After World War 1, the world thought that we would not see another global conflict on a similar scale ever again after The League of Nations was formed. Unfortunately, that would not prove to be the case and the world would see the deadliest war recorded in modern times. World War 2 would officially commence with the German invasion of Poland on September 1st, 1936 and run through September 2nd, 1945 with the surrender of the Empire of Japan. More than 60 million people would lose their lives during the War (about 2.5% of the world’s population). The following is a World War 2 timeline covering the major points of the war with videos and images to help break-up the text for the readers who prefer “visual” effects.
World War 2 Timeline
November 1st, 1918 – World War I comes to an end with Germany defeated.
April 28th, 1919 – The League of Nations is founded.
June 28th, 1919 – The Treaty of Versailles is signed.
July 29th, 1921 – Adolf Hitler is designated as the leader of the National Socialist Party which would later become the Nazi Party.
November 8-9, 1923 – The Beer Hall Putsch occurs resulting in Adolf Hitler being placed in jail. (Putsch is German for coup)
September 8th, 1926 – The League of Nations admits Germany.
Pre-World War 2 Timeline
1933 – The German people elect Adolf Hitler as the Chancellor of Germany. He then proceeds to scrap democracy. Germany and Japan then leave the League of Nations during 1933.
1935 – Hitler starts conscription to the German military and sends his armed forces into the Saar region which had been neutral.
1936 – The German-Italian Axis is formed and Germany enters the demilitarized Rhine region.
1937 – Japan invades Manchuria after already occupying Manchuria.
1938 – Adolf Hitler annexes Western Czechoslovakia and Austria.
March 1939 – Czechoslovakia surrenders to Germany under pressure of an imminent invasion.
April 1939 – Adolf Hitler cancels the German-Polish non-aggression pact and the Britian-German naval agreement. Italy invades Albania in this
August 1939 – The Soviet Union and Germany sign a non-aggression pact. In secret they agree to invade Poland and then share it. The German navy then sails to the Atlantic ocean to prepare for war.
World War 2 Timeline
1939 World War 2 Timeline
Sept 1 – Germany invades Poland which officially signals the start of World War 2
Sept 3 – Great Britain and France officially declare war on Germany.
Sept 8 – The United States declares a limited national emergency.
Sept 17 – The Soviet Union invades Poland from the east.
Sept 27 – Poland initially surrenders.
Nov 30 – The Soviet Union invades Finland
World War 2 Timeline Video
1940 World War 2 Timeline
Jan 17 – British Intelligence decodes the first German Enigma messages.
Mar 12 – The Soviet war against Finland ends. Hitler starts to believe that the Russian army is not effective.
Apr 8 – Denmark and Norway are invaded by Germany.
Apr 14 – The British army lands in Narvik, Norway to leave just 10 days later.
May 10 – France, The Netherlands (Holland), Luxemburg, and Belgium are invaded by Nazi Germany. Winston Churchill takes over as the UK prime minister.
May 20 – German army forces reach the English Channel.
May 27 – The Dunkirk evacuation of French and British forces begins. More than 338,000 soldiers would be rescued between May 27th and June 4th, 1940.
June 1940 – December 1942 – Siege of Malta
Jun 9- Norway surrenders to Germany.
Jun 10 – Italy declares war on Great Britain and France.
Jun 14 – Germany takes Paris.
Jun 18 – Soviet soldiers invade Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.
Jun 22 – France surrenders to Germany.
Jun 27 – The Soviet government annexes the eastern regions of Romania.
Jul 1 – Germany invades the British Channel islands.
Jul 10 – The Battle of Britain commences (air campaign).
Aug 15 – The German Luftwaffe loses 76 aircraft in one day.
Aug 25 – British night bombers bomb Berlin for the first time.
Sep 13 – Italy invades British-held Egypt from Libya commencing the beginning of the North African campaign.
Sep 27 – Japan officially joins The Axis Powers.
Oct 7 – Germany occupies Romania (an ally) which is the sole source of oil for the country due to the threat posed by the Soviet Union.
Oct 28 – Italy invades Greece from Albania but gets stopped two times.
Nov 11 – The Italian fleet is sunk by UK carrier aircraft in Taranto.
Nov 20 – Hungary and Romania join the Axis Powers.
1941 World War 2 Timeline
Feb 12 – The German Afrika Korps and Rommel are sent to help Italy in North Africa.
Mar 1 – Bulgaria joins The Axis stretching the Axis-Russian border from the Black Sea to the Baltic.
Mar 3 – German forces led by Rommel attack Britian in North Africa.
Mar 5 – British troops augment Greece to prepare for German invasion.
Apr 6 – Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece. (Battle of Greece)
Apr 13 – Japan and the Soviet Union sign non-aggression pact after a number of military clashes.
Apr 17 – Yugoslavia surrenders. British forces evacuate from the Greek mainland to Crete.
Apr 27 – German troops occupy Athens
May 9 – The Allies capture U-boat U-110 with the Enigma settings tables.
May 20 – Crete is invaded by German paratroopers. (Battle of Crete)
May 31 – British forces in Crete surrender.
Jun 8 – Great Britian invades French controlled Syria and Lebanon.
Operation Battleaxe: June 1941
Jun 22 – Germany invades Russia. Due to the Hitler order of “maximum cruelty” against civilians, Russian resistance is significant.
Jul 16 – The German army takes Smolensk, which is just just 220 miles from Moscow.
Jul 21 – The German Luftwaffe bombs Moscow
Jul 24 – Japan invades French Indo-China (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia of today)
Jul 29 – Adolph Hitler is very eager to take Ukraine prior to Moscow due to resource needs. As a result, he orders his army group Center’s advance to Moscow stopped and then transfers significant resources to the North and South Groups
Jul 31 – German, Hermann Goering orders the SS to prepare “the final solution” which results in the murdering of millions of European Jews resulting
in what is now known as the Holocaust.
Sep 15 – German siege of Leningrad commences.
Sep 18 – German forces occupy Kiev and reach the Crimea.
Oct 2 – German Operation Typhoon begins (final German attack towards Moscow).
Oct 16 – The Soviet government leaves Moscow, the Germans occupy Odessa.
Oct 26 – German forces occupy Kharkov.
Nov 30 – German forces reach 27km from Moscow, but get stopped by fierce Soviet resistance.
Dec 6 – At temperatures of -34C (-29F) and below, a Soviet counter attack near Moscow begins. Moscow is saved, and the Germans are pushed back.
Dec 7 – The Japanese Navy attacks Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, and the Phillipines. As a result, the United States joins the war. This results in a significant turning point in the war with Russia remaining in the fight and the United States now joining both fronts of the war.
Dec 11 – Italy and Germany declare war on the United States.
World War 2 Pacific Theater Video
1942 World War 2Timeline
Jan 2 – Japan military occupies Manilla.
Jan 10 – Japan invades Indochina.
Jan 11 – Japan occupies Malaysia
Jan 12 – Japan invades Burma
Jan 25 – Japan invades the Solomon islands
Jan 26 – US forces start to arrive in Britain
Feb 19th – Battle of Darwin
Mar 20 – Nazis begin to kill large number of Jews in their death camps.
Apr 18 – Doolittle’s aircraft bomb Tokyo.
May 7 – Battle of Coral Sea occurs resulting in 1 U.S. and 1 Japanese aircraft carriers being sunk.
May 6 – U.S. forces Phillipines surrender
May 8 – The Germans start their spring offensive in southern Russia.
Jun 4 – The Battle of Midway. Four Japanese carriers are sunk, and one American carrier resulting in Japanese maritime superiority being lost.
Jul 3 – Japanese forces land in Guadalcanal.
Aug 7 – United States Marines land in Guadalcanal. (Battle of Guadalcanal)
Aug 19 – The Allied landing in Dieppe fails.
Aug 23 – The battle of Stalingrad begins.
Sep 6 – The German advance in Stalingrad is stopped.
Oct 23 – The 2nd Battle of El Alamein in North Africa commences.
Nov 8 – Allied forces land in western North Africa, at Rommel’s back (Operation Torch)
Dec 19 – The German army fails to break the encirclement of their army in Stalingrad.
1943 World War 2 Timeline
Feb 2 – German Forces in Stalingrad surrender
February – Battle of the Kasserine Pass
May 13 – The Allies control North Africa
May 22 -. Doenitz retreats all U-boats from the North atlantic after 41 U-Boats are sunk in just 3 weeks.
Jul 5 – The battle of Kursk begins.
Jul 10 – The Allies invade Sicily.(Battle of Sicily)
Jul 25 – Mussolini is replaced and arrested by his own people.
Sep 3 – The Allies invade Italy’s mainland.
Sep 8 – Italy surrenders. The German forces in northern and central Italy occupy the country.
Nov 6 – The Soviets liberate Kiev
Nov 19 – The U.S. Marines land in Tarawa.
Nov – Rommel takes command of the “Atlantic wall” on the French coast.
Dec – P-51 fighters provide all-the-way long range escort to bombers over Germany.
1944 World War 2 Timeline
Jan 16 – Eisenhower becomes supreme commander of Western Allied forces.
Jan 22 – Allied forces land Anzio, Italy.
Mar – The Soviets advance into the Ukraine.
Apr 10 – The Soviets liberate Odessa.
May – Final Battle of Monte Cassino
Jun 5 – The German Navy’s Enigma messages are decoded almost in real time.
Jun 12 – 1st German V-1 cruise missile attack on Britain.
Jun 15 – The United States Marines land in Saipan. (Battle of Saipan)
Jun 19 – Battle of the Phillipine Sea occurs.
Jun 22 – The Soviets advance to Belarus.
Jun 27 – Cherburg is liberated.
Jul 21 – Hitler appoints General Guderian to chief of the army (OKH). The Marines land in Guam.
Jul 24 – The United States Marines land in Tinian.
Jul 28 – The Russians reach the old German-Russian border in central Poland.
Jul 30 – Patton breaks out of the beachhead and drives deep into French territory.
Aug 1 – Warsaw citizens revolt against the Germans.
Aug 15 – The Allies land in southern France.
Aug 23 – Romania surrenders to the Soviets. Its oil fields were Germany’s only source of natural oil
Aug 25 – Paris is liberated by the Allies.
Aug – Air superiority over Germany is achieved by the Allied powers.
Sep 6 – Finland and Bulgaria surrender to Russia.
Sep 8 – 1st German V-2 ballistic missile attack on Britain.
Sep 15 – United States Marines commence the Battle of Peleliu
Sep 17 – Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands occurs.
Oct 5 – British forces land in Greece.
Oct 10 – The Germans evacuate Riga, Latvia
Oct 14 – Athens is liberated by British forces.
Oct 20 – The Marines land in Leyte, in the Philippines. (Battle of Leyte Gulf occurs October 23rd-26th) In response, the Japanese Navy begins to use Kamikaze suicide pilots against U.S. forces.
Nov 14 – B-29 bombers begin to bomb Tokyo from bases in the Mariana islands.
Dec 16 – The Germans commence an attack in the Ardennes that would come to be known as the Battle of the Bulge.
Dec 20-28 – Siege of Bastogne
1945 World War 2 Timeline
Battle for Okinawa Video
Jan 9 – The Marines land in Luzon in the Philippines.
Jan 23 – The Soviets reach Germany at the Oder river.
Jan 27 – The Soviets liberate the Auschwitz death camp.
Jan 28 – The Ardennes campaign ends.
Feb 13 – The Soviets occupy Budapest, Hungary. The Allies bomb Dresden resulting in significant damage to the city.
Feb 19 – The Marines land in Iwo Jima
Mar 4 – Manila is liberated by the Allies.
Mar 6 – The Allies occupy Cologne, Germany.
Mar 7 – US forces cross the Rhine on the Remagen bridge.
Mar 16 – The battle of Iwo Jima ends with U.S. forces victorious.
Apr 1 – German forces are encircled in the Ruhr by the Americans
Apr 6 – The Marines land in Okinawa. Japan orders all its forces to use Kamikaze suicide tactics against the Americans.
Apr 7 – The super battleship Yamato is sunk on its way to a Kamikaze fight in Okinawa.
Apr 10 – The Allies occupy Hannover.
Apr 11 – The Allies liberate the Buchenwald death camp.
Apr 12 – President Roosevelt passes away.
Apr 13 – The Soviets enter Vienna, Austria.
Apr 16 – The Soviets begin their final advance to Berlin.
Apr 25 – American and Russian forces meet.
Apr 26 – German defense in northern Italy finally collapses.
Apr 29 – Mussolini is executed by the Italian resistance. The Allies liberate the Dachau death camp.
Apr 30 – Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin. He appoints Admiral Doenitz as his successor during the Battle of Berlin.
May 8 – Germany surrenders. The war in Europe ends
May 28 – 450 B-29 bombers bomb Yokohama, Japan.
Jun 2 – 660 B-29 bombers bomb various Japanese cities.
Jun 21 – The Battle of Okinawa ends.
Battle of Midway Video
Jul 16 – The US tests the atomic bomb in New Mexico successfully.
Aug 6 – Hiroshima is destroyed by an atomic bomb dropped by the United States.
Aug 8 – The Soviet Union declares war on Japan.
Aug 9 – Nagasaki is destroyed by an atomic bomb dropped by the United States.
Aug 14 – Japan surrenders. World War 2 finally ends.
September 2 – World War 2 is officially concluded (World War 2 Ends) with the signing of the peace treaty with Japan. Officially V-J day in the United States (victory over Japan). The U.K. celebrates August 15th as V-J Day.
World War 2 Timeline References:
The following are some of the references used to put together the World War 2 Timeline article. The interested reader may find these useful when looking for additional information regarding World War 2:
HistoryOrb.com World War 2 Timeline, Accessed on March 17th, 2013.
National World War 2 Museum World War 2 Timeline, Accessed on March 17th, 2013.
PBS.org Interactive, The Perilous Fight, World War 2 Timeline, Accessed on March 17th, 2013.
PBS.org Timeline of World War 2, Accessed on March 17th, 2013.
United States Holocaust Memorial World War 2 Timeline, Accessed on March 17th, 2013.