World War II was fought between the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, Japan) and the Allied Powers (Britain, United States, Soviet Union, France). It was the deadliest war in all of human history with around 70 million people killed.
World War II started in Europe but spread throughout the world. Much of the fighting took place in Europe and in Southeast Asia (Pacific).
World War II started in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Great Britain and France responded by declaring war on Germany. The war in Europe ended with Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945. The war in the Pacific ended when Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945.
World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945. There were several major events leading up to the war and then during the war. Here is a timeline listing some of the major events:
Read Also: Central Powers of World War 1
Leading up to the War
1933 January 30 – Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany. His Nazi Party, or the Third Reich, takes power and Hitler is essentially the dictator of Germany.
1936 October 25 – Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy form the Rome-Berlin Axis treaty.
1936 November 25 – Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan sign the Anti-Comintern Pact. This was a pact against communism and Russia.
1937 July 7 – Japan invades China.
1938 March 12 – Hitler annexes the country of Austria into Germany. This is also called the Anschluss.
World War II
1939 September 1 – Germany invades Poland. World War II begins.
1939 September 3 – France and Great Britain declare war on Germany.
1940 April 9 to June 9 – Germany invades and takes control of Denmark and Norway.
1940 May 10 to June 22 – Germany uses quick strikes called blitzkrieg, meaning lightning war, to take over much of western Europe including the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France.
1940 May 30 – Winston Churchill becomes the leader of the British government.
1940 June 10 – Italy enters the war as a member of the Axis powers.
1940 July 10 – Germany launches an air attack on Great Britain. These attacks last until the end of October and are known as the Battle of Britain.
1940 September 22 – Germany, Italy, and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact creating the Axis Alliance.
1941 June 22 – Germany and the Axis Powers attack Russia with a huge force of over four million troops.
1941 December 7 – The Japanese attack the US Navy in Pearl Harbor. The next day the US enters World War II on the side of the Allies.
1942 June 4 – The US Navy defeats the Japanese navy at the Battle of Midway.
1942 July 10 – The Allies invade and take the island of Sicily.
1943 September 3 – Italy surrenders to the Allies, however, Germany helps Mussolini to escape and set up a government in Northern Italy.
1944 June 6 – D-day and the Normandy invasion. Allied forces invade France and push back the Germans.
1944 August 25 – Paris is liberated from German control.
1944 December 16 – The Germans launch a large attack in the Battle of the Bulge. They lose to the Allies sealing the fate of the German army.
1945 February 19 – US Marines invade the island of Iwo Jima. After a fierce battle they capture the island.
1945 April 12 – US President Franklin Roosevelt dies. He is succeeded by President Harry Truman.
1945 March 22 – The US Third Army under General Patton crosses the Rhine River.
1945 April 30 – Adolf Hitler commits suicide as he knows Germany has lost the war.
1945 May 7 – Germany surrenders to the Allies.
1945 August 6 – The United States drops the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The city is devastated.
1945 August 9 – Another atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.
1945 September 2 – Japan surrenders to US General Douglass MacArthur and the Allies.