World War II (1939–1945)
Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
Axis powers (Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria) versus Allies (U.S., Britain, France, USSR, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Greece, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Yugoslavia).
- Germany invades Poland and annexes Danzig; Britain and France give Hitler ultimatum (Sept. 1), declare war (Sept. 3). Disabled German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee blown up off Montevideo, Uruguay, on Hitler's orders (Dec. 17). Limited activity (“Sitzkrieg”) on Western Front.
- Nazis invade Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg (May 10). Chamberlain resigns as Britain's prime minister; Churchill takes over (May 10). Germans cross French frontier (May 12) using air/tank/infantry “Blitzkrieg” tactics. Dunkerque evacuation > about 335,000 out of 400,000 Allied soldiers rescued from Belgium by British civilian and naval craft (May 26–June 3). Italy declares war on France and Britain; invades France (June 10). Germans enter Paris; city undefended (June 14). France and Germany sign armistice at Compiègne (June 22). Nazis bomb Coventry, England (Nov. 14).
- Germans launch attacks in Balkans. Yugoslavia surrenders—General Mihajlovic continues guerrilla warfare; Tito leads left-wing guerrillas (April 17). Nazi tanks enter Athens; remnants of British Army quit Greece (April 27). Hitler attacks Russia (June 22). Atlantic Charter—FDR and Churchill agree on war aims (Aug. 14). Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, Philippines, Guam force U.S. into war; U.S. Pacific fleet crippled (Dec. 7). U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan. Germany and Italy declare war on U.S.; Congress declares war on those countries (Dec. 11).
- British surrender Singapore to Japanese (Feb. 15). Roosevelt orders Japanese and Japanese Americans in western U.S. to be exiled to “relocation centers,” many for the remainder of the war (Feb. 19). U.S. forces on Bataan peninsula in Philippines surrender (April 9). U.S. and Filipino troops on Corregidor island in Manila Bay surrender to Japanese (May 6). Village of Lidice in Czechoslovakia razed by Nazis (June 10). U.S. and Britain land in French North Africa (Nov. 8).
- Casablanca Conference—Churchill and FDR agree on unconditional surrender goal (Jan. 14–24). German 6th Army surrenders at Stalingrad—turning point of war in Russia (Feb. 1–2). Remnants of Nazis trapped on Cape Bon, ending war in Africa (May 12). Mussolini deposed; Badoglio named premier (July 25). Allied troops land on Italian mainland after conquest of Sicily (Sept. 3). Italy surrenders (Sept. 8). Nazis seize Rome (Sept. 10). Cairo Conference: FDR, Churchill, Chiang Kai-shek pledge defeat of Japan, free Korea (Nov. 22–26). Tehran Conference: FDR, Churchill, Stalin agree on invasion plans (Nov. 28–Dec. 1).
- U.S. and British troops land at Anzio on west Italian coast and hold beachhead (Jan. 22). U.S. and British troops enter Rome (June 4). D-Day—Allies launch Normandy invasion (June 6). Hitler wounded in bomb plot (July 20). Paris liberated (Aug. 25). Athens freed by Allies (Oct. 13). Americans invade Philippines (Oct. 20). Germans launch counteroffensive in Belgium—Battle of the Bulge (Dec. 16).
- Yalta Agreement signed by FDR, Churchill, Stalin—establishes basis for occupation of Germany, returns to Soviet Union lands taken by Germany and Japan; USSR agrees to friendship pact with China (Feb. 11). Mussolini killed at Lake Como (April 28). Admiral Doenitz takes command in Germany; suicide of Hitler announced (May 1). Berlin falls (May 2). Germany signs unconditional surrender terms at Rheims (May 7). Allies declare V-E Day (May 8). Potsdam Conference—Truman, Churchill, Atlee (after July 28), Stalin establish council of foreign ministers to prepare peace treaties; plan German postwar government and reparations (July 17–Aug. 2). A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima by U.S. (Aug. 6). USSR declares war on Japan (Aug. 8). Nagasaki hit by A-bomb (Aug. 9). Japan agrees to surrender (Aug. 14). V-J Day—Japanese sign surrender terms aboard battleship Missouri (Sept. 2).
The Holocaust (1933–1945) Korean War (1950–1953)