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 Detailed Timeline of European History
Inter-War Period (1919-39) << World War II (1939-45) >> Post-War Era (1945-89)

World War II (1939 - 1945)
Devastation of Europe, Change in Global Balance of Power

WWII Timeline:  |  1939  |  1940  1941  |  1942  |  1943  |  1944  |  1945  |

Go to European History Interactive Map

World War II Interactive Map

Effect of World War II on Each Country

FinlandEnd of Winter War Between USSR and Finland (Mar. 12, 1940): Date of peace treaty ending war. By February, both Finland and the USSR were eager to sign a peace treaty to end the war. The Finns, who had defended themselves admirably, had nearly exhausted their ammunitions, while the Soviets were eager to end what had turned out to be an embarrassing war. World opinion was largely in favor of Finland, as it was seen as a malicious invasion on the part of the USSR. Even worse, the Soviets were outperformed, suffering over 126,000 casualties against the much smaller army. The USSR demanded the region of Korelia (SE Finland), which was ceded by Finland.

(Timeline Continued Below)

Germany Conquers Denmark (Apr. 9, 1940): Knowing the Allies (UK & France) were considering occupation of the Scandinavian nations, or a naval blockade in the area at the very least, Germany decided to strike first to retain a strategic advantage. The Nazi army encountered brief resistance before Denmark surrendered before the first day of battle ended, knowing that its army was no match for the Germans.

German Conquest of Low Countries (Netherlands, Belgium & Luxembourg) by May 15, 1940.

Germany Conquers Norway (June 10, 1940): The real prize for Germany in Scandinavia was Norway. It provided ports for its Atlantic Ocean naval campaigns, and allowed Germany to secure shipments of iron-ore from Sweden, which the Allies desired to blockade. Germany needed the iron-ore to fuel its war and industrial machine. Capturing Norway proved to be Germany's most difficult conquest since the war began, especially with the Allied troops provided in support of the Norwegians. However, the Nazi army proved too powerful, effecting Norway's surrender after about one month of fighting. With Norway and Denmark occupied, Sweden and Finland were essentially controlled by default.

Nazi Germany conquests

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German-occupied FranceGermany Conquers France (May 10 - June 25, 1940): Hitler's ultimate plan was to expand east at the expense of the USSR. He attempted to establish a peace treaty with France and the UK to recognize German conquests and annexations in Central Europe, to enable Germany to recharge before invading the USSR. When the Allies refused, Hitler knew he would have to quickly conquer France, through the Low Countries (Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg), to remove France as a combatant, isolating the UK to carry the Allied cause, and hopefully forcing a peace treaty. The German army quickly defeated the Low Countries, with its vastly superior numbers and equipment. France was also overpowered, as Paris was captured on June 5, precipitating France's official surrender a few weeks later. The Germans directly occupied and administered Northern France, while the reconstituted French government was established in Vichy to the south, referred to as "Vichy France", a wartime puppet state under Nazi control.

German-controlled puppet state of Vichy France set up in Southern France after surrender to Germany (June, 1940).


 Further Understanding:
 Conditions of German-Occupied Northern France and Vichy France

Racial Discrimination: Both were forced to comply with Nazi anti-Jewish policies, as well as detaining and executing other non-desirables such as homosexuals, the handicapped, political dissenters and other ethnic groups.
Food Shortages: The Germans essentially robbed the French treasury, with one of the effects being food shortages throughout both zones.
Lack of Raw Materials: Raw materials used for industry were redirected to Germany to support the German war effort.
Forced Labor: Hundreds of thousands of French were sent to Germany against their will to provide labor for the German war effort.
Propaganda: The French were continually exposed to Nazi propaganda, including education curriculums, as the content of information was tightly regulated.

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USSR Invasion and Occupation of Baltic Nations (June 15, 1940): The USSR invades Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In 1939, the Soviets forced each of these Baltic nations to permit USSR military bases inside their borders. In 1940, the Soviets took the next step toward complete control. Each nation determined that it was best to peacefully surrender, rather than resist and suffer heavy loss of life against a vastly superior USSR Red Army. The Soviets deported large numbers of citizens of each nation to Siberia to work in slave camps. Upon fully occupying each of the three Baltic nations, the USSR supported the overthrow of their respective governments, replaced by Soviet-controlled communist regimes in each case.

Soviet Union takes MoldovaUSSR Takes Moldova from Romania (June 28, 1940): The USSR crosses the border to take possession of Bessarabia (eastern half of modern Moldova). When drafting the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact in 1939, both sides agreed to assign Bessarabia to the USSR sphere of control, as it had traditionally been passed back and forth between Romania and Russia, and the USSR viewed it as rightfully theirs. In 1940, the USSR gave an ultimatum to Romania that the territory must be ceded to the USSR. Romania knew it could not withstand a Soviet invasion, and that there was no outside relief available to it. It accepted the ultimatum, on the terms that ethnic Romanians could leave peacefully. The Soviets agreed, but did not hold up their end of the bargain, committing atrocities against fleeing Romanians. Furthermore, the USSR took advantage of the situation, staking out more territory to the west, beyond Bessarabia, the basis for the soon-to-be Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic, and the modern Moldova.

United Kingdom attacks Free French ForcesBritish Attack Free French Forces in Algeria (July 3, 1940): After France fell into German hands, the overseas French armed forces (Free French) vowed to continue fighting against the Axis Powers. The UK was concerned that the French naval fleet based at the French colony of Algeria would also surrender to Nazi Germany. Despite assurances from the Free French that this would not be the case, the UK demanded that the fleet be handed over to the British Royal Navy. When the Free French refused, the British attacked. The invasion lasted one day, resulting in the loss of 1297 Free French lives, four destroyers and considerable additional damage. Relations would be strained between the UK and the Free French Forces for a couple of more years.

Battle of Britain Ends with Decisive UK Victory (July-Oct, 1940): Now that Germany had captured Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France, its next object was to force the United Kingdom to surrender. Hitler's strategy in doing so was to launch a major offensive into Britain, by first breaking down their air defense through a relentless air force bombing campaign. Germany then planned to follow up with an amphibious invasion after crippling UK's air defense. However, the British air force decisively defeated the German air force (Luftwaffe). In spite of their victory, the UK suffered more than 27,000 in civilian casualties during the air force campaign.

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Japan and Italy Join Germany in Axis Agreement (Sept. 27, 1940): The three powers officially enter into a military alliance, referred to as the Axis Powers, to oppose the Allied Powers. Their purpose is to support the economic and general welfare of participating nations through all levers possible, particularly through military support. Their larger objective is to change the traditional power of balance established after WWI, which favored western powers such as the UK, France and the USA. Japan had already been at war with China since 1937, so their entrance into the Axis Powers dovetailed into the Sino-Japanese War. Hungary and Romania would join the Axis Powers in WWII in November. Hungary was promised territorial gains by the Axis Powers, while Romania was seeking support against the Soviet Union, which had captured Moldova from them, and threatened the country as a whole.

Italy invades GreeceItaly's Unsuccessful Invasion of Greece (Oct. 28, 1940): Italy invaded Greece after Greece rejects demand for Italian occupation. The Greek military successfully defended its country from the assault, while gaining the southern quarter of Albania by the end of the year. This would force the Germany army to assist Italian troops, bringing Greece under Axis Occupation in 1941, but at the cost of diverting significant Axis resources away from other battle zones.

Note: Italian Ambition. Since unification in 1860, Italy desired to reassert itself as the pre-eminent Mediterranean power, reminiscent of the Roman Empire. This ambition was intensified with the rise of Mussolini and his Fascist Party during the Interwar Period. Greece was viewed as an important part of this objective. After the start of WWII, Mussolini became jealous of Hiter's rapid conquests, triggering his eagerness to match the Nazi expansion. This led to the demand upon Greece to submit to Italian control in 1940. However, the Italian military proved much less adept compared to its German counterparts, unable to capture Greece until receiving support from Germany in 1941.

(Timeline Continued Below)

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Note: Jewish Ghettos Established by Nazis. Nazis begin to establish Jewish Ghettos throughout the areas it controlled in Europe (forcing conquered nations to comply), as the first stepping stone in its plan to rid the world of the Jews. The ghettos were restricted areas reserved for Jews and other undesirables (such as Gypsies, homosexuals, etc.). All Jews and other undesirables were ordered to these ghettos, where they resided until being assigned to concentration or death camps for slave labor or extermination.

Axis Powers Gain Strong Advantage in Battle of the Atlantic (1940): Now that Germany controlled all of the coastal territory of Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium and all of France's Atlantic coast lines, they were able to deploy vessels much more effectively into the Atlantic. German vessels and submarines (U-boats) managed to sink a large number of Allied ships, gaining the advantage in the Atlantic.

African Theater (1940):
West Africa: UK and Free French Forces from Algeria unsuccessfully invade Vichy France forces to the south in Vichy-controlled French West Africa.
North Africa: Allied forces and Italian forces engage in combat along Libya-Egypt border.
East Africa: Italian Somaliland (East Africa) conquers British Somaliland in Horn of Africa.

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WWII Timeline:  |  1939  |  1940  1941  |  1942  |  1943  |  1944  |  1945  |

Next: World War II (1941)

Previous: World War II (1939)

Effect of World War II on Each Country

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Comments (3)

This helped me so much in my Am. History B. Project. :)
Thank Yeah To whomever wrote this :D
#1 - ShayyShayy - 05/22/2012 - 18:20
This is a pretty good site for finding information during world events all. The dates are very helpful!
#2 - Avery - 05/20/2013 - 11:27
Very helpful for helping me in history class hahaha
#3 - brandon - 05/02/2014 - 07:20
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