Hist 143          Hunt Tooley/Informational Handout    

World War II: Chronology and Phases


(Aug. 23, 1939--Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. Hitler and Stalin start the war together as Allies.)


Phase I--Invasion of Poland to the Blitzkrieg in Western Europe



Sept. 1, 1939--Germany invades Poland.


Sept 17, 1939--Soviet Union invades Poland.


Autumn 1939--East Central Europe divided between the two totalitarian empires.


Nov. 1939--Soviets try to take territory from Finland, which fights back in the Winter War (Nov. 30-Mar. 1940). Finland loses war and much territory but maintains independence.


Apr. 1940--Germany invades Norway. Britain responds. Land and sea battles for Norway. Germany wins. 


May 1940--Germany invades France, the Low Countries, and Denmark in a Blitzkrieg --"Lightning War." The last resistance is the British Expeditionary Force trapped at Dunkirk, and rescued in June.


June--Italy enters the war on the Axis side.


Phase II--From the Occupation of France to Operation Barbarossa


Summer--In the south of France, a collaborationist government under France's WWI war hero, Philippe Henri Pétain, with a temporary capital at Vichy.


Sept. 1940--Italians invade British-controlled Egypt. 


Apr. 1941--Axis invades Yugoslavia.



Phase III--From Operation Barbarossa to the Allied Invasion at Normandy


June 22, 1941--Operation Barbarossa.


Aug. 14, 1941--Atlantic Charter signed by Churchill and Roosevelt.


Sep. 1941--Germans besiege Leningrad. The siege will end only in Jan. 1944.


Dec. 7, 1941--Pearl Harbor.


Dec. 10, 1941--The US is at war with both Germany and Japan.


Jan. 1, 1942—Allied Big Four—the Soviet Union, China, the United Kingdom and the United States—and many smaller or exiled governments issued the Declaration by United Nations, affirming the Atlantic Charter, and agreeing to not to sign a separate peace with the Axis powers.


Aug. 1942--The Soviet German Battle of Stalingrad. This will end in Feb. 1943 with the complete defeat of the Germans. This was the largest battle of World War II.


Nov. 1942--First large-scale American action as the U.S. Army invades Morocco and Algeria.


Jan. 1943--Casablanca Conference: Churchill and Roosevelt. Roosevelt announces Allied policy of "unconditional surrender."


Feb. 1943--Opening of the Battle of Kursk on the Eastern Front. Soviets will win by Aug. 1943. Continued furious fighting on the Eastern Front follows, as Germans dispute every Soviet gain. Casualties are colossal.


Jul. 1943--Allied invasion of Sicily.


Jul. 1943--Mussolini was dismissed as prime minister and arrested.  Marshal Badoglio was installed as prime minister.  He was imprisoned but broken out by German paratroopers. He set up a short-lived Fascist regime in the north, the Social Republic of Italy. But at the end of the war would be captured and executed by the Italian Resistance.


Sep. 1943--Allied invasion of Italian mainland.  Battle for Italy rages on, with Germans taking control of the front.


Sep. 1943-June 1944--Allies plan a cross-channel invasion at Normandy.


Jan. 1944--Lifting of siege of Leningrad by Red Army. Germans retreat south and west.


Phase IV--From Normandy and Eastern Europe to Berlin


June 6, 1944--Normandy landings--Operation Overlord.


Jul. 11, 1944--Assassination attempt at Hitler's East Prussian headquarters by the German Resistance.


Aug. 25, 1944--Paris liberated.


Sept. 1944--Allied "Operation Market Garden" aiming at capturing Rhine bridges. Germans resist fiercely, preventing full Allied success.


Dec. 16, 1944--Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, western Germany, and Luxembourg, as the Germans tried to break the American lines. Battle rages until early January.


Jan. 16, 1945--Hitler establishes his last headquarters in the "Bunker" by the Reich Chancellery building.


Feb. 1945--Yalta Conference: the Big Three hold a summit in Crimea, setting up plans for the postwar occupation of Europe.


Aug. 1, 1945--Warsaw Uprising begins: Polish underground army fights German occupiers.


Nov. 1945--Soviet Army breaks into German territory for the first time, but is pushed back.  Full-fledged invasion of Germany follows in Jan. 1945. Throughout East Central Europe, Soviets carry out and encourage local regimes to drive out local German minorities, with great ferocity.


Jan. 18, 1945--Soviets capture Warsaw.


Jan. 27, 1945--Red Army liberates Auschwitz.


Jan. to April, 1945--Red Army fights its way to Berlin.


Mar. 22--First Allied (American Third Army) crossings of the Rhine, around Oppenheim, south of Mainz.


April 16, 1945--Soviets launch the first assaults of the Battle of Berlin.


April 25, 1945--First meeting of American and Soviet troops at the Elbe River.


April 30, 1945--Hitler committed suicide in the Bunker, along with Eva Braun.


May 2/3, 1945--German Army commanders in Berlin surrender to the Soviets.


Jul./Aug. 1945--Potsdam Conference.



The Pacific War and Japanese Surrender


Launching assaults from China in 1941, the Japanese Empire captured Indonesia, French Indo-China, and many more Pacific rim areas. Attacks were characterized by much brutality and killing. The bombing of the American military installations at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere in Hawaii brought the U.S. into the war. American forces in the Philippines were defeated, and the Philippine and American prisoners were driven to POW camps in the highly deadly Bataan Death March.

            The United States and Allies opened up operations against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater of the war in April 1942. The war raged on small Pacific islands held by the Japanese, in New Guinea, the Philippines, and many other places from 1942 to 1945. 


Feb./Mar. 1945--Battle of Iwo Jima, 807 miles from the closest Japanese territory.


Apr./June 1945--Battle of Okinawa, even closer to Japan.


Aug. 6, 1945--First atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, killing 70,000, most of them civilians, including some foreign forced laborers.  On Aug. 9, the U.S. dropped a second bomb on the city of Nagasaki, killing 35,000, again, mostly civilians.


Aug. 8--Soviet Union declares war on Japan.


Aug. 15, 1945--Japanese surrender announced. The surrender was signed on board the U.S.S. Missouri on Sept. 2.