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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  |

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World War II Interactive Map

Effect of World War II on Each Country

Allies invade GermanyAllies Defeat Germans in Battle of the Bulge (Jan, 1945): Ending in January of '45 with a resounding German defeat, it opens the floodgates of Allied forces into Germany. The Allies would enter Berlin in late April. The Germans surrendered to the Western Allies on May 7.

Yalta Conference (Feb, 1945): The three heads of state of the USSR (Stalin), United Kingdom (Churchill) and the United States (Eisenhowser) meet to determine the fate of post-war Europe, as it became clear that an Allied victory was imminent. Points of Agreement: (1) Division of Germany and Austria into four occupied zones. (2) German reparations, including slave labor of Nazi soldiers. (3) New Poland and Germany borders, where the USSR would retain East Poland, and Poland would gain East Germany. (4) Nazi war criminals prosecuted. (5) Denazification and demilitarization of Germany.

(Timeline Continued Below)

Post-War occupied AustriaAustria Conquered, Beginning of 10-Year Allied Occupation (1945): As the Western Allies (UK, USA, French) closed in from the west, and the USSR Red Army closed in from the East, prominent Austrians declared Austria as separate from Germany. As a result, the Allies were far more gentle with their handling of Austria compared to Germany. The Allies occupied Austria for 10 years following the war, giving Austria its complete sovereignty in 1955.

Allies Conquer Remainder of Italy (1945): Allies advance steadily into the Nazi-held NW corner of Italy in the spring of '45. The Nazis negotiate a surrender with the Allies on May 2.

Denmark and Norway Liberated from Germans (1945): With the Allies closing in on its homeland, German troops were forced to withdraw from Norway in 1945. The Soviets drove remaining Nazi forces out of Denmark as well. Both nations were liberated before Germany's surrender in May of '45.

Allies Maintain Advantage in Battle of the Atlantic Until End of War (1945): Battles at sea continue until the surrender of Germany in May of '45. The remainder of Germany's naval fleet is turned over to the Allies upon its surrender in the war.

Finland Expels Germans (April, 1945): After signing a peace treaty with the USSR in September of '44, Finland turns its military focus against the Nazi troops that still remain within its borders, driving the last of the Nazis out of Finland by April of '45. When Germany attacked the USSR in 1941, Finland joined the Axis Powers, since it then shared a common enemy in Russia, which had attempted to invade Finland in 1939. As part of this new alliance, Finland allowed Nazi troops to be stationed on its own land to help with the invasion of the USSR. Despite Nazi attempts to assume control over the Finnish government and its army, Finland remained independent and democratic during the war. It also protected its Jewish population against Nazi persecutions.

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Battle of Berlin Begins (April, 1945): The Soviet army enters Berlin in mid-April, just a few weeks before the Western Allies (US, UK, France). Hitler and most of his closest advisors and cabinet members would commit suicide just before the Soviets took complete control of the city.

Post World War II EuropeNazi Germany Surrender (May 2, 1945): The Nazis surrendered on May 2, but pockets of resistance continued, primarily as some troops attempted to make their way west to be captured by the Western Allies, who were less harsh in their treatment of captured Germans than the Soviets.

Czechoslovakia Liberated (1945): Soviets drive out the Germans, setting up a provincial Czechoslovakian government in the interim.

Loss of East Germany to Poland (1945): With Poland's urging, the USSR demands a massive territorial transfer of much of East Germany to Poland. Since the Soviets redistributed large amounts of East Poland to Belarus and Ukraine, it insisted that a large portion of German territory was needed to provide Poles with sufficient living space. Furthermore, it was argued that large portions of this land historically belonged to Poland, Finally, the Odor River was determined to be the most sensible border, since it provided a natural boundary, and presented a much shorter boundary than other proposals. The Western Allies (UK, USA, France) objected initially, but finally relented.

German losses in World War IIGermans Lose East Prussia (1945): The Soviets divide East Prussia between Lithuania, Poland and Russia.

Forced Expulsions of German People (1945): Approximately 14 million Germans living in re-appointed East German territories were forcibly deported to inside the newly-contracted German borders. The Soviet and Poland soldiers that drove them out of the former German lands were often brutal in their treatment of German migrants, committing acts of rape and murder. Up to 2 million Germans were killed or went missing as a result of the forced expulsions. The USSR, Poland and Czechoslovakia argued the necessity of the forced expulsions based on the following reasons: 1) Belief that ethnically-homogenous nation states would enjoy greater peace, 2) Germans had proven to be a menace, 3) Need to make sufficient space available for those that had been overrun by Germans, especially Poland and Czechoslovakia.

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Post-war occupation of Germany

U.S. Defeats Japan (1945): Throughout 1945, the Allies continued to close in on Japan, achieving victory after victory, and moving in closer to the Japanese mainland. When Japan refused to accept Allied terms in July of '45, the U.S. proceeded with plans to use a nuclear bomb to force Japan into submission. Hiroshima was bombed first on August 6, then Nagasaki on August 9, killing roughly 220,000 of primarily civilians. More nuclear bombings were planned in the event that Japan still refused to surrender. Japan announced its surrender on August 15. The U.S. argued that the loss of American and Asian life would have been far greater if the war were to rage on. The contrarian argument is that Japan was near the point of surrender anyway. The justification of these nuclear attacks is a hotly debated controversey to this day.

Simmering Internal Strife in Greece (1945): Acts of violence seen in 1944 are reduced in 1945. The democratic factions and communist factions sign a peace treaty, attempting to peacefully arrive at a solution. However, the factions only grew further apart, and isolated incidents of violence continued, spurring the full-scale Greek Civil war beginning in 1946.

Expanded Soviet Bloc (1945): The Soviet (Eastern) Bloc was a collection of nations that were militarily and economically tied to (and dominated by) the Soviet Union. After WWII, the USSR was supposed to allow the Eastern European nations it conquered to re-establish their independence as democratic republics. However, they refused to follow through with their promise to fellow Allied nations, and engineered the emergence of communist-style governments in captured nations through intimidation and rigged elections. The Soviet Union chose to pursue its own national agenda, which dictated a vast amount of buffer territory to the west to protect itself from its greatest national security threat. Since 1812, Russia had been invaded on three separate occasions from the west (Napoleonic France, Germany in WWI and Nazi Germany in WWII). By expanding its sphere of influence westward, Russia intended to prevent potential future attacks from a western power.

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Soviet Bloc

Separation Into West & East Germany (1945): The Allies originally intended to combine all the occupied zones into a single political entity, governed by a counsil represented by of each of the Allied nations (USSR, UK, USA, France). However, differences and distrust between the three Western Allies and the USSR continued to widen after the war. As the Cold War tensions escalated, the willingness to collaborate in Germany diminished. By 1949, it was clear that a unified German state operated under Allied control would not materialize. Therefore, in 1949, the three Western Allies combined their respective occupied territories into "West Germany". The USSR would retain control over their area of occupation, forming "East Germany". Tensions would run high between the two "Germanies", as it served as a pawn between the "Western Powers" and the USSR during the Cold War. Germany would not be reunified until 1990, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

(Timeline Continued Below)

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Jewish Migrations to Palestine (1945): Jewish migrations to Palestine accelerate due to persecutions in Europe, which continue even after Allies free Jews from Nazis. Jews were believed to be cooperating with communists, as many Jews were attracted to communism. The UK imposes a limit to the number of Jews allowed to settle in Palestine, due to protests by Arabs. By 1945, most Jews, and the U.S., support unlimited immigration, and the creation of a Jewish state. As a result of the UK-imposed ban on immigration, Jews begin to immigrate illegally, which results in arrests, and subsequent Jewish revolts against the British. As soon as UK pulls out in 1948, being helpless to defuse the situation, the Jewish state of Israel is declared. This is immediately followed by an Arab-coalition invasion. The Arab-Israeli War ended in 1949 with an Israeli victory, and the confirmation of Israel as a sovereign state.

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Further Understanding of World War II

Nazi Germany: Truly an Unprecedented Evil.

Throughout history, it is rare to see a power that has both fanatical intentions along with the military might to carry them out on such a large scale. In the past, there have certainly been expanding threats that were insatiable in their appetites for conquest, such as the Greeks, Romans, Muslim caliphates, Mongols, Ottomans and Napoleon’s France. However, even these nations were often no worse (perhaps even better in cases) than the existing regimes they conquered. The main crime was the warfare that ensued between existing regimes and the expansionary threats. But once rule had been established, conquered subjects were often assimilated into the political system, even as equals or near-equals in many instances, and with fair to substantial autonomy. Certainly there were atrocities carried out by conquering powers before the Nazi regime, but nothing comparable to the Nazi crimes against humanity, and often nothing above and beyond what the general public faced under the receding regime. Nazi Germany, was truly diabolical in its treatment of conquered peoples, including its own citizens deemed to be “undesirable”. They forced millions into slave camps, systematically exterminating Jewish and even Polish populations, as well as other “undesirables” including religious figures, handicapped, darker races, homosexuals, etc. The Atlantic-African Slave Trade was perhaps greater in its harmful impact (tens of millions enslaved over the course of 4+ centuries), but the Holocaust is unique in the number of people slaughtered with cold calculation in such a short period of time.
How could such an unprecedented evil arise? 1) Technology – deadlier weaponry and more efficient means to rapidly kill large numbers of people. 2) Dense Populations – warfare and atrocities were made much more deadly (in terms of death rates) due to large numbers of victims in comparatively tighter proximities. 3) Mass Media –enabled a cult of personality (such as Hitler), with such extremist ideas, to spread propaganda to an enormous audience. Since television and radio broadcasts were so new, they had a greater persuasive effect than is possible today.
How were such detestable acts justified? Hatred for the Jewish people existed throughout Europe, and especially in Germany, long before Hitler rose to prominence. With the Germans, the hatred stemmed from perceived religious, social, physical and nationalistic differences. Throughout history, Christian leaders had always stoked the fires of contempt against the people believed to be responsible for the death of their lord Jesus Christ. The Jews were also viewed as a peculiar people, that tended to isolate themselves from the general European community. Through falsified “scientific” studies, Jews were also deemed to be anatomically inferior. This dehumanization made persecution seem morally acceptable. Finally, Jews were wrongfully perceived to be responsible for Germany’s premature surrender in WWI. As a highly prideful people, the Jews served as the perfect scapegoat to explain away their WWI failings and subsequent inter-war predicament.
Hitler: The "right" trigger at the "right" time. Hitler then came along and pulled all of these levers to bring hatred for Jews and other “undesirables” to a boiling point. Despite their defeated disposition after their WWI loss, Germany still sat on a wealth of industrial and military might, along with vast raw and human resources. When Hitler mobilized these resource to their advantage, Germany again began to rise, while the rest of Europe sank during the Global Depression. As a result, Hitler’s political currency rose tremendously, to iconic status, which enabled him to carry out his “Final Solution” with the support of a nation. He was also able to establish himself as politically untouchable and authoritatively secure, which gave him dictatorial powers, making opposition to his plans a life-threatening proposition.

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

Effect of World War II on Each Country

Next: Post-War Era (1945 - 1989)

Previous: World War II (1944)

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Comments (2)

is really ture
#1 - wold war 2 boy1888 - 03/20/2014 - 06:17
Yalta Conference (1945): Truman is new president. Eisenhower not elected until 1952.
#2 - Mitch - 05/22/2014 - 11:04
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