World War II
Just two decades after the First World War, the world is at war again. The Second World War was the deadliest war in history. It involved more than 30 nations and was the cause of an estimated 50-60 million military and civilian deaths. Six million of those killed were Jews in Nazi concentration camps. The Second World War lasted six long years.
The reason for the war was because of the instability in Europe following the First World War. It was ripe for another conflict. Germany, in particular, was economically unstable and politically divided, which allowed Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist (Nazi) Party to gain power. Hitler signed treaties with Italy and Japan to achieve his plans for world domination. War broke out when his troops invaded Poland in 1939.
World War II Timeline (1931-1945)
The Manchurian IncidentSeptember 18, 1931
Japan invades Manchuria on China's eastern seaboard. The League of Nations took no action, undermining the League's influence.
President Hindenburg Appoints Adolf Hitler Chancellor of GermanyJanuary 30, 1933
The SS Opens Dachau Concentration Camp Outside MunichMarch 20, 1933
Boycott of Jewish-owned Establishments in GermanyApril 1, 1933
Nuremberg Race Laws Enacted in GermanySeptember 15, 1935
Fascist Italy Invades, Conquers and Annexes EthiopiaOctober 2, 1935 - May 1936
This was one of the incidents that led to World War II. It again demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations.
Germany Establishes Military ConscriptionMarch 16, 1935
Rome-Berlin Axis CoalitionOctober 25, 1935
Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy Sign a Treaty of Cooperation. This leads to the Pact of Steel in 1939 where Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini formalize the Axis Agreement. This partnered the countries in military and politics.
Treaty of Cooperation AnnouncedNovember 1, 1935
Rome-Berlin coalition announced.
Hitler Announces Anschluss with AustriaMarch 12, 1938
Germany and Austria become united as one.
Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and France sign the Munich PactSeptember 30, 1938
This pact allowed Germany to annex Sudentenland in western Czechoslovakia, which would offer key military positions to Nazi Germany in the war.
Hitler Invades CzechoslovakiaMarch 15, 1939
Despite the Treaty of Munich that prohibited such action, Hitler's troops invaded and occupied the country, annexing it into the Third Reich.
France and Great Britain Guarantee Integrity of Polish BordersMarch 31, 1939
Fascist Italy Invades and Annexes AlbaniaApril 7-15, 1939
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union Sign a Nonaggression AgreementAugust 23, 1939
This was a secret codicil between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin that divided up eastern Europe into key areas of influence. The codicil included clauses for the division of Poland.
Hitler Signs Order for an Assault on PolandAugust 31, 1939
Germany Invades Poland, Starting World War II in EuropeSeptember 1, 1939
Germany does not declare war before launching a coordinated land-and-air attack that became known as a "blitzkrieg" on Poland.
Great Britain and France Declare War on GermanySeptember 3, 1939
Honoring their treaty with Poland, Great Britain and France declare war.
"Phoney War"September 1939 - May 1940
For months following the British declaration of war, the public called it a "phoney war" because Britain saw no military action.
Japan Engages ChinaSeptember 4, 1939
Japan is at war with China, but declares neutrality in European war.
US Declares Neutrality in European WarSeptember 5, 1939
Canada Declares War on GermanySeptember 10, 1939
Soviet Union Invades PolandSeptember 17, 1939
While Germany advanced from the west, the Soviet Union invaded from the east.
Warsaw SurrendersSeptember 27-29, 1939
Germany and the Soviet Union divide Poland between them.
Germany Establishes Jewish Ghetto in Piortrków Trybunalski, PolandOctober 8, 1939
Germany Attacks British TerritoryOctober 16, 1930
Germany attacks the Firth of Forth and damages the Southhampton and Edinburgh cruisers and Mohawk destroyer.
Soviet Union Expelled from League of NationsNovember 14, 1939
The League condemns the Soviet Union's mounting aggression against Finland. They waged the Winter War against Finland from 1939-1940.
Soviet Union Initiates Winter WarNovember 30, 1939 - March 12, 1940
The Soviet Union invades Finland, which calls for an armistice. Finland ends up ceding the north shores of Lake Lagoda and the Finish coastline on the Arctic Sea to the Soviet Union.
British Drop First Bombs on German SoilMarch 19, 1940
The Royal Air Force hits the German seaplane base at Hornum.
Germany Invades Denmark and NorwayApril 9, 1940 - June 9, 1940
Denmark surrenders immediately. Norway holds out until June 9. With their fall, Hitler has safeguarded supply routes for Swedish ore and a way to break through the British naval blockade of Germany.
Germany Invades Belgium, Holland and LuxembourgMay 10, 1940
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigns after his appeasement policies fail. Winston Churchill replaces him and forms a coalition government. He approaches US President Franklin Roosevelt for aid.
Germany Crosses French BorderMay 12, 1940
Germany launches a blitzkrieg attack against Holland and Belgium, leaving Rotterdam in ruin. Hitler then turns his attention to France.
DunkirkMay 26, 1940
Germany cut off the British from its allies at Dunkirk. By May 19, the Allied armies are trapped by the sea and ready for evacuation. On May 26, they initiated Operation Dynamo, an evacuation plan that called on British citizens to lend their ships to the effort. Hundreds responded, rescuing 338,000 troops, including 140,000 French who would later form the Free French Army under Charles de Gaulle. The RAF greatly reduced German air power during the nine day operation.
Italy Declares War Against the Allied ForcesJune 11, 1940
Great Britain, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India and South Africa declare war on Italy. Paris, however, is declared an open city by its mayor to prevent its destruction.
Germans March into ParisJune 14, 1940
France Signs Armistice with GermanyJune 22, 1940
The French accept the armistice with Germany and its terms, establishing the Vichy government. Germany occupied the country for the rest of the war.
Soviet Union Forces Romania to Cede LandJune 28, 1940
The Soviet Union forces Romania to give up the eastern province of Beesarabia and the northern half of Bukovina.
Soviet Union Occupies Baltic StatesJune 14, 1940 - August 6, 1940
The Soviet Union occupies the Baltic States and engineers Communist coup d'états before annexing them as Soviet Republics. The entire operation took less than two months.
British Airborne Attacks Sinks French VesselsJuly 3, 1940
The British sink French vessels to prevent them from falling into German hands.
Battle of Britain BeginsAugust 13, 1930
The German's goal of this air war was to destroy the Royal Air Force, to help with German invasion.
London BlitzSeptember 7, 1940
Three hundred German bombers raid London in the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing. The "blitzkrieg" lasted until May 1941. The Germans wanted to weaken the British government.
US Congress Passes Selective Service ActSeptember 19, 1940
It is the first peacetime draft for the US.
The Tripartite ActSeptember 27, 1940
Germany, Italy and Japan sign the Tripartite Act, which recognized their right to take control of Europe and Asia.
Second Vienna AwardAugust 30, 1940
Germany and Italy divide the disputed province of Transylvania between Romania and Hungary.
Italians Invade British-Controlled EgyptSeptember 13, 1940
Draft Boards OpenOctober 16, 1940
Nearly 16 million American men between the ages of 21 and 36 are required to register at draft boards across the country. Nearly 50 million men would register during the war.
Italy Invades Greece from AlbaniaOctober 28, 1940
Hungary, Slovakia and Romania Join the AxisNovember 20-23, 1940
Britain Hands Italians Crushing Defeat in North AfricaDecember 1940
Germans Send Afrika Korps to North Africa to Assist ItaliansFebruary 1941
Bulgaria Joins the AxisMarch 1, 1941
Roosevelt Signs the Lend-Lease ActMarch 11, 1941
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the act to provide aid to Britain despite public opposition.
Tuskegee Airmen FormedMarch 21, 1941
The first all-black unit of the US Air Corps is established. They are the 99th Pursuit Squadron, better known as the Tuskegee Airmen.
Germany, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria Invade Yugoslavia and GreeceApril 6, 1941 - June 1941
Yugoslavia surrenders on April 17. Greece holds out until early June.
Independent State of Croatia AnnouncedApril 10, 1941
Germany and Italy recognize the newly formed state by the leaders of the terrorist movement known as Ustasa. The new state includes the province of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Croatia joins the Axis Powers on June 15.
Japan and Russia Sign Neutrality PactApril 13, 1941
German Battleship Bismarck Sunk on First MissionMay 27, 1941
Operation BarbarossaJune 22, 1941 - November 1941
Germany invades the Soviet Union without declaring war. Finland joins the Axis before invasion, hoping to recoup losses from the Winter War. The Germans overrun the Baltic States and lay siege to Leningrad. Hitler sent 3 million soldiers and 3,500 tanks into the Soviet Union. Stalin immediately signs a treaty with Britain, creating an Eastern front that will result in 20 million casualties by the end of the war.
Roosevelt Signs Executive Order 8802June 25, 1941
This act prevents discrimination against blacks and women in hiring practices for defense jobs. It marks the first federal act addressing civil rights since the Reconstruction.
Einsatzgruppen Shoot 3,000 Jews at Seventh Fort at KovnoJuly 6, 1941
Einsatzgruppen were mobile killing units made up mostly of SS and German police.
Germany and Italy Declare the End of YugoslaviaJuly 8, 1941
Germany Attacks Moscow for the First TimeJuly 12, 1941
Using Luftwaffe raids, Germany launches attack on Moscow.
US Extends Aid to Soviet UnionAugust 2, 1941
Siege of LeningradSeptember 8, 1941 - January 27, 1944
The siege lasted 872 days (but was often referred to as the 900-day siege) and resulted in more than 1 million civilian deaths.
Einsatzgruppen Shoot 34,000 Jews Outside KievSep 28-29
Battle of MoscowOctober 2, 1941 - January 1942
Soviet Russia successfully defends their capital from Germany. Hitler believed capturing Moscow would defeat the Red Army. The battle resulted in more than 1 million casualties during the twenty days of battle, mostly suffered by the Soviets who lost more than 600,000. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin remained in Moscow throughout the battle.
German U-Boat Sinks USS Reuben JamesOctober 31, 1941
This is the first US Navy vessel sunk in WWII.
Einsatzgruppen Shoot 10,000 Jews from Riga GhettoNovember 7, 1941
Soviet Counteroffensive Drives Germans From MoscowDecember 6, 1941
Japanese Attack on Pearl HarborDecember 7, 1941
Hundreds of Japanese warplanes attack the Pacific fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Eight battleships, three light cruisers, three destroyers and four other US Navy vessels are sunk or damaged in the attack; 164 aircraft are destroyed; and 2,403 Americans are killed. The Japanese also hit Guam, Wake Island, the Philippines, Malaya and Hong Kong on a day Roosevelt called "a date which will live in infamy."
US Declares War on Japan, Entering World War IIDecember 8, 1941
Britain and the United States declared war on Japan.
Holocaust Killing Operations Begin at Chelmno, PolandDecember 8, 1941
Nazi Germany and Its Axis Partners Declare War on USDecember 11-13, 1941
Battle of the AtlanticJanuary 13-14, 1942
German U-boats sink 25 tanker ships off the coast of America in an attempt to halt supply runs to the Allies. By summer of that year, the Germans would sink 230 Allied ships, sending nearly 5 million tons of goods into the sea.
Germans Deport 65,000 Jews from Lodz to ChelmnoJanuary 16, 1942
The Wannsee Conference in GermanyJanuary 20, 1942
The Conference finalizes plans to exterminate the Jews in Europe with a "Final Solution." Their plan included nearly 11 million people.
Code TalkersFebruary 1942
Philip Johnston, who was a World War I veteran, suggested the Marine Corps recruit Navajos and other tribes to send coded messages. The Army had been using Comanches, Choctaws, Hopis, Cherokees and other tribes to send messages in their native languages since 1940. These warriors were called "Code Talkers." During WWII, more than 400 Navajo served as Code Talkers.
Japanese Take SingaporeFebruary 15, 1942
The Japanese capture Singapore from the British and take approximately 60,000 prisoners.
Roosevelt Signs Executive Order 9066February 19, 1942
This order allows the War Department to designate military areas in the US to exclude any person or persons of threat. It is the first step toward establishing the Japanese internment camps.
US War and Navy Departments Announce Courts-MartialMarch 1, 1942
Commanders in Hawaii at the time of Pearl Harbor are court-martialed for dereliction of duty. During the course of the Congressional hearings and courts-martial, details of intercepted messages of warning about the attack were released.
General MacArthur Named Supreme Commander of Allied ForcesMarch 17, 1942
General MacArthur was responsible for strategic defense of the entire Pacific Ocean.
Doolittle Oversees B-52 Modifications at McClellan FieldMarch 25, 1942
Lt. Colonel James Doolittle oversees modifications of the B-52s at McClellan Field near Sacramento. The planes would depart on April 1 on a secret mission.
Germans Deport 65,000 Jews from Drancy to AuschwitzMarch 27, 1942
Bataan FallsApril 9, 1942
The US surrenders the Bataan Peninsula on the Philippine island of Luzon to the Japanese. Approximately 78,000 Filipino and American troops are forced to march 65 miles to prison camps under harsh temperatures and under extreme physically harassment by Japanese guards. Thousands died on the journey.
First American Raid on JapanApril 18, 1942
Lt. Colonel "Jimmy" Doolittle leads a B-52 bomber raid on Tokyo, Kobe, Nagoya, Yokohama and Yokosuka.
Notice to Japanese on the US West Coast of Planned InternmentApril 30, 1942
A notice is posted on the West Coast that all Japanese in the area would be sent to assembly centers.
First Code Talkers Sent to TrainingMay 1942
The 420 Navajo that were being sent to the Pacific complete training in San Diego.
Battle of Coral SeaMay 7-8, 1942
This battle was the first air-sea battle in history. It lasted four days and prevented the Japanese from controlling the Coral Sea and invading Port Moresby of New Guinea. When they landed, Allied Forces attacked and were victorious. This marks a change in American strategy from defense to a mix of defense and offensive maneuvers.
US Loses CorregidorMay 6, 1942
The Philippines fall under Japanese rule.
Second Battle of KharkovMay 12-28, 1942
Germans destroy the Soviets as they attempt to take Kharkov back. They lose 280,000 men and 650 tanks in a total rout.
Anglo-American Bombing Raids on GermanyMay 30, 1942 - May 1945
The British bomb Cologne in the first of many bombing raids on German soil. During the next three years of the war, British-American bombing will destroy much of urban Germany.
Battle of the Aleutian IslandsJune 1942 - August 1943
US troops fight to remove Japanese garrisons from US-owned islands of Attu and Kiska, west of Alaska. It was the only US land Japan would claim during the war. The battle was designed by the Japanese as a diversion to keep the US from Midway. The US retook the Aleutian islands in May 1943.
Battle of MidwayJune 4-7, 1942
Six months after Pearl Harbor, the US Navy defeats the Japanese at Midway. Much of this victory was the result of Code Talkers. It marked a turning point in the Pacific campaign. It was the first defeat for the Japanese Navy in 350 years. The Japanese lost 3,500 men, four carriers, a cruiser and 332 aircraft. The US lost 307 men, the Yorktown, one destroyer and 150 aircraft.
Japanese Submarine Shells Fort Stevens, OregonJune 22, 1942
This is the first attack on the US mainland in the war.
Germany and Axis Partners Launch New Offensive in Soviet UnionJune 28, 1942 - September 1942
Germany and Axis partners fight their way to Stalingrad and move into the Caucasus after taking the Crimean Peninsula.
Germans Begin Deportation of 300,000 Jews from Warsaw to TreblinkaJuly 15, 1942
Battle of StalingradJuly 17, 1942 - February 2, 1943
The Battle of Stalingrad was the most successful Soviet defensive position yet. It is widely considered one of the greatest battles of the war that stopped the German advance into the Soviet Union. It was also one of the bloodiest battles of the war with nearly 2 million casualties. It was known as Operation Barbarossa.
Soviet Troops CounterattackNovember 23, 1942 - February 2, 1943
Soviet troops break through Hungarian and Romanian lines outside Stalingrad and trap the German army in the city. The German survivors of the siege surrender on February 2, 1943.
Battle of GuadalcanalAugust 7, 1942
This was the first major offensive by the Allies in the Pacific theater. US Marines launch a surprise attack and take back the air base on Guadalcanal. Though it took six months to secure the island, the first supply ship arrives on August 12.
Allies in North AfricaAugust 1942
Churchill send General Alexander to destroy the German-Italian army, commanded by Field-Marshall Rommel, and all supplies and establishments in Libya and Egypt.
US Troops Halt Japanese Advance to AustraliaAugust 1942 - November 1942
US troops stop the Japanese island-hopping advance in the Solomon Islands.
Japanese Americans InterredSeptember 1942 - October 1942
Nearly 110,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast are interred in Assembly Centers in one of 10 remote desert camps. They would be held until the end of the war in 1945. It is widely considered one of the worst American Civil Rights violations in the 20th century.
Battle of El AlameinOctober 23-24, 1942
British Defeat Germany and Italy at El Alamein in Egypt, forcing Axis troops to retreat to the border of Tunisia. British General Montgomery attacked with a massive bombardment and then chased the enemy 1,500 miles across the desert.
Operation TorchNovember 8, 1942
US and British land in North Africa under the command General Dwight D. Eisenhower. They assume control of French Morocco and Algeria.
German Occupation of Southern FranceNovember 11, 1942
The Germans occupy Southern France as a retaliation of their invasion of Africa.
Russians Annihilate German 6th Army at StalingradNovember 19, 1942
Roosevelt Reverses Policy on Japanese American SoldiersJanuary 1943
Franklin changes the status of Japanese American service members from 4-C (enemy aliens) to 1-A (fit for duty) and creates the segregated 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which would become the most decorated unit in US history.
Casablanca ConferenceJanuary 14-24, 1943
Churchill and Roosevelt announce they will only accept an unconditional surrender from Axis Powers.
German Field Marshall von Paulus Surrenders at StalingradJanuary 31, 1943
German Field Marshall Friedrich von Paulus surrenders to the Soviets, changing the momentum on the Eastern front.
Rommel Sends Panzer Units Against US TroopsFebruary 14, 1943
The US is defeated and the Germans descend through the Kasserine Pass.
Battle of the Bismarck SeaMarch 2-3, 1943
American reconnaissance planes spot 16 Japanese ships en route to New Guinea to secure the island. US and Australian aircraft begin a bombing campaign that decimated eight Japanese transports and four destroyers. They dropped 213 tons of bombs on the convoy. Japan also lost 102 of 150 planes that tried to engage American bombers. It was a devastating loss for the Japanese.
Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto Shot DownApril 18, 1943
On April 17, an American listening post in the Aleutian Islands intercepts a radio transmission with details of Yamamoto's plans to tour bases in the South Pacific. US uses the information to have P-38 pilots shoot Yamamoto's bomber down, killing Japan's most popular military leader.
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising BeginsApril 19, 1943
Battle of New Britain/Operation CartwheelApril 1943 - November 21, 1943
US forces in the Pacific launch a series of amphibious assaults on the Japanese base at Rabaul on the island of New Britain. MacArthur leads the Allied advance through New Guinea while Admiral William "Bull" Halsey commanded a northward advance through the Solomon Islands. They were able to surround the Japanese on Rabaul, cutting them off from the rest of Japan's controlled islands and neutralizing 100,000 Japanese troops.
Battle of AttuMay 11-30, 1943
US and Japan meet in the main conflict of the Aleutian Islands. The battle ends in US victory.
Axis Powers Surrender in North AfricaMay 12, 1943
Africa falls to Allied control, ending the North African campaign.
First Black Aviator to Shoot Down an Enemy AircraftJuly 2, 1943
Lt. Charles B. Hall was a Tuskegee Airman with the 99th Fighter Squadron. Flying his P-40, Hall shot down a Focke-Wulf 190 Würger over southwestern Sicily.
Battle of KurskJuly 5, 1943
The Red Army wins after the Germans launch a tank offensive near Kursk. It was the largest tank battle in history and the costliest single day of aerial conflict. The Germans suffered 500,000 casualties. This Soviet victory was a major turning point in the war.
US and British Land on SicilyJuly 10, 1943
Following victory in North Africa, the Allied forces turn their attention to Italy. Allied forces land in Sicily and, after 38 days of fighting, gain control of the Mediterranean and prepare to assault the mainland.
Allied Forces Bomb RomeJuly 19, 1943
Fascist Grand Council Deposes Benito MussoliniJuly 25, 1943
The Fascist Grand Council votes no confidence in Benito Mussolini. He is arrested. The following day, martial law is declared in Italy.
Rome Declared an Open City to Stop BombingAugust 14, 1943
Allied Forces Land in Southern ItalySeptember 3, 1943
Italy Accepts Allied Terms of SurrenderSeptember 8, 1943
The Badoglio government surrenders unconditionally to the Allies. The Germans move into the city and immediately seize control of Rome and northern Italy. The Germans free Mussolini and establish a puppet fascist regime to block the Allied advance.
Allied Troops Land at SalernoSeptember 9, 1943
Allied troops land on the beaches of Salerno near Naples.
Italy Declares War on GermanyOctober 6, 1943
Black ThursdayOctober 14, 1943
In the second strike on Schweinfurt, Allied forces shoot down 60 Flying Fortresses. Germans lose 600 men.
Allies Meet in TehranNovember 1943
Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin meet in Tehran to coordinate plans for a simultaneous attack on Germany. Churchill doesn't trust Stalin, but Roosevelt, who did not want to stand against Russia, agreed to a second front in France with no more movement to the East. This laid the groundwork for post-war Eastern Europe.
Soviet Troops Liberate KievNovember 6, 1943
Battle of TarawaNovember 20-23, 1943
The US starts its Central Pacific Campaign against Japan. The first battle was seizing the Japanese-held island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. The Marines expected an easy victory, but they encountered issues with low tide and coral reefs preventing some crafts from landing. After 76 bloody hours, the Marines took the island. The list of dead is nearly as many as from six months of fighting at Guadalcanal.
Leningrad RelievedJanuary 1944
The siege of Leningrad is lifted by the Red Army.
Battle of Monte CassinoJanuary 17, 1944 - May 18, 1944
Allied forces land at Anzio near the Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino. It was the site of an impasse between Allied forces and the German-Italian troops. The Allied forces needed to break through the German's Gustav Line, which was a series of military fortifications across Italy, to take Rome. US bombers destroy the abbey in a controversial move. The battle was fought in four parts over a five-month period. In the end, the Allied Forces took Rome, but each side lost at least 125,000 troops.
Battle of KwajaleinJanuary 31, 1944
US Marines and Army troops launch an amphibious assault on three islets in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. It was where Japan had established their outermost perimeter of the war. US victory allowed the Pacific Fleet to advance on the Philippines and Japan.
Battle of NarvaFebruary 2, 1944 - August 10, 1944
The Narva Isthmus of Estonia was caught between the Germans and Soviets. Both sides wanted to control the area. Fighting was ferocious, claiming 550,000 casualties. In the end, both armies retreated and Estonia was free of Soviet occupation until they returned after the war.
Germany Occupies HungaryMarch 19, 1944
Germany occupies Hungary to prevent it from deserting the Axis, appointing a pro-German minister president to ensure compliance.
Poland Breaks the Gustav LineMay 11, 1944
Polish troops take the ruined Monte Cassino monastery, breaking the Gustav Line. German troops fall back.
Germans Begin Deportation of 440,000 Jews from HungaryMay 15, 1944
Allied Troops Liberate Rome from the GermansJune 4, 1944
D-DayJune 6, 1944
More than 1,000 aircraft fly over the Channel carrying 24,000 paratroopers who are dropped behind enemy lines in Normandy. They are joined by more than 5,300 ships carrying 156,000 US, British and Canadian troops that storm Normandy beach in the greatest invasion in history. The operation opens a "Second Front" against the Germans. Less than a week later, the beaches were secure and more than 326,000 troops, 50,000 vehicles and 100,000 tons of equipment had landed at Normandy. Operation Overlord took 2,500 American lives on the bloodiest day in American history.
Battle of SaipanJune 15, 1944
Allied forces bomb Japanese-held Saipan for two days before the US Marines storm the beach. They force the Japanese into retreat, but encounter brutal fighting conditions around Mount Tapotchau, the highest peak on the island. The Marines dubbed two areas of battle "Death Valley" and "Purple Heart Ridge." The trapped Japanese soldiers execute a banzai charge that fails. The US took the territory on July 9 after nearly four weeks of fighting. 16,525 Americans are killed, wounded or reported missing. More than 1,000 Japanese civilians were killed by their countrymen or committed suicide to avoid being captured by America.
Battle of the Philippine SeaJune 19, 1944
The Japanese Combined Fleet and the US Navy battled in the Philippine Sea during the Battle of Saipan. The Americans take out more than 200 Japanese planes and two regular carriers. As the Japanese retreat, they lose another carrier and nearly 100 more planes. Admiral Raymond Spruance takes the victory and allows the Japanese to retreat without further incident in a controversial decision. It was the greatest carrier battle of the war.
Soviets Launch Massive Offensive in East BelarusJune 22, 1944
The Red Army launches a massive offensive in easter Belarus the destroys a German Army Group Center. It allows the Soviet army to push onward. They arrive in Warsaw on August 1.
A German Resistance Group Fails to Assassinate HitlerJuly 20, 1944
Operation CobraJuly 25-31, 1944
General Omar Bradley presented a breakout plan for Allied forces who were facing slow progress through France after D-Day. He called it Operation Cobra. Bradley wanted to focus efforts on a 7,000 yard stretch of the Stain-Lô-Periers Road. Allied forces began with aerial bombardment, then followed up with the 9th and 30th Infantry Divisions. The troops were charged with creating a breach in the German lines and holding it so the 1st Infantry and 2nd Armored Divisions could drive through the gap. German forces withdrew behind the Seine allowing Allied forces to advance to the Seine River. During the aerial battle, visibility was low and Allied pilots inadvertently fired on their own troops, killing 150. An additional 600 Allied troops were killed on the battlefield in the worst case of friendly fire in US history.
Non-Communist Home Army Fights GermansAugust 1, 1944 - October 5, 1944
The non-communist underground Army of Poland attempts to liberate Warsaw before the Soviets arrive. They are outmatched and those who survived the battle surrender to the Germans on October 5.
Allied Forces Land in Southern FranceAugust 15, 1944
Allied forces land in southern France and advance toward the Rhine River. Hitler pulls his 7th Army out of Normandy. They retreat amid enemy fire, trying to reach Germany. Out of the 80,000 who attempted the treacherous route through Allied forces, an estimated 10,000 perished.
Soviet Troops on the Prut RiverAugust 23, 1944
With Soviet troops on the Prut River, Romanian opposition overthrows the Antonescu regime and launches a new government, which immediately signs an armistice to switch to the Allied side of the war. This act convinces Bulgaria to surrender on September 8.
Paris Is Liberated After Four Years of Nazi OccupationAugust 25, 1944
Allied troops and Free French Forces enter the French capital and liberate Paris.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower Given Command of Combined Allied Forces in EuropeSeptember 1, 1944
Battle of Arnhem/Operation Market-GardenSeptember 7, 1944
British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery launches an operation to seize a bridgehead north of the Rhine at Arnhem. Operation Market was the largest airborne and glider operation in history. It opened a route to the industrial Ruhr valley for British and US forces. It was the largest Allied air operation of the war and exacted heavy losses. By battles' end, 17,000 British, Canadians, Americans and Poles are killed, wounded or missing.
First V2 Flying Bombs Over LondonSeptember 8, 1944
First Americans Reach German SoilSeptember 11, 1944
Warner H. Holzinger leads the US advance and becomes the first foreign soldier to step foot in Germany since Napoleon's reign.
Finland Signs Armistice with Soviet UnionSeptember 12, 1944
Battle of Hürtgen ForestSeptember 12, 1944 - December 16, 1944
This was the US Army's worst defeat in history. After three weeks of combat, the Americans had suffered 33,000 casualties and gained nothing.
Battle of PeleliuSeptember 15, 1944
US Marines land on Peleliu, one of the Palau Islands. They face heavy resistance from the Japanese and suffer severe losses during the controversial battle. It took two months to secure the island. Nearly every Japanese soldier was killed during the battle, almost 10,000 men. Of the estimated 28,000 US Marines and infantry troops, a full 40 percent died or were wounded.
Arrow Cross and Germans Coup d'Etat in HungaryOctober 15, 1944
The Hungarian fascist group Arrow Cross successfully carries out a coup d'état with German support, preventing a surrender to the Soviets.
Battle of Leyte GulfOctober 20, 1944
The Japanese successfully use a decoy to lure the US Third Fleet away from Leyte Gulf as they attempted to converge three naval forces there, but it was a trap. The Japanese were met by the US 7th Fleet and the Allied Forces. Japan lost its ability to move supplies. This battle is a precursor to Allied troops landing in the Philippines and the beginning of the end for the Japanese navy.
MacArthur Reinstalls Legitimate Government in the PhilippinesOctober 23, 1944
Franklin D. Roosevelt Elected to 4th Term as PresidentNovember 7, 1944
US Attacks Japanese in Manilla and Across the PhilippinesNovember 13, 1944
Battle of the BulgeDecember 16, 1944
The Germans try to re-conquer Belgium, which would split the Allied forces along the German border. It is a final, desperate offensive for the German forces that combined 20 infantry divisions of approximately 250,000 soldiers, followed by 600 tanks. By January 30, Allied forces regained the ground they had lost. More than 1 million troops took part in the six weeks of battle, with heavy losses for the Germans (100,000 men and all German tanks and aircraft lost). Americans lost 19,000.
SS Panzer Unit Ambushes US Convoy at MalmedyDecember 17, 1944
German SS troops capture and disarm 150 US soldiers before killing 86 of them.
McAuliffe's Famous "Nuts" PronouncementDecember 22, 1944
German officers approach the surrounded Americans at Bastogne to suggest surrender. General Anthony McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne replies, "Nuts!" The US did not surrender. On December 25, American tanks break through the German lines and join the 101st at Bastogne fortifying the position.
Battle of LuzonJanuary 9, 1945 - August 15, 1945
The largest island in the Philippines was taken by the Japanese in 1942. When US forces made it to the island in 1945, the fighting was fierce and included kamikaze pilots. Casualties for the battle were high: 330,000-350,000.
Soviets Liberate Warsaw and KrakowJanuary 12, 1945
Auschwitz Death March: 600,000 Prisoners Sent to PolandJanuary 18, 1945
Death March of 50,000 from Stutthof Camp in PolandJanuary 25, 1945
Soviets Liberate AuschwitzJanuary 27, 1945
Yalta ConferenceFebruary 7-12, 1945
Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin agree to hold free elections in Eastern Europe following the war and to divide Germany and Austria into three occupied areas.
Bombing of DresdenFebruary 13-15, 1945
Allied forces bomb the history city of Dresden in a controversial operation. Dresden was not an active participant in the war or the site of any military or wartime activity. After two days of bombing, the city lay in ruin and at least 35,000 civilians were dead.
Battle of Iwo JimaFebruary 19, 1945
After 72 days of shelling, Marines land on Iwo Jima. Fighting continued for one month and 6,821 Americans died taking the island. 27 Medals of Honor were awarded for that battle alone. The Japanese suffered catastrophic losses.
Flag Raised on Iwo JimaFebruary 23, 1945
Photographer Joe Rosenthal takes the photo of a recreated flag raising on the island. That photo becomes the iconic image of the US Marine Corps and the source for the Iwo Jima Memorial located near Arlington Cemetery.
US Troops Cross the Rhine RiverMarch 7, 1945
334 B-29 Bombers Drop Napalm on TokyoMarch 19, 1945
American bombers drop thousands of 70-pound napalm bombs on Tokyo. The city, built from pine, paper and bamboo, burns, costing a million people their homes. For the next ten days, US bombing raids expand to Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe, killing approximately 50,000 Japanese.
Battle of OkinawaApril 1, 1945
On Easter Sunday, the US Navy's 5th Fleet and 180,000 Marines and Army troops descend on Okinawa, a 60-mile long island of Japan. The assault was called Operation Iceberg. It was the largest invasion force since D-Day. There was heavy resistance, including the use of kamikaze pilots. Americans lost more than 12,000 with 60,000 wounded. The Japanese lost 92,000 soldiers and an estimated 100,000 Okinawan civilians, many by suicide.
President Roosevelt DiesApril 12, 1945
Harry S. Truman is sworn in as president.
Battle of BerlinApril 16, 1945 - May 2, 1945
The Soviets reach Berlin before the US and launch their final offensive. The Red Army surrounds Berlin. US and Britain would support the Soviet operation. Since Berlin was designated as a Soviet occupation zone, Eisenhower took a supporting position.
Soviet Army Enters BerlinApril 26, 1945
Hacksaw RidgeApril 26, 1945
During the Battle of Okinawa, Americans attacked Hacksaw Ridge on the Maeda Escarpment. It was a 400-foot vertical cliff. Battle was brutal with heavy losses. The US took the ridge on May 6. Corporal Desmond T. Doss, an Army medic who refused to carry a gun, saved 75 wounded Americans during the battle.
Mussolini Captured and ExecutedApril 28, 1945
US Liberates DachauApril 29, 1945
Hitler Commits SuicideApril 30, 1945
Soviet troops break through to Rechstag, less than half a mile from where Hitler and his aides hide in a bunker. Rather than be taken, Adolf Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun, commit suicide.
German Forces in Italy Surrender to AlliesMay 2, 1945
American 11th Armored Division Liberates GunskirchenMay 5, 1945
American patrols find 110,000 starving "enemies of the Reich" at Mauthausen in Austria. The Germans had used the gas chamber until the end. Nearly 3,000 prisoners were executed on April 20 along with 33 Austrians who opposed Germany.
German Forces in Northwest Germany, Holland and Denmark SurrenderMay 4, 1945
Admiral Donitz, whom Hitler had named his successor, attempted to surrender to the Western allies, but asked to be allowed to continue fighting with the Red Army. His offer was denied.
Germany Surrenders to the Western AlliesMay 7, 1945
Admiral Donitz, Hitler's successor, offers an unconditional surrender to the Allies.
V.E. DayMay 8, 1945
Victory in Europe is celebrated.
Germany Surrenders to Soviet UnionMay 9, 1945
Allied Troops Conquer OkinawaMay 1945
Churchill Loses ElectionJuly 5, 1945
Churchill loses election for Prime Minister to Clement Attlee of the Labour Party.
Successful Test of Atomic Bomb in Almagordo, New MexicoJuly 16, 1945
Potsdam ConferenceJuly 17, 1945 - August 2, 1945
Truman, Churchill and Stalin agree Japan must offer unconditional surrender or be destroyed.
USS Indianapolis Delivers Atomic Bomb to B-29 Base on TinianJuly 26, 1945
Japan Submarine Attacks USS IndianapolisJuly 30, 1945
Two torpedoes sink the ship and kill 300 of the nearly 2,000 on board. On August 2, the surviving crew are still awaiting rescue. By the time it arrives, another 880 are lost. Only 321 are saved.
Japan Rejects the Potsdam UltimatumJuly 31, 1945
Japan refuses to surrender.
US Drops Bomb on HiroshimaAugust 6, 1945
Enola Gay drops the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In one instant, 40,000 men, women and children are obliterated. Another 100,000 die within days from burns or radiation. Japan still rejects the Allied terms of surrender.
Soviet Union Declares War on Japan and Invades ManchuriaAugust 8, 1945
Japan now faces war on two fronts. They still stand firm.
US Drops Atomic Bomb on NagasakiAugust 9, 1945
Another 40,000 civilians perish with more succumbing to burns and radiation in following days. In Tokyo, the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War is divided. The Emperor steps in.
Japan Requests Conditional Surrender and Is DeniedAugust 10, 1945
Japan Formally Surrenders, Ending World War IIAugust 14, 1945
Occupation of Japan BeginsAugust 30, 1945
Japan Signs Surrender Terms Aboard USS MissouriSeptember 2, 1945
MacArthur accepts Japan's surrender, formally ending World War II.