Soviet Pact stated that Germany would provide the USSR with manufactured goods. In exchange the USSR would provide Germany with raw materials. This pact also led the nations to a nonaggression pact. This enabled Germany to attack Poland without Soviet interference. (
  • Germany's Invasion of Poland

    Germany's Invasion of Poland
    Germany launched an invasion into Poland testing a new military strategy called blitzkrieg. This was a result of the Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact. Once the attack occurred, Great Britain and France declared war on the Germany as they guaranteed Poland's safety. Italy then declared war on the two nations because of the alliance with Germany. Invasion concluded October 6, 1939. (
  • German Blitzkrieg

    German Blitzkrieg
    A German military tactic, translation literally lightning war, used to create disorganization among enemies. It used concentrated firepower and mobile forces. Tested it on Poland in 1939 before use in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France in 1940. Also used by Erwin Rommel in North Africa and George Patton in Europe. Tactic used until December 17, 1940. (
  • Fall of Paris

    Fall of Paris
    Before May 10 1940, Great Britain and France had very few encounters with Germany. The German plan of attack named Case Yellow ignited conflict. The German forces planned to avoid the French Maginot Line by invading Belgium and the Netherlands. The Allied defenses quickly fell. Soon the Germans surrounded British forces where the Battle of Dunkirk was devised. This German operation lasted until June 25,1940. (
  • Battle of Dunkirk

    Battle of Dunkirk
    On May 10, 1940, German tanks reached Amiens trapping the British. They were then forced to make an unlikely evacuation attempt. Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay appealed for civilian fishing vessels and other ships to ferry the British troops across the channel. Luckily Hitler stopped any further advances on Dunkirk so several British and French units escaped. Evacuation lasted until June 4, 1940. (
  • Operation Barbarossa

    Operation Barbarossa
    Germany launched a massive eastward attack on the USSR later on in the war. Major battles such as the Battle of Stalingrad were fought in this campaign. Hitler hoped to gain land and raw materials while also taking out a threat. Operation Barbarossa was the most crucial turning point of the war as its failure opened a second front on the east of Germany. Nazis were pushed back to the eastern front on December 5, 1941. (
  • Pearl Harbor

    Pearl Harbor
    Pearl Harbor marked the beginning of WWII for the United States. Japan struck a Hawaiian Naval Base sinking several ships. Luckily the submarines and aircraft carriers were out at the time of the attack helping the US in future battles. The day after the attack, FDR motioned for war. Congress declared war on Japan with only one dissenting vote. Right after Germany and Italy declared war on the US. (
  • Wannsee Conference

    Wannsee Conference
    The Wannsee Conference was held to determine the fate of Jews captured by Nazis. Hitler order Reinhard Heydrich to meet with Adolf Eichmann, chief of the Central Office of Jewish Emigration. Several options were discussed such as mass sterilization, deporting all Jews to Madagascar, and moving all Jews to Polish concentration camps. They were ruled out as it cost too much time. The two men then agreed upon the gas vans. (
  • Bataan Death March

    Bataan Death March
    When Japan started to attack the Philippines, Gen. MacArthur was determined to fight till the end. Once FDR pulled MacArthur out, the Japanese quickly took the islands. Once the island of Bataan was taken, the Americans were forced to make a 65 mile trek to prison camps. Many starved, suffered heat-related deaths, or were killed by Japanese soldiers. (
  • Battle of Midway

    Battle of Midway
    Six months after Pearl Harbor, the Americans and Japanese fought a battle that would become the turning point of the war in the Pacific Ocean. Intercepted Japanese telegrams mentioned an attack on the US island of Midway. Admiral Chester Nimitz gathered forces and ambushed Japanese forces. Several Japanese aircraft carriers were destroyed helping future battles. Battle concluded on June 7, 1942. (
  • Battle of Stalingrad

    Battle of Stalingrad
    One of the bloodiest battles of WWII was fought at Stalingrad. Hitler not only hoped to get raw materials from Stalingrad, he also wanted to take the city named after Stalin. The Germans managed to surround the Soviets and almost captured the city. While those in the city fought, other units went behind the invaders, cut off supplies, and then surrounded the Germans. German general Paulus surrendered on February 2, 1943. (
  • Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

    Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
    Residents of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, Poland stage an armed revolution against Nazi occupiers. They fought to stop deportations to concentration camps. This inspired many other ghettos in Europe to stand up and revolt. Goal was achieved on May 16, 1943. (
  • Operation Gomorrah

    Operation Gomorrah
    Also known as the Bombing of Hamburg, the British RAF bombarded Hamburg by night while Americans bombarded the city by day in their own "Blitz Week." Mainly was revenge from the attacks in earlier July. Only 12 bombers lost thanks to a new radar jamming device called "Window." Attacks lasted until November of that year. (
  • Allied Invasion of Italy

    Allied Invasion of Italy
    After Axis was pushed out of North Africa, the goal was to take out Germany's closest ally. Allies traveled across the Mediterranean from Africa into Italy. When German and Italian troops surrendered in Tunisia, the Allies knew where they would attack Italy from. Concluded on September 16, 1943. (
  • D-Day (Normandy Invasion)

    D-Day (Normandy Invasion)
    The largest amphibious assault in history opened another front against Germany. American, British, and Canadian forces landed in several French beaches and started to push the Germans back. The British set up fake armies north of the planned beaches to pull Germans away from the targets. The Invasion of Normandy allowed the Allies to liberate France and push the German back to their homeland. (
  • Battle of the Buldge

    Battle of the Buldge
    "Hitler's Last Stand" marked Germany's last offensive. This battle took place in the woods of Belgium. Hitler tried to split the Allied offensive with surprise blitzkrieg attacks. The Allied offensive took the appearance of a large bulge giving the battle the name. The Allies won January 25, 1945. (
  • Operation Thunderclap

    Operation Thunderclap
    Operation Thunderclap was meant to bomb eastern German cities to not only show strength, but also to help Stalin on the eastern front. Dresden was the main target being one of Germany's largest cities. Many factors were considered before the bombing and most were in the RAF's favor. This was most likely the most destructive bombing in WWII. Eight square miles of city ruined from the bombing. (
  • Battle of Iwo Jima

    Battle of Iwo Jima
    The US invasion of Iwo Jima stemmed from the need for a base near the Japanese coast to conduct aerial attacks. The island was defended by roughly 23,000 Japanese army and navy troops, who fought from an elaborate network of caves, dugouts, tunnels and underground installations. Despite these installations and other setbacks, the US marines captured the island. The battle lasted until March 26, 1945. (
  • Battle of Okinawa

    Battle of Okinawa
    Last and biggest of the Pacific island battles of World War II, the Okinawa campaign involved the 287,000 US troops and 130,000 Japanese troops. Just like Iwo Jima, the US wanted Okinawa to carry out aerial attacks on Japan. The island's defenders' changed from their usual tactics and sent their last big battleship to try to defend the island. The battle lasted until June 22, 1945. (
  • VE Day

    VE Day
    In Prague, Germans surrendered to their Soviet antagonists, after the latter had lost more than 8,000 soldiers, and the Germans considerably more; in Copenhagen and Oslo; at Karlshorst, near Berlin; in northern Latvia; on the Channel Island of Sark—the German surrender was realized in a final cease-fire. More surrender documents were signed in Berlin and in eastern Germany. (
  • Potsdam Declaration

    Potsdam Declaration
    The Potsdam Conference was the last of the WWII meetings held by the “Big Three” heads of state (Truman, Churchill, and Stalin.) They agreed that only "unconditional surrender" would be accepted from Japan. The Potsdam Declaration was issued demanding Japan to surrender. (
  • Little Boy Dropped over Hiroshima

    Little Boy Dropped over Hiroshima
    American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, drops the world’s first atomic bomb, over the city of Hiroshima. Approximately 80,000 people are killed as a direct result of the blast, and another 35,000 are injured. Truman, discouraged by the Japanese response to the Potsdam Declaration, made the decision to use the atom bomb to end the war. (
  • Fat Man Dropped over Nagasaki

    Fat Man Dropped over Nagasaki
    The devastation wrought at Hiroshima was not sufficient to convince the Japanese War Council to accept the Potsdam Conference’s demand for unconditional surrender. The United States had already planned to drop their second atomic bomb, nicknamed “Fat Man.” The bomb would be dropped from a specially adapted B-29 bomber, called “Bock’s Car.” (
  • VJ Day

    VJ Day
    On August 14, 1945, it was announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, effectively ending World War II. Since then, both August 14 and August 15 have been known as “V-J Day.” The term has also been used for September 2, 1945, when Japan’s formal surrender took place aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay. (