Timeline of World War II

World War II, also called the Second World War, was a global conflict during the years 1939–1945.

The principal combatants were the Axis powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan—and the Allies—France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and, to a lesser extent, China.

The war was in many respects a continuation, after an uneasy 20-year hiatus, of the disputes left unsettled by World War I and the conditions imposed on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles, ending “The Great War.”

The 50,000,000–70,000,000 deaths incurred in World War II make it the bloodiest conflict, as well as the largest war, in history.

Below are some key dates in World War II.

Some of these events actually took place before the first “official” shot of WWII was fired on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland touching off the war in Europe.

There had already been fighting in the Pacific between Japan and neighboring countries. Japan’s December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor took the war to another level as the United States was thrust into this global conflict. 

Even today, everyone has a personal connection to World War II in their family in some manner. It’s up to you to discover what that is.

30 Jan 1933

Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany

1937

Japanese invasion of Manchuria

1938

German Anschluss with Austria

30 SEPT 1938

Treaty of Munich

MARCH 1939

Hitler invades Czechoslovakia

MARCH/APRIL 1939

Britain rearms and reassures Poland

LATE AUG 1939

Russia and Germany sign pact

1 SEPT 1939

Hitler invades Poland

3 SEPT 1939

Britain and France declare war on Germany

SEPT 1939-MAY 1940

“Phoney War”

APRIL/MAY 1940

Hitler invades Denmark and Norway

10 MAY 1940

Blitzkrieg

13 MAY 1940

Chamberlain resigns

26 MAY 1940

Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo)

11 JUNE 1940

Italy enters war on side of Axis powers

22 JUNE 1940

France signs armistice with Germany

10 JULY-31 OCT 1940

Battle of Britain

22 SEPT 1940

Tripartite Pact

DECEMBER 1940

British rout Italians in N. Africa

EARLY 1941

Italy and Germany attack Yugoslavia

22 JUNE 1941

Hitler attacks Russia – Operation Barbarossa

7 DEC 1941

Pearl Harbor

8 DEC 1941

Britain and US declare war on Japan

FEB 1942

Japanese take Singapore

JUNE 1942

Battle of Midway

AUG 1942

Allies invade N. Africa

23 OCT 1942

Battle of El Alamein

NOV 1942

Battle of Stalingrad/
Allies push into N. Africa

12 MAY 1943

Axis surrenders in N. Africa

JULY 1943

Allies invade Sicily

AUG 1943

Allies take Sicily

3 SEPT 1943

Italy surrenders

NOV 1943

Allies meet at Tehran

JAN 1944

Leningrad relieved

JUNE 5 1944

Rome liberated

JUNE 6 1944

D-Day

25 AUG 1944

Paris liberated

8 SEPT 1944

V2 Flying Bombs

16 DEC 1944

Battle of the Bulge Begins

MARCH 1945

Allies cross the Rhine

APRIL 1945

Russians reach Berlin

28 APRIL 1945

Mussolini captured and executed

30 APRIL 1945

Hitler commits suicide

7 MAY 1945

Germany unconditionally surrenders

8 MAY 1945

V.E. day

5 JULY 1945

Churchill loses election

5 AUG 1945

Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

8 JULY 1945

Russia declares war on Japan

6 AUG 1945

Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

14 AUG 1945

Japanese surrender

2 Sept 1945

MacArthur accepts Japan’s unconditional surrender