The World War II timeline is the chronological arrangement of the major events that took place before and during this long armed conflict, such as army campaigns, military operations, battles, and heads of state summits. It begins with ominous historical landmarks, which stood as the harbingers as what was to come.

Events before WWII

Treaty of Versailles (June 28, 1919). A historically ill-famed peace treaty, which demanded extortionate and extreme war reperations from the Germans, who felt it was humiliating and unfair.

Beer Hall Putsch (November 8, 1923). After this failed coup, Hitler is sent to prison, where he writes “Mein Kampf”.

Hitler’s rise to power (January 30, 1933). He became German chancellor.

Night of the Long Knives (1934). A Nazi Party purge, by which major SA leaders were eliminated.

Annexation of Austria (March, 1938). Germany annexed Austria, which became part of the Third Reich.

German annexation of Czechoslovakia (March, 1939). Having obtained Sudetenland through a British-German agreement, Hitler invaded this country the following year.

Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (August 26, 1939). A non-aggression treaty, by which Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to attack Poland.

Events During WWII

The European, Mediterranean, and North African Theaters of Operations

German Invasion of Poland (September 1, 1939). The Wehrmacht began the Polish Campaign that would last until early October, triggering World War II.

Soviet Invasion of Poland (September 17-October 6, 1939). Stalin also attacked this country from the East.

Soviet Attack on Finland (November 30, 1939). The Russians began a military campaing against this country.

German Invasion of Norway (April 9 – June 10, 1940). The Wehrmacht launched Operation Weserübung.

German Invasion of France and the Low Countries (May 10 – June 22, 1940).

Battle of Britain (July – October 1940). Air battle between the RAF and Luftwaffe for air supremacy.

– Western Desert Campaign (June 1940 – February 1943). British military campaign against the Axis forces in Northern Africa.

German Invasion of Yugoslavia (April 1941)

Operation Marita (April 1941). To help the Italian and avoid the British presence in the Balkans, Germany invaded Greece.

Battle of Crete (May – June 1941). The German paratroopers captured the Island of Crete.

Operation Barbarossa (June 22, 1941). The German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Battle of Moscow (October 1941 – January 1942). The Germans had reached the outskirts of Moscow, but were thrown back by a Soviet counter-attack.

Battle of El Alamein (October – November 1942). A military engagement between the British 8th Army and the Afrikakorps.

German Offensive on the Caucasus (June – November 1942). German forces pushed towards the Russian oil fields of Baku.

Battle of Stalingrad (September 1942 – February 1943). A major battle by which the Soviet managed to turn the tide of the war.

Battle of Krasny Bor (February 1943).

–  Battle of Kursk (July 1943).

Italian Campaign (July 1943 – April 1945)

Allied Invasion of Sicily (July – August 1943). US and British troops captured Sicily

Allied Invasion of Italy (September 1943).

Operation Overlord (June 6, 1944). Allied invasion of Normandy.

Battle of Caen (June – August 1944).

Falaise Pocket (August 1944).

Operation Market Garden (September 1944).

Battle of the Bulge (December 1944 – January 1945). German winter counter-attack on the Ardennes salient.

Yalta Conference (February 1945).

Allied Invasion of Germany (March – May 1945). The Allied armies crossed the Rhine to invade Germany.

Battle of Berlin (April – May 1945).

– German Unconditional Surrender (May 7, 1945).

Pacific Theater of Operations

Attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941). A Japanese attack on the US Navy base in Hawaii caused American entrance into the war.

Doolittle Raid (April 18, 1942). First US bombing of Tokyo.

Guadalcanal Campaign (August 1942 – February 1943). With the invasion of Guadalcanal, the United States launched the Island Hopping Campaign in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

Battle of Tarawa (November 1943). US Marines invaded Tarawa, Gilbert Islands.

Battle of Makin (November 1943). American invasion of the Makin Atoll in the Gilberts.

Battle of Kwajalein (January – February 1944). Marshall islands.

Battle of Eniwetok (February 1944). Marshall islands.

Battle of Saipan (June – July 1944). Mariana islands.

Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 1944). Naval battle.

Battle of Tinian (July 1944). Mariana islands.

Battle of Guam (July – August 1944). Mariana islands.

Battle of Angaur (September – October 1944). Palau islands.

Battle of Peleliu (November 1944). Palau islands.

Battle of Leyte (October – December 1944). US invasion of the island of Leyte, in the Philippines.

Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 23-26, 1944). Major naval battle.

Battle of Luzon (January – August 1945)

Battle of Iwo Jima (February – March 1945).

Battle of Okinawa (April – June 1945).

Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima ( August 6, 1945). US Air Force Enola Gay dropped the first atomic against an enemy.

Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki (August 9, 1945). Second atomic bomb dropped on Japan.

Japan Unconditional Surrender (September 2, 1945). Japan signed the Instrument of surrender onboard of the USS Missouri.

Related posts:

Treaty of Fontainebleau (1814)
Expansion of Japanese Empire (Summary)
American Cultural Prejudice