1940s Timeline
Timeline Description: War and recovery are the themes for the 1940s. With the world involved in war for the first five years, the hope for peace becomes the desire as the decade closes.

Date Event
1940 Germany advances.

Hitler invades Norway and Denmark in April, and then invades Holland, Belgium, France, and Luxembourg in May. Japan allies itself with Germany and Italy in September.
1940 A new leader emerges.

In May Winston Churchill becomes the Prime Minister of Great Britain. In November, Franklin Roosevelt is re-elected for a third term.
1941 U.S. enters the war.

Congress passes the Lend-Lease Act to give much needed aid to U.S. Allies. On December 7th the Japanese make a surprise attack on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii. The U.S. declares war on Japan. Hitler declares war on the U.S.
1942 Japanese-Americans sent to camps.

After Pearl Harbor, the government rounds up citizens of Japanese descent and sends them to camps for the duration of the war.
1942 Killing of Jews begins.

Hitler gives orders to start murdering Jews in concentrations camps. It is estimated that about 6 million Jews die by the war's end.
1943 Rations and taxes.

Rationing of shoes, meat, canned foods, and cheese begins in the U.S. The Current Tax Payment Act allows taxes to be withheld from paychecks and sent directly to the government.
1943 The Big Three meet.

In November, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, Soviet Leader Josef Stalin, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill meet in Teheran, Iran. They discuss war operations and plans for peace.
June 6, 1944 D-Day begins.

Allied forces invade the coast of Normandy, France in a surprise attack by land, sea, and air. Armies now advance toward Berlin. President Roosevelt is elected for a fourth term.
April 1945 Two leaders die.

On April 12th, President Roosevelt dies. Harry Truman becomes the next President. On April 30th Adolf Hitler takes his life as Allied troops converge on Berlin.
May 8, 1945 V-E Day.

With the death of Hitler, the German forces surrender on May 7th. May 8th is declared V-E Day, Victory in Europe Day.
August 1945 Japan surrenders.

On August 6th, the U.S. drops the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan. A second one is dropped on August 8th on Nagasaki. Japan surrenders on August 14th, ending the war.
1946 The United Nations begins.

The United Nations' general assembly meets in London in January. New York eventually becomes the location for the United Nations headquarters.
1947 Discoveries and firsts.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are discovered in the cliffs of Qumran, Israel. Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American to sign a contract with a major league baseball team.
1948 Reconstruction and a new nation.

The Marshall Plan, outlining the reconstruction of Europe, passes in Congress. Israel proclaims itself an independent Jewish state.
1949 Nations protect themselves from Russia.

With the increased threat from the Soviet Union, the United States and several western European countries sign a treaty of support. It is known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. The 1940s will be remembered as the realigning of world powers as Germany and Japan are defeated, and the Soviet Union emerges as a a potential threat.