France & Germany; key historical events (from 1/1/1929)
This page also covers World War Two – see maps, years 1940-45, below
Page last modified 7/2/2021
Click Here for maps of Alencon, 1975 and 2002 (from IGN 1:100,000 maps)
Click Here for maps of Bordeaux, 1935 and 2006 (from Michelin maps)
Click Here for maps of Cholet 1978 and 2000 (from IGN 1:100,000 maps)
Click Here for maps of Laval 1978 and 2000 (from IGN 1:100,000 maps)
Click Here for maps of Metz, 1899 and 1988 (from Encuclopedia Britannica 1910 and Michelin)
Click Here for maps of Nantes, 1945 and 2006 (from Michelin maps)
Click Here for maps of Paris NW (Pontoise), 1960 and 2005 (from IGN 1:100,000 maps)
Click Here for maps of Perpignan, 1977 and 2003 (from IGN 1:100,000 maps)
Click Here for maps of Periguex, 1977 and 2001 (from IGN 1:100,000 maps)
Click Here for maps of Poitiers, 1958 and 2000 (from Michelin maps)
Click Here for maps of Rochefort, 1976 and 2001 (from IGN 1:100,000 maps)
Click Here for maps of Saintes 1976 and 2001 (near La Rochefort) (from IGN 1:100,000 maps)
Click Here for maps of Toulouse, ca. 1955 and 2006 (from Michelin maps); 1977 and 2001 (IGN 1:100,000 maps)
Click Here for maps of Vix (near La Rochelle) – disappearing wetlands and woods) (from IGN 1:100,000 maps)
Click Here for page linking to railway maps of France. Shows current and disused railways, goods and tourist lines, canals, tunnels.
France, INSEE, statistics site, https://www.insee.fr/fr/accueil
For growth of Germany from Brandenburg 1415 click here.
Click Here for maps of Dresden 1813 and now,
Click Here for Youtube 54 minute video, Blitz on Dresden
Click Here for image of ElsenStrasse; 1961 (Berlin Wall just erected) and 2008
For Dreyfus Affair see Jewish history
Nazi War Trials
World War Two
Liberation of Italy 1943-5
Liberation of France 1943-5
Liberation of the Benelux 1944-5
Battle of the Bulge, 12/1944
German Economic Crisis
Reparations crisis / Rhineland
World War One
Franco-Prussian War 1870-71
16/10/2020, A teenage Chechen refugee beheaded Samuel Paty, a French teacher who had shown his class at a school on the edge of Paris controversial cartoons of the prophet Mohammed from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
26/9/2019, Jacques Chirac died aged 86. He had twice been President of France.
20/4/2019, Yellow Vest protests in Paris for the 23rd consecutive Saturday.
15/4/2019, Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris was very severely damaged by fire. The fire was believed to have been caused by renovation works, which, having suffered delays due to lack of funding, had been going on for years; the blaze started shortly after 6pm local time.
23/3/2019, Yellow Vest protestors caused disturbances in the Champs-Elysées area of central Paris for the 19th consecutive Saturday. The previous Saturday, 16/3/2019, the level of destruction had ratcheted up with banks, cafes and shops being set fire to. President Macron put military soldiers on the streets on the 23/3/2019, raising fears that a protestor would be shot dead.
8/12/2018, Another weekend of rioting in Paris saw 1700 arrested and 71 injured. Riots also occurred in Brussels and Amsterdam.
1/12/2018, Rioting by the ‘yellow vests’ in France escalated, with major unrest around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and in several other cities, also The Netherlands and Belgium were affected. 412 were arrested and 133 seriously injured, including 23 policemen, as several cars and other property was torched. The protestors took their name from the yellow high-visibility jacket that motorists in France must carry; the unrest was focussed on high fuel taxes. Protestors called for President Macron to resign.
24/11/2018, A week of rioting across France (began 17/11/2018) with 300,000 people protesting at high petrol taxes. By this date, one protestor had died and over 400 had been injured.
29/10/2018, Mrs Angela Merkel announced that she would not stand in 2021 for re-election as Chancellor of Germany, a post she had held since 2005. This followed disappointing election results for her Party, the CDU (Christian Democratic Union), and her coalition partners, the Social Democrats, in elections in Hesse.
24/9/2017, German elections. Angela Markel’s CDU (Christian Democratic Union) Party still had the largest number of seats, but lost votes as her share fell to 33%, from 41.5% in 2013, the lowest since 1949. Meanwhile the Far Right AfD (Alternative for Germany) Party gained, securing 12.6% of the vote, especially in the rural east, on the back of concerns about immigration levels. In Saxony, the AfD got a vote of 27%.
6/7/2017, Anti-G20 Summit protestors in Hamburg blocked roads and set cars alight.
16/6/2017, German statesman Helmut Kohl died, aged 87.
7/5/2017, In the final round of the French Presidential Elections, Emmanuel Macron of the En Marche Party won 66.1% of votes cast, against 39.1% for Marine le Pen of the Front National. However Macron was only supported by 43.6% of the total electorate, le Pen receiving 22.4%, whilst 25.4% of voters abstained and 8.5% of ballot papers were left blank or spoilt, as a protest against both the candidates on offer.
19/12/2016, A large lorry was driven into crowds at a Christmas market in Berlin. The lorry had been hijacked by an Islamist terrorist who killed the Polish driver and drove it, laden with 25 tonnes of steel, into the market. 12 shoppers were killed and 48 injured.
26/10/2016, Demolition of the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp at Calais began. Its residents were dispersed to reception areas across France. However some inhabitants set up their own unofficial tent cities in central Paris.
22/7/2016, A German-Iranian gunman opened fire at a shopping mall in Munich, killing 9 and injuring 21. He later killed himself.
14/7/2016, Islamist terrorists drove a lorry into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. 84 were killed and 202 injured, 18 critically. The lorry driver was shot dead by police. The lorry contained guns and explosives, raising fears that a worse attack could have been possible.
17/5/2016, A wave of strikes hit France. Petrol stations ran dry as strikers picketed refinery gates. Workers were objecting to France introducing more flexible labour laws.
31/12/2015, Some 200 women alleged they had been groped, robbed and even raped during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne by migrant gangs. Tensions in Germany over mass immigration increased.
13/11/2015, Multiple attacks by Islamic gunmen across six sites in Paris, including the Stade de France, the Bataclan concert hall, and the Cambodge restaurant. 132 dead and 352 injured, 99 critically.
7/1/2015, Ten cartoonists were shot dead at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, along with 2 policemen, by Islamists in revenge for perceived anti-Islamic cartoons.
20/8/2014, Anti-Semitic attacks occurred in Paris. A synagogue in Sarcelles, a working-class suburb of northern Paris with many Sephardic Jews, known as ‘Little Jerusalem’, was threatened. Youths from the French Jewish defence League defended the synagogue so Muslims attacked Kosher shops instead. The Muslim attacks followed from the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
13/6/2014, A 17-year-old Roma youth was attacked by about 20 men and left in a coma in the northern Paris suburb of Pierrefitte sur Seine. Many Roma lived in makeshift camps and had been blamed for rat infestations and burglaries. There was conflict between Moroccans and Roma in Paris.
5/5/2011, Claude Schoules, the last known combat veteran of World War One, died in Australia, aged 110.
12/3/2008, Lazare Ponticelli, the last surviving French foot soldier of World War One, died aged 110. Born in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, he loved France and joined the French Foreign legion aged 16. When Italy joined the war he was enlisted in the Italian army but returned to France after the war and became a French citizen in 1939.
24/1/2008, The French bank, Societe General, revealed that a rogue trader, Jerome Kerviel (born 11 January 1977), had cost it 4.9 billion Euros (about US$ 7 billion, or UK£ 3.7 billion). Kerviel was arrested on charges of breach of trust and falsifying documents, and the bank was fined 4 million Euros for failing to monitor his trading position. Daniel Bouton resigned as the banks chief executive. Kerviel was found guilty in October 2010 and sentenced to prison, but remained free pending an appeal. On 24 October 2012, a Paris appeals court upheld the October 2010 sentence to three years in prison with another two suspended, and ordered to reimburse 4.9bn euros to Societe General for its loss.
4/4/2006, France equalised the permissible age of marriage between males and females. Formerly, the Civil Code of 1804 had set this age as 15 for females and 18 for males.
22/11/2005, Angela Merkel became Germany’s first female Chancellor.
8/11/2005, French President Chirac declared a State of Emergency, on the 12th day of riots in France.
29/5/2005, The French, in a referendum, resoundingly rejected the European Constitution. The margin was 45% to 55%. This was effectively a vote against the unpopular French President Chirac, and against globalisation.
27/1/2005, Nazi concentration camp survivors and world leaders gathered at the Polish town of Oswiecim, better known as Auschwitz, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of its liberation by Soviet forces.
22/4/2004, The last coal mine in France closed, ending nearly 300 years of coal mining.
14/7/2002. A neo-Nazi attempted to assassinate French President Jacques Chirac at the Bastille Day parade in Paris.
21/4/2002. In the French Presidential elections, the National Front candidate, Jean Marie Le Pen, scored a surprising second place with 17% of the vote to enter the run-off with the right wing candidate Jacques Chirac. Lionel Jospin, the left wing candidate, was narrowly beaten into third place. Jospin’s stance as ‘New Socialist’, not too far to the left, drove some left wing voters to fringe left parties, allowing Le Pen in. In the second round of voting on 5/5/2002 Chirac was unsurprisingly elected with a massive 82% of the vote, against 18% for Le Pen.
3/9/1999, After an 18-month French judicial inquiry, paparazzi press were cleared of responsibility for the car crash which killed Diana.
19/4/1999, The German Parliament returned to the new Reichstag buildings in Berlin.
20/4/1998, In Germany, the Red Army Faction announced that it was ceasing operations and winding up, as it no longer had a political reason to exist.
14/4/1997, Former Nazi SS Captain Eric Priebke was retried; on 22/7/1997 he was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
29/1/1996. France announced it had ended the current series of atomic tests.
8/1/1996. French President, Mitterand, (born 1916) died of cancer.
25/7/1995. A bomb exploded on a train at the St Michel Metro station in Paris, killing seven people.
16/5/1995, Jacques Chirac became President of France.
8/9/1994, The last British forces left Berlin.
29/5/1994, Erich Honecker, leader of East Germany, (born 1912) died.
7/5/1995. Jacques Chirac was elected President of France.
7/9/1994, The American flag was lowered over the US HQ in Berlin, formally ending American presence on the city after almost 50 years.
20/4/1994, In France, Paul Touvier was found guilty of ordering the massacre of 17 Jews whilst serving in the Vichy France Milice.
23/6/1993. The US lowered the Stars and Stripes for the last time at the Tempelhof airbase in Berlin after 48 years of military service there.
30/5/1993. Neo-Nazi skinheads attacked and set fire to a hostel housing Turkish migrant workers in the German steel town of Solingen. This was the worst of several such attacks on migrant workers. The German government responded with a crackdown on Neo-Nazis and more controls on immigration.
3/2/1993. Statistics showed French women had the highest life expectancy in Europe at 81.1 years, 8 years more than French men.
14/1/1993. Despite calls for his arrest on manslaughter charges, the former East German leader, Eric Honecker, 80 years old and with terminal liver cancer, was allowed to depart for Chile because of his failing health.
20/12/1992, The Folies Bergere, Paris music hall which opened in 1869, closed down.
17/11/1992, In France, cave paintings were discovered at Cosquer that were estimated to date from 25,000 BC.
8/10/1992, Willy Brandt, Chancellor of West Germany, died.
29/9/1992. Racism was on the rise in Germany. 28% of Germans aged between 16 and 24 had racist views, compared with 15% in 1990.
19/8/1992. Right wing rioting began in Rostock, Germany. Hundreds of right wing youths, throwing paving stones and firebombs, attacked an immigrant hostel, cheered on by local people, in the poor Lichtenhagen area of the city. Thousands of police were drafted in to restore order, which had broken down when many Romanian refuges, unable to secure a place in the hostel, had camped outside it. The asylum seekers were evacuated but fighting between police and youths continued for days and spread to other German cities. Germany had seen both a rise in asylum seekers and increased unemployment in the east since reunification, as eastern industries were exposed to competition from the more efficient west.
29/7/1992, Herr Honecker, former leader of East Germany, was forced to leave the Chilean Embassy in Moscow where he had taken refuge, to face manslaughter charges over the deaths of people trying to escape over the Berlin Wall to West Germany.
6/7/1992. French lorry drivers blockaded roads, causing chaos.
1/6/1992, The terrorist Carlos the Jackal was sentenced to life imprisonment in France.
12/4/1992. Euro-Disney opened just east of Paris. The $4 billion, 4,800 acre, complex could accommodate up to 60,000 visitors a day. It had 6 hotels with a total of 5,200 rooms, and a total of 14,000 staff, or ‘cast members’. On 4/6/1992 Euro-Disney reported that it had received 1.5 million visitors, or 30,000 per day.
5/4/1992. Germany’s extreme Right gained in elections, over the issue of immigrants from eastern Europe.
20/6/1991. The German Parliament voted to move the seat of government from Bonn to Berlin.
13/2/1991. Germany’s Red Army Faction carried out a gun attack on the US Embassy in Bonn, claiming a link to the Gulf War.
17/12/1990, Lothar de Matziere resigned from the German government after allegations that he had worked for the Stasi.
2/12/1990. Helmut Kohl of the Christian Democrats won the first election in the reunited Germany.
14/11/1990, Germany and Poland signed a treaty agreeing their border as the Oder-Neisse line.
3/10/1990. East and West Germany reunited as the Federal Republic of Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 was one of the most remarkable events of the 20th century. However the economy of the East was much poorer than the West and funds were needed for housing, education, and health. In July 1990 the currency of West Germany became that of the East. On reunification on 3/10/1990 Berlin became the capital city.
1/7/1990, The Deutschemark became the official currency of both East and West Germany.
18/5/1990. A treaty was signed in Bonn introducing German economic and monetary union. The reunification took place on 3/10/1990.
24/4/1990, East and West Germany agreed to merge their currencies and economies on 1/7/1990.
18/3/1990, East Germany held its first free elections since 1932.
9/3/1990. Talks on German reunification began in Berlin.
15/1/1990, Thousands stormed the Stasi HQ in Berlin in order to see their records.
22/12/1989. Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate reopened, after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
1/12/1989. The East German Parliament voted to remove the Communist monopoly on power.
30/11/1989, The Red Army, a West German terrorist group, blew up Alfred Herrhausen, head of the Deutschebank in Frankfurt.
13/11/1989, Hans Modrow was elected Prime Minister of East Germany.
10/11/1989, Bulldozers began to demolish the Berlin Wall.
9/11/1989. The East German government lifted the Iron Curtain to allow free travel between East and West Berlin. Thousands of East Berliners visited the West. 100,000 East Berliners visited West Berlin. The Berlin Wall originally went up on 13/8/1961.
7/11/1989, The entire East German Government resigned, replaced the following day with Hans Modrow as Prime Minister.
5/11/1989. Refugees were reportedly leaving East Germany at the rate of 300 an hour.
4/11/1989, See 7/10/1989. Pro-democracy rallies sparked by Gorbachev’s visit to East Germany resulted a a million-strong protest in East Germany.
18/10/1989, Erich Honecker was dismissed as General Secretary of of the SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany).
9/10/1989, East Germans in Leipzig demonstrated, demanding the legalisation of opposition groups and democratic reforms.
7/10/1989. On a visit to East Germany, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev urged the East German government to introduce reforms. See 4/11/1989.
5/10/1989, In Paris, the Moulin Rouge celebrated its centenary.
4/10/1989. 10,000 East Germans left Prague by train for West Germany.
26/9/1989. Over 1,500 East German refugees occupied the West German embassies in Prague and Warsaw
14/7/1989. Margaret Thatcher upset French festivities on Bastille Day when she denied that the French Revolution had inspired Human Rights.
13/6/1989, (1) Mikhail Gorbachev and Chancellor Kohl agreed that East and West Germany should be reunited.
(2) The wreck of the German battleship Bismarck which was sunk in 1941, was discovered 600 miles west of Brest, France.
29/3/1989, In France, President Mitterrand inaugurated the huge glass Louvre Pyramid.
24/9/1988, Large and angry protests against the World Bank and IMF meetings in West Berlin.
10/5/1988. President Mitterand of France won a second term. The Right was split, but the far Right Jean Marie Le Pen got 14.38% of the vote, 4 million votes. In Marseilles, Le Pen led with 28% of the vote.
26/8/1987, The funeral and burial of Rudolf Hess.
17/8/1987. Former top Nazi Rudolf Hess, born 1894, committed suicide in Spandau Prison, Berlin, after 46 years spent there. He was 93 when he died. He had been the only inmate, and demolition of the prison began almost immediately.
4/7/1987. Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, 73. was convicted in France, and sentenced to life imprisonment.
5/8/1987, Georg Gassman, German politician, died.
20/3/1986, In France, Jacques Chirac, Gaullist, was appointed Prime Minister.
16/3/1986, In French elections, the opposition won a narrow majority ending five years of Socialist rule.
28/12/1985, Fernand Braudel, French historian, died aged 83.
22/9/1985, French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius admitted that French agents had sunk the Greenpeace boat Rainbow Warrior in Auckland, New Zealand, on 10/7/1985. The French Defence Minister was forced to resign.
23/8/1985, Hans Tiedge, Head of West German counter-intelligence, was discovered to be an East German agent.
15/7/1983. Armenian terrorists set off a bomb at Paris airport.
6/5/1983, West Germany pronounced that the ‘Hitler Diaries’ were a fake, made from paper not available until at least 1955. The magazine Stern was swindled out of an undisclosed sum for the ‘diaries’. See 23/4/1983.
23/4/1983, The German weekly magazine Stern announced it had possession of hitherto unknown ‘Hitler Diaries’. See 6/5/1983.
6/2/1983, The trial of Klaus Barbie began in Lyons, France. Known as the ’Butcher of Lyons’ during World War Two, Barbie deported hundreds of French Resistance fighters and Jews on trains to Nazi death camps Barbie was tracked down to Bolivia by Nazi-hunters Serge and Beatie Klarsfeld in 1971 but not extradited until 1983.
5/2/1983. Klaus Barbie was extradited from Bolivia to France to face Nazi war crimes charges.
19/1/1983, The Nazi war criminal, Klaus Barbie, was arrested in Bolivia.
18/10/1982, Pierre Mendes France, French politician, died aged 75.
1/10/1982, In Germany, the Christian Democrat leader Helmut Kohl was elected, replacing Helmut Schmidt as Chancellor of West Germany.
20/11/1981, The USSR contracted to supply natural gas to West Germany.
21/6/1981, In French elections, Socialists won a landslide victory in the second round of elections to the National Assembly. The new Assembly included three Communists.
10/5/1981. The Socialist, Francois Mitterand was elected President of France. He defeated Valery Giscard D’Estaing.
1980, The Green Party was established in Germany.
24/12/1980, Death of German commander Grand Admiral Karl Donitz, who was briefly Fuhrer in 1945.
10/10/1980, East Germany banned the sport of hang-gliding, in case it was used to escape to West Germany.
5/10/1980, West Germany re-elected Chancellor Helmut Schmidt with an increased majority.
26/9/1980. In Munich, neo-Nazis planted a bomb at a beer festival killing 12 and injuring 200 people.
13/8/1980, French fishermen blockaded Channel Ports, in a campaign for government aid.
26/6/1980, French President Giscard D’Estaing disclosed that France had the capability to produce a neutron bomb.
18/3/1980, Erich Fromm, German sociologist, died aged 79.
3/2/1980. The Communist leader of East Germany, Mr Honecker, praised the efforts of East German spies in the West.
16/10/1979, 23 people died when a tsunami hit Nice, France.
16/9/1979, Three families fled East Germany by balloon.
29/7/1979, Herbert Marcuse, German philosopher, died aged 81.
2/5/1979, Riots on Longwy, France, over the proposed closure of steel plants.
26/6/1978, A bomb set off by Breton nationalists damaged Versailles.
10/9/1977. The last official execution by guillotine in France; execution of Hamida Djandoubi. See 17/6/1939.
4/9/1977, E F Schumacher, German economist, died aged 66.
28/4/1977, In Germany, the Baader Meinhof terrorists, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan Raspe, dedicated to the violent overthrow of capitalism, were jailed for life. The trial began on 21/5/1975.
7/4/1977, In Germany, terrorists murdered the Attorney-General who was prosecuting the Baader-Meinhof gang.
3/10/1976, In German elections, Helmut Schmidt’s Social-Democrat-led coalition was returned to power with a reduced majority.
9/5/1976, The terrorist Ulrike Meinhof, 42, hanged herself in her prison cell in Stuttgart.
27/5/1975, Jacques Chirac became Prime Minister of France.
26/5/1976, Martin Heidegger, German philosopher, died aged 86.
21/5/1975, The trial of the Baader Meinhof terrorist group began. On 284/1977 they were sentenced to life imprisonment.
27/2/1975, Peter Lorenz, Chairman of the West Berlin Christian Democratic Union, was kidnapped by terrorists. He was released on 5/3/1975 after demands that 5 terrorists were released from German jails and flown out of the country were met.
4/9/1974. The USA established diplomatic relations with East Germany.
19/5/1974, Valery Giscard d’Estaing was elected President of France.
16/5/1974, Helmut Schmidt became Chancellor of West Germany. Chancellor Brandt had resigned on 6/5/1974 over a spy scandal.
6/5/1974, Willy Brandt, Chancellor of West Germany, was forced to resign after he unwittingly employed an East German spy as a secretary. There had been warnings fro 4 years that Gunter Guillaume was a spy. Brandt became Foreign Minister in 1966 and West Germany’s first Social Democratic Chancellor in 1969. In 1971 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Price for his policies of detente with the Communist bloc.
2/4/1974. Georges Pompidou, French president from 1969, died in office, from cancer, aged 62.
5/9/1973, Jordanian terrorists held 13 hostages in the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Paris.
22/6/1973. East and West Germany were accepted into the UN.
9/6/1973, Erich von Manstein, military adviser to Adolf Hitler in World War Two (born in Berlin, 24/11/1887) died, having been imprisoned by the British in August 1945. His advice on attacking France through the Ardennes in 1940 was crucial to Nazi success here.
24/11/1972, Finland became the first western nation to formally recognise East Germany.
8/11/1972, East and West Germany signed the Basic Treaty, agreeing to respect each other’s independence and sovereignty. The East claimed that this Treaty finalised the division of Germany; the West claimed it did not preclude the possible later reunification of Germany should the Cold War come to an end. In any case the Treaty was a political triumph for Chancellor Willy Brandt and his policy of Ostpolitik, allowing for personal contact between the leaders of East and West Germany.
16/6/1972, German police captured Ulrike Meinhof, the last member of the Baader Meinhof gang still at large.
11/5/1972, In West Germany, The ‘Red Army Faction’ set off a bomb at the American 5th Army Corps base.
5/7/1972, Pierre Mesmer succeeded Jacques Chaban-Delmas as Prime Minister of France.
23/1/1972, Jerome Guedj, French Socialist Party politician, was born.
3/5/1971, Erich Honecker succeeded Walter Ulbricht as First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of East Germany.
9/11/1970. Charles De Gaulle died, aged 79 of a heart attack, in Colombey les Deux Eglises. See 28/4/1969. He had been President of France between 1944 and 1945, and between 1959 and his resignation on 28/4/1969.
21/10/1969. Willy Brandt was elected Chancellor of West Germany. He succeeded Kurt Georg Kiesinger.
15/6/1969, Pompidou became President of France, see 28/4/1969.
28/4/1969. General De Gaulle, 79 years old, resigned as Prime Minister of France. President Pompidou, who became French President on 15/6/1969, succeeded him. De Gaulle lost a referendum on changes to French regional institutions. De Gaulle was resented for high taxation to pay for the French military, whilst health, education, and social services were neglected, leading to French student riots in spring 1968. De Gaulle retired to Colombey. See 9/11/1970.
1/4/1969. France formally left NATO.
1968, The Krupp steel business in Germany ceased to be a family business of the Krupp family. The Krupp family, present in the Essen, Ruhr, region since the 16th century, had been major arms manufacturers for over 300 years. Under Alfred Krupp (1812-87) the business became the largest cannon manufacturer in the world from 1847 onwards, also having ownership of mines and other neterprises in the Ruhr region. Afred’s son, Friedrich Alfred Krupp (1854-1902) diversified into shipbuilding and armour plate. Freidrich committed suicide following accusations of immoral conduct and his daughter, Bertha (1886-1957) took over the business. In 1902 she married Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach, and he was allowed to change his name to Gustav Krupp von Bohlen (1869-1950). The Krupp enterprise manufactured armaments for Gremany and its Allies during both World wars; between the Wars it made tractors for the Weimar Republic. The Krupp family, from 1932, vigorously supported Hitler, as did their son Alfred Felix Krupp (1906-67). In 1943 Hitler passed a special Lex Krupp to ensure the business would remain in Krupp family hands.
In 1945 Gustav Krupp was indicted at Nuremberg as a major war criminal, having utilised 130,000 slave labourers at Essen and Auschwitz, and for inhumane treatment of foreign workers; however he was deemed too frail to stand trial. Alfred Krupp was conicted and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in 1947; however he wasd released in 1951 to assist on the economic recovery of west Germany. By 1963 he was the most powerful industrialist in the Common Market. Just before his death in 1967 the Krupp enterprise encountered financial problems and was sold out of the family.
30/6/1968. De Gaulle won massive support in French elections.
12/6/1968, The French Government banned demonstrations and dissolved 11 student organisations,
11/6/1968, East Germany began requiring visas for West Germans to cross its territory.
30/5/1968, French President De Gaulle announced he would not resign, and called a General Election.
25/5/1968. Riots continued in Paris. Demonstrators erected barricades and students stormed the Bourse and set fire to the interior. In London a demonstration of support for the rioters was made outside the French Embassy; the police moved in and arrests were made, resulting in fines totalling £145 for 17 people. In north London, students at Hornsey College of Art continued a sit in of the main building, demanding ‘a change to the college’s educational system’.
22/5/1968. Striking French workers now numbered 9 million.
19/5/1968. Two million workers in France were on strike.
17/5/1968. French President Georges Pompidou appealed to ordinary Parisians to help stop the anarchy as student riots continued in Paris, with 30,000 people involved in a day and a night of violence. Students at The Sorbonne were locked out of campus, causing further unrest; the demonstrations were against the Vietnam War.
The Cannes Film Festival collapsed in chaos as striking technicians and directors caused film screenings to be cancelled, and three days later the number of striking French workers had risen to about six million.
6/4/1968, In East Germany, 94.5% of voters approved the new socialist constitution.
2/4/1968, Two West German terrorists, Baader and Ensslin, firebombed a Frankfurt department store, in protest against the bombs being dropped by the US on Vietnam.
21/3/1968, Students at Nanterre University, Paris, began a sit-in, which soon spread to other French universities.
20/3/1968, Six French students were arrested in Paris during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration.
19/4/1967, Konrad Adenauer, West German Chancellor from 1949 to 1963, died.
2/6/1967, Rioting in West Berlin against the visit of the Shah of Iran, in which Benno Ohnesorg is killed by a police officer. His death resulted in the founding of the terrorist group Movement 2 June.
1/7/1966, France withdrew its armed forces from NATO.
11/3/1966, De Gaulle announced that France was to withdraw from NATO and that NATO must remove its bases from France by the end of 1966.
19/12/1965. De Gaulle was re-elected president of France.
6/12/1965. General De Gaulle failed to win the French presidential election outright, necessitating a second ballot between him and Monsieur Mitterand.
4/9/1963, Robert Schuman, French Prime Minister, died.
23/6/1963, US President Kennedy began a five-day tour of West Germany, including West Berlin. He promised, ‘we shall risk our cities to defend yours’.
21/6/1963, France withdrew its navy from NATO.
22/1/1963, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) signed a Treaty of Friendship with French President Charles de Gaulle, marking ‘the end of a century of hostility and suspicion between the two nations’.
11/12/1962, In West Germany, a coalition government of Christian Democrats, Christian Socialist and Free Democrats was formed.
5/5/1962. Eleven elderly East Berliners escaped to the West through a tunnel. They had dug the tunnel six feet high so the women wouldn’t have to crawl.
21/1/1962 . In Paris OAS terrorists opposed to President De Gaulle’s plans for Algeria planted ten plastic explosives bombs
7/11/1961, Konrad Adenauer was elected Chancellor of Germany for the fourth time.
28/10/1961, The Berlin Crisis, US and Soviet tanks began a gradual withdrawal from stand-off positions either side of the border.
17/8/1961, Construction of the Berlin Wall began, see 13/8/1961. The Soviets had hidden building materials close to the site of the wall, so construction was rapid. 2,000 people a day had been leaving the east for West Germany.
13/8/1961. East German border guards stopped cars passing through the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. The border between East and West Berlin was sealed, at first with barbed wire, later by the Berlin Wall, erected on 17/8/1961. On 22/8/1961 a 100 metre no-man’s-land was created either side of the Berlin Wall.
The Wall was 96 miles long and 3.6 metres high. It had 302 armed watchtowers and 20 bunkers. 192 persons were killed at the Wall, and another 200 wounded by shooting. The East German Government called the barrier ‘an anti-fascist protection wall’. A second wall was added in June 1962, and a third in 1965, reinforced by a fourth in 1975. The Berlin Wall finally came down on 8/11/1989.
29/5/1961, The Western European Union agreed that West Germany would be allowed to build destroyers equipped to fire nuclear weapons.
8/1/1961, France held a national referendum on whether Algeria should be granted independence. The result was in favour of independence.
31/8/1960. East Germany closed the border with West Berlin.
16/7/1960, Albert Kesselring, German Air Commander on all fronts during World War Two, condemned as a war criminal, died.
31/5/1960, Walter Funk, Nazi government official, died aged 69.
29/5/1959, Charles de Gaulle formed a ‘Government of National Safety’ in France.
8/1/1959, Charles de Gaulle was installed as first President of the 5th Republic. See 21/12/1958.
21/12/1958. De Gaulle was elected the first President of the Fifth Republic, with 78% of the vote. He now had the strong Presidency he had desired in 1945 (see 13/11/1945). See 29/5/1958.
5/10/1958, In France the Fifth Republic was formed.
14/9/1958, Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of West Germany, visited French Prime Minister De Gaulle at his home in Colombey les deux Eglises to discuss Franco-German relations.
29/5/1958. De Gaulle was voted into power in France, to deal with the crisis in Algeria. See 21/12/1958.
28/5/1958, Pierre Pflimlin resigned as French leader.
14/5/1958, In France, Pierre Pflimlin, Popular Republican, formed a government.
18/4/1958, Maurice Gamelin, French Army General, died aged 85.
19/10/1957, West Germany severed diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia after Yugoslavia recognised East Germany.
3/10/1957, Berlin voted in its youngest ever mayor, 44-year-old Willy Brandt.
15/9/1957, Konrad Adenauer’s Christian Democratic Union Party won a massive victory in German general elections.
12/6/1957, In France, Maurice Bourges-Manoury, Radical, formed a Government.
21/5/1957, In France, Guy Mollet, Socialist, resigned as Prime Minister after a Government defeat in the Assembly.
1/1/1957, The Saar was formally integrated in the German Federal Republic.
For Suez Crisis 1956 see Egypt
16/10/1956, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden and Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd visited Paris and met with French Minister Guy Mollet and Foreign Minister Christian Pineau to discuss joint action against Egypt.
30/9/1956, Doenitz (born 1891), German Admiral during World War Two, and technically head of State of Germany from Hitler’s suicide on 1/5/1945 until his internment on 23/5/1945, was released from Spandau Prison. He had been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 1946 by the Allied Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.
5/6/1956, In Luxembourg, Chancellor Adenauer of Germany and Prime Minister Mollet of France agreed that the Saar would have political union with Germany from 1/1/1957, and economic union after a longer period.
1/5/1956. Germans demonstrated in favour of reunification.
19/4/1956, Prince Rainier of Monaco married American actress Grace Kelly.
8/3/1956, West Germany amended its Constitution to allow for the use of conscription for the military.
1/2/1956, Following French elections on 2/1/1956, Guy Mollett formed a Socialist government in France.
6/10/1955, The first group of German PoW’s released from World War Two captivity in Russia were brought to the Russian-Polish border at Bialystok, to be taken on to West Germany. By the end of 1955, over 9,000 such PoWs had been repatriated,
9/9/1955, The West German Chancellor, Dr Adenauer, went to Moscow as a guest of the Soviet Government. At a dinner with Marshall Bulganin, they agreed to the final release of German prisoners of war from World War Two back to West Germany, after more than a decade in captivity.
9/5/1955. West Germany became a member of NATO.
5/5/1955. West Germany became a sovereign state (see 26/5/1952); the Allied occupation by France, UK and USA officially ended.
23/2/1955, In France, Edgar Faure formed a Radical government.
25/1/1955. The USSR officially ended the war with Germany.
23/10/1954. NATO voted to end the occupation of West Germany and to form the Western European Union. West Germany became a member of NATO.
17/7/1954, In West Germany, Theodor Heuss was elected President.
17/6/1953. In East Berlin, Soviet tanks crushed an anti-Soviet uprising. Hundreds of East Germans took to the streets in a protest that began over increased work quotas and food shortages caused by the collectivisation of agriculture (see 12/7/1952). The protests escalated to demands for free elections. The first people to protest were construction workers on Stalinallee, a new highway slicing through east Berlin. After Stalin’s death in March 1953 some liberation was hoped for, but instead work quotas were raised by 10%. Churches were also to be abolished. Food prices were high, there was little meat and no fruit at all. Red Army tanks were brought in and the Soviet military commander proclaimed a state of emergency. 50 people were killed by Soviet forces, at least 20 of whom were summarily executed, and over 1,000 were convicted of taking part in the ‘attempted fascist coup’. Churchill and the other western powers were reluctant to intervene because they feared a reunited Germany. In a memo of 22/6/1953 Churchill felt a divided Germany was safer at present, but feared to say so in public for fear of German public opinion.
6/4/1953, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer visited New York; on 14/5/1953 he visited London.
1/6/1952. The Soviet Iron Curtain isolated West Berlin.
20/8/1952, Kurt Schumacher, German politician, died aged 56.
28/5/1952, Communist demonstrations in Paris, France.
26/5/1952, A treaty was concluded for West Germany to be a sovereign state (see 5/5/1955), so long as Germany contributed to Western defence. Fears of the Soviet Union overrode fears of German aggression.
1/4/1952, Vincent Bollore, French industrialist, was born.
29/3/1952, In France, the government of Edgar Faure fell after failing to get the National Assembly to approve tax increases. Antoine Pinay, Conservative, formed a government with Gaullist support.
11/1/1952, French General de Lattre de Tassigny died of cancer in Paris. He was the chief architect of the French defence plan in World War Two.
13/12/1951, The French National Assembly ratified the Schuman Plan. This placed French and German steel iron and coal industries under one common authority, to which other countries could also accede.
17/6/1951, Elections for the French Assembly gave 107 seats to the Gaullists; 97 to the Communists; 94 to the Socialists; 87 to the Conservatives; 82 to the Popular Republicans; and 77 to the Radical Socialists.
10/3/1951, In France, political deadlock was resolved when Henry Queuille formed a government.
28/2/1951, In France, the government of Rene Pleven fell over issues of electoral reform.
26/1/1951, Gilles Lemaire: French politician, was born.
15/10/1950, In East German elections, a vote of 99.7% was recorded for the Communist-dominated National Front Party.
24/6/1950, Georges Bidault, French Prime Minister, resigned after his government was defeated in a vote on a technical issue.
15/6/1950. West Germany admitted to the Council of Europe.
30/3/1950, Leon Blum, French statesman, died
3/3/1950. France granted the Saar autonomy.
8/2/1950, The Stasi was founded in East Germany.
19/11/1949. Prince Ranier III was sworn in as the 30th ruling Prince of Monaco.
7/10/1949. The German Democratic Republic was set up in East Germany.
15/9/1949, Konrad Adenauer was elected Chancellor of Germany.
20/6/1949, The USA, the USSR, France, and the UK signed a Four-Power agreement on Berlin, including a clause ensuring the freedom of movement within the entire city.
23/5/1949. The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was formally established, with its capital at Bonn.
28/4/1949, The Allies set up the International Authority for the Ruhr, or IAR. This was dissolved on 10/8/1952 when the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) came into force.
5/9/1948, In France, Robert Schuman became President of the Council while being Foreign Minister, As such, he was the negotiator of the major treaties of the end of World War II.
30/8/1947, About 90 people were killed and 60 injured in a cinema fire in the Rueil district of Paris, France. Police said the blaze was caused by a wire in the second balcony that short-circuited
14/4/1947, In France, De Gaulle organised the RPF (Rassemblement du Peuple Francais) Party, also known as ‘Gaullists’, to unite and reform anti-Communists.
16/1/1947, In France, Vincent Auriol was elected President.
16/12/1946, In France, Leon Blum formed a Socialist government.
10/11/1946, In France, elections to the National Assembly produced 166 seats for the Communists, 158 for the Popular Republican Movement, 90 for the Socialists, 55 for the Radical Socialists, 70 for the Conservatives and 5 for the Gaullists. There was political deadlock.
17/5/1946. France nationalised its coal mines.
20/1/1946. De Gaulle resigned. Goiun became President of France.
21/12/1945, France appointed Jean Monnet as head of a commission to repair and develop French industry. He evolved the Monnet Plan which with 5 years enabled French industry to surpass its per-war output level.
13/11/1945. De Gaulle was elected President of France by the unanimous vote of all 555 deputies. However he resigned within ten weeks when the Fourth Republic disagreed with his idea for a strong US-style Presidency. See 21/12/1958.
21/10/1945, Elections in France provided gains for the Left. The Communists won 148 seats, the Socialists 134, Radical Socialists 35 (the Popular Republican Movement won 141 seats), Conservatives 62 seats, others 2 seats.
/5/1945. VE Day. The Second World War officially ended in Europe, at one minute past midnight. Field Marshall Keitel signed the final capitulation. The Channel Islands remained under Nazi occupation till the following day, 9/5/1945. Street parties were held all over Britain.
UK Bomber Command has calculated the following statistics relating to the Second World War. 55,573 aircrew were killed, of whom 47,130 died on operations, 138 died as PoWs, and 8,090 were killed in ‘mon-operational incidents’ (mostly flying accidents). Of those killed, 38,462 were British, 9,980 were Canadian, 4,050 were Australian and 1,703 were New Zealanders. 530 RAF groundcrew were killed, and 759 injured, in incidents such as bombs detonating when being loaded onto aircraft or being jammed in the bomb bay. Total bombs dropped on Axis countries amounted to 955,044 tons, of which 657,674 tons was dropped on Germany itself. 336,037 bombing raids were carried out by the RAF. 8,655 aircraft were reported as missing (failed to return). By the end of 1944 Allied raids had reduced German oil production by 40%, so that many German tanks and aircraft became unuseable due to lack of fuel, even if they were serviceable.
German civilian casualties have been estimated at between 350,000 and 600,000.
Some 3.4 million German houses and flats had been destroyed out of a total of 17.1 million; a further 30% of homes had been severely damaged by bombing. The desperate housing shortage was exacerbated by an influx of some 10 million refugees from eastern Europe. Many Germans lived 5 or 6 to a room, or existed in makeshift shelters. Some, as at Dachau near Munich, lived in former concentration camps.
In Greater Manchester 684 people died in the bombing, and an additional 2,364 were injured.
For the World War Two period, 1 September 1939 to 9 May 1945, the timeline for France-Germany has been split into the following categories;
1) France-Germany ‘home’ (non-war) events
2) Eastern Front (East Europe, Finland, Russia, Greece)
3) Western Front (France, Benelux, Britain, west Germany)
3)a) Scandinavia ex. Finland.
3)b) Italy, Malta
5) Middle East
8) Air war.
For Jewish persecution in World War Two, see Israel, Judaism
1) GeneralAllied events, and France-Germany ‘home’ events
1/5/1945, Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda committed suicide, having killed their six children with poison.
30/4/1945. Adolf Hitler poisoned his wife Eva Braun with cyanide, then shot himself, in his Berlin bunker. They had married two days earlier. Hitler ordered that his body be burned; he was determined to avoid its being displayed as Mussolini’s had (28/4/1945). He feared even more being captured alive and taken to Moscow. German radio announced that Grand Admiral Doenitz was now leader of the Reich. Doenitz stated that the main aim was ‘to defend Germany from Bolshevism’; Doenitz and his supporters wanted to fight on, whilst another faction led by Heinrich Himmler wanted to surrender to both the Western Allies and Russia. As Hitler died, Soviet tanks were entering the ruins of central Berlin. There was panic on the Berlin streets as SS men shot deserting Nazi soldiers, whilst low-flying Soviet biplanes machine-gunned bread queues. Bodies littered once elegant streets, looted of all valuables.
28/4/1945, Hitler married his mistress, Eva Braun, in his Berlin bunker, in the early hours of the morning. The act was a symbolic abandonment of Hitler’s plans for ‘national socialism’ - he had insisted that, as Fuhrer, he would have no ties to another human being.
9/4/1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian involved with anti-Hitler conspirators, was hanged in Flossenburg concentration camp.
31/3/1945, In the last days of war, Berlin maintained a surreal normality. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra continued recitals until now. Telephones functioned, the underground railway ran, and post continued to be delivered right up to the last few days of the war. Berlin workers still picked their way through rubble filled streets to work, often in offices whose windows had all been blown out.
18/3/1945, Major air raid on Berlin.
11/2/1945, The Yalta Conference ended. See 4/2/1945.
4/2/1945. The Yalta Conference between the Allied leaders Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill opened in the Crimea. This conference concluded on 11/2/1945. Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin all had very different aims. Roosevelt wanted to disengage US troops from Europe to defeat Japan. Stalin wanted to extend Soviet influence as far west into Europe as possible. Stalin got to occupy eastern Poland, as agreed in Tehran on 28/11/1943. Churchill wanted to build a democracy from the ruins of Germany. The ailing Roosevelt trusted Stalin’s assurance that he would work to build a ‘peaceful and democratic world’. The West insisted that Greece be given a western-style democracy, but otherwise all of eastern Europe fell under the Soviet sphere. Stalin also gained Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands in return for a war effort against Japan that was never made. Yalta set the world order for the next 45 years.
30/1/1945, Adolf Hitler made his very last radio broadcast to Germany, marking 12 years of Nazi rule.
16/1/1945, Hitler left his office in the Reich Chancellery, Berlin, for the last time, and descended to his bunker, 15 metres underground. By now most of Berlin’s buildings had been destroyed by Allied bombing.
10/12/1944, De Gaulle and Stalin signed a treaty of alliance.
6/12/1944, 20 million Germans were homeless after Allied bombing.
26/11/1944, Heinrich Himmler ordered the destruction of the crematoria at Auschwitz concentration camp to eliminate evidence of the mass killings there.
19/10/1944, Churchill returned home after talks with Stalin.
14/10/1944, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, 53, Commander of the Afrika Corps 1941-43, took his own life by swallowing poison rather than be executed for an attempt on Hitler’s life. Hitler had promised him a hero’s funeral if he committed suicide. Otherwise Rommel would face the notorious Nazi judge, Roland Frreisler, who had already condemned the other conspirators against Hitler to slow hanging by piano wire. The official cause of Rommel’s death was given as heart failure.
9- 19/10/1944, Churchill travelled to Moscow for talks with Stalin.
5/10/1944, In Germany, Joseph Goebbels announced a reduction in food rations.
1/10/1944, The German war economy was hopelessly disorganised. In September 1944 German factories produced 3,000 fighter planes, but aviation fuel production was only 10,000 tons, as against Luftwaffe consumption of 165,000 tons in April 1944. These new planes sat on the runway with empty fuel tanks and vacant cockpits, as pilot training had virtually ceased.
25/9/1944, Hitler called up all remaining males aged between 16 and 60 for the Volksturm, a home defence force.
24/9/1944, The second Quebec Conference ended (began 13/9/1944), see 24/8/1943. It was concerned with shifting the war effort to the Pacific to finish off the Japanese, also how best to advance into Germany (the Morgenthau Plan), and operations in The Philippines.
19/8/1944. Differences emerged between the Americans and the British as to how to press on against Germany. The US wanted to go directly east into Germany via the Saar region; the British wanted to secure Belgium and Holland and then occupy the industrial Ruhr region. This latter option would both neutralise the V-weapon launching sites and capture the deepwater port of Antwerp. Politically, however, both options had to be pursued, or else public outrage would ensue if one Allied army was halted whilst the other pressed on.
8/8/1944, Officers convicted of an attempt on Hitler’s life were hanged with piano wire. See 20/7/1944.
4/8/1944, Purge of the German Army by Hitler.
20/7/1944, An attempt was made on Hitler’s life by a German Staff Officer, Count Claus Von Stauffenberg, at Hitler’s headquarters at Rastenburg, East Prussia. A bomb was left in a briefcase under a table in the conference room where Hitler was to speak. The plot failed because the heavy oak table top shielded Hitler from much of the blast, as did the thick table leg against which the briefcase was placed. The plotters were arrested, as were 1,000 other people implicated in the plot. See 8/8/1944.
17/7/1944, Field Marshal Rommel was badly injured when an Allied fighter plane shot up his car.
2/7/1944, Marshal von Kluge replaced General von Rundstedt.
28/6/1944, Hitler replaced Field Marshall Busch, of the Army Group Centre, with General Model.
21/6/1944, Berlin was heavily bombed.
16/6/1944, Marc Bloch, French historian, died aged 57.
20/4/1944, The RAF set a new bombing record. 4,500 tons of bombs were dropped in a single raid, on Hitler’s 55th birthday.
7/4/1944, Hitler suspended all laws in Berlin and made Goebbels dictator of the city.
4/1/1944. Hitler ordered the mobilisation of all children over the age of ten. On this day Soviet forces crossed the pre-war frontier from Russia into Poland at Rokitno. Hitler, anticipating an Allied attack on France, was keen to hold the northern French and Belgian coasts, so as to be able to launch the V weapons against Britain, even if this meant some territorial losses in the east.
15/11/1943, The Nazis extended their extermination policies from the Jews to the Romany. Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, ordered all Romany to be sent to the concentration camps.
28/11/1943, The main Allied leaders, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, all met in Tehran. Co-ordinating the Normandy landings with a Russian attack on the eastern front was discussed, also a Russian attack on Japan, and a post-war United Nations Organisation. All agreed that the USSR could have eastern Poland as far west as the Curzon line, and Poland would be compensated with lands in eastern Germany. This was confirmed at the Yalta Conference of 4 – 11 February 1945.
24/8/1943, The Quebec Conference ended (began 10/8/1943). Code-named Quadrant, it was concerned with plans for the Normandy landings, also land operations in south east Asia (especially Burma), and with campaigns in Italy.
10/8/1943, The Quebec Conference opened. Churchill, Roosevelt and McKenzie were present.
4/8/1943, At the German V-2 rocket plant at Peenemünde, the decision was made to employ concentration camp inmates as slave labour to build the missiles. For every non-Jewish German employee, there would be at least ten camp inmates supplied by the SS.
22/2/1943, Members of the White Rose (die Weisse Rose) anti-war group in Germany were publically guillotined, their execution intended to discourage others. They had been caught distributing leaflets at university; most members were students who once supported Hitler but who had become disillusioned after Nazi war atrocities. Their execution, and the whole group, was swiftly forgotten in Germany until the 1970s when they were rediscovered and became folk heroes.
28/1/1943. Hitler ordered the mobilisation of the entire population aged between 16 and 65.
24/1/1943, The Casablanca Conference ended, see 14/1/1943. President Wilson, with Churchill, then issued a statement demanding unconditional surrender of the Axis powers, rather than a negotiated settlement. This was intended to reassure Russia; the Nazis used the statement as propaganda to warn the German people of the greed of their enemies.
22/1/1943, Hitler ordered that shipbuilding take second place to tank production, to make good tank losses on the Eastern Front.
14/1/1943. Churchill, de Gaulle, and Roosevelt met at Casablanca. They demanded the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. Plans were made for the invasion of Sicily increased US bombing of Germany, and the transfer of British forces to the far east once Germany was defeated.
15/8/1942, Winston Churchill had his first summit meeting with Joseph Stalin.
19/12/1941, Hitler made himself Commander in Chief of the Army.
23/9/1941, In London, Charles de Gaulle formed a Free French Government in exile.
4/6/1941, Kaiser Wilhelm II, exiled German Emperor, died in exile in The Netherlands.
12/3/1941, The first issue of Die Zeitung, a Free German (anti-Hitler) newspaper appeared in London.
3/1/1941, Martin Bormann promulgated a Nazi decree banning gothic typefaces in all printing and proclaiming roman type as the new standard. The order sought to make Nazi communications more understandable in occupied France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway, where Roman type was used.
24/10/1940. Hitler failed to persuade Franco or Petain to help invade Britain.
20/10/1940, Andre Santini, French politician, was born.
10/10/1940, Hitler began an emergency program called the Sofortprogramm to build protective shelters for the civilian population and essential personnel. Aiming to build 6,000 bunkers across 92 cities, it was the largest public works program in history.
12/9/1940, A group of five boys discovered a cave at Lascaux, in the Dordogne, south west France, which was to become famous because it contained fine examples of prehistoric cave paintings.
21/8/1940, The ‘tree of liberty’, planted in Saverne after Alsace was restored to France at the end of World War I, was chopped down by members of the Hitler Youth.
28/3/1940, The Allied Supreme War Council issued a formal Declaration of United Action.
28/2/1940, Allied divers recovered three rotors from a scuttled German U-boat off the Shetlands. These were vital in decoding the German Enigma codes.
24/12/1939, Pope Pius XII issued a cautious call for peace, whilst striving to remain politically neutral.
8/11/1939. Hitler narrowly avoided an assassination attempt at a Munich beer cellar. The Nazi leader was making a speech on the anniversary of the failed 1923 beer-hall putsch, in which he had tried to seize the city. Hitler left straight after his speech, which was much shorter than usual. Eight minutes later a bomb exploded behind the pillar where he was speaking, killing 7 people and injuring 60. It was planted by the anti-war activist and Communist Johann Georg Elser, who was sent to a concentration camp. He was shot on 9 April 1945, on Hitler’s orders, to prevent his release by the advancing Russians.
17/9/1939, De Valera said Ireland would remain neutral in the War. Australia and New Zealand took sides with Britain straightaway. The Canadian debated the issue for three days then voted to join the War with one vote against. In South Africa the Prime Minister General Hertzog wanted to stay out of the war; he was forced to resign and replaced by General Smuts who immediately took Britain’s side.
2) Eastern Front (East Europe, Russia, Greece, also Finland)
7/5/1945, Soviet forces took Wroclaw, south-west Poland.
3/5/1945, Rijeka (Fiume) was captured by the Yugoslavs; the Germans left, but blew up the port installations first.
2/5/1945, German soldiers in Austria surrendered. Berlin finally surrendered to the Russians at 3 pm. British and Russian troops linked up at Wismar on the Baltic.
20/4/1945, Nuremberg, once the scene of huge Nazi rallies, fell to the Allies, on Hitler’s 56th birthday. There was also the last air raid on Berlin. Soviet forces were to enter Berlin tomorrow. Since the first raid on 29/8/1940, some 76,652 tons of explosives and incendiary bombs had been dropped on the German capital. 50,692 tons were British, and 25,962 American. Soviet artillery also rained down some 40,000 tons of shells during the final stages of the war.
18/4/1945, Russians fighting on the Seelow Heights broke through westwards towards Berlin.
16/4/1945, The Russians began a major assault on the Seelow Heights, crossing the Oder River.
15/4/1945, The Allies captured the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Eva Braun descended to Hitler’s bunker; she had previously resided in a private apartment in the Chancellery, since March 1945.
13/4/1945, Vienna was captured by Soviet troops from the Germans.
9/4/1945, Konigsberg, capital of east Prussia, taken by the Russians.
4/4/1945, Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, captured by Soviet forces. The last Wermacht forces evacuated Hungary.
2/4/1945, The Soviet Army began an offensive to take Vienna.
30/3/1945, The Russians took Danzig (Gdansk), Poland, also the town of Ratibor in Silesia. The Poles renamed the city Gdansk, from Danzig, expelled the Germans, and linked the city administratively with the neighbouring port of Gdynia, built on Polish territory in the 1920s.
29/3/1945, Soviet troops entered Austria.
28/3/1945, Gdynia captured by the Russians.
22/3/1945, Soviet forces broke the Danzig / Gdynia defence perimeter.
17/3/1945, Brandenburg, East Prussia, captured by the Russians.
15/3/1945, The Soviet Army launched the Upper Silesian offensive.
13/3/1945, The Battle of Kiauneliskis, Lithuania.
6/3/1945, German forces launched Operation Spring Awakening, their last offensive of the war. This was in Hungary, near Lake Balaton, and was aimed at securing some of the last oil supplies still available to the Germans, the Nagyakanisza oilfield. Troops from the failed Ardennes offensive were utilised. However by mid-March the operation had failed and the Germans were being pushed back by overwhelming Soviet strength. Also on this day the Soviets began arresting and executing any members of the Polish Home Army of Polish Government in Exile they could find.
4/3/1945, Finland declared war on Nazi Germany.
22/2/1945, Poznan, on the Berlin to Warsaw road, fell to the 1st Belorussian Front after a pocket of German soldiers there had been surrounded but held out.
14/2/1945, U.S. Army Air Forces bombed Prague. 701 people were killed and about 100 houses and historical sites were destroyed in what was attributed to a navigation mistake.
13/2/1945. Allied bombers devastated the German city of Dresden. Many civilians had moved to the cultural city of Dresden, and its population in 1945 was over 1,000,000. There were up to 400,000 casualties, including 130,000 civilian deaths. Dresden was famous for its 17th and 18th century architecture, but was also an industrial centre and was a key communications centre for the German armies on the Eastern Front. 1,400 RAF fighters and 450 US planes bombed Dresden over a 14 hour period. Soviet forces took Budapest. Soviet forces took Sommerfeld, just 80 miles from Berlin.
5/2/1945, Soviet forces crossed the River Oder, and pushed deeper into Germany.
2/2/1945, Under Soviet occupation, the Bulgarian authorities began to try and execute various ‘war criminals’ including Prince Cyril, former government ministers, and businessmen. Further trials and executions continued till June 1945, when the legal process was declared complete.
31/1/1945, Soviet troops crossed the River Oder into the province of Brandenburg, north of Frankfurt, 40 miles from Berlin.
18/1/1945, Soviet troops took Lodz.
17/1/1945, Soviet and Polish troops captured Warsaw. Only 162,000 citizens remained, compared to a pre-war population of 1,310,000. See 14/9/1945.
15/1/1945, Soviet forces captured Cracow from Germany.
14/1/1945, Radom in central Poland taken by the Russians.
13/1/1945, Budapest was completely in Soviet hands. Hungary, Nazi Germany’s last ally in the Balkans, was now siding openly with Russia.
12/1/1945, 5.am, Moscow time, Konev’s 1st Ukranian Front began an offensive against Nazi forces from the Sandomierz bridgehead, north east of Cracow.
9/1/1945, General Guderian warned Hitler that the eastern front was like a house of cards, ready to collapse at any time; Hitler dismissed reports of superior Russian military strength as ‘the greates bluff since Genghis Khan’. In fact, the Soviets possessed a 5:1 advantage in manpower, a 7:1 advantage in artillery, and a 17:1 advantage in aircraft.
28/12/1944, Hungary renounced all treaties with the Third Reich and declared war on Germany.
27/12/1944, The Soviet Army began to besiege Nazi forces in Budapest. See 13/1/1945.
21/12/1944, The Soviet Army, having entered Hungarian territory in early September 1944, set up a provisional government in Debrecen.
9/12/1944, The Danube north of Budapest was reached by the Russians.
5/12/1944, The 3rd Ukrainian Front of the Soviet Army captured Szigetvár and Vukovar.
29/11/1944, Russian troops crossed the Danube, in Hungary.
21/11/1944, The Moscow Conference ended.
17/11/1944, Tirana, capital of Albania, was recovered from German occupation.
9/11/1944, The Moscow Conference began.
6/11/1944, Monastir liberated by Yugoslav forces.
30/10/1944, Soviet forces attacked Budapest, but the Germans held it until February 1945.
24/10/1944, The Riga Offensive ended in Soviet victory.
22/10/1944, Russian troops in Finland reached the Norwegian border.
20/10/1944, Tito’s partisans and the Red Army took Belgrade. It had been taken by Germany on 13/4/1941.
18/10/1944. The Russian army entered East Prussia and Czechoslovakia.
13/10/1944, Athens was liberated from the Germans, who occupied it on 27/4/1941.
11/10/1944, Cluj, capital of Transylvania, recaptured by the Russians.
9/10/1944, Russian forces reached the Baltic coast near Libau.
6/10/1944, Soviet troops entered Hungary.
3/10/1944, The insurgents in the Warsaw Uprising surrendered to German forces.
28/9/1944, Soviet, Yugoslav Partisan and Bulgarian forces began the Belgrade Offensive.
27/9/1944, Soviet troops and Yugoslav Partisans crossed the border into Albania.
23/9/1944, Soviet forces entered Hungary,
22/9/1944, The Russians captured Tallinn, capital of Estonia. This blocked the final seaborne escape route for German Army Group North.
19/9/1944, Finland agreed to the peace terms demanded by Russia (see 20/6/1944), except that the indemnity was halved to US$300million.
16/9/1944, The Soviet 3rd Ukrainian Front occupied the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.
14/9/1944, Russian forces took Praga, on the right bank of the River Vistula, opposite Warsaw. An anti-Nazi uprising by Poles had begun in Warsaw on 1/8/1944. However the Russian forces did not immediately cross the Vistula to Warsaw, but held back whilst the Nazis put down the Polish rebellion and razed the city. Warsaw was only taken by the Russians on 17/1/1945.
9/9/1944, The Russians captured Sofia, capital of Bulgaria.
7/9/1944, Hungary declared war on Romania and crossed into southern Transylvania
6/9/1944, Bulgaria declared war on Germany. Bulgaria had wanted to become neutral but Russia fund this ‘insufficient’ and threatened to declare war on Bulgaria. Bulgaria therefore declared war on Germany and Russian troops marched into Bulgaria unopposed On 28/10/1944 Bulgaria signed an armistice with the Allies and the Bulgarian Army, under Soviet command, attacked German forces in Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. See 2/2/1945.
30/8/1944, Soviet forces took Bucharest.
31/8/1944. Russian and Romanian forces captured the Ploesti oilfields, which had supplied Germany with one third of its military oil. Meanwhile Hitler declared that the political differences between the Allies would result in the collapse of their efforts against Germany (see 19/8/1944).
29/8/1944, Constanza taken by Russia.
25/8/1944, Finland was forced to sue the USSR for peace (see 12/3/1940) under pressure from the Soviet Army. Finland gave up territory gained from the USSR since 1940, and also ceded the Petsamo region, with the Arctic port at Porkkala; this gave the USSR a common border with Norway.
23/8/1944. Following a coup d’etat in Bucharest, in which pro-Nazi dictator General Ion Antonescu was overthrown (born 1882, acceded 1940), Romania changed sides and declared war on Germany and Soviet troops entered Rumania as allies. Germans had entered Bucharest as allies in September 1940, after Antonescu seized power, forcing King Carol II into exile after Carol had surrendered Romanian territory to Hungary, Bulgaria and Russia. Romania then supported Germany when it invaded Russia in June 1941, and assisted in the Nazi capture of Odessa, which was then renamed ‘Antonescu’, with areas of south-west Ukraine annexed to Romania. However the Soviets began to force back the Romanians, and other Axis forces, in the winter in 1942/3. On this day, 23/8/1944, Carol II’s 23-year-old son, King Michael, had Antonescu arrested. Antonescu was subsequently charged with war crimes in May 1946 and on 1/6/1946, after a brief trial, was condemned to death and shot.
1/8/1944, Anti-Nazi rising in Warsaw began. Russian forces were close to the city, see 14/9/1944.
30/7/1944, Soviet forces captured Simno, Poland, only 35 miles from the Prussian border and 330 miles as the crow flies from Berlin. They also took Gluda which cut the railway line west from Riga. German forces in Riga now had just one minor rail line west as an escape route, leading to Windau, a small Baltic port.
28/7/1944, Soviet forces took Brest Litovsk, Poland.
27/7/1944, Russian forces captured Lvov from Germany.
26/7/1944, Dvinsk retaken by Russia. Narva, Estonia, retaken by Russia.
24/7/1944, Lublin retaken by Russia. Russia. German losses in the past 5 weeks amounted to over 2,000 tanks, 340 aircraft and 113,000 men. Only 10,000 men replaced them.
13/7/1944. The capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, was recaptured by the Russians.
12/7/1944, The Russians advanced 21 miles on the Baltic Front.
3/7/1944, Minsk was recaptured by the Russians.
29/6/1944, The Russians captured Petrozavodsk from Finland, see 20/6/1944. See 19/9/1944.
26/6/1944, Vitebsk retaken by Russia. The Nazi 3rd Pamzer Amy was surrounded.
23/6/1944, The German 4th Army, NE of Minsk, was surrounded.
22/6/1944, The Russians commenced Operation Bagration. Under the supreme command of Zhukov, some 1.2 million troops launched a 4-pronged assault towards Minsk. A simultaneous assault was launched towards Lithuania.
20/6/1944, The Russian attacked Finland, which had begun peace discussions with the USSR in February 1944. Russia had demanded restoration of the 1944 frontier, plus Petsamo, thus excluding Finland from the Arctic Ocean, and an indemnity of US$600million, Finland’s entire national income for 1939. Finland refused such humiliating terms, and Russia attacked, capturing Viipuri this day. See 29/6/1944.
10/6/1944, The USSR began an offensive against Finland.
25/5/1944. Tito escaped to the hills as German troops captured his Bosnian headquarters.
16/4/1944, Soviet forces cleared out the last pockets of German resistance at Yalta.
13/4/1944, The Russian army took Simferopol, capital of Crimea.
11/4/1944, The USSR began the liberation of the Crimea. Odessa retaken.
4/4/1944, On the Eastern Front, a counterattack by the German 4th Panzer Army captured Kovel.
2/4/1944, USSR troops crossed the Romanian frontier.
27/3/1944, Germany poured massive reinforcements into Hungary as the Russians approached.
25/3/1944, German army commander, Von Manstein, leader of Army Group South, successfully argued with Hitler that the 1st Panzer Army must be allowed to retreat to avoid a Soviet encirclement south-east of Tarnopol. Von Manstein was a much better strategist than Hitler, and was never afraid to argue persuasively and strongly with the Fuhrer when necessary. However Von Manstein was replaced by Field Marshal Model. Army Groups South and A were renamed, respectively, Army Groups Northern and Southern Ukraine; an ironic move given that by now very little of the Ukraine remained under German occupation.
19/3/1944, Germany began a direct occupation of its ally, Hungary, as Soviet forces advanced towards the Danube Plain. Hungarian oil was vital for Germany, and Hitler was alarmed at reports that Admiral Horthy, Hungarian Regent, was intending to surrender to the Russians as soon as they crossed the border into Hungary.
18/3/1944, The Soviets took Zhmerynka, central Ukraine.
13/3/1944, Kherson retaken by Russia.
22/2/1944, Krivoi Rog retaken by Russia.
2/2/1944, The Battle of Narva began on the Eastern Front.
27/1/1944, Russia announced the complete lifting of the 2-year blockade against Leningrad. The Leningrad to Moscow railway reopened.
20/1/1944, Russia recaptured Novogorod.
14/1/1944, German Army Group North was overwhelmed by a new Soviet offensive on the entire Leningrad, Volkhov and 2nd Baltic Fronts.
19/12/1943, At the first war crimes trial, in the USSR, three Germans were found guilty of atrocities and hanged at Kharkov.
6/11/1943, Russian troops retook Kiev.
1/11/1943, Russians cut off the Germans who were attempting to retreat from the Crimea.
7/10/1943, Russian forces crossed the Dnieper River.
25/9/1943, The USSR retook Smolensk.
21/9/1943, The Soviet 43rd Army captured Demidov.
17/9/1943, Briansk retaken by Russia.
16/9/1943, Novorossisk retaken by Russia.
14/9/1943. Yugoslav partisans were advancing along the Dalmatian coast, and Allied officers had reached Tito.
7/9/1943, German troops began a retreat from the Ukraine.
30/8/1943, Taganrog retaken by Russia.
23/8/1943, Kharkov retaken by Russia.
5/8/1943, The USSR retook Orel.
3/8/1943, The Russian Voronezh, Steppe and South-West Fronts began a major offensive against German Army Group South below the Kursk Salient.
1/8/1943, Allied raid on the Ploesti oil refineries, Romania, which supplied much of Germany’s oil. However anti-aircraft fire was much heavier than anticipated. Some refining capacity was taken out but some remained intact.
13/7/1943, The Germans lost the greatest tank battle in history, in the cornfields around Kursk.
7/7/1943, The 4th Panzer Army under Hoth, in the south of the Kursk Salient, made good progress, advancing 20 miles into the Salient at Yakovlevo and Pokrovka.
6/7/1943, Marshall-General Rokossovsky’s counter attacked against the Germans at Kursk but could not prevent their advance. However stiff Soviet resistance prevented the Germans gaining more than six miles of ground.
5/7/1943, At 4.30 am, German forces in Russia began Operation Citadel, an assault into the Kursk Salient. However the main concentration of German troops did not reach the battle area until 5.00 am, due to Soviet shelling of the assembly areas. Soviet intelligence had picked up details of the offensive.
16/5/1943, German forces began an offensive against Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia.
14/3/1943, The Germans re-occupied Kharkov in a counter offensive against the Russians.
16/2/1943, Kharkov retaken by Russia.
14/2/1943, Rostov retaken by Russia.
12/2/1943, Krasnodar recaptured by the Russians.
8/2/1943. Russia recaptured Kursk. Kursk was a major rail junction, and this significant Russian victory followed their major success at Stalingrad. The Russians created a salient 160 km wide and 130 km deep into German lines around Kursk, and in the summer of 1943 Hitler ordered this salient eliminated under ‘Operation Citadel’.2,500 German tanks, supported by 1,000 aircraft, attempted to cut off the salient from Orel in the north and Belgorod in the south. Fighting was especially severe at Prokhorova, where Germany lost 300 tanks in one day, but made a deep penetration into the salient. However the Russians had filled the salient with an even greater number of tanks and aircraft, protected by deep minefields. The Battle of Kursk, 5 – 15 July 1943, was the greatest tank battle in history. Orel was liberated by the Russians on 4/8/1943 and Belgorod on 5/8/1943. German losses were so heavy as to rule out any further major offensives by them on the Eastern Front.
6/2/1943, Mannstein hurried back to Rastenburg to persuade Hitler of his plans for a counter offensive in the Russian South. Hitler agreed.
12/10/1941, Briansk evacuated by Russia.
2/10/1941, As the first winter snows began, the Russian Army launched a counter-attack at Leningrad.
30/9/1941, Finland took Petrozavodsk from Russia.
25/9/1941, Germany attacked the Crimea.
24/9/1941, Russian Marshall Budenny launched a counter-attack against the Germans at Kherson, on the River Dnieper.
19/9/1941, The Germans captured Kiev, USSR.
30/8/1941, The Germans began the siege of Leningrad. The siege ended in January 1943.
29/8/1941, The Germans captured Tallinn, capital of Estonia.
28/8/1941, The Russians destroyed the Dnieper Dam, near Dnipropetrovsk, as they retreated from the area under their scorched earth policy.
26/8/1941, The Germans captured Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine.
17/8/1941, The Germans took Narva, Estonia.
16/8/1941, In the Dnipropetrovsk area, the Russians retreated east of the Dnieper River.
14/8/1941, German forces near Stalingrad crossed the Kuban River.
9/8/1941, Hitler outlined to his government ministers his vision for Russia. “The German colonist will live on handsome spacious farms. The German services will be lodged in marvellous buildings, the governors in palaces. Beneath the shelter of the administrative services we shall gradually organise all that is indispensable to the maintenance of a certain standard of living. Around the city to a depth of thirty of forty kilometres we shall have a belt of handsome villages connected by the best roads. What exists beyond that will be another world in which we mean to let the Russians live as they like. It is merely necessary that we should rule them. In the event of a revolution we shall only have to drop a few bombs on their cities and the affair will be liquidated. Once a year we shall lead a troop of Kirghizes through the capital of the Reich in order to strike their imagination with the size of our monuments”.
27/7/1941, German forces entered the Ukraine.
13/7/1941, Britain and the USSR concluded an assistance pact.
5/7/1941, Ukrainians seized control in Buczacz, Poland. They were backed by the Nazis. The Ukrainians massacred any Poles, Jews, or Russians they caught, and proclaimed an ‘Independent Ukrainian State’. In September 1939 the Jews of Buczacz had been relieved to be included in the Soviet-occupied sector of Poland, and therefore not under Nazi rule in German occupied western Poland. At that time, Jews, backed by the Russians, took over the local administration and assisted the Russians in deporting many Poles.. However the German attack on Soviet Russia of June 1941 caught them by surprise.
30/6/1941, German forces took Lvov from Russia.
28/6/1941, Germany captured Minsk.
27/6/1941, Finland joined with Germany in attacking Russia, to recover territory lost in 1939/40. Hungary declared war on Russia.
26/6/1941, The Kosice (Hungarian name, Kassa) incident. Kosice, the principal town of eastern Slovakia, became part of Hungary on 12/11/1938. On this day, four days after Hitler invaded Russia, and when Hungary was still a non-combatant in the war, three airplanes bombed Kasice. The official story was that these planes were Russian, and this incident helped bring in Hungary against Russia. However the planes were far more likely to have been German, to provoke aggression by Hungary against Russia.
22/6/1941. (1) Germany invaded Russia. Hitler expected the war in Russia to be over by Christmas 1941, saying “We only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down”. Hitler calculated that Stalin’s purges of the officer class had badly weakened the Red Army.
The invasion plan, called Operation Barbarossa had been announced by Hitler to his generals on 30/3/1941 in a speech to 200 senior army officers. At 3.am on 22 June the greatest offensive in history was launched. Three million men poured across a front nearly a thousand miles long. Hitler had said that the Communists must be not only beaten but annihilated, or ‘in 30 years we shall have to fight them again’. By the end of World War Two, four million Russians had died in battle and a further 3.5 million had been taken captive. 97% of these died in captivity; Hitler had decided that the Geneva Convention did not apply to them, or to millions more captured later. 17,000 Russian villages were wiped off the map by the Germans.
Stalin had not believed Germany would attack, despite troop movements on the frontier in the weeks before the invasion.
The German invasion was to have begun on 15/5/1941, but the need to intervene in the Balkans against Greece and Yugoslavia delayed the Russian invasion by seven (crucial) weeks. The original plan was for German forces to have reached a line from Archangel to the Volga by autumn 1941. Russian resistance was greater than Hitler anticipated, and Hitler’s orders to try and capture Moscow whilst Leningrad was already besieged, whilst simultaneously taking tanks from the Moscow front to the southern front gave a respite to the defence of Moscow.
The Germans correctly estimated Russian military strength in the west at 150 divisions but thought the Soviets had just 50 further divisions in reserve; in fact the Red Army summoned up over 200 reserve divisions. Unexpected July rains turned unsurfaced Russian roads into mud whilst the scorched earth policy meant roads, bridges, railways and factories were destroyed before the Germans advanced. The Russians also destroyed the railway rolling stock and because the Russian gauge was different from the German one, the Nazis could not use the Russian rail network.
(2) Romania joined in with Germany in attacking Russia. Rumania was led by Ion Antonescu (born 2/6/1882 in Transylvania). Antonescu was pro-Nazi, and during a period of serious internal disorder in Rumania, King Carol of Rumania was compelled to offer Antonescu the Premiership on 5/9/1940. Antonescu then demanded the abdication of Carol. In 1944 Russia counterattacked into Rumania and King Michael I, who had succeeded Carol, arrested Antonescu. Antonescu was convicted of war crimes on 17/5/1946 and executed near the Rumanian fort of Jilava on 1/6/1946.
2/5/1941, Germany’s Staatssekretare met to discuss the invasion of Russia.
30/4/1941, Major General Bernard Freyberg took command of all Allied forces on Crete.
26/4/1941, Allied codebreakers decoded Nazi communications relating to an operation on Crete.
25/4/1941, Hitler issued Fuhrer Directive No.28, ordering the airborne invasion of Crete. The operation would be led by the commander of German airborne forces, General Kurt Student.
17/4/1941, Yugoslavia capitulated to Germany.
16/4/1941, The German Afrika Corps recaptured Bardia. Germany occupied Belgrade.
12/4/1941, Allied troops in Greece withdrew to the Olympus Line.
7/4/1941, German breakthrough, with Yugoslav forces, towards Salonika.
6/4/1941, Axis troops invaded Yugoslavia. Belgrade fell on 13/4/1941. Yugoslavia fell on 16/4/1941. The Croats, who had been irritated by Belgrade’s treatment of non-Serb minorities within Yugoslavia, often welcomed the German invaders. Belgrade was recaptured by the Soviets and Tito’s forces on 20/10/1944.
30/3/1941. Hitler outlined, to his generals, plans for the invasion of Russia – see 22/6/1941.
25/3/1941, Prince Paul, the Yugoslav Regent, signed a pact with the Nazis; in return for neutrality and the demilitarisation of the Adriatic coast, Germany would respect Yugoslav neutrality. However the Yugoslav Army, with popular backing, then deposed Prince Paul on 27/3/1941, and 17-year-old King Peter II took the throne. The move angered Hitler and he prepared Operation Strafgericht (Punishment), the invasion of Yugoslavia. See 6/4/1941.
3/3/1941, Nazi troops entered Bulgaria, occupying its Black Sea ports.
1/3/1941, Bulgaria joined the Axis. Bulgaria then allowed German troops to mount operations against Yugoslavia and Greece from its territory. However on 4/3/1941 Turkey refused to join the Axis.
9/1/1941, At a conference with his Generals, Hitler stated that the territory of Russia contained vast riches which Germany should dominate economically and politically, but not incorporate into the Third Reich. German military leaders expected Russia to crumble quickly under a German invasion. In February 1941 German plans for the invasion of Afghanistan and India were being prepared.
18/12/1940, Hitler signed the directive for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Soviet Russia.
13/12/1940, Hitler issued Directive No. 20 on the German invasion of Greece, codenamed Operation Marita.
12/11/1940, Molotov was invited to Berlin for Nazi-Russian talks.
3/11/1940, The Greeks recaptured Samarina from the Italians.
12/10/1940, Germany captured Bucharest.
10/9/1940, Italy began a build-up of 200,000 troops in Albania, for the invasion of Greece.
8/10/1940, German and Italian troops invaded the Romanian oilfields. Bucharest was occupied on 12/10/1940.
1/10/1940, Finland signed a military and economic treaty with Germany.
26/10/1939, The Republic of Slovakia was established as a German protectorate with Tiso as President, see 14/3/1939 and 22/5/1945.
8/10/1939. Hitler made western Poland part of the Third Reich.
5/10/1939, German troops held a victory parade in Warsaw in front of Hitler.
4/10/1939, Adolf Hitler issued a secret decree granting an amnesty to all crimes committed by German military and police personnel in Poland between September 1 and October 4. The decree justified the crimes as being natural responses to "atrocities committed by the Poles”.
2/10/1939, The last Polish resistance ceased. Troops under Admiral Unruh on the Pubwysep Hela Peninsula, north of Danzig, surrendered.
1/10/1939, Hitler entered Warsaw. The RAF dropped propaganda leaflets on Berlin.
30/9/1939. Germany and the USSR signed a pact agreeing on the partition of Poland.
28/9/1939, Polish troops holding out at the fortress of Modline fortress, 36 km from Warsaw, finally surrendered after an 18-day siege.
27/9/1939. German forces occupied Warsaw; the city capitulated from the siege (see 8/9/1939), having run out of food, water, and ammunition.
24/9/1939, All-day German air raids on Warsaw.
21/9/1939, Germany and Russia declared that Poland no longer existed.
18/9/1939, The city of Lublin fell to the Germans.
17/9/1939, Soviet troops invaded Poland. The German army reached Brest Litovsk in Poland.
14/9/1939, The Germans entered Gdynia.
13/9/1939, German troops crossed the Vistula at Annopol.
12/9/1939, German troops reached Lvov.
11/9/1939, The Battle of Jarosław ended with a successful Polish delaying action.
8/9/1939, The Germans began a siege of Warsaw (see 27/9/1939).
6/9/1939, Cracow fell to the Germans.
4/9/1939, Romania, alarmed by the German invasion of Poland and unable to help the Poles, declared its neutrality.
3/9/1939, The Polish town of Bydgoszcz (German, Bromberg), fell to the Nazis.
1/9/1939, Germany invaded Poland. Without a declaration of war, 1.25 million German troops invaded Poland under Operation Fall Weiss (White Plan) as the Luftwaffe destroyed the Polish rail system and its airforce. Some 60,000 Poles were killed, 200,000 wounded, and 700,000 taken prisoner. Germany here eschewed the static trench warfare of World War One, and the English language acquired a new word – blitzkrieg, meaning lightning war. Warsaw was bombed at 6.am. On 11.am. 3/9/1939 Britain declared war on Germany because of this invasion. For the first time in history the King went to Downing Street rather than the Prime Minister going to the Palace, because Neville Chamberlain needed to stay near his phone. On the same day, 3/9, New Zealand, Australia, and France, at 5.pm. also declared war on Germany. See 28/3/1939.
3) Western Front France, Benelux, Britain, western Germany.
7/5/1945. German Chief of Staff Jodl unconditionally surrendered to Allied forces at Reims, ending the fighting in Europe. The surrender was at 2.40 am in a small schoolhouse that served as General Eisenhower’s headquarters.
5/5/1945, German troops in Holland under General Johannes von Blaskowitz surrendered to the Canadian Commander Charles Foulkes.
4/5/1945, German troops in The Netherlands, Denmark, north-west Germany surrendered.
3/5/1945, Hamburg captured by the British.
1/5/1945, US troops entered Bavaria.
29/4/1945, Munich entered by US forces. British troops crossed the Elbe near Hamburg. RAF bombers dropped their first load of food in German-occupied Holland.
27/4/1945, Hitler received reports that Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS, had offered to surrender to the western Allies.
26/4/1945, Bremen captured by Allied forces.
25/4/1945, US and Soviet forces met on the Elbe near Torgau. Marshal Petain was arrested.
24/4/1945, Himmler offered to surrender the German Reich to the governments of Great Britain and the USA.
22/4/1945, Stuttgart taken by French forces.
21/4/1945, Dessau entered by US forces.
19/4/1945, US forces took Leipzig; the city was later handed to the Soviet sector, East Germany.
18/4/1945, The US took Magdeburg (later handed to the Soviet Zone).
18/4/1945, US troops under General Patton entered Czechoslovakia.
14/4/1945, Canadian forces in Holland reached the North Sea and captured Leeuwarden. French and US forces attacked Germans in the Bordeaux area. The Americans crossed the Elbe south of Dessau.
11/4/1945, Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, was liberated by US forces. On the Western Front, the Allies reached the Elbe, 60 miles from Berlin.
10/4/1945, Hanover taken by US forces. The Nordhausen underground V2 assembly plant was overrun by US forces.
5/4/1945, British forces reached Minden.
4/4/1945, French forces entered Karlsruhe.
3/4/1945, Hamm and Cassel captured by US forces.
1/4/1945, German forces in the Ruhr area trapped, and 21 German divisions destroyed.
29/3/1945, Mannheim captured by US forces.
27/3/1945. The last German V-2 rocket fell on Britain, at Orpington. (see 8/9/1944). The Allies then overran the last V-2 launching site. In all, 1,050 rockets fell on England, each carrying a ton of explosive with a range of 200 miles. 518 of these V2s hit London, killing 2,754 people and seriously injuring a further 6,523. The V-2s were designed by Werner von Braun, who surrendered to the Americans in 1945. Von Braun was given US citizenship and helped design the rockets for the US space programme, including the Saturn rockets and the Apollo missions.
25/31945, The US Army broke out of the bridgehead at Remagen and advanced 6 miles east (see 7/3/1945). After their failure to destroy the bridge, Germany sent the Luftwaffe to bomb it; 5 out of 20 Luftwaffe aircraft were lost, the bridge was successfully destroyed, but the Americans, holding both river banks, had laid temporary bridges alongside.
24/3/1945, Darmstadt captured by US forces.
23/3/1945, The US 2nd Army crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim. By 20/4/1945 British troops had advanced 200 miles into Germany.
21/3/1945, Ludwigshaven entered by US forces.
19/3/1945, Worms and Saarbrucken captured by US forces. Hitler issued an order to destroy all German industrial infrastructure, so the invading Allies would find nothing of value, but this order was ignored.
17/3/1945, Coblenz captured by the Americans.
14/3/1945, First use of ten-ton bombs by the RAF. The ‘Grand Slam’, 22,000 lbs, was dropped on Bielefeld railway viaduct.
11/3/1945, The huge Krupps factory in Germany was destroyed when 1,000 allied bombers took part in the biggest ever daylight raid. Essen taken by US forces.
8/3/1945, Canadian forces took Xanten, Germany.
7/3/1945. Cologne fell to the Allies. Allied troops crossed the Rhine by the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen. The Germans had intended to destroy this bridge like all others on the Rhine, as German resistance west of the Rhine had been crushed; however the explosive charges failed to detonate and US forces found the bridge intact and defended only by a few engineers and teenagers from the Volkssturm Stalin became alarmed that the western Allies crossing of the Rhine so quickly meant the Americans would take Berlin, not the Russians. Stalin wanted the Nazi stores of uranium and above all their A-bomb expertise, located in a research facility in the south western Berlin suburb of Dahlem. However the US was concentrating on southern Germany.
15/2/1945, British troops reached the Rhine.
8/2/1945, British and Canadian troops broke through the northern, weaker, section of the Seigfried Line near Millingen.
7/2/1945, All gains made by Germany in the Ardennes Offensive have now been erased, with the loss of 82,000 German soldiers and 77,000 US casualties.
6/2/1945, The US 8th Air Force bombed Magdeburg and Chemnitz.
4/2/1945, Belgium liberated of German forces.
2/2/1945, The French took Colmar.
1/2/1945, US forces reached the Seigfried Line, see 8/2/1945.
4/12/1944, German bridgehead west of the Maas taken by the British.
1/12/1944, The U.S. Ninth Army captured Linnich.
28/11/1944, Antwerp reopened to port traffic.
24/11/1944, Strasbourg taken by Allied forces.
23/11/1944, U.S. troops liberated the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in France.
22/11/1944, Mulhouse and Metz retaken by Allied forces.
20/11/1944, Belfort taken by the French.
7/11/1944, Middleburg, Holland, captured by the Allies.
4/11/1944, RAF Bomber Command sent 749 aircraft to conduct the last major raid on Bochum. Over 4,000 buildings were destroyed and nearly 1,000 people were killed.
3/11/1944, Flushing captured by the British. Canadian troops captured two bridges from South Beveland onto Walcheren.
2/11/1944, Belgium was clear of German troops. The Germans re-entered Belgium on 16/12/1944, and were finally expelled on 4/2/1945.
1/11/1944, British troops landed on Walcheren Island. Walcheren commended the approaches to Antwerp, which had been captured by the Allies on 1/9/1944; however until Walcheren was cleared of German forces, Antwerp Harbour was unusable. It took five weeks to capture the Walcheren fortifications, at a cost of 12,873 Allied lives. Before Walcheren fell, opening up Antwerp, Allied forces in Belgium had to be supplied from the Normandy beaches, because every Channel port from Cherbourg to Ostend had been wrecked by Allied bombing or by German demolition squads.
31/10/1944, British forces reached the River Maas.
28/10/1944, General De Gaulle ordered the French Resistance to disarm.
26/10/1944, British troops crossed the River Scheldt and occupied the Beveland peninsula.
23/10/1944, De Gaulle was officially recognised by the Allies as French leader. However De Gaulle was offended by the Allies refusal to treat France as a Great Power, or to invite him to the Yalta or Potsdam Conferences alongside the USA, UK and USSR.
21/10/1944. Aachen was captured by the Allies. The battle for the city, the first major German city to fall to the Allies, lasted a week, and over 10,000 prisoners were taken. Much of the city was destroyed.
16/10/1944, Aachen was surrounded by US forces.
9/10/1944, Canadian and British forces landed behind German lines south of the Scheldt Estuary.
30/9/1944, Canadian forces captured Calais.
29/9/1944, The Battle of Arracourt ended in American victory.
26/9/1944, The Canadian 2nd Army captured the German guns on Cap Gris Nez; the Allies now had total control of The Channel.
25/9/1944, The Allied forces who had been parachuted into Arnhem (17/9/1944) had succeeded in capturing key bridges over the Rhine, Maas and Waal rivers but had met fierce resistance from the 9th and 10th German Panzer Divisions. This resistance forced the withdrawal of Allied troops from Arnhem to south of the Rhine.
22/9/1944, Boulogne surrendered to Canadian forces.
20/9/1944, British forces reached The Rhine at Nijmegen.
19/9/1944, Brest taken by US forces.
18/9/1944, The Battle of Arracourt began near the French town of Arracourt.
17/9/1944. The British airborne invasion of Arnhem and Nijmegen, Holland, began as part of Operation Market Garden, to secure a bridge over the Rhine. However a hard winter for Holland began as German forces in the north of the country resisted Allied attacks under Field Marshal Model. Food became scarce and could only be bought by barter on the black market. Money had no value and the rations system collapsed. In Britain the blackout was replaced by the dimout, except for all areas within 5 miles of the coast where the blackout remained in force.
14/9/1944, Patton’s Third Army took Nancy in France.
13/9/1944, The Maastricht area was captured by Allied forces.
12/9/1944, Le Havre captured by the British.
11/9/1944, The Allies in the west under US First Army General Omar Bradley took their troops onto German soil, north of Trier. Large numbers of German troops were deserting. Civilian morale in Aachen collapsed as Nazi SS officials, troops and police hurriedly left the German city for Cologne, as US troops drew close.
8/9/1944, Liege taken by US forces.
5/9/1944, German and Dutch Nazis began to flee Holland, as Allied forces advanced through Belgium.
4/9/1944, The Allies crossed into Holland. Antwerp was liberated.
3/9/1944, The Allies entered Belgium, and liberated Brussels. The Belgian resistance was then well trained and armed, and German plans to destroy the docks at Antwerp as they retreated were thwarted. Thus the Allies could use this port to land ammunition and troops during the remaining eight months of fighting. Lyons also liberated by the Allies.
1/9/1944, Dieppe taken by the Canadians. British forces, helped by the Belgian Resistance, took Antwerp; see 1/11/1944.
8/1944, The dissolution of the French Right-wing group Action Francaise, as their eponymous newspaper ceased publication. Action Francaise, founded ca. 1900, advocated the overthrow of the Third Republic and the restoration of the French monarchy. Supoorted by many amongst the middle class and Catholics, Action Francaise had been discredited by its close association with the Vichy Government.
8/1944, As the Allies drew close to St Malo, the Germans burnt it before retreating.
30/8/1944, Rouen taken by the Canadians. German forces, putting up little resistance to the Allied advance in France, were retreating across the Seine; they were flooding the lower reaches of the Somme to delay the Allied advance there.
31/8/1944, Allied troops reached Amiens, northern France.
28/8/1944, Marseilles fell to the Allies.
26/8/1944, The Battle of Toulon ended in Allied victory.
25/8/1944, Germans in Paris surrendered. The Nazi commander, General von Cholitz, ignored Hitler’s instructions to destroy the city. The USA had held back to allow the French under General LeClerc to retake Paris, led by General De Gaulle. Paris had been under German occupation since 14/6/1940.
24/8/1944, Canadian forces captured Bernay and crossed the Risle River at Nassandres.
21/8/1944, US forces crossed the Seine.
20/8/1944, Toulouse taken by French forces.
19/8/1944, Paris rebelled against German occupation.
18/8/1944, The Allies closed the Falaise Gap, trapping German forces to the north and west.
17/8/1944, Falaise taken by the Canadians.
16/8/1944, Canadian troops surrounded Falaise, France.
15/8/1944. US and French forces landed in southern France, on a front from Nice to Marseilles, and joined up in eastern France with the forces landing in Normandy. This was Operation Anvil. From Marseilles Allied forces swung north up the Rhone Valley.
12/8/1944. PLUTO, or Pipeline Under The Ocean, began operating. It carried fuel from Shanklin, Isle of Wight, to Allied forces advancing against the Germans in France.
10/8/1944, US/French offensive at Alencon.
9/8/1944, St Malo and Le Mans taken by US forces.
7/8/1944, RAF attacked German lines south of Caen.
3/8/1944, Rennes taken by US forces.
31/7/1944, The Allies drove the Germans out of Normandy. Avranches was captured, opening the way into Brittany.
25/7/1944, Allied forces in Normandy forced through weakened German defences at St Lo.
9/7/1944, The Allies took Caen.
8/7/1944, British and Canadian troops approached the outskirts of Caen. The German defenders contested every street.
30/6/1944, The last German resistance in the Contentin Peninsula, France, ceased with the Allied capture of Auderville.
27/6/1944. The Allies took Cherbourg. This was important as it gave the Normandy bridgehead its first deep water port.
19/6/1944, The French retook Elba.
12/6/1944, Churchill visited the front in Normandy. The 101st American Airborne division captured the town of Carentan, which commended the Vire estuary; this closed the last gap in the Normandy beachheads, between Omaha and Utah beaches, into a single front 42 miles wide.
10/6/1944, Allied troops began a push towards Caen. This tied down large numbers of German troops and Hitler sent in his elite Panzer forces. Troops from the 2nd SS Panzer Division massacred 642 people in the French village of Oradour sur Glane in revenge for Resistance attacks. After the war, President De Gaulle ordered that the village be left as a ruin, as a memorial; a new village was built nearby.
9/6/1944, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery ordered massive air raids on German positions in northern France as the Allies advanced from Normandy. 450 Allied bombers hit towns including Lisieux and le Havre.
8/6/1944, Bayeux liberated.
6/6/1944. D – Day. Allied forces landed in Normandy. Operation Overlord was the biggest sea-borne invasion in history. It was delayed 24 hours due to bad weather.
In the early morning of Tuesday 6 June 1944 11,600 aircraft, 6,000 surface craft, and nearly 170,000 men assaulted the coast of France on a 50 mile front, and 9,000 had been killed. Men from boats joined with parachutists. By the sixth day, 326,000 Allied soldiers were in the French bridgehead.
The Luftwaffe mustered 183 planes, which faced 11,000 Allied planes. The Allies had also intercepted a Luftwaffe message indicating they were critically short of aviation fuel, and Allied bombing raids were concentrated on German oil installations. Crucially for the Germans, Hitler was asleep when the D-Day landings began, at 06.35 local time, and no-one dared waken him. Extra reinforcements could not be ordered without him, and vital hours were lost by the Axis forces battling to hold Normandy. By the end of the first day, the Allies had a beachhead 25 miles long and 5 miles deep. Further initial advance was delayed by the Normandy bocage, small fields with thick hedgerows, and steep valleys and hillsides. See 15/5/1944.
5/6/1944. The Café Gondree was the first place to be liberated from the Germans on the eve of the D-Day landings when paratroopers from the 6th Brigade dropped on the town of Benouville to seize a vital canal bridge.
4/6/1944. Eisenhower decided on a 24-hour delay to D-Day due to poor weather.
2/6/1944, Eisenhower settled on 5 June for D-Day.
1/6/1944, The BBC transmitted a coded alert to the French Resistance warning od the D-Day landings; the message was the first verse of Paul Verlaine’s poem, Chanson D’Automne.
15/5/1944, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel attempted to cut off occupied France from neutral countries to stop information being passed out to the Allies.
8/5/1944, Eisenhower settled on 5, 6, or 7 June as date for the D-Day landings.
19/4/1944, The RAF bombed railways and river bridges in France.
9/4/1944, General Charles De Gaulle became commander in chief of the Free French forces. This angered his rival for the post, World War One veteran General Henri Giraud. De Gaulle fled France for Britain in 1940.
18/2/1944, The RAF raided Amiens prison, where many French Resistance fighters were being held. They succeeded in bringing down the prison walls, and although 56 Resistance were shot by guards, 258 more escaped. They had faced execution the next day.
13/2/1944. The Allies dropped weapons for the French Resistance in Haut-Savoie.
4/10/1943, Allied troops occupied Corsica, the first part of France to be liberated.
29/9/1943, In a decisive battle, which lasted until 4/10/1943, French forces, together with Italians, fought the Germans and forced them to evacuate Corsica. The Germans retreated to mainland France and the Italians moved to Sardinia.
13/9/1943, Free French forces attacked the German and Italians on Corsica, see 29/9/1943.
24/7/1943, Operation Gomorrah, the destruction of the German port of Hamburg began. British and Canadian airplanes bombed the city by night, and American planes followed during the day. By the end of the operation in November, 9,000 tons of explosives had killed more than 30,000 people and destroyed 280,000 buildings. For the first time, the British forces used "Window", aluminium strips dropped to distort radar images, against the German anti-aircraft defences.
8/7/1943, French Resistance leader, Jean Moulin, died after torture by the Gestapo.
12/12/1942, British commandoes blew up six ships in Bordeaux harbour.
27/11/1942, The French fleet was scuttled in the harbour of Toulon, six hours after German troops arrived there.
11/11/1942, The Axis invaded Vichy France.
19/8/1942. Allied commando raid on Dieppe, by the Canadians and British. There were heavy Allied casualties. The aim of the raid was to try and seize a Channel port from the Germans; the raid failed, with 1,000 Allied troops killed and 2,000 taken prisoner out of a total of 6,100 men, and all their tanks and equipment abandoned there was nine hours of fighting along 11 miles of coastline. However information from the raid was very useful in planning the D-Day landings of June 1944. The principal lesson was that any attempted Allied landing in France must be on a beach using artificial harbours, not at an existing port.
31/5/1942, Major 1,000 bomber Allied raid against Cologne.
26/12/1941, Second British raid on the Lofoten Islands. Winston Churchill discussed war strategy in America.
16/12/1941, Allied raids on Ostend, Bremen and Wilhelmshaven.
17/9/1940. Hitler ordered the indefinite postponing of the invasion of Britain, after the Luftwaffe had failed to establish command of the air over Britain.
15/9/1940, The Battle of Britain ended with victory to the Allies. 1,733 German planes were destroyed as against 915 lost by the RAF. It began on 8/8/1940. The Nazis had given up hope of achieving air superiority and invading Britain. The RAF had also destroyed much of the shipping that was to carry German troops to England.
8/8/1940. Battle of Britain began. See 31/10/1940. German aircraft had already made raids on Britain; on 10/7/1940 the Cornish port of Falmouth was attacked by 63 Junkers 88s. However it was on this day that mass attacks of over 1,000 German aircraft began. Hermann Goering was confident of victory. Until 30/8/1940 German air attacks were mainly on British shipping and coastal towns, and German air losses exceeded those sustained by the RAF. But between 30/8/1940 and 6/9/1940 the Luftwaffe switched its attacks to airfields in southern Britain. The RAF lost 20% of its fighter planes and at one stage only 2 airfields in southern Britain were operational. In one week 185 RAF fighter planes were destroyed. There was a real possibility that the Luftwaffe could destroy the RAF.
But on 24/8/1940 a German pilot accidentally dropped his bombs on London, and Churchill ordered revenge raids on Berlin. This angered Hitler and he ordered Goering to switch the Luftwaffe’s raids to London, which faced continual bombing until 2/11/1940. The Luftwaffe faced the problem that if their aircraft were shot down, the pilot was captured as a POW; however if a British plane was shot down, over Britain, the pilot could return to the fighting. Pilots were much harder to replace, with all their training, than an aircraft was to build. Prime Minister Winston Churchill said that ‘never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few’.
7/8/1940. Alsace-Lorraine and Luxembourg were made part of Germany.
31/7/1940. Hitler gave orders for a massive air offence against Britain (see 8/8/1940).
19/7/1940. Hitler offered some prospect of peace in Europe, having occupied Paris (14/6/1940). He said he was willing to recognise the British Empire, so long as Germany could have Egypt and Iraq, and would negotiate with a British government containing Lloyd George and the Duke of Windsor. Both men had expressed some sympathy for Hitler, and the UK Cabinet would have none of it.
16/7/1940. Adolf Hitler issued Directive 16, to invade Britain, under Operation Sealion. He had delayed issuing this order because he had still hoped that Britain would jon with Germany in an ‘anti-Communist Alliance’. But Churchill had soundly rejected this idea.
The German conquest of France was now complete. Hitler now set his sights on Britain.
5/7/1940. The Vichy government broke off relations with Britain.
3/7/1940. The British Royal Navy destroyed a large part of the French navy at Oran in Algeria to prevent it falling into German hands. The French navy at Alexandria was immobilised but those ships at Oran were a more serious threat. The French commander at Oran was offered 4 choices by the British. 1) to sail his forces to a British port and join forces with Britain. 2) To sail to a British port and have his men repatriated to France. 3) To sail to a West Indian port, and have his ships de-commissioned, or handed over to the USA. 4) To sink his own ships. The French admiral, on instructions from Vichy France, refused these alternatives. At 5.55pm on 3/7/1940 the British opened fire, destroying the French ships, wounding 351 and killing 1,279 French sailors. See 18/7/1940.
2/7/1940. The Vichy French government was officially formed after the collapse of France. Henri Petain was Head of State.
1/7/1940, Click Here for map of German invasion of France June 1940. Note isochrones of invasion front line and ineffectiveness of Maginot Line.
28/6/1940, Britain formally recognised De Gaulle as leader in exile of France.
27/6/1940, German troops in France reached the Spanish border.
25/6/1940, Official ceasefire in France on all fronts.
23/6/1940, Hitler flew in to Paris for a three-hour tour, his only ever visit to the city.
22/6/1940, (1) The French armistice with Germany (see 16/6/1940) cut the country in half. Although the French Government was nominally in control of all pre-1940 French territory, including its colonies, except for Alsace and Lorraine which were annexed to Germany, the Germans claimed ’occupying rights’ across northern and western France. Germany held some 2,500,000 French POWs and required the French Government to pay the costs of occupation. France was allowed to retain a small army (100,000 men), and all its navy, albeit disarmed. The arrangement was designed to keep France quite until Britain was conquered. The Germans had the armistice signed in Marshall Foch’s old railway carriage in the Forest of Compeigne, where in 1918 a defeated Germany had to accept French armistice terms.
(2) Britain evacuated 30,000 civilians from the Channel islands, about a third of the population. Germany invaded these islands a week later.
21/6/1940, Italian troops advanced into the French Alps, meeting little resistance.
20/6/1940, The first Australian and New Zealand troops arrived in Britain. In France, Lyons was occupied by the Germans, who also captured Brest this day.
19/6/1940, Nancy and Luneville fell to the Germans.
18/6/1940, Charles de Gaulle, leader of the French Resistance, broadcast an appeal for his countrymen to carry on fighting. It was in response to Marshall Petain’s announcement of an armistice with Germany, German forces reached Cherbourg and Rennes.
16/6/1940, Paul Reynaud resigned as French Prime Minister. Marshall Petain took over and asked the Germans for an armistice. See 22/6/1940.
15/6/1940, Verdun fell; the Maginot Line was pierced. The French Government moved to Bordeaux.
14/6/1940, German troops entered Paris, and the Swastika flew from the Eiffel Tower. The French government had fled to Bordeaux, and was seeking release from the British Alliance so it could negotiate separately with Germany. On 22/6/1940 an armistice between France and Germany was signed and the Vichy government was set up. Paris was liberated on 25/8/1944. With continental Europe largely occupied, Hitler now hoped the British would negotiate a settlement.
13/6/1940, German offensive south of Rouen; Montmedy fell. Paris was declared an open city.
12/6/1940, Rheims fell to the Germans.
11/6/1940, French forces retreated south of the River Marne.
10/6/1940, The Germans were within 35 miles of Paris; the French government moved to Tours. Italy declared war on Britain and France; French troops did repel Italian attacks across the frontier, but they could not hold the Germans back in the north. France declared Paris an ‘open city’ on this day and French troops left. This was to spare the city, its people and buildings, from destruction by war.
9/6/1940, German forces reached the suburbs of Rouen; German offensive began in Champagne.
7/6/1940, German offensive north and east of Soissons; they crossed the Ailette Canal.
4/6/1940, Dunkirk evacuation completed by British forces (see 10/9/1939). Evacuation (Operation Dynamo) had begun on 29/5/1940, and 338,226 troops (114,000 French and Belgian, 228,000 British) had been rescued by an armada of destroyers, fishing boats, ferries, and assorted small craft. It was thought that only 45,000 could be rescued, under attack from the Luftwaffe who were dive-bombing the beaches. However the German army stopped its advance just outside Dunkirk, apparently unwilling to risk pressing forward through the coastal marshes. Churchill made his famous ‘we shall fight them on the beaches’ speech in the Commons.
3/6/1940, The Germans launched Operation Paula, an attempt to destroy the French Air Force. However, British intelligence had warned the French of the impending attack and the operation failed to achieve its strategic goals.
2/6/1940, A further 80,287 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
1/6/1940, A further 64,229 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
31/5/1940, A further 68,104 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
30/5/1940, (1) Two divisions were shipped from Britain to France, to help defend Brittany. However on 22/6/1940 France signed an armistice with Germany. The 51st Highland Division was surrounded and forced to surrender at St Valery. A further 52,823 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
(2) The Nazi Reichskommisar Arthur Seyss-Inquart took control of The Netherlands. German occupation became heavier-handed as Germany invaded Russia, and became very oppressive after Stalingrad and the Allied victories in North Africa.
29/5/1940, A further 47,310 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
28/5/1940, Belgian troops under King Leopold III surrendered to Germany. A further 17,804 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
27/5/1940, Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of British and French troops from the Dunkirk beaches, began – see 4/6/1940. 7,669 men were evacuated to England.
26/5/1940, The Germans took the port of Bolougne. Calais later surrendered after being held against two German divisions from 24 to 27 May, leaving Dunkirk the only French Channel port on Allied hands (see 4/6/1940).
22/5/1940, German forces were now just 15 kilometres from Calais.
21/5/1940, The Germans took Amiens and Arras in France.
20/5/1940, German forces reached the French coast, splitting the Allied defences.
18/5/1940, The Germans took Antwerp and Brussels. Germany now occupied all of Holland. See 3/9/1944.
16/5/1940, The British Expeditionary Force withdrew from the River Dyle to the River Scheldt.
15/5/1940, Germany took The Hague. The Dutch army surrendered.
14/5/1940, The centre of Amsterdam was destroyed by German bombing. Rotterdam was also heavily bombed by the Germans, and the city centre and large parts of the east of the city destroyed.
13/5/1940, (1) The Battle of Sedan began the German invasion of France.
(2) Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch Cabinet fled Holland for England.
12/5/1940, The RAF bombed bridges near Maastricht, to slow the German advance into Holland.
11/5/1940, Maastricht was attacked by German forces.
10/5/1940, Germany attacked westward through Belgium towards France. Along a 150 mile front, German troops seized key positions before the defenders could react. Germany also occupied Luxembourg, and German forces entered Holland.
20/3/1940, Daladier resigned as leader of the French War Cabinet (see 13/9/1939); replaced by Reynaud.
8/3/1940, Martial Law was declared throughout The Netherlands because of the Nazi threat. Dutch troops were put on full alert on 2/4/1940.
31/12/1939, In France, the battle lines had been quiet up to the end of 1939; bored cold soldiers dug more trenches, and the odd shot was fired between the Maginot and Siegfried Lines. In contrast to the rapid invasion of Poland, German forces hesitated as Hitler and his generals argued over the best invasion plan, and the Allies remained under-prepared. This ‘phoney war’ or ‘sitskrieg’ as the French termed it, led to some evacuees in Britain returning to the cities. Only at sea was the War being fought. All this changed in 1940.
29/11/1939, Hitler issued Directive No. 9, Instructions for Warfare against the Economy of the Enemy. The directive focused on attacking British shipping and ports and blockading sea lanes using U-boats and naval mines.
22/11/1939, German attacks on The Shetlands began; lasted until 24/11/1939.
12/10/1939, Hitler made a peace proposal to Britain, which was rejected.
9/10/1939, Hitler issued Directive No. 6 ordering preparations for an offensive in the west with an initial date set for November 12. However protests from his service chiefs and very cold weather caused the date of the attack to be postponed repeatedly.
6/10/1939, Britain and France rejected Hitler's peace bid. Hitler claimed to be satisfied with his occupation of western Poland, as Russia took the eastern half, and maintained he had no wish to fight Britain.
25/9/1939, French artillery began bombarding German fortifications on the Rhine.
13/9/1939, French War cabinet formed under Daladier (see 20/3/1940).
10/9/1939, The British Expeditionary force arrived in Cherbourg, France. Four divisions, comprising 158,000 men and 25,000 vehicles crossed the Channel with no interference from U-boats or the Luftwaffe.
The Dunkirk evacuation was completed on 4/6/1940.
7/9/1939, Saar Offensive: the French Army began a ground operation in the Saarland against light German defences.
4/9/1939, French troops crossed the German border into Saarland.
3)a) Scandinavia (For Finland see Eastern Front)
6/5/1945, German forces in Norway surrendered.
5/5/1945, Denmark liberated from Nazi occupation – see 9/4/1940.
20/2/1944, Saboteurs blew up a ship on Lake Tinnsjo, Norway, which was carrying heavy water for use in a Nazi atomic research facility.
16/11/1943, US 8th Army Air Force bombers attacked the German heavy water plant at Vermork, Norway. This was a vital centre for Germany’s atomic weapons programme.
25/8/1941, Canadian and British and Norwegian forces raided Spitzebergen.
2/8/1941, All civilian radios in Norway were confiscated by the Germans.
7/7/1941, American troops joined the British force occupying Iceland. This released 20,000 British troops.
4/3/1941, British forces, assisted by Norwegian resistance fighters, raided the German-occupied Lofoten Islands; 11 German boats were destroyed.
10/2/1941, The Luftwaffe bombed Iceland.
1/2/1941, Vidkun Quisling was appointed puppet Prime Minister of Norway by the Germans.
28/5/1940, Narvik captured by Germany.
9/5/1940, Britain occupied the Danish territories of Iceland and the Faroe Islands. This was to forestall any Nazi occupation of these territories, which might have facilitated attacks on the UK and even the USA.
2/5/1940, The Allies withdrew their troops south of Trondheim.
30/4/1940, Germany claimed to have taken the Norwegian towns of Dombaas and Stoeren. British and French troops fought the Nazis in northern Norway.
17/4/1940, Allied troops landed at Aandalsnes; challenged by German forces at Stenkjer.
14/4/1940, Allied troops landed at Namsos, Norway.
11/4/1940, British troops landed in Norway.
9/4/1940, Germany began the invasion of Denmark and Norway. Hitler occupied Denmark because of its strategic importance and to pave the way for an invasion of Norway. The Norwegian Royal Guard offered only token resistance. The small Danish air force was destroyed on the ground at Vaerlose airfield. It took just two hours for the Danish government to surrender.
Germany wanted to invade Norway for several reasons. To safeguard the export of iron ore from neutral Sweden, to stop the British entering The Baltic, and to prevent UK aid reaching Finland through Norway; Finland was then at war with Russia, and Russia was still allied to Germany.
Germany installed Major Vidkun Quisling as head of their puppet government in Oslo. Making radio broadcasts calling for resistance to Germany to cease, Quisling became a synonym for traitor.
The Allies also chose this day to begin occupying Norway to deny the Nazis iron ore However the German occupation meant the Allies now faced not ‘friendly’ territory but a formidable foe. The Allies planned to occupy Trondheim and Narvik. For Trondheim, Allied troops landed at Namsos to the south and Aandalsnes to the north, but had to be evacuated on 2/5/1940 without achieving anything. Narvik did fall to Allied forces on 28/5/1940 but it was impossible to sustain such an isolated force and Narvik was evacuated by the Allies on 8/6/1940.
However Denmark remained nominally a sovereign state until 29/8/1943. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union, the Danish Government was forced to allow the formation of a Danish Volunteer corps fighting with the Nazis; however the Danish people began active resistance against the Nazis. Railway lines and German military installations were bombed, delaying German supplies to both eastern and western fronts. In the summer of 1943 the Danish government refused to introduce the death penalty for sabotage, to allow the persecution of Jews, or to use force against strikers.
In September 1943 Danes became aware that the Nazis were about to round up all Danish Jews. The Danes then began a massive effort to save the Jews. Jewish names on doors were changed to common Danish ones such as Jensen or Hansen, and hundreds of these ‘Jensens’ were suddenly admitted to hospital, or hidden by Danes in their flats and houses. Then some 7,200 Jews, along with 680 non Jews, many married to Jews, were secreted aboard fishing boats and smuggles across to neutral Sweden. Only 447 Danish Jews were captured by the Germans and overall less than 25 of Denmark’s Jews died in the Holocaust.
Germany then declared a state of emergency in Denmark. Danish resistance continued until Allied forces liberated Denmark on 5/5/1945.
3/4/1940, Vidkun Quisling revealed secrets of Norwegian defences to German agents in Copenhagen.
21/2/1940, Hitler authorized Operation Weserübung, the invasion of Norway.
3)b) Italy, Malta
2/5/1945, Trieste captured by New Zealand forces.
30/4/1945, Turin entered by US forces.
29/4/1945, The Allies took Venice. German troops in Italy unconditionally surrendered at 12 noon on 29/4/1945.
28/4/1945, Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were caught and shot in Azzano, near Milan, by Italian partisans, as they tried to flee Italy. Born in 1883, Mussolini allied with Nazi Germany in WW2. However as the Allies invaded Italy the Italian Communist partisans decided to execute him. He tried to cross the frontier disguised as a German soldier retreating towards Innsbruck, Austria, but was recognised. Democracy was restored to Italy after 20 years and a neo – Fascist party supporting Mussolini’s ideals won only 2% of the vote in the Italian elections of 1948. The body of Mussolini, his mistress, and other government officials, were hung upside down in Milan.
27/4/1945, Genoa captured by US forces.
25/4/1945, The Allies captured Verona. Italian partisans liberated Milan.
23/4/1945, River Po reached by the Allies.
21/4/1945, Bologna, Italy, was liberated by the Allies, cutting links between the German 10th and 14th Armies. It had been under German occupation from September 1943, when Italy switched sides in the War.
6/4/1945, Allied forces began Operation Grapeshot, a renewed Spring offensive in Italy.
10/11/1944, Allied troops took Forli, Italy.
22/9/1944, Rimini captured by Allied forces.
21/9/1944, San Marino declared war on Germany.
2/9/1944, Allied forces took Pisa.
19/8/1944, Allied forces in Italy took Florence.
11/8/1944, Florence evacuated by the Germans.
3/7/1944, Siena retaken by French troops.
20/6/1944, Perugia, Italy, taken by the Allies.
4/6/1944, Rome liberated by the Allies.
23/5/1944. The Battle of Anzio, Italy. Landings by the Allies had begun at Anzio on 22/1/1944, 40 miles behind German lines and just 30 miles south of Rome. German troops in the area were sparse but rather than break out straightaway, taking advantage of the element of surprise, the Allies waited until further reinforcements came, by which time the Germans had brought in more troops too.
18/5/1944. Allied troops captured Monte Casino in Italy. This opened the way to Rome. See 15/2/1944 and 4/6/1944.
15/3/1944, Heavy air raids against the ancient monastery at Casino by the Allies.
15/2/1944, Casino monastery bombed by the Allies. The monastery, founded in 529 AD by St Benedict, occupied a strategic position at the entrance to the Liri valley and the route to Rome. See 18/5/1944.
3/2/1944, Germans reopened an offensive against the Anzio beach head.
29/1/1944, Battle of Cisterna in central Italy.
22/1/1944. The Allies landed at Anzio, Italy. Anzio was over 60 miles behind German lines and only 35 miles from Rome. The Allies found the town deserted; the Italians had evacuated the place and the German army had moved elsewhere. 50,000 Allied troops and 3,000 vehicle swere put ashore with only 13 casualties, from mines. Initially the Germans were taken by surprise but rushed troops to the area to contain the bridgehead, which did not rejoin Allied forces until May 1944 with the general retreat of the Germans north of Rome. Anzio made it impossible for Kesselring to establish a German defensive line south of Rome.
17/1/1944, British troops crossed the Garigliano River, Italy.
10/1/1944, Mussolini’s son in law was sentenced to death for treason.
28/12/1943, Allied troops landed at Ortona, east coast of Italy.
19/10/1943, Italian troops began to help Tito’s partisans in their fight against the Germans.
16/10/1943, Nazi German forces began to round up Jews from Rome for deportation to the death camps. 1,200 Jews were deported, of whom only 15 survived the War. However Giovanni Borromeo, head of the Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Rome, rapidly admitted many Jews and other anti-fascists with so-called K Syndrome. The Nazis took this to mean Koch Syndrome (tuberculosis) and feared to enter the hospital, on an island in the Tiber, saving many from the Nazi extermination camps.
13/10/1943, Italy changed sides and declared war on Germany. See 8/9/1943.
30/9/1943, Allied troops entered Naples.
20/9/1943, Allies attacked Naples.
19/9/1943, Germany evacuated Sardinia.
15/9/1943, Three days after freed from imprisonment by Germany, and seven weeks after his overthrow in July, Benito Mussolini was restored to leadership of Italy by the Nazi occupiers; German paratroopers also landed in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City in Rome, despite the Vatican's neutrality in the war Mussolini made his announcement of a return to power from Adolf Hitler's headquarters at Rastenburg.
12/9/1943. Mussolini was rescued from prison by the Germans.
11/9/1943, German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring declared that all Italian territory was under German military control, which former dictator Benito Mussolini would later describe as reducing Italy to the status of a German "colony". Adolf Hitler ordered that the occupied Italian territory be divided into three zones, with the area around Rome extending south toward the front lines against the Allies, the Alpine mountain region ("Alpenvorland") and the coast along the Adriatic Sea ("Adriatische Kusterland"). Hitler also issued orders to deal with any Italian military units that had gone over to fight for the Allies, with all officers to be executed, and soldiers and non-combatants to be deported to Germany as labourers.
10/9/1943. (1) German troops occupied Rome.
(2) Allied troops took Tarantino, Italy.
9//9/1943. Allied forces landed at Salerno, Italy. Allied forces landed at Salerno, Italy. King Umberto of Italy left Rome and fled to Brindisi in the south. This was seen as an abandonment by many Italians and contributed to the conversion of the country to a Republic in 1946.
8/9/1943 The Italian Prime Minister, Badoglio and King Victor Emmanuel agreed to Italy’s unconditional surrender to the Allies (see 25/7/1943, 15/9/1943 and 13/10/1943).
14/9/1943, Allied troops landed at Bari, SE Italy.
3/9/1943. Allied troops landed on the Italian mainland, in the province of Calabria. See 25/7/1943.
16/4/1942. The island of Malta was awarded the George Cross by George VI for its heroism during the German and Italian bombardment.
11/1/1941, Hitler issued Directive No. 22, German Support for Battles in the Mediterranean Area.
10/1/1941, British bases on Malta were bombed.
24/6/1940, France signed an armistice with Italy in Rome; Italian troops occupied Mentone.
23/10/1942, The Second Battle of El Alamein began, see 30/10/1942 and 30/6/1942. The British forces had been reinforced and now numbered 230,000 men, against the 80,000 Axis army.
30/9/1942, The Allies seized key positions near El Alamein in a dawn raid.
23/9/1942, British troops captured Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar.
18/9/1942, The battle of El Alamein began with a barrage of one thousand guns aimed at Italian and German troops.
7/9/1942, The Battle of Alam Halfa, north Africa, ended. Rommel attacked the southern sector of the El Alamein Line, in an attempt to break through to the Suez Canal. Montgomery strengthened the Alam Halfa Ridge, which Rommel would have to capture once he had crossed the British minefields. Rommel cleared the minefields on 30-31 August then as expected swung north to attack the Ridge. Here Rommel was successfully repulsed by Montgomery. Montgomery did not make the mistake of counter-pursuing the Italians into the desert, which could have cost many Allied lives, but pounded the retreating Axis forces with air and ground artillery.
30/8/1942, The Battle of Alam Halfa, north Africa, began, see 7/9/1942.
19/8/1942, Montgomery became commander of the British Eight Army in North Africa.
27/7/1942, The first Battle of El Alamein ended after 27 days; the British under Auchinlek held back the Germans and Italians, preventing their advance into Egypt.
30/6/1942, The First Battle of El Alamein began. It lasted till 25/7/1942, and prevented an Axis breakthrough to Cairo and the Suez Canal. See 23/10/1942.
28/6/1942, The Allied 8th Army retreated to El Alamein, north Africa.
21/6/1942, Tobruk fell to Rommel’s Afrika Corps (see 18/11/1941). 25,000 Allied troops were taken prisoner.
26/5/1942. (1) The Germans attacked Bir Hakeim, an Allied fortified position in eastern Libya, about 90 kilometres south of Tobruk. The fort of Bir Hakeim was blocking the Axis advance towards El Alamein. Over the next two weeks the Luftwaffe flew 1,400 sorties against the fort, whilst 4 German / Italian divisions attacked on the ground. Despite an explosion destroying the fort’s ammunition dump, Bir Hakeim refused to surrender, and the Allies dropped food and water as British armoured cars brought in fresh ammunition by night. On the night of 10-11/6/1942 the French defenders retreated, leaving the badly wounded to hold the lines.
Although Bir Hakeim fell to the Axis forces, it did give the Allies time to regroup and hold the Axis advance at El Alamein. Without this, the Germans might have succeeded in occupying Egypt and taking the Suez Canal.
28/1/1942, German and Italian forces recaptured Benghazi.
21/1/1942, German offensive began in the Western Desert, Egypt.
12/1/1942, In North Africa, the British took Sallum after a 56-day siege when the Germans ran out of ammunition.
6/1/1942, British forces advancing westwards through Libya reached Mersa Brega, near El Agheila.
24/12/1941, Benghazi recaptured by the British.
27/11/1941, Gondar, Abyssinia, captured by Allied forces.
20/11/1941, The German Afrika Korps gave battle over a broad area around Sidi Rezegh.
19/11/1941, Start of First Battle of Sidi Rezegh (ended 22/11/1941). Rommel captured the airfield from the Allies, who however managed to avoid encirclement and capture.
18/11/1941, Allies under General Auchinlek began Operation Crusader, ousting the Italians from North Africa. By 25/12/1941 the British gained territory and were back to where they were in February 1941. On 21/1/1942 Rommel hit back and Tobruk surrendered to him on 21/6 1942.
17/11/1941, British commando raids on German HQ at Tobruk, 300 kilometres behind enemy lines.
20/4/1941, The German Afrika Corps attacked Tobruk, Libya.
8/4/1941, Germans retook Doiran (Libya),
6/4/1941, Allied forces, including British, Indian, and South African troops, recaptured the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, from the Italians.
5/4/1941, The British army took Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
3/4/1941, Allied troops evacuated Benghazi in the face of Rommel’s advance. There was a pro-Axis coup d’etat in Iraq.
1/4/1941, Allied troops took the Eritrean capital, Asmara, four days after storming Keren.
29/3/1941, The Abyssinian town of Dire Dawa was captured by South African forces from the Italians, This cut the Addis Ababa to Djibouti railway and opened the way to attack the Ethiopian capital.
27/3/1941, The British took Keren and Hasara in Ethiopia, defeating an Eritrean-Italian force. At the Battle of Kerem, nearly 4,000 British and Indian soldiers had died.
21/3/1941, The Allies captured Jarabub, Libya.
16/3/1941, The Allies recaptured Berbera.
7/3/1941, The British army entered Ethiopia.
6/3/1941, Haile Selassie’s troops recaptured Burye from Italy.
25/2/1941, Mogadishu, the main port of British Somaliland, was recaptured by the British from the Italians.
16/2/1941, The last Italians were expelled from Sudan.
15/2/1941, Allied forces took Kismaya.
14/2/1941. The first of Rommel’s Afrika Corps arrived in Tripoli.
7/2/1941, End of the Battle of Beda Fomm, north Africa (began 5/2/1941). Allied forces launched a surprise attack on the withdrawing Italian Tenth Army, at a point 96 km south of Benghazi. The Allies cut the coast road along which the Italians were retreating, capturing some 25,000 Italians as PoWs.
6/2/1941, The British 8th Army captured Benghazi in Libya.
4/2/1941, British forces occupied Maus, Libya.
3/2/1941, Cyrene re-occupied by the British.
1/2/1941, The RAF raided Tripoli, Libya.
22/1/1941. Allied forces recaptured the Libyan port of Tobruk from Italy.
19/1/1941, Kassala in Sudan re-occupied by the British.
5/1/1941, The Italian garrison of Bardia in the Western Desert fell to the Allies, 5,000 Italians were taken as POWs. On 30/1/1941 the Italian garrison of Derna fell to General Wavell. Benghazi fell to the Allies on 6/2/1941.
15/12/1940. Italian troops were driven by the British back across the Libyan border from Egypt.
11/12/1940, British forces recaptured Sidi Barrani, western Egypt, from the Italians.
9/12/1940, British troops launched an attack on the Italians in the Western Desert.
27/11/1940, The last of the Italian forces occupying Abyssinia surrendered to the British.
16/9/1940, Italian forces reached Sidi Barani in the Western Desert, Egypt. Their aim was to capture the Suez Canal and open a route to the Persian oil fields.
26/8/1940, Mr Eboue, the Black Governor of the French colony of Chad, promised allegiance to General de Gaulle and Free France.
4/7/1940, Three weeks after Italy entered the War, Italian forces invaded Sudan, occupying Kassala, 300 kilometers east of Khartoum, They also occupied Gallabat, further south.
5) Middle East
16/1/1943, Iraq declared war on Germany, Italy, and Japan.
1/5/1942, Iraq was declared eligible for US Lend-Lease.
18/11/1941, Iraq broke off relations with Japan.
16/11/1941, Iraq broke off relations with Vichy France.
25/8/1941, British and Soviet troops occupied Iran. This was a violation of Iran’s neutrality but was seen as a vital move to pre-empt German Fifth Columnists who might sabotage the oil installations.
3/7/1941, Allied forces took Palmyra (Syria) and Tabor (Abyssinia).
21/6/1941, British forces took Damascus, Syria.
9/6/1941, Allied forces occupied Tyre.
8/6/1941, A combined force of British and Free French invaded Syria.
3/6/1941, Britain installed a pro-British regime in Baghdad.
1/6/1941, British forces occupied Baghdad.
30/5/1941, Anti-British politicians fled from Baghdad and Iraq asked for an armistice as British forces occupied the country.
20/5/1941, Italian East Africa forces surrendered to British Empire forces. British forces occupied Falluja, Iraq.
9/5/1941, British forces occupied Rutba, Iraq.
7/5/1941, The British Air Force forced the relief of the base at Habbaniya, see 29/4/1941. See 9/5/1941.
29/4/1941, The Iraqi Army laid siege to the British airbase at Habbaniya, se 7/5/1941.
22/8/1942, Brazil declared war on Germany and Italy. Besides participating in the defence of the South Atlantic against German U-boats, Brazil sent an expeditionary force to Italy in July 1944.
1/6/1942, Mexico declared war on the Axis.
11/12/1941. Hitler declared war on the USA, as did Italy, even though he had not yet conquered Russia or invaded Britain. The USA declared war on Germany and Italy.
19/6/1941, Germany and Italy expelled US consuls.
10/9/1939, Canada declared war on Germany.
7/5/1945. The last ship sunk by German forces, the Avondale Park, was lost. See 4/9/1939.
11/1/1945, The British escort carrier HMS Thane was torpedoed in the Irish Sea and declared a total loss.
30/11/1944, HMS Vanguard, Britain’s largest and last battleship, was launched at Clydebank – see 20/10/1941.
12/11/1944, The last big German battleship, the Tirpitz, was sunk by the Lancaster bombers from the RAF, in Tromso Fjord, Norway. She had been lurking in Norwegian waters for several years, diverting Allied resources to protect Atlantic convoys. Three 5,500 kg bombs dropped on her decks resulted in the battleship turning turtle and sinking, trapping some 1,000 crewmen. A squadron of German fighter planes assigned to protect the Tirpitz did not even take off.
10/9/1944, RAF Bomber Command began Operation Paravane, another attack on the German battleship Tirpitz anchored in northern Norway.
22/8/1944, The Royal Navy began Operation Goodwood, a series of raids against the German battleship Tirpitz anchored in northern Norway.
26/12/1943, The German battleship Scharnhorst was sunk by the Royal Navy off the North Cape.
23/9/1943, The German battleship Tirpitz was severely damaged and disabled.
22/5/1943, After a month of disastrous losses, Grand Admiral Karl Donitz ordered his U-boats out of the \North Atlantic. On 19/5/1943 his son Peter died when U-954 was sunk by an RAF Liberator bomber from Iceland. Allied losses from U-boats had declined sharply from 1942 when 8 million tons of shipping was lost. Even in March 1943 600,000 tons were sunk. However the Allies developed new shortwave radar that could detect U-boats surfacing to recharge their batteries (see 26/10/1940), also more powerful depth charges. A week earlier, 5 U-boats out of 33 were lost in an unsuccessful attack on convoy SC-130. The Allies were better at breaking Germans communications codes; from 24 codebreakers at the beginning of the war the Royal Navy now had 1,000 codebreakers, including historians, mathematicians and linguists, many of them German refugees. Listening posts to intercept German communications were scattered across Britain and British territories overseas.
28/3/1942, British commandos made a dawn raid on the French port of St Nazaire. In ‘Operation Chariot’ they rammed an old destroyer, the Campbeltown, full of explosives, against the dock gate, putting the port out of action for the rest of the war.
25/11/1941, The Royal Navy battleship, HMS Barham, was sunk.
14/11/1941, The British aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, was sunk. She was torpedoed by a U-boat near Gibraltar; she was under tow to Gibraltar for repair when fire broke out, her list increased and she was abandoned.
11/11/1941, The British attacked several Italian Navy ships at anchor in the Gulf of Taranto.
23/7/1941, The German battleship Scharnhorst was bombed at La Pallice (where she had been moved from Brest).
27/5/1941, The German battleship Bismarck was sunk by the battleships Prince of Wales, King George V, and Rodney, after torpedo attacks by Swordfish aircraft from the carrier Ark Royal.
24/5/1941, The German battleship Bismarck sank the 42,000 ton battle cruiser HMS Hood 13 miles off the coast of Greenland. Only 3 of her crew of 1,421 survived.
24/3/1941, The Battle of the Bismark began; Allied forces sunk the German battleship Bismark on 27/3/1941.
9/2/1941, Allied naval bombardment of Genoa.
13/11/1940, HMS Ark Royal was sunk by an Italian submarine, near Gibraltar.
5/11/1940, HMS Jervis Bay was lost defending an Atlantic convoy from the German battleship Admiral Scheer.
30/10/1940, Sabotage attempt by Italian divers on British ships in Gibraltar Harbour; no damage resulted.
26/10/1940, German U-boats used new tactics developed by Admiral Karl Donitz to sink much Allied supply shipping. The U-boats operated in ‘wolf packs’, forming long lines then gathering when one boat spotted a convoy. They then outnumbered the defence ships. Allied shipping losses in October 1940 rose to 88,000 tons a week, eight times the average weekly loss in January 1940. Worse for the Allies, the U-boats could only be detected when underwater, not on the surface, where their low profile made them almost invisible. However see 22/5/1943.
21/10/1940, The Empress of Britain, en route to Canada with child refugees, was sunk by a German submarine. British warships rescued most of the 634 crew and passengers.
8/7/1940, The British Navy put the French warship Richelieu, moored at Dakar, out of action.
6/7/1940, The first U-boat base in France became operational at Lorient.
17/6/1940, The British troop ship Lancastria was sunk by German bombs off St Nazaire; 2,300 troops and crew were killed.
8/4/1940, Britain mined the waters off Norway. HMS Glow-Worm was sunk.
20/2/1940, Hitler ordered his submarines to open fire on all neutral shipping in the waters around Britain. Britain had been allowing neutral ships to pass through the Dover straits after checking they were not carrying cargo to Germany. However Hitler wished to control neutral shipping, and force neutral nations to divert exports from Britain and France. Norway said that 50 Norwegian merchant ships have been sunk, although Norway was not a participant in the war. No USA ships had so far been hit, perhaps because of memories of the Lusitania.
16/2/1940, HMS Cossack regained 299 British POWs from the German naval auxiliary ship Altmark, which had ran aground in Norwegian waters.
17/12/1939, The Graf Spee was scuttled in the River Plate, see 13/12/1939. The Uruguayan Government had refused to give her sanctuary. Her captain, Hans Landsdorf, shot himself, in the mistaken belief that a large British naval force was waiting for her to put to sea. Hitler sent an ultimatum, scuttle or fight; Landsdorf chose not to send his crew out to their deaths.
13/12/1939, The Battle of the River Plate began with British warships, Exeter, Ajax, and Achilles, attacking the German battleship Graf Spee. On 17/12/1939 the Graf Spee was scuttled in the River Plate.
21/11/1939, The Rawalpindi, an auxiliary cruiser, was sunk in the Atlantic.
4/9/1939, The British liner Athenia sank the day after being torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland. 93 lives were lost. She had sailed from Liverpool on 2/9/1939 on her way to Montreal, and was informed about the outbreak of war at 11.am on the 3rd. She sank with the loss of 19 crew and 93 passengers. This was the start of the Battle of the Atlantic. The last ship sunk was the British Avondale Park on 7/5/1945. The German fleet was attacked by the RAF.
8) Air/Rocket war
7/4/1945, Germany sent out 120 student pilots to face 1,000 American bomber planes with the objective of ramming their planes into the U.S. aircraft and then parachuting to safety. Only a few of the pilots managed to hit the bombers and three-quarters of the Luftwaffe pilots were shot down.
3/3/1945, Germany deployed 30 of its latest jet fighters against the Allies. The jets were individually superior to the Allied planes, but were too few in number, with too short an operational time, to significantly hamper allied operations.
8/11/1944, Joseph Goebbels announced the V-2 rocket campaign for the first time. Winston Churchill followed suit and finally announced that England had been under rocket attack, providing the people of London with an explanation for all the mysterious explosions of recent weeks.
8/9/1944, The first V-2 fell in on Chiswick in the London area, killing three people. By the end of the war, 1,100 V-2s fell in England an a further 1,675 on the continent, mainly on Antwerp. V-2 stood for Vergeltungswaffe, or ‘reprisal weapon’. The V-2 rocket weighed 12 tons and travelled at 3,600 mph, faster than sound, so there was no warning of its imminent arrival. It had a range of 200 miles and carried a one ton bomb. The Germans fired them from launchers in The Netherlands, but the explosions in London were attributed, by the authorities, to gas explosions to mislead the German intelligence. The earlier V-1 rocket was slower and had a shorter range; V-1 strikes on London ceased as the Allies captured the launch sites in France.
6/3/1944. US planes began daylight bombing raids on Berlin, flying from bases in Britain.
9/2/1945, 2,000 US Air Force bombers, escorted by 900 fighter aircraft, hit oil targets across Germany. By now the entire Western Luftwaffe’s fighter strength was only around 900 aircraft; this US offensive cost the Luftwaffe a further 80 aircraft.
20/1/1944, The RAF dropped 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin.
22/11/1943, A major RAF raid on Berlin destroyed the armaments ministry, the Charlottenburg Palace, and the British Embassy. A church at the end of the Kurfurstendamm, the main shopping street in Berlin, was also destroyed, but its bell tower was rebuilt as a landmark in post-War Berlin.
24/9/1943, Repairs were finished on the Möhne river dam, which had been heavily damaged in a British bombing raid on May 16; the Edersee Dam, which had been bombed in the same raid, was restored to full operation six days later.
2/8/1943, Hamburg was seriously damaged by Allied aircraft, at a cost of 87 British aircraft. The RAF had considerably enlarged its bomber force; in January 1943 the RAF only had 260 heavy bombers, but now it regularly sent 700 bombers on a single raid, One million civilians had fled the city after three nights of bombing, and 40,000 were killed. 7,000 tons of bombs destroyed 10 square miles of Hamburg, creating a 1,000 C firestorm, and U-boat construction yards were severely damaged. The RAF used Pathfinder aircraft to drop marker bombs on the target city, then release masses of aluminium foil to confuse enemy radar, followed by the main bomber raid. The scale of these raids forced Hitler to withdraw Luftwaffe forces from the Russian front, where in August 1943 just 20% of Luftwaffe strength was then deployed. Albert Speer, Hitler’s Minister for War Production, feared that just six more raids on the scale of Hamburg could bring Germany to its knees.
16/5/1943 (1) The RAF launched its ‘Dambuster’ raid on the Ruhr dams, which had provided power to Germany’s industrial heartland. The Mohne, Eder, and Sorpe dams were destroyed by special ‘bouncing bombs’ designed by Dr Barnes Wallis; these bombs could skip over barriers placed in the dam lakes. The bombing squadron consisted of 19 Lancaster bombers from 617 squadron, from Scampton, led by Guy Gibson. The dams were destroyed, but less than half the bombers returned to the UK.
2/5/1943, The RAF bombed Berlin.
24/4/1943, Heavy bombing raid on Dortmund.
6/3/1943, The RAF pounded the Ruhr city of Essen.
30/1/1943, The RAF made its first daytime raid on Berlin.
27/1/1943, Air raids on Wilhelmshaven, Germany. The USA made its first bombing raid on Germany.
24/12/1942, At Peenemunde, Werner von Braun perfected the first flying bomb.
24/10/1942, RAF bombing raids on Genoa and Milan.
10/9/1942, The RAF dropped 100,000 bombs on Dusseldorf in a single raid.
23/8/1942, The Luftwaffe mounted a bombing raid on Stalingrad, with 600 aircraft.
17/8/1942, Daylight air raids by the Allies began, with a raid on the railway marshalling yards of Rouen. The first US bombing raids in Europe.
11/8/1942, Sir Barnes Wallis, born on 26/9/1887, patented the bouncing bomb, which was used against the German Mohne and Eder dams in 1943 by the RAF Dambusters Squadron.
16/7/1942, The RAF made its first daylight raid on the Ruhr.
25/6/1942, The RAF launched a 1,000 bomber raid on Bremen.
31/5/1942, An air raid of 1,000 planes was made against Cologne. 1,455 tons of bombs were dropped in 90 minutes. 2,300 separate fires started, destroying over 3,000 buildings. 45,000 people were made homeless.
28/4/1942, Bombing raid on Rostock, Germany. The target was the large Heinkel military aircraft factory there.
30/3/1942, The first 1,000 bomber raid took place on Cologne.
28/3/1942, The RAF began continuous bombing of German munitions factories. They also raided Lubeck and Rostock, Germany. These were coastal targets, easy to find and highly combustible. Lubeck, with its naval stores, oil tanks, submarine shipyards, and naval school, was 40% (200 acres) destroyed.
14/2/1942, A controversial ‘Area Bombing’ directive by the RAF meant that German civilian areas were now targets for future bombing raids.
15/11/1941, RAF raids on Boulogne and Emden.
13/10/1941, RAF raid on Nuremberg.
1/10/1941, RAF raid on Stuttgart.
21/8/1941, The first of the Arctic Convoys left Scapa Flow, Scotland, taking military supplies to Russia, including Hurricane fighter planes.
8/8/1941, The Soviet air force raided Berlin for the first time, in revenge for the 22 July raid.
25/7/1941, RAF raid on Berlin.
22/7/1941, Germany made its first bombing raid on Moscow.
21/7/1941, First German air raid on Monaco.
7/6/1941, Allied air raid on German navy at Brest, France.
8/5/1941, Allied air raid on Bremen.
8/4/1941, Heavy air raid on Coventry.
23/3/1941, RAF raids on Berlin, Kiel and Hanover.
16/3/1941, Heavy air raid on Bristol.
14/3/1941, RAF raids on Dusseldorf and Lorient.
31/1/1941, Allied air raid on Emden.
1/1/1941, 141 aircraft of the Royal Air Force bombed the Focke-Wulf aircraft production plant south of Bremen.
16/12/1940, Bombing of Mannheim: The first area bombardment of a German city was conducted by the Royal Air Force when 134 bombers attacked Mannheim during the night, starting large fires on both banks of the Rhine.
26/11/1940, RAF raid on Cologne,
18/11/1940, RAF raid on Pilsen.
11/11/1940, The Italian Fleet at Tarantino was crippled in a raid by naval planes of the British Fleet Air Arm.
8/11/1940, British air raid on Munich.
1/11/1940, Allied air raid on Naples.
24/9/1940, Gibraltar was bombed by French aircraft.
14/9/1940, The RAF heavily bombed Antwerp.
9/9/1940, The RAF carried out a three-hour raid on Hamburg.
18/7/1940, In retaliation for the British bombing the French Navy in Algeria, French Air Force planes from Morocco half-heartedly bombed Gibraltar. Most of their bombs fell in the sea, though 3 were killed and 11 wounded on the Rock. French planes also bombed Gibraltar on 24/9/1940 dropping a total of 450 bombs; again most fell in the sea and damage was minimal.
9/7/1940, The RAF began night raids on Germany.
17/5/1940, The Dutch town of Middelburg was bombed by the German Luftwaffe, to force the surrender of the Dutch armies in Zeeland.
21/4/1940, The RAF raided Nazi forces at the Danish airbase of Aalborg.
19/3/1940, The RAF bombed the German submarine base at Hornum.
3/12/1939, RAF raids on warships at Heligoland.
31/10/1939, First dogfight between British and German aircraft over France.
20/91939, The first German aircraft, a Messerschmitt, was shot down, by gunner Sergeant Letchford.
4/9/1939, The RAF dropped 6 million leaflets over Germany. It also bombed Wilhelmshaven.
For the World War Two period, 1 September 1939 to 9 May 1945, the timeline for France-Germany has been split into the following categories;
1) France-Germany ‘home’ (non-war) events
2) Eastern Front (East Europe, Finland, Russia, Greece)
3) Western Front (France, Benelux, Britain, west Germany)
3)a) Scandinavia ex. Finland.
3)b) Italy, Malta
5) Middle East
8) Air war.
For Jewish persecution in World War Two, see Israel, Judaism
The start of major fighting in World War Two. Hostilities began between Germany and Poland, and Germany and France.
Final prelude to War 1938-39, last attempts to preserve peace in Europe
22/5/1939. Hitler and Mussolini signed the 'Pact of Steel' in Berlin.
15/4/1939, US President Roosevelt asked Hitler and Mussolini for assurances that they would not attack 31 named States.
13/4/1939, Britain and France guaranteed the independence of Romania and Greece.
17/3/1939, The French Parliament granted Edouard Daladier extensive powers to accelerate rearmament.
14/2/1939 The German battleship Bismarck was launched.
27/1/1939, Hitler approved Plan Z, an ambitious naval construction program that would give the Kriegsmarine some 800 ships by 1948.
1/11/1938, In Britain, Balloon Command was formed, under Fighter Command, to establish barrage balloon protection for 12 cities including Bristol and Cardiff. Experiments with barrage balloons had been carried out by the Germans back in 1917; the Allies also used them to protect Venice in 1918. The idea was to hoist a ‘barrage’ of cables to prevent bomber aircraft diving low, so their accuracy was impaired. With the balloons, they could still dive but could not pull out afterwards without hitting a cable and crashing. The balloon wincher faced danger from lightning bolts, and from the static electric charge built up on the wincher, especially in wet weather. An operator had to jump away from the winch when leaving to avoid electrical conductance between his body and the winch and earth.
24/10/1938, Hitler demanded the return from Poland to Germany of Danzig. Poland refused.
19/7/1938, King George VI of Britain visited Paris.
10/3/1938, In France, the Chautemps Government collapsed, weakening the French administration.
20/12/1937, Erich Ludendorff, German general who helped formulate strategy in World War One, died.
24/11/1937, In Germany, Walter Funk replaced Dr Schacht as Minister of Economics.
18/11/1937, A Fascist plot was discovered in Paris.
22/10/1937. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor arrived in Berlin to meet Hitler, study housing conditions, and hear a concert by the Nazi District Orchestra. The Duke had been advised not to go to Germany, but, having abdicated as King, he wanted to show he still had influence.
12/7/1937, Lionel Jospin, Prime Minister of France, was born.
4/2/1937, The German Ambassador gave King George VI a Nazi salute.
4/1/1937, Paul Behncke, German admiral, died aged 67.
17/7/1936, France nationalised its munitions industry.
30/6/1936, The Fascist Party in France was suppressed.
4/6/1936, In France, Leon Blum formed a Leftist Popular Front government.
8/5/1936, Oswald Spengler, German historian, died aged 55.
3/5/1936, The Left won in French elections.
4/6/1935, In France, Pierre Laval formed a government.
31/5/1935, In France, politician Pierre Flandin lost power.
2/5/1935. France and the USSR signed a mutual defence pact in case of attack. See 7/3/1936.
14/4/1935. Britain, France, and Italy agreed to form a united front against German re-armament.
15/10/1934, Raymond Poincare, French statesman, died aged 74.
(1888 – 1934), King of Yugoslavia since 1921, was assassinated by Croatian
terrorists from the Ustase Movement in
4/5/1936, Ludwig von Falkenhausen, German General, died aged 91.
2/8/1934. Paul von Hindenburg, German military leader and President from 1925, died aged 86.
31/7/1934, The murderers of Chancellor Dolfuss were executed.
30/7/1934, Kurt von Schuschnigg was appointed Chancellor of Austria.
27/7/1934, Louis HG Lyautey, French Minister of Defence 1916-17, died aged 79
26/7/1934. Following the murder of Chancellor Dollfus in Austria, on 25/7/1934 in a failed Nazi coup, the Austrian government ordered the round up of all Nazis. Over 150 Austrian Nazis were arrested. The Nazis in Austria had attempted an unsuccessful coup against the Dollfus administration; Dollfus was a devout Catholic and violently anti-Socialist. He had used the army to crush the schutzbund, the big socialist defence force established in the housing estates outside Vienna. The workers held out against the army for five days. A Nazi gang broke into the Austrian Chancellery; Dollfus was shot in the throat and left to bleed to death for four hours. When it was clear the Nazi coup was going to fail the gang took other government ministers hostage and negotiated a promise of safe conduct to the German border. This promise was withdrawn when it was discovered that Dollfus was dead. Three police and two Nazis died in a three hour battle for the radio station.
25/7/1934, Engelbert Dolfuss (1892-1934), Chancellor of Austria, was assassinated in Vienna by rebel Austrian Nazis. Otto Planetta was convicted of the crime and hanged.
20/7/1934, In Germany, the SS was constituted an independent organisation within the Nazi Party.
13/7/1934. Heinrich Himmler (33) was put in charge of Germany’s concentration camps.
3/7/1934. German Vice-Chancellor Von Papen resigned.
30/6/1934. Hitler’s rival Ernst Rohm and hundreds of influential Nazis were murdered by the SS in the ‘night of the long knives’. Hitler justified this by claiming the SS were planning to overthrow him. The Army probably also threatened to take over unless Hitler got rid of the brownshirt thugs and stopped talk of socialist revolution. So they were crushed and the blackshirts, or SS, emerged triumphant.
3/5/1934. The author H G Wells predicted there would be a major world war by 1940.
27/4/1934, Britain and France warned Germany not to default on reparations payments.
23/4/1934, Berlin police prohibited fortune-telling.
29/3/1934, Germany published its defence estimates' which showed a total increase of one-third and an increase of 250% in its air force
12/2/1934, General Strike in France began (until 13/2/1934) in protest at the dangers of Fascism.
6/2/1934, Riots in Paris between far Right and Communist factions. These riots continued until 9/2/1934. They had been sparked by the suicide, on 3/1/1934, of the Russian-born Serge Stavisky, a dubious speculator who had been protected from prosecution by corrupt government officials. There were allegations that he had in fact been killed to protect these officials, and both Far Right and Communist factions protested over the inefficiency and corruption of the French administration. Civil war loomed in France, until the establishment of a group of new government officials who were innocent of any corruption allegations.
26/1/1934. Germany signed a non-aggression pact with Poland.
30/1/1934. In Germany the regional Lander Diets were abolished and power centralised.
1/1/1934. Sterilisation became law in Germany.
23/12/1933, In Germany, the sentences were announced at the Reichstag Fire Trial.
12/12/1933. In Germany, the new Reichstag met but adjourned indefinitely.
12/11/1933. In a plebiscite in Germany, the Nazis won 92% of the vote.
14/10/1933. Germany withdrew from the League of Nations.
23/10/1933, Albert Sarraut became Prime Minister of France.
27/9/1933, In Germany the National Synod elected the pro-Nazi Ludwig Muller as Reichs-Bishop. Opponents rallied round Pastor Neimoller and formed the anti-Nazi Confessional Church.
21/9/1933,The Reichstag Fire trial began.
2/9/1933, Adolf Hitler addressed a huge crowd at Zeppelin Field, promising that the Nazi Party would meet in Nuremberg for the next 1,000 years.
25/8/1933, The Haavara (‘transfer’) Agreement was signed between the Nazi German Government and Zionist Jews. It provided for the relocation of Jews from hostile Germany to what was then British Mandated Palestine, and for these Jews to take some assets that would otherwise have been confiscated by Germany. Advantages to Nazi Germany included the removal of Jews from their territory and a possible easing of sanctions on the country which had been imposed by Jews in the rest of Europe, which were a threat to the still-fragile German economy. The Agreement was cancelled in 1939 after Hitler invaded Poland. Hitler inititally opposed the Haavara Agreement, but supported it in the period 1937-9.
25/7/1933. Hitler’s Cabinet announced that disabled people would be sterilised.
14/7/1933. Nazis banned all other political parties in Germany.
4/7/1933. The Deutsche Volkspartei (DVP) was dissolved. The DVP had been formed in December 1918 as a moderate right-wing Party representing liberalism and industry. Its leader, Streseman, served as German Foreign Minister from 1923 until his death in 1929; he did much to alleviate the harsher provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. However from 1930 the DVP lost most of its electoral support.
22/6/1933, In Germany, the Social Democrat Party was suppressed.
19/6/1933. The Prime Minister of Austria, Engelbert Dollfuss, banned all Nazi organisations.
30/5/1932, German Chancellor Heinrich Briening (1885-1970) was ousted from office by the pro-Nazi Franz von Papen. Breining had been appointed as Chancellor by President Hindenburg on 28/3/1930, as a counterweight to Nazi influence. Breining escaped from Germany to Holland in 1934 and went on to lecture at Harvard.
28/5/1933. The Nazis won elections in the free city of Danzig.
21/5/1933. Britain signed a ten-year non-aggression pact with Italy, France, and Germany.
17/5/1933, Hitler made the first of his ‘Peace’ speeches.
16/5/1933, Hitler gave a secret instruction to begin mass production of weaponry for the German Army.
9/5/1933. Hitler ordered the burning of more than 25,000 books. ‘Un-German’ volumes were thrown onto a huge bonfire outside Berlin University. Other similar fires took place in other German cities and over 1 million books may have been burned altogether.
6/5/1933, In a prelude to mass book burnings in Germany, a gang of students destroyed the work of Magnus Hirschfeld, burning the contents of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute of Sex Research) in Berlin. Hirschfeld was out of the country at the time and never returned to Germany. He died in 1935 aged 67.
2/5/1933, Trades Unions were forbidden in Germany. The
ADGD (Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund) had been formed in 1919, as a federation of German Trades Unions, and had gained a total membership of 5 million workers. On this day it was banned by the Nazi Party.
26/4/1933, The Gestapo German secret police force was established.
29/3/1933, Austrian Nazis staged a large demonstration, in defiance of Chancellor Dollfuss. Meanwhile Germany instituted a punitive 1,000 Mark tourist tax on any German visiting Austria, which severely damaged the Austrian tourist industry.
23/3/1933. Germany passed 'Enabling Laws' giving Hitler dictatorial powers.
21/3/1933, The first meeting of the German Reichstag, after the fire of 27/2/1933. The Reichstag met in the garrison church in Potsdam, a historical site of Prussian military power.
14/3/1933. Goebbels was appointed as Nazi Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment. The Nazis banned Kosher meat.
5/3/1933. The Nazis won almost half the seats in the German elections (43.9% of the vote). The Communists won 12.3% of the vote. Hitler capitalised on the Reichstag Fire (27/2/1933) to raise the spectre of a Bolshevist takeover of Germany. The result was, Nazis 288 seats, Social Democrats 120 seats, Communists 81 seats, Centre 74 seats, National People’s Party 52 seats, Others 32 seats.
1/3/1933. The Nazis began mass arrests of all political opponents.
28/2/1933, In Germany, the Reichstag Fire Decree banned the Communist Party.
27/2/1933. The German Reichstag burned down. The fire was blamed on a simple-minded Dutch Communist, Marinus Van Der Lubbe, who police found in the Reichstag grounds. Marinus Van Der Lubbe was guillotined on 10/1/1934. However many suspect the Nazis. Hitler now pressed for, and succeeded in getting, dictatorial powers from President Hindenburg, and the lack of a majority in the Reichstag was no longer a hindrance to the Nazis.
26/2/1933, James Goildsmith, financier, was born in Paris.
10/2/1933. Hitler made a speech in Berlin attacking democracy.
31/1/1933, Edouard Daladier became Prime Minister of France.
30/1/1933. Adolf Hitler, 43 years old, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by 85-year old President Paul Von Hindenburg. Hitler’s Cabinet included only two Nazis; Hermann Goering (Minister without Portfolio) and Wilhelm Frick (Minister of the Interior). Franz von Papen was vice-Chancellor, and Constantin von Neurath was Foreign Minister.
28/1/1933, In Germany, Kurt von Schleicher’s Government fell, after the Left and Centre failed to reach agreement.
18/12/1932, In France, Edouard Herriot resigned after defeat over proposal to pay War Debt to the USA, and Joseph Boncour formed a Government.
4/12/1932, In Germany, Kurt von Schleicher attempted to form a coalition with a majority in the German Parliament, but failed.
29/11/1932. (1) Jacques Chirac, French Prime Minister 1995-2007, was born in Paris.
(2) The USSR and France signed a non-aggression pact.
19/11/1932, At President Hindenburg’s invitation, Adolf Hitler attempted to form a coalition with a majority in the German Parliament, but failed.
17/11/1932. In Germany, Prime Minister Von Papen resigned after failing to form a government. Hitler refused the Chancellorship, if it meant a coalition with other parties, as Hindenburg wanted.
6/11/1932, In Germany’s last elections before Hitler assumed absolute power, the Nazi Party lost 34 Reichstag seats, with gains for the Communists. The Nazis won 192 seats, Social Democrats 121 seats, Centre Party 70 seats, Communists 100 seats, National People’s Party 52 seats, Others 45 seats.
14/9/1932, Germany withdrew from the Geneva Disarmament Conference (until December 1932), demanding to be allowed to possess armaments equal to the other powers.
12/9/1932. Von Papen dissolved the Reichstag.
30/8/1932. Herman Goering, Nazi Party, was elected President of the Reichstag.
13/8/1932. Hitler refused to serve as Chancellor under Von Papen.
4/8/1932. Nazi versus Communist riots in Berlin.
31/7/1932. The Nazis were now the biggest party in the Reichstag, with 230 seats, but without an overall majority.
26/7/1932. The War Minister of Germany, Kurt Von Scheidler, said that Germany was ready to re-arm.
20/7/1932, As law and order deteriorated in Prussia, Chancellor Franz von Papen dismissed the Prussian Social Democrat Prime Minister (Otto Braun) and the Prussian Minister of the Interior (Severing).
9/7/1932. In Switzerland, the Allies voted to ease Germany’s economic crisis by suspending the repayment of war debts.
16/6/1932, In Germany, a ban on Nazi storm troopers, in place since April, was lifted.
4/6/1932, Second Government of Edouard Herriot began in France.
2/6/1932, In Germany, Franz von Papen, having been repudiated by the Centre Party, formed a non-party ‘Cabinet of Barons’.
31/5/1932. (see 10/4/1932) President Hindenburg invited Franz Von Papen to form a government. On 1/6/1932 Von Papen formed one that excluded the Nazis. However on 14/6/1932 Hitler promised to co-operate with Von Papen. On 16/6/1932 the ban on Nazi storm troopers in Germany was lifted.
10/5/1932, Albert Lebrun succeeded Doumier as French President.
8/5/1932, The Left gained around 100 seats in French elections.
7/5/1932, Albert Thomas, French socialist politician (Minister of Armament in WW1), died aged 53
6/5/1932, President Doumer of France was assassinated.
24/4/1932. The Nazis led in four state elections (Prussia, Bavaria, Wurttemberg and Hamburg; in Prussia they were the largest single Party in Parliament). In the Prussian state Parliament, their share of the seats rose from 6 to 162.
13/4/1932. The Nazi paramilitary SA and SS were banned in Germany.
10/4/1932. Paul Von Hindenburg won the German Presidency against Adolf Hitler after a second ballot to secure a majority. See 31/5/1932. Paul von Hindenburg received 19.5 million votes, 53%, against Hitler, 13.4 million votes, 36.8%. Thalmann received 3.7 million, 10.2%.
13/3/1932. Hindenburg defeated Hitler in the German presidential elections. Paul von Hindenbiurg received 18.6 million votes (49.6%); Adolf Hitler received 11.3 million votes (30.1%), and the Communist Ernst Thalmann received 4.9 million votes (13.2%). Because Hindenburg was o.4% below an absolute majority, a second round was held on 10/4/1932.
10/3/1932, Paul von Hindenburg gave a radio address in his one and only public speech of the German presidential campaign, emphasizing his non-party status and pledging to "oppose those who merely stand for party interests"
25/2/1932. Adolf Hitler was granted German citizenship. He had been technically stateless since renouncing Austrian citizenship in 1925.
22/2/1932. The Nazis choose Hitler as presidential candidate.
7/1/1932, German Chancellor Heinrich Bruning declared that Germany could not, and would not, resume Reparations payments.
30/12/1931. The Nazi Party was formed in Holland.
15/11/1931. The Nazi Party won elections in the state of Hesse.
7/11/1931, French police launched large raids against Corsican bandits.
17/10/1931, 100 were injured in fighting between Nazis and Communists in Braunschweig, Germany.
22/7/1931. Britain, France, and the USA renewed credits for Germany to help it through financial problems.
13/7/1931. All German banks closed till 5/8/1931 following the collapse of Danatbank.
9/7/1931, In Germany, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and German Nationalist leader Alfred Hugenberg agreed to cooperate.
13/6/1931. German bank failure (Danatbank) caused the closure of all German banks.
13/5/1931, In France, Paul Doumier was elected President.
11/5/1931. In Austria, the bankruptcy of Credit-Anstalt began Europe’s financial collapse.
5/4/1931, Germany formed a customs union with Austria. See 25/3/1931.
25/3/1931. Germany announced plans for a customs union with Austria, in defiance of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. France and Britain strongly objected. See 5/4/1931.
24/2/1931. German unemployment reached almost 5 million.
2/2/1931. The Nazis demanded that Germany withdraw from the League of Nations.
27/1/1931, Pierre Laval became Prime Minister in France.
7/1/1931, State funeral of MarshaL Joffre in Paris.
3/1/1931, Joseph Joffre, French marshal and commander in chief of the French armies on the Western Front, died.
23/9/1930, Three Reichswehr artillery officers went on trial before the Leipzig Supreme Court in Germany, charged with high treason for conspiring with the Nazis to overthrow the German Government.
16/9/1930, The Berlin city council met for the first time since summer recess, but broke up in turmoil after the Communists and Nazis introduced a motion demanding that the council dissolve. The motion was defeated.
15/9/1930. Adolf Hitler, because he was an Austrian citizen, was barred from taking his seat at the Reichstag. There was further trouble at the Reichstag when Nazi deputies turned up, on 13/10/1930, wearing uniform; this was illegal for civilians.
14/9/1930, The Berlin stock market fell 20 points as news that the Nazis (denouncing the Versailles Treaty) had gained 107 seats to become the second largest party after the Socialists. Before the elections they had only 12 seats. Their vote rose from 800,000 in 1928 to 6.409,000, only 2,000,000 behind the Socialists. Adolf Hitler played on voter’s fears of economic chaos and social disorder. He blamed Jews and Bolsheviks as the cause of the nation’s problems and promised to make Germany great again.
15/7/1930, Jacques Derrida, French philosopher, was born (died 2004).
30/6/1930. France pulled the last of its troops out of the Rhineland, 5 years before the date set by the Versailles Treaty.
17/5/1930, French Prime Minister André Tardieu decided to withdraw the last French troops from the Rhineland (they departed by 30/6/1930).
3/4/1930. Helmut Kohl, German Chancellor, was born.
27/3/1930, In Germany, Hermann Muller’s Government resigned because of Social Democrat opposition to planned cuts in Unemployment Benefits.
6/3/1930, Alfred von Tirpitz, German Admiral, died.
23/2/1930, Nazi thug Horst Wessel died in a Berlin hospital of blood poisoning, aged 22. He had been shot in a street brawl 14/1/1930. The Nazis made him a martyr, and used his ‘Horst-Wessel-song’, with anti-Semitic lyrics and a tune plagiarised from older Hamburg sailor’s ballads.
23/1/1930, In Germany, Wilhelm Frick was appointed Minister for Education and the Interior in Thuringia, the first Nazi party member to become a Minister in State Government.
8/12/1929. Hitler’s Nazi Party won municipal elections in Bavaria.
24/11/1929, Georges Clemenceau, Prime Minister of France, died.
12/10/1929, The last British troops left the Rhineland, moving out of their base in Wiesbaden.
22/9/1929. Communists and Nazis fought on the streets of Berlin.
27/9/1929, In France, Raymond Poincare resigned due to ill health. Aristide Briand became Prime Minister.
8/6/1929. At The Hague, Germany’s war debts were rescheduled. Germany was no longer required to pay for the reconstruction of France’s war-damaged provinces. The Young Plan, named after its American author Owen Young, removed controls on the German economy. However Germany must still repay £1.65 billion over the next 40 years, including £2 million a year that Britain insists upon to cover its American debt. Militant Germans, including the Nazis, demonstrated against these payments.
3/5/1929. Severe civil unrest in Berlin.
1/5/1929, Communists in Berlin attacked policemen. Three days of clashes ensued, with 15 dead.
20/3/1929. The French military commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch died aged 68.
15/2/1929. German unemployment was over 3 million. In 1926 it had been 2 million, falling to around 1.3 million in 1927 and 1928.
6/2/1929, Germany ratified the Kellogg-Briand anti war pact.
15/1/1929 The USA ratified the Kellogg-Briand anti war pact.