WWII Timeline

  • Japanese Invasion of China

    Japanese Invasion of China
    Japan attacked China, continuing its expansion into East Asia. They started by invading Manchuria, but the goal was East Asia. This was due to the fight they were in with the US for China’s resources. They both wanted control over China, but had not been doing anything too aggressive. This event is important because it increased tension with the US and contributed to the reasons behind the attack on Pearl Harbor. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/world-war-ii-in-the-pacific
  • Germany's Invasion of Poland

    Germany's Invasion of Poland
    Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and that attack is what started WWII. Poland was defeated in a month after being attacked by both German and Soviet forces. This was the beginning of Hitler’s plan to take over Europe and started his reign of terror. In the next few years, Hitler invaded 11 other countries as well. This event is important because it was the invasion that began the entire World War.
  • German Blitzkrieg

    German Blitzkrieg
    Blitzkrieg means "lightning war" and is used to describe the tactic that Hitler used to invade European countries quickly and forcefully. The reason this happened was that Hitler needed to take over Europe quickly in order for his goal to be accomplished. This event is important because this war technique is partly the reason why Hitler was successful. It is also significant because other militaries used this style of fighting in the future.
  • Fall of Paris

    Fall of Paris
    The Fall of France marked a significant victory for Germany. No one expected France to fall, much less as quickly as it did and it shook Europe when it happened. Historians say that this defeat happened largely because of low morale and societal division. This event is important because it took France out of the picture, which made the war much harder for Britain to fight. France didn’t really enter back into the war until D-Day.
  • Operation Barbarossa

    Operation Barbarossa
    This was Hitler’s plan to invade the Soviet Union. He wanted similar success to the Western European invasions, but his troops ultimately failed. Hitler saw the Soviet Union as his biggest enemy, despite their Nonaggression Pact. The plan failed overall because there was a lack of long-term planning. This event is important because it halted Hitler’s expansion plan, as well as causing Germany to lose the Soviet Union as an ally.
  • Pearl Harbor

    Pearl Harbor
    Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Many soldiers were killed in the attack and it caused the country to come together against a common enemy. This happened because Japan wanted control over the Pacific. It can also be linked to the tension between the two due to East Asia. This event is important because it caused the US to join the war and their involvement helped contribute to the Allies' victory.
  • Wannsee Conference

    Wannsee Conference
    This was held with the purpose of finding a solution about what to do with the Jewish people. Nazi officials met and discussed methods of exterminating every Jewish person. This was due to Hitler’s plan to get rid of the Jewish people. This event is important because it led to the gas chambers being used later as a way to get rid of many people at once. The method they actually ended up using was proposed at this conference.
  • Battle of Midway

    Battle of Midway
    US forces cracked the Japanese code and discovered they were planning to attack, so they set up an ambush. This marked a turning point for the US due to their victory. The US did this due to Pearl Harbor, which made them eager to get revenge on Japan. This event is important because it put a stop to Japan’s growing control of the Pacific. It also started the US successfully attacking more Japanese-controlled islands.
  • Bataan Death March

    Bataan Death March
    Japanese forces took over the Philippines and forced soldiers to walk 65 miles to prison camps. Many died due to the harsh conditions both during the march and at the prison camps. The attack on the Philippines began after Pearl Harbor. Although the army received no support, they held off for several months before this time. This event is important because it gave America even more reason to win the war and avenge those who had died.
  • Battle of Stalingrad

    Battle of Stalingrad
    This was a violent conflict between German and Russian forces. Many people were killed on both sides and it’s one of the most bloody battles in modern warfare. After the Nazi troops failed to invade the year before, Hitler was motivated to attack with more force. But again, the German soldiers failed after winter began. This event was important because the loss helped the conflict to turn in the direction of the Allied forces.
  • Operation Gomorrah

    Operation Gomorrah
    Britain bombed Hamburg, Germany in the night. This attack was in response to German raids, which killed many British citizens. Britain lost few planes during this attack due to new technology that confused German radars. This event is important because it was a devastating loss for Germans, both lives lost and morale in general. Hitler and other high-ranking German officials struggled to come to terms with this loss.
  • Allied Invasion of Italy

    Allied Invasion of Italy
    Allied forces invaded Italy, controlled by Mussolini who was an ally of Hitler. The Italian military overthrew Mussolini and arranged a truce with Allied forces. The invasion occurred because of Mussolini’s alliance with Hitler and German forces continued to fight for Italy and Mussolini until a few months later. This event is important because this was the beginning of the Axis forces being defeated, starting with Italy.
  • D-Day

    This was the first day of the Normandy Invasion and it marked a significant victory for the Allies. It was the largest seaborne invasion and was fought across five beaches. The Allies had been planning this attack for a long time, so it was large and well-coordinated. This event is important as the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. The defeat of the Germans in Northern France prevented Hitler from building up his troops further.
  • Battle of the Bulge

    Battle of the Bulge
    This was Hitler’s last major offensive. His plan was to divide the British, French, and American troops, and he failed to do so. The purpose behind this battle was to stop the Allies on their advance for Germany. This event is important because it helped lead to the Allies' victory. Hitler was willing to suffer through this brutal battle hoping to divide the Allied forces, but he didn't and he lost many soldiers for nothing.
  • Operation Thunderclap

    Operation Thunderclap
    This turned into the Bombing of Dresden in 1945. The decision to bomb Dresden was controversial because there was nothing major military-wise there, but it was important historically. Originally, Operation Thunderclap meant to bomb a city more directly related to the war. This event is important because it meant to cut off communication and attempt to force the Germans into surrender. There was also a large number of civilians killed.
  • Battle of Iwo Jima

    Battle of Iwo Jima
    This was a five-week-long battle between the US and Japan. This was some of the most brutal fightings of the war and a significant number were killed in the process. The purpose behind the attack was the knowledge that the Japanese forces had already been significantly weakened by the war. This event is important because it was a brutal battle near the end of the war and gave the famous image of soldiers raising the American flag.
  • Battle of Okinawa

    Battle of Okinawa
    This was the last major battle of WWII. Between kamikaze fighters and fierce fighting, this final battle was deadly to all. Okinawa was the last island between the US troops and Japan. This event is important because of the brutal fighting and the number of soldiers who died. It’s also important since the US soldiers were so weary after this battle, it encouraged the atomic bomb drop so they wouldn’t have to fight the troops in Japan.
  • VE Day

    VE Day
    This was after Germany surrendered. It was a week after Hitler had killed himself and Germany had no reason to continue fighting. After a long and bloody six years, things were finally looking up as Germany had officially stopped fighting. This event is important because it marked the end of WWII in Europe and all of Britain was celebrating. Even though Japan was still fighting, Europe considered the war over.
  • Dropping of the Atomic Bombs

    Dropping of the Atomic Bombs
    The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki three days later. This decision was because Japan refused to surrender even after Germany had and they had little chance of winning the war. Scientists had been working on the bomb since 1939 when Germany was maybe working on nuclear weapons. This event is important because it forced Japan to surrender after many citizens died and much infrastructure was destroyed.
  • VJ Day

    VJ Day
    VJ Day, or Victory over Japan Day, was when it was announced that Japan surrendered. It is also been used on September 2, 1945, when Japan formally surrendered. This came 5 days after the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which directly led to the surrender. This event is important because it marked the absolute end of WWII. A few months after Germany surrendered, this was the end of the war for the entire world.