World War 2 was fought in many places and affected many individuals throughout the war. It changed the landscape of the continents and led to the creation of a Jewish nation-state.
This is a brief World War 2 Timeline that chronicles many of the major events that occurred before, during, and after the war.
This is a brief World War 2 Timeline that chronicles many of the major events that occurred before, during, and after the war.
September 18, 1931:
Japan invaded Manchuria.
October 2, 1935–May 1936:
Italy invades, conquers, and annexes Ethiopia.
October 25–November 1, 1936:
Germany and Italy signed a treaty of cooperation on October 25; on November 1, the Rome-Berlin Axis was announced.
November 25, 1936:
Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan sign the Anti-Comintern Pact, directed against the Soviet Union and the international Communist movement.
July 7, 1937:
Japan invaded China, initiating World War II in the Pacific.
March 11–13, 1938:
Germany incorporates Austria in the Anschluss.
September 30, 1938:
Hitler, Chamberlain, Daladier of France, and Mussolini of Italy met in Munich and agreed that Hitler should have the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. The Czechs were not represented at the meeting and, realizing that no country would come to their aid, were forced to surrender the Sudetenland to Germany. Hitler assured those at the meeting that this was the extent of his ambitions for expansion. Chamberlain returned to England with a piece of paper signed by Hitler, proclaiming ‘peace in our time.
Under German pressure, the Slovaks declared their independence and formed the Slovak Republic. Despite the assurances given by Hitler in the Treaty of Munich, he took control of a portion of Czechoslovakia.
March 31, 1939:
Britain and France rearm and reassure Poland.
April 7–15, 1939:
Fascist Italy invades and conquers Albania
August 23, 1939:
Hitler and Stalin signed a non-aggression pact that included secret clauses for the division of Poland.
September 1, 1939:
Germany invades Poland. Although there had been problems in the previous years, the invasion of Poland is what started World War 2. Britain and France declared war on Germany 2 days later.
September 17, 1939:
The Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east.
September 27–29, 1939:
Warsaw surrendered on September 27. The Polish government flees into exile via Romania. Germany and the Soviet Union divided Poland between them. Thus honoring the agreement between the two.
November 30, 1939–March 12, 1940:
The Soviet Union invaded Finland, initiating the so-called Winter War. The Finns sued for an armistice and had to cede the northern shores of Lake Lagoda and the small Finnish coastline on the Arctic Sea to the Soviet Union.
April 9, 1940–June 9, 1940:
Hitler invaded and occupied Denmark and Norway to safeguard supply routes of Swedish ore and also to establish a Norwegian base from which to break the British naval blockade on Germany. Denmark surrendered on the day of the attack, while Norway held out until June 9.
May 10, 1940–June 22, 1940:
Hitler launched his blitzkrieg against Holland and Belgium. Rotterdam was bombed almost to extinction. Both countries were occupied.
May 13, 1940:
Neville Chamberlain resigned after pressure from Labour members for a more active prosecution of the war, and Winston Churchill became the new head of the wartime coalition government. Chamberlain gave Churchill his unreserved support. Ernest Bevin was made minister of labor, recruited workers for the factories, and stepped up coal production. Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production, increased the production of fighter aircraft.
June 10, 1940:
Italy entered the war. Italy invaded southern France on June 21.
June 28, 1940:
The Soviet Union forced Romania to cede the eastern province of Bessarabia and the northern half of Bukovina to Soviet Ukraine.
June 14, 1940–August 6, 1940:
The Soviet Union occupied the Baltic States on June 14–18, engineering Communist coup d’états in each of them on July 14–15, and then annexing them as Soviet Republics on August 3–6.
July 10, 1940–October 31, 1940:
The air war known as the Battle of Britain ends in defeat for Nazi Germany.
August 30, 1940:
Second Vienna Award: Germany and Italy arbitrate a decision on the division of the disputed province of Transylvania between Romania and Hungary. The loss of northern Transylvania forces Romanian King Carol to abdicate in favor of his son, Michael, and brings to power a dictatorship under General Ion Antonescu.
September 13, 1940:
The Italians invaded British-controlled Egypt from Italian-controlled Libya.
September 27, 1940:
Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact.
Italy invaded Greece from Albania on October 28.
Slovakia (November 23), Hungary (November 20), and Romania (November 22) joined the Axis.
The Germans sent the Afrika Korps to North Africa to reinforce the faltering Italians.
March 1, 1941:
Bulgaria joined the Axis.
April 6, 1941–June 1941:
Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria invade and dismember Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia surrendered on April 17. Germany and Bulgaria invaded Greece in support of the Italians. Resistance in Greece ceased in early June 1941.
April 10, 1941:
The leaders of the terrorist Ustasa movement proclaim the so-called Independent State of Croatia. Recognized immediately by Germany and Italy, the new state includes the province of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Croatia joined the Axis powers formally on June 15, 1941.
June 22, 1941–November 1941:
Nazi Germany and its Axis partners (except Bulgaria) invade the Soviet Union. Finland, seeking redress for the territorial losses in the armistice concluding the Winter War, joined the Axis just before the invasion. The Germans quickly overrun the Baltic States and, joined by the Finns, lay siege to Leningrad (St. Petersburg) by September. In the center, the Germans capture Smolensk in early August and drive to Moscow by October. In the south, German and Romanian troops captured Kiev (Kyiv) in September and captured Rostov on the Don River in November.
December 6, 1941:
A Soviet counteroffensive drives the Germans from the Moscow suburbs in a chaotic retreat.
December 7, 1941:
Japan bombs Pearl Harbor.
December 8, 1941:
The United States declared war on Japan, entering World War II. Japanese troops landed in the Philippines, French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), and British Singapore. By April 1942, the Philippines, Indochina, and Singapore were under Japanese occupation.
December 11–13, 1941:
Nazi Germany and its Axis partners declare war on the United States.
May 30, 1942–May 1945:
The British bombed Köln (Cologne), bringing the war home to Germany for the first time. Over the next three years, Anglo-American bombing reduced urban Germany to rubble.
June 1942 :
British and US navies halted the Japanese naval advance in the central Pacific at Midway.
June 28, 1942–September 1942:
Germany and her Axis partners launched a new offensive on the Soviet Union. German troops fought their way into Stalingrad (Volgograd) on the Volga River by mid-September and penetrated deep into the Caucasus after securing the Crimean Peninsula.
US troops halt the Japanese island-hopping advance towards Australia at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.
October 23–24, 1942:
British troops defeated the Germans and Italians at El Alamein in Egypt, sending the Axis forces in a chaotic retreat across Libya to the eastern border of Tunisia.
November 8, 1942:
US and British troops landed at several points on the beaches of Algeria and Morocco in French North Africa. The failure of the Vichy French troops to defend against the invasion enabled the Allies to move swiftly to the western border of Tunisia and triggered the German occupation of southern France on November 11.
November 23, 1942–February 2, 1943:
Soviet troops counterattacked, breaking through the Hungarian and Romanian lines northwest and southwest of Stalingrad and trapping the German Sixth Army in the city. Forbidden by Hitler to retreat or try to break out of the Soviet ring, the survivors of the Sixth Army surrendered on January 30 and February 2, 1943.
May 13, 1943:
Axis forces in Tunisia surrendered to the Allies, ending the North African campaign.
July 5, 1943:
The Germans launched a massive tank offensive near Kursk in the Soviet Union. The Soviets blunt the attack within a week and begin an offensive initiative of their own.
July 10, 1943:
US and British troops landed in Sicily. By mid-August, the Allies controlled Sicily.
July 25, 1943 :
The Fascist Grand Council deposed Benito Mussolini, enabling Italian marshall Pietro Badoglio to form a new government.
September 8, 1943 :
The Badoglio government surrendered unconditionally to the Allies. The Germans immediately seized control of Rome and northern Italy, establishing a puppet Fascist regime under Mussolini, who was freed from imprisonment by German commandos on September 12.
September 9, 1943:
Allied troops landed on the beaches of Salerno near Naples.
November 6, 1943:
Soviet troops liberated Kiev.
January 22, 1944:
Allied troops landed successfully near Anzio, just south of Rome.
March 19, 1944:
Fearing Hungary’s intention to desert the Axis partnership, the Germans occupied Hungary and compelled the regent, Admiral Miklos Horthy, to appoint a pro-German minister-president.
June 4, 1944:
Allied troops liberated Rome. Within six weeks, Anglo-American bombers could hit targets in eastern Germany for the first time.
June 6, 1944:
British and US troops successfully landed on the Normandy beaches of France, opening a “Second Front” against the Germans.
June 22, 1944:
The Soviets launched a massive offensive in eastern Byelorussia (Belarus), destroying the German Army Group Center and driving westward to the Vistula River across from Warsaw in central Poland by August 1.
July 25, 1944:
Anglo-American forces break out of the Normandy beachhead and race eastward towards Paris.
August 1, 1944–October 5, 1944:
The non-communist underground Home Army rose up against the Germans in an effort to liberate Warsaw before the arrival of Soviet troops. The Soviet advance halts on the east bank of the Vistula. On October 5, the Germans accepted the surrender of the remnants of the Home Army forces fighting in Warsaw.
August 15, 1944:
Allied forces landed in southern France near Nice and advanced rapidly towards the Rhine River to the northeast.
August 20–25, 1944:
Allied troops reach Paris. On August 25, Free French forces, supported by Allied troops, entered the French capital. By September, the Allies reached the German border; by December, virtually all of France, most of Belgium, and part of the southern Netherlands are liberated.
August 23, 1944:
The appearance of Soviet troops on the Prut River induced the Romanian opposition to overthrow the Antonescu regime. The new government concludes an armistice and immediately switches sides in the war. The Romanian turnaround compelled Bulgaria to surrender on September 8 and the Germans to evacuate Greece, Albania, and southern Yugoslavia in October.
August 29, 1944–October 28, 1944:
Under the leadership of the Slovak National Council, consisting of both Communists and non-Communists, underground Slovak resistance units rise against the Germans and the indigenous fascist Slovak regime. In late October, the Germans captured Banská Bystrica, the headquarters of the uprising, and put an end to organized resistance.
September 12, 1944:
Finland concluded an armistice with the Soviet Union, leaving the Axis partnership.
October 15, 1944:
The Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross movement carried out a coup d’état with German support to prevent the Hungarian government from pursuing negotiations for surrender to the Soviets.
October 20, 1944:
US troops land in the Philippines.
December 16, 1944:
The Germans launched a final offensive in the west, known as the Battle of the Bulge, in an attempt to reconquer Belgium and split the Allied forces along the German border. By January 1, 1945, the Germans were in retreat.
January 12, 1945:
The Soviets launched a new offensive, liberating Warsaw and Krakow in January, capturing Budapest after a two-month siege on February 13, driving the Germans and their Hungarian collaborators out of Hungary in early April, forcing the surrender of Slovakia with the capture of Bratislava on April 4, and capturing Vienna on April 13.
Feb 19 - Mar 26, 1945:
The Battle of Iwo Jima was a major battle in which the United States Marine Corps landed on and eventually captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II
March 7, 1945:
US troops cross the Rhine River at Remagen.
April 1, 1945 - June 22, 1945:
The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by United States Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army.
April 12, 1945:
April 16, 1945:
The Soviets launched their final offensive, encircling Berlin.
Partisan units, led by Yugoslav Communist leader Josip Tito, capture Zagreb and topple the Ustasa regime. The top Ustasa leaders flee to Italy and Austria.
April 30, 1945:
Hitler passed away suddenly.
May 7, 1945:
Germany surrendered to the Western Allies.
May 9, 1945:
Germany surrendered to the Soviets.
Allied troops conquered Okinawa, the last island stop before the Japanese islands.
June 10, 1945 - August 15, 1945:
The Battle of North Borneo took place during the Second World War between Allied and Japanese forces. Part of the wider Borneo campaign of the Pacific War, it was fought between 10 June and 15 August 1945 in North Borneo.
August 6, 1945:
The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
August 8, 1945:
The Soviet Union declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria.
August 9, 1945:
The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
September 2, 1945:
Having agreed in principle to an unconditional surrender on August 14, 1945, Japan formally surrendered, ending World War II.
World War 2 Timeline: Online Resources
- Wikipedia - World War 2 Year by Year
- World War 2 Chronological Timeline - History on the Net
- World War 2 Database
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Spartacus Educational
- World War II Day by Day: The Greatest Military Conflict Exactly How It Happened
- Avalon Project - Documents of World War 2
- National World War II Museum
- Witness to War - Oral Histories from World War 2
- List of World War 2 Battles in Chronological Order