History of War

IN THE 20TH CENTURY

 

World War II: Timeline (1939-1945)

Interactive version | Text-only version

WWII timeline

Timeline guidelines
Hover over one of the dates on the interactive timeline above to see the description of the major events and battles of World War II and where they occured on the map below.
August 23, 1939
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union sign an armistice and a secret agreement dividing Eastern Europe into spheres of influence.
September 1, 1939
Germany invades Poland, commencing World War II in Europe.
September 3, 1939
Great Britain and France declare war on Germany.
September 17, 1939
The Soviet Union invades Poland from the east.
September 27 – 29, 1939
Warsaw surrenders on September 27. The Polish government flees into exile via Romania. Germany and the Soviet Union divide Poland between them.
November 30, 1939 – March 12, 1940
The Soviet Union invades Finland, forcing the Finns 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
Germany invades Denmark and Norway. Denmark surrenders on the day of the attack; Norway holds out until June 9.
May 10, 1940 – June 22, 1940
Germany attacks France and the neutral Low Countries of Western Europe. Luxembourg is occupied on May 10, the Netherlands surrenders on May 14, and Belgium surrenders on May 28. On June 22, France signs an armistice agreement which allows Germany to occupy the northern half of the country and the Atlantic coastline. In southern France, an Axis regime with its capital in Vichy is established.
June 21, 1940
Italy enters the war and invades southern France.
July 10, 1940 – October 31, 1940
The air war known as the Battle of Britain ends in defeat for Nazi Germany.
September 13, 1940
The Italians invade British-controlled Egypt from Italian-controlled Libya.
September 27, 1940
Germany, Italy, and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact. China becomes a de facto member of the Allied Powers due to their war with Japan that had been ongoing since Japan's invasion of China in 1937.
October 28, 1940
Italy invades Greece from Albania.
November 1940
Slovakia (November 23), Hungary (November 20), and Romania (November 22) join the Axis.
March 1, 1941
Bulgaria joins the Axis.
April 6, 1941 – June 1941
Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria invade and dismember Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia surrenders on April 17. Germany and Bulgaria invade Greece in support of the Italians. Resistance in Greece ceases in early June 1941.
June 22, 1941 – November 1941
Nazi Germany and its Axis partners invade the Soviet Union. Finland joins the Axis just before the invasion. The Germans lay siege to Leningrad and Kiev by September, capture Smolensk in early August, attack Moscow by October, and capture Rostov on the Don River in November.
December 6, 1941
A Soviet counteroffensive drives the Germans back in retreat from Moscow.
December 7, 1941
Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, the American naval base in Hawaii.
December 8, 1941
The United States declares war on Japan, entering World War II.
April 1942
The Philippines, Indochina, and Singapore are officially all under Japanese occupation.
May 30, 1942 – May 1945
The British bomb Köln, bringing the war to Germany for the first time. Over the next three years, an Anglo-American area bombing campaign devastates Urban Germany.
June 28, 1942 - September 1942
Germany and Axis partners launch an offensive against the Soviet Union. German troops move into Stalingrad by mid-September and infiltrate deep into the Caucasus after capturing the Crimean Peninsula.
August – November 1942
US troops stop the Japanese island-hopping offensive towards Australia at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.
November 8, 1942
US and British troops land on the beaches of Algeria and Morocco in French North Africa. The failure of the Vichy French troops to defend against the invasion allows the Allies to move quickly to the western border of Tunisia.
November 23, 1942 – February 2, 1943
Soviet troops break through the Hungarian and Romanian lines northwest and southwest of Stalingrad and trapping the German Sixth Army in the city. The Sixth Army surrender on January 30 and February 2, 1943.
May 13, 1943
Axis forces in Tunisia surrender to the Allies, ending the North African campaign.
July 10, 1943
US and British troops land on Sicily. By mid-August, the Allies control Sicily.
July 25, 1943
The Fascist Grand Council deposes Benito Mussolini, which allows Italian marshall Pietro Badoglio to form a new government.
September 8 - 12, 1943
The Badoglio government surrenders unconditionally to the Allies. The Germans respond by seizing Rome and establishing a puppet Fascist regime under Mussolini, who is freed from imprisonment by German commandos.
June 4, 1944
Allied troops liberate Rome.
June 6, 1944
British and US troops successfully land on the Normandy beaches of France, opening a “Second Front” against the Germans.
June 22 - August 1, 1944
The Soviets launch a massive offensive in Belarus, driving the Germans westward to the Vistula River across from Warsaw in central Poland by August 1.
July 25 - December 31, 1944
Anglo-American forces break out of the Normandy beachhead and move eastward towards Paris. On August 25, Free French forces, supported by Allied troops, enter the French capital. By September, the Allies reach the German border. By December, nearly all of France, most of Belgium, and part of the southern Netherlands are liberated.
August 23 - October 31, 1944
The appearance of Soviet troops on the Prut River causes the Romanian opposition to overthrow the Antonescu regime and immediately switch sides in the war. The Romanian turnaround compels Bulgaria to surrender on September 8. The Germans are forced to evacuate Greece, Albania, and southern Yugoslavia in October.
December 16, 1944
The Germans launch a final offensive in the west, known as the Battle of the Bulge, in an attempt to split the Allied forces along the German border by re-conquering Belgium. By January 1, 1945, the Germans are in retreat.
January 12 - April 13, 1945
The Soviets launch a new offensive, liberating Warsaw and Krakow in January, capturing Budapest on February 13, driving the Germans of Hungary in early April, forcing the surrender of Slovakia on April 4, and capturing Vienna on April 13.
April 16, 1945
The Soviets launch their final offensive, encircling Berlin.
April 30, 1945
Hitler commits suicide.
May 7, 1945
Germany surrenders to the western Allies.
May 9, 1945
Germany surrenders to the Soviets.
August 6, 1945
The United States drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
August 8, 1945
The Soviet Union declares war on Japan and invades Manchuria.
August 9, 1945
The United States drops an atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
September 2, 1945
Having agreed in principle to unconditional surrender on August 14, 1945, Japan formally surrenders, ending World War II.
October 25, 1945
The United Nations (UN) is established as an intergovernmental organization to help promote international cooperation.

 

 

WWII map

Disclaimer: It must be noted that there are many countries that were members of both the Allied and Axis Powers that were not included in this interactive map to focus on the events and therefore countries included in the timeline. For the full graphic that includes all of the countries involved in the Cold War, visit the main timeline page and hover over the Cold War on that interactive timeline.