Timeline and Quick Facts of World War II

World War II was the most devastating military conflict in human history. It involved most of the world's nations who joined either the Allies led by the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States or the Axis alliance under leadership of Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan. The war claimed about 50 to 70 million lives, while most of the victims were the civilians.

Timeline of World War II

September 1, 1939 – The beginning of World War II by invasion of Poland by the Nazi Germany.

September 2, 1939 – France and the United Kingdom issue an ultimatum to Nazi Germany, requiring evacuation of German troops from Poland.

September 3, 1939 – France and the United Kingdom declare war on Nazi Germany for ignoring their ultimatum.

September 4, 1939 – Japan declares neutrality in the war in Europe.

September 5, 1939 – The United States declares neutrality.

September 10, 1939 – Canada declares war on Nazi Germany.

September 16, 1939 – The Polish capital of Warsaw is encircled by the German Army.

September 17, 1939 – East Poland is invaded by the Soviet Union.

September 28, 1939 – German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vyacheslav Molotov sign the German-Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty.

October 10, 1939 – British government declines Hitler's peace offer.

October 12, 1939 – The French government follows the British example and declines Hitler's peace offer as well.

October 18, 1939 – The Soviet forces enter Estonia.

October 27, 1939 – Belgium declares neutrality.

November 8, 1939 – The Beer Hall Putsch, an attempt to assassinate Hitler in Munich fails.

November 30, 1939 – The Soviet Union attacks Finland and starts the so-called Winter War.

March 12, 1940 – Finland signs a peace treaty with the Soviet Union in Moscow by which it gives up a significant part of its territory to the Soviet Union.

March 21, 1040 – French Prime Minister, Edouard Daladier resigns. One day later, he is replaced by Paul Reynaud.

March 28, 1940 – Britain and France conclude an agreement according to which neither of both countries would seek separate peace with Hitler.

April 9, 1940 – The beginning of Nazi Germany occupation of Norway. One day later, Vidkun Quisling overthrows the Norwegian government.

April 12, 1940 – The British occupy the Faroe Islands.

April 14, 1940 – The British Intelligence deciphers the Enigma code.

May 10, 1940 – Nazi Germany starts invasion of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France.

May 10, 1940 – The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain resigns. He is replaced by Winston Churchill.

May 15, 1940 – Denmark signs capitulation.

May 17, 1940 – Brussels and Antwerp are occupied by the Germans.

May 21, 1940 – The Germans capture the French cities of Amiens and Arras.

May 26 – June 3, 1940 – The Dunkirk Evacuation (Operation Dynamo). Nearly 200,000 British and 140,000 French soldiers are evacuated to Britain.

May 28, 1940 – Belgium surrenders to Nazi Germany.

June 10, 1940 – Italy declares war on Britain and France, and invades France from the south.

June 13, 1940 – Paris fells to the Germans.

June 15, 1940 – The Soviet Union invades Lithuania.

June 16, 1940 – French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud resigns. He is succeeded by Philippe Petain.

June 17, 1940 – The Red Army enters Latvia and Estonia.

June 18, 1940 – General De Gaulle forms the French government in exile.

June 22, 1940 – France signs an armistice (known as the Second Armistice at Compiegne) with the Nazi Germany.

June 28, 1940 – The Soviet forces invade Romania and occupy Bessarabia and part of Bukovina.

June 30, 1940 – The Channel Islands are occupied by the Germans.

July 10, 1940 – Establishment of Vichy France.

July 10, 1940 – Beginning of the Battle of Britain.

August 19, 1940 – Italy captures the city of Berbera in the British Somaliland (present-day northern Somalia).

September 2, 1940 – The Destroyers for Bases Agreement is signed by the United States and the United Kingdom according to which the United States give 50 destroyers to Britain in exchange for establishment of US naval and air bases on various British possessions.

September 9, 1940 – The Italians start the invasion of Egypt.

September 17, 1940 – The Operation Sea Lion, the planned German invasion of Britain is postponed until further notice.

September 27, 1940 – Nazi Germany, Japan and Italy sign the Tripartite Pact in Berlin.

October 7, 1940 – The Germans invade Romania.

October 28, 1940 – Italy attacks Greece.

November 14, 1940 – The Greeks launch a counter-offensive against the Italians.

November 20, 1940 – Hungary joins the Tripartite Pact.

November 23, 1940 – Romania signs the Tripartite Pact.

November 24, 1940 – The Slovak Republic signs the Tripartite Pact.

December 28, 1940 – Due to failing to occupy Greece, Italians ask Germany for military assistance.

January 21, 1941 – The British and Australian troops capture the Italian held city of Tobruk in Libya.

February 3, 1941 – Lieutenant-General Erwin Rommel is appointed head of the German troops in Africa (the later Afrika Korps).

February 7, 1941 – About 130,000 Italian soldiers surrender to the Allied forces at Benghazi, marking the end of the successful Operation Compass.

February 11, 1941 – The first elements of Rommel's Afrika Korps arrive to Libya.

February 25, 1941 – The British capture the Mogadishu, the capital of the Italian Somaliland.

March 11, 1941 – The US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Lend Lease Act allowing the Allies to buy military equipment and pay for it after the war.

April 4, 1941 – Rommel captures Benghazi, Libya.

April 6, 1941 – Nazi Germany attacks Yugoslavia.

April 8, 1941 – Thessaloníki (Greece) is captured by the Germans.

April 10, 1941 – Italy and Germany partition Yugoslavia and set up the Independent State of Croatia, a puppet state under Ustaše - a Croatian nationalist organization which conducted large scale genocide campaigns against Serbs, Jews and Roma people.

April 13, 1941 – The Soviet Union and Japan sign the Neutrality Pact.

June 21, 1941 – Rommel defeats the Allies in the Gazala Battle and captures Tobruk.

June 22, 1941 – Nazi Germany invades the Soviet Union.

July 12, 1941 – The United Kingdom and Soviet Union sight the Assistant pact.

August 9, 1941 – Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt sign the Atlantic Charter.

September 8, 1941 – Beginning of the Siege of Leningrad.

September 19, 1941 – The Germans capture Kiev, Ukraine.

November 3, 1941 – Kursk fells to the Germans.

November 27, 1941 – The Germans reach the outskirts of Moscow.

December 5, 1941 – The German attack on Moscow is called off.

December 5, 1941 – The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.

December 8, 1941 – The United States declares war on Japan.

December 11, 1941 – Nazi Germany declares war on the United States.

January 20, 1942 – The Wannsee Conference is held on the "final solution of the Jewish question".

February 15, 1942 – Singapore is captured by the Japanese.

June 4 – June 7, 1942 – The Japanese Imperial Navy is defeated by the US Navy in the Battle of Midway.

July 1, 1942 – Beginning of the First Battle of El Alamein.

August 23, 1942 – Beginning of the Battle of Stalingrad.

November 3, 1942 – Rommel is forced to retreat after being decisively defeated in the Second Battle of El Alamein.

November 11, 1942 – Vichy France is invaded by the Germans.

November 15, 1942 – The Japanese are heavily defeated in the Battle of the Solomons.

January 23, 1943 – The Allies capture Tripoli.

January 31, 1943 – The Germans forces at Stalingrad including Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus surrender to the Red Army.

April 19, 1943 – The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto rebel against the Germans (the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising). It is brutally suppressed by May 16.

May 13, 1943 – The Afrika Korps and the Italian units in North Africa surrender.

July 5 – August 23, 1943 – The Red Army defeats the German forces in the Battle of Kursk.

July 22, 1943 – The Allies invade Sicily.

July 25, 1943 – The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini is arrested. He was later rescued by the German paratroopers.

September 3, 1943 – Allied invasion of the mainland Italy.

September 8, 1943 – Italy capitulates.

September 23, 1943 – Benito Mussolini creates the Italian Social Republic in northern Italy.

November 28 – December 1, 1943 – Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt meet at Tehran.

March 19, 1944 – The Germans occupy Hungary.

May 12, 1944 – The Red Army recaptures Sevastopol from the Germans.

June 6, 1944 – Beginning of the Operation Overlord, Allied landing in Normandy.

June 19, 1944 – The Japanese Navy is defeated by the US Navy in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

July 13, 1944 – Minsk is liberated by the Red Army.

July 20, 1944 – Hitler survives assassination attempt in his Wolf's Lair headquarters.

July 28, 1944 – The Soviet forces capture Brest-Litovsk.

August 1, 1944 – Beginning of the Warsaw Uprising.

August 25, 1944 – Paris is liberated by the Allies.

August 30, 1944 – The Red Army liberates Bucharest.

September 16, 1944 – The Red Army enters the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.

October 2, 1944 – The Warsaw Uprising is suppressed.

October 20, 1944 – Belgrade is liberated.

December 16, 1944 – Germans begin the Ardennes Offensive in Belgium, France and Luxembourg.

January 17, 1945 – Warsaw is liberated by the Red Army.

February 4 – February 11, 1945 – Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt meet at the Yalta Conference.

March 26, 1945 – The US forces capture Iwo Jima.

April 10, 1945 – The Allies liberate the concentration camp of Buchenwald.

April 12, 1945 – The US President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies. He is succeeded by Harry S. Truman.

April 13, 1945 – The Soviet Army enters Vienna.

April 25, 1945 – The Soviet and American troops meet at the River Elbe at Torgau, Germany.

April 30, 1945 – Adolf Hitler commits suicide.

May 2, 1945 – Berlin is captured by the Soviet forces.

May 7, 1945 – Germany surrenders. The war in Europe is over.

August 6, 1945 – The United States drop the first atomic bomb (Little Boy) on Hiroshima.

August 9, 1945 – The United States drop the second atomic bomb (Fat Man) on Nagasaki.

August 14, 1945 – Japan agrees to surrender unconditionally by which the World War II is finally over.

Quick Facts about World War II World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany on September 1, 1939.

The anti-Nazi coalition was originally formed by France and the United Kingdom.

The Soviet Union entered the war on the German side.

The Soviet Union joined the Allies only after German invasion on June 22, 1941.

The United States insisted on neutrality in the war until the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

By the end of 1942, Nazi Germany, Italy and their allies controlled the entire Europe with the exception of Great Britain and a few neutral states such as the Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Ireland and Turkey.

In 1943, the tide of the war in Europe began to turn on the Allied side.

After capitulation of Italy in September 1943, rapid advance of the Red Army in the east and successful Allied landings in Normandy in June 1944, the defeat of Nazi Germany became only a matter of time.

Nazi Germany unconditionally surrendered on May 7, 1945, one week after Hitler committed suicide. With the German surrender, the war in Europe was over.

Japan surrendered only after two atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The World War II was thus officially over only on August 16, 1945 but it formally ended on September 2 when Japan signed unconditional surrender.