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A time-line of World War II

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(Copyright © 2011 Piero Scaruffi)

1933: Students of the University of Berlin burn thousands of books by Jewish authors
1935: Mussolini invades Ethiopia
1936: Hitler and Mussolini form the "Axis"
Mar 1938: Germany annexes Austria
Dec 1938: Germany annexes the Sudeten from Czechoslovakia
1938: Synagogues and Jewish shops are destroyed by Nazist mobs in Germany ("Kristallnacht")
12/1938: German scientists split the uranium atom
1939: Italy annexes Albania
Mar 1939: Germany invades Czechoslovakia and declares the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
1/9/1939: Germany invades Poland
2/9/1939: The cruise ship Athenia is sunk by a German submarine
3/9/1939: Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa declare war on Germany
10/9/1939: Canada declares war on Germany
17/9/1939: the Soviet Union invades Poland
4/11/1939: the USA Congress passes a neutrality act
8/11/1939: and assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler in Munich fails
30/11/1939: the Soviet Union attacks Finland
6/12/1939: Heisenberg reports on the possibility of building an atomic bomb for Germany
?/1940: Japan bombs the Chinese city of Ningbo with fleas carrying the bubonic plague
1/1940: 250 gypsies (mostly children) are killed in the Buchenwald concentration camp
25/1/1940: Germany creates a Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland
21/2/1940: the Soviet Union bombs Sweden
9/4/1940: Germany invades Denmark and Norway ("Operation Weseruebung")
16/4/1940: the Soviet Union begin massacring 17,000 Polish soldiers and civilians in the woods of Katyn
10/5/1940: Germany invades Belgium and Holland
10/5/1940: British prime minister Neville Chamberlain resigns and is replaced by Winston Churchill
11/5/1940: Britain bombs the region of Westphalia in Germany
12/5/1940: Germany invades France
14/5/1940: Holland surrenders
19/5/1940: Britain bombs Bremen and Hamburg
20/5/1940: the German army reaches the English Channel
24/5/1940: Hilter halts German troops that have surrounded British troops in Dunkerquee
26/5/1940: Britain evacuates 300,000 surrounded British and French troops from Dunkerque ("Operation Dynamo")
27/5/1940: Belgium surrenders
4/6/1940: Germany enters Paris
27/6/1940: Romania is forced by Stalin to surrender Bessarabia (Moldova) to the Soviet Union
10/6/1940: Norway surrenders
10/6/1940: Italy enters the war on Germany's side and invades France
14/6/1940: Germany sets up a concentration camp at Auschwitz in Poland
18/6/1940: the Soviet Union invades Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
18/6/1940: Sweden allows Germany passage through its territory
22/6/1940: France surrenders to Germany and a new government, led by Philippe Petain, moves the capital to Vichy
28/6/1940: Britain recognizes the French government in exile of general Charles de Gaulle
10/7/1940: Germany bombs Britain
?/7/1940: Italy invades British Sudan from Ethiopia
3/8/1940: Italy invades British Somaliland
17/8/1940: the German navy blockades the British Isles
23/8/1940: Germany bombs London
25/8/1940: Britain bombs Berlin
7/9/1940: the German Luftwaffe launches 652 bombers on London (the "blitz"), dropping one million bombs in two months and killing By November 13, 150-200 tons of bombs were being dropped on London each day; the total came to approximately 1 million bombs and killing abount 40,000 British civilians in six months
13/9/1940: Italy invades Egypt from Libya
27/9/1940: Germany, Italy and Japan sign a tripartite treaty (the "Axis")
7/10/1940: Germany invades Romania
28/10/1940: Italy invades Greece
14/11/1940: Greece repels the Italian invasion and invades Albania, an Italian colony
20/11/1940: Hungary enters the war on Germany's side
23/11/1940: Romania enters the war on Germany's side
23/11/1940: Slovakia enters the war on Germany's side
26/11/1940: Germany creates a walled ghetto for the 500,000 Jews of Warszaw, Poland
5/1/1941: Britain invades Libya, an Italian colony
11/2/1941: Britain invades Somalia, an Italian colony
12/2/1941: Hitler appoints Erwin Rommel commander of the German army in Africa
16/2/1941: 10,000 jews are deported from Wien (Vienna)
1/3/1941: Bulgaria enters the war on Germany's side
2/1941: Hitler dispatches Erwin Rommel to Africa (the Afrika Corps)
3/4/1941: Rasch Ali Gailani seizes power in Iraq and enters the war on Germany's side
4/4/1941: Britain reaches Addis Abeda, Ethiopia
6/4/1941: Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece
10/4/1941: Croatia declares its independence from Yugoslavia and enters the war on Germany's side
13/4/1941: the Soviet Union and Japan sign a non-aggression pact
27/4/1941: Germany enters Athens
2/5/1941: Britain attacks Iraq
16/5/1941: Italy surrenders in Africa and Ethiopia regains its independence
31/5/1941: Britain enters Bagdad
8/6/1941: Britain invades Syria and Lebanon, French colonies
22/6/1941: The Germans launch a surprise invasion of the Soviet Union ("Operation Barbarossa") that includes killing all Jews
22/6/1941: Italy and Romania declare war on the Soviet Union
26/6/1941: Finland and Hungary declare war on the Soviet Union
24/7/1941: Japan invades Indochina, a French colony
x/8/1941: The Ustasha of Croatia open the concentration camp at Jasenovac, one of the several in which more than 300,000 Serbs, Bosnians and Jews will be killed
25/8/1941: Britain and the Soviet Union invade Iran, that becomes the main transit point for supplies going to the Soviet Union
17/10/1941: general Hideki Tojo is appointed prime minister of Japan
25/11/1941: Germany lays siege to Moscow
6/12/1941: Britain declares war on Finland
7/1941: the USA declares an oil embargo against Japan
7/12/1941: the Japanese navy attacks the USA fleet at Pearl Harbor
7/12/1941: Japan invades Thailand and Malaysia
8/12/1941: Britain and the USA declare war on Japan
8/12/1941: Japan invades the Phillipines
9/12/1941: Egypt, Mexico, Panama and Cuba declare war on Japan, soon followed by New Zealand, South Africa, India, Bolivia, etc.
11/12/1941: Germany and Italy declare war on the USA
13/12/1941: Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia and Romania declare war on the USA
25/12/1941: Japan captures Hong Kong
5/1942: Rommel launches an assault against the British in North Africa
10/1/1942: Japan invades Indonesia
12/1/1942: Japan invades Burma
13/1/1942: German U-boats attack the USA
20/1/1942: Germany plans the extermination of the Jews held in the concentration camps
26/1/1942: the USA sends the first troops to Britain
15/2/1942: Japan captures Singapore
19/2/1942: Japan bombs Darwin in Australia
23/2/1942: A Soviet submarine sinks the ramshackle ship Struma, killing 768 Jews that are escaping from Romania towards British Palestine
1/1942: At the Wannsee Conference Germany approves the "final solution" to exterminate the Jews
2/1942: The Soviet Union starts a project for an atomic bomb led by Igor Vasilievich Kurchatov
24/2/1942: The "Struma", a ship full of Jewish emigrants and denied entry in Turkey under British pressure, is accidentally torpedoed by a Soviet submarine killing all 769 passengers
1/3/1942: Japan conquers Rangoon in Burma/Myanmar
20/3/1942: the gas chamber is inaugurated at Auschwitz
31/3/1942: in the first three months of 1942 the German U-boats (submarines) sink more oil tanks than the USA builds
18/4/1942: USA bombers drop bombs on Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka-Kobe and Nagoya
?/4/1942: to punish Chinese villages who helped the USA airmen who bombed Tokyo, Japanese troops kill 250,000 Chinese civilians ("operation Sei-Go")
6/5/1942: the USA surrenders the Phillipines to Japan
15/5/1942: Britain abandons Burma to Japan
22/5/1942: Mexico declares war on Germany and Italy
4/6/1942: the USA navy defeats the Japanese navy in the Midway battle, which ends with the sinking of five aircraft carriers (one USA and four Japanese)
17/6/1942: president Roosevelt authorizes a project to develop an atomic bomb
24/6/1942: Germany invades Egypt
28/6/1942: Germany begins a summer offensive towards Stalingrad
22/7/1942: Jews are deported from Warsaw to the Treblinka concentration camp
11/8/1942: The USA launches the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb
22/8/1942: Brazil declares war on Germany and Italy
9/9/1942: Germany lays siege to Stalingrad
14/10/1942: Germany carries out a mass execution of Jews from the Mizocz ghetto, Ukraine
10/1942: Britain counterattacks in North Africa
11/1942: The Soviet Union repulses the German invasion of Caucasus
2/12/1942: Fermi achieves a nuclear reaction in Chicago
1943: Nazi doctor Josef Mengele begins experimenting on twins (and later on midgits, dwarfs, hunchbacks) at Auschwitz's concentration camp (3000 between 1943 and 1944)
8/1/1943: the Jews of Warsaw stage an uprising
14/1/1943: Churchill and Roosevelt hold a conference at Casablanca, Morrocco
31/1/1943: the main German forces in Stalingrad surrender to the Soviet Union (the first major defeat of Germany in World War II), ending a battle that has killed 2 million people, including 500,000 civilians
8/2/1943: the USA captures Guadalcanal from Japan
21/2/1943: general Hideki Tojo becomes military dictator of Japan
22/2/1943: the Soviet Union bombs Sweden
26/2/1943: the Soviet Union bombds Finland
27/2/1943: Norwegian partisans destroy Germany's heavy water factory in Norway, thus killing German hopes for an atomic bomb
15/3/1943: Robert Oppenheimer is appointed director of the Los Alamos center (Manhattan Project)
31/3/1943: German U-boats sink 108 ships in the month of march alone
31/3/1943: The allied troops coming from Morocco and the ones coming from Egypt meet in Tunisia, ending the war in North Africa
19/3/1943: Germany invades Hungary
7/4/1943: Bolivia declares war on Germany and Italy
25/4/1943: 16,000 POws and 80,000 Asian slave labourers die during the construction of a 415 km Japanese railway between Thailand and Burma (till 24/6/1944)
12/5/1943: German troops in the Crimea surrender to the Soviet Union
13/5/1943: German and Italian troops in North Africa surrender to Britain
16/5/1943: German troops destroy the Warsaw ghetto
31/5/1943: The USA and Britain destroy 30% of Germany's U-boats in may alone
9/7/1943: the USA and Britain under general Patton land in Sicily
25/7/1943: Mussolini is overthrown in Italy
1943: Six million Poles (including three million Jews) are killed in Nazist death camps at Maidanek, Birkenau, and Auschwitz
27/7/1943: a British bombing erases 6 sq kms of downtown Hamburg killing 40,000 civilians in two hours
8/9/1943: the new Italian government surrenders to the USA and Britain
10/9/1943: Germany invades Italy, enters Rome and frees Mussolini who sets up a republic in nothern Italy
9/1943: John von Neumann joins the Los Alamos team
13/10/1943: the new government of Italy declares war on Germany
28/11/1943: Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin hold a conference in Teheran, Iran
12/1943: British scientists join the Los Alamos team
16/1/1944: Dwight Eisenhower is appointed commander of the allied forces in Europe
22/1/1944: the Allies land in Anzio, Italy ("Operation Shingle")
12/5/1944: the Allies bomb German factories of synthetic fuel
18/5/1944: the Allies capture Monte Cassino from Germany (the "Gustav Line")
4/6/1944: the Allies enter Rome
6/6/1944: the Allies land in Normandy and begin the invasion of France ("D-Day")
13/6/1944: Germany begins bombing Britain with V1 bombs
19/7/1944: general Kuniaka Koiso becomes prime minister of Japan
20/7/1944: Hitler narrowly escapes another assassination attempt
20/8/1944: the Soviet Union invades Romania
23/8/1944: Romania switches sides and attacks Hungary
25/8/1944: the Allies enter Paris
8/1944: The Polish resistance attacks the Germans
3/9/1944: Belgium is liberated by the Allies
5/9/1944: The Soviet Union declares war on Bulgaria and invades it
8/9/1944: Germany begins bombing Britain with V2 rockets
11/9/1944: the Allies invade Germany
24/9/1944: the Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia
1/10/1944: the Soviet Union invades Yugoslavia
2/10/1944: The Germans surrender in Warsaw after 200,000 people have been killed in two months
14/10/1944: Erwin Rommel commits suicide after a failed coup against Hitler
23/10/1944: the Soviet Union invades Germany
10/1944: Rommel is forced to commit suicide
4/11/1944: the allies liberate Greece
4/12/1944: civil war erupts in Greece
9/1/1945: the USA lands on the Phillipines
17/1/1945: the Soviet Union liberates Warsaw
27/1/1945: the Soviet Union liberates Auschwitz
3/2/1945: the USA conducts the first firebombing on Japan (Kobe)
11/2/1945: Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin hold a conference in Yalta
13/2/1945: Two waves of British and US bombers annihilate downtown Dresden, a city of no military importance full of refugees, killing between 25,000 and 135,000 civilians (Gobbels claims 250,000)
16/2/1945: Klaus Fuchs gives the Soviet Union secrets about the atomic bomb
19/2/1945: the USA land on Iwo Jima
23/2/1945: the USA conducts the first firebombing on Tokyo
3/3/1945: Finland declares war on Germany
9/3/1945: the USA conducts the second firebombing on Tokyo, destroying most of the city (25 sq kms) and killing about 100,000 civilians
5/4/1945: admiral Suzuki is appointed prime minister of Japan
11/4/1945: the allies liberate Buchenwald
12/4/1945: Roosevelt dies and Harry Truman becomes president of the USA
13/4/1945: the Soviet Union enters Vienna
23/4/1945: the Soviet Union enters Berlin
25/4/1945: Soviet and USA troops meet on the Elbe river
28/4/1945: Mussolini is captured and hanged by Italian partisans
29/4/1945: the USA liberates the Dachau concentration camp
30/4/1945: as Soviet troops are closing in on his bunker, Adolf Hitler commits suicide together with Joseph Goebbels
7/5/1945: Germany surrenders
9/5/1945: Hermann Goering is captured by the USA
9/5/1945: the Soviet Union enters Prague
23/5/1945: Heinrich Himmler commits suicide
26/5/1945: the USA conducts a third firebombing on Tokyo
6/1945: The USA prepares a plan for the invasion of Japan
1/7/1945: USA, Britain and France enter Berlin
16/7/1945: the USA tests the first atomic bomb
16/7/1945: Truman, Stalin and Churchill meet at the Potsdam Conference to discuss post-war Europe
22/7/1945: the USA wins the battle of Okinawa, the last major island battle, but with a casualty rate of 35%
7/1945: Churchill is defeated at the elections by the Labour Party in the biggest landslide since 1906
13/9/1945: Japan surrenders in Burma
6/8/1945: the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima kills more than 100,000 civilians
8/8/1945: the Soviet Union attacks Japan killing 500,000 Japanese in two weeks
9/8/1945: the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki kills more than 100,000 civilians
14/8/1945: Japan surrenders to the USA
9/9/1945: Japan surrenders to China
9/9/1945: British troops regain Burma/Myanmar
24/10/1945: the winning power create the United Nations
20/11/1945: the remnants of the Nazi regime are tried at the Nueremberg trial
1945: out of the 90,000 German soldiers who surrendered in Stalingrad, only 5,000 returned to Germany alive

Deaths in World War II

Sources: Ragz, Gerhard Weinberg,, Wikipedia
Country Military Deaths Civilian Deaths
Due to War
Total Deaths
Australia 23,365 - 23,365
Belgium 12,000 76,000 88,000
Brazil 943 N/A 1,000
Britain 264,443 92,673 357,000
Canada 37,476 - 37,476
China 2,000,000 7,750,000 9,750,000
Czechoslovakia 10,000 215,000 225,000
Denmark 1,800 2,000 4,000
Estonia 15,000 6,000 21,000
France 213,324 350,000 563,000
Greece 88,300 325,000 413,000
Gypsies - 350,000 350,000
India 24,338 - 24,338
Indonesia - 4,000,000 4,000,000
Latvia - 70,000 70,000
Lithuania 30,000 140,000 170,000
Malaysia - 100,000 100,000
Netherlands 7,900 200,000 208,000
New Zealand 10,033 - 10,033
Norway 3,000 7,000 10,000
Philippines 27,000 91,000 118,000
Poland 320,000 5,675,000 5,800,000
South Africa 6,840 - 6,840
Soviet Union (minus Ukraine) 12,000,000 3,000,000 15,000,000
Ukraine 6,019,000 4,000,000 10,000,000
USA 405,500 - 405,500
Vietnam - 1,000,000 1,000,000
Yugoslavia 305,000 1,200,000 1,505,000
Bulgaria 10,000 10,000 20,000
Finland 82,000 2,000 84,000
Germany 3,500,000 780,000 4,200,000
Hungary 200,000 640,000 840,000
Italy 242,322 152,941 395,000
Japan 1,300,000 953,000 2,253,000
Romania 300,000 200,000 500,000
Total 58,000,000

These numbers include about six million Jews:
  • Austria 60,000
  • Belgium 25,000
  • Czechoslovakia 250,000
  • France 70,000
  • Germany 170,000
  • Holland 104,000
  • Hungary 550,000
  • Italy 8,000
  • Latvia 70,000
  • Lithuania 140,000
  • Poland 3,200,000
  • Romania 270,000
  • Soviet Union 1,000,000
  • Yugoslavia 55,000

World News | Politics | History | Editor

Sharing the Responsibility: The winners write the history

  • Britain: Britain had one of the largest crowd of Hitler sympathizers in the world
  • France: very few French volunteered to fight against Hitler
  • Italy: there were no partisans fighting Mussolini before he started losing the war
  • Poland: anti-semitism was already rampant before Hitler invaded Poland
  • Romania: Romania was second only to Germany in killing Jews and Gypsies (200-300,000)
  • Soviet Union: many Soviet citizens welcomed Hitler's army and enrolled to fight against Stalin
  • Soviet Union: unprovoked attacks of Poland (1939), Finland (1939), Lithuania (1940), Latvia (1940), Estonia (1940), Bulgaria (1944), Japan (1945) and continued occupation of Ukraine
  • USA: opposition to the war against Hitler was always high (the USA Congress passed a "neutrality act" after Hitler invaded Poland)
On the other hand...
  • Germany: many German officers, intellectuals and politicians plotted to overthrow Hitler throughout his reign, with two major assassination attempts in 1939 and 1944 (and one involving Rommel himself) On the other hand...
Mass murder was not a German exclusive:
  • The German invasion of France in 1940 caused minimal destruction to historical buildings and few civilian casualties, but the Allied invasion of Germany killed about one million German civilians and destroyed thousands of monuments
  • The German blitz on Britain of 1939-40 killed 40,000 civilians, but the Allied bombing offensive of 1943-45 killed about 500,000 German civilians (British concentrated on night-time carpet bombing of German cities, which killed mostly civilians, whereas Americans concentrated on daytime bombing of industrial and military targets)
  • Throughout the war, Stalin continued the purges he had begun in the 1930s, killing dissidents at the rate of one million per year (Robert Conquest's estimate, largely confirmed by the secret archives opened after the fall of the Soviet Union).
  • Needless to say, the countries that were "liberated" by the Soviet Union were not any better off after the war than they had been during the German occupation: many more Polish, Czech and Hungarian citizens were killed by the communist regimes than had been killed by the pro-Hitler regimes.
  • The Soviet Union lost 25 million people during the war, of which nine million were soldiers and 16 million were civilians; but that includes Russian civilians "as well as" non-Russian civilians of the other Soviet republics. Statistics tend to count the people killed by the Soviet Union inside the borders of the Soviet Union (i.e., Ukrainians, Lithuanians, etc) as if they had been killed by Hitler's troops, when they were in fact many of them were killed by Stalin's troops. For example, Ukraine (technically, a republic of the Soviet Union) suffered the greatest loss of human lives in the entire Europe (six million soldiers, four million civilians and 600,000 Jews), but many of them were killed by the Soviet army not by the German army. Both the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and the Galicia Division (or Divizia) fought against both Hitler and Stalin: they are all counted as "Soviet casualties" of the war.
  • Another country that got away relatively easily from its war crimes is Japan. If one counts civilian casualties only, Japan's invasions were far more brutal than Germany's invasions. They killed, enslaved and raped millions of civilians. Japan was the only country to use chemical weapons, and it pioneered biological warfare by dropping plague, cholera and anthrax germs on Chinese villages. The number of people submitted to medical experiments in Japan's secret labs is much higher than the number of German prisoners who suffered the same fate. Nobody will ever know the number of "sex slaves" who were used (probably more than one million) and who died (sources say up to 90%). Prisoners of war in German camps were not mistreated (only 1% died) but prisoners of war in Japanese camps were used as slave labourers (and 31% died). If one includes China and all the occupied countries (Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, etc), Japan caused the death of about 20 million civilians, far more than those caused by Germany.

Sharing the Responsibility: where are the innocents?

  • Italy: ally of Hitler
  • Finland: ally of Hitler
  • Hungary: ally of Hitler
  • Romania: ally of Hitler
  • Bulgaria: ally of Hitler
  • Slovakia: ally of Hitler
  • Croatia: ally of Hitler
  • France: ally of Hitler
  • Holland: 20,000 Dutchmen volunteered to serve in the SS
  • Norway: thousands enrolled in the German army
  • Switzerland: banker of Hitler, deported thousands of Jews
  • Spain: did not participate, but supported Hitler
  • Portugal: did not participate, but supported Hitler
  • USA: declared netutrality after Germany started war (in may 1933, Roosevelt referred to Hitler and Mussolini as great reformers, and in 1935 he spoke of Mussolini as "that fine Italian gentleman")
  • Sweden: let Germany use its territory in order to avoid an invasion
  • Ireland: declared netutrality after Germany started war
  • Soviet Union: secret pact with Hitler to split Poland

Sharing the Responsibility: Japan's holocausts

  • 13/12/1937 - 3/1938: Rape of Nanking or "Nanjing Datusha" (369,366 Chinese killed, and 80,000 women raped)
  • 18/4/1942: 250,000 Chinese civilians murdered in retaliation for Chinese help to USA airmen
  • 13/12/1943: The Nazis kill 496 men in Kalavryta, Greece
  • 23/12/1943 - 14/2/1944: Rape of Manila (all male Filipinos 14 and older condemmed to die, 100,000 killed)
  • 1937-45: Forced prostitution or "jugun ianfu" (400,000 Chinese women, 250,000 Korean women, 90% death rate, largest and most deadly mass rape recorded in history)
  • 1933: Shiro Ishii'ss medical experiments in Manchuria (victims vivisected while still alive)
  • Only nation that used biological weapons in WW II
    • 1939: Shiro Ishii's biological experiments in Harbin, China (10,000 prisoners died)
    • 1940: Air bombing of Chinese villages with germs of bubonic plague (october 1940, Quzhou), cholera (1940, Yunnan), anthrax, etc (200,000 die)
  • Only nation that used chemical weapons in WW II
  • POW camps
    • 10 million Asians were used as slaves and only 5,000 or so survivors may still be alive.
    • Death rate in Japanese prisoner camps: 38.2 %
    • 25/4/1943-6/44: 16,000 PoWs and 80,000 Asian slave labourers died constructing the Thai-Burma railway
  • Japan is responsible for the casualties of more than 20 millions in Asia
World News | Politics | History | Editor
Pictures of the Manhattan Project (first atomic bomb)
(Copyright © 2011 Piero Scaruffi)