World War II Timeline
Timeline Description: World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945 and involved nearly every nation in the world. The war began when Adolf Hitler began his attempt to build a German empire in Europe and ended when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan. It was the deadliest war in world history, resulting in nearly 60 million deaths across the globe.

Date Event
September 1, 1939 German forces invade Poland.

German dictator Adolf Hitler begins his quest to build an empire by invading Poland. The capital city of Warsaw is destroyed and Poland is defeated within weeks.
December 7, 1941 Japan bombs the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor.

Japanese planes attack the United States by bombing its military base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt meets with Congress and Congress declares war on Japan. Germany and Italy respond by declaring war on the U.S.
February 19, 1942 President Roosevelt orders Japanese-Americans to internment camps.

President Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066. Despite being American citizens, Japanese-Americans are ordered to go to internment camps in the West out of fear that they will aid the Japanese in the war.
June 1942 The U.S. defeats Japan at the Battle of Midway.

The U.S. Navy fights Japan in the Battle of Midway and wins the most important battle of the Pacific campaign. It is the first defeat in a modern war ever sustained by the Japanese navy.
September 3, 1943 Allied forces invade Italy.

Allied troops invade Italy at Salerno, Calabria, and Taranto. Italy signs a secret armistice, agreeing to stop fighting and to not help German troops.
June 6, 1944 Allied forces land on the beaches of Normandy.

In what has come to be called D-Day, 100,000 Allied forces land on the beaches of Normandy, France to fight the German forces. It is a victory for the Allies but there were over 10,000 casualties.
August 25, 1944 The Allies liberate Paris.

After four years of German occupation, the Allies liberate Paris. French and U.S. troops force Germany to surrender.
December 16, 1944 The Battle of the Bulge begins.

German troops launch an offensive attack on the Western front. Allied forces fought the Germans throughout the winter and eventually defeated them in what has come to be called the Battle of the Bulge. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and it remains the bloodiest battle ever fought by American troops.
January 26, 1945 Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz.

After troops from the Soviet Union arrive in Auschwitz, Poland, survivors of the Nazi concentration camps are freed. The world finally realizes the depth of the horror that the Nazis have inflicted on the Jews.
February 1945 The Battle of Iwo Jima begins.

U.S. Marines invade the island of Iwo Jima, an important strategic location in the Pacific. American forces win after weeks of fighting, but not without suffering heavy casualties.
April 12, 1945 President Roosevelt dies in Warm Springs, Georgia.

President Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage while in Warm Springs, Georgia. Vice-president Harry S Truman is sworn in as president and is charged with leading the U.S. through the end of the war.
May 7, 1945 Germany surrenders as Soviet troops reach Berlin.

As Soviet troops reach Berlin, the German army surrenders. Meanwhile, Hitler commits suicide in his underground bunker.
August 6, 1945 The U.S. drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

Eighty thousand Japanese people are instantly killed when the U.S. drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The force of the weapon causes buildings to disintegrate and temperatures on the ground reach 5,000 degrees, causing birds in flight to ignite.
August 9, 1945 The U.S. drops an atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

A B-29 bomber drops an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. 40,000 people are killed and Emperor Hirohito announces days later that Japan will surrender.
September 2, 1945 Japan officially surrenders and the war ends.

After agreeing to unconditionally surrender weeks earlier, Japan formally surrenders to the Allied forces. World War II comes to an end.