• Brief and clear timeline of WW2

    Chronological timeline of the war

    Dates, facts and figures of World War 2

Lasting six years and one day, the Second World War started on 1 September 1939 with Germany's invasion of Poland and ended on 2 September 1945 with the Japanese surrender. Here is a brief timeline of the main events that engulfed the world into a catastrophic conflict.

Timeline of 1918 - 1939
November 11 1918
The First World War ends
The United States, Britain, France and other allies defeat Germany ending to WW1, also known as 'the war to end all wars'.
January 1919
Deutsche Arbeiterpartei is formed
In January 1919, Anton Drexler founded the German Workers’ Party. This party was formed from a group who had previously met regularly to discuss political matters. The party met weekly in a beer hall in Munich. After the pressures of war Munich was politically unstable. People were inclined to support new ideas that advocated extreme change. Adolf Hitler became involved with the fledgling German Workers Party which he would later transform into the Nazi Party (NSDAP).
January 1919
Birth of the Sturmabteilung (SA)
In the early days Hitler was surrounded by the unwieldy Sturmabteilung or SA, who were tough, unemployed ex-soldiers who frequented Munich beer halls such as the Torbräukeller. They were recruited by Ernst Röhm to protect Nazi speakers at public meetings. The Brownshirts, as they became known due the brown uniforms, were party supporters who acted as bodyguards.
January 28 1923
1st Nazi Party Day
The 1st Party Day or 'Parteitage' held between January 27 and 29, 1923, with the slogan Deutschland Erwache. Two brigades of men marched through the city of Munich and Hitler spoke at all meetings declaring the swastika would be the national symbol of the future Germany.
8 November 1923
Coup attempt (Beer Hall Putsch)
On the 8 November 1923, Hitler alongside other high party officials such as Göring, Hess and Himmler attempted to pull off a military coup and overthrow the Weimar Republic. Hitler and the Nazi Party collaborated with others such as General Ludendorff and Gustav von Kahr to make this plan work. This was called the Munich Putsch, although it is sometimes referred to as the Beer Hall Putsch.
1 April 1923
Convicted and sentenced
Sixteen Nazi Party members and four police officers were killed in the ensuing violence. Hitler briefly escaped the city but was arrested on 11 November 1923, and put on trial for high treason, which gained him widespread public attention. Hitler was convicted and on 1 April sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Landsberg Prison.
20 December 1924
Released from Landsberg Prison
Adolf Hitler in front of the Bayertor gate across the Lech river after his release from Landsberg fortress prison. He spent only 9 months behind the bars (his initial sentence was 5 years). Hitler used the time in Landsberg Prison to reconsider his political strategy and dictate the first volume of 'Mein Kampf'.
4 April 1925
Start of the Schutzstaffel (SS)
The Schutzstaffel SS was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany, and later throughout German-occupied Europe during WW2. In 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit, which had by then been reformed and given its final name. Under his direction (1929–1945) it grew from a small paramilitary formation during the Weimar Republic to one of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany. From the time of the Nazi Party's rise to power until the regime's collapse in 1945, the SS was the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror within Germany and German-occupied Europe.
18 July 1925
Mein Kampf a autobiographical manifesto
Mein Kampf or 'My Struggle' is a 1925 autobiographical manifesto by Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler. The work describes the process by which Hitler became antisemitic and outlines his political ideology and future plans for Germany. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926.The book was edited first by Emil Maurice, then by Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess.
27 February 1933
Dutchman allegedly sets fire to Reichstag

Marinus van der Lubbe (13 January 1909 - 10 January 1934) was a Dutch communist who was tried, convicted, and beheaded by the Nazis for allegedly setting fire to the German Reichstag building on 27 February 1933. He was the first victim of the Nazis.

The Nazis exploited the fire to pass emergency legislation that abolished a number of constitutional protections and paved the way for Nazi dictatorship.

Former SA member, Hans-Martin Lennings, issued a statement to the notary in 1955 stating that he brought Marinus van der Lubbe to the Reichstag (ordered by Nazi parliamentarian and SA member Karl Ernst) on that evening in February 1933. When he arrived, the Reichstag was already burning. Therefore Marinus van der Lubbe could not have lit the building. This statement was only recently found in Hanover archives.

Van der Lubbe was given a posthumous pardon as the documents proved he could not have done it.

January 30 1933
Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany
Ex-chancellor Franz von Papen persuades Hindenburg to make Hitler chancellor. After President Hindenburg dies Hitler takes on dictatorial powers and German rearmament intensifies.
October 25 to November 1 1936
Birth of the Axis of Evil
Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy sign a treaty of cooperation on October 25 and on November 1, 1936 the Rome - Berlin Axis is announced.
9 - 10 November 1938
Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass
Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass, was a pogrom against Jews carried out by the Nazi Party's Sturmabteilung (SA) paramilitary forces along with civilians throughout Nazi Germany on 9 - 10 November 1938. The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues were smashed. The pretext for the attacks was the assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old German-born Polish Jew living in Paris. Historians view Kristallnacht as a prelude to the Final Solution and the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust.
August 23, 1939
Nazi and Soviet Nonaggression agreement
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union sign a nonaggression agreement and a secret codicil dividing eastern Europe into spheres of influence.
September 1, 1939
The Second World War begins
Germany invades Poland, inciting Poland’s allies Britain and France to declare war on Germany on September 3, 1939. Australia and New Zealand also declared war on Germany.
September 17, 1939
Soviet Union invades Poland
Working in collaboration with Adolf Hitler, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin orders the invasion of Poland and securing a share of Polish territory.
September 27, 1939
Warsaw is captured
The Polish forces could not withstand the 'Blitzkrieg' of the German troops and Warsaw surrenders. Nine days later the whole of Poland capitulates.
September 27, 1939
Poland surrenders
With civilian losses estimated at 200,000 Poland surrenders to Germany. Polish lands are divided between the Soviet Union and Germany, as are 660,000 prisoners of war. Many atrocities were still to come for the Polish poeple.
Timeline of 1940
April 9, 1940
Germany conquers Norway and Denmark
In a lightning attack or Blitzkrieg, German forces attack Norway and Denmark. Denmark is occupied in one day. German forces land in Norway near Oslo, the capital, and in other places, securing the south. Germany also moves to secure the ports of Narvik and Trondheim in the north. British forces intervene, landing at Narvik, Namsos, and Andalsnes, but will be forced to withdraw by the first week of June 1940. Norway surrenders to Germany on June 10.
May 10 1940
Germany invades The Netherlands
The Battle of the Netherlands was a military campaign part of Operation Fall Gelb, the German invasion of the Low Countries (Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) and France during World War II. The battle lasted from 10 May 1940 until the surrender of the main Dutch forces on 14 May. Dutch troops in the province of Zealand continued to resist the Wehrmacht until 17 May when Germany completed its occupation of the whole country. After the devastating bombing of Rotterdam by the Luftwaffe on 14 May, the Germans threatened to bomb other Dutch cities if the Dutch forces refused to surrender. The General Staff knew it could not stop the bombers and ordered the Dutch Army to cease hostilities.
May 10 1940
Germany invades Belgium
The Battle of Belgium or Belgian Campaign, often referred to within Belgium as the 18 Days' Campaign, formed part of the greater Battle of France, an offensive campaign by Germany during the Second World War. It took place over 18 days in May 1940 and ended with the German occupation of Belgium following the surrender of the Belgian Army.
May 10 1940
Germany invades France
On 3 September 1939, France had declared war on Germany, following the German invasion of Poland. The Germans invaded Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands on 10 May, Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940 and German forces defeated the Allies on 25 June. France was conquered, ending land operations on the Western Front until the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944. German forces occupied Paris unopposed on 14 June 1940. After the flight of the French Vichy government and the collapse of the French Army, German commanders met with French officials on 18 June to negotiate an end to all hostilities. On 22 June, the Armistice was signed at Compiègne by France and Germany.
May 20, 1940
Auschwitz main camp is established
The Auschwitz concentration camp complex was the largest of its kind established by the Nazi regime. It included three main camps, all of which deployed incarcerated prisoners at forced labor. One of them also functioned for an extended period as a killing center. The camps were located approximately 37 miles west of Krakow, near the prewar German-Polish border in Upper Silesia, an area that Nazi Germany annexed in 1939 after invading and conquering Poland.
26 May - 4 June ,1940
The Battle of Dunkirk
The Battle of Dunkirk was fought around the French port of Dunkirk during WW2, between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As the Allies were losing the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and other Allied forces to Britain from
June 10, 1940
Italy declares war on France and Great Britain
After withholding formal allegiance to either side in the battle between Germany and the Allies, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, declares war on France and Great Britain. “First they were too cowardly to take part. Now they are in a hurry so that they can share in the spoils.”  Hitler noted.
22 June, 1940
France signs armistice with Germany
The Armistice was signed near Compiègne, France, by officials of Nazi Germany and the Third French Republic. It did not come into effect until after midnight on 25 June. Following the decisive German victory in the Battle of France, this armistice established a German occupation zone in Northern and Western France that encompassed all English Channel and Atlantic Ocean ports and left the remainder "free" to be governed by the French. Adolf Hitler deliberately chose Compiègne Forest as the site to sign the armistice due to its symbolic role as the site of the 1918 Armistice with Germany that signaled the end of World War I with Germany's surrender.
June 4 1940
We shall fight on the beaches
Winston Churchill delivers his famous, "We shall never surrender", speech to the House of Commons.
September 7, 1940
The "Blitz" against Britain begins
The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and originated from the term Blitzkrieg, the German word for 'lightning war'. It lasted until May 11, 1941
Timeline of 1941
January 2, 1941
Germany bombs Cardiff
Llandaff Cathedral was damaged by German bombing during the worst night of the Cardiff Blitz
June 22, 1941
Operation Barbarossa is unleashed
In accordance with previous agreements between SS and police and Wehrmacht representatives, German mobile units of Security Police and SD officials, called Einsatzgruppen, followed the frontline troops into the Soviet Union. RSHA chief Heydrich had tasked the Einsatzgruppen commanders with identifying, concentrating, and killing Jews, Soviet officials and other persons deemed potentially hostile to German rule in the east. Einsatzgruppen squads began to carry out mass shootings during the last week of June 1941.
September 1, 1941
Yellow Star of David
All Jews over six years of age in the Reich, Alsace, Bohemia-Moravia and the German–annexed territory of western Poland are ordered to wear an identifying badge. Reinhard Heydrich decrees that all Jews over six years of age in the Reich, Alsace, Bohemia-Moravia and the German–annexed territory of western Poland , are to wear yellow Star of David on their outer clothing in public at all times.  The word "Jew" is to be inscribed inside the star in German or the local language. Later on all Jews in occupied territories had to wear a star.
December 7, 1941
Japan attacks Pearl Harbor (USA)
The Japanese attack of the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, began just before 08:00, on Sunday, December 7, 1941. The United States was a neutral country at the time. In the two hour raid that followed, 18 warships, 188 aircraft and around 2.000 servicemen were lost. Luckily, the 3 aircraft carriers of the fleet were all at sea at the time of the attack. The attack led to the United Sates together with Britain, declaring war on Japan.
December 8, 1941
United States Declares War on Japan

President Franklin D. Roosevelt asks the US Congress to declare war on Japan following the previous day's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. He spoke to the Congress: "Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions, and well understand the implications for the very life and safety of our nation. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph so help us God. I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire."

December 11, 1941
Germany declares war on the United States
Four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States declaration of war against the Japanese Empire, Nazi Germany declared war against the United States, in response to what was claimed to be a series of provocations by the United States government when the US was still officially neutral during WW2. The decision to declare war was made by Adolf Hitler, apparently offhand, almost without consultation. It has been referred to as Hitler's "most puzzling" decision of WW2.
Timeline of 1942
January 20, 1942
Wannsse Conference

Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), convenes the Wannsee Conference in a villa outside Berlin. At this conference, he presents plans to coordinate a European-wide “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” to key officials from the German State and the Nazi Party.

The "Final Solution" was the code name for the systematic, deliberate, physical annihilation of the European Jews. At some still undetermined time in 1941, Hitler authorized this European-wide scheme for mass murder.

March 1, 1942
Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp Established
The Inspectorate of Concentration Camps opens a second camp at Auschwitz, called Auschwitz-Birkenau or Auschwitz II.
April 18, 1942
Doolittle Raiders Bomb Japan
The Doolittle Raid, also known as the Tokyo Raid, was an air raid by the United States on the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on Honshu during World War II. It was the first air operation to strike the Japanese archipelago. Although the raid caused comparatively minor damage, it demonstrated that the Japanese mainland was vulnerable to American air attacks. It served as retaliation for the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, and provided an important boost to American morale. The raid was planned by, led by, and named after Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle.
4 - 7 June 1942
The Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II that took place six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea. The United States Navy under Admirals Chester W. Nimitz, Frank J. Fletcher, and Raymond A. Spruance defeated an attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy under Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto, Chūichi Nagumo, and Nobutake Kondō near Midway Atoll, inflicting devastating damage on the Japanese fleet.
1 – 27, July 1942
First Battle of El Alamein
The First Battle of El Alamein was a battle of the Western Desert Campaign of WW2, fought in Egypt between Axis forces of the Panzer Army Africa, which included the Afrika Korps under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (right) and the Allied forces of the Eighth Army under the command of General Claude Auchinleck(left).
August 7, 1942
Battle of Guadalcanal

The Guadalcanal campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal and codenamed Operation Watchtower by American forces, was a military campaign fought between August 7, 1942 and 9 February 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theater of World War 2. It was the first major land offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan. 

23 August, 1942
Battle of Stalingrad
Nazi Germany and its allies unsuccessfully fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in Southern Russia. The battle was marked by fierce close-quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, with the battle being the epitome of urban warfare. It was the deadliest battle to take place during WW2 and is one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with an estimated 2 million total casualties. The victory at Stalingrad was huge moral boost for the Red Army and shifted the balance of power in the favour of the Soviets.
October 3, 1942
First flight of the V2 rocket

At Peenemünde, Germany the first launch of V-2 (German: Vergeltungswaffe 2, meaning  'Retaliation Weapon 2', with the technical name Aggregat 4 (A4) rocket is successful. The V2 rocket flies 147 kilometres wide and reaches a height of 84.5 kilometres and is therefore the first man made object reaching space in history.

23 October - 11 November, 1942
Second battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein was a battle that took place near the Egyptian railway halt of El Alamein. The First Battle of El Alamein and the Battle of Alam el Halfa had prevented the Axis from advancing further into Egypt. In August 1942, General Claude Auchinleck had been relieved as Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command and his successor, Lieutenant-General William Gott was killed on his way to replace him as commander of the Eighth Army. Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery was appointed and led the Eighth Army offensive. The British victory was the beginning of the end of the Western Desert Campaign, eliminating the Axis threat to Egypt, the Suez Canal and the Middle Eastern and Persian oil fields. The battle reboost the morale of the Allies, being the first big success against the Axis since Operation Crusader in late 1941. The end of the battle coincided with the Allied invasion of French North Africa in Operation Torch on 8 November, which opened a second front in North Africa.
Timeline of 1943
January 14, 1943
Casablanca Conference

The Casablanca Conference (codenamed SYMBOL) or Anfa Conference was held at the Anfa Hotel in Casablanca, French Morocco, from January 14 to 24, 1943, to plan the Allied European strategy for the next phase of World War 2. In attendance were United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British prime minister Winston Churchill. Also attending were the sovereign of Morocco, Sultan Muhammad V, and representing the Free French forces, Generals Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud, but they played minor roles and were not part of the military planning. Soviet general secretary Joseph Stalin declined to attend, citing the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad as requiring his presence in the Soviet Union.

February 11, 1943
Eisenhower becomes commander Europe

The United States General Dwight D. Eisenhower is selected to command the Allied armies in Europe.

February 18, 1943
Joseph Goebbels "Total War"

German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels gave a speech (also known as the Total War speech) at the Sportpalast in Berlin to a large, carefully selected audience on 18 February 1943, as the tide of World War 2 was turning against Nazi Germany and its Axis allies. The speech is particularly notable as Goebbels almost mentions the Holocaust, when he begins saying "Ausrotten" (extermination), but quickly changes it to Ausschaltung. (exclusion)

March 13, 1943
Krakow ghetto is liquidated

On March 13-14, 1943, SS and police carried out the operation, shooting some 2.000 Jews in the ghetto. The SS transferred another 2.000 Jews those capable of work to the Plaszow forced labor camp. The rest of the Jews were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau in two transports, arriving on March 13 and March 16. At Auschwitz-Birkenau, the camp authorities selected 549 persons from the two transports to be registered as prisoners. They others, approximately 2.450 people, were murdered in the gas chambers.

April 30, 1943
Operation Mincemeat

Lt. Jewell's crew release a body bearing false documents near the Spanish coast. Charles Cholmondeley and Ewen Montagu (picture) transported the body to Scotland on 17 April 1943. Later, the body washes up on the Spanish coast and is discovered by a local fisherman. They will go on to mislead the Germans about the site and timing of the Allied invasion of Sicily.

April 30, 1943
Black May for the U-Boats

Admiral Karl Dönitz orders the majority of U-Boats to withdraw from the Atlantic because of heavy losses to new Allied anti submarine tactics. By the end of the month, 43 U-boats are lost, compared to 34 Allied ships sunk. This is referred to as "Black May".

May 24, 1943
Josef Mengele comes to Auschwitz

Josef Mengele (32) comes to Auschwitz the extermination camp in Poland on May 24, 1943. The man who will quickly earn the nickname “the Angel of Death.”

Born March 16, 1911, in Bavaria, Mengele studied philosophy under Alfred Rosenberg, whose racial theories highly influenced him. In 1934, already a member of the Nazi Party, he joined the research staff of the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene.

July 5, 1943
Battle of Kursk

The Battle of Kursk was a major Second World War engagement between German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front near Kursk in the Soviet Union, during July and August 1943. The battle began with the launch of the German offensive Operation Citadel, on 5 July, which had the objective of pinching off the Kursk salient with attacks on the base of the salient from north and south simultaneously.

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