Ww2 156

WWII Timeline

  • Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany

    Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany
    In Germany, Adolf Hitler had followed a path to power similar to Mussolini’s. At the end of World War I, Hitler had been a jobless soldier drifting around Germany. In 1919, he joined a struggling group called the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, better known as the Nazi Party. Despite its name, this party had no ties to socialism.
  • Benito Mussolini's fascist government in Italy

    Benito Mussolini's fascist government in Italy
    By 1921, Mussolini had established the Fascist Party. Fascism stressed nationalism and placed the interests of the state above those of individuals. To strengthen the nation, Fascists argued, power must rest with a single strong leader and a small group
    of devoted party members. “the leader,” Mussolini gradually extended Fascist control to every aspect of Italian life. Mussolini achieved this efficiency, however, by crushing all opposition and by making Italy a totalitarian state.
  • Mein Kampf

    Mein Kampf
    In his book Mein Kampf [My Struggle], Hitler set forth the basic beliefs of Nazism that became the plan of action for the Nazi Party. Nazism, the German brand of fascism, was based on extreme nationalism. Hitler, who had been born in Austria, dreamed of uniting all German-speaking people in a great German empire. He wrote it when he was in prison.
  • Japanese invasion of Manchuria

    Japanese invasion of Manchuria
    Leaders taking over Japan. These leaders shared in common with Hitler a belief in the need for more living space for a growing population. Ignoring the protests of more moderate Japanese officials, the militarists launched a surprise attack and seized control of the Chinese province of Manchuria in 1931. Within several months, Japanese troops controlled the entire province, a large region about twice the size of Texas, that was rich in natural resources.
  • Storm Troopers

    Storm Troopers
    Many men who were out of work joined Hitler’s private army, the storm troopers (or Brown Shirts). The German people were desperate and turned to Hitler as their last hope.
  • Third Reich

    Third Reich
    By mid 1932, the Nazis had become the strongest political party in Germany. In January 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor (prime minister). Once in power, Hitler quickly dismantled Germany’s democratic Weimar Republic. In its place he established the Third Reich, or Third German Empire. According to Hitler, the Third Reich would be a “Thousand-Year Reich”—it would last for a thousand years.
  • Hitler's military build-up in Germany

    Hitler's military build-up in Germany
    The failure of the League of Nations to take action against Japan did not escape the notice of Europe’s dictators. In 1933, Hitler pulled Germany out of the League. In 1935, he began a military buildup in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia

    Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia
    Meanwhile, Mussolini began building his new Roman Empire. His first target was Ethiopia, one of Africa’s few remaining independent countries. By the fall of 1935, tens of thousands of Italian soldiers stood ready to advance on Ethiopia. The League of Nations reacted with brave talk of “collective resistance to all acts of unprovoked aggression.” When the invasion began, however, the League’s
    response was an ineffective economic boycott—little more than a slap on Italy’s wrist. By May 1936, fell
  • Hitler's invades the Rhineland

    Hitler's invades the Rhineland
    A year later, he sent troops into the Rhineland, a German region bordering France and Belgium that was demilitarized as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. The League did nothing to stop Hitler.
  • Francisco Franco

    Francisco Franco
    In 1936, a group of Spanish army officers led by General Francisco Franco, rebelled against the Spanish republic. Revolts broke out all
    over Spain, and the Spanish Civil War began. The war aroused passions not only in Spain but throughout the world.
  • Hitler's Anschluss

    Hitler's Anschluss
    Austria was Hitler’s first target. The Paris Peace Conference following World War I had created the relatively small nation of Austria out of what was left of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The majority of Austria’s 6 million people were Germans who favored unification with Germany. On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria unopposed. A day later, Germany announced that its Anschluss, or “union,” with Austria was complete. The United
    States and the rest of the world did nothing.
  • Munich Agreement

    Munich Agreement
    Then, just when war seemed inevitable, Hitler invited French premier Édouard Daladier and British prime minister Neville Chamberlain to
    meet with him in Munich. When they arrived, the führer declared that the annexation of the Sudetenland would be his “last territorial demand.” In their eagerness to avoid war, Daladier and Chamberlain chose to believe him. On September 30, 1938, they signed the Munich Agreement, which turned the Sudetenland over to Germany without a single shot being fired.
  • Joseph Stalin's totalitarian government in the Soviet Union

    Joseph Stalin's totalitarian government in the Soviet Union
    By 1939, Stalin had firmly established a totalitarian government that tried to exert complete control over its citizens. In a totalitarian state, individuals have no rights, and the government suppresses all opposition.
  • Rome-Berlin Axis

    Rome-Berlin Axis
    The Western democracies remained neutral. Although the Soviet Union sent equipment and advisers, Hitler and Mussolini backed Franco’s forces with troops, weapons, tanks, and fighter planes. The war forged a close relationship between the German and Italian dictators, who signed a formal alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis. After a loss of almost 500,000 lives, Franco’s victory in 1939
    established him as Spain’s fascist dictator. Once again a
    totalitarian government ruled in Europe.
  • Britain and France declare War on Germany

    Britain and France declare War on Germany
    The blitzkrieg tactics worked perfectly. Major fighting was over in three weeks, long before France, Britain, and their allies could mount a defense. In the last week of fighting, the Soviet Union attacked Poland from the east, grabbing some of its territory. The portion Germany annexed in western Poland contained almost two-thirds of Poland’s population. By the end of the month, Poland had ceased to exist—and World War II had begun.
  • Phony War

    Phony War
    For the next several months after the fall of Poland, French and British troops on the Maginot Line, a system of fortifications built along France’s eastern border, sat staring into Germany, waiting for something to happen. On the Siegfried Line a few miles away German troops stared back. The blitzkrieg had given way to what the Germans called the sitzkrieg (“sitting war”), and what some newspapers referred to as the phony war.
  • Non Aggression pact

    Non Aggression pact
    As tensions rose over Poland, Stalin surprised everyone by signing a
    nonaggression pact with Hitler. Once bitter enemies, on August 23, 1939 fascist Germany and communist Russia now committed never to attack each other. Germany and the Soviet Union also signed a second, secret pact, agreeing to divide Poland between them. With the danger of a two-front war eliminated, the fate of Poland was sealed.
  • Blitzkrieg

    At the same time, German tanks raced across the Polish countryside, spreading terror and confusion. This invasion was the first test of Germany’s newest military strategy, the blitzkrieg, or lightning war. Blitzkrieg made use of advances in military technology—such as fast tanks and more powerful aircraft—to take the enemy by surprise and then quickly crush all opposition with overwhelming force. On September 3, two days following the terror in Poland, Britain and France declared war on Germany
  • Hitler's invasion of the Netherlands

    Hitler's invasion of the Netherlands
    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.
  • The Battle of Britain

    The Battle of Britain
    In the summer of 1940, the Germans began to assemble an invasion fleet along the French coast. Because its naval power could not compete with that of Britain, Germany also launched an air war at the same time. The Luftwaffe began making bombing runs over Britain. Every night for two solid months, bombers pounded London. The Battle of Britain raged on through the summer and fall. Night after night, German planes pounded British targets. Next it targeted cities.
  • 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.
  • Germany and Italy's invasion of France

    Germany and Italy's invasion of France
    A few days later, Italy entered the war on the side of Germany and invaded France from the south as the Germans closed in on Paris from the north. On June 22, 1940, at Compiègne, as William Shirer and the rest of the world watched, Hitler handed French officers his terms of surrender. Germans would occupy the northern part of
    France, and a Nazi-controlled puppet government, headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain, would be set up at Vichy, in southern France.
  • Marshal Philippe Petain

    Marshal Philippe Petain
    Germans would occupy the northern part of France, and a Nazi-controlled puppet government, headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain, would be set up at Vichy, in southern France.
  • Korematsu vs. United States

    Korematsu vs. United States
    Based on recommendations from the military, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which gave military officials the power to limit the civil rights of Japanese Americans. Fred Korematsu was convicted of defying the military order to leave his home. At the urging of the American Civil Liberties Union, Korematsu appealed that conviction. The Court upheld Korematsu’s conviction and argued that military necessity
    made internment constitutional.
  • Lend-Lease Act

    Lend-Lease Act
    Roosevelt compared his plan to lending a garden hose to a neighbor whose house was on fire. He asserted that this was 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.
  • Pearl Harbor Attack

    Pearl Harbor Attack
    In less than two hours, the Japanese had killed 2,403 Americans and wounded 1,178 more. The surprise raid had sunk or damaged 21 ships, including 8 battleships—nearly the whole U.S. Pacific fleet. More than 300 aircraft were severely damaged or destroyed. These losses constituted greater damage than the U.S. Navy had suffered in all of World War I. By chance, three aircraft carriers at sea escaped the disaster. Their survival would prove crucial to
    the war’s outcome.
  • Internment

    Early in 1942 the War Department called for the mass evacuation of all Japanese Americans from Hawaii. General Delos Emmons, the military governor of Hawaii, resisted the order because 37 percent of the people in Hawaii were Japanese Americans. To remove them would have destroyed the islands economy
    and hindered U.S. military operations there. However, he was eventually forced to order the internment, or confinement, of 1,444 Japanese Americans, 1 percent of Hawaii’s Japanese-American population
  • Battle of the Atlantic

    Battle of the Atlantic
    In the first four months of 1942, the Germans sank 87 ships off the Atlantic shore.Germans destroyed a total of 681 ships. The Allies responded by organizing their cargo ships into convoys were groups of ships traveling together for mutual protection. 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
  • US Convoy System

    US Convoy System
    The Allies responded by organizing their cargo ships into convoys. Convoys were groups of ships traveling together for mutual protection, as they had done in the First World War. 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.
  • Operation Torch

    Operation Torch
    While the Battle of Stalingrad raged, Stalin pressured Britain and America to open a “second front” in Western Europe. He argued
    that an invasion across the English Channel would force Hitler to divert troops from the Soviet front. Churchill and Roosevelt didn’t think the Allies had enough troops to attempt an invasion on European soil. Instead, they launched Operation Torch, an invasion of Axis-controlled North Africa, commanded by American General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • Manhattan Project

    Manhattan Project
    Roosevelt responded by creating an Advisory Committee on Uranium to study the new discovery. In 1941, the committee reported that it would take from three to five years to build an atomic bomb. Hoping to shorten that time, the OSRD set up an intensive program in 1942 to develop a bomb as quickly as possible. Because much of the early research was performed at Columbia University in Manhattan, the Manhattan Project became the code name for research work that extended across the country
  • Office of Price Administration

    Office of Price Administration
    Roosevelt responded to this threat by creating the Office of Price Administration (OPA). The OPA fought inflation by freezing 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.
  • War Productions Board

    War Productions Board
    Besides controlling inflation, 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.
  • Women's Auxiliary Army Corps

    Women's Auxiliary Army Corps
    Under this bill, women volunteers would serve in noncombat positions. WACs worked as nurses, ambulance drivers, radio operators, electricians, and pilots—nearly every duty not involving direct combat
  • Unconditional Surrender

    Unconditional Surrender
    In November 1942, some 107,000 Allied troops, the great majority of them Americans, landed in Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers in North Africa. From there they sped eastward, chasing the Afrika Korps led by General Erwin Rommel, the legendary Desert Fox. After months of heavy fighting, the last of the Afrika Korps surrendered in May 1943.
  • Battle of Stalingrad

    Battle of Stalingrad
    The Germans had been fighting in the Soviet Union since June 1941. In November 1941, the bitter cold had stopped them in
    their tracks outside the Soviet cities of Moscow and Leningrad. When spring came, the German tanks were ready to roll.
    In the summer of 1942, the Germans took the offensive in the southern Soviet Union. Hitler hoped to capture Soviet oil fields in the Caucasus Mountains. He also wanted to wipe out Stalingrad, a major industrial center on the Volga
  • Battle of Stalingrad pt 2

    Battle of Stalingrad pt 2
    The German army confidently approached Stalingrad in August 1942. “Victory is not far away.” The Luftwaffe—the German air force—prepared the way with nightly bombing raids over the city. Nearly every wooden building in Stalingrad was set ablaze. The situation looked so desperate that Soviet officers in Stalingrad recommended blowing up the city’s factories and abandoning the city. A furious Stalin ordered them to defend his namesake city no matter what the cost.
  • Battle of Stalingrad pt 3

    Battle of Stalingrad pt 3
    For weeks the Germans pressed in on Stalingrad, conquering it house by house in brutal hand-to-hand combat. By the end of September, they controlled nine-tenths of the city—or what was left of it. Then another winter set in. The Soviets saw the cold as an opportunity to roll fresh tanks across the frozen landscape and begin a massive counterattack. The Soviet army closed around
    Stalingrad, trapping the Germans in and around the city and cutting off their supplies.
  • Battle of Stalingrad pt 4

    Battle of Stalingrad pt 4
    The fighting continued as winter turned Stalingrad into a frozen wasteland. “We just lay in our holes and froze, knowing that 24 hours later and 48 hours later we should be shivering precisely as we were now,” wrote a German soldier, Benno Zieser. “But there was now no hope whatsoever of relief, and that was the worst thing of all.” The German commander surrendered on January 31, 1943. Two days later, his starving troops also surrendered.
  • Bloody Anzio

    Bloody Anzio
    Hitler was determined to stop the Allies in Italy rather than fight on German soil. One of the hardest battles the Allies encountered in Europe was fought less than 40 miles from Rome. This battle, "Bloody Anzio," lasted four months—until the end of May 1944—and left about 25,000 Allied and 30,000 Axis casualties. During the year after Anzio, German armies continued to put up strong resistance. The effort to free Italy did not succeed until 1945, when Germany itself was close to collapse.
  • D-Day

    The Allied invasion, code-named Operation Overlord, was originally set for June 5, but bad weather forced a delay. Banking on a forecast for clearing skies, Eisenhower gave the go-ahead for D-Day—June 6, 1944, the first day of the invasion. Shortly after midnight, three divisions parachuted down behind German lines. They were followed in the early morning hours by thousands upon
    thousands of seaborne soldiers—the largest land-sea-air operation in army history.
  • Battle of the Bulge

    Battle of the Bulge
    On December 16, under cover of dense fog, eight
    German tank divisions broke through weak American
    defenses along an 80-mile front. Hitler hoped that a victory
    would split American and British forces and break up Allied
    supply lines. Tanks drove 60 miles into Allied territory,
    creating a bulge in the lines that gave this desperate last ditch offensive its name, the Battle of the Bulge..
  • Battle of the Bulge pt. 2

    Battle of the Bulge pt. 2
    The battle raged for a month. When it was over, the
    Germans had been pushed back, and little seemed to have
    changed. But, in fact, events had taken a decisive turn.
    The Germans had lost 120,000 troops, 600 tanks and
    assault guns, and 1,600 planes in the Battle of the Bulge—
    soldiers and weapons they could not replace. 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
    In his underground headquarters in Berlin, Hitler prepared for the end. On April 29, he married Eva Braun, his longtime companion. The same day, he wrote out his last address to the German people.
    In it he blamed 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.
  • 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.