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World War II: Timeline

  • 1914-1918: World War I is fought involving 32 countries. Main combatants included: Austro-Hungarian Empire, German Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria (Central Powers) against British Empire, France, Japanese Empire, Romania, United States (Allies). 
  • 1918 - November 9: German republic (Weimar Republic) declared. Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates; end of the monarchy.
  • 1918 - November 10: Kaiser Wilhelm II goes into exile in the Netherlands.
  • 1918 -November 11: Armistice signed - Fighting on all fronts of World War I ceases.
  • 1918-1923: Years of political instability, clashes, and street battles in Germany (known as the German Revolution) follows the armistice.
  • 1919 - June 28: Treaty of Versailles signed, ends World War I. Germany accepts responsibility for World War I and the damage it caused. Germany to disarm, pay very large, crippling reparations, and give up territory. Japan is represented at the conference but its requests for freer immigration for Japanese people to countries like Australia and the United States are denied and the U. S. specifically passes legislation limiting non-white immigration.
  • 1922 - October 27-28, 1922: Benito Mussolini organizes March on Rome. King Victor Emmanuel III invites Mussolini and his National Fascist Party to form government.
  • 1923 - November 8-9, 1923: Beer Hall or Munich Putsch - Adolf Hitler and other leaders of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or in English, National Socialist German Workers Party), hoping to mimic Mussolini's success, make a failed armed attempt to take over the government in Munich, Bavaria. Hitler found guilty of treason but only serves nine months of a five year prison sentence.
  • 1925 - July 18, 1925: Hitler's Mein Kampf (My Struggle) published. Outlined Hitler's intentions for Germany to repudiate the Treaty of Versailles and conquer and occupy lands in Eastern Europe to create "living space" for Germany. He also espouses an anti-Jewish program centered on elimination (and ultimately murder) of Jews.
  • 1931 - September 18, 1931: Japan orchestrates the Mukden or Manchurian Incident as an excuse to invade and occupy Manchuria, China.
  • 1932 -March: Japan creates the client state of Manchukuo from the Manchuria region of China.
  • 1932 - November 6: Nazi Party ends up with 33% of the popular vote in the last free and fair German elections before Hitler gains total control of the government.
  • 1933 - January 30: Adolf Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg
  • 1933 - February 28: As a response to the Reichstag fire President Hindenburg, at the behest of Hitler, suspends basic rights and authorizes detention without trial.
  • 1934 - August 1: Hitler's cabinet passes Law Concerning the Highest State Office of the Reich, which combines the offices of president and chancellor upon Hindenburg's death and creates the office of leader and chancellor (Fuhrer and Reichskanzler).
  • 1934 - August 2: President Paul von Hindenburg dies. Hitler's goal of total control of Germany officially realized. Tenets and beliefs of Nazism becomes the foundation of official German policy.
  • 1936-1939: Spanish Civil War provides opportunities for Hitler and Mussolini to support General Francisco Franco, who became the fascist dictator of Spain, and his Nationalists against leftist, Republican forces who were supplied arms and support by the Soviet Union.
  • July 8, 1937: Marco Polo Bridge incident marks the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War with Japan moving to occupy most of China. Japanese forces will advance onto other areas of China remain there till 1945.
  • March 12, 1938: one day before a scheduled Austrian plebiscite on whether Austria should form a union with Germany, Adolf Hitler orders German troops to cross the Austrian border to complete what is referred to as the Anschluss make Austria a part of Germany under the name of Ostmark.
  • March 1938: Germany pressures Czechoslovakia to allow the Sudetenland Germans to join Germany. Czechoslovakia mobilizes it's army and that along with it's strong border fortresses causes Germany to back down.
  • September 29, 1938: British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain (acting as self appointed "peacemaker"}, French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier, and German Chancellor Adolf Hitler sign the Munich Agreement ceding (without input from the Czechoslovakian government) the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain returning to Britain, weaving the treaty signed by Hitler, proclaims "peace in our time".
  • 1938-39: Even though publicly Chamberlain proclaims that war with Germany has been avoided he begins to prepare Britain for rearmament. This approach to foreign policy is referred to as appeasement.  
  • March 1939: Germany invades and occupies the remainder of Czechoslovakia. Slovakia declares it's independence and Hungary annexes the former Czechoslovakian area of Carpathia-Ruthenia. Britain and France do not intervene.
  • August 23, 1939: Soviet Union and Germany sign a non-aggression pact, commonly referred to as the Nazi-Soviet pact. A secret protocol divided Poland between the two countries.
  • September 1, 1939: Germany invades Poland.
  • September 3, 1939: Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's government issues an ultimatum to Adolf Hitler stating that unless Germany indicates it will withdraw it's troops from Poland, a state of war will exist between great Britain and Germany. Great Britain and France declare war against Germany after not receiving a response to Chamberlain's ultimatum.
  • September 3, 1939: France and Great Britain declares war on Germany for invading Poland 
  • September 16, 1939: Soviet Union (as per Nazi Soviet pact) invades Poland from the east.
  • November 30, 1939: Soviet Union invades Finland after the latter refuses Soviet demands to cede border territory that the Soviets feel is necessary to protect Leningrad. This starts the three month Winter War that ends Finnish defeat and the signing of the Treaty of Moscow.
  • April 9, 1940: Germany invades and conquers Denmark and Norway.
  • May 10-27, 1940: Germany invades overruns the Low Counties (Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) beginning the Battle of France.
  • May 28 -June 22, 1940: Battle of France continues. After Germany conquers the Low Countries it invades France, which capitulates by signing an armistice with Germany on June 22.
  • May 26 - June 4: French, British, and troops of other countries overrun by the Germans are cutoff and pushed to the Channel coast at Dunkirk and surrounded by the advancing German Army. Approximately 224,000 soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and 140,000 French and Belgian troops are evacuated in Operation Dynamo before the German Army closes the ring around Dunkirk and captures them.
  • September 27, 1940: Germany, Italy and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact, also known as the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis.

Subject Guide

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