Friday Sep 1, 1939 to Sunday Sep 2, 1945
Europe, Pacific, Atlantic, South-East Asia, China, Middle East, Mediterranean, North Africa, Horn of Africa, Australia, North and South America, WorldwideWorld War II (often abbreviated WWII or WW2), also known as Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The majority of world's countries formed two military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. World War II was the deadliest military conflict in the human history, marked by 70 to 90 million fatalities. World War II changed the political alignment and social structure of the globe. The United Nations (UN) was established to foster International co-operation and prevent future conflicts.
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allies after the end of world war I to set the peace terms on the defeated Central Powers. The Conference formally opened on 18 January 1919. Five major peace treaties were prepared in Paris Peace Conference: - Treaty of Versailles (28 June 1919) - Treaty of Saint-Germain (10 September 1919) - Treaty on Neuilly (27 November 1919) - Treaty of Trianon (4 June 1920) - Treaty of Sèvres (10 August 1920), subsequently revised by the Treaty of Lausanne (24 July 1923).
The League of Nations was the first worldwide international organization whose principle mission to maintain world peace. It was founded on 10 January 1920 following the Paris Peace Conference that ended World War I, and the headquarters was in Geneva, Switzerland.
The United Kingdom, France and Italy formed the Stresa Front in April 1935 to declare the independence of Austria "would continue to inspire there common policy''. The signatories also agreed to resist any future attempt by Germany to change the Treaty of Versailles.
The Soviet Union drafted a treaty of mutual assistance with France. Before taking effect, though, the Franco-Soviet pact was required to go through the bureaucracy of the League of Nations, which rendered it essentially toothless. The Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance was a bilateral treaty between France and the Soviet Union with the aim of enveloping Nazi Germany in 1935 in order to reduce the threat from central Europe. The pact was concluded in Paris on May 2, 1935 and ratified by the French government in February 1936.
The United States, concerned with events in Europe and Asia, passed the Neutrality Act at August 1935. The 1935 act, signed on August 31, 1935, imposed a general embargo on trading in arms and war materials with all parties in a war. It also declared that American citizens traveling on warring ships traveled at their own risk.
The Second Italo–Ethiopian War was a brief colonial war that began in October 1935 and ended in May 1936. The war began with the invasion of the Ethiopian Empire by the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy. The war resulted in the military occupation of Ethiopia and its annexation into the newly created colony of Italian East Africa.
Hitler defied the Versailles and Locarno treaties by re-militarizing the Rhineland in March 1936, encountering little opposition due to appeasement. The re-militarization of the Rhineland began on 7 March 1936 when German military forces entered the Rhineland.
Hitler began pressing German claims on the Sudetenland, an area of Czechoslovakia with a predominantly ethnic German population. Soon the United Kingdom and France followed the appeasement policy of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and conceded this territory to Germany in the Munich Agreement, which was made against the wishes of the Czechoslovak government, in exchange for a promise of no further territorial demands.
The situation reached a general crisis in late August as German troops continued to mobilize against the Polish border. On 23 August, when tripartite negotiations about a military alliance between France, the United Kingdom and Soviet Union stalled, the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Germany. The Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that enabled those two powers to divide-up Poland between them.
On 29 August, Hitler demanded that a Polish plenipotentiary immediately travel to Berlin to negotiate the handover of Danzig, and to allow a plebiscite in the Polish Corridor in which the German minority would vote on secession.
The United Kingdom responded with an ultimatum to Germany to cease military operations, and on 3 September, after the ultimatum was ignored, France and Britain, along with their empires, declared war on Germany. The alliance provided no direct military support to Poland, outside of a cautious French probe into the Saarland.
The Polish counter offensive to the west halted the German advance for several days, but it was outflanked and encircled by the Wehrmacht. The Battle of the Bzura fought between 9 and 19 September 1939, It began as a Polish counter-offensive, but ended with German victory, German forces took all of western Poland.
In November 1939, the United States was taking measures to assist China and the Western Allies, and amended the Neutrality Act to allow "cash and carry" purchases by the Allies. Cash and carry was a policy by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced at a joint session of the United States Congress on September 21, 1939, subsequent to the outbreak of war in Europe. It replaced the Neutrality Acts of 1937, by which belligerents could purchase only nonmilitary goods from the United States as long as the recipients paid immediately in cash and assumed all risk in transportation using their own ships.
The Soviet Union forced the Baltic countries—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the states that were in the Soviet "sphere of influence" under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact—to sign "mutual assistance pacts" that stipulated stationing Soviet troops in these countries.
On 6 October, Hitler made a public peace overture to the United Kingdom and France but said that the future of Poland was to be determined exclusively by Germany and the Soviet Union. The proposal was rejected, and Hitler ordered an immediate offensive against France, which would be postponed until the spring of 1940 due to bad weather.
The last large operational unit of the Polish Army (Independent Operational Group Polesie) surrendered on 6 October, after the battle of Kock. Germany annexed the western and occupied the central part of Poland, and the Soviet Union annexed its eastern part; small shares of Polish territory were transferred to Lithuania and Slovakia.
Chinese nationalist forces launched a large-scale counter-offensive in November 1939. The 1939–40 Winter Offensive was one of the major engagements between the National Revolutionary Army and Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War, in which Chinese forces launched their first major counter-offensive on multiple fronts. Although this offensive failed to achieve its original objectives, some studies have shown that it came as a heavy blow to the Japanese forces, as well as a massive shock to the Japanese military command, which did not expect the Chinese forces to be able to launch an offensive operation on such a large scale.
In October Italy attacked Greece, but the attack was repulsed with heavy Italian casualties; the campaign ended within months with minor territorial changes. The Greco-Italian War took place between Italy and Greece from 28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941. This local war began the Balkans Campaign of World War II between the Axis powers and the Allies. It turned into the Battle of Greece when British and German ground forces intervened early in 1941.
Italian defeats prompted Germany to deploy an expeditionary force to North Africa. Operation Sonnenblaume (6 February - 25 May) was the name given to the dispatch of German troops to North Africa in February 1941, The Italian 10th Army had been destroyed by the British and Allied Western Desert Force attacks during Operation Compass (9 December 1940 – 9 February 1941). Sonnenblume succeeded because the ability of the Germans to mount an offensive was underestimated by General Archbald Wavell, the Commander in Chief Middle East, the War Office and by Winston Churchill.
Operation Wilfred was a British naval operation during the Second World War that involved the mining of the channel between Norway and her offshore islands to prevent the transport of Swedish iron ore through neutral Norwegian waters to be used to sustain the German war effort. The Allies assumed that Wilfred would provoke a German response in Norway and prepared a separate operation known as Plan R 4 to occupy Narvik and other important locations. On 8 April 1940, the operation was partly carried out, but was overtaken by events as a result of the following day′s German invasion of Norway and Denmark (Operation Weserübung), which began the Norwegian Campaign.
The Norwegian campaign was an attempted Allied occupation of northern Norway, during the early stages of World War II. Resulted evacuation of the Norwegian government and the royal family, establishment of the Norwegian armed forces from the exile. The 62 days of fighting made Norway the nation that withstood a German land invasion for the second longest period of time, after the Soviet Union.
The Norway Debate, sometimes called the Narvik Debate, was a momentous debate in the British House of Commons during the Second World War from 7 to 9 May 1940. It has been called the most far-reaching parliamentary debate of the twentieth century. At the end of the second day, the members held a vote of no confidence which was won by the government, but with a drastically reduced majority.
Germany launched an offensive against France. To circumvent the strong Maginot Line fortifications on the Franco-German border, Germany directed its attack at the neutral nations of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
In early June 1940 the Italian Royal Air Forces attacked and besieged Malta, a British possession. The siege lasted from June 1940 to November 1942, the fight for the control of the strategically important island of the British Crown Colony of Malta, which pitted the air forces and navies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany against the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy. By May 1943, the Allied forces had sunk 230 Axis ships in 164 days, the highest Allied sinking rate of the war. The Allied victory in Malta played a major role in the eventual Allied success in North Africa.
On 22 June, the Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed by France and Germany. The Armistice of 22 June 1940 was signed at 18:35 near Compiègne, France, by officials of Nazi Germany and the French Third Republic. It did not come into effect until after midnight on 25 June.
Romania and Hungary would make major contributions to the Axis war against the Soviet Union, in Romania's case partially to recapture territory ceded to the Soviet Union. The Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina took place during June, 28–July 4, 1940 as a result of the Soviet Union ultimatum given to Romania on June 26, 1940, under the threat of the use of force.
The Battle of Britain began in early July with Luftwaffe attacks on shipping and harbors. The United Kingdom rejected Hitler's ultimatum, and the German air superiority campaign started in August but failed to defeat RAF Fighter Command, forcing the indefinite postponement of the proposed German invasion of Britain. The Battle lasted from 10 July to 31 October.
In August, Chinese communists launched an offensive in Central China. The Hundred Regiments Offensive took place between 20 August to 5 December 1941, was a major campaign of the Communist Party of China's National Revolutionary Army divisions commanded by Peng Dehuai against the Imperial Japanese Army in Central China. The battle had long been the focus of propaganda in the history of Chinese Communist Party but had become Peng Dehuai's "crime" during the Cultural Revolution. Certain issues regarding its launching and consequences are still controversial.
The Italian invasion of Egypt (Operazione E) was an offensive in the Second World War, against British, Commonwealth and Free French forces in Egypt. The invasion by the Italian 10th Army (10ª Armata) ended border skirmishing on the frontier and began the Western Desert Campaign (1940–1943) proper. The goal of the Italian forces in Libya was to seize the Suez Canal by advancing along the Egyptian coast. After numerous delays, the scope of the offensive was reduced to an advance as far as Sidi Barrani, with attacks on British forces in the area. It lasted from 9 September to 16 September.
To increase pressure on China by blocking supply routes, and to better position Japanese forces in the event of a war with the Western powers, Japan invaded and occupied northern Indochina. Afterwards, the United States embargoed iron, steel and mechanical parts against Japan.
The Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history, employing 21 Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean Sea. The attack struck the battle fleet of the Regia Marina (Italian Military Navy) at anchor in the harbor of Taranto, using aerial torpedoes despite the shallowness of the water. The Battle took place in the night of 11-12 November 1940.
On 20 November, a new government under Hideki Tojo presented an interim proposal as its final offer. It called for the end of American aid to China and for lifting the embargo on the supply of oil and other resources to Japan. In exchange, Japan promised not to launch any attacks in Southeast Asia and to withdraw its forces from southern Indochina.
In November 1940, negotiations took place to determine if the Soviet Union would join the Tripartite Pact. The Soviets showed some interest but asked for concessions from Finland, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Japan that Germany considered unacceptable.
In December 1940, British Empire forces began counter-offensives against Italian forces in Egypt and Italian East Africa. The offensives were highly successful. Operation Compass was the first large British military operation of the Western Desert Campaign (1940–1943) during the Second World War, and took place between 9 December 1940 to 9 February 1941.
Continued antipathy between Chinese communist and nationalist forces culminated in armed clashes in January 1941, effectively ending their co-operation. New Fourth Army incident was argued as a punishment of Communist insubordination and Nationalist treachery.
Since early 1941 the United States and Japan had been engaged in negotiations in an attempt to improve their strained relations and end the war in China. During these negotiations, Japan advanced a number of proposals which were dismissed by the Americans as inadequate. At the same time the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands engaged in secret discussions for the joint defence of their territories, in the event of a Japanese attack against any of them.
Ships of the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy, intercepted and sank or severely damaged several ships of the Italian Regia Marina under Squadron-Vice-Admiral Angelo Iachino. The Battle of Cape Matapan fought from 27 to 29 March 1941.
The Yugoslav government was overthrown two days later (Tripartite Pact Signature) by nationalists. The Yugoslav coup d'état of 27 March 1941 in Belgrade, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, replaced the regency led by Prince Paul and installed King Peter II.
The Siege of Tobruk lasted for 241 days in 1941, after Axis forces advanced through Cyrenaica from El Agheila in Operation Sonnenblume against Allied forces in Libya, during the Western Desert Campaign (1940–1943) of the Second World War. The siege diverted Axis troops from the frontier and the Tobruk garrison repulsed several Axis attacks.
With the Soviets wary of mounting tensions with Germany and the Japanese planning to take advantage of the European War by seizing resource-rich European possessions in Southeast Asia, the two powers signed the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact in April 1941.
The Anglo–Iraqi War occurred from 2 to 31 May 1941, was a British-led Allied military campaign against Iraq under Rashid Ali, who had seized power during the Second World War with assistance from Germany and Italy. The campaign resulted in the downfall of Ali's government, the re-occupation of Iraq by the United Kingdom, and the return to power of the Regent of Iraq, Prince 'Abd al-Ilah, an ally to the United Kingdom.
Operation Brevity was a limited offensive conducted in mid-May 1941, during the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. Conceived by the commander-in-chief of the British Middle East Command, General Archibald Wavell, Brevity was intended to be a rapid blow against weak Axis front-line forces in the Sollum–Capuzzo–Bardia area of the border between Egypt and Libya. Although the operation got off to a promising start, throwing the Axis high command into confusion, most of its early gains were lost to local counter-attacks, and with German reinforcements being rushed to the front the operation was called off after one day.
The Kiev offensive was overwhelmingly successful, resulting in encirclement and elimination of four Soviet armies, The First Battle of Kiev occurred from 23 August to 26 September, resulting German occupation to Kiev.
During the summer, the Axis made significant gains into Soviet territory, inflicting immense losses in both personnel and materiel. By mid-August, however, the German Army High Command decided to suspend the offensive of a considerably depleted Army Group Centre, and to divert the 2nd Panzer Group to reinforce troops advancing towards central Ukraine and Leningrad. The First Battle of Smolensk was fought around the city of Smolensk between 10 July and 10 September 1941, about 400 km (250 mi) west of Moscow.