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World War II Timeline
Transcript of World War II Timeline
In the Nazi-German non-aggression pact signed in August 1939, Germany and the USSR planned to divide Poland between themselves although Britain had sworn the country its protection. Hitler believed the British were bluffing and expected no resistance from Britain or France. When he invaded Poland in September, Chamberlain made a final attempt at appeasement. Since Hitler did not respond, Britain declared war on Germany. Soon after, France followed Britain’s example. Although the Polish fought the Germans and the Soviets, their outdated arms and insufficient troops could not fight off the enemy for long. By the end of September, Poland was defeated and the war had started. May-June 1940
During the battle of Dunkirk in 1940, French, British and Belgian troops were cut off by the German Forces. A successful evacuation of these forces took place from May 27th to June 4th. Although the men were rescued, their equipment was left behind and a total of nine destroyers had been sunk. The success of the evacuation, however, significantly boosted the British morale. Invasion of Poland Dunkirk Troop Evacuation End of 1939-April 1940 For five months after the defeat of Poland, very little happened in the west. France and Germany each built up their defenses, along the Maginot and Siegfried Lines. Americans named this pause the “phoney war” because no fighting actually took place although war had been declared. In fact, Hitler hoped (falsely) this pause would make Britain and France more open to negotiating peace. In the meantime, Russia overtook some surrounding countries to build up its defense in the east. By April 1940, Hitler decided to end the calm of the phoney war and invaded Denmark and Norway. The “Phoney War” July 1940 To launch an invasion of Britain in 1940, Germany decided to take control of the English Channel. In order to do so Germany needed control of the air above it and had to fight the Royal Air Force. The battle began on July 10th, 1940 when the Luftwaffe (the German Air Force) tried to gain control over the Strait of Dover. It soon began attacking British radars, operating rooms and airfields hoping to provoke fighting on the ground and damage communication between various military bases. The frequency of German raids slowed down due to bad weather but soon picked up again with the Luftwaffe’s night bombings on cities. The attacks on British radars were stopped by Goering, head of the German army, which made them lose many planes. On September 15th, the Luftwaffe lost twice as many planes as the Royal Air force and two days later Hitler decided to postpone the invasion of Britain. Hitler, who had expected an easier victory, was surprised by the resistance. The Battle of Britain December 1941 After the Unites States’ embargo on Japan to keep it from expanding to fulfill what it believed to be its “manifest destiny,” Japan decided to launch an attack on the United States. It hoped to quickly destroy the United States’ naval power. They planned their attack and sent aircraft carriers that began bombing on the morning of December 7th, 1941. The US aircraft carriers the Japanese were hoping to capture were out at sea. They then launched attacks on US airfields, thereby destroying most of the United States’ airplanes. Just two hours after the beginning of the attack, Japanese planes went back to their aircraft carriers and the attack on Pearl Harbor was over. This attack forced America, which had been hoping to keep itself isolated from the war, to strike back. Pearl Harbor June 1941 On the 22nd of June 1941, Nazi Germany began an invasion of Russia called Operation Barbarossa. Hitler chose this course of action because he was afraid the Russians would attack Germany, which would then have to fight a two-front war. Furthermore, Hitler was hoping the Japanese would attack Russia and become more powerful, which he thought would stop the Americans from entering the war. Finally, Hitler wanted to annihilate communists and create Lebensraum, or “living space” for Germany. Hitler chose to wage a massive Blitzkrieg in the north, in the center, and in the south of Russia, thereby destroying important cities and violating the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact. Operation Barbarossa caught Stalin off guard and broke the trust between the Germans and the Russians. Eventually, German forces were halted by the harsh Russian weather, failed to capture Leningrad and Moscow, and only pushed on in the south to seize oil fields. Also, in the Barbarossa Decree, Hitler gave his officers the liberty to do whatever they liked with non-Germans because he did not consider those peoples as humans. Operation “Barbarossa” Part of Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa, the siege of Leningrad was a prolonged Nazi military operation. By the 8th of September 1941 the Germans had surrounded Leningrad and the siege had begun. It would end 900 days later, on January 27, 1944. During the siege, the city’s civilians endured extremely harsh conditions: they soon had very little to no food, water, heating, or electricity. Most civilians died from cold and starvation, but the city did not surrender. The siege was lifted after the Germans withdrew from parts of Russia when they realized that Operation Barbarossa would not be very successful. Contrary to what Hitler had thought, the Russians would not be easily defeated. Siege of Leningrad December 1941 The Holocaust In 1941, Germany was taking over more and more territories in eastern Europe. By the end of the year, Hitler gathered Jews and other minorities he loathed--from Germany and the territories he now controlled--and put them in concentrations camps located in Germany, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Poland, and western Russia. There, they were forced to endure tough labor and systematically killed. Gas chambers were first used in Chelmno, Poland in December 1941. By this time, the Nazis had already murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews, and would end up killing about 6 million by the end of the war. June 1942 In June 1942, the Americans beat a very strong Japanese attack at Midway Island in the Pacific. Although the Japanese were much more equipped for the attack, the Americans had a few advantages. First of all, they knew the location and time of the attack because they had deciphered the Japanese radio code. Secondly, the Japanese decided to split their forces and planned their carrier attacks simultaneously. These military choices made the Japanese vulnerable at times, which the Americans took advantage of. The Battle of Midway turned out to be a turning point in the battle in the Pacific that critically weakened the Japanese and gave America the upper hand. The battle also established the importance of waging an air war in the Pacific and marked the beginning of “island hopping,” through which the Americans gradually recovered Pacific islands. Battle of Midway Turning point Turning point Turning point October 1942 In October 1942 at El Alamein, Egypt, the British army was able to drive back Rommel’s Africa Korps, the German expeditionary force during the North African Campaign. Three previous engagements had progressively weakened Rommel and eventually led to his defeat in 1942. The British had also been able to renew their supplies and cut off those going to the Germans and Italians in between engagements. The El Alamein battle was another turning point in the war because it halted German efforts to control Egypt and the Suez Canal, stopped the Axis powers from gaining power in the Middle East, and even got them out of North Africa. Eventually, Germans and Italians trapped in Tunisia were forced to surrender and the Allies were well positioned for their invasion of Italy. El Alamein July 1943 Fall Of Italy On July 10th, 1943, American and British troops captured Sicily. They then went on to capture Naples by October, which pushed Badoglio, Mussolini’s successor, to sign an armistice which made Italy an Ally. The Germans could not tolerate the loss, and decided to fight the Allies on the Italian mainland. The battles did not end until the Germans surrendered in April 1945, but from the very start Italy’s fall foreshadowed the Axis’ end and partially distracted the Germans. June 1944 Summer 1942 D-Day On the 6th of June 1944, also knows as D-Day, the Allies began their invasion of Nazi-occupied parts of Europe under Operation Overlord. The Allies timed their invasion skillfully, as they had gotten the upper hand in the air war and as Italy had just been eliminated. However, D-Day took place long after it was promised to the Soviets. This contributed to Stalin's distrust of the west. The first invasion, which took place on Normandy beaches, was met with strong German resistance but was soon proven to be successful. In a few weeks, much of northern France was freed and German V1 and V2 rocket sites were taken over. The Allies were taking more and more power as Germany was losing a grip on the war. Battle of Stalingrad Stalingrad is a city now named Volgograd located in what was the south western Soviet Union. During World War II the battle of Stalingrad became one of the harshest battles in history. In the summer of 1942 German forces attempted to capture it. With intensive bombings the German army was able to control most of the city but was incapable of defeating the last defenders near the Volga River. With complex operations, the Red army was able to encircle part of the German Army inside Stalingrad. Unable to break the encirclement, Hitler renounced and the encircled forces surrendered after much heavy fighting. This battle was Nazi Germany’s first defeat in World War II and weakened Germany as it cost them around 1 million soldiers. December 1944-January 1945 Battle of the Bulge Hitler had decided that the alliance between Britain, France, and America was not strong and could be broken, so he ordered a massive attack on American forces from December 1944 to the end of January 1945. He hoped to destabilize their alliance and gain control over the port of Antwerp through which much of the Allies’ supplies were circulating. The Germans were able to break American lines and advance a little, creating a bulge, but the winter weakened their forces and they were forced to abandon their vehicles for lack of fuel. This battle was the greatest battle fought by America in World War II and was the last German offensive. Hitler lost many men and supplies on this offensive that could not be renewed. The Allied victory over Nazi Germany allowed for the liberation of death camps. February 1945 Bombing of Dresden Dresden was recognized as Germany’s cultural center. Up until 1944 it was spared from bombings from the allies. Eventually, on February 14th, 1945, the Allies decided to attack it. Approximately 3300 bombs were dropped in three waves and created a firestorm. The city burned almost entirely and thousands died. This attack disrupted the German Army’s ability to reinforce the eastern front and destroyed Germany’s cultural center and morale. August 1945 Hiroshima & Nagasaki As the war in the Pacific went on between the United States and Japan, the US decided that the only way to end it was to invade Japan. This, however, would cause too many American deaths. Thus, on August 6th 1945, the United States decided to drop its first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. It was quickly followed by another one on the city of Nagasaki a day later. The world had by now witnessed a war of annihilation and seen the immense destructive power of new weapons and bombs. In September 1945, Japan signed a surrender agreement and the war ended, but a popular sense of uneasiness and fear had taken hold of people all around the world. After years of a horrible war of annihilation...
WOLRD WAR II WAS OVER. Hitler's Death As the forces of the Red Army moved through Germany in the Spring of 1945, Hitler received word that one of his most loyal men, Himmler, had talked of surrender with the allies. His forces began to surrender and Hitler asked that his body and his wife’s should be burned to avoid humiliation. Soon after, however, Hitler died (historians believe he either committed suicide or was killed in a shooting in a bunker). Upon learning on Hitler’s death, Stalin demanded immediate surrender. Germany had lost the war. June 1942-February 1943 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal After its defeat at the battle Midway, Japan seeked control over a group of Islands called the Solomon Islands. In order to do so, they wanted control of the center island, the island of Guadalcanal. They were able to take it in June of 1942, but at the cost of causing tensions in the pacific for threatening naval activity in the region. The allies decided to retaliate by launching an assault on the island of Guadalcanal. The marines landed (with a couple sunk ships) and found little opposition. By October of 1942, the Japanese troops and rounded up on the other side of the island and began launching offensives. They continued attacking up until February of 1943 despite the incredibly high amount of deaths. In the end Japan was forced to leave the island.