WWII

Timeline created by Phillip Kim
In History
  • 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.
    In October 1922, Mussolini marched on Rome with
    thousands of his followers, whose black uniforms gave them the name “Black Shirts.” When important government officials, the army, and the police sided with the Fascists, the Italian king appointed Mussolini head of the government.
  • Mein Kampf

    Mein Kampf
    Mein Kampf is an autobiographical book by Hitler. One of the Nazis’ aims, as Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, was “to secure for the German people the land and soil to which they are entitled on this earth,” even if this could be accomplished only by “the might of a victorious sword.”
  • Japanese invasion of Manchuria

    Japanese invasion of Manchuria
    Nationalistic military leaders were trying to take control of the imperial government of Japan. These leaders shared a belief in the need for more living space for a growing population. 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
    By 1932, some 6 million Germans were unemployed. 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.
  • Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany

    Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany
    Hitler was such a powerful public speaker and organizer that he quickly became the Nazi party’s leader. Hitler, who had
    been born in Austria, dreamed of uniting all German-speaking people in a great German empire. He wanted to enforce racial “purification”. In his view, blue-eyed, blond-haired “Aryans” formed a “master race” that was destined to rule the world. In January 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor (prime minister) and he quickly dismantled Germany’s democratic Weimar Republic.
  • Third Reich

    Third Reich
    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
    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. By May 1936, Ethiopia had fallen. Haile Selassie, the ousted Ethiopian emperor, appealed to the League for assistance. Nothing was done. “It is us today,” he told them. “It will be you tomorrow.”
  • Hitler invades the Rhineland

    Hitler invades the Rhineland
    Hitler 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.
  • Rome-Berlin Axis

    Rome-Berlin Axis
    A coalition formed between Italy and Germany. Hitler and Mussolini backed Franco’s forces with troops, weapons, tanks, and fighter planes. The German and Italian dictators signed a formal alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.
  • Hitler's Anschluss

    Hitler's Anschluss
    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.
  • Munich Agreement

    Munich Agreement
    Hitler invited French premier Édouard Daladier and British prime minister Neville Chamberlain to meet with him in Munich. When they arrived, the führer Hitler 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 theSudetenland 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
    Soviet society.
    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.
  • Phony war

    Phony war
    The blitzkrieg had given way to what the Germans called the sitzkrieg (“sitting war”), and what some newspapers referred to as the 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.
  • Nonaggression pact

    Nonaggression 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

    Blitzkrieg
    On September 1, 1939, the German Luftwaffe, or German air force, roared over Poland, raining bombs on military bases, airfields, railroads, and cities. 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.
    On September 3, Britain and France declared war on Germany. The blitzkrieg tactics worked perfectly.
  • Britain and France declare war on Germany

    Britain and France declare war on Germany
    On September 3, two days following the terror
    in Poland, Britain and France declared 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. By the end of the month, World War II had begun.
  • Battle of the Atlantic

    Battle of the Atlantic
    After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hitler ordered submarine raids against ships along America’s east coast. The German
    aim in the Battle of the Atlantic was to prevent food and war materials from reaching Great Britain and the Soviet Union.
    The Allies responded by organizing their cargo ships into convoys. By mid-1943, the tide of the Battle of the Atlantic had turned.
  • 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.
  • Germany and Italy's invasion of France

    Germany and Italy's invasion of France
    Hitler’s generals sent their tanks through the Ardennes, a region of wooded ravines in northeast France, thereby avoiding British and French troops who thought the Ardennes were impassable.
    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.
  • 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. Its goal was to gain total control of the skies by destroying Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF). Every night for two solid months, bombers pounded London.
  • 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.
  • Marshal Philippe Petain

    Marshal Philippe Petain
    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.
    After France fell, a French general named Charles de Gaulle fled to England, where he set up a government-in-exile.
  • Lend-Lease Act

    Lend-Lease Act
    By late 1940, however, Britain had no more cash to spend in the arsenal of democracy. Roosevelt tried to help by suggesting a new
    plan that he called a lend-lease policy. Under this plan, the president would lend or lease arms and other 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. Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act in March 1941.
  • Pearl Harbor attack

    Pearl Harbor attack
    The United States protested this new act of aggression by cutting off trade with Japan. The peace talks went on for a month. Then on December 6, 1941, Roosevelt received a decoded message that instructed Japan’s peace envoy to reject all American peace proposals. A Japanese dive-bomber swooped low over Pearl Harbor—the largest U.S. naval base in the Pacific. The bomber was followed for attack.
  • 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. As a result inflation remained below 30 percent—about half that of World War I—for the entire period of World War II.
  • Internment

    Internment
    The surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii had stunned the nation. After the bombing, citizens feared that the Japanese would soon attack the United States. 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, was eventually forced to order the internment, or confinement, of 1,444 Japanese Americans, 1 percent of Hawaii’s Japanese-American population.
  • Battle of Stalingrad

    Battle of Stalingrad
    The German army approached Stalingrad in August 1942. By the end of September, they controlled nine-tenths of the city. Then winter set in. The Soviets began a massive counterattack. The Soviet army closed around Stalingrad, trapping the Germans and cutting off their supplies. The German commander surrendered on January 31, 1943. Two days later, his starving troops also surrendered. The Soviet victory marked a turning point in the war and began to move westward toward Germany.
  • Operation Torch

    Operation Torch
    An invasion of Axis-controlled North Africa, commanded by
    American General Dwight D. Eisenhower. 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Women's Auxiliary Army Corps

    Women's Auxiliary Army Corps
    The military’s work force needs were so great that Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall pushed for the formation of a Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC). A bill to establish the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. Under this bill, women volunteers would serve in noncombat positions. The bill establishing the WAAC became law on May 15, 1942. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.”
  • 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

    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.
  • The Battle of the Bulge

    The Battle of the Bulge
    On December 16, 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 lastditch offensive its name, the Battle of the Bulge. The battle raged for a month. The Germans had lost soldiers and weapons they could not replace.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.