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German troops occupy Czechoslovakia in March 1939.
Welcome to Prelude to War!
Introduction - Worldwar-2.net - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
The terms of the Treaty of Versailles imposed upon Germany at the end World War I sowed the seeds of World War 2 by stripping Germany of territory and requiring her to pay huge reparations to the victorious powers. The demands in Germany for vengeance were given added stimulus when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party came to power in January 1933. By early 1939 Germany had thrown off the shackles of the Versailles treaty, remilitarised the Rhineland introduced conscription, annexed Austria and occupied Czechoslovakia. The seeds of war were almost ripe!
 
 
1933 - Worldwar-2.net - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
30/01/1933 Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg.
03/02/1933 German Chancellor Adolf Hitler tells his top generals of his determination to conquer land, to the east.
27/02/1933
German Reichstag burns down. Four Communists are tried and executed for setting the fire.
12/03/1933
First Concentration Camp opened at Oranienburg outside Berlin.
13/03/1933 Joseph Goebbels is made Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.
23/03/1933
Enabling Act passed by the Reichstag allowing Hitler to assume dictatorial power.
01/04/1933
Nazis Boycott of Jewish owned shops.
10/05/1933
Nazis burn books in Germany.
14/07/1933
Nazi party declared official party of Germany; all other parties banned.
14/10/1933 Germany withdraws from the Disarmament Conference at Geneva, Switzerland.
21/10/1933
German Chancellor Adolf Hitler withdraws Germany from the League of Nations.
 
1934 - Worldwar-2.net - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
26/01/1934
Germany and Poland sign a ten-year non-aggression pact.
01/03/1934 Henry Pu-yi was crowned emperor of Manchukuo by the Japanese.
05/05/1934 The 1932 non-aggression pact betwen the Soviet Union and Poland is extended to the end of 1945.
30/06/1934
Hitler orders the elimination of much of the political and military opposition within Germany, including SA Chief Ernst Rohm in what is known as the "Night of the Long Knives". More than a 1,000 people are assassinated and others are removed from positions of influence within the SA and Army.
25/07/1934
Nazis murder Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss.
02/08/1934
With the death of President Paul von Hindenburg, Chancellor Adolf Hitler assumes the office of Reich President as well. The Wehrmacht oath of allegiance is changed to be directly to Adolf Hitler.
19/08/1934
Hitler combines the offices of president and chancellor and assumes the title of Führer.
19/09/1934 The Soviet Union joins the League of Nations.
09/10/1934 The Foreign Minister of France, Barthou and King Alexander of Yugoslavia are killed by Croatian terrorists in Marseille, France.
 
1935 - Worldwar-2.net - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
13/01/1935
In a plebiscite, the Saar region decides to unite with Germany.
16/03/1935
Adolf Hitler denounces the disarmament clauses of the Versailles Treaty. He announces that Germany will introduce compulsory military service, thereby creating an army of 36 divisions. Germany also announces the existence of the Luftwaffe, which directly infringes upon the Treaty of Versailles, which forbids Germany to have an airforce.
02/05/1935 France and the Soviet Union conclude negotiations for a five-year Treaty of Mutual Assistance, although the treaty is never ratified by France.
16/05/1935 Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union sign a five-year Treaty of Mutual Assistance.
25/05/1935
Adolf Hitler agrees to not intevene in Austria or add Austria to the German Reich.
18/06/1935
The Anglo-German Naval Agreement is signed, limiting the German surface fleet to 35 percent of British tonnage, and submarine fleet to 45 percent. The agreement signals Britain's unwillingness to defend the Versailles settlement.
15/09/1935 Nuremberg race laws promulgated, which relegates Jews to a separate second-class status in Germany, prohibits intermarriage and sexual relations with Germans.
03/10/1935 The Italians, wanting to be a great power in and around the Mediterranean, invade Abyssinia (Ethiopia). In direct response the League of Nations decides to impose economic sanctions against Italy.
 
1936 - Worldwar-2.net - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
10/02/1936 The Gestapo is placed above German Law.
12/02/1936 Adolf Hitler decides the time is right for Germany to re-occupy the Rhineland.
27/02/1936 The French chamber ratifies the Franco-Soviet pact.
02/03/1936 Hitler issues final orders for troops to re-occupy their former garrison posts in Rhineland towns. If French forces take action, the troops are instructed to withdraw.
07/03/1936 Hitler denounces the Rhineland provisions of Treaty of Versailles and Locarno Treaty. German troops march in to re-occupy the Rhineland. German representatives inform foreign ministers and ambassadors of the German re-occupation of the Rhineland, and outline a peace plan including 25-year non-aggression pacts for all countries bordering on Germany.
09/05/1936 Italian campaign in Ethiopia ends and King Haile Selassie I flees the country.
17/07/1936 Spanish Civil War breaks out; Hitler and Mussolini send aid to Franco.
01/08/1936 The Olympic games begin in Berlin.
01/10/1936 Franco becomes dictator of Spain and is declared Head of State.
25/10/1936 Rome-Berlin "Axis" alliance formed.
23/11/1936 Germany signs an Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan, which commits them to cooperate in defense against international Communism.
 
1937 - Worldwar-2.net - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
19/01/1937 Japan withdraws from Washington Conference Treaty limiting the size of its navy.
01/05/1937 The Polish Military Attaché in Paris, France, agrees to cooperate with Belgian General Staff in exchanging information concerning the German Army.
28/05/1937 Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister of England.
11/06/1937 Josef Stalin begins purge of Red Army officer corps.
29/06/1937 Canada's Prime Minister William King meets with German chancellor Adolf Hitler in Berlin.
07/07/1937 A conflict on the Marco-Polo bridge in Peking leads to full-scale war between China and Japan
13/10/1937 The German Government pledges to respect the neutrality and territorial integrity of Belgium.
05/11/1937 During the Hossbach Conference, Adolf Hitler announces to five of his chief subordinates his plans for an expansion of Germany over the next five years, in particular, into Austria and Czechoslovakia.
06/11/1937 Italy signs the Anti-Cominterm Pact, joining Germany and Japan.
21/12/1937 The German General Staff's strategy plan, Plan Green, is completed, anticipating an aggressive war with Czechoslovakia.
 
1938 - Worldwar-2.net - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
04/02/1938 Hitler announces a reorganization of the army, abolishing the post of war minister, appointing General Wilhelm Keitel as chief of the armed forces high command (OKW).
11/02/1938 Austrian Chancellor Dr. Kurt von Schuschnigg meets with Adolf Hitler in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria. Adolf Hitler demands that Austria become a protectorate of Germany, governed by him. Schuschnigg signs in agreement.
20/02/1938 Adolf Hitler makes a speech in which he demands self-determination for Germans of Austria and Czechoslovakia.
09/03/1938 Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg calls for a public vote for the 13th March, to decide if the country should remain independent, or join Germany.
10/03/1938 Hitler orders a plan for the military occupation of Austria.
11/03/1938 Hitler issues Directive No. 1 for the occupation of Austria and Directive No. 2 for the bloodless invasion of Austria. Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg resigns.
12/03/1938 Germany announces "Anschluss" (Union) with Austria, as German forces cross the border.
24/03/1938 Russian Army Commander B.M. Shaposhnikov produces a war plan, proposing a Red Army offensive or counter-offensive either north or south of the Pripet marshes, with a strong defence in the other sector.
26/04/1938 An order is issued that forces all Jews to declare fortunes above 5.000 Reichsmarks.
20/05/1938 Czechoslovakia begins to mobilise its armed forces.
27/05/1938 Swedish Foreign Minister Sandler announces that Sweden reserves the right to remain neutral.
30/05/1938 Adolf Hitler issues a directive for Fall Grün (Case Green), for the occupation of Czechoslovakia.
12/09/1938 Hitler says the Sudeten problem is an internal matter for the German minority in Bohemia and the Czecho-Slovak government.
15/09/1938 After a meeting with Adolf Hitler at Bergchtesgarden in Germany, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain states that Adolf Hitler appears to be "a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word".
21/09/1938 Winston Churchill warns of the futility of appeasing Adolf Hitler: "The belief that security can be obtained by throwing a small state to the wolves is a fatal delusion."
26/09/1938 Adolf Hitler, quoted on his desire to annex part of Czechoslovakia says: "It is the last territorial claim which I have to make in Europe, but it is the claim from which I will not recede."
29/09/1938 A two-day conference begins in Germany, held by Adolf Hitler, Italy's Benito Mussolini, Britain's Neville Chamberlain, and France's Edouard Daladier, to discuss German demands on Czechoslovakian territory.
30/09/1938 Shortly after 0100 hours the Munich Agreement, allowing Germany to annex the Sudetenland portion of Czechoslovakia, is signed, by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, French Premier Édouard Daladier, Italian leader Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain says "This is the second time that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time."
01/10/1938 German forces occupy the Sudetenland. The Czech Government resigns.
09/11/1938 Nazi authorities orchestrate a nationwide pogrom against the Jews in Germany and Austria. This follows the murder of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath, by Herschel Grynszpan a French Jew in the German Embassy in Paris. Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues are looted and burned. 91 Jews are killed, and 20,000 are taken to concentration camps. This becomes known as Kristallnacht (Night of broken glass).
10/11/1938 Adolf Hitler set the press the task of preparing the german people for war.
28/11/1938 Laws are announced in Germany that prevent Jews from obtaining driving licences or visiting theatres, concerts and cinemas.
 
1939 - Worldwar-2.net - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
24/01/1939 SS leader Reinhard Heydrich is ordered by Göring to speed up emigration of Jews.
27/01/1939 Neville Chamberlain is criticized by many members of the British Parliament for his recognition of the Franco government in Spain.
30/01/1939 In his speech before the Reichstag on the sixth anniversary of his coming to power, Hitler proclaims... 'In the course of my life I have very often been a prophet, and have usually been ridiculed for it. During the time of my struggle for power, it was in the first instance only the Jewish race that received my prophecies with laughter when I said that I would one day take over the leadership of the state and with it that of the whole nation and that I would then among other things settle the Jewish problem. Their laughter was uproarious, but I think that for some time now they have been laughing on the other side of their face. Today I will once more be a prophet: if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevising of the earth and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!'.
05/02/1939 The Republican Government crosses the Pyrenees into France, followed by a flood of refuges.
14/02/1939 The German battleship Bismarck is first launched.
21/02/1939 Nazis force Jews to hand over all gold and silver items.
27/02/1939 The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain recognises Franco's Fascist Government in Spain.
10/03/1939 Stalin postulates a "kinship" between Nazism and Communism in his radio speech.
14/03/1939 Czech president Emil Hacha accepts Adolf Hitler making Bohemia-Moravia a German protectorate. That same day Slovakia and Ruthenia declare their independence from the Czech government in Prague.
15/03/1939 Adolf Hitler declares "Czechoslovakia has ceased to exist" as German troops occupy the rest of Czechoslovakia, annexing Bohemia and Moravia, making Slovakia a protectorate and giving Ruthenia to Hungary. This was all in violation of Munich Agreement of the previous year, but only produced weak British and French protests.
17/03/1939 Edouard Daladier announces that France intends to increase defence spending.
18/03/1939 The Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maxim Litvinov, suggests to British Ambassador Sir William Seeds that delegates from the UK, Soviet Union, France, Poland, and Romania should meet to discuss collective action in the event of war with Germany. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tells the Cabinet that continuing negotiations with Adolf Hitler is impossible.
19/03/1939 British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax replies to Soviet Commissar Maxim Litinov, saying they were examining an alternative scheme to a five-country pact.
21/03/1939 Hitler reiterates his demands against Poland for the return of Danzig and the "Polish Corridor" to the Reich.
22/03/1939 Poland again refuses German demands for the return of Danzig and the "Polish Corridor."
23/03/1939 German troops occupy the city of Memel, which is situated on the border of East Prussia and Lithuania. Poland warns Germany that any similar attempt to seize Danzig would mean war. Poland partially mobilizes its armed forces.
27/03/1939 At a Foreign Policy Committee meeting of the British Cabinet, the Ministers decide to side with Poland, rather than try for a multi-nation agreement involving the Soviet Union.
28/03/1939 Madrid finally falls to Franco's forces as the Spanish Civil War nears its end. Poland again rejects German demands that Danzig be ceded to Germany.
31/03/1939 France and Britain declare that they will stand by Poland. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announces in an address to the House of Commons British support of Polish independence. All resistance by Republican forces in Spain ends.
01/04/1939 Franco declares the end of the Civil War in Spain.
03/04/1939 Adolf Hitler issues a directive to the Army High Command to prepare for an attack on Poland, code named Fall Weiss (Case White), to be ready to implement by 1st September.
06/04/1939 Britain and Poland sign a mutual-assistance pact.
07/04/1939 Mussolini, jealous of Hitler’s successes, sends his troops into Albania which had been under Italian influence since the civil war of 1925, in which Italy had intervened.
13/04/1939 Britain and France pledge to support Romania and Greece should they be attacked.
15/04/1939 President Roosevelt seeks assurances from Germany and Italy that they would not attack another European country. However, such assurances were not forthcoming. Hitler and Mussolini knew that Roosevelt’s hands were tied by the 1935-1937 Neutrality Acts, which forbade the USA from giving help to either side in the event of war.
18/04/1939 The USSR proposes a ten-year alliance with Britain and France.
19/04/1939 Slovakia passes its own anti-Jewish version of the Nuremberg Laws.
28/04/1939 Adolf Hitler addresses the Reichstag in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin. He denounces the 1934 ten-year non-aggression pact with Poland and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of June 1935. Hitler calls the Anglo-Polish Agreement an alliance directed exclusively against Germany and demands the return of Danzig to Germany.
30/04/1939 Jews lose rights as tenants and are relocated into Jewish houses.
06/05/1939 Two warships escort Britain's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on a visit to Canada. Each ship carries about 15 million Pounds Sterling in gold for safekeeping in Canada.
12/05/1939 Turkey and Great Britain conclude a security pact.
16/05/1939 In Halifax harbor, Nova Scotia, Canada, gold from two British warships is transferred to trains for delivery to Ottawa.
17/05/1939 Sweden, Norway and Finland reject Germany's offer of non-aggression pacts, although Denmark accepts.
22/05/1939 At the Reich Chancellory in Berlin, Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop sign a ten-year political and military alliance, dubbed the Pact of Steel, which guaranteed support from the other in the event of war.
03/06/1939 Winston Churchill writes in Collier's magazine: "Unless some change of heart or change of regime takes place in Germany she will deem it in her interest to make war, and this is more likely to happen in the present year than later on.
04/07/1939 German Jews denied the right to hold government jobs.
09/07/1939 Winston Churchill urges the British government to form a military alliance with the Soviet Union.
21/07/1939 Adolf Eichmann is appointed director of the Prague Office of Jewish Emigration.
25/07/1939 Poland gives Britain and France a German Enigma machine each, whose codes they have broken.
10/08/1939 Albert Forster, Gauleiter for Danzig and Nazi leader, addresses a crowd of 100,000 in Danzig: "The hour of liberation is at hand... our Motherland and our Führer, Adolf Hitler, are determined to support us." A trial blackout is ordered for London, England, in preparation for war.
14/08/1939 Poland rejects the USSR's demand for permission for the Red Army to enter Poland.
15/08/1939 Indian troops arrive in Egypt to reinforce British forces around the Suez Canal.
16/08/1939 Captain Bertrand of the French Signals Intelligence gives to a British Secret Service Liaison officer a Polish-built copy of the German Enigma coding machine.
19/08/1939 Germany and Russia sign a trade treaty. 14 German U-boats are sent to patrol the North Atlantic Ocean.
20/08/1939 Soviet forces under Georgi Zhukov attack the Japanese at Nomanhan in the Mongolian People's Republic on the border with Manchukuo.
21/08/1939 The German pocket-battleship Admiral Graf Spee slips through the North Sea, unobserved by the British. Adolf Hitler reads a telegram from Josef Stalin, acknowledging agreement on a non-aggression pact. Hitler responds by banging his fist on the supper table, exclaiming "I have them! I have them!". Shortly afterwards Berlin radio announces that Germany and Russia have concluded a treaty of non-aggression.
22/08/1939 Hitler authorizes the killing "without pity or mercy, all men, women and children of Polish descent or language."
23/08/1939 Germany and the USSR sign a non-aggression pact in Moscow. A severe blow to the hopes of Britain and France Poland’s death-knell, since one of the clauses agreed a split of the country between Germany and the USSR. It also gave Russia a free hand in the Baltic states and Bessarabia. Hitler now gives orders for the invasion of Poland to begin on the 26th August 1939. Another German pocket-battleship, this time the Deutschland sails through the North Sea, without the British noticing.
25/08/1939 The Polish-British Common Defense Pact against Germany is signed. Mussolini complains to Hitler that he is not yet ready for war. The German battleship Schleswig-Holstein arrives at Danzig harbour. Hitler cancels his orders for an attack on Poland and issues Order X, for a partial mobilization in preparation for war.
26/08/1939 Hitler cancels the order for the invasion of Poland on this day. He sets a new date of the 1st September. The Canadian Government issue orders for the callup of the militia to protect coastal defences and vulnerable industrial points. The Irish Regiment of Canada is called to active duty. Hitler guarantees the neutrality of Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark and Switzerland.
27/08/1939 Britain and France try to persuade Poland to negotiate with Germany, but she refuses. In preparation for war, Poland disperses military aircraft to small camouflaged airfields around Warsaw.
29/08/1939 The British Admiralty assumes control of all British-registered merchant ships.
31/08/1939 In Britian the Royal navy is put on full alert. Army and navy mobilization is commenced, censorship of all communications to and from the British Isles is imposed, the Stock Exchange is closed, and civil airplanes are banned from flying over half of Britain. In Moscow, the Soviet Parliament unanimously ratifies the Russo-German non-aggression pact, and Marshal Klemenly Voroshiloff, Commisar of War, announces the proposed Military Training Law. Conscription age is lowered from 19 to 17. The Slovak Government calls on Poland to return the Javorina district territory to Slovakia. Hitler receives the Polish Ambassador to Berlin, mainly to appease Mussolini, who is trying to establish a peace formula. The talks lasted no longer than a few minutes as Hitler had already made up his mind to invade Poland. Directive Number 1 declares that at 4:45am on the 1st September 1939, the German Armed Forces will invade Poland. German radio makes public a proposed 16-point peace plan the government had proposed for Poland, claiming Poland refused to accept the terms. The proposal deals with annexing Danzig, maintaining a corridor from Germany to East Prussia, and the treatment of minorities in Germany and Poland. That evening the German radio station at Gliewitz on the German-Polish border is "attacked by Polish troops". However, all is not what it seems as these soldiers were actually concentration camp inmates, dressed in Polish uniforms and organised by the SS to give Hitler a pretext for invading Poland that he could show the world.
 
 
 
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