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1939 Hitler invades Poland on 1 September. Britain and France declare war on Germany two days later. 1940 * Rationing starts in the UK. * German 'Blitzkrieg' overwhelms Belgium, Holland and France. * Churchill becomes Prime Minister of Britain. * British Expeditionary Force evacuated from Dunkirk. * British victory in Battle of Britain forces Hitler to postpone invasion plans. 1941 * Hitler begins Operation Barbarossa - the invasion of Russia. * The Blitz continues against Britain's major cities. * Allies take Tobruk in North Africa, and resist German attacks. * Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, and the US enters the war. 1942 * Germany suffers setbacks at Stalingrad and El Alamein. * Singapore falls to the Japanese in February - around 25,000 prisoners taken. * American naval victory at Battle of Midway, in June, marks turning point in Pacific War. * Mass murder of Jewish people at Auschwitz begins. WWII main time lines


1943 * Surrender at Stalingrad marks Germany's first major defeat. * Allied victory in North Africa enables invasion of Italy to be launched. * Italy surrenders, but Germany takes over the battle. * British and Indian forces fight Japanese in Burma. 1944 * Allies land at Anzio and bomb monastery at Monte Cassino. * Soviet offensive gathers pace in Eastern Europe. * D Day: The Allied invasion of France. Paris is liberated in August. * Guam liberated by the US Okinawa, and Iwo Jima bombed. 1945 * Auschwitz liberated by Soviet troops. * Russians reach Berlin: Hitler commits suicide and Germany surrenders on 7 May. * Truman becomes President of the US on Roosevelt's death, and Attlee replaces Churchill. * After atomic bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrenders on 14 August.


Death tolls of wwII GERMANY 3,500,000 700,000 4,200,000 JAPAN 2,000,000 350,000 2,350,000 ROMANIA 300,000 160,000 460,000 HUNGARY 140,000 290,000 430,000 ITALY 330,000 80,000 410,000 AUSTRIA 230,000 104,000 334,000 FINLAND 82,000 2,000 84,000 AXIS TOTAL 6,582,000 1,686,000 8,268,000 ALLIED MILITARY CIVILIAN TOTAL SOVIET UNION 10,000,000 10,000,000 * 20,000,000 CHINA 2,500,000 7,500,00 10,000,000 POLAND 100,00 5,700,000 5,800,000 YUGOSLAVIA 300,000 1,400,000 1,700,000 FRANCE 250,000 350,000 600,000 CZECHOSLOVAKIA 200,000 215,000 415,000 UNITED STATES 400,000 — 400,000 UNITED KINGDOM (ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, WALES, AND  NORTHERN IRELAND) 326,000 62,000 388,000 NETHERLANDS 12,000 198,000 210,000


GREECE 20,000 140,000 160,000 BELGIUM 12,000 76,000 88,000 CANADA 37,000 — 37,000 INDIA 24,000 13,000 37,000 AUSTRALIA 23,000 12,000 35,000 ALBANIA 28,000 2,000 30,000 BULGARIA 10,000 10,000 20,000 NEW ZEALAND 10,000 2,000 12,000 NORWAY 6,400 3,900 10,300 SOUTH AFRICA 7,000 —   ETHIOPIA 5,000 — 5,000 LUXEMBOURG 5,000 — 5,000 MALTA — 2,000 2,000 DENMARK 400 1,000 1,400 BRAZIL 1,000 — 1,000 ALLIED TOTAL 14,276,800 25,686,900 39,963,700 EST. TOTAL 20,858,800 27,372,900 48,231,700


US enters war in 1941 When World War II began in 1939, the United States remained neutral.  But German victories in Europe soon convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt that the United States should start sending war materials to the Allies.  He wanted America to become the “arsenal of democracy.”  Congress responded by passing the Lend-Lease Act in 1941.  It provided the Allies, especially Great Britain and Russia, with more than $50 billion worth of arms, food, and other supplies.  American and British ships helped transport these goods across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.  German submarines, or U-boats, constantly harassed Allied shipping lanes through the war.  Eventually, the Allies were able to destroy more U-boats than the submarine could sink Allied ships.              Some of the Lend-Lease aid went to China, which had come under attack by Japan in 1937.  When the Japanese occupied Indochina in 1940, the United States stopped shipping gasoline, iron, steel, and other materials that might help Japan’s armed forces.  Relations between the United States and Japan grew steadily worse.  On December 7, 1941, the Japanese suddenly struck the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  The secret raid was carried out by a fleet of 33 ships and more than 300 warplanes.  Within two hours, the U.S. loss 4 battleships, 3 cruisers, 3 destroyers, and 174 planes.  More than 3,000 Americans were killed or wounded.  The U.S. Pacific Fleet was dealt a crippling blow.  President Roosevelt called December 7 “a date which will live in infamy.”  He asked Congress to declare war on Japan, and the declaration was quickly approved.  Germany and Italy then declared war on the United States.  Congress responded by declaring war on Germany and Italy.


Allies defeat AXIS The tide of war turned in favor of the Allies late in 1941.  German armies that had swept into Russia became bogged down in the mud, snow, and bitter cold of the winter season.  They failed to capture Moscow and Stalingrad.  A Russian counter-offensive forced them to retreat.              American and British troops ended Axis resistance in North Africa during 1942 and 1943.  Hitler had hoped to seize Egypt in order to control the Suez Canal and gain access to oil fields in the Middle East.  But Rommel’s Afrika Korps was caught between two Allied armies.  A British force, commanded by General Bernard L. Montgomery, pushed the Germans and Italians westward from Egypt.  A second Allied army, under General Dwight D. Eisenhower of the U.S., advanced eastward from Algeria and Morocco.  The Allies won decisive battles at El Alamein in Egypt and in the country of Tunisia.              After their victories in North Africa, the Allies crossed the Mediterranean Sea and attacked Italy.  Political pressure in Italy led Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to resign.  The new Italian government surrendered, but the Germans continued to defend the country.  The Allies fought their way up the peninsula and captured Naples, Rome, and Florence.              Meanwhile, back in Great Britain, the Allies were ready to launch a great invasion across the English Channel to the northern coast of France.  President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill selected General Eisenhower as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force.  The Allies had 3 million men, 16 million tons of weapons and supplies, 9,000 boats of various sizes, and 11,000 aircraft.  Eisenhower’s men landed on the Normandy coast of France on “D-Day,” June 6, 1944.  In the months that followed, the Allies drove through France, Belgium, and The Netherlands.  The Germans launched a fierce counter attack, but were defeated in the Battle of the Bulge.  Next, the Allies pushed forward into Germany itself.  The Russian Army by this time had fought its way through Poland and into Germany from the east.  The Germans realized their position was hopeless, and surrendered on May 8 , 1945.              In the final days of the war in Europe, Italians who supported the Allies captured Mussolini and executed him.  In Germany, Adolf Hitler committed suicide.


US defeats Japan and WWII is ended. In the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese added new lands to their empire.  By the spring of 1942, Japan controlled a large area that included Korea, Burma, Thailand, Indochina, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippine Islands, part of China, and hundreds of islands stretching from Alaska to Australia. The United States was finally able to stop Japan’s string of victories by winning two important battles in May and June of 1942.  The Battle of the Coral Sea, prevented a Japanese invasion of Australia.  And the Battle of Midway which removed the threat of another attack on Hawaii.  These American victories proved to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific.             The United States then adopted an “island-hopping” strategy for pushing the enemy back toward Japan.  The idea was to capture certain key islands, one after another, until Japan came within range of American bombers.  The plan eventually succeeded, but only after a long and difficult struggle.  During the last year of the war, the enemy started using “kamikazes,” or suicide planes.  Pilots would deliberately crash their bomb-loaded planes into American warships.  Gradually, however, U.S. forces achieved their objective.  Important victories were won at the battles of Guadalcanal (1942); Tarawa (1943); Kwajalein, Saipan, Guam, and Leyte Gulf (1944); and Iwo Jima and Okinawa (1945).             The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the largest air-sea engagement in history.  American forces destroyed much of the Japanese main fleet.  General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Southwest Pacific, was then able to recapture the Philippines.  Two-and-a half years earlier, MacArthur had been driven from the islands by the Japanese.  At that time, he made the pledge “I shall return.” He kept his promise.           


Thevictory of the Philippines, and the victories at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, brought U.S. forces within a few hundred miles of the Japanese mainland.  President Roosevelt died in April 1945, soon after beginning his fourth term.  He was succeeded by Vice-President Harry S. Truman.  Truman directed the final assault on Japan.  Hundreds of American bombers made daily strikes against Tokyo and other major cities.  Plans were made to invade the Japanese islands.  But before an invasion could begin, Allied scientists informed President Truman that they had developed a powerful atomic bomb.  The Allies asked the Japanese to surrender and accept a fair peace settlement.  When they refused, two atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More than 100,000 people were killed.  The government of Japan then decided to give up the fight.  World War II came to an end on September 2, 1945.

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