World War II: Everything That Happened During The 1939-1945 War

World War II was the bloodiest war ever fought. Millions of people on both the Allied and Axis sides were killed or injured during the six years of warfare from 1939 to 1945.

World War II was the worst war in human history, involving 61 countries and leading to the deaths of almost 60 million people. The Allies and the Axis fought each other around the globe for six long years. The war was marked by the emergence of notable individuals, such as Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, who took the lead in standing against Adolf Hitler‘s Germany. World War II lasted longer than just the years 1939–1945, so it’s helpful to look back at its pivotal years to get a fuller picture of what happened.


Adolf Hitler’s first wave of racist legislation was enacted when the Nazi party came to power in Germany in 1933. His ambitions prompted the invasion of Poland that started World War II in 1939. Following the failure of their invasions of France and the Benelux nations, Germany launched an unsuccessful assault on England. The Soviet Union entered the war after Germany’s 1941 invasion of the country. The unexpected Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was what finally mobilized the United States to fight in the Pacific.

In 1942, when Nazi officials sanctioned the “final solution,” the Allies were winning their first significant victories over the Japanese in the Coral Sea and Midway Atoll. The Allies landed in North Africa and defeated the Axis forces in the Battle of El Alamein, forcing the Axis to withdraw from the region. In the USSR, the Soviets were victorious in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943. In the wake of the Normandy invasions, the German army was forced to retreat. On May 8, 1945, after being trapped by the Red Army and the other Allies, Germany surrendered. The United States detonated atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force Japan to capitulate. On September 2, 1945, Japan officially surrendered.

What were the causes of World War II?

In the wee hours of September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, thus starting World War II. Austria had been annexed by Germany in 1938, and Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939, with little resistance. The battle had been building for quite some time before it officially started in September of 1939. By the time World War I ended in 1918, many nations were bitter and angry.

Germany’s repeated remilitarization and territorial expansion were in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Conquering Manchuria was an act of colonial ambition on the part of other nations, such as Japan. Italy first invaded and conquered Ethiopia, and then moved on to Albania. Many local wars also contributed to the outbreak of global war. It’s also worth noting that several countries were damaged by the Great Depression of 1929.

How did World War II begin?

Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler inspect SS troops during a Reichsparteitag.
Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler inspect SS troops during a Reichsparteitag (Reich Party Day) parade in Nuremberg (September 5, 1938 – September 12, 1938).

On September 3, 1939, after Germany invaded Poland, French and British forces went to war with the Third Reich. There was hardly any combat throughout the first eight months of World War II. This conflict was a charade. On May 10, 1940, German armies invaded Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, marking the beginning of the “blitzkrieg.”

These three nations were overrun in under two weeks. Despite General de Gaulle’s appeal on June 18, 1940, Germany occupied France as well, and an armistice was signed on June 22. It was only the United Kingdom and the Axis powers. The Battle of Britain was fought by the German Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force against the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom (RAF).

Vernichtungskrieg: The World War II was a war of annihilation

Photo of the Wehrmacht propaganda unit:
Photo of the Wehrmacht propaganda unit: two German soldiers in front of the burning roof of a building, Soviet Union (Russia), photo from 1941.

World War II has been called a “war of annihilation” by several scholars. The stakes in World War II were significantly higher than those of a typical military war, when the primary objective was to eliminate the opposing force. Most nations that participated in the war were motivated only by a desire to wipe out the adversary, military and civilian alike, as seen by their extraordinary mobilization and the methods they used.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki are apt metaphors for this “war of annihilation” because of the atomic bombs dropped on them. Also in line with Nazi ideology’s racial beliefs was the genocide of Jews (the Final Solution), Gypsies, and other supposedly “inferior” races. World War II was also a “total war” that had far-reaching effects on civilian life.

Which countries were involved in World War II?

Between the years of 1939 and 1945, World War II was fought on the part of almost sixty different nations.

  • Since 1939, the Allies have consisted of Poland, France, the United Kingdom, and its empire (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.). In April of that year, Norway and Denmark joined them, and on May 10 of that year, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg fell under enemy control. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States and numerous Central American nations joined forces. While this action was taken, China was already at war with Japan, dating back to 1937.
  • Axis forces, including Japan, Italy, and Germany, stood in their way. In 1940, three parties reached an agreement. As the year 1940 came to a close, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania all joined the Axis. While the Italian monarch signed an armistice with the Allies in 1943, Mussolini remained in power with the support of Nazi Germany.
  • As a result of the German-Soviet Pact, the Soviet Union entered the war on the side of Germany. The Soviets contacted the Allies on June 22, 1941, the day before Operation Barbarossa, the Third Reich’s invasion of the Soviet Union, began.

How did the World War II unfold in France

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German Chancellor Adolf Hitler shakes hands with Head of State of Vichy France Marshall Philippe Pétain in occupied France on Oct. 24, 194.

France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, marking its formal entry into World War II. Then came eight months of “Phoney War,” during which actual hostilities were minimal at best. As part of their “blitzkrieg” plan, German soldiers invaded France on May 10, 1940, after first seizing Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands the previous day. Marshal Pétain took power in France on June 17, 1940, and immediately ordered a halt to hostilities. General de Gaulle, operating out of London, ordered the combat to continue the next day. France capitulated to a German attack on June 22, 1940, and Marshal Pétain was eventually compelled to negotiate an armistice. After that, the line of separation split the country into a free south and an occupied north.

From 1940 to 1944, French life hummed along to the tune of the Vichy France dictatorship, the German occupation, and the Resistance. As part of Germany’s “final solution,” the yellow star was made mandatory for all Jews in France in June of that year. The French police detained all foreign Jews in the Paris area in the month of July.

This tally was taken at Vel d’Hiv. Multiple enlistments in the STO (compulsory labor service) beginning in 1942 greatly complicated the lives of the French. With the Allied arrival in North Africa, the free zone was eliminated, and all of France was seized by the Axis powers on November 11, 1942. The liberation of occupied France was made possible in June 1944 with the arrival of Allied soldiers in Normandy and afterwards in Provence. Then, on May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered to the onslaught of Allied forces.

French Resistance during World War II 

Throughout the war, both men and women secretly fought for General de Gaulle and the Free French Forces as part of the French domestic resistance. The Resistance did as much as it could with what it had to try to weaken the enemy’s grip on French territory and defeat the Vichy administration, and it did this through a wide variety of tactics (sabotage, information collection, etc.).

When World War II ended, the Resistance played a significant role in the political rebuilding of the nation so that it would not be ruled by the United States. General de Gaulle was a major player in the French resistance movement. The London-based “resist” campaign he initiated on June 18, 1940, was his brainchild. Jean Moulin was able to successfully coordinate the numerous French resistance groups in France.

How many people died during World War II?

A Marine throws a grenade during the fight for Betio Island in Tarawa, ca. November 1943.
A Marine throws a grenade during the fight for Betio Island in Tarawa, ca. November 1943.

More than sixty million people lost their lives in World War II (estimates range between fifty and eighty five million deaths, according to historians), or over 2.5 percent of the world’s population at the time. The great bulk of the 60 million missing were innocent bystanders. Nearly six million people’s lives were lost as a direct result of the Holocaust.

Estimates place the number of French casualties during WWII at somewhat over 560,000. More than five million German troops and an additional one to three million civilians were killed or injured. More than 26 million people lost their lives in the Soviet Union as a direct result of the brutality of the warfare, Nazi racial cleansing, and starvation that the war created. Estimates range from 110,000 to 250,000 lives lost as a direct result of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. 

Who won World War II?

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A correspondent stands in the rubble in Hiroshima on Sept. 8, 1945, a month after the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare was dropped by the U.S. (AP Photo/Stanley Troutman)

The Allies were victorious in World War II. The invasion of Nazi territories by the Allies began in March of that year. The Soviet army marched into Berlin on May 2 and quickly took control. Surrounded by invading Allies on April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler decided to terminate his own life in his Berlin bunker rather than sign Germany’s surrender to the Allies on May 8. Japan’s Emperor Hirohito steadfastly rejected American demands for surrender. The Americans then tested two atomic bombs. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the decisive bombing targets that brought World War II to a conclusion on August 6 and 9, 1945. On September 2 of that year, Emperor Hirohito capitulated.

Aftermath of World War II

Refugees returning to Berlin after the II. World War
Refugees returning to Berlin after the II. World War
 (Getty Images).

The defeat of the Axis powers by the Allied powers (United Kingdom, France, the United States, China, and the Soviet Union) led to the disintegration of the Third Reich, the fall of the Japanese Empire, and the termination of the Italian Colonial Empire. The Yalta Conference in February 1945 created the accords for the four-part occupation of Germany (English, French, American, and Russian).

In addition to the disarming of the nation and the redefining of the boundaries, this agreement was also endorsed at the Potsdam Conference (summer 1945). At the Nuremberg trial, 22 Nazi war criminals were judged in an effort to finally put an end to Nazism. The tensions between Stalin and American President Harry Truman at these summits were a sign of what was to come in the Cold War


The Maginot Line legislation was passed on January 4, 1930

The legislation authorizing the building of a line of fortifications from the Mediterranean to the Belgian border was presented in December 1929 by Minister of War André Maginot. It took five years to finish the “Maginot Line” after a loan of 3.3 billion francs was approved. The line of defense would stretch over the whole of eastern France, with the exception of the Ardennes massif, which military leaders deemed insurmountable.

The Japanese occupied Manchuria on September 25, 1931

The Chinese military was defeated by the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on September 25th, 1931. The Japanese captured the whole province, renaming it Manchukuo and installing Emperor Puyi, the last Chinese emperor in exile, as its leader. The Japanese rule in Manchuria fell as a result of an offensive by the Soviet Union in August of 1945. Today, Manchuria is still not included among the provinces that make up the PRC’s central government.

On January 30, 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany

The German President, Paul von Hindenburg, appointed Hitler as Chancellor of the Reich against his will. He disliked the “Bohemian corporal,” as he referred to the National Socialist Party’s top official. Hitler needed to establish a new “national concentration” government. Hitler became dictator, Goering became the Interior Commissioner, and Frick oversaw the Ministry of the Interior; all three were members of the Nazi Party. Hitler became president when Hindenburg died on August 2, 1934.

The first concentration camp opened on March 20, 1933

Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS (Schutzstaffel), converted a disused factory at Dachau into a concentration camp for political prisoners. Many government opponents were sent there, including communists and social democrats. Over the course of its operation from 1933 to 1945, Dachau held around 250,000 inmates. A total of 70,000 people perished.

On November 12, 1933, the Nazi Party in Germany won an election

The Nazi party’s only electoral list in Germany received 92.1% of the vote. After a decisive win, the Nazis marched into the Reichstag. In a referendum, 95% of Germans showed support for the National Socialist Party’s foreign policy.

On March 16th, 1935, Hitler orders a return to military duty and a rearmament of Germany

Hitler brought back mandatory military duty for Germans. As a result, the force strength went from 100,000 to 500,000 under his command. As the first infractions of the Treaty of Versailles occurred, France, England, and the United States watched on. Chancellor Hitler was no longer coy about his plans to build an aggressive, formidable army. To facilitate the Third Reich’s rearmament, Hitler effectively ignored the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. No nation has responded to the reinstatement of the navy and air force. The Treaty of Versailles renamed the German army the Reichswehr; this was changed to the Wehrmacht.

The Stresa Conference officially began on April 11, 1935

Germany’s transgressions of the Treaty of Versailles prompted a meeting between France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. The conference lasted for four days in the Italian city of Stresa. If there were to be no additional violations of the Treaty of Versailles, a “Stresa Front” had to be established. The front was disbanded, however, when Mussolini’s Italy sought to seize Ethiopia. After that, Mussolini gradually began to get closer to Hitler.

The Nuremberg Code was drafted on September 15, 1935

Hitler’s first anti-Semitic measures were introduced at the Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg. A Jew could no longer become a naturalized German citizen. They were not allowed to mingle with or marry members of the “Aryan” race. The “Final Solution” of 1942 was a direct result of this first discriminatory legislation.

September 15, 1935: The Swastika flag of the German Reich

A flag known as the swastika was used by Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party of German Workers. Consisting of four gallows arranged in the form of a gamma, it represents the swastika, a Neolithic-era religious emblem. The red denotes social consciousness, the white represents purity, and the black depicts the cross of battle. It was adopted as the only national flag on September 15, 1935, during the Nuremberg Congress.

Italy invaded Ethiopia on October 3, 1935

The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini sent 400,000 soldiers to Abyssinia to launch an assault on Ethiopia. After months of fighting, Ethiopian forces under King Haile Selassie eventually surrendered. Victor-Emmanuel III, King of Italy, was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia on May 9, 1936. In May of 1941, with help from the British, Haile Selassie retook control of his kingdom.

The Rhineland was remilitarized on March 7, 1936

Wehrmacht forces reoccupied the Ruhr demilitarized zone. Hitler proclaimed the demilitarization obligations Germany had made under the Treaty of Versailles to be null and invalid. The Western nations were alarmed by Germany’s breach of international law, but they did little to stop it. Forcibly reinstituting mandatory military duty was done a year earlier. In 1938, the annexation of Austria was a further breach of the boundary accords.

On October 25, 1936, Mussolini and Hitler began to work closely together

In the three years leading up to the outbreak of World War II, the two leading Axis officials proclaimed their union. The first reconciliation between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy under the leadership of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, which would eventually lead to joint military action against the Allies, was established on October 25, 1936. The Führer therefore acknowledged the Italian government’s authority over Ethiopia.

November 1, 1936-Birth of the Rome-Berlin Axis

A first military alliance was formed as a result of the warming of relations between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. In 1940, the Rome-Berlin Axis grew to include the Empire of Japan. Other nations joined this axis over the course of many months. The countries of Hungary and Romania are good examples of this.

The Anti-Komintern Pact was signed on November 24, 1936

During its conquests, Japan fought against the Soviet army but ultimately opted to join forces with Nazi Germany to counter communism. The avowed goal of this partnership was to fight the Comintern (or Third Communist International). In reality, it was a military aid deal that helped solidify the Axis once Fascist Italy joined the bloc the next year.

July 7, 1937-Beginning of the Sino-Japanese War

The Chinese-Japanese War officially began with the events at Marco Polo Bridge in Peking. Because of the loss of one of their men, the Japanese decided to conduct a search of the city. The Chinese resisted, so they brought in the big guns. On the 28th of July, they took control of Beijing.

The Japanese army had been present in Manchuria since 1931, but it wasn’t until this invasion that they really demonstrated their intent to conquer China. After then, it grew at a lightning pace. However, the Kuomintang (KMT) still delivered several crucial fights while being significantly slowed down by the guerilla forces commanded by the communists in the north.

Combat began in Shanghai on August 13, 1937

During the Sino-Japanese War of 1937, China and Japan fought in the Battle of Shanghai. On August 13, four days after Japanese Lieutenant Isao Oyama was killed by Chinese forces, fighting broke out. It took the Japanese over three months to completely conquer Shanghai, despite having superior weapons, preparation, and organization. Chinese forces were outnumbered, yet on November 26, they surrendered anyhow. The Japanese established a government based on collaboration.

Nanjing Massacre, December 13, 1937

Imperial Japanese Army troops slaughtered between 200,000 and 300,000 civilians and unarmed soldiers at Nanking, the headquarters of the Nationalist government of the Republic of China. Mass rapes, unlawful killings of Chinese POWs, robbery, and arson occurred alongside this incident during the Sino-Japanese conflict.

March 13, 1938: Hitler carried out the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria

Adolf Hitler ordered an invasion of Austria after the country’s chancellor was removed from office by force. Soldiers of the Reich were cheered by Austrians when they annexed the country with little resistance. In the name of “attachment,” the Führer announced the reunification of Austria and Germany (Anschluss). This compromise, forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles, was first tried in 1934. However, it met with little opposition from Western democracies this time. This annexation was supported by a large margin in a referendum held in Germany and Austria. Austria was added as a new piece to the Nazi battlefield and transformed into the “Ostmark,” or Eastern March of the Reich.

China’s Battle of Wuhan starts on June 11th, 1938

In China, the Battle of Wuhan starts. After taking Shanghai and Nanking, the Japanese army was more eager than ever to complete the Sino-Japanese War with a decisive victory over China. The Chinese troops, aided by the Russians, put up a fierce fight for four months before eventually succumbing to Japanese forces.

“Sudeten Crisis” began on September 15, 1938

German-speakers in Bohemia and Moravia were known as the Sudetenland. The Sudeten crisis started on September 15th, 1938. Hitler’s goal was to incorporate the Sudetenland into Nazi Germany. This was advanced by the signing of the Munich Agreement on September 29, 1938. As a result of Germany’s defeat at the war’s conclusion, the Sudetenlanders would be forced into exile in the country.

The Munich Pact was signed on September 30, 1938.

An agreement about Czechoslovakia’s future was signed that night in Munich by Hitler, Mussolini, and the prime ministers of the United Kingdom and France, Neville Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier. After 12 hours of talks, France and Great Britain caved to German demands in order to prevent a new war.

Despite its reluctance, the Czechoslovak government ultimately caved in to the demands of the major nations and acknowledged the country’s breach of the Treaty of Versailles. There was no doubt that Hitler came out on top at this conference. The next day, Hitler invaded the Sudetenland and began demolishing Central Europe’s lone democracy. The Munich Agreement was a metaphor for the impotence of European democracies in the face of fascism’s march to power.

Czechoslovak President Edvard Benes resigned on October 5th, 1938

On October 5, 1938, Edvard Beneš resigned as president of Czechoslovakia. This action followed the September 1938 Munich Agreement, which authorized German control over Czechoslovakia’s German-populated regions. The First Czechoslovak Republic collapsed when Edvard Beneš was replaced as president by Emil Hácha. Bene had been exiled. There was just one year of the Second Czechoslovak Republic. Bohemia-Moravia became the official name of the nation while under Nazi control.

November 9, 1938: Tragic “Kristallnacht” in Germany

In order to incite a Nazi uprising against Jews, German Propaganda Minister Goebbels falsely claimed that Jews were plotting against Germany. Synagogues, businesses, and Jewish houses in Germany’s major cities were assaulted by thousands of Nazi extremists in the middle of the night.

As a direct consequence of the fighting, 91 Jews lost their lives and almost 10,000 were taken as captives. As an allusion to the shattered windows during the “pogrom,” Hitler dubbed this first outbreak of anti-Semitic violence “Kristallnacht.” As punishment for the nighttime disturbances, the Jewish community had to pay a billion marks.

January 13, 1939: Hungary was invited to the Anti-Comintern Pact

Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany formed the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936. The dilemma of whether or not to oppose the Third Communist International arose against the backdrop of the bloody conflict in Siberia and Mongolia between Japan and the Soviet Union. In January 1939, the Hungarian monarchy joined Mussolini’s Italy and Franco’s Spain as signatories. In the case of a military assault by the Soviet Union, both nations pledged to help each other militarily.

The biggest German battleship, the Bismarck, was launched on February 14, 1939

The battleship “Bismarck” was named after Otto von Bismarck, the German chancellor from 1815 until his death in 1898. It was launched in Hamburg port on February 14, 1939, with Hitler watching. It entered service on August 24, 1940, under the leadership of Ernst Lindemann, and quickly became one of the most important assets of the Nazi navy of the Third Reich with the Tirpitz. She was renowned for having capsized her British equivalent, the HMS Hood.

Bohemia was occupied by the Germans on March 15, 1939

Nazi Germany attacked Bohemia and Moravia after the Munich Agreement, the acquisition of regions by Poland and Hungary, and the secession of Slovakia, which became under fascist rule. The treaties of Versailles and Saint-Germain-en-Laye were also terminated at this time, along with those with the Czechoslovak Republic.

The Munich Accords failed to achieve their stated goal of ensuring lasting peace. The next day, Bohemia and Moravia were occupied and turned into protectorates, while Slovakia was reduced to a German satellite state. The Beneš government, having fled the nation in the wake of the Munich Agreement, planned the uprising from London.

April 5, 1939: Albert Lebrun was re-elected President of the Republic

Albert Lebrun was re-elected as President of France on April 5, 1939. The economic crisis of 1934, the rise of the Popular Front, and rising tensions in Europe all occurred during his first seven years in office. Even though he was against signing an armistice with Nazi Germany, he had to accept Marshal Pétain as President of the Council. After Pétain fired him, the Germans imprisoned him at Itter Castle in the Austrian Tyrol beginning in October 1943.

Italy invaded Albania on April 7th, 1939

Italy, led by Benito Mussolini, invades Albania after putting intense pressure on the nation. Victor Emanuele II, King of Italy, was also crowned King of Albania. King Zogu abdicated and fled to Greece when his nation was invaded. After Italy, Germany seized Albania in 1943. Then, Zogu sought asylum in the United Kingdom. Soon, communists and nationalists joined forces to organize the resistance in Albania.

On April 20, 1939, the German military celebrated Hitler’s 50th birthday with a parade

Hitler marked his half-century on this earth on April 20th, 1939. On this day, Berlin was planning a massive military parade. The Nazi military’s might was on display for the world to see during the three-hour parade of numerous corps. The parade began with the Waffen SS in the front, then the Luftwaffe, the air force, the army’s panzers, and the heavy artillery, which included assault guns.

The Pact of Steel was signed on May 22, 1939

In Berlin, von Ribbentrop and Count Ciano, the foreign ministers of Germany and Italy, respectively, signed an offensive military support treaty. It formally solidified the alliance between Nazi Germany (which conquered Austria and Czechoslovakia) and Fascist Italy, which had been declared in November 1936 and annexed Albania.

August 23, 1939: The German-Soviet Pact

German and Soviet representatives signed a non-aggression agreement on August 23, 1939. A series of military and diplomatic agreements were outlined in this text, including a pledge of neutrality should Germany or the Soviet Union come into confrontation with the Western countries.

This covert pact rearranged Eastern European power structures. In response to Germany’s September assault on Poland, the Soviet Union launched an invasion of Finland. Invading Russia in 1941 was a clear violation of this pact by Hitler.

The German Wehrmacht invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.

Adolf Hitler’s German troops invaded Poland at 4:45 a.m. without first issuing a formal declaration of war. Italy declared its neutrality on the same day that France, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union all declared universal mobilization. At this point, World War II had officially started.

The Swiss border was protected by General Guisan on September 2, 1939.

Switzerland, a neutral country and a significant international financial hub, raises its military to defend its borders against a hypothetical German invasion. General Guisan defended the nation throughout World War II, and the Nazis were unable to invade.

September 3, 1939: London and Paris declare war on Germany

France and the United Kingdom formally declared war on Germany two days after the German invasion of Poland. The French and British governments, pushed by their own publics, came to the conclusion that a diplomatic settlement and discussions with Germany were no longer viable options. The “Phoney War” had officially begun.

On September 10, 1939, Canada declared its participation in World War II

Canada joined WWII on May 10, 1940, seven days after Britain and almost two years before the United States. However, the situation remained precarious because French Canadians had rejected foreign support for the war. At the start of the 1940s, the speed of industrialization helped the Allies a lot.

On September 17th, 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland

After signing an August treaty obligating them to aid Germany, the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland. In the same vein as Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union permitted this invasion to occur without formally declaring war. After intense combat, the Red Army emerged victorious.

Soviet troops invade Finland on November 30th, 1939

Following a border dispute over the Karelian Isthmus, Stalin invaded Finland without even making a formal declaration of war. Nearly half a million Russian forces invaded the nation. Viborg and the capital city of Helsinki were both hit by bombs. In this fight, known as the “Winter War,” 265,000 Finns fought against the Red Army. This violence was widely criticized across the world.

On December 14th, the USSR was kicked out of the League of Nations. Finnish territorial concessions and the signing of the Moscow Treaty on March 12, 1940, brought an end to the war that had been more difficult for the Soviets than they had anticipated. The Soviet Union took over 15,500 square miles (40,000 square kilometers). Once again on the attack, Finland allied with Nazi Germany in 1941.

December 13, 1939: Battle of the River Plate

The Battle of the Rio de la Plata began on December 13, 1939, and it was the first naval battle of World War II. In response to Admiral Graf Spee‘s repeated attacks on British commerce ships in the Atlantic, three British warships gave chase. Due to the extensive damage sustained by both vessels, the German ship sought sanctuary in the Rio de la Plata at Montevideo. When he felt trapped, Nazi Captain Langsdorff sank his ship.

Initiation of Case Yellow, February 24, 1940

The German military high command drafted the Case Yellow plan, Fall Gelb, on February 24, 1940. Attacking in the western countries of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg was part of the strategy. The strategy called for three separate armies: one to penetrate the Ardennes and rapidly reach the Meuse; another to invade the Netherlands by fooling the majority of the soldiers into thinking they were already there; and a third to fix the French forces at the Maginot Line.

March 5, 1940: Order sent for the Katyn massacre

Germany and Russia agreed to divide Poland in half the same year, in 1940. In 1940, on March 5, members of the Soviet Politburo signed the order for the Katyn massacre. Polish commanders and elites who were thought to be anti-communist were killed in a woodland close to the city of Smolensk. The Soviet Union did not acknowledge the massacre until 1990. The deaths of another 25,000 to 26,000 Poles in 1940 were attributable to more executions of the country’s elite.

On this day in 1940, April 9th, Germany invaded Norway and Denmark

German forces began Operation “Weserübung” at 2:15 a.m. in Norway and 5:20 a.m. in Denmark. Christian X, King of Denmark, issued a ceasefire order to his forces immediately. Norwegians fought back against the invaders and sank many German ships. On the 19th, they were rescued by a joint French and British force, providing needed protection for the commerce fleet.

“In order to safeguard them from the Allies and to ensure their neutrality until the conclusion of the fight, Germany is taking Denmark and Norway,” Hitler said to justify the invasion. The two nations were under a less harsh occupation than many others until 1943. With the help of Sweden, Denmark was able to relocate a sizable number of Jewish people there, where they were safe from deportation.

Battles of Narvik, April 10, 1940

In Norway between April 10 and 13, 1940, Allied forces defeated German forces in the first major battle of World War II. In April of 1940, the Germans launched an attack in Norway in an effort to capture the port of Narvik, the only port in the area that remained open during the winter, and so facilitate the shipment of iron, which the Germans desperately needed to fuel their war machine. French and British forces destroyed their ships, and the invaders fled.

The Battle of France started on May 10, 1940

Using the Case Yellow strategy, known as the Manstein Plan, the German army began the Battle of France on May 10, 1940. The Dutch, the Belgians, the Luxembourgians, and the French were invaded. The Wehrmacht moved through Luxembourg and Belgium toward Sedan, France. To the dismay of the French, German forces were able to sneak across the Ardennes and past their defenses at the Maginot Line. During the Battle of France, the breakthrough at Sedan was an important operation.

Hitler invaded Belgium on May 10th, 1940

Hitler’s invasion of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and France was part of his massive “Case Yellow” campaign. When Neville Chamberlain resigned as United Kingdom prime minister as a result of this incident, the “Phoney War” was over. When the German forces arrived, the border residents fled. On May 22, the Netherlands surrendered, and on May 27, Belgium did as well.

On May 10, 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister

Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after Chamberlain’s resignation. The man who was dubbed “the old lion” made the statement, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” in the House of Commons three days after his appointment. In 1938, he publicly criticized the Munich Pact.

The Lys Battle began on May 23, 1940

On May 10, 1940, Germany initiated the Battle of France and took the fort at Eben-Emael, weakening the Belgian defenses. Once the Wehrmacht advanced into Sedan, the Belgian troops withdrew peacefully. The Battle of the Lys took place from May 23 to May 28, 1940, and was initiated by the Belgians to stop the Germans from crossing the river Lys. Heavily beaten, King Leopold III of Belgium surrendered after both armies suffered devastating casualties.

Evacuation of Dunkirk, May 24, 1940

When the German army finally entered Abbeville on May 20, 1940, it effectively cut the Allies in half. A million troops from France, Britain, and Belgium were cornered up north. On May 24, the Battle of Dunkirk started, and its primary purpose was to get as many men back to the United Kingdom as quickly as possible. This mission was a success because of the stubbornness of the Dunes Fort’s defenders and Hitler’s hesitance to invade Dunkirk. The operation required the use of every ship in the Channel; therefore, all of them were called into service.

Operation Alphabet, 24 May 1940

On May 24, 1940, after the success of the Allied onslaught during the Battle of France, they launched Operation Alphabet. Mission: get all Allied forces out of Norway, especially out of the port of Narvik. After their invasion of Belgium, the Germans lost interest in the iron-exporting port of Antwerp. The Wehrmacht’s occupation of this port harmed the defenses of both Sweden and Finland. Despite their official neutrality, these nations were obliged to cooperate more closely with the Germans, who were able to use the railways in Sweden.

May 25, 1940: Siege of Lille 

When the German Wehrmacht launched their attack during the Battle of France, they were within striking distance of the French city of Lille. From May 25 to May 30, 1940, the French and British Allies fought against the resistance in the enclave of Lille. When General Molinié attempted to breach the enemy’s lines, his effort proved unsuccessful. Colonel Aizier signed a document of surrender on behalf of the defenders of Lille. Aizier was later fired after being criticized by Hitler for giving the Allies too much breathing room.

26 May 1940 – Operation “Dynamo” at Dunkirk

The evacuation of the Allied forces encircled at Dunkirk was given the go-ahead by British Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay (North). The name “Dynamo” was chosen to honor the previous location of Ramsay’s offices, which included a functioning generator. The French and British forces were caught off guard by the German onslaught and were forced to retire with their backs to the ocean to the safety of Dunkirk. In only nine days, the Royal Navy had requisitioned every possible ship in order to bring 340,000 soldiers back to Britain. However, this proved insufficient, and on June 4, the 30,000 Frenchmen who had remained on the beaches were forced to capitulate to the Germans.

Battle of Abbeville, May 28, 1940

With Dunkirk harbor besieged, the Allies focused on protecting the Channel ports still in their hands. From May 28th until June 4th, 1940, the Battle of Abbeville raged. After replacing Gamelin, General Weygand made an effort to clear a path to Abbeville. Involved in the action and contributing to the Anglo-French victory was Colonel de Gaulle. In the Battle of France, this victory had just a modest impact.

On May 28th, 1940, King Leopold III surrendered

In the face of the Nazi invasion, King Leopold III of Belgium surrendered without an armistice. The Germans imprisoned him at Laeken Castle and then sent him into exile in London. On September 8, 1944, the government departed for Brussels, and he was transferred to Austria. A great deal of political and internal strife ensued after the restoration of the king. Not till 1950 did the monarch return to the land of his nation.

June 5, 1940: De Gaulle appointed Under-Secretary of State for Defense by Paul Reynaud

In response to the invasion by the German troops, France attempted to make some major changes to its government. General de Gaulle was asked to serve as Under-Secretary of Defense under Minister of War Paul Reynaud after Edouard Daladier was ousted for being too defeatist.

Italy officially joined the war on June 10, 1940

Italy took advantage of France’s vulnerability to declare war on it, even though its army was not yet ready to go to war. It signed the Steel Pact with Nazi Germany and then with the United Kingdom. On the military front, though, Italy would suffer a series of setbacks.

Starting on June 10, 1940, the East African war officially got underway

On June 10, 1940, Italy joined Nazi Germany in their war effort. Mussolini unified Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia inside Italian East Africa as early as June 1936. As the British were concerned about the safety of their supply line, they fought against the Italian assault. It was at this time that the East African campaign began, pitting Italy and Germany’s Afrika Korps against the United Kingdom and its allies from the Commonwealth, plus Belgium and South Africa.

France fell to the Nazis on June 14, 1940.

French opposition was nonexistent when German forces marched into the city on June 14th, 1940. Many people had already abandoned the city of government. Additionally, some hours before the arrival of the German army, Paris was designated an “open city” to shield the city’s historical landmarks from the battle. From that point on, Paris was a city under Nazi occupation.

14 June 1940: Operation Vado

France lost the Battle of France to the German Wehrmacht and then had to fight Mussolini’s Italy in the Battle of the Alps. The army of the Alps put up a valiant fight against the Italian soldiers, and on June 14th, 1940, they decided to begin Operation Vado. Attacks against the Italian ports of Genoa and Savona were planned. Shortly after leaving Toulon, the French navy did some small damage and discovered a gap in the Italian coast’s defenses.

16 June 1940-Pétain, president of the Council

The armistice with the Third Reich was a point of contention, and Paul Reynaud ultimately decided to retire as a result. Marshal Pétain, a hero of World War I, took up the negotiations for an armistice with Adolf Hitler’s Germany when he resigned. Pétain declared an armistice on June 17, 1940, after taking power. The document was signed on June 22.

Jean Moulin attempted suicide on June 17, 1940.

Jean Moulin, the prefect of Chartres, declines to sign a paper in which he admits the improper conduct of French soldiers. Jean Moulin attempted suicide by slitting his neck with a shard of a shattered bottle because he feared he would not be able to withstand the torment he was about to endure. Once he was well again, he was treated and released.

17 June 1940: Destruction of the RMS Lancastria at Saint-Nazaire

It was a transatlantic liner called the RMS Lancastria. It was requisitioned along with other vessels to aid in the evacuation of civilian refugees and British troops. Saint-Nazaire, where the Lancastria was docked, was attacked by the German air force on June 17, 1940. In only 24 minutes, it went down, taking 1,708 lives with it. It was one of the worst shipwrecks in history and a World War II tragedy.

June 18, 1940—Appeal of 18 June

General de Gaulle, in exile in London, made his now-famous plea on the BBC on June 18, 1940. In his address, the French general encouraged his countrymen to keep fighting and enlisted the aid of French troops, engineers, and weapons experts already stationed in Britain to better coordinate their efforts against Germany.

June 22, 1940: France signs the armistice

An armistice between France and Germany was signed by Marshal Pétain’s administration across the English Channel. According to the story, the armistice was signed in the same automobile in which the German generals signed the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918. Almost immediately after it was signed, Churchill criticized the armistice between France and Germany. The occupation had spread to northern France.

July 2, 1940: The Pétain government moved to Vichy

It was determined at the beginning of July that the Pétain administration would establish itself in Vichy. “Work, Family, and Homeland” became the new national slogan of France. Simultaneously, General de Gaulle gave a speech to the French people from London. The great spokesperson for Free France called on his countrymen to keep fighting until they were finally free.

July 2, 1940: Operation Catapult

Winston Churchill launched Operation Catapult on July 2, 1940. The British were concerned that the French navy might fall into German hands after the French surrender and armistice. Therefore, it was resolved to either capture or destroy the French navy. Some of the action occurred in harbors in Great Britain, while other parts occurred close to the coast of Africa. It permanently damaged ties between France and Britain when 1,300 French sailors were slain.

July 3, 1940: The French fleet is destroyed at Mers-El-Kebir

At six o’clock in the evening, British aircraft began attacking French vessels docked at Mers el-Kebir, a port located northeast of Oran. After the loss of the battleship “Bretagne,” the battleships “Dunkerque” and “Provence” were severely damaged. There were 1,380 lost French sailors. Some days after the French surrender to Germany was signed, the British launched their offensive.

When it became clear that the French navy might fall into German hands, Winston Churchill’s administration made an offer to the French naval troops in Algeria to come under their command. British Vice Admiral Somerville issued an ultimatum, which was refused by French Fleet Commander Admiral Marcel Gensoul, prompting the assault.

July 10, 1940: Pétain established the French State

The National Assembly met in Vichy and unanimously approved a constitutional amendment giving Marshal Pétain, then 85 years old, absolute authority. Philippe Pétain, acting with absolute authority, formed the French state and ended the Third Republic, which Albert Lebrun had ruled over.

Broadcasting of “The French Speak to the French” began on July 14, 1940.

The propaganda program “Les Français parlent aux Français” (The French speak to the French) premiered the day following General De Gaulle’s famous Appeal. Michel Saint-Denis oversaw production and transmission of the show from the BBC in London. Until August of 1944, it transmitted a wide variety of news and analyses of current events with the aim of aiding the Allied cause.

July 15, 1940: Battle of Moyale in Kenya

On July 15, 1940, a battle was fought at Moyale, Kenya. The East African campaign saw one of the few Italian offensives. Moyale, a border town guarded by a single British unit, came under assault. The First King’s African Rifles put up a valiant fight, but General Gustavo Pesenti ultimately prevailed. They were outnumbered, so the company fled, and the town eventually fell to the Italians.

August 7, 1940: Churchill recognized de Gaulle’s legitimacy

Winston Churchill sent a letter to General de Gaulle as the departments of the Moselle, Upper Rhine, and Lower Rhine were being annexed by Germany. Churchill acknowledged de Gaulle’s authority and signed the historic Churchill-de Gaulle accords with this handwritten letter. Eventually, Roosevelt did put his faith in the General.

August 16, 1940: Arrival of the ship Massilia in Morocco

The withdrawal of 27 lawmakers who had sought safety in Bordeaux was prompted by the French army’s defeat by German forces. Admiral Darlan requisitioned the ship Massilia for the administration of Paul Reynaud in order to form a government in exile in North Africa. The crowd booed them when they arrived in Casablanca, Morocco, on August 16, 1940. After being taken into police custody, several members of parliament were eventually found guilty of desertion in the face of the enemy, while others were determined to have participated in the French rout.

On August 26th, 1940, the countries of Chad and Niger joined the Free French

In 1938, Félix Éboué was appointed governor of Chad and tasked with safeguarding a vital French supply line to the Congo against Nazi aggression. His approval of General de Gaulle’s request to reclaim territory in Chad on June 18, 1940, was a major victory for France. On August 26, 1940, he and Niger’s leader both publicly declared their countries’ support for Free France. French Equatorial Africa as a whole soon followed suit.

Transylvania was handed over to Hungary from Romania on August 30th, 1940

The second Vienna arbitration, led by Germany and Italy, was decided upon on August 30, 1940. The Axis wanted to prevent conflict between Hungary and Romania. Hungarian claims to the northern part of Transylvania were recognized. Moreover, 2.5 million people, of whom half were ethnic Magyars, lived in the territory that Romania handed over to Hungary. Because of this arbitration, many people had to leave their homes.

The Blitz began in England on September 7, 1940

Hitler said, “We will raze their cities to the ground,” in early September, as the Royal Air Force successfully bombed Berlin. A few days later, the Luftwaffe switched its focus to London and launched its first extensive aerial bombardment of people, rather than military objectives. This marked the beginning of the Blitz, a crucial phase of the Battle of Britain. Hitler intended to lower English morale, but his actions only served to galvanize the populace against the Nazis. The “blitz” (lightning) lasted nearly a month.

On September 13th, 1940, Italy invaded Egypt

Egypt was invaded by Mussolini’s fascist Italy from its Libyan colony on September 13, 1940. Conflicts in North Africa broke out in the British protectorate. The British were concerned about the safety of a major supply line, so they sent soldiers from the Commonwealth, Belgium, and South Africa to defend it. There was a swift defeat of the Italian onslaught.

Léon Blum’s Arrest on September 15, 1940

Léon Blum, a Popular Front delegate who was one of the few to vote against giving Pétain absolute authority, was arrested on September 15, 1940, while enjoying parliamentary immunity. He made no secret of his outrage and disapproval of the Vichy government. He was put on trial with other politicians blamed for the conflict. A window of opportunity opened up for him to escape to the United States just before he was apprehended. Léon Blum’s trial was put on hold, and he was sent to Buchenwald immediately thereafter.

Tonkin was occupied by the Japanese on September 22, 1940

Since 1937, Japan and China have been at war, and Japan blamed Tonkin, a French territory and a supply route for China, for the country’s failure to win. Japan was able to exert pressure and establish a military presence in Tonkin after the French were defeated in Europe.

Japan launched an invasion and subsequent occupation of the area in September and October of 1940. Admiral Jean Decoux, spokesperson for the Vichy administration, had to negotiate when the city of Lạng Sơn fell on September 22.

On September 23, 1940, the Anglo-Gaullists attacked Dakar

The Battle of Dakar, also known as Operation Menace, took place between British and General de Gaulle’s forces on the one hand, and French soldiers loyal to the Petainist government in Vichy on the other, between September 23 and 25, 1940. The goal of the Anglo-Gaullists was to secure their African strongholds by seizing French East Africa under Governor Pierre Boisson. There was a failure in the landing effort when Admiral Muselier challenged General de Gaulle’s authority.

September 27, 1940: Signature of the Tripartite Pact

A military pact between Japan, Italy, and Germany was signed on September 27, 1940. Three nations joined forces to oppose the United States and the United Kingdom.

Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia were some of the later entrants to the alliance. The Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, or Axis armies, peaked in 1942 and was ultimately defeated and disbanded when World War II ended.

October 23, 1940—Meeting at Hendaye

Hitler and Franco met at Hendaye, a Basque town on the border between France and Spain. A discussion about Spain’s possible enlistment in the Axis armies began. Germany’s refusal to accept Spanish equivalents and Spain’s insistence that it could not contribute to a war effort doomed the negotiations. Volunteers from Spain were signed up to go to the Russian front as part of a procedure, but Franco never officially entered Spain into the global fight.

The Italian invasion of Greece began on October 28, 1940.

Italy chose to attack Greece in the autumn of 1940, far after the United States and Japan had already entered the war. The Italian army, assisted by Axis troops, eventually won the Battle of Greece in April 1941, although it suffered many defeats along the way.

The Battle of Taranto began on November 11, 1940

On the 11th and 12th of November, 1940, the Battle of Taranto was fought. The operation was a military one in which the British navy used airstrikes to destroy the Italian navy. Damage to the port of Taranto from the Royal Navy’s enormous torpedoing thwarted Italy’s plans to dominate the Aegean Sea. This conflict showed how aircraft carriers had assumed command of the oceans.

14 November 1940-Operation Mondscheinsonate

Operation Mondscheinsonate, literally “moonlight sonata” in German, occurred on the night of November 14–15, 1940. As part of their massive Blitz campaign, the Nazis planned to drop bombs on innocent English citizens in the city of Coventry. The cathedral of Saint Michael of Coventry caught fire numerous times during the night as a result of the Luftwaffe’s 450 tons of bombs.

Hungary and Romania officially joined the Axis forces on November 20th, 1940.

Hungary and Romania signed on to the alliance with Japan, Germany, and Italy on November 20, 1940. After World War I ended, Hungary attempted to make territorial claims, which drew it closer to the Axis powers. Both Czechoslovakian and Romanian territory were reclaimed. After Ion Antonescu deposed the monarch, Romania allied with Germany, enabling the Axis powers to create a future front against the Soviet Union.

The Nazi German annexation of Alsace-Lorraine on November 27, 1940

Alsace-Lorraine, a prized French territory, was conquered by Nazi Germany. Rather than just occupying the area, the Germans wanted to include it in their territory, so exacting revenge for the insult they had suffered in 1918 and the “Diktat” that Hitler had so vehemently criticized. From 1871 until 1918, the area was, in fact, a part of Germany.

Battle of Cape Spartivento, November 27, 1940

During the Battle of Taranto, Italy chose to commit her full fleet into battle after realizing that it was no safer there than at sea. The Battle of Cape Spartivento (“Teulada” in Italy) took place between the Italian fleet and the British Navy on November 27, 1940. The latter’s goal in consolidating its presence in Malta was to better safeguard its commercial ships. The British had big plans for the Mediterranean, but the Italians got in the way of these plans.

15 December 1940: First issue of the newspaper Résistance

When it came to fighting back against the Nazi occupation of France, the Musée de l’Homme network was one of the first to form. The inaugural issue of Résistance was released to the public on December 15, 1940. The group pretended to be a literary society while really gathering political and military secrets. After that, it coordinated with other resistance organizations to conduct liaison operations between the occupied and free zones.

In 1940, on December 21, the submarine Narval met its watery demise

The Free French Forces submarine Narval sank on December 21, 1940, after striking a mine off the coast of Sfax, Tunisia. This ship was commissioned in 1925 and became a vital element of the French navy that supported General de Gaulle. On June 26, 1940, its whole crew reported to the naval station in Malta to take part in the French counteroffensive in the Mediterranean.

14 February 1941: The Afrika Korps landed at Tripoli

The Afrika Korps (or Deutsche Afrikakorps) arrived in Tripoli to battle the British soldiers there in order to help Mussolini’s troops in a confrontation in Italian Libya. The Afrika Korps launched its mission with 45,000 troops and 250 tanks.

Peter II of Yugoslavia deposed the Nazis on March 27, 1941

At the age of 17, Yugoslavia’s future King, Peter II, led a coup d’état against the administration of the Yugoslav Council President, who had signed a tripartite alliance with Hitler on behalf of Germany, Italy, and Japan.

As a result of the military coup, the nation was once again neutral. People all around Yugoslavia went out onto the streets to show their approval of the young king. Axis armies invaded Yugoslavia on April 6, and there was no prior declaration of war. After a few days of resistance, it gave up.

The “Bismarck” torpedoed the “Hood” on May 24, 1941

Royal Navy prestige was lost when the German battleship “Bismarck” sank the British cruiser “HMS Hood” in the North Atlantic. Approximately 1,400 Marines were killed. “Find and destroy the Bismarck,” the British Admiralty ordered all of its ships to do. Three days later, the “Bismarck” was torpedoed off Brest by British cruisers, taking 1,800 people with it.

Beginning in the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Operation Barbarossa

Despite the ratification of the German-Soviet accord on June 22, 1941, Germany opted to attack the Soviet Union the next day. The German military authorities gave the operation the code name “Operation Barbarossa” before it had even begun. It was the first major ground battle of the war in Europe, and it took place on the Eastern Front. Both the Slavs and communism were seen as threats by Hitler, who also saw the Slavs as lower than humans. It’s going to be a much bloodier conflict in the East compared to the West.

Mussolini declared war on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941

Benito Mussolini took the initiative to deploy his soldiers to battle in the USSR despite having previously suffered military setbacks. When his alliance with Germany ended, he felt he could finally enjoy military triumph on his own terms. But, once again, the outcome of this action was a catastrophe. Mussolini’s standing with Adolf Hitler and the Italian people plummeted.

On July 14, 1941, an armistice was declared in Lebanon and Syria

The British were successful in getting an armistice with the Vichyists in Syria and Lebanon with the support of a Free French division headed by General Catroux. By early June, combat had already broken out. Damascus and Beirut were promised freedom in the name of General de Gaulle. In spite of British pressure, however, the French were not very excited about meeting the new deadline. Although Lebanon gained its formal independence in 1943, France did not surrender its mandates until after the war ended in 1946.

The Atlantic Charter was signed on August 14, 1941

Off the coast of Newfoundland, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill host the Atlantic Conference aboard the warship USS Augusta. The signing of the Atlantic Charter, which included provisions for “building the foundations of a new foreign strategy,” resulted from this gathering. The United Nations Organization was established in accordance with this Charter.

September 27, 1941: Foundation of the EAM

The National Liberation Front (EAM) was formed to fight the Nazi occupation. This organization of communists and other leftists formed a military unit called ELAS (Greek People’s Liberation Army). A major anti-occupation movement existed in Greece, and it was hostile to George Papandreou’s new administration once the country was freed. At this point, the communists and the royalists in Greece were officially at war with one another. The communist members of the EAM formed a temporary government in 1947. In 1949, the civil war was officially concluded when royalist soldiers, backed by England and the United States, decisively crushed the communists.

22 October 1941: Execution of Guy Môquet

The young communist activist Guy Môquet was among the 28 inmates executed outside of Châteaubriant. Upon learning that resistance fighters had killed Lieutenant Colonel Karl Hotz of the German army, the Germans had Guy Môquet, then 16 years old, hanged. Together, the cities of Châteaubriant, Nantes, and Paris saw the deaths of 48 inmates.

Leningrad was first besieged on November 8, 1941

St. Petersburg (now known as Leningrad) was Russia’s former capital and a city that embodied many of the country’s ideals. Hitler, a key target in the Russian conquest, instead chose to lay siege to the city rather than risk sending his forces into potentially risky and costly combat.

So, the metropolis of three million people was sealed off from the rest of the world until January 18, 1944, with the exception of a canal across Lake Ladoga. Also, a third of the people who lived in the city died because of how hard things were for them.

December 7, 1941: Attack on Pearl Harbor

At 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, the Japanese air force launched a surprise assault on the American war fleet docked at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian archipelago. There were more than 2,000 American deaths and 100 Japanese deaths. The goal of the Japanese Empire was to maintain Japanese dominance across the Pacific.

It aimed to destroy the American fleet in order to stop it from interfering with its next operations in Malaysia and toward Australia. The attack on Pearl Harbor led directly to the United States’ participation in World War II the following day.

December 7, 1941, “Night and Fog” decree

Field Marshal Keitel’s “Nacht und Nebel” decree called for the expulsion of anybody deemed an enemy of the Reich. People who were thought to be dangerous to the German “NN” army were moved secretly and eventually disappeared.

The United States officially went to war with Japan on December 8, 1941

After remaining neutral up to that point, the United States declared war on Japan and so joined World War II. After Japan’s assault on Pearl Harbor, the United States officially declared war on Japan. The battle quickly escalated, drawing in significant forces from around the globe.

December 15, 1941—Massacre at Mont-Valérien

Seventy-five Jewish and Communist captives were executed by German occupiers at Mont Valérien, a former fort west of Paris overlooking the Bois de Boulogne. Among those executed was 39-year-old Gabriel Péri, a former writer for the Communist Party daily L’Humanité. Around a thousand hostages and inmates were killed by the Germans at Mont Valérien between 1940 and 1944. General de Gaulle dedicated the site, and it later became central to the martyrology of the French Resistance against the Nazis.

December 25, 1941-Surrender of Hong Kong to the Japanese

British soldiers in Hong Kong capitulated to Japanese forces after 18 days of battle. Sir Mark Young, the governor of the British colony, surrendered to the Japanese commander, Takashi Sakai. After the Allies won the war and defeated Japan in 1945, Hong Kong was restored to Britain.

The Battle for the Solomon Islands began in January 1942

The British Army faced off against Japanese forces in the first amphibious campaign, which took place in the Solomon Islands. The mission for the American army was to protect vulnerable communication links. There were over a dozen naval engagements during this campaign, the most well-known of which was the Battle of Guadalcanal. Douglas MacArthur, an admiral, commanded the American forces. By 1945, the war was over.

January 2, 1942: Jean Moulin parachuted into France

Jean Moulin, a key figure in the French Resistance, was exiled to London with General de Gaulle. Parachuted into the Alpilles on the night of January 1–2, 1942, he was given two missions, one of which was to organize the Secret Army and unite the many resistance groups.

January 11, 1942: Japan captures the Dutch East Indies

During World War II, the Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia, were a significant problem for the Japanese and Allied forces. The country did have extensive oil reserves, which were very important to Japan since the country had no way to manufacture or import oil on its own. The Allies gave up after a string of Japanese victories, and for the next three years, Japan ruled the Dutch East Indies.

January 15, 1942: The Chinese achieved victory over the Japanese at the Third Battle of Changsha

Located in an important part of southern China, Changsha was a major metropolis. Two earlier Japanese raids on the city had been repelled. Even after a full-scale attack on the city supported by the Chinese army headed by Xue Lue, the Japanese were again defeated on their third try. The Japanese withdrawal was met by attacks from Chinese communist rebels.

The Final Solution was adopted by the Nazis on January 20, 1942

Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the German secret agency, chaired the Wannsee meeting outside of Berlin, where fifteen top Nazi leaders and SS members were gathered. This conference was called to examine “the ultimate solution to the Jewish issue.” It was determined that Jewish Europeans in working condition would be sent to concentration camps.

Those who were unable to contribute to society in some other way were ordered to be killed. Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, and finally Auschwitz were among the concentration camps that would soon be used primarily for this mass murder. There was no doubt that a genocide against Jews was under way. And more than six million of them died in concentration camps.

The Battle of Moscow ends on January 22, 1942

The German army under Von Bock launched an attack known as the Battle of Moscow, or Operation Typhoon, to conquer the Russian capital. The Germans, fortified by the start of Operation Barbarossa, marched into Russia and quickly defeated the Red Army. The Russians fought fiercely to keep their capital city for many days, but the cold hurt the Wehrmacht so much that they had to leave.

The Riom trial began on February 19, 1942

Pétain requested the Riom trial to begin on February 19, 1942, and it was intended to prove that politicians from the Third Republic were to blame for their country’s loss in 1940. The caliber of defense presented by Léon Blum and Édouard Daladier, two of the defendants, shocked the audience and shifted blame for the loss from the defendants to the French army’s top brass.

19 February 1942—Executive Decree 9066

On February 19, 1942, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which legalized the internment of specific ethnic groups in concentration camps for the sake of preventing sabotage and espionage. In spite of the fact that the pact did not single out any one ethnic group, it was largely utilized to imprison Japanese, German, and Italian Americans living in the western United States. During World War II, 120,000 Japanese-Americans were forced into concentration camps.

February 27, 1942, Operation Biting

Bruneval, a commune in the Seine-Maritime area, was the site of Operation Biting (“Coup de croc”) on February 27 and 28, 1942, pitting the German forces against the British. The Brits planned to steal a German radar, a cutting-edge piece of technology at the time. The British were victorious in their mission. With the radar in their possession, the British were able to slow down the Germans’ technological advancement and see that the “Atlantic Wall” was really breachable.

The Doolittle Raid, April 18, 1942

The US chose to attack Tokyo in order to discredit the adversary and boost its own morale as it prepared for a major conflict with Japan and controlled the entire Pacific. Since the United States had no nearby base from which to fire bombers on the Japanese island, the Japanese reasonably assumed that they were secure there.

But Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle created a technique that permitted B-25s (heavy bombers) to launch from a ship. The U.S. aircraft were able to get off a few bombing runs over the capital of the enemy before they had to retire to China. Damage was very light, but it sent a strong symbolic message. Japan had to restructure its defenses because it no longer felt secure.

Battle of the Coral Sea, May 4, 1942

Off the coast of Australia in May of 1942, American and Japanese forces clashed in the Battle of the Coral Sea. This fight between ships in the air was the first of its kind. The Japanese were superior in the Battle of the Coral Sea in terms of strategy. However, the Americans saw this as a moral victory since it was the first time they had successfully thwarted a Japanese mission. In terms of propaganda, both sides claimed victories.

Cologne, Germany, May 30th, 1942: One Thousand Bombers

Cologne, a German city on the left bank of the Rhine, was the target of the first “1,000 Bombers’ Raid” conducted by the Royal Air Force (RAF). General Arthur Harris believed that extensive strategic bombing was necessary to demoralize the enemy and cripple their industrial capacity. More than 1,346 airstrikes had already been conducted on Cologne before the 1,000 bombers arrived. That was the first day in a three-year assault on Germany’s major metropolises.

June 7, 1942—American victory in the Battle of Midway

The Japanese army suffered another crushing loss at Midway Atoll (Battle of Midway), the Pacific’s most forward-operating American outpost, after an earlier failure in the Coral Sea. The navies never faced each other again, and the fighting continued in the air. American naval aviation foiled a Japanese strategy by destroying four enemy aircraft carriers while suffering only one loss. Because of this setback, Japan went into defensive mode.

June 11, 1942: The brave French resistance in Bir Hakeim

The Free French Troops (FFL), under the command of General Koenig, fiercely resisted the German and Italian forces at the battle of Bir Hakeim. The British were able to leave before the battle of El Alamein due to their resistance.

Operation Fall Blau (Blue Case), June 28, 1942

A continuation of Operation Barbarossa, Operation Fall Blau (Blue Case) describes the Wehrmacht’s offensives on the Eastern Front. The battle’s objective was to take the city of Stalingrad. There was an initial string of victories for the German troops during the Fall Blau campaign. The decisive victory, however, went to the Red Army, and Operation Fall Blue marked the beginning of the German defeats.

Vel’ d’Hiv’ Roundup, July 17, 1942

13,000 Jews, including 4,051 children, were detained overnight in Paris and the surrounding area on the instructions of René Bousquet, General Secretary of the Police at the Ministry of the Interior. They stayed there for a few days, parked in the sports hall of the Vélodrome d’Hiver. On July 19, they were sent from Drancy to the death camp Auschwitz. Since the German authorities never gave the command to carry out an operation like the “Vel’ d’Hiv” roundup, it was arranged on the fly by the Vichy administration.

August 7, 1942-Marines landed on Guadalcanal

A landing was made by the First Marine Division on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. The United States launched its first naval attack on Japan at this time. The Japanese were establishing air bases there in an effort to dominate the region. After a fierce battle in February of 1943 that claimed the lives of over 1,600 Americans and 24,000 Japanese, they were ultimately pushed from the island. The Allies began to retake territory from the Japanese at this point.

Japanese won the Battle of Savo Island on August 9, 1942

One of the most pivotal moments of the Solomon Islands War, the Battle of Savo Island, set off the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. The United States and Japan were at loggerheads in this war. The final tally showed 1,270 dead on the Allied side and 58 dead on the Japanese side, a devastating loss for the American forces. However, the Japanese army failed to capitalize on this success by rushing in reinforcements. The Americans were given more time to lay the groundwork for a successful offensive in the Eastern Solomons.

Attempting to land in Dieppe, France, on August 19, 1942, was a disastrous failure

The disastrous effort to land Allied forces (including 5,000 Canadians, 1,100 British, and 50 Americans) on the beaches of Dieppe (Haute-Normandie) was ultimately unsuccessful. Once the Germans realized where the fleet was, they strafed and bombarded the beaches relentlessly. Four thousand soldiers were lost due to death, injury, or capture. The purpose of the attack was to gauge the strength of the German fortifications in advance of a large-scale invasion. The repercussions were all felt by the Allies.

October 23, 1942-Battle of El Alamein

The Afrika Korps and the Italian army were Axis troops that the British fought in the Egyptian desert. The British were successful in halting their enemy’s advancement in Egypt because they withdrew before it could establish a foothold there. The Allies prevailed in the conflict from a strategic standpoint, despite the fact that the tactical conclusion was a status quo. The Afrika Korps advance came to a stop at that point.

November 8, 1942: Allied landing in North Africa

The Allies began Operation Torch because they were serious about taking over Africa. On that fateful day in November 1942, more than 60,000 troops arrived in North Africa. After taking Algiers, the Tunisian campaign got underway. A decisive battle occurred on the Western Front during World War II. The Germans retaliated by invading southern France. That marked the end of the buffer zone.

November 11, 1942: Germany entered the free zone

Due to the Allied invasion in North Africa, Hitler ordered “Operation Attila” to be carried out in France. The Germans attacked a “free zone” in the south of the nation. Germany had full power and influence over the Vichy regime.

On November 13, 1942, the British forces retook Tobruk

Even so, the Allies and the British army were successful in retaking Tobruk and its deep-water port, which facilitated the docking of enormous ships. General Rommel and his Afrika Korps were present in every major battle of the Desert War, yet the Allies were able to slowly but surely amass successes.

November 19, 1942, Operation Uranus

The Uranus operation was the Red Army’s attack against the German army in Stalingrad, which began on November 19, 1942. The Wehrmacht had, in fact, taken cover here. The Red Army won after an encirclement planned and executed by Marshal Zhukov, and the Axis finally started pulling back.

27 November 1942: Scuttling of the French Navy

The German troops attacked the Toulon arsenal at 4:40 in the morning. The men of the French navy, under the leadership of Admiral Jean de Laborde, destroyed the whole fleet in the face of the assault. To prevent being sent to Germany, whole ships, machinery, and pieces of artillery were destroyed. Only four submarines were successful in making it to North Africa.

7 December 1942-Operation Frankton

On December 7, 1942, the British army conducted Operation Frankton, an attack against the German fleet near Bordeaux. Ten guys launched hostilities from Montalivet in kayaks. The mission’s difficulty was in planting explosives on board German ships docked at Bordeaux. The commandos made their way back to the Charente via land. As a result of the action, four German army ships were severely damaged.

January 22, 1943-Marseille roundup

After successfully entering the free zone in November 1942, German forces took Marseille. After a series of assaults, German authorities decided the Old Port was too hazardous to leave as-is and set about redesigning it. When police reinforcements from Paris arrived on January 22, 1943, they searched every building in the city. Whether they were really responsible for the crimes or not, 2,000 individuals were deported to concentration camps, and 1,500 structures were destroyed.

January 26, 1943-Foundation of the MUR

By early 1943, Jean Moulin had accomplished his goal of uniting the Resistance by establishing the MUR: Mouvements Unis de Résistance (United Resistance Movements). Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie’s Libération-Sud, Jean-Pierre Levy’s Franc-Tireur, and Henri Frenay’s Combat formed this coalition.

The Germans were decisively defeated in Stalingrad on January 31, 1943

The soldiers of Friedrich Paulus’ 6th German Army, who had been surrounded in Stalingrad (now Volgograd) since the end of November 1942, surrendered to the Red Army. The guys imprisoned in what they referred to as “the cauldron” had been without supplies for a very long time, according to the German air force.

Hitler’s men ultimately became disheartened as the winter became worse and ammunition became more limited. Hitler prohibited Friedrich Paulus from submitting. To keep him from submitting, Hitler had him promoted to the rank of Reich Marshal on the 25th, albeit in vain. On February 3, the final German troops would give up. Throughout the siege of Stalingrad, 90,000 Germans perished from starvation and cold.

February 16, 1943-Institution of the STO

The Vichy administration established legislation requiring all males between the ages of 21 and 23 to serve in the Vichy regime’s Obligatory Labor Service. They were sent off to Nazi Germany to work for the regime for a full two years. Nearly 700,000 males were conscripted for the STO.

In exchange, Pierre Laval’s administration was able to convince Germany to remove the border, which in practice no longer existed because the Germans had occupied the “free zone” since November 1942. Additionally, Nord and Pas-de-Calais were reintegrated into the French government. They needed Belgium for everything. Roughly 10% of French citizens who rejected the STO ended up joining the maquis.

March 6, 1943: Battle of the Solomon Islands campaign

Between the Kolombangara and Arundel Islands in the Solomon Islands lies a narrow passageway known as Blackett, which opens out into the Pacific Ocean. In the wake of the American victory at the Battle of Guadalcanal in February 1943, Kolombangara became home to a major Japanese garrison. In charge of restocking was Lieutenant Tanegashima, but on their way back from bombing Vila, his two destroyers, the Murasame and the Minegumo, ran upon Admiral Merrill’s Task Force 68, a trio of light cruisers and three destroyers. The two Japanese destroyers were sunk.

March 10, 1943: Battle of Ksar Ghilane-Tunia campaign

In 1943, Tunisia was the scene of fierce fighting between Allied and Axis troops. As a result, North Africa became involved in World War II. The French constructed the Mareth Line, a fortification between the cities of Mareth and Tataouine, and sheltered New Zealand infantry behind it. The New Zealand forces were spared discovery by the 15th and 21st Panzer divisions and German stukas thanks to the victory of the Leclerc column at Ksar Ghilane.

The Battle of the Komandorski Islands began on March 27th, 1943

The Americans kept an eye on the Japanese garrisons on two islands in the Aleutian chain known as Komandorski throughout the retaking of the Pacific Islands. After learning of a supply convoy’s impending arrival, Rear Admiral McNorris was given the mission of intercepting it. As both sides were cut off from any possible reinforcements, the final artillery engagement between Japanese and American destroyers and cruisers took place. It was an error on Admiral Hosogaya’s part to assume that American air backup was on the way after the ships were heavily damaged. The Japanese gave up when they were close to victory.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April 19, 1943

In response to Adolf Hitler’s orders to destroy them, the 60,000 Jews still living in the Warsaw Ghetto (Poland) rose up and fought the Nazi SS. Until May 16th, they continued their frantic fight. A total of seven thousand people were executed with their weapons still in their hands, while the rest were to be taken to concentration camps.

The Afrika Korps was expelled from North Africa on May 13, 1943, as the Allies launched a massive offensive

On May 13, 1943, the Allies ended the operation in Tunisia by expelling the Afrika Korps. Following the capitulation of the German army, the Afrika Korps soldiers became prisoners of war. Convoys were sent to bring them to the United States and Canada over the sea.

May 17, 1943: Operation Chastise—the destruction of German dams

The British attempted to persuade Russia to stave off the German invasion and recognized that the British army might be a potent ally in May 1943. In order to destroy the primary dams providing water and energy to the war industries, the Ruhr area was the target of a Royal Air Force operation called Operation Chastise.

The Möhne, Edersee, Sorpe, and Ennepe dams were attacked by Avro Lancaster Mk-III aircraft fitted with a unique bomb developed by engineer B. Wallis. Mixed results were obtained since a number of pilots were shot down and the Germans quickly recovered with their production of water and energy. The defense on the Don and Volga rivers was made easier by the fact that the flooded air facilities were unable to transfer any more aircraft to the Russian front.

The CNR had its first meeting on May 27th, 1943

With the establishment of the National Council of the Resistance in France, Jean Moulin resumed his effort to bring the Resistance (CNR) together. The CNR, which was led by Jean Moulin himself, tried to organize the numerous French Resistance activities during World War II without ignoring the political inclinations of each organization.

De Gaulle and Giraud established the CFLN on June 3, 1943

To replace the Free French administration, generals de Gaulle and Giraud agreed to form the French Committee for National Liberation (CFLN). The CFLN sought to accomplish two goals. First, it sought to rally the French people behind the war effort. Second, it sought to set the stage for France’s eventual liberation. It was in June of 1944 that the CFLN took power as the Provisional Government of France.

New Georgia and Solomon Islands Campaign, June 20, 1943

The Japanese seized the island of New Georgia in 1942 and established the Munda Point air station there to aid in the invasion of Guadalcanal. After the American triumph, the Japanese concluded that the next American goal was to strike their bases in Rabaul and the Solomon Islands. The Japanese chose to wait for the Allies at New Georgia on Bougainville because they lacked the weapons to defend it. The major invasion was made south of Munda Point, a base that was captured on August 5, 1943. The initial landings occurred in June 1943 near Segi Point. Up until October 1943, there was constant warfare to liberate New Georgia.

Jean Moulin’s arrest on June 21, 1943

Jean Moulin was detained at Caluire-et-Cuire on June 21, 1943, as he prepared to attend a conference with seven other Resistance commanders. He had been actively hunted by the Vichy government and the Gestapo. Many doubts concerning the circumstances leading up to this arrest still exist today. Several days after his detention, Jean Moulin was tortured to death.

First day of the Battle of Kursk, July 4, 1943

In the largest tank battle ever fought (Battle of Kursk), the Germans were finally defeated. A decisive blow to the Red Army was just what Hitler had been looking for after two years of war and the defeat at Stalingrad. On July 4, he launched an attack on the Kursk area with thousands of tanks and hundreds of aircraft.

But the Soviets were well prepared, and when the Wehrmacht was pinned down in a minefield and under fire from anti-tank guns, they counterattacked with reinforcements. After this setback, the Red Army’s advance towards Berlin would continue unabated.

July 6, 1943: First Battle of the Gulf of Kula-Solomon Islands Campaign

The United States embarked on an effort to free the Pacific, and especially the Solomon Islands, in 1943 (Operation Cartwheel). When Task Group 36.1’s Admiral Ainsworth returned after a bombardment with two light cruisers and four destroyers on July 5, he was getting ready to seize the Munda Point base in New Georgia.

Admiral Akiyama was in charge of a covert night supply convoy, which the Allies dubbed the “Tokyo Express.” Both sides suffered casualties, and the survivors retreated before dawn on the sixth of July. The USS Radford and USS Nicholas, two destroyers, stayed at the scene after the USS Helena went down to rescue the survivors.

July 8, 1943: Death of Jean Moulin

Jean Moulin was sent off to Germany after enduring years of torture at Klaus Barbie’s hands. While on the road, he succumbed to his wounds. Jean Moulin was declared dead on July 8, 1943, at the Metz station. Again, questions about the reliability of the data persist. In 1964, his remains were interred in the Pantheon.

By 10 July 1943, the Allies had invaded Sicily

British, Canadian, and American troops arrived in Sicily as the Allies successfully wrapped up their battle in Tunisia. They wanted to launch an invasion of the rest of Italy from there. While Benito Mussolini was imprisoned on July 25, the island fell to the Allies by mid-August.

July 13, 1943: Second Battle of the Gulf of Kula-Solomon Islands Campaign

The first fight between Allied ships and a Japanese supply convoy during the liberation of the Solomon Islands by the Americans in 1943 occurred in the Gulf of Kula, off the island of Kolombangara. The Japanese attempted to resupply their sites with a strategy the Allies dubbed the “Tokyo Express,” which included deploying quick ships at night.

The ships of Admiral Ainsworth were detected on July 12 by a convoy led by Admiral Izaki. It seemed to the Americans that the Japanese were catching them off guard when they launched their torpedoes. After the loss of the Jintsu and 482 sailors as well as Admiral Izaki, the battle ended at 9.30 a.m. on July 13. The Americans sent back three light cruisers in horrible shape and lost a destroyer.

July 24, 1943: Arrest of Mussolini

King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy was reinstated as head of the Italian military forces by a decision of the Great Council of Fascism. Marshal Badoglio took over for Mussolini once he was called to Rome, and Mussolini was put behind bars. In Italy, celebrations broke out once the news of Mussolini’s arrest spread.

The Italian National Liberation Committee was formed on July 27th, 1943.

The day following Mussolini’s arrest, a coalition of anti-fascist parties was formed. It included the Communist Party, the Christian Democrats, the Socialist Party, the Liberals, the Action Party, and the Democratic Labor Party. When German forces abandoned Rome on June 5, 1944, the Committee’s influence grew.

“Operation Tidal Wave” was launched on August 1, 1943

The Royal Air Force sent 165 planes almost 6,800 miles (11,000 km) to Romania for a massive operation. This mission is known as “Tidal Wave,” which is also its code name. Around the city of Ploiesti, Romania constructed one of the world’s biggest oil complexes with the help of foreign investment (mostly from the Allies).

Hitler sided with General Ion Antonescu, the man in charge, against the fanatical Iron Guard group in return for a critical supply of gasoline for the German troops. The bombing did a lot of damage to this facility. Although casualties were high, they could have been even worse if not for several holes in Ploiesti’s fortifications (personnel absent on Sundays, weapons in maintenance, etc.).

3 August 1943: Operation Polkovodets Rumiantsev-Eastern Front

It was on August 3, 1943, that the Polkovodets Rumiantsev operation was initiated by the Red Army. The liberation of more German-occupied Ukrainian territory was an important goal. In about twenty days, the Russian “Steppe Front” from the vicinity of Kursk was able to free the cities of Kharkov (the Third Battle of Kharkov) and Belgorod. After being driven back over the Dnieper River, the Germans were finally repelled. The liberation of Ukraine would not be complete until the Russians landed in Kiev in the autumn of 1943, after the epic battle of the Dnieper.

Second Battle of Smolensk, Eastern Front, August 7, 1943

The Red Army’s goal from August 7 to October 2, 1943, was to completely clear the fronts of Smolensk (which had been controlled by the Germans since 1941) and Bryansk. German defense forces were deployed, but they were not able to stop the Russians from crossing the Dnieper and freeing Ukraine. But the Germans were well prepared, and the Russians had to work slowly but steadily for two months to regain Smolensk and Roslavl. After the front stabilized some 30 miles (50 kilometers) away from its previous location, Moscow was no longer in danger.

August 7, 1943: Battle of the Gulf of Vella-Solomon Islands campaign

In the Gulf of Vella, Task Group 31.2, led by Captain Moosbrugger and consisting of six destroyers, encountered one of the Japanese swift supply convoys (the Tokyo Express), led by Captain Sugiura. Only one of the Japanese destroyers, the Shigure, avoided destruction while the others, the Hagikaze, Arashi, and Kawakaze, met their end. During the evening of August 6 and the morning of August 7, 1943, about 1,210 Japanese sailors lost their lives.

18 August 1943: Battle of Horaniu-Solomon Islands campaign

With the Allied success at Munda Point and the Gulf of Vella, the Japanese chose to withdraw their forces from the central Solomon Islands in a convoy led by Rear Admiral Matsuji Ijuin. During the evening of August 17 and into the morning of August 18, American forces led by Captain Ryan launched an assault on this convoy. The Japanese were able to flee with their 9,000 soldiers after a brief battle.

August 24, 1943-Battle of the Dnieper-Eastern Front

The loss at Kharkov in August 1943 made it clear to Hitler that the Soviet Union might achieve a major strategic goal by conquering the mineral-rich Ukrainian territory. Therefore, he issued orders for a vigorous counterattack on this front. With 4 million men engaged over an 870-mile (1,400-kilometer) front, the Dnieper conflict was one of the biggest wars of World War II. After four months of struggle and enormous losses in men and material, on December 23, 1943, the Red Army entered Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. This marked the liberation of the banks of the Dnieper from Nazi soldiers.

Italy joined the Allies on September 3, 1943

The government of Pietro Badoglio negotiated the armistice with the Allies and declared war on Germany. Benito Mussolini, leader of Italy’s fascist state, was toppled a few months before due to the Anglo-American intervention in Sicily. Just a few hours later, on September 12, Germany began an invasion of Italy and released Mussolini. In the North, where he had found safety, he founded the Republic of Salo. The monarch and Badoglio escaped to the south, which was still held by the Allies.

Corsica rebelled against its occupiers on September 9, 1943

The Italian surrender sparked a widespread rebellion among Corsican resistance members. Up until October 4, the rebels battled against the German army, with increasing backing from North African troops. The French island department of Corsica was the first to be freed.

Operation Eiche on September 12th, 1943

While imprisoned at Gran Sasso, Mussolini witnessed a German commando raid led by Otto Skorzeny to free him. Hitler conceived and launched the mission, codenamed “Operation Eiche.” The German dictator was determined to release his Italian counterpart by any means necessary.

The Italian Social Republic was established on September 18, 1943

King Victor Emmanuel III removed Benito Mussolini from office as “Duce” and Minister of Foreign Affairs because Italy wanted to return to neutrality against the Germans. Hitler, afraid of losing his friend, sent the Wehrmacht to northern Italy to rescue Mussolini and restore him to power (Operation Oak). Italy capitulated to Nazi Germany on September 8, 1943, and immediately became a client state of the Third Reich. It changed its name to the Italian Social Republic, often known as the Republic of Salo, on September 18, 1943. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mussolini relocated to the picturesque town of Salo on Lake Garda.

Insurrection against the Nazis on September 27th, 1943, during the Four Days of Naples

Naples was one of the cities hit the hardest by Allied bombardment in the early stages of World War II. A growing uprising against the German occupation of southern Italy started in September 1943. While Colonel Schöll proclaimed a state of siege in Naples and the prefect organized the teenagers to go labor in the camps in Germany, the military commanders of the area escaped. And thus, on September 27, 28, 29, and 30, 1943, the Neapolitans took to the streets to confront the German invaders. Tanks from the Allies rolled into a free Naples on October 1, 1943. This was just around the time of the Allied invasion.

The Solomon Islands offensive began on October 7, 1943, with the Battle of Vella Lavella

In August of 1943, when the United States launched its battle to free the Solomon Islands, the Japanese began leaving the islands. However, there were still around 600 Japanese forces stationed on Vella Lavella. After the battle of Horianu, Rear Admiral Ijuin was tasked with leading a fleet of nine destroyers to evacuate any remaining troops. Ijuin came under fire from three American warships led by Captain Walker on the evening of October 7, 1943. Even though the Yugumo was lost, the three American ships were also damaged and likely would have been lost had the Japanese not retreated from the battle. The Japanese occupation of the Solomon Islands came to an end at this point.

The Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville Campaign, November 2, 1943

An objective of the Bougainville operation was the freeing of the eponymous island off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Admiral Omori sent six destroyers and four cruisers to support the troop landing in Empress Augusta Bay and the subsequent Japanese aircraft bombardment on November 1, 1943. In an intercept, Rear Admiral Merrill’s Task Force 39 sunk two Japanese ships (a destroyer and a cruiser) and damaged the others. Merrill shot smoke bombs to make them think his heavy cruiser had sunk, forcing them to surrender. The Japanese withdrew, believing their goal was complete.

Tarawa was freed by the Americans on November 23, 1943

The Japanese were ultimately vanquished after three days of warfare on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa. It was a triumph that came after one of the first Allied landings in the Pacific and helped turn the tide against Japan. On February 23, the Americans achieved their primary aim and landed on the Marshall Islands.

The Battle of Cape St. George, Bougainville Campaign, November 26, 1943

As the last conflict of the Solomon Islands campaign, the fighting on November 26, 1943, was decisive. A rapid supply convoy (dubbed the “Tokyo Express”) was sent to the base at Buka, not far from Bougainville, while the bulk of the American soldiers were engaged in the fight at Empress Augusta Bay.

Five warships under Captain Burke’s command were sent to intercept it. He used radar to sink the Onami, Makinami, and Yugiri, giving the Americans a decisive victory. Before this decisive naval engagement, the Japanese had already established themselves as superior nighttime combatants.

Tehran Conference, November 28, 1943

It was in Tehran, Iran, that Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin finally met for the first time since the outbreak of World War II. In order to free France from Nazi domination, the Allies decided during the Tehran conference to arrange an invasion in Normandy. Also on the table was the future of Germany and Poland, as well as the establishment of a global security agency (the UN).

December 24, 1943: Eisenhower, leader of the Allied forces

In order to prepare for the landings in June of 1944, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt formally selected General Dwight D. Eisenhower as Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces. Ten years later, Eisenhower would become President of the United States, although at the time, no one could have predicted it.

The Battle of North Cape, fought on December 26, 1943, was a victory for the British navy

Many supply convoys were sent by the British to their Russian allies across the North Sea to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. The German Navy conducted Operation Ostfront with the intention of destroying two of these “Arctic convoys.” British Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers, led by the HMS Duke of York, successfully repelled the German naval assault. British naval dominance over German fleets was underscored by this incident.

Stalin was bleeding Chechnya as of February 23, 1944

The Soviet commander ordered the wholesale expulsion of Chechens, who were accused of collaborating with the Nazis. Before morning, 300,000 people were rounded up and transported to neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

More than half a million more met the same fate in the days that followed. There were thousands of deaths from exposure, starvation, and asphyxia on the wagons taking people to the concentration camps.

Ardeatine Massacre, 24 March 1944

After 32 SS were murdered in a bombing in Rome on March 23, 1944, the Germans retaliated by executing 335 Italian citizens the next day. Aside from the Jewish prisoners of Regina Coeli, the Italian captives were selected from the ghetto. Dead bodies were found in the Ardeatine Pits in the Ardeatino neighborhood. One of Italy’s most significant massacres occurred here.

The Bombing of Nuremberg, March 30, 1944

The British Royal Air Force bombed the German city of Nuremberg on March 30 and 31, 1944. Despite not being the first of its kind, the March 31 strategic bombing operation is remembered as the day the British Air Force suffered its heaviest fatalities of the whole war.

April 6, 1944, Roundup at Izieu

Following Klaus Barbie’s orders, the Gestapo broke into a camp in the French town of Izieu where Jewish children were spending the Easter break from school. A few days later, seven adults and forty-four kids were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Among those who were later dubbed “the children of Izieu,” the youngest was just four years old.

May 9, 1944: The Battle of Henan-Hunan-Guangxi began

It was on May 9, 1944, that the Japanese launched Operation Ichi-Go, commonly known as the Battle of Henan, Hunan, and Guangxi. The Japanese were victorious in an onslaught against allied Chinese and American forces. To prevent further strikes from the United States, the Japanese planned to seize control of the bases in the southeastern part of China. As expected, the Japanese subsequently invaded Indochina, although U.S. airstrikes continued throughout.

The Battle of Monte Cassino began on May 17, 1944

In 1943 and 1945, Moroccan riflemen serving under General Juin helped defeat the Germans in Italy. They achieved this feat at Monte Cassino, located midway between Naples and Rome. In all, 115,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded. Even yet, in Italy, they were able to keep making strides forward. That was the crowning achievement of the Free French throughout World War II.

May 26, 1944: Allied bombing raids on southeastern and central France

The Allies’ Transportation Plan called for an assault on French communication links, particularly the railways, in advance of the Normandy invasion. Bombings on May 26 were a part of this operation, and they were directed against strategic locations in the south and central east of the nation. The bombardment was effective against military targets, but many people were killed as a result of inaccuracy brought about by the aircraft’s high altitude.

Rome was occupied by Allied forces on June 4, 1944

Italy had been split between Allied and German soldiers since September 1943, when Mussolini was freed. In June, however, the Allies invaded Rome and successfully repelled the Wehrmacht. A new administration led by Ivanoe Bonomi, head of the National Liberation Committee, took power in the South when Badoglio was ousted.

June 6, 1944: The Normandy Landings

Operation Overlord was initiated by the United States and the rest of the Allied troops under the leadership of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. On “D-Day,” American forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, followed an hour later by British and Canadian troops. The first combatants were parachuted inland.

June 7, 1944—The events of Laclotte and the tragedy of Saint-Pierre-de-Clairac

On June 7, 1944, two Nazi atrocities occurred in Lot-et-Garonne. The Gestapo orchestrated the events at Laclotte, in which the SS assaulted the town and murdered French people. Eleven resistance fighters were slain and two housing estates were torched in the Saint-Pierre-de-Clairac disaster, which was executed by the same SS division. Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane were massacred by the same army just a few days later.

June 9, 1944, Tulle massacre

Under the guise of enforcing paper control, the 2nd SS Das Reich tank division swept into Tulle (Corrèze) and rounded up all of the capable male population. As retribution for maquis assaults, 99 were executed by hanging, and another 149 were transferred to the Dachau concentration camp, where 101 of them perished. The following day, the same division returned to Normandy, the site of the recent Allied operations, and made its way to Oradour-sur-Glane.

10 June 1944: The inhabitants of Oradour were massacred by the SS

Oradour-sur-Glane, a tiny town close to Limoges, was destroyed by a detachment of the SS “Das Reich” division sent by General Lammerding. Under the guise of checking IDs, all of the people were brought to the marketplace.

Women and children were transported to the church while the men were imprisoned in barns. The buildings were set on fire by the SS, and 642 people (including 246 women and 207 children) perished. The “Das Reich” division had previously carried out a slaughter the day before at Tulle while returning from the eastern front, where exactions were frequent.

13 June 1944: Hitler launches the V1s over London

From their launch pads in Calais, the first Vergeltungswaffe-1 (retaliation weapons-1) were fired in the direction of London. After the Allied invasion of Normandy, Hitler intended to deal a fatal blow to British morale. The British Air Force showed that V-1s might be intercepted midair or redirected from their intended course. These aerial bombs would kill 6,000 people in only three months. Scientists in Germany who worked on these rockets would eventually take part in the space race.

June 15, 1944—Battle of Saipan

The United States defeated the Japanese in the Mariana Islands during the Battle of Saipan, which began on June 15 and ended on July 9 of that year. At least a large number of people committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner by the Americans during this conflict. It was a turning point in the assault on the Pacific, as it enabled the construction of strategic bases and brought Japan within the reach of the American air force.

June 19, 1944-Battle of the Philippine Sea

As the Engagement of Saipan was going on at the same time, on June 19-20, 1944, the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy fought a naval and aviation battle in the Philippine Sea. The Japanese Navy’s planes and aircraft carriers were mostly destroyed in this conflict. Because of the disparity in power, the conflict earned the moniker “Great Marianas Pigeon Shot.”

26 June 1944-Battle of Bobr

The Battle of Bobr was fought between the French Volunteer Legion of the Wehrmacht and the Soviet Army during Operation Bagration, which was launched by the USSR to expel the Germans from Belarus. On June 26 and 27, 1944, it happened. While the odds were against them, the German soldiers, who included at least 400 Frenchmen, were victorious after two days of warfare. As an excuse for their loss, Russian media outlets overstated the number of enemy fighters.

30 June 1944: Capture of Cherbourg

Beginning on June 6, 1944, when the Allies landed in Normandy, the Battle of Cherbourg lasted until June 30, when the United States was victorious. As the remainder of the German soldiers surrendered, Allied forces swept in and took control of the harbor city of Cherbourg. This victory was important to keeping the war going because it gave the Allies control of the port of Cherbourg, which made it easier to send supplies to the western front.

The Brazilian Expeditionary Force lands in the South Atlantic on July 2, 1944

The Brazilian Expeditionary Force got to Italy on July 2, 1944. The Brazilian Air, Army, and Navy Corps were 23,500 strong and were incorporated into the 5th British Army during the Transalpine operation. After eight months of warfare, the FEB lost 443 soldiers but captured 20,573 foes, making a significant impact on the falls of Bologna, Parma, Modena, and Genoa.

18 July 1944: Battle of Mount Gargan

The German Jesser brigade, led by Georges Guingouin, battled the French maquis on Mount Gargan from July 18 to July 24, 1944, with help from the French militia. Over 4,800 German forces faced 3,500 French resistance fighters, the bulk of whom were francs-tireurs and partisans. Although they suffered 38 deaths and 54 injuries, the maquisards were able to slow down the enemy and prevent them from completely dismantling the maquis.

On July 20, 1944, an attempt was made to kill Hitler

Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg masterminded a conspiracy to murder the Führer at his headquarters in Wolfsschanze on July 20, 1944. The bomb in the luggage killed numerous policemen but only wounded Adolf Hitler slightly. Many of those involved in the scheme were executed during a violent crackdown.

July 21, 1944-Battle of Guam

From July 21 to August 10, 1944, the island of Guam was the site of the pivotal Battle of Guam during the Pacific War. Since the island had been American territory from 1899 until 1941 (when it was taken in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack), its conquest and subsequent defense attracted widespread attention in the United States. In the same way that their success at Saipan let them set up bases and solidify their grip on the Pacific, the Americans were able to do the same thing here.

Battle of Tinian, 24 July 1944

Operation Forager continued from July 24th to August 1st, 1944, with the Battle of Tinian as a sub-part. Fighting was shorter on Guadalcanal than on the other islands because of the island’s flat terrain, which played into the hands of the Americans. It was also during this period that the first military use of napalm occurred.

Operation Cobra, July 25, 1944

The Americans began Operation Cobra, an attack in the Cotentin area, on July 25, 1944. Its secret name referred to the movement of the American forces, and its objective was to clear a path through the German lines to invade Brittany. The successful conclusion of this operation, which was highlighted by the capture of Avranches and the eluding of the German defenses, was essential to the result of the Battle of Normandy.

August 15, 1944: Landing in Provence

The “Anvil” Provence landing, which was mostly made up of French colonial citizens, started with a troop parachute drop and ended with a beach landing. Although the operation, involving over 300,000 soldiers, was smaller than in Normandy, it advanced more quickly because the Nazis had dispatched troops north. In fewer than 10 days, the towns of Grenoble, Toulon, and Marseille were freed.

Those famous words from August 25, 1944: “Paris is liberated.”

After the victorious Normandy landings, General Eisenhower led the Allied advance into Paris to reclaim the French capital. In one of the most famous addresses in French history, given on August 25, 1944, de Gaulle said, “Paris outraged, Paris shattered, Paris martyred – but Paris liberated!”

The Liberation of Nice, August 28, 1944

The Resistance incited an insurrection on August 28, 1944, which eventually resulted in the liberation of Nice. Although there were only around a hundred warriors at the start, the insurrection gathered steam as the day progressed. Until American troops arrived on August 29 and then tanks on August 30, the revolt was mostly backed by the Allies. At that point, the Nazi occupants were completely expelled. There were 31 fatalities and 280 injuries among the Nice resistance fighters.

Lapland War began on September 15, 1944

In September of 1944, hostilities in Lapland erupted. The battle to free Finland’s territory ramped up after the peace accord between Finland and the Soviet Union was signed. In April of 1945, the Finns won the war, but not before the German “scorched earth strategy” had done significant damage. The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1947, gave the Soviet Union control of the Petsamo area and its nickel mines.

The failure of Operation Market Garden, September 17, 1944

Operation Market Garden, launched in September 1944, was an assault operation. The British-led force’s objective was to cross German-occupied waterways in the Netherlands using seized bridges. If Field Marshal Montgomery’s operation had been a total success, the Siegfried Line might have been bypassed and forces could have entered the Ruhr, which could have contributed to a speedy finish to the war.

October 1, 1944-Battle of Aachen

On October 1, 1944, the Battle of Aachen began and lasted until October 21, 1944. After fierce battles, American forces breached the Siegfried Line and entered the city, which was held by 12,000–18,000 German soldiers who were trapped and unable to mount a counterattack. The significance of the Nazi fortifications may be understood in light of the fact that Aachen was the first major German city to fall on the Western Front.

October 2, 1944: Warsaw Uprising

After two months of combat, the Warsaw Uprising was crushed on October 2, 1944. The Polish resistance movement, Armia Krajowa, instigated the uprising as part of the Storm effort to gain independence from German control and strengthen the standing of the Red Army. The systematic killing of Polish resistance members by German troops and the inaction of the Allies signified the defeat of the revolt.

October 10, 1944: Signature of the Franco-Soviet Pact

The provisional administrations of the French Republic and the Soviet Union signed an alliance and mutual aid contract in Moscow on December 10, 1944. Georges Bidault and Molotov confirmed the partnership in the presence of General de Gaulle and Stalin to counteract the German menace and deter the future vanquished from attempting aggression. The arrival of the Normandy-Niemen fighter squadron on the Eastern Front marked the beginning of the Franco-Soviet partnership.

October 27, 1944: The Japanese navy was defeated in the Gulf of Leyte

The Japanese Navy in the Pacific was almost wiped out at the conclusion of the biggest naval war in history. Five days into the battle, the American Navy destroyed half of Japan’s naval tonnage. From that point on, the United States Navy had free reign of the majority of the Pacific and could sail straight into Okinawa in preparation for an assault on Japan.

The city of Strasbourg was freed on this day in 1944

More than 60 miles (100 km) were traveled in six days by General Leclerc’s second armored division as they advanced to Strasbourg and entered the city. About 12,500 German troops were captured when the city was freed. For his part, Leclerc told the Alsatians: “The spire of your church has remained our preoccupation. We swore that we would raise the flag there once again. This task has been completed.

November 24, 1944-Bombing of Tokyo

Among the numerous times the United States bombed Tokyo, one of those times was on November 24, 1944. To my knowledge, this was the first aerial attack to originate from the east. The fleet of 88 B-29 bombers had a 10% success rate while dropping their bombs from 10,000 feet. Non-military targets were often bombed during World War II in an effort to undermine the adversary by damaging their political and economic infrastructure.

German counterattack in the Ardennes, December 16, 1944

Field Marshal Von Rundstedt led the Germans in one last, decisive counteroffensive in the Ardennes against the Americans. After a fierce struggle that culminated in a Nazi push up to December 23rd, this last assault became legendary as the battle of Bastogne. However, on January 26th, the German forces were pushed back and the operation was halted. Von Rundstedt was captured by the British, and they lost tens of thousands of troops throughout their greatest battalions.

1 January 1945: Operation Nordwind

During World War II, a mission known as “Operation Nordwind” was launched. Beginning on January 1 and ending on January 25, 1945, the Wehrmacht conducted an operation in Lorraine and northern Alsace. At the month’s end, the German advance was halted by Allied forces. Rittershoffen and Hatten were nearly entirely destroyed as a result of the fierce combat that took place during this operation.

On January 1, 1945, the Allied forces launched Operation Bodenplatte

On January 1, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, the Allies launched Operation Bodenplatte. The German air force carried out the operation in an effort to acquire air superiority over the enemy and aid the ground forces. Numerous Allied sites in northeastern France, the southern Netherlands, and eastern Belgium were assaulted by a total of 900 aircraft, including fighters and bombers.

January 17, 1945: Liberation of Warsaw

Warsaw was in ruins when the Red Army arrived. The German occupation of the Polish capital had ended after five years. Jews made up a significant portion of the population, and they were murdered en masse, either in concentration camps or within the ghetto. Warsaw’s population was just a tenth of what it had been before the war when it was freed.

On January 27, 1945, the camp of Auschwitz was liberated.

The major Nazi killing facility was captured by the Red Army. There, they came upon 7,500 tired survivors. Some of them had been successful in obtaining firearms and had rebelled against the previous SS. In Auschwitz, 1.5 million prisoners were killed between the spring of 1942 and the winter of 1945.

In an assault on January 30, 1945, the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk

A total of 10,000 people, including East Prussian refugees, German troops, and commanders, were aboard the ship Wilhelm Gustloff as it sailed out of Gotenhafen in the Bay of Danzig on January 30, 1945. A Soviet submarine discovered it and blasted it with four torpedoes. In about 50 minutes, the ship went down, taking the lives of between 5,000 and 9,000 people.

Operation Corn Flakes was launched in February 1945

Between February and March 1945, the US Office of Strategic Services carried out Operation Corn Flakes. The goal of this propaganda campaign, which took place during World War II, was to undermine the morale of the inhabitants of Germany and Austria. The Allies attempted to convey the idea that the war was about to end by inserting anti-Nazi letters into the mail. The term given to this operation indicates how the mail was delivered at breakfast time.

February 4, 1945—Opening of the Yalta Conference

In Crimea, on the edge of the Black Sea, Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt get together once again to determine the destiny of Germany and Japan. The Soviet Union hoped to aid the American effort to defeat Japan. Following a vote, Germany was disarmed and partitioned into three occupying zones (France would also be assigned a zone later). It was up to the other European nations to do what they wanted. However, communism was really implemented by Stalin throughout the areas freed by the Red Army (with the exception of Austria). This contributed to the escalation of tensions that led to the Cold War.

February 10, 1945: The General von Steuben was sunk

The DS Steuben, once a luxury liner, began transporting German soldiers in 1944. Injured soldiers and refugees were brought to Kiel from East Prussia on February 10th, 1945. The submarine S-13, captained by Alexander Marinesko, detected the ship in mid-ocean and launched an assault. Three thousand to four thousand people perished when the ship went down. Around 600 individuals made it through the ordeal alive.

February 13, 1945: Bombing of Dresden

The Saxony state capital was completely destroyed by Allied bombing raids. A first wave of 244 British and Canadian Lancaster bombers rushed over the city in the evening, marking the start of the assault. The downtown area of the city was devastated by a massive fire. With a second and third round of bombardment, Dresden was completely leveled. A total of 8 mi2 (20 km2) were destroyed in only four days.

It was a point of contention that so many innocent people who had sought safety in the city had lost their lives. Researchers were able to reduce the estimated number of fatalities from 250,000 to 135,000 thanks to their teamwork, and the new number is 35,000. There was no anti-aircraft system in place in Dresden.

Battle of Iwo Jima, 23 February 1945

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima 1
Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima

Between the months of February and March of 1945, the Battle of Iwo Jima was fought. As part of World War II, it matched American forces against those of Japan. On February 23, U.S. troops launched an assault on the island and made it to the summit of Mount Suribachi. Finally, they had the island topped off with an American flag. Forever captured by photographer Joe Rosenthal, “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” is a symbol of this moment in history.

Bombs were dropped on Tokyo on March 9, 1945

On the night of March 9-10, 1945, American soldiers launched an assault on the city of Tokyo. With a range of 1,500 miles, the 300 B-29 bombers rained down 1,700 tons of incendiary bombs on the city. More than 100,000 people were murdered in this attack, making it the bloodiest bombing of World War II. The area bombed was 12 mi2 (30 km2). The Americans planned another attack on Tokyo on May 26, 1945.

On March 9, 1945, Japan seized Indochina

Japan began to occupy Indochinese territory starting in 1940 while acknowledging the validity of France on Asian land. The Japanese imperial army unexpectedly assaulted the French forces stationed there on March 9, 1945. There was no opposition to the toppling of the French government. The Japanese executed General Lemonnier, resident Auphelle, and Colonel Robert. In only two days, 3,000 Frenchmen were slaughtered.

Cambodian independence was proclaimed on March 10

In order to include them in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, the Japanese Empire during World War II urged the different territories of French Indochina to declare independence. On March 10, 1945, in Phnom Penh, Norodom Sihanouk declared Cambodia to be an independent nation. Son Ngoc Thanh declared himself Cambodia’s prime minister on August 9. The new Cambodian government assumed office on August 14, the day before Japan officially surrendered.

March 12, 1945: Anne Frank leaves a diary when she dies

The Frank family was apprehended by the Nazis while hiding out at the family business for two years. They were then sent to concentration camps. A few months later, at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Anne Frank passed away. Upon returning to Amsterdam, the family’s lone survivor, the father, found his daughter’s journal, in which she chronicled the family’s two years of concealment.

March 22, 1945—Operation Plunder

During World War II, the Allies launched a military operation known as “Operation Plunder,” commonly known as the Rhine crossing. The 22nd of March was the start date, and the 1st of April was the finish date in 1945. Soldiers on the eastern side of the Rhine built a bridgehead around 35 miles (55 km) wide and 18 miles (30 km) deep, allowing Allied forces to continue their push into German territory.

Beginning of Operation Famine, March 27, 1945

Beginning in March of 1945, the United States military initiated a program known as “Operation Famine.” The goal was to damage Japanese harbors and waterways to impede supply trains and army movements. The 313th Bombardment Wing successfully completed the military mission on March 27, 1945, when it dropped mines equipped with auditory and magnetic sensors. The business had already released 2,000 marine mines by April.

On April 1, 1945, the Americans attacked Okinawa

The Americans arrived on Okinawa in March after struggling to take the little island of Iwo Jima. But the Japanese resistance became more tenacious the closer they got to Japan. As a result, the Americans were forced to battle until the end of June, losing about 16,000 marines after losing 6,000 troops at Iwo-Jima. Additionally, they had to endure kamikaze assaults, which damaged the soldiers’ morale. On the other hand, there were over 100,000 casualties on the other side, and bombers could now reach Japan and attack it. The Japanese army’s tenacious resistance persuaded the US to unleash the atomic bomb.

Texel Uprising in Georgia, 5 April 1945

On the island of Texel, Georgian Soviet troops led an uprising known as the Georgian Texel Uprising. The island was at that time under German authority, and its inhabitants were prisoners of war who chose to fight for their captors. In a rebellion that began on April 5, 1945, they succeeded in seizing possession of the island, but the Germans eventually mounted a counteroffensive and retook Texel.

7 April 1945-Operation Ten-Gō

April 1945 was the time of Operation Ten-Gō. The Japanese Navy was in charge of the operation. The American invasion of Okinawa was met by the world’s biggest battleship, the Yamato, and eight other Japanese vessels. When the U.S. Air Force discovered the fleet, they bombed and sunk five ships, including the Yamato. There were a total of 3,700 fatalities among the Japanese forces.

Battle of Seelow, April 16, 1945

The Soviet Union and German soldiers engaged in combat at Seelow. The Russian forces attempted to use searchlights to blind their foes on April 16, 1945. However, this strategy also backfired on them, causing several of their troops to get lost in the night and sink in marshes, while others engaged in fratricide by killing their fellow soldiers who had already pushed inside the opposing lines. Despite this, despite being outnumbered, Russian soldiers defeated the final German rampart before Berlin.

April 16, 1945: Sinking of the Goya in the Baltic Sea

Originally constructed in Germany in 1940, the Goya eventually became a refugee ship. A Soviet L-3 submarine’s captain, Vladimir Konovalov, sighted it on April 16, 1945, in the Baltic Sea when it was carrying refugees from East Prussia to West Germany. Torpedoes sunk the Goya to a depth of 255 feet (78 meters). The death toll from the assault was almost 6,000, with just 165 individuals making it out alive.

Hitler fires Heinrich Himmler on April 18, 1945

In an effort to discover a way out of Nazism after the war, Heinrich Himmler tried to negotiate with the British and Americans on the Western Front. He had previously assured a WJC official that the detention camps would not be attacked. When Adolf Hitler discovered the truth about the treason on April 28, 1945, he fired him immediately. The dictator then appointed Karl Hanke Reichsführer-SS as his successor.

April 26, 1945: Pétain constituted himself a prisoner

Marshal Pétain, like Robert Brasillach, faced charges of “intelligence with the enemy” and “high treason” at the hands of the French government. A captive since his capture by the Germans in Switzerland on April 26, 1945, he voluntarily surrendered the following day. The High Court of Justice found Pétain guilty of collaborating with the Nazis and ordered his execution. General de Gaulle commuted his death sentence to life in prison.

April 28, 1945: Mussolini was executed

Mussolini, who felt increasingly abandoned by the Germans, attempted to depart Italy. On the way, the Italian dictator was recognized and identified by partisans of the 52nd Garibaldi Brigade. When he was caught, he was sent to jail. On April 28, 1945, communist partisans killed him. Mussolini’s naked body was shown in a major Milan plaza.

The Dachau Massacre, April 29th, 1945

The 7th U.S. Army’s 3rd Battalion, 157th Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, was granted access to Dachau on April 29, 1945. When they got there, they discovered 39 carts full of bodies. The detainees and their conditions of confinement were subsequently uncovered. U.S. troops, traumatized by these horrific sights, committed a war crime by executing 50 SS officers following the camp’s liberation. The Dachau Massacre is the name given to this event.

The Dachau concentration camp was freed on April 29, 1945

A total of 32,000 detainees were freed by American troops from the Dachau concentration camp in Bavaria. It was the first German concentration camp, created by Himmler in 1933. German records show that over 32,000 people who were transported there between 1933 and 1945 died there.

After his suicide on April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler’s regime collapsed

Adolf Hitler was notified that Russian soldiers were continuing their push towards Berlin while he was holed up in the chancellery bunker. The Führer committed suicide with his lover at his side. For the sake of preventing a repeat of Mussolini’s destiny, his corpse was burned.

May 2, 1945: The red flag flies over Berlin

Soon after Hitler and Joseph Goebbels committed suicide, the Red Army marched into Berlin and successfully raised the red flag over the German capital the next day. Marshals Zhukov and Koniev, who were in charge of the Soviet army, portrayed themselves as heroes when Germany finally capitulated.

In Italy, German forces formally surrendered on May 2, 1945

The Allied armies were in the ascendancy after leading a last push against the German forces in April. Germany had no alternative but to surrender after Mussolini was killed a few days earlier and Hitler committed suicide on April 30.

May 3, 1945-Shipwrecks of the Cape Arcona, the Thielbek, and the Deutschland

Prior to the April 14, 1945, arrival of Allied forces, Heinrich Himmler ordered the deportees to be killed. On April 20th, several inmates were loaded onto the ships Cap Arcona, Thielbek, and Deutschland. Reaching open water was essential to the Nazi strategy to sink the prisoner ships. The ships were bombed by British planes on May 3, 1945. Roughly eight thousand people perished when the SS sank or slaughtered them. Only 316 individuals managed to avoid death.

The administration of Flensburg was established on May 5th, 1945

Attempts were made to establish a transitional Reich administration in Germany after Hitler’s assassination (also called the Flensburg government). Hitler appointed Karl Dönitz chancellor of Germany and Joseph Goebbels minister of propaganda in his will. Dönitz appointed Lutz Schwerin von Krosigk Chancellor after Goebbels’s suicide. They preferred being called Minister-President.

On May 8, 1945, World War II in Europe officially ended

Following Germany’s unconditional surrender, the leaders of the Allied nations all made radio broadcasts declaring an end to hostilities in Europe. Though the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 were a turning point, Japan’s surrender on September 2 marked the official end of World War II.

On July 9th, 1945, the London Accords and the Division of Austria were signed

A military tribunal to trial the main war criminals of World War II was established as part of the London Accords on July 9, 1945. Defeated nations’ futures were settled at the Potsdam Conference a few days later. The victorious powers split Germany and Austria apart. Allied forces had occupied Austria since April 1945, at which time the country was divided into four occupation zones: American, Soviet, British, and French.

July 17, 1945, Potsdam Conference

The Allies convened the Potsdam Conference on July 17, 1945. The future of the vanquished countries was chosen by Truman, Stalin, and Churchill. Remember that France was once again excluded from the Potsdam Conference because of the ongoing combat on the Japanese side of World War II.

The trial against Pétain began on July 23, 1945

At the end of the third month following his detention, Pétain’s trial began in the High Court of Justice. As the trial progressed, he remained silent. While the disputes were chaotic, the genuine roles of the Marshal and the Third Republic’s institutions during the partnership were never in question. After a trial, Philippe Pétain was found guilty of high treason and providing information to the enemy. He was condemned to death and humiliation for his country. De Gaulle, in his role as President of the Provisional Government of the Republic, decided to have the death sentence reduced to one of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Germany’s destiny was decided at Potsdam on August 2, 1945

The destiny of Germany was settled after the conclusion of the Potsdam Conference on August 2, 1945. With the surrender of East Prussia to Poland and Russia, the Third Reich was finally brought to an end, and Germany’s frontiers were redrawn. Upper Silesia was also lost to Germany, and an official border between Germany and Austria was drawn. Three occupation zones were established; the French zone was created later.

The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945

As the Japanese government continued to reject the ultimatum issued at the Potsdam Conference, the United States resolved to put its new atomic bombs to the test in live combat. An American B-29 dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. 75,000 people perished as a direct consequence, not considering the long-term health effects of radiation exposure.

The Soviet Union formally declared war on Japan on August 8

Stalin assured the Allied powers at the Yalta conference that the Soviet Union would invade Japan. Russia went to war with the Empire on August 8, 1945. With Marshal Aleksandr Mikhailovich Vasilevsky at the helm, the Russian army launched offensives in Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, and the southern region of Sakhalin. The Kuril Islands were also under its control. The Russian army, aided by Mongolian People’s Republic troops, made rapid progress over the course of a few days, covering 250 miles (400 km).

The bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945

The Americans’ atomic onslaught against Japan continued with the same goal in mind. The city of Nagasaki was destroyed by an atomic weapon three days after Hiroshima. Initially, at least 38,000 people lost their lives. At the same time, the explosion destroyed about 1.5 mi2 (4 km2) of structures, largely factories.

Japan formally gave up on September 2, 1945

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki decimated Japanese forces, and the Soviet onslaught launched against them on September 2, 1945, prompted the Japanese emperor to formally surrender Japan (a first announcement had been made on the radio two weeks before). The conclusion of World War II was signaled by Japan’s unconditional surrender.

The Nuremberg Trial began on November 20, 1945

An international court in Nuremberg, Germany, prosecuted Nazi war criminals. The trial that lasted over a year (October 1, 1946) was held in the city that served as the symbol of Nazi philosophy. Representatives from the United States, England, the USSR, and France made up the jury. On October 16, 1946, 11 of the 24 top officials of the Third Reich received hanging sentences.


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By Hrothsige Frithowulf

Hrothsige works at Malevus as a history writer. His areas of historical interest include the ancient world and early Europe, as well as the history of modern culture.