|Timelines of World War II|
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|World War II|
This timeline of events preceding World War II covers the events (mostly during the interwar period [1918–1939] after World War I) that affected or led to World War II.
Leaders of major participating countries
Americans think of WW2 in Asia as having begun with Pearl Harbor, the British with the fall of Singapore, and so forth. The Chinese would correct this by identifying the Marco Polo Bridge incident as the start, or the Japanese seizure of Manchuria earlier. It really began in 1895 with Japan's assassination of Korea's Queen Min, and invasion of Korea, resulting in its absorption into Japan, followed quickly by Japan's seizure of southern Manchuria, etc. - establishing that Japan was at war from 1895-1945. Prior to 1895, Japan had only briefly invaded Korea during the Shogunate, long before the Meiji Restoration, and the invasion failed.
...on 26 January 1934 Poland and Germany signed their own ten-year non-aggression agreement.
British and French efforts to avoid another European war quickly disintegrated, and on 31 March Poland secured agreements with both countries for their military intervention should Germany invade.
On 29 April Hitler ominously renounces Germany's non-aggression pact with Poland.
Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop was a German politician and diplomat who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nazi Germany from 1938 to 1945.
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was a non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union with secret protocol that partitioned Central and Eastern Europe between them. The pact was signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 by German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and was officially known as the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Unofficially, it has also been referred to as the Hitler–Stalin Pact, Nazi–Soviet Pact or Nazi–Soviet Alliance.
World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global conflict that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries, including all of the great powers, fought as part of two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. Many participants threw their economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind this total war, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. Aircraft played a major role, enabling the strategic bombing of population centres and the delivery of the only two nuclear weapons ever used in war. World War II was by far the deadliest conflict in history, resulting in an estimated 70 to 85 million fatalities, mostly among civilians. Tens of millions died due to genocides, starvation, massacres, and disease. In the wake of the Axis defeat, Germany, Austria and Japan were occupied, and war crimes tribunals were conducted against German and Japanese leaders.
The Axis powers, originally called the Rome–Berlin Axis, was a military coalition that initiated World War II and fought against the Allies. Its principal members were Nazi Germany, the Kingdom of Italy, and the Empire of Japan. Alongside Italy, Romania and Hungary may also be considered among "the Reich's main allies". The Axis were united in their far-right positions and general opposition to the Allies, but otherwise lacked comparable coordination and ideological cohesion.
The Tripartite Pact, also known as the Berlin Pact, was an agreement between Germany, Italy, and Japan signed in Berlin on 27 September 1940 by, respectively, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Galeazzo Ciano and Saburō Kurusu. It was a defensive military alliance that was eventually joined by Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia as well as by the German client state of Slovakia. Yugoslavia's accession provoked a coup d'état in Belgrade two days later. Germany, Italy and Hungary responded by invading Yugoslavia. The resulting Italo-German client state, known as the Independent State of Croatia, joined the pact on 15 June 1941.
The Munich Agreement was an agreement concluded at Munich on 30 September 1938, by Nazi Germany, the United Kingdom, the French Republic, and Fascist Italy. The agreement provided for the German annexation of part of Czechoslovakia called the Sudetenland, where more than three million people, mainly ethnic Germans, lived. The pact is also known in some areas as the Munich Betrayal, because of a previous 1924 alliance agreement and a 1925 military pact between France and the Czechoslovak Republic.
The Pact of Steel, formally known as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was a military and political alliance between Italy and Germany.
The Anti-Comintern Pact, officially the Agreement against the Communist International was an anti-Communist pact concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan on 25 November 1936 and was directed against the Communist International (Comintern). It was signed by German ambassador-at-large Joachim von Ribbentrop and Japanese ambassador to Germany Kintomo Mushanokōji. Italy joined in 1937, but it was legally recognised as an original signatory by the terms of its entry. Spain and Hungary joined in 1939. Other countries joined during World War II.
The events preceding World War II in Europe are closely tied to the bellicosity of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan, as well as the Great Depression. The peace movement led to appeasement and disarmament.
The military occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany began with the German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938, continued with the creation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and by the end of 1944 extended to all parts of Czechoslovakia.
The causes of World War II have been given considerable attention by historians. The immediate precipitating event was the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany on September 1, 1939, and the subsequent declarations of war on Germany made by Britain and France, but many other prior events have been suggested as ultimate causes. Primary themes in historical analysis of the war's origins include the political takeover of Germany in 1933 by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party; Japanese militarism against China, which led to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the Second Sino-Japanese War; Italian aggression against Ethiopia, which led to the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, the consent of Western countries to Germany's actions on the annexation of Austria and the partition of Czechoslovakia and Germany's initial success in negotiating the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with the Soviet Union to divide the territorial control of Eastern Europe between them.
The Franco-Polish Alliance was the military alliance between Poland and France that was active between the early 1920s and the outbreak of the Second World War. The initial agreements were signed in February 1921 and formally took effect in 1923. During the interwar period the alliance with Poland was one of the cornerstones of French foreign policy.
The Allies, formally referred to as the United Nations from 1942, were an international military coalition formed during the World War II (1939–1945) to oppose the Axis powers, led by Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan, and the Kingdom of Italy. Its principal members by the end of 1941 were the "Big Four" - United Kingdom, United States, Soviet Union, and China.
The military alliance between the United Kingdom and Poland was formalised by the Anglo-Polish Agreement in 1939, with subsequent addenda of 1940 and 1944, for mutual assistance in case of a military invasion from Nazi Germany, as specified in a secret protocol.
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 to reduce the threat from Central Europe. It was pursued by Maxim Litvinov, the Soviet foreign minister, and Louis Barthou, the French foreign minister, who was assassinated in October 1934, before negotiations had been finished.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to World War II:
On 20 March 1939, Nazi Germany's foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop presented an oral ultimatum to Juozas Urbšys, foreign minister of Lithuania. Germany demanded that Lithuania give up the Klaipėda Region which had been detached from Germany after World War I, or the Wehrmacht would invade Lithuania and the de facto Lithuanian capital Kaunas would be bombed. The Lithuanians had been expecting the demand after years of rising tension between Lithuania and Germany, increasing pro-Nazi propaganda in the region, and continued German expansion. It was issued just five days after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. The 1924 Klaipėda Convention had guaranteed the protection of the status quo in the region, but the four signatories to that convention did not offer any material assistance. The United Kingdom and France followed a policy of appeasement, while Italy and Japan openly supported Germany, and Lithuania accepted the ultimatum on 23 March 1939. It proved to be the last territorial acquisition for Germany before World War II, producing a major downturn in Lithuania's economy and escalating pre-war tensions for Europe as a whole.
The timeline of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact is a chronology of events, including Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact negotiations, leading up to, culminating in, and resulting from the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. The Treaty of Non-aggression between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was signed in the early hours of 24 August 1939, but was dated 23 August.
The diplomatic history of World War II includes the major foreign policies and interactions inside the opposing coalitions, the Allies of World War II and the Axis powers, between 1939 and 1945.
International relations (1919–1939) covers the main interactions shaping world history in this era, known as the interwar period, with emphasis on diplomacy and economic relations. The coverage here follows the diplomatic history of World War I and precedes the diplomatic history of World War II. The important stages of interwar diplomacy and international relations included resolutions of wartime issues, such as reparations owed by Germany and boundaries; American involvement in European finances and disarmament projects; the expectations and failures of the League of Nations; the relationships of the new countries to the old; the distrustful relations between the Soviet Union and the capitalist world; peace and disarmament efforts; responses to the Great Depression starting in 1929; the collapse of world trade; the collapse of democratic regimes one by one; the growth of economic autarky; Japanese aggressiveness toward China; fascist diplomacy, including the aggressive moves by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany; the Spanish Civil War; the appeasement of Germany's expansionist moves toward the Rhineland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, and the last, desperate stages of rearmament as another world war increasingly loomed.