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Interwar Period (1918-1939)

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Maarten Knoops

on 22 November 2016

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Transcript of Interwar Period (1918-1939)

Interwar period
November 11
The Armistice with Germany marks the end of World War I. German troops evacuate occupied territories and Allied troops subsequently move in and occupy the German Rhineland.
French soldiers under General Gouraud, with machine guns amongst the ruins of a cathedral near the Marne.
The Allied zones of occupation in post-war Germany, highlighting the Soviet zone (red), the inner German border (black line), and the zone from which American troops withdrew in July 1945 (purple).
January 4-15
The Spartacist uprising takes place and is crushed by the German government, marking the end of the German Revolution.
After occupation of the Silesian railway station in Berlin by government troops, 1919
January 18
Opening of the Paris Peace Conference to negotiate peace treaties between the belligerents of World War I.
The Big Four" made all the major decisions at the Paris Peace Conference (from left to right, David Lloyd George of Britain, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando of Italy, Georges Clemenceau of France, Woodrow Wilson of the U.S.)
The Polish–Soviet War begins with border clashes between the two states.
Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin (left) and Polish leader Józef Piłsudski.(right)
March 2
Foundation of the Third International, or Comintern in Moscow. Comintern's stated aim is to create a global Soviet republic.
The Communist International published a theoretical magazine in a variety of European languages from 1919 to 1943.
May 15
The Turkish War of Independence begins as Greek troops land in Smyrna.
Greek troops marching on Izmir's coastal street.
June 28
Germany and the Allied powers sign the Treaty of Versailles after six months of negotiations. The German armed forces are limited in size to 100,000 personnel and Germany is ordered to pay large reparations for war damages. The United States signed the treaty but did not ratify it, later making a separate peace treaty with Germany.
Cover of the English version.
September 10
German Austria signs the Treaty of Saint-Germain. The peace treaty with the Allies regulates the borders of Austria, forbids union with Germany and German Austria has to change its name to Austria. The United States did not ratify the treaty and later makes a separate peace treaty with Austria.
Signing ceremony, Austrian chancellor Renner addressing the delegates.
November 27
Bulgaria signs the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine. The peace treaty with the Allies regulates the borders of Bulgaria, the Bulgarian army is reduced to 20,000 men and Bulgaria is ordered to pay war reparations.
Bulgaria after Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine.
The failed Kapp Putsch takes place against the German government.
Putschists in Berlin. The banner warns: "Stop! Whosoever proceeds will be shot"
January 21
The Paris Peace Conference comes to an end with the inaugural General Assembly of the League of Nations. Although one of the victors of World War I, the United States never joins the League
Anachronous world map in 1920–1945, showing the League of Nations and the world
August 10
Turkey signs the Treaty of Sèvres with the Allied powers. The treaty partitions the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish armed forces are reduced in size. Greece did not accept the borders as drawn up in the treaty and did not sign it. The Treaty of Sèvres was annulled in the course of the Turkish War of Independence and the parties signed and ratified the superseding Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
Partitioning of Ottoman Turkey according to the aborted Treaty of Sèvres
Żeligowski's Mutiny, a Polish force led by General Lucjan Żeligowski capture Vilnius, officially without support from the Polish state
General Lucjan Żeligowski
June 4
Hungary signs the Treaty of Trianon with the Allied powers. The treaty regulated the status of an independent Hungarian state and defined its borders. The United States did not ratify the treaty and later makes a separate peace treaty with Hungary.
Difference between the borders of the Kingdom of Hungary within Austria-Hungary and independent Hungary after the Treaty of Trianon. Based on the 1910 Hungarian census. Administrative Kingdom of Hungary in green, autonomous Croatia-Slavonia grey
1918 till 1939
The Polish–Soviet War ends with the Peace of Riga.
Poland after the Treaty of Riga with the pre-partitions border of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth marked
August 25-29
The U.S.–German Peace Treaty, the U.S.–Austrian Peace Treaty and the The U.S.–Hungarian Peace Treaty are signed, marking the formal end of the state of war between the three states and the United States instead of the Treaty of Versailles, the Treaty of Saint-Germain and the Treaty of Trianon that were not ratified by the United States.
THE OMAHA EVENING BEE, Nebraska, August 26, 1921
February 6
The Washington Naval Conference ends with the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty by the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, France, and Italy. The signing parties agree to limit the size of their naval forces.
Guns from battleships being scrapped in Philadelphia Navy Yard during December 1923. USS South Carolina being dismantled in the background.
April 16
Germany and the Soviet Union sign the Treaty of Rapallo, re-establishing diplomatic relations, renouncing financial claims on each other and pledge future cooperation
Anachronous world map Chancellor of Germany Joseph Wirth (2.from left) with Krassin, Georgi Chicherin and Joffe from the Russian delegation 1920–1945.
October 29
Fascist leader Benito Mussolini is appointed prime minister of Italy by king Victor Emmanuel III after the March on Rome.
Mussolini and Fascist Blackshirts during the March
November 1
The Grand National Assembly of Turkey abolishes the Ottoman Sultanate.
Departure of Mehmed VI, the last Ottoman sultan.
The Russian Civil War (ongoing since 7 November 1917) ends in Bolshevik victory with the defeat of the last White forces in Siberia.
January 11
France occupies the Ruhr in an effort to compel Germany to step up its payments of war reparations.

French soldiers in the Ruhr in 1923
July 24
The Treaty of Lausanne, settling the boundaries of modern Turkey, is signed in Switzerland by Turkey and the Entente powers. It marks the end of the Turkish War of Independence and replaces the earlier Treaty of Sèvres.
Borders of Turkey set by the Treaty of Lausanne
August 31
The Corfu incident: Italy bombards and occupies the Greek island of Corfu seeking to pressure Greece to pay reparations for the murder of an Italian general in Greece.
Corfu, one of the Ionian Islands.
September 27
The Corfu incident ends; Italian troops withdraw after the Conference of Ambassadors rules in favor of Italian demands of reparations from Greece.
Council of Ambassadors members (in blue) and observers (in red) as of 1919, with borders from 1921
October 29
Turkey officially becomes a Republic following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.
Ottoman Empire at its height.
November 8
The Beer Hall Putsch takes place, in which Adolf Hitler unsuccessfully leads the Nazis in an attempt to overthrow the German government. It is crushed by police the next day.
The Marienplatz in Munich during the Beer Hall Putsch
February 1
The United Kingdom recognizes the Soviet Union.
UK prime minister Ramsay MacDonald
April 1
Adolf Hitler is sentenced to 5 years in jail for his participation in the Beer Hall Putsch (he serves only 8 months).
Defendants in the Beer Hall Putsch trial. From left to right: Pernet, Weber, Frick, Kiebel, Ludendorff, Hitler, Bruckner, Röhm, and Wagner. Note that only two of the defendants (Hitler and Frick) were wearing civilian clothes.
April 6
Fascists win elections in Italy with a 2/3 majority.
Head of Government of Italy and
Duce of Fascism
June 10
Italian Fascists kidnap and kill socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti in Rome.
August 16
The Dawes Plan is accepted. It ends the Allied occupation of the Ruhr and sets a staggered payment plan for Germany's payment of war reparations.
Dawes Plan
January 21
Leader of the Soviet Union Vladimir Lenin dies, and Joseph Stalin begins purging rivals to clear the way for his leadership.
A group of participants in the 8th Congress of the Russian Communist Party, 1919. In the middle are Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, and Mikhail Kalinin.
Giacomo Matteotti
Tomb of Giacomo Matteotti
July 18
Adolf Hitler's autobiographical manifesto Mein Kampf is published.
Dust jacket of 1926–1927 edition
December 1
The Locarno Treaties are signed in London (they are ratified 14 September 1926). The treaties settle the borders of western Europe and normalize relations between Germany and the Allied powers of western Europe.
From left to right, Gustav Stresemann, Austen Chamberlain and Aristide Briand during the Locarno negotiations
January 3
Theodoros Pangalos declares himself dictator of Greece.
Pangalos as a Major General
April 24
The Treaty of Berlin is signed by Germany and the Soviet Union, which declares neutrality if either country is attacked within the next five years.
2nd President of Germany Paul von Hindenburg
December 25
Emperor Taishō dies and his son Hirohito becomes the Emperor of Japan.
Prince Hirohito and British Prime Minister Lloyd George, 1921
January 31
British and Belgian troops leave Cologne, Germany.
Köln (city in Cologne), 1926
September 8
Germany joins the League of Nations.
New York Times, September 1926
April 12
The Chinese Civil War begins between nationalists and communists.
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Commander-in-Chief of the National Revolutionary Army, emerged from the Northern Expedition as the leader of China.
May 20
Saudi Arabia becomes independent from the United Kingdom by the Treaty of Jeddah.
King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud
June 7
Peter Voikov, Soviet ambassador to Warsaw, is assassinated by a White movement activist.
Pyotr Lazarevich Voykov
November 12
Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, leaving Joseph Stalin with undisputed control of the Soviet Union.
Trotsky in 1921
May 3
The Jinan Incident begins, a limited armed conflict between the Republic of China and Japan.
Former foreign office building in Jinan, site of the execution of Cai Gongshi
June 4
Huanggutun Incident: Japanese agents assassinate the Chinese warlord Zhang Zuolin by bombing his train.
Huanggutun railroad shortly after the explosion
August 2
Italy and Ethiopia sign the Italo-Ethiopian Treaty, pledging cooperation and friendship.
Haile Selassie I
August 27
The Kellogg-Briand Pact is signed in Paris by the major powers of the world. The treaty outlaws aggressive warfare.
Dark green: original signatories
Green: subsequent adherents
Light blue: territories of parties
Dark blue: League of Nations mandates administered by parties
October 1
The Soviet Union launches the First Five-Year Plan, an economic effort to increase industrialization.
Propaganda stand dedicated to the first five-year plan in Moscow. 1931
February 11
Italy and the Holy See sign the Lateran Treaty, normalizing relations between the Vatican and Italy.
Territory of Vatican City State, established by the Lateran Accords

February 9
Litvinov's Pact is signed in Moscow by the Soviet Union, Poland, Estonia, Romania and Latvia. The Pact outlaws aggressive warfare along the lines of the Kellog-Briand Pact.
Maxim Litvinov
Soviet Ambassador to the United States
June 7
The Lateran Treaty is ratified, making the Vatican City a sovereign state.
Location of Vatican City (green)
March 28
Japan withdraws troops from China, ending the Jinan Incident.
Autopsy of a Japanese victim killed in the Jinan Incident (Japanese source)
August 31
The Young Plan, which sets the total World War I reparations owed by Germany at US$26,350,000,000 to be paid over a period of 58½ years, is finalized. It replaces the earlier Dawes Plan.
American industrialist Owen D. Young
October 29
The Great Depression begins with the Wall Street Crash.
Crowd gathering on Wall Street after the 1929 crash
April 22
The United Kingdom, United States, France, Italy and Japan sign the London Naval Treaty regulating submarine warfare and limiting naval shipbuilding.
Menu and List of Official Toasts at formal dinner which opened the London Naval Conference of 1930.
September 18
Mukden Incident: the Japanese stage a false flag bombing against a Japanese-owned railroad in the Chinese region of Manchuria, blaming Chinese dissidents for the attack.
Japanese troops entering Shenyang during the Mukden Incident
September 19
Using the Mukden Incident as a pretext, the Japanese invade Manchuria.
Japanese troops marching into Mukden on September 18, 1931
The Soviet famine of 1932–33 begins, caused in part by the collectivization of agriculture of the First Five-Year Plan.
Starved peasants on a street in Kharkiv, 1933
January 7
The Stimson Doctrine is proclaimed by United States Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson in response to Japan invading Manchuria. The Doctrine holds that the United States government will not recognize border changes that are made by force.
U.S. Secretary of State Henry Stimson.
January 28
January 28 Incident: using a flare-up of anti-Japanese violence as a pretext, the Japanese attack Shanghai, China. Fighting ends on March 6, and on May 5 a ceasefire agreement is signed wherein Shanghai is made a demilitarized zone.
Chinese military police in combat.
February 27
Fighting between China and Japan in Manchuria ends with Japan in control of Manchuria.
March 1
Japan creates the puppet state Manchukuo out of occupied Manchuria.
Location of Manchukuo (red) within Imperial Japan's sphere of influence.
April 10
Paul von Hindenburg is reelected President of Germany, defeating Adolf Hitler in a run-off.
Paul von Hindenburg as a cadet in Wahlstatt (1860)
May 30
Chancellor of Germany Heinrich Brüning resigns. President von Hindenburg asks Franz von Papen to form a new government.
Chancellor of Germany Heinrich Brüning
August 30
Hermann Göring is elected chairman of the German Senate.
Göring in 1932, wearing the Pour le Mérite.
November 21
Paul von Hindenburg begins talking to Adolf Hitler about forming a new government.
Paul von Hindenburg begins talking to Adolf Hitler about forming a new government.
December 3
von Hindenburg names Kurt von Schleicher Chancellor of Germany.
23rd Chancellor of Germany
Kurt von Schleicher
Japanese experts inspect the scene of the 'railway sabotage' on South Manchurian Railway
January 1
Defense of the Great Wall: Japan attacks the fortified eastern end of the Great Wall of China in Rehe Province in Inner Mongolia.
Japanese forces charging toward the wall defense
January 30
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg.
Adolf Hitler in 1937
February 27
Germany's parliament building the Reichstag is set on fire.
Firemen struggle to extinguish the fire.
February 28
The Reichstag Fire Decree is passed, nullifying many German civil liberties.
Das Andere Deutschland's final issue, announcing its own prohibition (Verbot) by the police authorities on the basis of the Reichstag fire decree
March 4
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as President of the United States.
32nd President of the United States
Franklin D. Roosevelt (in 1933)
March 20
Germany's first concentration camp, Dachau, is completed.
The gate at the Jourhaus building through which the prisoner's camp was entered contains the slogan, Arbeit macht frei, or 'Work will make you free
March 23
The Reichstag passes the Enabling Act, making Adolf Hitler dictator of Germany.
Hitler's Reichstag speech promoting the bill was delivered at the Kroll Opera House, following the Reichstag fire.
March 27
Japan leaves the League of Nations over the League of Nations' Lytton Report that found that Manchuria belongs to China and that Manchukuo was not a truly independent state.
Lytton Commission members in Shanghai (Lord Lytton wearing coat in center of photo)
April 1
Germans are told to boycott Jewish shops and businesses.
"Germans! Defend yourselves! Don't shop at Jewish stores!"
April 26
The Gestapo secret police is established in Germany.
Rudolf Diels, first Commander of the Gestapo; 1933–1934
May 2
Hitler outlaws trade unions.
Modern protest still refer to Hitler banning the unions.
May 31
The Tanggu Truce is signed between China and Japan, setting the ceasefire conditions between the two states after the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. China accedes to all Japanese demands, creating a large demilitarized zone inside Chinese territory.
Tanggu Truce negotiations
All non-Nazi parties are banned in Germany and the Nazi party becomes the official party of Germany.
Nazi Party emblem
September 12
Leó Szilárd conceives the idea of the nuclear chain reaction.
Leó Szilárd (1898–1964)
October 17
Scientist Albert Einstein arrives in the United States and settles as a refugee from Germany.
Albert Einstein in 1921
October 19
Germany leaves the League of Nations.
"Germany Quits League of Nations" THE KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, Albany, New York, October 15, 1933
November 24
Homeless, alcoholic, and unemployed sent to Nazi concentration camps.
Sites of Nazi concentration camps
January 26
Germany and Poland sign the 10 year German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact.
German ambassador, Hans-Adolf von Moltke, Polish leader Józef Piłsudski, German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and Józef Beck, Polish Foreign minister.
February 12-16
The Austrian Civil War is fought, ending with Austrofascist victory.
Soldiers of the Austrian Federal Army in Vienna, February 12, 1934
March 20
All German police forces come under the command of Heinrich Himmler.
Heinrich Himmler
June 30
Night of the Long Knives in Germany. Potential rivals to Hitler within the Nazi Party, including SA leader Ernst Röhm, and prominent anti-Nazi conservatives are killed by the SS and the Gestapo.
SA leader Ernst Röhm in Bavaria in 1934
July 20
The SS becomes an organization independent of the Nazi Party, reporting directly to Adolf Hitler.[1]
SS insignia
July 25
Austrian Nazis assassinate Engelbert Dollfuss during the failed July Putsch against the Austrian government.
Dollfuss pictured in Heimwehr uniform, 1933
August 2
Upon the death of President Paul von Hindenburg, Adolf Hitler makes himself Führer of Germany, becoming Head of State as well as Chancellor.
Though Hindenburg was in increasingly bad health, the Nazis made sure that whenever Hindenburg did appear in public it was in Hitler's company. The facial expressions say a lot...
August 8
Members of the Wehrmacht begin swearing a personal oath of loyalty to Hitler instead of to the German constitution.
Reichswehr soldiers swear the Hitler oath in 1934, with hands raised in the traditional schwurhand gesture
The Soviet Union joins the League of Nations.
Logo League of Nations

December 29
Japan renounces the Washington Naval Treaty and the London Naval Treaty.
December 19, 1934. JAPAN SCRAPS NAVY PACT
December 5
The Abyssinia Crisis begins with the Walwal incident, an armed clash between Italian and Ethiopian troops on the border of Ethiopia.
Map with Italian advances
January 7
The League of Nations approves the results of the Saar plebiscite, which allows Saar to be incorporated into German borders.
A map of the Territory of the Saar Basin
(colored in purple).
June 18
The Anglo-German Naval Agreement is signed by Germany and the United Kingdom. The agreement allows Germany to build a fleet that's 35% the tonnage of the British fleet. In this way, the British hope to limit German naval re-armament.
Germany could have a navy with size of one third the tonnage of the British navy and an equal tonnage of submarines.
September 15
The Reichstag passes the Nuremberg Laws, introducing antisemitism in German legislation.
Title page of RGB I No. 100 proclaiming the laws. Issued 16.09.1935.
October 2
Italy invades Ethiopia, beginning the Second Italo–Abyssinian War.
Italian artillery in Ethiopia in 1936.
August 31
The Neutrality Act of 1935 is passed in the United States imposing a general embargo on trading in arms and war materials with all parties in a war and it also declared that American citizens travelling on ships of warring nations travelled at their own risk.
The purpose of these three neutrality acts was to prevent America from entering another world war and becoming involved in any other foreign conflicts.
In 1936, Adolf Hitler demanded to have a private meeting with Arnold J. Toynbee who was visiting Berlin the same year to address the Nazi Law Society, and Toynbee accepted. In the meeting, Hitler emphasized his limited expansionist aim of building a greater German nation, and his desire for British understanding and cooperation. Toynbee was convinced of Hitler's sincerity, and endorsed Hitler's message in a confidential memorandum for the British prime minister and foreign secretary
Toynbee on the front cover of Time magazine, 17 March 1947.
February 6
Germany hosts the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The 1936's winter olympic logo.
March 7
In violation of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany remilitarizes the Rhineland.
Location of the Rhineland (as defined by the Treaty of Versailles) along the River Rhine
March 25
The Second London Naval Treaty is signed by the United Kingdom, United States, and France. Italy and Japan each declined to sign this treaty.
The strength of different navy's in 1940. (4 years after the second naval treaty)
July 17
The failed Spanish coup of July 1936 by Nationalist forces marks the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.
Map showing Spain in July 1936
Purple: Area under Nationalist control
Blue: Area under Republican control
October 18
Hermann Göring is made head of the German Four Year Plan, an effort to make Germany self-sufficient and increase armaments.
Göring in 1907, at about age 14
The Great Purge commences in the Soviet Union with widespread repression of suspected opponents of the regime. The purge leads to the imprisonment and death of many military officers, weakening the Soviet Armed Forces ahead of World War II.
Partial view of a plaque with photos of victims of the Great Purge who were shot in the Butovo firing range near Moscow.
August 1
Germany hosts the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
The Berlin Olympic Stadium in 1936.
November 14
Suiyuan Campaign begins as Japanese-backed Mongolian troops attack the Chinese garrison at Hongort.
Most of the soldiers of the Inner Mongolian Army, which fought Nationalist troops in the Suiyuan Campaign in 1936, were either ex-bandits or volunteers
November 15
The aerial German Condor Legion goes into action for the first time in the Spanish Civil War in support of the Nationalist side.
Standard of the Condor Legion
November 25
The Anti-Comintern Pact is signed by Japan and Germany. The signing parties agree to go to war with the Soviet Union if one of the signatories is attacked by the Soviet Union.
Japanese ambassador to Germany Kintomo Mushakoji and Foreign Minister of Germany Joachim von Ribbentrop, sign the Anti-Comintern Pact.
December 1
Hitler makes it mandatory for all males between the ages 10-18 to join the Hitler Youth.
Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) Logo
December 12
The two sides in the Chinese Civil War temporarily suspend hostilities to fight the Japanese.
NRA soldiers firing artillery on Communist forces
December 23
The first 3,000 men of the Italian expeditionary force (later named Corpo Truppe Volontarie) lands in Cadiz in support of the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War.
A column of Italian troops at the Battle of Guadalajara.
October 5
U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt gives the Quarantine Speech outlining a move away from neutrality and towards "quarantining" all aggressors.
Roosevelt in 1884.
July 7
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurs, beginning the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Japanese forces bombarding Wanping, 1937
November 6
Italy joins the Anti-Comintern Pact and on December 11 they left the league of nations.
Italy joins Germany and Japan in Anti-Comintern Pact.
December 8
Japan established the puppet state of Mengjiang in the Inner Mongolia region of the Republic of China.
Foundation ceremony of Mengjiang government.
December 12
The USS Panay incident occurs, where Japan attacked the American gunboat Panay while she was anchored in the Yangtze River.
USS Panay sinking after Japanese air attack. Nanking, China.
January 26
The Allison incident occurs further straining relations between Japan and the United States.
Memoires from John Moore Allison.
March 6
Japanese troops reaches the Yellow River in China.
The Chinese Nationalist Army Soldiers during the 1938 Yellow River flood.
March 13
Austria is annexed by Nazi Germany.
German and Austrian border police dismantle a border post.
July 29
The Soviet–Japanese border conflicts begin with the Battle of Lake Khasan.
Lieutenant I.N. Moshlyak and two Soviet soldiers on Zaozyornaya Hill after the battle
September 27
U.S. President Roosevelt sends letter to German Führer Adolf Hitler seeking peace.
Adolf Hitler as an infant (c. 1889–90).
September 30
The Munich Agreement is signed by Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. The agreement allows Germany to annex the Czechoslovak Sudetenland area in exchange for peace in an attempt to appease Hitler.
After the summit, the British prime minister Chamberlain returned to Great Britain and declared that the Munich agreement meant "peace for our time".
November 7
Exiled German Jew Herschel Grynszpan assassinates German consular aide Ernst vom Rath in Paris.
Herschel Grynspan just after his arrest.
November 9
The Kristallnacht pogrom begins in Germany; many Jewish shops and synagogues are smashed, looted, burned, and destroyed throughout the country.
The interior of the Fasanenstrasse Synagogue in Berlin after Kristallnacht.
January 25
A uranium atom is split for the first time at Columbia University in the United States.
Dr. John Dunning, an associate professor of physics, and Dr. George Pegram.
November 8
Adolf Hitler orders Plan Z, a 5-year naval expansion programme intended to provide for a huge German fleet capable of defeating the Royal Navy by 1944. The Kriegsmarine is given the first priority on the allotment of German economic resources. This is the first and only time the Kriegsmarine is given the first priority in the history of the Third Reich.
Erich Raeder, commander of the Kriegsmarine.
March 14
The pro-German Slovak Republic is created with Jozef Tiso as its first prime minister.
Postage stamps of Slovakia, including a stamp of Czechoslovakia with an overprint reading "Slovak State 1939".
March 15
Germany occupies Czechoslovakia in violation of the Munich Agreement. The Czechs do not attempt to put up any organized resistance having lost their main defensive line with the annexation of the Sudetenland.
Germany establishes the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The protectorate includes those portions of Czechoslovakia not incorporated into Germany, Poland, Hungary, or the new Slovak Republic.
Adolf Hitler on his visit to Prague Castle after the establishment of a German protectorate.
March 20
German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop delivers an oral ultimatum to Lithuania, demanding that it cede the Klaipėda Region (German name Memel) to Germany.
Hitler making a speech in Memel the day after the ultimatum was accepted.
March 21
Adolf Hitler demands the return of the Free City of Danzig to Germany.
Passport of the Free City of Danzig.
March 23
German–Romanian Treaty for the Development of Economic Relations between the Two Countries is signed.
Prime Minister of Romania Armand Calinescu
In office
7 March 1939 – 21 September 1939
April 1
The Spanish Civil War ends in Nationalist victory. Spain becomes a dictatorship with Francisco Franco as the head of the new government.
Francisco Franco and his wife Carmen Polo.
April 3
Adolf Hitler orders the German military to start planning for Fall Weiss, the codename for the attack on Poland, planned to be launched on August 25, 1939.
Dispositions of opposing forces and the German plan of operation.
April 7-12
Italy invades Albania with little in the way of military resistance. Albania is later made part of Italy through a personal union of the Italian and Albanian crown.
Italian soldiers entering the city of Durrës on 7 April 1939 after resistance of Mujo Ulqinaku and Royal Albanian Army.
April 28
In a speech before the Reichstag, Adolf Hitler renounces the Anglo-German Naval Agreement and the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact. Both pacts were signed by Germany and the British.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Neville Chamberlain
In office: 28 May 1937 – 10 May 1940
May 11
Soviet–Japanese border conflicts: The Battle of Khalkhin Gol begins with Japan and Manchukuo against the Soviet Union and Mongolia. The battle ends in Soviet victory on September 16, influencing the Japanese to not seek further conflict with the Soviets, but to turn towards the Pacific holdings of the Euro-American powers instead.
Khalkhyn Gol, August 1939. Offensive of Soviet BT-7 tanks.
May 17
Sweden, Norway, and Finland reject Germany's offer of non-aggression pacts.
The Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression Pact signed in Helsinki on 21 January 1932. In 1939 there was nothing signed
May 22
The Pact of Steel, known formally as the "Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy", is signed by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. The Pact declares further cooperation between the two powers, but in a secret supplement the Pact is detailed as a military alliance.
The signing of the Pact of Steel in the Reichskanzlei in Berlin.
June 14
The Tientsin Incident occurs, in which the Japanese blockade the British concession in the North China Treaty Port of Tientsin.
Tientsin Incident – The Australian Women's Weekly pictorial – 1939.
July 10
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain reaffirms support for Poland and makes it clear that Britain did not view Free City of Danzig as being an internal German-Polish affair and would intervene on behalf of Poland if hostilities broke out between the two countries.
Danzig, surrounded by Germany and Poland.
August 2
The Einstein-Szilárd letter is sent to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Written by Leó Szilárd and signed by Albert Einstein, it warned of the danger that Germany might develop atomic bombs. This letter prompted action by Roosevelt and eventually resulted in the Manhattan Project.
The Manhattan Project created the first nuclear bombs.
The Trinity test is shown.
August 23
The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, with secret provisions for the division of Eastern Europe - joint occupation of Poland and Soviet occupation of the Baltic States, Finland and Bessarabia. This protocol removes the threat of Soviet intervention during the German invasion of Poland.
Stalin and Ribbentrop after the signature of the Soviet-Nazi German pact.
August 25
In response to a message from Mussolini that Italy will not honor the Pact of Steel if Germany attacks Poland, Hitler delays the launch of the invasion by five days to provide more time to secure British and French neutrality.
Hitler and Mussolini just after the signing
of the Pact of Steel.
August 30
German ultimatum to Poland concerning the Polish Corridor and the Free City of Danzig.
The Polish Corridor in 1923–1939.
September 1
Without response to its ultimatum, Germany invades Poland, start of World War II.
The map shows the beginning of World War II in September 1939 in a European context.
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