The following is a concise World War 2 timeline. For other timelines of specific events in the war, we recommend a timeline of D-Day, and a timeline of the emergence of Nazi Germany.
|1938||German Anschluss with Austria?||Hitler went ahead with his plans to unify all German-speaking people. He annexed Austria then demanded the liberation of German people in the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. Neville Chamberlain flew to Germany to attempt a settlement before war broke out.|
|30 Sept 1938||Treaty of Munich||Hitler, Chamberlain, Daladier of France and Mussolini of Italy met in Munich and agreed that Hitler should have the Sudetanland of Czechoslovakia. The Czechs were not represented at the meeting and realising that no country would come to their aid were forced to surrender the Sudetenland to Germany. Hitler assured those at the meeting that this was the extent of his ambitions for expansion. Chamberlain returned to England with a piece of paper signed by Hitler, proclaiming ‘peace in our time.’?|
|March 1939||Hitler invades Czechoslovakia||Despite the assurances given by Hitler in the Treaty of Munich (Sept 1938), he marched into Czechoslovakia and occupied the country.|
|March /April 1939||Britain rearms and reassures Poland||Britain had begun re-arming and a highly secret radar early warning system was installed along the east coast. Conscription was introduced and assurances were given to Poland, who was being threatened by the Fuhrer.|
|late Aug 1939||Russia and Germany sign pact?||Hitler and Stalin signed a non-aggression pact which included secret clauses for the division of Poland.|
|1 Sept 1939||Hitler invades Poland||Adolf Hitler invaded Poland.|
|3 Sept 1939||Britain and France declare war on||Britain and France declared war on Germany. Neville Chamberlain broadcast the announcement that the country was at war.|
|Sept 1939-May 1940||‘Phoney War’||The months following Britain’s declaration of war are referred to as the ‘phoney war’ because Britain saw no military action.|
|April/May 1940||Hitler invades Denmark and Norway||Hitler invaded and occupied Denmark and Norway to safeguard supply routes of Swedish ore and also to establish a Norwegian base from which to break the British naval blockade on Germany.|
|10 May 1940||Blitzkrieg||Hitler launched his blitzkrieg (lightning war) against Holland and Belgium. Rotterdam was bombed almost to extinction. Both countries were occupied.|
|13 May 1940||Chamberlain resigns||Neville Chamberlain resigned after pressure from Labour members for a more active prosecution of the war and Winston Churchill became the new head of the wartime coalition government. Chamberlain gave Churchill his unreserved support. Ernest Bevin was made minister of labour and recruited workers for the factories and stepped up coal production. Lord Beaverbrook, minister of Aircraft Production increased production of fighter aircraft.|
|26 May 1940||Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo)||The British commander-in-chief, General Gort, had been forced to retreat to the coast at Dunkirk. The troops waited, under merciless fire, to be taken off the beaches. A call went out to all owners of sea-worthy vessels to travel to Dunkirk to take the troops off the beaches of Dunkirk. More than 338,000 men were rescued, among them some 140,000 French who would form the nucleus of the Free French army under a little known general, Charles de Gaulle.|
|11 June 1940||Italy enter war on side of Axis powers||Italy entered the war on the side of the Axis powers. Italy’s motive for entering the war was the hope of rich pickings from the spoils of war.?|
|22 June 1940||France signs armistice with Germany||The French, Marshall Petain, signed an armistice with Germany taking France, which had been devastated, out of the war and into German occupation.?|
|10 July – 31 October 1940||Battle of Britain||The Battle of Britain comprised four phases:|
1. During July Hitler sent his Luftwaffe bombers to attack British ports. His aim was also to assess the speed and quality of response by the RAF.?
2. During August the attacks on shipping continued but bombing raids were concentrated on RAF airfields.
3. The Blitz – From September 7th the city of London was heavily bombed. Hitler hoped to destroy the morale of the British people.
4. Night Bombing – With the failure of daylight bombing raids Hitler began a series of nightly bombing raids on London and other important industrial cities.
The RAF defended the skies and by October 31 the raids had ceased.
|22 Sept 1940||Tripartite Pact||This pact of mutual alliance was signed by Germany, Italy and Japan.|
|December 1940||British rout Italians in N. Africa||Italian forces in North Africa were routed by the British led by General Wavell.|
|early 1941||Italy and Germany attack Yugoslavia||German and Italian troops attacked Yugoslavia, Greece and the island of Crete. German field Marshall Erwin Rommel led the axis powers back to North Africa.|
|22 June 1941||Hitler attacks Russia – Operation Barbarossa||Hitler sent 3 million soldiers and 3,500 tanks into Russia. The Russians were taken by surprise as they had signed a treaty with Germany in 1939. Stalin immediately signed a mutual assistance treaty with Britain and launched an Eastern front battle that would claim 20 million casualties. The USA, which had been supplying arms to Britain under a ‘Lend-Lease’ agreement, offered similar aid to USSR.|
|7 Dec 1941||Pearl Harbor||The Japanese, who were already waging war against the Chinese, attacked the US pacific fleet at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, as a preliminary to taking British, French and Dutch colonies in South East Asia.|
|8 Dec 1941||Britain and US declare war on Japan||Britain and the United States declared war on Japan.|
|Feb 1942||Japanese take Singapore||The Japanese captured Singapore from the British, taking some 60,000 prisoners.|
|June 1942||Battle of Midway||The USA defeated the Japanese navy at the Battle of Midway. Following this victory, the US navy was able to push the Japanese back.|
|Aug 1942||Allies in N. Africa||General Alexander was given a hand-written directive from Churchill ordering that his main directive was to be the destruction of the German-Italian army commanded by Field-Marshall Rommell together with all its supplies and establishments in Egypt and Libya. As soon as sufficient material had been built up, Alexander handed the campaign over to General Montgomery.|
|23 Oct 1942||Battle of El Alamein||Montgomery attacked the German-Italian army in North Africa with a massive bombardment followed by an armoured attack. He then proceeded to chase the routed enemy some 1500 miles across the desert.|
|Nov 1942||Battle of Stalingrad||The Russians won their first victory against Germany at the Battle of Stalingrad.|
|Nov 1942||Allies push into N. Africa||British and American forces under the command of General Dwight Eisenhower landed in the NW of Africa and assumed control of French Morocco and Algeria. They gradually closed in on the Germans.|
|May 12 1943||Axis surrender N Africa||The British and American forces managed to defeat the Axis forces in North Africa|
|July 1943||Allies invade Sicily||British and US forces invaded Sicily.|
|Aug 1943||Allies take Sicily||The allied troops had won the island of Sicily.|
|3 Sept 1943||Italy surrenders||Mussolini had been thrown out of office and the new government of Italy surrendered to the British and the USA. They then agreed to join the allies. The Germans took control of the Italian army, freed Mussolini from imprisonment and set him up as head of a puppet government in Northern Italy. This blocked any further allied advance through Italy.|
|Nov 1943||Allies meet at Tehran||Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill met to co-ordinate plans for a simultaneous squeeze on Germany. They also discussed post war settlements. Churchill mistrusted Stalin; Roosevelt anxious to show that the West would not stand against Russia, went along with Stalin’s wishes for a second front in France and no diversions further east. Churchill was over-ruled and the fate of post-war Eastern Europe was thus decided.|
|Jan 1944||Leningrad relieved||The siege of Leningrad was lifted by the Soviet army.|
|June 1944||Rome liberated||Although Italy had surrendered in September, it was only now that the allies were able to liberate Rome from the Germans.|
|6 June 1944||D-Day||The allies launched an attack on Germany’s forces in Normandy, Western France. Thousands of transports carried an invasion army under the supreme command of general Eisenhower to the Normandy beaches. The Germans who had been fed false information about a landing near Calais, rushed troops to the area but were unable to prevent the allies from forming a solid bridgehead. For the allies it was essential to first capture a port.|
|July 1944||Japanese evicted from Burma||British forces under General Slim, with help from guerrilla-fighting Chindits led by Orde Wingate, evicted the Japanese from Burma.|
|25 Aug 1944||Paris liberated||The French capital of Paris was liberated from the Germans.|
|8 Sept 1944||V2 Flying Bombs||The first V2 flying bombs killed three people in London.|
|Dec 1944||Battle of the Bulge||Germany launched its final defensive through the Ardennes region of Belgium. However, they were beaten back by the allies.|
|March 1945||Allies cross the Rhine||The Allies crossed the Rhine while Soviet forces were approaching Berlin from the East.|
|April 1945||Death of Roosevelt||President Roosevelt died. He was succeeded by President Truman.|
|April 1945||Russians reach Berlin||The Russians reached Berlin shortly before the US forces.|
|28 April 1945||Mussolini captured and executed||Italian partisans captured Mussolini and executed him.|
|30 April 1945||Hitler commits suicide||The German leader, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bombproof shelter together with his mistress, Eva Braun, who he had, at the last minute, made his wife.|
|2 May 1945||German forces surrender||German forces in Italy surrendered to the Allies.|
|4 May 1945||German forces surrender||German forces in north west Germany, Holland and Denmark surrendered to Montgomery on Luneburg Heath. Admiral Donitz, whom Hitler had nominated as his successor, tried to reach agreement to surrender to the Western allies but to continue to fight the Russians. His request was refused.|
|7 May 1945||Donitz offers unconditional surrender||Hitler’s successor, Admiral Donitz, offerred an unconditional surrender to the allies.|
|8 May 1945||V.E. day||Victory in Europe was celebrated.|
|5 July 1945||Churchill loses election||Winston Churchill lost the election to Clement Atlee’s Labour Party. The Labour party promised sweeping social reforms including nationalisation of the coal and railway industries and the creation of a welfare state. The Labour party gained 393 seats to the Conservatives 213. It was generally accepted that the landslide victory for Labour was due to the men and women of the armed services who did not want to resume civilian life under the conditions that they had before they entered service.?|
|6 Aug 1945||Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima||The Japanese generals refused to surrender. The US dropped an atomic bomb on the island of Hiroshima.|
|8 Aug 1945||Russia declares war on Japan||Russia declared war on Japan and invaded Japanese-ruled Manchuria.|
|9 Aug 1945||Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki||The US dropped an atomic bomb on the island of Nagasaki as the Japanese had not surrendered following Hiroshima.|
|14 Aug 1945||Japanese surrender||The Japanese unconditionally surrendered to the allies ending the second world war.|
|2 Sept 1945||MacArthur accepts Japan’s surrender||US General, Douglas MacArthur, accepted Japan’s surrender thus formally ending the second world war.|
If you are interested in more information like this World War 2 timeline, we recommend our comprehensive resource on D-Day and the Allied Invasion of Normandy.
Timeline Assignment for World Politics: A History
Political Science 214& 324
University of Chicago
Basic Timeline/Dictionary Assignment
Creating a timeline/dictionary is one of the two written course assignments.
The timeline is a chronology of approximately 15 significant events on one topic in one selected period. The topic itself should be reflected in a clear title on the paper.
The dictionary is an annotated list of approximately 15 people, places, and events related to your chronology.
If you have questions about your timeline, please read the instructions below and then feel free to contact your TA.
All papers must have a title and must include your name, phone, and e-mail address. Please staple. No cover or cover page is needed.
Timeline Assignment Explained in Detail
Pick one issue or theme within the time period of the course and create (a) a timeline of major events related to that topic and (b) a dictionary of key people and events for that same topic, with brief descriptions. If possible, please put the exact day of any event you list. The timeline and dictionary may be done as small group projects, with friends in the class if you wish. This is a real opportunity for group learning.
Chronology (or timeline) of key events + dictionary of key persons, terms, and events in one historical period.
For Pol Sci. 214-00 (covering the period 1814-1914), topics might include
- the Congress System;
- the rise of free trade, or its decline;
- the rise of the Gold Standard;
- the Crimean War;
- German or Italian Unification;
- major features of the Meiji Restoration;
- the evolution of European empires;
- major changes in military technology;
- or a number of other topics.
For Pol Sci. 216-00 (covering the period 1945-91), topics might include
- rise of the Cold War in Europe, Asia, or worldwide;
- evolution of the Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank, International Monetary Fund),
- decline of empires after World War II,
- or a number of others.
Pick a period or theme that interests you. If you are uncertain what constitutes an appropriate time period, please consult Professor Lipson or your teaching assistant. The paper, dictionary, or timeline must concentrate on the time period of the course. The material can focus on any region of the world. It can focus on international diplomacy, economics, or military issues, or a variety of other international issues for that matter (such as environmental politics, international institutions, migration, or other topics). Some material from earlier or later periods may be included to complete a paper or timeline that concentrates on the time period of the course itself.
You may use reference works, scholarly books, and the web to help your research. However, you may not "cut and paste" or lift material directly from other works. That is plagiarism. You must reword and reinterpret the events and definitions.
What a timeline should do?A timeline should list the major events in proper sequence, with dates given for each. It should provide a few essential details to clarify the event; the dictionary entry should offer more detail. Please select carefully so that you include the key events and avoid extraneous material. You must give a clear title to the timeline/dictionary so that it clearly specifies and delimits the topic you are studying. Here, for example, is the beginning of a timeline on early Soviet industrialization, done superbly by a student in PS21500 (covering world politics between 1914 and 1945). It is displayed with her permission.
Sample Timeline: Rapid Industrialization in the Soviet Union in the Interwar Period
|1917||Bolshevik Revolution results in overthrow of the Provisional Government; Communist seize control of government under V. Y. Lenin; Decree on Land Passed|
|1918||Russia withdraws from World War I; State seized all proper and land of Russian Orthodox Church, businesses, and banks|
|1921||Soviet industry lagging behind: iron production is at 1/5 of the 1913 level, coal runs at 3% of the prewar level, railways have less than half the locomotives they had at the beginning of the war. Lenin initiates NEP (New Economic Policy).|
|1922||Union Treaty joins Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Transcausasus (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) into the Soviet Union.|
|1924||USSR Constitution, which in part provides for public ownership of land and means of production, is ratified. Soviet Union establishes official relations with the major European powers. Lenin dies in January|
|1924-29||J. V. Stalin consolidates his control by forcing majority of leading Bolsheviks out of power.|
|1927||NEP results in revival of the economy: agricultural and industrial production returns to its prewar levels. Trotsky expelled from the Party. Stalin initiates "revolution from above."|
|Entries continue up to 1940|
Dictionary Assignment Explained in Detail
Related to the timeline, you should produce a brief dictionary covering 15 or more key events, terms, and people during the same period covered by the chronology. Dictionary entries should range between 10 and 50 words, providing brief definitions and discussions for each entry. Dictionary entries should provide key dates and briefly explain the significance of major events, people, and places. Again, you may draw on reference works but the entries should be entirely in your own words.
Sample Dictionary: Rapid Industrialization in the Soviet Union in the Interwar Period
|People (lists several) for example:|
Founder of the Communist Party, the mastermind and the main leader of the 1917 Revolution, founder of the Comintern, (1917-1924) Lenin serves as the first head of the Soviet State and its virtual dictator
|Terms (lists several) for example:|
A policy adopted by Stalin and most aggressively pursued between 1929 and 1933, meant to transform traditional agriculture in and to eliminate the kulaks; a brutal campaign that annihilated the peasantry and resulted in deaths of more than 5,000,000 in southern Russia and Ukraine from starvation.
|Events (lists several) for example:|
|NEP||New Economic Policy, initiated by Lenin in 1921; a mixture of socialism and capitalism that allowed the state to keep control of heavy industry, banking and transport, while allowing a free internal market, i.e. private shops, restaurants, and small scale agriculture; a step to subdue massive peasant revolts that began to threaten Bolshevik power. Lenin called NEP "a step backward in order to go forward."|
What should dictionary lists include? Let me give some examples. A list covering the early Cold War would certainly include the "Truman Doctrine," "Berlin Blockade," "NATO," "European Recovery Program," and "NSC-68," among others. Some entries, like the formation of NATO, might be longer and should list the initial members of the alliance. On the other hand, it is a dictionary entry, not a monograph, so be concise. When individuals are mentioned, the entry should include their full name, years of birth and death, and years in high office, e.g., George C. Marshall (1880-1959), General of the U.S. Army and its chief of staff during World War II (1939-45), Secretary of State (1947-49) and Secretary of Defense (1950-51).
You can, if you wish, produce a chronology and dictionary covering a theme, rather than a time period. For example, you might cover "major issues in international trade" (listing the biggest treaties, disputes, etc.) or "developments in applied military technology" or "the rise of European integration."
Purpose of Timeline + Dictionary
This assignment should familiarize you with a major historical topic that you have chosen and give you a solid basis to evaluate different historians writing on that topic. That is, it should prepare you to work on the longer historiographic essay dealing with the same topic as the timeline/dictionary.
The chronology and dictionary may be either "group projects" or "individual projects."
That is, 2-5 students may organize themselves to produce the timeline and dictionary as group projects. This is an excellent opportunity for group learning, not just on the written projects but on the assigned readings as well. By the same token, students are free to do the projects individually if they choose. If some students do decide to work as a group, then their dictionaries and timelines should be somewhat more extensive than individual assignments. The group should not only divide the work, they should review each other's efforts and produce a genuine joint product. Each group project will receive a single grade, which will apply equally to all participants.
The grades for the timeline and dictionary will constitute about 25 percent of your grade for the course. The remaining 75% comes from the historiographic essay or research paper, which you must write individually.
For discussion of the longer paper, click here
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