Study Tool: Chronological Events of the 1939-1945 Era 

This war is more than a catastrophic war; its terms and people and it strategies became part of thinking of multiple generations. Click here for details.

( ) with specific name – Name is for reference for you can find the information in the textbook index if needed. If you want more information, just ask.

Allies = Britain (Br), France (Fr), and others      Axis = Germany (Ger), Italy, Japan       Both = Russia (Ru)


Presidential Election/Event

US Official -Unofficial Actions



US War Actions

Issue/Organization Development

Political Party Development












How fast they went to war



Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies



National Research Committee (and the Einstein connection)[1]


Fr: Falls to Ger; Vichy (Term)


War Department: Surplus, old munitions, arms, planes to Br



1940-08 to 10


Selective Service Act


Battle of Britain – Constant attack by Nazis but the British held (“their finest hours” in Churchill’s words.)

Japan: Bases in Indochina (from Vichy); 10-yr. pact with Ger, Italy

“Overage” destroyers to Br for 99-yr. leases (Destroyers for Bases Agreement)[2]

America First Committee – example of isolationism 









FDR: Embargo on steel, scrap iron to all but Br







Wendell Willkie vs. F. D. Roosevelt








Fireside chat on US as “the great arsenal of democracy
(Dec. 29)



Japan: Embargo – “unfriendly act”
Ger: Protest over US aid to Br (Dec. 21)





Four Freedoms[3] speech to Congress





Threatened black march on Washington[4]






Lend-Lease Bill[5]








Rationing starts (later Office of Price Administration)







Ger invades Ru.





Lend-Lease to Ru, not just Br








FDR: move to block march[6]








Atlantic Charter announced[7]







1941-09, 10

“’Active defense’” to Iceland



Reuben James sunk, Iceland convoy duty






Congress modifies Neutrality Acts










Japan: Takes multiple areas[8]

War Production Board (WPB)







Japan: Pearl Harbor






US declares war on Japan


Ger, Italy: Declare war on US


Rosie the Riveter-
(6 M women)

Tuskegee Airmen








Detroit race riots;

CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) forms



Exec. Order 9066 – Relocation[9]












Draft starts






Allies N. Africa campaign – victory against Vichy








Ru: Victory at Stalingrad







US: Guadalcanal[10] secured – 6 months (New Guinea),









“leapfrog” campaign starts[11]











Mobs against Mexican Americans (CA)





Sicily victory; enter into N. Italy; Mussolini flees











GI Bill – avoids the disaster of WWI





Allies: Normandy- D.D. Eisenhower[12]











Port Chicago, CA – 250 black sailors killed





US/Br: Battle of Bulge – stop German counter

77K US casualties








US: Philippines victory – 7 months



Holocaust-“Final Solution”





Yalta[13] Accords – UN, free elections








US: Iwo Jima – victory – 2 months






FDR dead; Harry S Truman President



Ger: Suicide of Hitler


Foreign policy trends

- Cold War begins

- Presidential power up

(Note that the Cold War makes foreign policy/treat of war a constant compared to the roles of Congress and the states.)





UN Conference – draft charter




Nation trends:





Allies: Berlin falls (May 2), Ger surrenders (May 7), V-E (May 8)



- American workers’ pay increases (We have no completion in the world.)





German/Berlin occupation zones est.; Ru., US, Fr, Br



- Racism, as a foreign policy issue. (Hitler and later Stalin can criticize us for our racism.)





Potsdam Conference – agree to trials (Nuremberg with equivalent trials in Japan)

Japan: Rejects unconditional surrender

US: Successful atomic bomb test (Jul. 17)






US: Hiroshima, atomic bomb
(Aug. 6); Nagasaki (Aug. 9); V-J Day (Aug. 15)







US: occupies Japan







Issues that make this war worth learning for your future

Major Assets of the Allies Once the US and Russia Join Britain  4

World War II¾People and Terms That Became Symbols  4

Reminders About the Rise of the Axis  5

How Fast Did They Go to War?  5

Major Assets of the Allies Once the US and Russia Join Britain

·         Br – sea power – Attacked by Hitler in Battle of Britain - August to October, 1940. It was alone.

·         Ru – manpower - They faced tremendous loses and continued to fight. Stalin’s policy was people fought or the were killed.  – Attacked by Hitler, June 1941; FDR extends Lend-Lease to Russia

·         US – “arsenal of democracy” – Attacked by Japanese, December 1941.

World War II¾People and Terms That Became Symbols

Chamberlain, Neville – British Prime Minister at Munich

Churchill, Winston – British Prime Minister during World War II

DeGaulle, Charles – in exile, leader of the free French

Hitler, Adolph – leader of the NAZIs

Mussolini, Benito – leader of Italy

Quisling, Vidkum – the puppet leader of Norway set up by Germany

Stalin, Joseph – leader of the Soviet Union

Wallenberg, Raoul – Individual who rescued Jews. Also see Auschwitz, Dachau, Holocaust


Aryan – racial term

Auschwitz– concentration camp

Axis – the term for the alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan

Bataan Death March

Blitzkreig – German method of rapid attack

Dachau – concentration camp

Dunkirk – rescue of stranded British soldiers by civilians who crossed the Channel in small vessels and at great personal risk

Gestapo – German secret police

Holocaust – from Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary: (usually cap.) “the systematic mass slaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II” [from words meaning burnt whole]

Nazi - from Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary: “a member of the National Socialist Workers’ party in Germany….”

Nuremberg Trials – trials of the Nazis for war crime

Vichy – the French puppet government set up by Germany

Examples of the Rise of the Axis


Rise of Axis Powers


Japan:  Manchurian invasion


Germany: Hitler, Chancellor


Italy: Invades Ethiopia


Germany: Reoccupies the Rhineland

Germany, Italy: Mutual defense pact

Germany, Japan: Mutual defense pact

Spanish Civil War (Germany and Italy practice warfare methods as allies of F. Franco


Japan: Bombs US Panay in Yangtze River in China

Japan: As part of attacks on China (with high Chinese dead counts), fall of the city of Nanking (Nanjing), Rape of Nanking – torture, rape, mass murder


Germany takes Sudetenland; Munich – Chamberlain



How Fast Did They Go to War?








Ger: Makes demands on Poles (Mar. 23)



Br, Fr: Promise aid to Poles (Mar. 31)





Italy: Invades Albania (Apr. 7)


US/FDR: to Hitler and Mussolini asking assurances (Apr. 15)






Ger/Italy: Military alliance (May 22)




Ger/Ru: Non-aggression pact (Aug. 23)


US/FDR: to Poles, Hitler, Italy’s King Victor Emmanuel for negotiation (Aug. 24)





Poles: Accept conciliation. No response so mobilize (Aug. 31)





Ger: Invades Poland (Sept. 1)


Br/Fr: declare war on Ger (Sept. 1)


US: Declares neutrality (Sept. 3)





Ru: Invades Poland (Sept. 17)



Ger/Ru: Partition Poland (Sept. 18)




Ru: Invades Finland. Complete (Mar. 1940)




Ger: Invades Denmark, Norway




Ger: Invades The Netherlands, Belgium (May 10). Fall by June.





Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2018


WCJC Department:

History – Dr. Bibus

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[1] Military research, including the atomic bomb (or Manhattan Project), with Albert Einstein alerting FDR of German research. Other new weapons: radar, sonar.

[2] The public was isolationist, but FDR moved to help the Allies without actual involvement in the war. US got the right to build bases in British island colonies in the Caribbean. Britain got 50 old destroyers from the U.S.

[3] Of speech, of religion, from want, from fear

[4] During 1941, A. Phillip Randolph – Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters – For the account of this threat, see FDR’s action in 1941-06.

[5] Following the election of 1940, Congress passed the Lend-Lease Bill. It allowed the president to lend or lease (notice these words don’t mean sell) “military equipment to ‘any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States.”

[6] Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) in return for no march

[7] Not binding, but signed by 15 countries by Sept. 24

[8] 1941-12 Japan takes Guam, Wake Island, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dutch East Indies, and others; Corregidor surrenders May; Bataan Death March follows

[9] Had to sell all property in 48 hours; only what they could carry. Internment camps for Japanese and American-born children. 1988 – Congress – survivors $20K reparations

[10] The Japanese had held (see 1941-12) key territories without defeats—with Guadalcanal Island being their first.

[11] After Quadalcanal, the U.S. strategy —called leapfrogging (for the very old kid’s game) or “wither on the vine” (if you nip or cut a vine, the fruit on it withers)–becomes bombing Japanese airbases and leaving the Japanese troops in place on the islands but without a way to supply the soldier.

[12] The primaries for this chapter cover some of the challenges of D-Day.

[13] FDR, Churchill, Stalin agree to the United Nations. Stalin promises aid in war against Japan, but our use of the atomic bomb ends that need. Stalin agrees to free and open elections in eastern Europe, areas the Russians hold, but does not.