WWII timeline

  • Benito Mussolini's fascist government in Italy

    Benito Mussolini's fascist government in Italy
    Unemployment and inflation in Italy led to strikes which caused the upper and middle classes to want stronger leadership, letting Mussolini take control. He played on the fear of economic collapse and communism, winning the support of many Italians. He established the Fascist Party with the goal of strengthening the nation over the interest of the individual. He and his followers (Black Shirts) marched on Rome, leading Mussolini to become head of the government.
  • Mein Kampf

    Mein Kampf
    Written from prison, Hitler's book lays out the basics of Nazism that became the plan of action for the Nazi Party. It was based on extreme nationalism and planned to unite all the German-speaking people in a great German empire.
  • Japanese Invasion of Manchuria

    Japanese Invasion of Manchuria
    Nationalist military leaders were trying to take control of the imperial Japanese government. Ignoring moderate officials, they launched a surprise attack on Manchuria and controlled the entire province within several months. The League of Nations was sent to investigate and condemned Japan so they left the League. The success of the invasion put the militarists in control of the Japanese government.
  • Storm Troopers

    Storm Troopers
    6 million Germans were unemployed by 1932. Out of desperation they joined Hitler's private army, also called the Brown Shirts.
  • Third Reich

    Third Reich
    When Hitler was appointed chancellor, he quickly dismantled the Weimar Republic and replaced it with the Third Reich or the Third German Empire which would supposedly last 1,000 years.
  • Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany

    Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany
    Hitler joined the National Socialist German Worker's Party, and became its leader. His belief of Nazism was based on extreme nationalism and the purification of the German state. He also believed Germany should expand (lebensraum). Because of the negative impact of the Depression, the people turned to Hitler in desperation. He became Chancellor and then quickly destroyed the Weimar Republic and formed the Third Reich.
  • Hitler's military build-up in Germany

    Hitler's military build-up in Germany
    Hitler pulled Germany out of the League and then began a military buildup in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia

    Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia
    In an attempt to build his new Roman empire, Mussolini targeted Ethiopia. By the fall of 1935, troops stood ready to invade. When the invasion began, the League imposed economic sanctions that failed to have any real impact. By May 1936, Ethiopia had fallen. When the emperor asked the League for help, they did nothing.
  • Hitler Invades the Rhineland

    Hitler Invades the Rhineland
    Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles because the Rhineland was supposed to be a demilitarized buffer zone between Germany, France, and Belgium. The League did not stop him.
  • Francisco Franco

    Francisco Franco
    A group of Spanish army officers led by Franco rebelled against the Spanish Republic. Revolts broke out all over Spain and the Spanish Civil War broke out. The war inspired people all over the world and the American Abraham Lincoln Battalion went to fight Franco. The limited aid was not enough to stop him and with the aid from Hitler and Mussolini, Franco was established as Spain's fascist dictator. This cemented the Rome-Berlin Axis, an alliance between Italy and Germany.
  • Hitler's Anschluss

    Hitler's Anschluss
    Hitler's Anschluss was the German-Austrian union. Austria was Hitler's first target and the majority of its population was Germans who favored unification. On March 12, 1938, German troops marched in unopposed while the rest of the world did nothing.
  • Munich Agreement

    Munich Agreement
    Germany wanted the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia and eager to avoid another conflict, the French and British prime ministers who had promised to protect Czechoslovakia turned the Sudetenland over to Hitler in exchange for him agreeing not to take over any more territory. This showed the prominence of appeasement.
  • Rome-Berlin Axis

    Rome-Berlin Axis
    After the Spanish Civil War, a close alliance between Germany and Italy was formed known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.
  • Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg was Germany's newest military strategy, first tested in the invasion of Poland. It made use of advances in military technology to take the enemy by surprise and quickly crush all opposition with overwhelming force.
  • Joseph Stalin's totalitarian government in the Soviet Union

    Joseph Stalin's totalitarian government in the Soviet Union
    Stalin took control of the USSR after Lenin and focused on creating a model communist state. He made agricultural and industrial growth the prime economic goal through collectivization. He used five-year plans with economic activity under state management. He also purged anyone who threatened his power, making him responsible for 8 to 13 million deaths. More died in the famines that came from his restructuring. By 1939, he had firmly established a totalitarian government in the USSR.
  • Nonaggression pact

    Nonaggression pact
    Germany wanted Poland but feared conflict with Russia over the territory. However, Stalin signed a nonaggression pact with Hitler and promised never to attack each other as well as a secret pact to divide Poland between them, thus sealing the fate of Poland.
  • Britain and France declare war on Germany

    Britain and France declare war on Germany
    When Germany invaded Poland, spreading terror and confusion, it led Britain and France to declare war on Germany.
  • Hitler’s Invasion of Denmark and Norway

    Hitler’s Invasion of Denmark and Norway
    Suddenly, on April 9, 1940, Hitler launched a surprise invasion
    of Denmark and Norway in order “to protect [those countries’] freedom and independence.” But in truth, Hitler planned to build bases along the coasts to strike at Great Britain. Next, Hitler turned against the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, which were overrun by the end of May. The phony war had ended.
  • Hitler's invasion of the Netherlands

    Hitler's invasion of the Netherlands
    Hitler turned against the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, which were overrun by the end of May. The phony war had ended.
  • The Battle of Britain

    The Battle of Britain
    The Germans set up an invasion fleet, coupled with Luftwaffe bombings to invade Britain with the gal of gaining total control of British skies by destroying the RAF. The Germans bombed nightly for several months, moving from abandoned fields into cities. The RAF fought back with the help of radar. In September, the RAF shot down over 185 German planes but only lost 26 planes. Six weeks later, Hitler called off the invasion of Britain indefinitely but both countries continued to bomb each other.
  • Phony War

    Phony War
    French and British troops on the Maginot Line and on the Siegfried Line German troops waited. blitzkrieg had given way to the phony war. Then, Stalin began annexing the Baltic states. In 1939, Stalin went into Finland and took it over. In 1940, Hitler launched a surprise invasion of Denmark and Norway. Hitler planned to build bases along the coasts to strike at Great Britain. Next, Hitler turned against the Benelux nations which were overrun by the end of May. The phony war had ended.
  • Marshal Philippe Petain

    Marshal Philippe Petain
    After the Germans invaded France, a Nazi-controlled puppet government, headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain, was set up at Vichy, in southern France.
  • Germany and Italy's invasion of France

    Germany and Italy's invasion of France
    The Germans bypassed the Maginot Line by going through the Ardennes. The German offensive trapped about 400,000 French and British soldiers against the beaches of Dunkirk but about 330,000 were able to evacuate. Italy then entered the war, sided with Germany, and invaded France from the south while the Germans closed around Paris in the north. The Germans then negotiated the terms of surrender with the French being forced to have a puppet government though De Gaulle set up a government in exile.
  • Lend-Lease Act

    Lend-Lease Act
    To help Britain with war efforts, Roosevelt proposed the lend-lease policy. The president would lend or lease war supplies to “any country whose defense was vital to the United States.” Roosevelt compared his plan to lending a garden hose to a neighbor whose house was on fire-- the only sensible thing to do to prevent the fire from spreading to your own property. Isolationists argued bitterly against the plan, but most Americans favored it, and Congress passed the LendLease Act in March 1941.
  • Office of Price Administration

    Office of Price Administration
    Roosevelt created the Office of Price Administration (OPA) to fight inflation. The OPA froze prices on most goods. Congress also raised income tax rates and extended the tax to millions of people who had never paid it before. The higher taxes reduced consumer demand on scarce goods by leaving workers with less to spend. In addition, the government encouraged Americans to use their extra cash to buy war bonds. As a result of these measures, inflation remained below 30 percent.
  • Pearl Harbor Attack

    Pearl Harbor Attack
    The US discovered the Japanese plan to reject all peace talks and the next morning an American naval base was bombed and though the US tried to defend itself, the efforts were unsuccessful and the devastation horrifying. In less than two hours, the Japanese had killed 2,403 Americans and wounded 1,178. The surprise raid had sunk or damaged 21 ships, including 8 battleships. More than 300 aircraft were severely damaged or destroyed. This brought the US into the war.
  • Internment

    After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans were suspicious of all Japanese-Americans, many of whom lived on the West Coast. This prejudice led to the internment of Japanese-Americans in the name of national security. They were put in prison camps and thought they fought for justice, initial results were disappointing. The Japanese American Citizens League continued to push for justice and they got compensation finally in 1990.
  • Operation Torch

    Operation Torch
    Stalin thought Britain and America should open a “second front” in Western Europe but instead, they launched
    Operation Torch, an invasion of Axis-controlled North Africa, commanded by General Eisenhower.
    In November 1942, some 107,000 Allied troops, the great majority of them Americans, landed in North Africa and sped eastward, chasing the Afrika Korps led by Rommel. The last of the Afrika Korps surrendered in May 1943.
  • War Productions Board

    War Productions Board
    The government needed to ensure that the armed forces and war industries received the resources they needed to win the war. The War Production Board (WPB) assumed that responsibility. The WPB decided which companies would convert from peacetime to wartime production and allocated raw materials to key industries. The WPB also organized drives to collect scrap iron, tin cans, paper, rags, and cooking fat for recycling into war goods. Across America, children scoured for useful junk.
  • Women's Auxiliary Army Corps

    Women's Auxiliary Army Corps
    The military’s workforce needs were so great that the Women’s
    Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) was formed. Under this bill, women volunteers would serve in noncombat positions. It gave the WAACs an official status and salary but few of the benefits granted to men.
    In July 1943, the U.S. Army dropped the “auxiliary” status, and granted WACs full U.S. Army benefits. WACs worked as nurses,
    ambulance drivers, radio operators, electricians, and pilots—nearly every duty not involving direct combat.
  • U.S. Convoy system

    U.S. Convoy system
    The Allies responded by organizing their cargo ships into convoys. Convoys were groups of ships traveling together for mutual protection The convoys were escorted across the Atlantic by destroyers equipped with sonar for detecting submarines underwater. They were also accompanied by airplanes that used radar to spot U-boats on the ocean’s surface. With this improved tracking, the Allies were able to find and destroy German Uboats faster than the Germans could build them.
  • Battle of Stalingrad

    Battle of Stalingrad
    In 1942, the Germans took the offensive in the USSR. The Germans took an early advantage with Luftwaffe and hand to hand combat but the Soviets wouldn't surrender. The Soviets began a counterattack, trapping the Germans and cutting off their supplies. The Germans’ situation was hopeless and they surrendered in early 1943. In defending Stalingrad, the Soviets lost a total of 1,100,000 soldiers but the Soviet victory marked a turning point in the war and the Soviet army began to move westward.
  • Unconditional surrender

    Unconditional surrender
    Even before the battle in North Africa was won, Roosevelt, Churchill, and their commanders met in Casablanca. At this meeting, the two leaders agreed to accept only the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. That is, enemy nations would have to accept whatever terms of peace the Allies dictated. The two leaders also discussed where to strike next.
  • Battle of the Atlantic

    Battle of the Atlantic
    Hitler ordered submarine raids against American ships to prevent food and war materials from reaching Great Britain and the Soviet Union.In the first four months of 1942, the Germans sank 87 ships. Seven months into the year, Germans had destroyed a total of 681 Allied ships. The Allies responded by organizing into convoys. They could destroy Uboats faster than they were built. Launchings of Allied ships began to outnumber sinkings. By mid-1943, the tide of the Battle of the Atlantic had turned.
  • Bloody Anzio

    Bloody Anzio
    Stunned by the army’s collapse in Sicily, the Italian government forced Mussolini to resign. Italians believed the war to be over but Hitler wanted to stop the Allies in Italy rather than fight in Germany. One of the hardest battles the Allies encountered in Europe was “Bloody Anzio,” which lasted four months and left about 25,000 Allied and 30,000 Axis casualties. After Anzio, Germans still resisted. The effort to free Italy didn't succeed until 1945, when Germany itself was close to collapse.
  • Korematsu v. United States

    Korematsu v. United States
    Japanese Americans fought for justice, both in the courts and in Congress. In 1944, the Supreme Court decided, in Korematsu v. United States, that the government’s policy of evacuating Japanese Americans to camps was justified on the basis of “military necessity.” They believed it was unconstitutional because it was based on race but this was ignored. The decision was overturned in 1984 when it was discovered the Japanese had posed no actual threat.
  • D-Day

    Under Eisenhower’s direction in England, the Allies gathered a force of nearly 3 million troops, and planned to attack Normandy. The Allied invasion started on June 6, 1944. Troops parachuted behind German lines with thousands of seaborne soldiers—the largest land-sea-air operation in army history. Despite the massive air and sea bombardment by the Allies, German retaliation was brutal. Within months the Allies had freed Paris, then France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
  • The Battle of the Bulge

    The Battle of the Bulge
    Hitler's last effort to win planned to break through the Allied lines and to recapture the Belgian port of Antwerp to disrupt the enemy’s supply lines and demoralize the Allies. Tanks drove 60 miles into Allied territory, capturing 120 American GIs and killing them. The battle raged for a month. When it was over, the Germans had been pushed back. The Germans had lost troops, tanks, assault guns, and planes in the Battle of the Bulge From that point on, the Nazis could do little but retreat.
  • Harry S. Truman

    Harry S. Truman
    President Roosevelt did not live to see V-E Day. On
    April 12, 1945, while posing for a portrait in Warm Springs, Georgia, the president had a stroke and died. That night, Vice President Harry S. Truman
    became the nation’s 33rd president.
  • Death of Hitler

    Death of Hitler
    As the Germans got closer to loss, Hitler prepared for the end. On April 29, he married Eva Braun, and wrote out his last address to the German people, blaming the Jews for starting the war and his generals for losing it. The next day Hitler shot himself while his new wife swallowed poison. In accordance with Hitler’s orders, the two bodies were carried outside, soaked with gasoline, and burned. A week later, the Germans surrendered.
  • V-E Day

    V-E Day
    A week later, General Eisenhower accepted the unconditional surrender of the Third Reich. On May 8, 1945, the Allies celebrated V-E Day—Victory in Europe Day. The war in Europe was finally over (under Harry S. Truman).
  • Manhattan Project

    Manhattan Project
    In 1941, Roosevelt created the Office of Scientific Research and Development. Their key achievement was the Manhattan Project. Led by General Leslie Groves with research directed by American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, with more than 600,000 Americans involved in the project, the first test of the atomic bomb took place on July 16, 1945, in New Mexico. The bomb worked! On July 25, 1945, Truman ordered the military to make final plans for dropping two atomic bombs on Japanese targets.