The War in Europe

Major events during and leading up to the Second World War

Timeline Banner
November 1918
November 11 (Monday)  
End of WWI

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.

January 1919
January 18 (Saturday)  
Paris Peace Conference

Opening of the Paris Peace Conference to negotiate peace treaties between the belligerents of World War I.

June 1919
June 28 (Saturday)  
Treaty of Versailles

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.

January 1920
January 21 (Wednesday)  
League of Nations

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.

October 1922
October 29 (Sunday)  
Benito Mussolini

Fascist leader Benito Mussolini is appointed prime minister of Italy by king Victor Emmanuel III after the March on Rome.

November 1923
November 8 (Thursday)  
Beer Hall Putsch

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.

January 1924
January 21 (Monday)  
Death of Lenin

Leader of the Soviet Union Vladimir Lenin dies, and Joseph Stalin begins purging rivals to clear the way for his leadership.

April 1924
April 6 (Sunday)  
Fascist Italy Rises

Fascists win elections in Italy with a 2/3 majority.

April 21 (Monday)  
Hitler Jailed

Adolf Hitler is sentenced to 5 years in jail for his participation in the Beer Hall Putsch (he serves only 8 months).

July 1925
July 18 (Saturday)  
Mein Kampf

Adolf Hitler's autobiographical manifesto Mein Kampf is published

September 1926
September 8 (Wednesday)  
Germany in LoN

Germany joins the League of Nations.

October 1928
October 1 (Monday)  
USSR Five Year Plan

The Soviet Union launches the First Five-Year Plan, an economic effort to increase industrialization.

February 1929
February 11 (Monday)  
Lateran Pact

Italy and the Holy See sign the Lateran Treaty, normalizing relations between the Vatican and Italy.

June 1929
June 7 (Friday)  
Lateran Pact

The Lateran Treaty is ratified, making the Vatican City a sovereign state.

August 1929
August 31 (Saturday)  
Young Plan

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.

October 1929
October 29 (Tuesday)  
Stock Market Crash

The Great Depression begins with the Wall Street Crash.

January 1933
January 30 (Monday)  
Adolf Hitler is Chancellor

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg.

March 1933
March 4 (Saturday)  
FDR is President

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as President of the United States.

March 20 (Monday)  
Dachau Opened

Germany's first concentration camp, Dachau, is completed.

March 23 (Thursday)  
Hitler is Dictator

The Reichstag passes the Enabling Act, making Adolf Hitler dictator of Germany.

April 1933
April 26 (Wednesday)  
Gestapo Established

The Gestapo secret police is established in Germany.

July 1933
July 14 (Friday)  
Nazi Party is dominant

The Nazi party becomes the official party of Germany.

January 1934
January 26 (Friday)  
Set up for betrayal V1

Germany and Poland sign the 10 year German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact.

August 1934
August 2 (Thursday)  
The Führer

Upon the death of President Paul von Hindenburg, Adolf Hitler makes himself Führer of Germany, becoming Head of State as well as Chancellor.

August 1935
August 31 (Saturday)  
Neutrality Act of 1935

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.

September 1935
September 15 (Sunday)  
Nuremberg Laws

The Reichstag passes the Nuremberg Laws, introducing antisemitism in German legislation

October 1935
October 2 (Wednesday)  
Invasion of Ethiopia

Italy invades Ethiopia, beginning the Second Italo–Abyssinian War.

March 1936
March 7 (Saturday)  
First Versailles Violation

In violation of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany remilitarizes the Rhineland.

October 1936
October 1 (Thursday)  
USSR Great Purge Starts

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.

October 18 (Sunday)  
Est. Leader of German 4 Year Plan

Hermann Göring is made head of the German Four Year Plan, an effort to make Germany self-sufficient and increase armaments.

November 1936
November 25 (Wednesday)  
Anti-Comintern Pact

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.

November 1937
November 6 (Saturday)  
Italy wants in too

Italy joins the Anti-Comintern Pact.

March 1938
March 13 (Sunday)  
The Anschluss

Austria is incorporated by Germany.

September 1938
September 30 (Friday)  
LoN Appeasement

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.

November 1938
November 9 (Wednesday)  

The Kristallnacht pogrom begins in Germany; many Jewish shops and synagogues are smashed, looted, burned, and destroyed throughout the country.

January 1939
January 27 (Friday)  
Plan Z

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.

March 1939
March 15 (Wednesday)  
Violation of Munich Conference

Germany occupies the Czech part 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.

April 1939
April 3 (Monday)  
Begin of Plan Fall Weiss

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.

April 7 (Friday)  
Italian Invasion of Albania

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.

March 1940
March 18 (Monday)  
Start of Germany and Italy's Alliance

Mussolini and Hitler announce Italy's formal alliance with Germany against England and France.

May 1940
May 7 (Tuesday)  
Chamberlin Resigns

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin resigns in disgrace. He will be replaced by Winston Churchill on May 10.

May 10 (Friday)  
Winston Churchill Comes to Office
May 10 (Friday)  
The German Blitzkrieg ("lightning war") Begins

The German Blitzkrieg ("lightning war") begins, as Rotterdam and other Dutch cities are attacked from the air. By the end of the month, the Dutch armies will have surrendered, Belgium will have surrendered, and the evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk will be underway.

June 1940
June 10 (Monday)  
Italy Declares War

Italy declares war on Britain and France, and U.S. President Roosevelt announces a shift from neutrality to "non-belligerency," meaning more active support for the Allies against the Axis

August 1940
August 17 (Saturday)  
Germany's Blockade

Germany declares a blockade of British waters, and begins a bombing campaign which, by September, will be killing hundreds each day. In November, German air raids will kill more than 4,500 Britons.

August 27 (Tuesday)  
The Axis Alliance

Germany, Italy and Japan enter into a 10-year military and economic alliance that comes to be known as the "Axis". Hungary and Romania will join the Axis in November.

November 1940
November 5 (Tuesday)  
Third Term

Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected to an unprecedented third term      as president, with 54 percent of the popular vote. He defeats      Republican Wendell L. Willke.       

April 1941
April 6 (Sunday)  

Greece and Yugoslavia are invaded by German troops.

June 1941
June 22 (Sunday)  

German troops invade Soviet Russia,breaking the "nonaggression" pact signed in 1939. Two dayslater, President Roosevelt promises US aid to Russia.

December 1941
December 7 (Sunday)  
Pearl Harbor

Just before 8 a.m., Honolulu time,360 Japanese planes attack Pearl Harbor,the U.S. military base on the Hawiian island of Oahu. The attackcripples the U.S. Pacific fleet, and kills more than 2,300 Americansoldiers, sailors, and civilians. The attack precedes Japan'sformal declaration of war, which is delivered by the Japanese foreignminister to the U.S. embassy in Tokyo more than seven hours later.  

December 8 (Monday)  
U.S Joins War

President Roosevelt addresses the U.S. Congress, saying thatDecember 7 is "a date that will live in infamy." After a vote of82-0 in the U.S. Senate, and 388-1 in theHouse, in favor of declaring war on Japan, Roosevelt signs thedeclaration of war. (See Roosevelt'sfamous address to Congress requesting that war be declared.)

December 11 (Thursday)  
The Response

Germany and Italy declare war on the U.S.President Roosevelt calls an end to official U.S.neutrality in the war inEurope, declaring war on Germany and Italy.

View The Providence Journal cover,December 12th. 

January 1942
January 2 (Friday)  
Japan Attacks

Japanese troops capture Manila.

January 10 (Saturday)  
Japan Attacks Again

Japanese troops invade the Dutch East Indies.

February 1942
February 15 (Sunday)  
Japan Strikes Again

Japanese troops capture Singapore

June 1942
June 21 (Sunday)  
Torbruk Captured

German field marshal Erwin Rommel and his troops capture Tobruk, in Libya.

August 1942
August 22 (Saturday)  

The Battle of Stalingrad begins. The battle will claim the lives of 750,000 Russian soldiers, 400,000 German soldiers, nearly 200,000 Romanian soldiers, 130,000 Italian soldiers, and 120,000 Hungarian soldiers.

November 1942
November 10 (Tuesday)  
Indian Independence

In response to Mahatma Gandhi's demand that India be granted independence from Britain immediately, Prime Minister Churchill, in a speech at Mansion House, says "I have not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire."

User Comments

Leave comments to discuss this timeline with the community.