France & Germany; key historical events (from 1/1/1870)
For growth of Germany from Brandenburg 1415 click here.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
3/12/1989. The East German leader Egon Krenz and the politbureau resigned. A USSR-USA summit was held in Malta. The Cold war was declared over at 12.55pm that day.
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.
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
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.
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.
26/8/1978, 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.
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.
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.
1/10/1982, In Germany, the Christian Democrat leader Helmut Kohl was elected, replacing Helmut Schmidt as Chancellor of West Germany.
10/5/1981. The Socialist, Francois Mitterand was elected President of France. He defeated Valery Giscard D’Estaing.
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.
26/9/1980. In Munich, neo-Nazis planted a bomb at a beer festival killing 12 and injuring 200 people.
16/10/1979, 23 people died when a tsunami hit Nice, France.
16/9/1979, Three families fled East Germany by balloon.
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.
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.
9/5/1976, The terrorist Ulrike Meinhof, 42, hanged herself in her prison cell in Stuttgart.
21/5/1975, The trial of the Baader Meinhof terrorist group began. On 284/1977 they were sentenced to life imprisonment.
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.
22/6/1973. East and West Germany were accepted into the UN.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
11/6/1964, Walter Seifert attacked a school in Cologne, Germany, with a home-made flamethrower and a lance, killing 8 pupils and 2 teachers, and injuring 22 others. He then committed suicide by self-poisoning.
4/9/1963, Robert Schuman, French Prime Minister, died.
21/6/1963, France withdrew its navy from NATO.
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.
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.
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.
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.
29/5/1958. De Gaulle was voted into power in France, to deal with the crisis in Algeria. See 21/12/1958.
3/10/1957, Berlin voted in its youngest ever mayor, 44-year-old Willy Brandt.
1/1/1957, The Saar was formally integrated in the German Federal Republic.
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.
19/4/1956, Prince Rainier of Monaco married American actress Grace Kelly.
1/5/1956. Germans demonstrated in favour of reunification.
For Suez Crisis 1956 see Egypt
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.
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.
17/6/1953. 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.
1/6/1952. The Soviet Iron Curtain isolated West Berlin.
26/5/1952A 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.
23/7/1951, Marshal Petain, Head of Vichy France between 1940 and 1944, died in prison in the Ile d’Yeu, aged 95, serving a life sentence for collaboration, having been reprieved from a death sentence in 1945.
9/6/1951. In West Germany, the last Nazis convicted of war crimes were hanged.
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.
6/10/1949, The Berlin airlift ended. It had carried on from 12/5/1949 despite the Soviet lifting of the land blockade.
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.
12/5/1949. The Soviet blockade of West Berlin was called off after 11 months, it began 28 June 1948. It had cost the Allies £200 million to fly in food and essential supplies, with up to 200 flights a day.
9/5/1949. Prince Ranier III became Head of State of Monaco, succeeding his grandfather Prince Louis II.
5/5/1949, The USSR announced it would lift the blockade of Berlin on 12.5.1949.
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.
28/6/1948. The Anglo-US airlift to Berlin began; see 12/5/1949.
24/6/1948. The Russians began a blockade of West Berlin. The Berlin Airlift began on 28/6/1948 and delivered some 7,000 tons of food supplies to the city over a period of three months by British and American aircraft, defying the Soviet land blockade. The airlift continued until 30/9/1949, although the Soviet blockade was lifted on 12/5/1949. See 30/3/1948.
30/3/1948, The Russians imposed restrictions on Western traffic into West Berlin. See 26/4/1948. The West feared that the USSR was trying to absorb West Berlin; Moscow said it was responding to the West creating West Germany out of the three western occupation zones.
25/11/1947. The USSR demanded war reparations from Germany.
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
19/4/1947, The Flick Trial began in Nuremberg. Friedrich Flick and five other leading Nazi industrialists were put on trial for using slave labour, among other crimes.
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.
10/2/1947. A Peace Treaty concluded in Paris between Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria made the following provisions. a) Most of the Italian province of Venezia Giulia, with its predominantly Slovene and Croat population, as well as the enclave of Zadar (Zara) and all the Adriatic Islands were ceded to Yugoslavia. b) A Free Territory of Trieste, demilitarised and neutral, was to be formed. However this was impractical and on 5/10/1954 the British, US, Italian, and Yugoslav governments agreed to divide the territory between Italy and Yugoslavia. c) Romania ceded Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia to the USSR. The Russian occupation of these areas had been by aggression on 27/6/1940; the population of Bessarabia was however mainly Romanian.
16/1/1947, In France, Vincent Auriol was elected President.
1/1/1947. The USA and British zones in West Germany were merged. Russia objected, and so did France, who wanted a divided Germany, and had annexed the Saar from French-occupied Germany.
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.
16/10/1946. After 216 meetings of the Nuremberg Tribunal, from 20/11/1945, the verdicts on 24 top Nazis charged with war crimes were delivered on 30/9/1945. 3 Nazis were acquitted; Hjalmar Schacht, Franz von Papen and Hans Fritzsche. A fourth defendant, Robert Ley, had committed suicide in prison before the trials were completed. The industrialist Gustav Krupp was judged to be unfit to stand trial through senile dementia. The remaining 19 defendants were found guilty. Four of them, Karl Donitz, Baldur von Shirach, Albert Speer and Konstantin von Neurath, received sentences of between 10 and 20 years. Three defendants, Rudolf Hess, Walther Funk and Erich Raeder, received life sentences. Rudolf Hess was detained at Spandau Prison, Berlin, until his death in 1987. The remaining 12 defendants were sentenced to death. Martin Bormann was not executed as he had been tried in absentia having escaped the Allied authorities. Hermann Goering committed suicide in prison a few hours before he was due to be hanged. The remaining ten, Hans Frank, Willhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Alfred Rosenberg, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Fritz Sauckel, Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Keitel and Arthur Seiss-Inquart, were hanged on 16/10/1946.
As regards lesser Nazis, the problem facing the Allies was that millions of Germans had joined the Nazi Party, some merely for reasons of self-preservation, so it was impractical to prosecute all those who had served Hitler. Ultimately, out of a population of 44.5 million Germans in West Germany, 209,000 were prosecuted. In East Germany the Soviets prosecuted a much smaller number, just over 17,000. This was because many Nazis were executed by the Soviets without a formal legal process.
20/8/1946, The German Army was officially dissolved by the Allied Control Commission.
29/7/1946, The Paris Peace Conference began.
17/6/1946, The Allied decided not to try Hirohito as a war criminal.
22/5/1946, Karl Hermann Frank, the Nazi ruler in Czechoslovakia who ordered the massacre at Lidice, was hanged in Prague.
17/5/1946. France nationalised its coal mines.
26/3/1946, Allied Control Commission set limits on the level of German industrial production.
21/3/1946. Goering denied he knew anything of the ‘final solution’.
7/2/1946. Hess was on trial at Nuremberg for war crimes.
20/1/1946. De Gaulle resigned. Goiun became President of France.
8/1/1946. The trial of Goering and Von Ribbentrop began.
3/1/1946. Nazi propagandist William Joyce, the notorious Lord Haw Haw, was hanged in London for treason. He was known as Lord Haw Haw for the falsely posh nasal tones of his radio broadcasts telling of German military ‘successes’ (often false). He had been convicted on 19/9/1945.
31/12/1945, Most Berliners were subsisting on just 800 calories a day; in 1946 in the British sector rations dropped on occasion to a slow as 400 calories a day, less than was received by the inmates at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Not only was food desperately short but numbers to be fed were swollen by huge numbers of German refugees from eastern Europe. Medical supplies were also virtually non-existent, and 43 of Berlin’s 44 hospitals had been destroyed or badly damaged. Typhoid spread due to broken water mains and damaged sewers. Then mosquitoes and other insects feeding on corpses spread disease, and dysentery killed 6 out of 10 babies born in Berlin in July 1945. Another lethal hazard was unexploded ordnance, shells, mines and grenades. In 1945 Berlin women outnumbered men by 3 to 1.
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.
20/11/1945. The Nuremberg Trials began. Setting up a war crimes tribunal was unprecedented and an act of doubtful legality, but the world had a keen desire to see revenge for the atrocities the Nazis had committees, especially in their concentration camps. 24 Nazi leaders were on trial. Defendants included Goering, Hess, and Ribbentrop. On 16/10/1946 the executions of the guilty began. These included Von Ribbentrop, Rosenberg, and Streicher.
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.
24/10/1945. Vidkun Quisling was hanged as a war criminal, at Askerhus Fortress, Oslo. He had joined the Norwegian Fascist Party (Nasjonal Samlung) in 1933, and had encouraged Hitler to invade Norway. He was also held responsible for sending nearly 1,000 Norwegian Jews to Nazi concentration camps. See 10/9/1945.
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.
15/10/1945, Pierre Laval, leader of the French Vichy government, was executed for treason for collaboration with the Nazis.
9/10/1945. Pierre Laval, Prime Minister of Vichy France, was sentenced to death.
12/9/1945, An estimate of War casualties reckoned that Britain had lost 420,000 members of the armed forces; the US had lost 292,000, and the USSR, 13 million. German loss of military men was put at 3.9 million, Japan’s at 2.6 million. British civilian casualties from air raids were set at 60,000, with 860,000 severely injured.
10/9/1945. Vidkun Quisling was sentenced to death at Oslo for collaborating with the Nazis. He had been puppet Prime Minister during the Nazi occupation of Norway. He was executed on 24/10/1945, by firing squad, at Akershus Fortress, Oslo.
7/9/1945, Berlin Victory Parade of 1945: The Allies held a victory parade in Berlin. The Soviet JS-3 heavy tank was displayed in public for the first time.
15/8/1945, Marshal Petain was convicted of treason (see 23/7/1945) and sentenced to death. Like all death sentences on minors and women, this was commuted by President De Gaulle to life and the 90-year-old Marshal was confined to the Ile de Yeu off the Vendee coast. In June 1951 Petain, feeble and devoid of mental faculties, was released; he died less than a month later. Overall in France the purge of collaborators, known as l’epuration (the purification) lasted from September 1944 to the end of 1949. Just over 2,000 death sentences were handed down, of which 768 were carried out. Even the entertainer Maurice Chevalier, who had merely entertained French PoWs in Germany, narrowly escaped a firing squad. Some 12x this number of those officially executed were summarily shot by firing squad immediately after liberation.
2/8/1945, The Potsdam Conference (began 16/7/1945) ended without agreement on the future of Europe. The Soviets would not agree to free elections in Eastern Europe.
26/7/1945. In the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany, the banks were closed and citizens ordered to hand over all their gold, silver, foreign currency and other valuables to the Russians, who were also dismantling factories and taking them to Russia as reparations.
23/7/1945, Marshal Petain was charged with treason, see 15/8/1945.
17/7/1945, The Potsdam Conference began, attended by Allied leaders Truman, Stalin, and Churchill (later replaced by Attlee).
26/6/1945, William Joyce, known as Lord Haw Haw for his falsely posh tones in his pro-Nazi radio broadcasts, was arrested in Denmark and charged with treason.
5/6/1945. Allied commanders signed a pact for the occupation of Germany; it was t be divided into 4 zones, British, French, USA, and USSR.
28/5/1945, Lord Haw Haw, William Joyce, was arrested, see 3/1/1946.
23/5/1945. Heinrich Himmler, former Nazi Chief of Police, killed himself whilst in British custody. He had joined the waves of German civilian refugees unnoticed after VE Day and wandered aimlessly until he encountered a British checkpoint at Bremervorde, where his true identity was uncovered. As he was being searched he bit into a cyanide capsule and died.
11/5/1945. Prague, the last European capital, was liberated.
10/5/1945, Vidkun Quisling was captured by Resistance fighters in Norway.
8/5/1945. 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.
7/5/1945. (1) 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.
(2) The last ship sunk by German forces, the Avondale Park, was lost. See 4/9/1939.
(3) Soviet forces took Wroclaw, south-west Poland.
6/5/1945, German forces in Norway surrendered.
5/5/1945. (1) Denmark liberated from Nazi occupation – see 9/4/1940. German troops in Holland under General Johannes von Blaskowitz also surrendered to the Canadian Commander Charles Foulkes.
4/5/1945, German troops in The Netherlands, Denmark, north-west Germany surrendered.
3/5/1945, (1) Hamburg captured by the British.
(2) Rijeka (Fiume) was captured by the Yugoslavs; the Germans left, but blew up the port installations first.
2/5/1945. The one million German soldiers in Italy and Austria surrendered. Berlin finally surrendered to the Russians at 3 pm. British and Russian troops linked up at Wismar on the Baltic. Trieste captured by New Zealand forces.
1/5/1945, (1) Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda committed suicide, having killed their six children with poison.
(2) US troops entered Bavaria.
(3) Berlin was totally in Russian hands.
30/4/1945. (1) 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.
(2) 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. Munich entered by US forces. British troops crossed the Elbe near Hamburg. RAF bombers dropped their first load of food in German-occupied Holland. At 1am on 30/4/1945 Hitler was informed that all Nazi forces he had been hoping would relieve Berlin were now encircled or on the defensive.
28/4/1945, (1) 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.
(2) 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. Berlin was now totally surrounded by Soviet forces, and 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. The Allies captured Verona. Italian partisans liberated Milan. Marshal Petain was arrested. Zhukov’s and Koniev’s armies met west of Berlin, surrounding it.
24/4/1945, Himmler offered to surrender the German Reich to the governments of Great Britain and the USA.
23/4/1945, River Po reached by the Allies.
22/4/1945, Stuttgart taken by French forces. Hitler was told that forces under SS General Felix Steiner were unable to rescue Berlin from Soviet occupation.
21/4/1945, (1) Soviet forces entered the suburbs of Berlin. Dessau entered by US forces.
(2) 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.
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.
19/4/1945, US forces took Leipzig; the city was later handed to the Soviet sector, East Germany.
18/4/1945, (1) Russians fighting on the Seelow Heights broke through westwards towards Berlin. The US took Magdeburg (later handed to the Soviet Zone).
(2) US troops under General Patton entered Czechoslovakia.
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.
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.
13/4/1945. Vienna was captured by Soviet troops from the Germans.
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.
9/4/1945, (1) Konigsberg, capital of east Prussia, taken by the Russians.
(2) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian involved with anti-Hitler conspirators, was hanged in Flossenburg concentration camp.
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.
6/4/1945, Allied forces began Operation Grapeshot, a renewed Spring offensive in Italy.
5/4/1945, British forces reached Minden.
4/4/1945, Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, captured by Soviet forces. The last Wermacht forces evacuated Hungary. French forces entered Karlsruhe.
3/4/1945, Hamm and Cassel captured by US forces.
2/4/1945, The Soviet Army began an offensive to take Vienna.
1/4/1945, German forces in the Ruhr area trapped, and 21 German divisions destroyed.
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.
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, (1) Mannheim captured by US forces.
(2) Soviet troops entered Austria.
28/3/1945, Gdynia captured by the Russians.
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.
22/3/1945, (1) Soviet forces broke the Danzig / Gdynia defence perimeter.
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.
18/3/1945, Major air raid on Berlin.
17/3/1945. Coblenz captured by the Americans, and Brandenburg, East Prussia, captured by the Russians.
15/3/1945, The Soviet Army launched the Upper Silesian offensive.
14/3/1945, First use of ten-ton bombs by the RAF. The ‘Grand Slam’, 22,000 lbs, was dropped on Bielefeld railway viaduct.
13/3/1945, The Battle of Kiauneliskis, Lithuania.
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.
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.
2/3/1945, (1) Trier and Krefeld captured by US forces.
15/2/1945. British troops reached the Rhine.
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. (1) 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.
(2) Soviet forces took Budapest.
(3) Soviet forces took Sommerfeld, just 80 miles from Berlin.
11/2/1945, The Yalta Conference ended. See 4/2/1945.
8/2/1945, British and Canadian troops broke through the northern, weaker, section of the Seigfried Line near Millingen.
4/2/1945. (1) 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.
(2) Belgium liberated of German forces.
2/2/1945, (1) 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.
(2) The French took Colmar.
1/2/1945, US forces reached the Seigfried Line, see 8/2/1945.
31/1/1945. Soviet troops crossed the River Oder into the province of Brandenburg, north of Frankfurt, 40 miles from Berlin.
30/1/1945, Adolf Hitler made his very last radio broadcast to Germany, marking 12 years of Nazi rule.
29/1/1945, The Soviet 3rd Belorussian Front advanced into the city of Konigsberg.
28/1/1945, Soviet forces invaded Pomerania.
27/1/1945. The Red Army now captured Silesia, and the loss of the mines and factories there was a severe blow to Nazi war production.
(2) Russian forces captured Memel, liberating all of Lithuania.
26/1/1945, German troops from the Battle of the Bulge now forced back to the German frontier.
25/1/1945, The Battle of the Bulge ended in Allied victory.
24/1/1945, Gleiwicz in Silesia taken by the Russians, as was the key fortress of Lotzen in East Prussia. The Russians were now close to Konigsberg, capital of East Prussia.
23/1/1945, Bromberg taken by the Russians.
22/1/1945, Allenstein taken by the Russians.
21/1/1945, Russia and Hungary signed an armistice.
20/1/1945, The German evacuation of East Prussia began. The 4th Ukrainian Front advancing through Slovakia took Presov.
19/1/1945, Russian troops took Tilsit. They were now on the pre-War frontier of Germany.
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.
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.
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.
11/1/1945, The British escort carrier HMS Thane was torpedoed in the Irish Sea and declared a total loss.
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 Genghs 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.
6/1/1945, The Battle of the Bulge ended as German forces under Gerd von Rundstedt and Hasso von Manteuffel in the Ardennes were forced back by Allied forces under US General George Patton. See 16/12/1944. Hitler, to the despair of his Generals, started fantasising of a great offensive in the Alsace-Lorraine area, seemingly oblivious of the Russians advancing to the east.
31/12/1944, Rochefort retaken by the Allies.
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.
26/12/1944, The US Army completed operations, begun 17/12/1944, to move 2.8 million gallons of motor fuel away from the Ardennes, so that German troops in this offensive would not capture the fuel supplies they needed to continue the Battle of the Bulge successfully and reach Antwerp. The German military was desperately short of fuel and needed to capture more in order to continue their initiative.
22/12/1944, An American unit was surrounded at Bastogne by the German advance in the Battle of the Bulge. The unit held out until relieved on 26/12/1944. Inside Bastogne, General Anthony C McAuliffe received a message from the besieging Germans inviting him to surrender; his reply, scrawled on the surrender invite, was one word -“NUTS”.
21/12/1944, The Soviet Army, having entered Hungarian territory in early September 1944, set up a provisional government in Debrecen.
16/12/1944. Germany began the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes. 15 German divisions, 250,000 men and 950 tanks, under General von Rundstedt confronted 83,000 Americans with 420 tanks, and advanced 60 miles before they were halted. The German Army was desperately short of fuel, and were hoping to capture the fuel they needed from Allied dumps as they advanced. This was their last offensive of the war. See 6/1/1945. The sleet and low cloud that protected them from Allied air attacks soon cleared.
10/12/1944. De Gaulle and Stalin signed a treaty of alliance.
9/12/1944, The Danube north of Budapest was reached by the Russians.
6/12/1944. 20 million Germans were homeless after Allied bombing.
5/12/1944, The 3rd Ukrainian Front of the Soviet Army captured Szigetvár and Vukovar.
4/12/1944, German bridgehead west of the Maas taken by the British.
1/12/1944, The U.S. Ninth Army captured Linnich.
30/11/1944, HMS Vanguard, Britain’s largest and last battleship, was launched at Clydebank – see 20/10/1941.
29/11/1944. Russian troops crossed the Danube, in Hungary.
28/11/1944, Antwerp reopened to port traffic.
26/11/1944, Heinrich Himmler ordered the destruction of the crematoria at Auschwitz concentration camp to eliminate evidence of the mass killings there.
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.
21/11/1944, The Moscow Conference ended.
20/11/1944, Belfort taken by the French.
17/11/1944, Tirana, capital of Albania, was recovered from German occupation.
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.
10/11/1944, Allied troops took Forli, Italy.
9/11/1944, The Moscow Conference began.
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.
7/11/1944, Middleburg, Holland, captured by the Allies.
6/11/1944, Monastir liberated by Yugoslav forces.
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.
30/10/1944, Soviet forces attacked Budapest, but the Germans held it until February 1945.
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.
24/10/1944, The Riga Offensive ended in Soviet victory.
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.
22/10/1944, Russian troops in Finland reached the Norwegian border.
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.
20/10/1944, Tito’s partisans and the Red Army took Belgrade. It had been taken by Germany on 13/4/1941.
19/10/1944, Churchill returned home after talks with Stalin.
18/10/1944. The Russian army entered East Prussia and Czechoslovakia.
16/10/1944, Aachen was surrounded by US forces.
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.
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- 19/10/1944, Churchill travelled to Moscow for talks with Stalin.
9/10/1944, Canadian and British forces landed behind German lines south of the Scheldt Estuary. 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.
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.
30/9/1944. Canadian forces captured Calais.
29/9/1944, The Battle of Arracourt ended in American victory.
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.
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, (1) 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.
(2) 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.
23/9/1944, Soviet forces entered Hungary,
22/9/1944, (1) Boulogne surrendered to Canadian forces. Rimini captured by Allied forces.
(2) The Russians captured Tallinn, capital of Estonia.
21/9/1944, San Marino declared war on Germany.
20/9/1944, British forces reached The Rhine at Nijmegen.
19/9/1944, (1) Brest taken by US forces.
(2) Finland agreed to the peace terms demanded by Russia (see 20/6/1944), except that the indemnity was halved to US$300million.
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.
16/9/1944, The Soviet 3rd Ukrainian Front occupied the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.
14/9/1944, (1) 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.
(2) 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.
10/9/1944, RAF Bomber Command began Operation Paravane, another attack on the German battleship Tirpitz anchored in northern Norway.
9/9/1944, The Russians captured Sofia, capital of Bulgaria.
8/9/1944 (1), Liege taken by US forces.
(2) 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.
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.
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.
2/9/1944 Allied forces took Pisa.
1/9/1944, Dieppe taken by the Canadians. British forces, helped by the Belgian Resistance, took Antwerp; see 1/11/1944.
8/1944, Thje 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 Thoird Rrepublic 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.
31/8/1944. Russian and Romanian forces captured the Ploesti oilfields, which had supplied Germany with one third of its military oil. Allied troops reached Amiens, northern France. Meanwhile Hitler declared that the political differences between the Allies would result in the collapse of their efforts against Germany (see 19/8/1944).
30/8/1944, Rouen taken by the Canadians. Soviet forces took Bucharest. 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.
29/8/1944, Constanza taken by Russia.
28/8/1944, Marseilles fell to the Allies.
26/8/1944, The Battle of Toulon ended in Allied victory.
25/8/1944. (1) 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.
(2) 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.
24/8/1944, Canadian forces captured Bernay and crossed the Risle River at Nassandres.
23/8/1944. Following a coup d’etat in Bucharest, in which pro-Nazi dictator General Ion Iliescu was overthrown, Rumania changed sides and declared war on Germany and Soviet troops entered Rumania as allies. Germans had entered Bucharest as allies in September 1940. French forces took Marseilles, then advanced up the Rhone Valley.
22/8/1944, The Royal Navy began Operation Goodwood, a series of raids against the German battleship Tirpitz anchored in northern Norway.
21/8/1944, (1) US forces crossed the Seine.
20/8/1944, (1) Toulouse taken by French forces.
19/8/1944. (1) Allied forces in Italy took Florence.
(2) Paris rebelled against German occupation.
(3) 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.
18/8/1944, The Allies closed the Falaise Gap, trapping German forces to the north and west.
17/8/1944, (1) Falaise taken by the Canadians.
(2) The Russians reached the border of East Prussia.
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.
11/8/1944, Florence evacuated by the Germans.
9/8/1944, St Malo and Le Mans taken by US forces. The USA completed the recapture of Guam.
8/8/1944. Officers convicted of an attempt on Hitler’s life were hanged with piano wire. See 20/7/1944.
7/8/1944, RAF attacked German lines south of Caen.
4/8/1944, Purge of the German Army by Hitler.
3/8/1944, Rennes taken by US forces.
1/8/1944. Anti-Nazi rising in Warsaw began. Russian forces were close to the city, see 14/9/1944.
31/7/1944. The Allies drove the Germans out of Normandy. Avranches was captured, opening the way into Brittany.
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.
25/7/1944. Allied forces in Normandy forced through weakened German defences at St Lo.
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.
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.
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.
9/7/1944. The Allies took Caen.
3/7/1944, Siena retaken by French troops. Minsk was recaptured by the Russians.
30/6/1944, The last German resistance in the Contentin Peninsula, France, ceased with the Allied capture of Auderville.
29/6/1944, The Russians captured Petrozavodsk from Finland, see 20/6/1944. See 19/9/1944.
27/6/1944. The Allies took Cherbourg. This was important as it gave the Normandy bridgehead its first deep water port.
26/6/1944, Vitebsk retaken by Russia.
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. Perugia, Italy, taken by the Allies.
19/6/1944, The French retook Elba.
16/6/1944, Marc Bloch, French historian, died aged 57.
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. (1) Allied troops began a push towards Caen. This tied down large numbers of German troops and Hitler sent in his elite Panzer forces.
(2) 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.
(3) The USSR began an offensive against Finland.
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. (1) Rome liberated by the Allies.
(2) 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.
25/5/1944. Tito escaped to the hills as German troops captured his Bosnian headquarters.
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.
15/5/1944. Field Marshall Erwin Rommel attempted to cut off occupied France from neutral countries to stop information being passed out to the Allies.
9/5/1944. The Russians took Sevastopol, liberating all of the Crimea.
8/5/1944, Eisenhower settled on 5, 6, or 7 June as date for the D-Day landings.
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.
19/4/1944, The RAF bombed railways and river bridges in France.
13/4/1944. The Russian army took Simferopol, capital of Crimea.
11/4/1944. The USSR began the liberation of the Crimea. Odessa retaken.
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 veteran General Henri Giraud. De Gaulle fled France for Britain in 1940.
7/4/1944. Hitler suspended all laws in Berlin and made Goebbels dictator of the city.
2/4/1944. USSR troops crossed the Romanian frontier.
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.
24/3/1944, Orde Wingate, British Army Commander who created and led the Chindits in Burma, was killed in a plane crash in the rainforest in Assam. The Chindits, from the Burmese for ‘mighty lion’ struck deep behind Japanese lines, destroying railways and bridges.
15/3/1944, Heavy air raids against the ancient monastery at Casino by the Allies.
13/3/1944, Kherson retaken by Russia.
6/3/1944. US planes began daylight bombing raids on Berlin, flying from bases in Britain.
22/2/1944, Krivoi Rog retaken by Russia.
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.
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.
13/2/1944. The Allies dropped weapons for the French Resistance in Haut-Savoie.
3/2/1944, Germans reopened an offensive against the Anzio beach head.
27/1/1944, Russia announced the complete lifting of the 2-year blockade against Leningrad. The Leningrad to Moscow railway reopened.
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.
20/1/1944, (1) Russia recaptured Novogorod.
(2) The RAF dropped 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin.
10/1/1944. Mussolini’s son in law was sentenced to death for treason.
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 of this meant some territorial losses in the east.
28/12/1943, Allied troops landed at Ortona, east coast of Italy.
26/12/1943. The German battleship Scharnhorst was sunk by the Royal Navy off the North Cape.
19/12/1943. At the first war crimes trial, in the USSR, three Germans were found guilty of atrocities and hanged at Kharkov.
7/12/1943 British forces captured Monte Camino, Italy.
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.
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.
6/11/1943. Russian troops retook Kiev.
1/11/1943, Russians cut off the Germans who were attempting to retreat from the Crimea.
19/10/1943. Italian troops began to help Tito’s partisans in their fight against the Germans.
13/10/1943. Italy changed sides and declared war on Germany. See 8/9/1943.
7/10/1943, Russian forces crossed the Dnieper River.
4/10/1943. Allied troops occupied Corsica, the first part of France to be liberated.
30/9/1943. Allied troops entered Naples.
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.
25/9/1943. The USSR retook Smolensk.
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.
23/9/1943, The German battleship Tirpitz was severely damaged and disabled.
21/9/1943, The Soviet 43rd Army captured Demidov.
20/9/1943. Allies attacked Naples.
19/9/1943, Germany evacuated Sardinia.
17/9/1943, Briansk retaken by Russia.
16/9/1943, Novorossisk retaken by Russia.
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.
14/9/1943. Yugoslav partisans were advancing along the Dalmatian coast, and Allied officers had reached Tito. Allied troops landed at Bari, SE Italy.
13/9/1943, Free French forces attacked the German and Italians on Corsica, see 29/9/1943.
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, and 13/10/1943).
7/9/1943, German troops began a retreat from the Ukraine. Suspecting that Italy was about to make peace with the Allies, German troops quickly occupied Italy, especially its airfields, to forestall a complete Allied possession of the country. However the entire Italian navy escaped to Malta, thereby freeing up Allied ships for combat in the Pacific or Atlantic.
3/9/1943. Allied troops landed on the Italian mainland, in the province of Calabria. See 25/7/1943.
30/8/1943, Taganrog retaken by Russia.
24/8/1943, The Quebec Conference ended (began 19/8/1943). 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. See 16/9/1944.
23/8/1943, Kharkov retaken by Russia.
17/8/1943. The Allies completely controlled Sicily.
16/8/1943. US troops took Messina, Sicily.
15/8/1943. The Allies attacked Messina.
13/8/1943. The Allies bombed Rome, Milan, and Turin.
10/8/1943, The Quebec Conference opened. Churchill, Roosevelt and McKenzie were present.
5/8/1943. The USSR retook Orel.
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.
28/7/1943, The Italian Fascist Party was formally dissolved.
25/7/1943. Mussolini was ousted from power by the Fascist Grand Council. On 3/9/1943 the Italian Prime Minister, Badoglio, secretly signed an armistice with the Allies. See 8/9/1943.
23/7/1943, Allied troops took Palermo, Sicily.
19/7/1943, First Allied air raid on Rome. The raid was a political warning that Mussolini’s regime must be overthrown.
13/7/1943. The Germans lost the greatest tank battle in history, in the cornfields around Kursk.
10/7/1943. Allied forces under US General Patton invaded Sicily (Operation Husky), landing on the south and south west of the island. 3,000 Allied troopships were used. Palermo fell on 23/7/1943.
8/7/1943. The French Resistance leader, Jean Moulin, died after torture by the Gestapo.
11/6/1943, The Allies captured the island of Pantelleria, between Tunisia and Sicily, after a heavy bombardment.
25/5/1943. The Allies bombed Sardinia.
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.
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) German forces began an offensive against Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia.
12/5/1943. All resistance by Axis forces in North Africa was over.
10/5/1943. The Allies bombed Sicily.
7/5/1943. Tunis, and Bizerta, 60 miles NNW of Tunis, were recaptured by the Allies. See 14/11/1942.
2/5/1943, The RAF bombed Berlin.
24/4/1943, Heavy bombing raid on Dortmund.
14/4/1943. Rommel evacuated his troops from Tunis. The Allies entered Tunis on 7/5/1943.
10/4/1943. The Allied 8th army took Sfax, Tunisia.
6/4/1943, In north Africa, Rommel’s forces retreated north from Gabes gap, Tunisia, enabling British and US forces to link up.
29/3/1943. Montgomery broke through the Axis Mareth Line in north Africa.
14/3/1943. The Germans re-occupied Kharkov in a counter offensive against the Russians.
6/3/1943 The RAF pounded the Ruhr city of Essen.
28/2/1943. The RAF bombed Berlin by day for the first time.
16/2/1943, Kharkov retaken by Russia.
14/2/1943, Rostov retaken by Russia.
12/2/1943, Krasnodar recaptured by the Russians.
10/2/1943, The Allied 8th Army reached the border of Tunisia.
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.
31/1/1943. The German 6tb Army under Field Marshal Paulus surrendered at Stalingrad after five months of fighting. The last Germans fighting in Stalingrad surrendered on 2/2/1943. Hitler had refused to countenance an attempted German breakout from Stalingrad and insisted his troops hold on, despite, from December 1942, increasing shortages of food, ammunition, and medical supplies. The Luftwaffe tried to drop supplies by air to the besieged city but often failed in this task. The Stalingrad Campaign cost the lives of 479,000 men from November 1942; German deaths amounted to 147,000, with a further 91,000 troops captured (many to be worked to death as Stalinpferde, Stalin horses, in Soviet labour camps).
30/1/1943, The RAF made its first daytime raid on Berlin.
28/1/1943. Hitler ordered the mobilisation of the entire population aged between 16 and 65.
27/1/1943. Air raids on Wilhelmshaven, Germany. The USA made its first bombing raid on Germany.
25/1/1943, The Russians retook Voronezh, see 7/7/1942.
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.
23/1/1943. The British 8th army captured Tripoli from the Germans and Italians.
21/1/1943, The Russians retook Stavropol.
18/1/1943. The Russians broke the 890-day siege of Leningrad. Supplies had only reached the city intermittently over frozen Lake Ladoga.
16/1/1943, Iraq declared war on Germany, Italy, and Japan.
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.
12/1/1943, The Second Hungarian Army was annihilated in fierce fighting against Russia at Voronezh, near Stalingrad.
8/1/1943, German forces began to retreat from the Stalingrad area, leaving some of their compatriots under siege in Stalingrad itself.
7/1/1943. Free French forces took Oul-el-Araneb, the main Axis base in southern Libya.
1/1/1943, Velikye Luki re-occupied by the Russians.
24/12/1942, At Peenemunde, Werner von Braun perfected the first flying bomb.
23/12/1942, Operation Winter Storm ended with the German 6th Army still trapped in Stalingrad.
21/12/1942. The Allied 8th Army took Benghazi Libya.
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.
26/11/1942, 250,000 German troops under General von Paulus were surrounded at Stalingrad.
25/11/1942, Greek guerrillas fighting the Axis occupation destroyed the Gorgopotamos railway.
20/11/1942, Benghazi re-occupied by the British.
19/11/1942. The Russians counterattacked at Stalingrad, across ground hardened by the winter frosts but not yet clogged by snow. The Russians had more of their superior T34 battle tanks, and created a giant pincer movement to encircle the 250,000 Germans at Stalingrad. German generals, knowing they were overstretched, wanted to shorten their lines and conserve men, equipment, and supplies. However Hitler initially refused to sanction giving up any occupied territory. Only in January 1943 did Hitler realise that the fall of Stalingrad could entail the cutting off of his forces in the Caucasus; he ordered Kleist to retreat from this region, whilst Paulus hung on inside Stalingrad., diverting Soviet forces. The Germans in Stalingrad surrendered on 2/2/1943, after 7 weeks under siege; had they surrendered 3 weeks earlier, Kleist would also have been cut off. Kleist retreated along the northern shores of the Black Sea, assisted by a sudden thaw that swelled Russian rivers and hindered the movements of the Soviet army.
16/11/1492, Russian forces took Kharkov
14/11/1942. Bizerta, 60 miles NNW of Tunis, was captured by the Axis. See 7/5/1943.
13/11/1942. The Allies recaptured Tobruk, north Africa. Rommel’s army was in full retreat.
11/11/1942. The Axis invaded Vichy France. Russian forces took Lozovaya Junction.
8/11/1942. Rommel retreated from Egypt into Libya. British and US forces took Algiers, a move which precipitated the German occupation of all of France. Russian forces took Kursk.
7/11/1942. Allied troops landed in Vichy-French North Africa. 65,000 Allied troops and 650 warships under General Dwight Eisenhower landed in North Africa under Operation Torch to secure French North Africa and link up with Montgomery’s Eighth Army. Oran, Casablanca, and Algiers were the main landing points. Surprisingly little resistance was met and Bougie and Boune were soon occupied by paratroopers.
4/11/1942, The second Battle of El Alamein ended after 12 days with Montgomery sending Rommel’s army into full retreat westwards. Axis losses were 2,000, but 30,000 Axis troops were taken PoW; Allied casualties were 13,500.
30/10/1942. Montgomery won a key victory at El Alamein. El Alamein was only 80 miles west of Alexandria. This began an Allied advance of 1,400 miles in six months, culminating in the clearance of Axis forces from North Africa.
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.
14/10/1942, German forces now held most of Stalingrad. The Russians retained just two small enclaves on the west bank of the Volga. However the Russian forces at Stalingrad were in fact bait for a trap set by Zhukov.
30/9/1942. The Allies seized key positions near El Alamein in a dawn raid.
23/9/1942, (1) A Russian counter-attack north-west of Stalingrad began.
(2) 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.
17/9/1942, Paulus, having captured most of southern Stalingrad, now turned his attention to the Russian-held industrial districts in the north of the city.
13/9/1942. The German attack on Stalingrad began. Fighting became so intense that each side at times fought the other from different stories of the same building.
10/9/1942, The RAF dropped 100,000 bombs on Dusseldorf in a single raid.
6/9/1942, The Germans captured the major Black Sea naval base of Novorossiisk.
26/8/1942, German forces reached the outskirts of Stalingrad.
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.
19/8/1942. (1) 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.
(2) Montgomery became commander of the British Eight Army in North Africa.
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.
15/8/1942, Winston Churchill had his first summit meeting with Joseph Stalin.
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.
6/8/1942. The Germans advanced on Stalingrad.
28/7/1942. Germans captured Rostov on Don, USSR.
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.
16/7/1942, The RAF made its first daylight raid on the Ruhr.
7/7/1942, The Germans took the city of Voronezh, see 25/1/1943.
1/7/1942. The Germans captured Sevastopol after a 9 month siege.
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.
29/6/1942. The Germans launched an offensive at Kursk, south of Moscow.
28/6/1942. (1) The Allied 8th Army retreated to El Alamein, north Africa.
(2) The Germans launched Operation Blue, an offensive to capture the Russian Caucasus oilfields and secure the Volga River. The Soviets responded by concentrating resistance at Stalingrad, threatening the northern flank of this Operation. On 23/7/1942 Hitler ordered General Paulus to capture Stalingrad at all costs. Meanwhile Stalin could not let go the city that bore his name.
25/6/1942. The RAF launched a 1,000 bomber raid on Bremen.
21/6/1942. Tobruk fell to Rommel’s Afrika Corps (see 18/11/1941). 25,000 Allied troops were taken prisoner.
9/6/1942, The Germans massacred the inhabitants of the Czech mining village of Lidice, as a reprisal for the assassination of Heydrich, Nazi governor of Bohemia and Moravia. The village of Lezaky was also obliterated.
4/6/1942, The ‘Protector of Bohemia-Moravia, the Nazi Heydrich, was assassinated by Czechs. See 9/6/1942.
1/6/1942. Mexico declared war on the Axis.
31/5/1942 (1) 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.
(2) Japanese submarines attempted, unsuccessfully, to enter Sydney harbour, Australia.
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.
(2) The USSR and Britain signed a 20 year peace pact of alliance.
1/5/1942. Iraq was declared eligible for US Lend-Lease.
28/4/1942, Bombing raid on Rostock, Germany. The target was the large Heinkel military aircraft factory there.
16/4/1942. The island of Malta was awarded the George Cross by George VI for its heroism during the German and Italian bombardment.
30/3/1942. The first 1,000 bomber raid took place on Cologne.
28/3/1942. (1) 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.
(2) 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.
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.
9/1/1942, The Battle of Dražgoše began between the Slovene Partisans and Nazi occupying forces.
6/1/1942, British forces advancing westwards through Libya reached Mersa Brega, near El Agheila.
31/12/1941, Click Here for map of Europe under Nazi occupation at this time.
29/12/1941, Russia re-occupied Kerch and Feodosia.
26/12/1941, Second British raid on the Lofoten Islands. Winston Churchill discussed war strategy in America.
24/12/1941, Benghazi recaptured by the British.
19/12/1941. Hitler made himself Commander in Chief of the Army.
16/12/1941, Allied raids on Ostend, Bremen and Wilhelmshaven.
15/12/1941, The Germans abandoned attempts to take Moscow.
12/12/1941. (1) The USSR began to push back Nazi forces. Rostov in the south was retaken by the USSR, and the German advance towards Moscow was turned back at Solechnaya Gora, 40 miles north-west from the Russian capital. 30,000 German soldiers ware taken prisoner and 700 German tanks captured or destroyed. German supply lines had become over-stretched, and the varying gauges and fuel requirements of Russia’s railways meant that 70% of the Wermacht forces had to walk into Russia. German hopes that Russian civilians would see them as liberators failed to materialise. The German soldiers were ill-prepared for winter temperatures as low as -40 C. However Stalin now made some tactical errors. He anticipated the main German thrust for 1942 would be against Moscow whereas the Nazis now aimed for Stalingrad, so as to capture the Caucasus oilfields.
(2) The Japanese captured the island of Guam, see 20/7/1944.
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.
6/12/1941. Britain declared war on Finland, after it ignored warnings not to continue fighting on the German side. A Russian counterattack began to relieve the pressure on Moscow.
5/12/1941, Britain declared war on Hungary and Romania.
3/12/1941, Russia evacuated its naval base at Hanko, Finland, west of Helsinki.
28/11/1941, Russia re-occupied Rostov.
27/11/1941, Gondar, Abyssinia, captured by Allied forces.
26/11/1941, (1) A Russian counter attack saw them advance 70 miles in the Ukraine.
(2) Japanese naval forces set sail for Pearl Harbour
25/11/1941, The Royal Navy battleship, HMS Barham, was sunk.
22/11/1941, Rostov occupied by Germany.
18/11/1941. (1) 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.
(2) Iraq broke off relations with Japan.
17/11/1941, British commando raids on German HQ at Tobruk, 300 kilometres behind enemy lines.
16/11/1941, Iraq broke off relations with Vichy France.
15/11/1941, RAF raids on Boulogne and Emden.
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.
3/11/1941. The Germans captured Kursk, Russia – see 8/2/1943.
1/11/1941, Simferopol captured by Germany.
29/10/1941, Germans began to cross the Perikop isthmus into Crimea.
24/10/1941, Kharkov occupied by Germany.
20/10/1941, German forces reached close to Moscow. The city suffered heavy bombing raids as fighting raged in the countryside around.
16/10/1941. The Germans advanced to within 60 miles of Moscow. Odessa evacuated by Russia.
13/10/1941. RAF raid on Nuremberg.
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.
1/10/1941, RAF raid on Stuttgart.
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.
23/9/1941, In London, Charles de Gaulle formed a Free French Government in exile.
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.
25/8/1941, (1) Canadian and British and Norwegian forces raided Spitzebergen.
(2) 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.
17/8/1941, The Germans took Narva, Estonia.
16/8/1941, In the Dnipropetrovsk area, the Russians retreated east of the Dnieper 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”.
8/8/1941. The Soviet air force raided Berlin for the first time, in revenge for the 22 July raid.
27/7/1941. German forces entered the Ukraine.
25/7/1941, RAF raid on Berlin.
23/7/1941, The German battleship Scharnhorst was bombed at La Pallice (where she had been moved from Brest).
22/7/1941, Germany made its first bombing raid on Moscow.
21/7/1941, First German air raid on Monaco.
13/7/1941. Britain and the USSR concluded an assistance pact.
7/7/1941.American troops joined the British force occupying Iceland. This released 20,000 British troops.
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.
3/7/1941, Allied forces took Palmyra (Syria) and Tabor (Abyssinia).
30/6/1941, German forces took Lvov from Russia.
28/6/1941. Germany captured Minsk.
27/6/1941. (1) Finland joined with Germany in attacking Russia, to recover territory lost in 1939/40.
(2) 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.
21/6/1941. British forces took Damascus, Syria.
19/6/1941. Germany and Italy expelled US consuls.
9/6/1941, Allied forces occupied Tyre.
8/6/1941. A combined force of British and Free French invaded Syria.
7/6/1941, Allied air raid on German navy at Brest, France.
4/6/1941, Kaiser Wilhelm II, exiled German Emperor, died in exile in The Netherlands.
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.
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.
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.
8/5/1941, Allied air raid on Bremen.
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.
20/4/1941. The German Afrika Corps attacked Tobruk, Libya.
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.
8/4/1941, Germans retook Doiran (Libya); heavy air raid on Coventry,
7/4/1941, German breakthrough, with Yugoslav forces, towards Salonika.
6/4/1941. (1) Axis troops invaded Yugoslavia. Belgrade fell on 13/4/1941. Yugoslavia fell on 16/4/1941. Belgrade was recaptured by the Soviets and Tito’s forces on 20/10/1944.
(2) 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 ion 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.
31/1/1941, Allied air raid on Emden.
30/3/1941. Hitler outlined, to his generals, plans for the invasion of Russia – see 22/6/1941.
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.
25/3/1941. Prince Paul, the Yugoslav Regent, signed a pact with the Nazis.
24/3/1941, The Battle of the Bismark began; Allied forces sunk the German battleship Bismark on 27/3/1941.
23/3/1941, RAF raids on Berlin, Kiel and Hanover.
21/3/1941, The Allies captured Jarabub.
16/3/1941, The Allies recaptured Berbera. Heavy air raid on Bristol.
14/3/1941, RAF raids on Dusseldorf and Lorient.
12/3/1941, The first issue of Die Zeitung, a Free German (anti-Hitler) newspaper appeared in London.
7/3/1941. The British army entered Ethiopia.
6/3/1941. Haile Selassie’s troops recaptured Burye from Italy.
4/3/1941. British forces, assisted by Norwegian resistance fighters, raided the German-occupied Lofoten Islands; 11 German boats were destroyed.
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.
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.
10/2/1941. The Luftwaffe bombed Iceland.
9/2/1941, Allied naval bombardment of Genoa.
6/2/1941. The British 8th Army captured Benghazi in Libya.
3/2/1941, Cyrene re-occupied by the British.
1/2/1941. The RAF raided Tripoli, Libya.
(2) Vidkun Quisling was appointed puppet Prime Minister of Norway by the Germans.
22/1/1941. Allied forces recaptured the Libyan port of Tobruk from Italy.
19/1/1941, Kassala in Sudan re-occupied by the British.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1/1/1941, 141 aircraft of the Royal Air Force bombed the Focke-Wulf aircraft production plant south of Bremen.
18/12/1940, Hitler signed the directive for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Soviet Russia.
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.
15/12/1940. Italian troops were driven by the British back across the Libyan border from Egypt.
13/12/1940, Hitler issued Directive No. 20 on the German invasion of Greece, codenamed Operation Marita.
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.
26/11/1940, RAF raid on Cologne,
18/11/1940, RAF raid on Pilsen.
13/11/1940, HMS Ark Royal was sunk by an Italian submarine, near Gibraltar.
12/11/1940, Molotov was invited to Berlin for Nazi-Russian talks.
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.
5/11/1940. HMS Jervis Bay was lost defending an Atlantic convoy from the German battleship Admiral Scheer.
3/11/1940, The Greeks recaptured Samarina from the Italians.
1/11/1940, Allied air raid on Naples.
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.
24/10/1940. Hitler failed to persuade Franco or Petain to help invade Britain.
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.
12/10/1940, Germany captured Bucharest.
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.
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.
24/9/1940, Gibraltar was bombed by French aircraft.
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.
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.
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.
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.
9/9/1940. The RAF carried out a three-hour raid on Hamburg.
26/8/1940, Mr Eboue, the Black Governor of the French colony of Chad, promised allegiance to General de Gaulle and Free France.
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.
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.
18/7/1940, (see 3/7/1940), 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.
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.
9/7/1940. The RAF began night raids on Germany.
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.
5/7/1940. The Vichy government broke off relations with Britain.
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.
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.
24/6/1940, France signed an armistice with Italy in Rome; Italian troops occupied Mentone.
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.
17/6/1940, The British troop ship Lancastria was sunk by German bombs off St Nazaire; 2,300 troops and crew were killed.
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.
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. Narvik captured by 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. (1) 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.
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.
21/4/1940, The RAF raided Nazi forces at the Danish airbase of Aalborg.
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.
8/4/1940, Britain mined the waters off Norway. HMS Glow-worm was sunk.
3/4/1940, Vidkun Quisling revealed secrets of Norwegian defences to German agents in Copenhagen.
28/3/1940, The Allied Supreme war Council issued a formal Declaration of United Action.
20/3/1940, Daladier resigned as leader of the French War Cabinet (see 13/9/1939); replaced by Reynaud.
19/3/1940, The RAF bombed the German submarine base at Hornum.
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.
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.
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.
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.
3/12/1939, RAF raids on warships at Heligoland.
22/11/1939, German attacks on The Shetlands began; lasted until 24/11/1939.
21/11/1939, The Rawalpindi, an auxiliary cruiser, was sunk in the Atlantic.
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 April1945, on Hitler’s orders, to prevent his release by the advancing Russians.
31/10/1939, First dogfight between British and German aircraft over France.
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.
12/10/1939. Hitler made a peace proposal to Britain, which was rejected.
8/10/1939. Hitler made western Poland part of the Third Reich.
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.
5/10/1939, German troops held a victory parade in Warsaw in front of Hitler.
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.
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.
25/9/1939, French artillery began bombarding German fortifications on the Rhine.
24/9/1939, All-day German air raids on Warsaw.
21/9/1939, Germany and Russia declared that Poland no longer existed.
20/91939, The first German aircraft, a Messerschmitt, was shot down, by gunner Sergeant Letchford.
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. 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.
14/9/1939, The Germans entered Gdynia.
13/9/1939, (1) German troops crossed the Vistula at Annopol.
(2) French War cabinet formed under Daladier (see 20/3/1940).
12/9/1939 German troops reached Lvov.
11/9/1939, The Battle of Jarosław ended with a successful Polish delaying action.
10/9/1939. (1) 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 Luiftwaffe.
The Dunkirk evacuation was completed on 4/6/1940.
(2) Canada declared war on Germany.
8/9/1939, The Germans began a siege of Warsaw (see 27/9/1939).
7/9/1939 Saar Offensive: the French Army began a ground operation in the Saarland against light German defences.
6/9/1939. Cracow fell to the Germans.
(2) South Africa declared war on Germany.
4/9/1939. French troops crossed the German border into Saarland.
(2) 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.
(3) Romania, alarmed by the German invasion of Poland and unable to help the Poles, declared its neutrality.
(4) The RAF dropped 6 million leaflets over Germany. It also bombed Wilhelmshaven.
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.
The start of major fighting in World War Two. Hostilities began between Germany and Poland, and Germany and France.
31/8/1939, In Gleiwitz, a small German town close to the border with Poland, a small force of Nazi agents, dressed in Polish Army uniforms, took over the local radio station and broadcast anti-German propaganda in Polish. They then took bodies from Dachau concentration camp, dressed these in Polish Army uniforms, and mutilated the corpses to make identification impossible. Within a few hours Adolf Hitler was denouncing the ‘Gleiwitz Incident’ in the German Reichstag and using it as a pretext to invade Poland.
26/8/1939, Daladier and Chamberlain attempted to negotiate with Hitler, but nothing was achieved.
25/8/1939, Britain signed an assistance pact with Poland, the Anglo-Polish Alliance. Britain had seen Hitler seize Czechoslovakia, in breach of the Munich Agreement; Hitler was now demanding the return of Gdansk (Danzig) and the coastal strip of land linking Germany to East Prussia (depriving Poland of its Baltic coast). Britain therefore abandoned its policy of appeasement with Germany.
23/8/1939. Hitler and the USSR concluded a 20 year non-aggression pact, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. This left Hitler free to invade Poland. Hitler believed the German-Soviet pact would lead France and Britain to withdraw their guarantees of assistance to Poland. When instead Britain reaffirmed its support for Poland on 25/8/1939, Hitler postponed the attack on Poland, originally scheduled for the night of 25-26/8/1939. Diplomatic moves with Britain failed to dislodge UK support for Poland, and Hitler invaded on 1/9/1939.
22/8/1939, Hitler gave the Obersalzberg Speech to commanders of the Wehrmacht, detailing the pending invasion of Poland and plans for extermination of the Poles.
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.
3/4/1939, Hitler ordered his generals to prepare plans for invading Poland.
31/3/1939. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, pledged to defend Poland, if attacked by Germany; so did France.
28/3/1939. Hitler’s deputy Von Ribbentrop signed an agreement with the USSR that they would both invade Poland. See 31/3/1939 and 1/9/1939.
22/3/1939. Memel, part of Lithuania, was ceded to Germany, see 20/3/1939.
20/3/1939, Germany issued an ultimatum to Lithuania demanding the return of Memel, ceded by Germany in 1919.
17/3/1939, The French Parliament granted Edouard Daladier extensive powers to accelerate rearmament.
16/3/1939, Slovakia became a German protectorate. Hungary annexed Ruthenia, another part of Czechoslovakia.
15/3/1939. Germany occupied the remainder of Czechoslovakia (Bohemia and Moravia). The Sudetenland had already been occupied by Germany. Hitler described this as his last territorial claim in Europe. See 6/6/1938.
9/3/1939. President Hacha of Czechoslovakia sacked his pro-German prime Minister. Germany invaded a week later.
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.
16/1/1939, Lithuania and Germany signed a non-aggression pact. However in March 1939 Germany seized the Lithuanian territory of Memel-Klaipeda, where many ethnic Germans lived.
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.
5/10/1938, President Benes of Czechoslovakia resigned.
1/10/1938. Germany annexed the Sudetenland, see 6/6/1938.
30/9/1939, Chamberlain told a crowd “I believe it is peace in our time” and waved the agreement he had made with Hitler at Munich, bearing Hitler’s signature. Chamberlain said “How horrible, fantastic, incredible, it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing”.
29/9/1938. In Munich, Chamberlain appeased Hitler over Sudetenland. Under the Munich Agreement, an agreement between Germany, Britain, France, and Italy, the Sudetenland was surrendered to Nazi Germany. No Czech representative was present.
20/9/1938, The Hungarian leaders, Imredy and Kanya, were summoned to Germany. Hitler told them he had no objections to Hungary’s desires to regain Slovakia and Ruthenis, so long as Hungary actively took part in the destruction of Czechoslovakia.
15/9/1938. Neville Chamberlain visited Hitler at the Berchtesgarten, over the Czech crisis. Hitler declared he only wanted the Sudetenland.
7/9/1938. Sudetenland gained autonomy from Czechoslovakia, see 6/6/1938.
15/8/1938. Chamberlain visited Hitler for crisis talks.
12/8/1938. Germany mobilised its forces.
19/7/1938, King George VI of Britain visited Paris.
6/6/1938. President Benes of Czechoslovakia offered self-government to the Sudetenland. However on 27/9/1938 Hitler stated his intention to annex the Sudetenland. On 21/9/1938 Prague agreed to Anglo-French proposals to cede the Sudetenland to Germany. Czechs protested. German troops entered the Sudetenland on 1/10/1938, as Teschen, in Czech Silesia, was annexed by Poland. On 5/10/1938 President Benes of Czechoslovakia resigned.
20/5/1938. Czechoslovakia ordered 400,000 troops to the Austro-German border.
28/4/1938. Anglo-French talks on the Sudeten question. President Benes was urged to make concessions.
23/4/1938. Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia demanded total self-government.
24/3/1938. The British Prime Minister, Chamberlain, announced that Britain would not oppose the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, in the interests of peace. However Britain would fight for France and Belgium.
17/3/1939, The French Parliament granted Edouard Daladier extensive powers to accelerate rearmament.
13/3/1938 Austria was declared to be part of the German Third Reich (the Anschluss, or ‘joining’); a province of Germany called Ostmark. A Nazi-controlled referendum gave a ‘vote’ of 99.75% in favour of unification. The Anschluss had been expressly forbidden by the Treaties of Versailles and St Germain, 1919, and a proposed customs union between the two countries in 1931 had been vetoed by France and Czechoslovakia. However after Austrian Chancellor von Schuschnigg was forced to resign in early 1938, the Germans occupied Austria and formally declared a union anyway.
12/3/1938. Germany invaded Austria. This was 24 hours before an Austrian plebiscite was to have been held concerning closer relations with Germany. At 10.00 am German troops crossed into Austria, thereby tearing up Article 88 of the Treaty of Versailles, which forbade union of Germany and Austria.
11/3/1938, Hitler demanded the resignation of Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schusnigg, after Schusnigg tried to forestall Hitler’s demands for unification with Germany by a referendum.
12/2/1938. Hitler insisted that Austria released Nazi prisoners.
4/2/1938. Hitler took over as War Minister in Germany. Joachim Von Ribbentrop became Foreign Minister.
20/12/1937, Erich Ludendorff, German general who helped formulate strategy in World War One, died.
29/11/1937, Sudeten Germans walked out of the Czech Parliament following a ban on political meetings.
24/11/1937, In Germany, Walter Funk replaced Dr Schacht as Minister of Economics.
18/11/1937, A Fascist plot was discovered in Paris.
17/11/1937, Lord Halifax arrived in Berlin for talks with Hitler on the Sudetenland; this was the first step in the process of appeasement.
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.
17/10/1937. Sudeten Nazis rioted in Czechoslovakia.
5/9/1937. A huge rally marked the start of the Nazi congress in Nuremberg.
16/7/1937, The Buchenwald concentration camp opened in Germany, on a plateau overlooking Weimar. The first inmates were mainly political prisoners, but most of the 238,980 prisoners ultimately sent there were Jews, of whom 56,545 died in the gas chambers.
12/7/1937, Lionel Jospin, Prime Minister of France, was born.
2/6/1937, German War Minister Werner von Blomberg began a three-day visit to Italy to discuss German-Italian military ties.
4/2/1937, The German Ambassador gave King George VI a Nazi salute.
20/6/1937, All Catholic schools in Bavaria were closed by the Nazis.
30/1/1937, Hitler made a speech on the 4th anniversary of the beginning of the Nazi Revolution. He spoke of having friendly relations with other European powers but also spoke of the need for ‘lebensraum’ – living space – stating that Germany needed colonies for economic expansion. He also promised to respect the neutrality of Belgium and The Netherlands.
15/1/1937. Austria announced an amnesty for Nazis.
1/12/1936. In Germany the Hitler Youth Law was ratified, making membership of the Hitler Youth compulsory for children aged 10 to 18.
25/11/1936. Germany and Japan agreed to protect world civilization from the Bolshevik menace, and signed the Anti-Comintern Pact, organised by Ribbentrop. Germany recognised the Japanese puppet state in Manchuria. See 6/11/1937.
14/11/1936, Germany denounced the clauses of the Versailles Treaty internationalising its waterways.
1/11/1936. Mussolini announced an anti-Communist ‘axis’ with Germany, and urged France and Britain to join.
20/10/1936, Hitler established closer relations with Mussolini, using the Spanish Civil war as a pretext.
24/8/1936, Germany extended conscription from one year to two.
16/8/1936. Hitler’s dreams of the proof of Aryan supremacy at the Berlin Olympics were shattered when the Black athlete, Jesse Owens, won four gold medals in the 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres relay, and the long jump. After Owens’s second win, Hitler stormed out of the stadium in disgust.
11/8/1936, Joachim von Ribbentrop was appointed German Ambassador to London.
1/8/1936. Adolf Hitler opened the 11th Olympic Games in Berlin. The Olympic flame was carried to the venue from Greece for the first time. See 16/8/1936.
17/7/1936, France nationalised its munitions industry.
11/7/1936, Austria and Germany entered closer relations. Hitler forbade the Austrian Nazis from mounting another uprising to preserve a face of legality.
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.
29/3/1936. Hitler won 99% of the vote in German 'elections'.
12/3/1936, Germany threatened to enter a state of "honourable isolation" and increase its military presence in the Rhineland if France and Belgium continued to mass troops on their eastern borders.
7/3/1936. The German Army re-entered the Rhineland, supposedly a demilitarised area. A token force of 22,000 troops marched into the 50-kilometre wide strip of territory bordering the Rhine, goose-stepping through Essen, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Cologne. France wanted action but Britain did not object. This was in breach of the Treaties of Versailles and Locarno. Germany justified its move by saying the French-Soviet pact, concluded in 1934 and ratified by the French government in early 1936, was against the Locarno Treaty.
18/2/1936, Charlie Chaplin’s film, Modern Times, was banned in Nazi Germany because it had ‘Communist tendencies’. Many suspected the real reason for the ban was the resemblance of Charlie Chaplin to Hitler in the film.
6/2/1936. Hitler opened the Winter Olympic Games in Germany.
30/11/1935. Non-belief in Nazism was made legal grounds for divorce in Germany.
7/11/1935, Germany introduced a new Reichskriegsflagge (Reich war flag). It resembled the national swastika flag, with elements of the old Imperial war flag included.
12/10/1935, Hitler banned American jazz from German radio, calling it decadent.
15/9/1935. The Swastika was made the official flag of Germany.
15/8/1935. Hitler decreed that the Swastika was to be Germany’s national flag, and banned German-Jewish marriages.
18/6/1935. France was angry at an Anglo-German naval deal that allowed Germany to build up its naval strength, albeit to only 35% of the Royal Navy. This was in contravention of the Treaty of Versailles.
4/6/1935, In France, Pierre Laval formed a government.
31/5/1935, In France, politician Pierre Flandin lost power.
19/5/1935. The Nazi Party made gains in elections in the Sudetenland.
8/5/1935, The UK Cabinet heard that it was estimated that the RAF was inferior to the Luftwaffe by 370 aircraft and that in order to reach parity the RAF must have 3,800 aircraft by April 1937—an extra 1,400 on the existing air programme. It was learnt that Germany was easily able to outbuild this revised programme as well. On 21 May 1935, the Cabinet agreed to expanding the home defence force of the RAF to 1,512 aircraft (840 bombers and 420 fighters).
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.
7/4/1935. In the free city of Danzig, the Nazis won 60% of the vote.
29/3/1935, Stalin and Eden met in Moscow to discuss German re-armamament.
16/3/1935, Germany announced it was reintroducing conscription, for one year (see 24/8/1936), with a view to building a peacetime army of 35 divisions. This was in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles; other European powers protested but did nothing else.
15/3/1935. France extended compulsory military service to two years.
11/3/1935. In Germany, Hermann Goering announced the creation of the Luftwaffe, or German air force.
13/1/1935. A plebiscite in the Saar indicated a desire to return to Germany. The vote was 90.36% in favour of joining Germany, with an almost-100% turnout. The Saar rejoined Germany on 1/3/1935. 2,000 refugees fled the Saar for France.
1934, Nazi Germany began the Erzengungsslacht program to make the country self-sufficient in food. By 1937 Germany was producing 90% of the food it consumed.
28/11/1934. Churchill warned of growing German air strength.
24/10/1934. Nazi labour movement formed.
15/10/1934, Raymond Poincare, French statesman, died aged 74.
18/9/1934. Britons first heard Lord Haw Haw (Irishman William Joyce) make a pro-Nazi broadcast.
4/9/1934. In Germany, 750,000 attended the opening of the Nazi Party Conference.
19/8/1934. A plebiscite in Germany gave sole power to the Fuhrer; agreeing to his merging the offices of President and Chancellor, Adolf Hitler. Of 45.5 million voters, 38m voted for Hitler, 4.25m voted against him, and 870,000 spoilt their ballot papers.
3/8/1934, Following the death of Hindenberg, the German Cabinet merged the offices of President and Chancellor, and made Hitler ‘Der Fuhrer’.
2/8/1934. (1) A Nazi rally in New York attracted a crowd of 9,000.
(2) 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.
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. The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
23/1/1930, 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.
27/8/1928. In Paris, 15 nations signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, outlawing war. The USSR signed the pact on 6/9/1928.
28/6/1928, In Germany, Hermann Muller, Social Democrat, was appointed Chancellor following the resignation of Wilhelm Marx on 13/6/1928.
13/6/1928, In Germany, Chancellor Wilhelm Marx resigned.
20/5/1928, In Germany, Socialists won the elections. The result was, Social Democrats rose from 131 seats to 153, to become the largest party but without an overall majority. Centre Party, 62 seats. Communists, 54 seats. German National People’s Party, 73 seats. German People’s Party, 45 seats. Nazis, 12 seats.
22/4/1928. In French elections Right-wing Parties won 325 out of the 610 seats.
28/3/1928. France shortened its term of compulsory military service to one year.
16/9/1927. President Von Hindenburg repudiated German responsibility for the Great War (World War One).
24/7/1927, The Menin Gate, a memorial at Ypres to the soldiers of the British Empire, was unveiled by Lord Plumer.
7/2/1927, Emile Coue, French psychotherapist, died at Nancy.
8/9/1926. The League of Nations voted to admit Germany as a member. On 11/9/1926 Spain left the League in protest at Germany joining.
29/8/1926. A Nazi Party rally was held at Nuremberg.
24/4/1926. Germany signed a friendship treaty with the USSR.
13/3/1926. Germany was refused a place on the League of Nations Council.
8/2/1926. Germany applied to join the League of Nations.
2/2/1926, Giscard D’Estang, French President, was born.
30/1/1926. British troops ended a 7-year occupation of the Rhineland.
1/12/1925, The Peace of Locarno was signed (by UK, France, Italy, and Germany), guaranteeing peace and existing national frontiers in Europe.
27/11/1925, Aristide Briand formed a Government in France.
9/11/1925. The German Schutzstaffel, or Protection Squad (SS), was formed.
16/10/1925, France and Germany concluded the Locarno Treaty, guaranteeing their mutual frontier. Italy and Britain also signed. Germany reaffirmed its renunciation of Alsace-Lorraine and guaranteed not to attack France or Belgium. Russia feared the Locarno Treaty meant an alliance of western powers against it, see 24/4/1926.
12/10/1925, Germany and the USSR signed a commercial treaty.
5/10/1925, The Locarno Conference opened, to decide the German border and future of the Rhineland.
13/7/1925. French troops begin to withdraw from the Rhineland.
18/6/1925. France accepted German proposals for a security pact. Hitler’s Mein Kampf was published.
25/4/1925. Hindenburg became President of Germany. He won 48.5% of the popular vote, against 42.5% for Wilhelm Marx of the Centre Party.
10/4/1925, In France, Paul Painleve became Prime Minister after the defeat of Edouard Herriot.
26/3/1925, Hindenburg was elected President of Germany.
27/2/1925, Hitler spoke at a Nazi meeting at a Munich beer hall.
14/2/1925. The ban on the Nazi Party in Bavaria was lifted.
15/1/1925, After a month of intense political negotiations in Germany, Hans Luther (Independent) succeeded Wilhelm Marx as Chancellor, and Gustav Stresemann became Foreign Minister.
20/12/1924. Adolf Hitler was freed from prison on parole after serving just 8 months of his jail term for high treason.
7/12/1924, In German elections, the Communists (45 seats) lost ground to the Social Democrats (131 seats). The Conservative Nationalists also gained (103 seats) whilst the Nazis slumped to 14 seats. The Centre Party won 69 seats.
2/12/1924, The UK and Germany signed a trade pact.
30/11/1924, The last French and Belgian troops left the Ruhr.
7/11/1924, Germany announced its first balanced budget since the war.
30/8/1924, The German Reichsbank was made independent of the government. It issued a new currency, the ReichsMark, at 1,000,000 million old Marks to the new currency.
17/8/1924. French and Belgian troops agreed to withdraw from the Ruhr within 1 year following Germany’s agreement on war reparations.
16/8/1924, The Allies and Germany accepted the Dawes Plan, for a revised timetable of reparations.
8/8/1924, A ten-nation summit agreed a plan drawn up by US banker Charles Dawes, designed to assist Germany’s economy and fulfil reparation payments.
8/7/1924, Adolf Hitler resumed leadership of the Nazi Party.
11/5/1924, In French elections the Left bloc emerged with the largest number of seats, 287 out of 581.
4/5/1924, In elections to the German Parliament (Reichstag), the Nationalists made gains, winning 95 seats, as did the Communists with 62 seats. The Social Democrats won 100 seats and the Centre Party had 65 seats. For the first time the National Socialist (Nazi) Party entered Parliament, with 32 seats.
1/4/1924. Adolf Hitler was jailed for 5 years for his part in the abortive Munich beer hall putsch.
26/2/1924, Adolf Hitler was charged with treason for his part in the abortive Munich beer hall putsch.
28/12/1923. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, who designed the 300 metre Eiffel Tower, Paris, died aged 91.
15/11/1923. Rampant German inflation peaked with the Mark worth 4,200,000 Million to the US Dollar, and 10,000,000 Million to the UK Pound – if you could find anyone willing to change your marks for dollars. It had been 4.2 to the Dollar in 1914, 350,000 to the pound (1 pound was 5 dollars) on 1/6/1923, and 622,000 to the pound on 22/6/1923. A loaf of bread cost 63 pfennigs in 1918, and 250 pfennigs in January 1923. But by July 1923 a loaf cost 3,465 pfennigs, and by November 1923, 201,000 million marks. Workers were paid twice a day and by the evening a loaf of bread would cost what a house was worth in the morning.
Money had effectively become worthless; trade was done by barter. Middle class families with cash in the bank had been ruined. The problem had been that, after French troops occupied the Ruhr to enforce war reparations, the German Government began to print marks in huge numbers. German industry was unable to produce the goods to match the vast increase in money supply. On 15/11/1923 Germany introduced the Rentemark, tied to the country’s real estate. Each rentemark was worth 1,000 million old marks.
9/11/1923. The Munich beer hall putsch marked the start of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. This putsch against the Bavarian Government failed and Hitler was arrested on 11/11/1923 in a village outside Munich and imprisoned. Hitler then spent several months in prison in Landsberg Am Lech, Bavaria, where he dictated part of his Mein Kampf to Rudolf Hess.
23/10/1923, A Communist uprising occurred in Hamburg.
22/10/1923, Communists in Hamburg led by Ernst Thälmann were secretly called on to mobilize.
11/10/1923, The German Mark reached 10,000 million to the UK Pound.
1/10/1923, The German mark reached 242,000,000 to the US$
30/9/1923, A German uprising in Dusseldorf against French occupation of The Ruhr.
27/9/1923. Martial law was proclaimed in Germany, under Article 48 of the Constitution.
15/9/1923, As the German economy deteriorated, the German Bank Rate was raised to 90%.
2/9/1923, Hitler fiercely denounced the Weimar Republic.
10/8/1923, Civil unrest began in Germany; strikes and riots, until 13/8/1923.
6/8/1923, In Germany, Gustav Stresemann was appointed Chancellor following the sudden resignation of Wilhelm Cuno. Stresemann formed a coalition Government.
1/7/1923, The German Mark reached 160,000 to the US$. Pre 1914 it had been 4.20; during 1922 the rate fell from 162 to over 7,000 to the US$.
31/5/1923, Prince Ranier III, prince of the House of Grimaldi, was born in Monaco.
31/3/1923, Rioting German workers at the Krupps works in Essen in French-occupied Ruhr were shot by French troops.
1/2/1923. Inflation in Germany continued; £1 was now worth 220,000 Marks. On 2/1/1922 £1 had been worth 30,000 Marks.
27/1/1923. The German Nazi Party held its first rally, in Munich.
12/1/1923 Germany protested at the occupation of the Ruhr (see 11/1/1923) and ceased all coal reparations shipments to France. The French erected customs posts and economically divided the region from the rest of Germany. This was a serious blow to the German economy, especially after the loss of the industrial Upper Silesia to Poland. The resultant economic disruption hit the German economy and its currency began to collapse. See 31/7/1925.
11/1/1923, Germany defaulted on reparations payments (see 26/12/1922), and French and Belgian troops occupied Essen and The Ruhr.
23/12/1922, Birth of Helmut Schmidt, German Chancellor.
16/12/1922, The Reparation Commission accused Germany of intentional shortfalls in wood and coal deliveries to France. See 11/1/1923.
22/11/1922, Wilhelm Cuno succeeded Wirth as German Chancellor.
24/6/1922, German Foreign Minister Walter Rathenau, aged 54, was murdered by anti-Semitic nationalists.
16/4/1922. Germany restored relations with the USSR, signing the Second Treaty of Rapallo. Secretly, the USSR agreed to let Germany build and test weapons in Soviet territory that were forbidden within Germany under the Treaty of Versailles.
26/2/1922, Britain and France concluded a 20-year alliance.
25/2/1922, The French murderer Henri Landru, known as Bluebeard, was guillotined. He had killed 10 women after luring them to his flat by dating adverts in newspapers.
31/1/1922, In Germany, Walter Rathenau was appointed Foreign Minister.
15/1/1922, In France, Raymond Poincare formed a Government in France, following Aristide Briand’s resignation on 12//1/1903.
13/1/1922, At a conference at Cannes, the Allies agreed to postpone Germany’s reparation payments.
2/1/1922. As inflation soared in Germany, £1 bought over 30,000 German Marks. See 1/2/1923.
15/12/1921. Germany sought a moratorium on reparations.
4/11/1921. The German currency began to collapse.
17/10/1921, Ludwig III, King of Bavaria, died.
12/10/1921, The Council of the League of Nations awarded the upper two thirds of Silesia to Poland (along with most of its coal mines and steelworks). Germany reluctantly accepted the decision.
30/9/1921. French troops pulled out of the Ruhr.
26/8/1921, The former German Finance Minister, Mathias Erzberger, was assassinated by a nationalist gang.
25/8/1921. Peace treaty (Treaty of Berlin) signed between Germany and the USA.
29/7/1921 Hitler became President of the National Socialist Party.
28/5/1921, In Germany, Chancellor Wirth appointed industrialist Walter Rathenau as Minister for Reconstruction, including responsibility for reparations.
20/5/1921, Germany and China resumed diplomatic relations.
6/5/1921, Germany and Russia signed a peace treaty.
4/5/1921. France invaded the Ruhr to enforce reparations.
2/5/1921, France mobilised its troops in preparation for an invasion of the Ruhr.
27/4/1921, The Allies claimed £6,650 million (132,000 million gold Marks) compensation from Germany. Germany reluctantly agreed, but it would put a great strain on the German economy. The Fehrenbach German government at once resigned. The Allies threatened that if Germany did not agree, they would occupy the Ruhr.
24/4/1921. Germany pleaded in vain to the USA for aid on reparations. On 27/4/1921 reparations were set at £6.65 billion.
24/3/1921, Pro-Communist riots in Hamburg, Germany.
23/3/1921. Germany defaulted on reparations.
20/3/1921, A plebiscite in Upper Silesia resulted in a majority vote for remaining with Germany. Germany tried to claim that the whole territory should therefore remain as German, no part passing to Poland. The resultant crisis, with France supporting Poland, was passed to the League of Nations, see 20/10/1921.
8/3/1921. Because of Germany’s failure to give a satisfactory response to demands for war reparations, Allied troops occupied the Ruhr towns. Germany agreed to pay war reparations on 11/5/1921. These consisted of £10 billion in gold over the next 42 years plus a 12.5% tax on Germany’s exports.
1/3/1921, Allied troops entered Germany to enforce war reparations payments.
24/1/1921, The Reparations Conference in Paris fixed German war reparations at US$ 56 billion, to be paid over 42 years; of this sum, France would get 52%. German politician reacted with outrage, seeing this as ‘enslavement of the German economy’, and defaulted on repayments on 23/3/1921. Under pressure from the US, the Allies reduced their claim but when Germany defaulted on this, too, they reoccupied the Rhineland.
16/1/1921, In France, Aristide Briand formed a Government.
10/1/1921, In Leipzig, war trials began at the German Supreme Court.
30/12/1920, The French Communist Party was founded at Tours.
10/12/1920, Woodrow Wilson and Leon Bourgeois were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
23/9/1920, Alexandre Millerande was elected President of France, succeeding Paul Deschanel who had resigned due to ill-health.
10/8/1920. Other post-war provisions included the creation of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, Galicia was given to Poland, Transylvania to Romania, and Istria, Trentino, and South Tyrol to Italy. Greece and Yugoslavia acquired parts of Bulgaria. German East Africa went to Britain, the Samoan Islands to New Zealand, and South West Africa to South Africa. Germany itself lost territory to Poland, France, Denmark, and Lithuania.
11/7/1920, The result of a plebiscite in East and West Prussia was a 97% vote to remain with Germany.
21/6/1920, In Germany, Konstantin Fehrenbach of the Centre Party became Chancellor. His coalition Government of Social Democrats and Centre Party was joined by the People’s Party.
14/6/1920, Max Weber, German sociologist died aged 56.
6/6/1920, In Germany, the first elections held after the Treaty of Versailles showed a shift away from the Social Democrats and Centre, towards extremist Parties.
1/4/1920, The Nazi Party was officially founded in Germany.
19/4/1920, The Conference of San Remo opened. Following on from the London Conference (see 12/1/2920), post World War One frontiers in Europe were settled.
19/3/1920. In Germany, Socialists rebelled and captured Essen.
14/3/1920, A plebiscite in the middle zone of Schleswig favoured integration with Germany.
13/3/1920. A pro-Royalist coup was attempted in Berlin, led by Dr Wolfgang Kapp. The German Government had to retreat to Stuttgart but the German workers opposed the coup and began a general strike; the coup plotters had to flee.
24/2/1920. The National Socialist Workers (Nazi) party, led by Adolf Hitler, published a programme for a Third Reich.
5/2/1920, Germany refused to hand over alleged war criminals to the Allies.
23/1/1920, The Netherlands refused to extradite Kaiser Wilhelm II, as demanded by the Suprme Allied War Council.
20/1/1920, Peace Talks in Paris concluded, see 18/1/1919.
17/1/1920, Paul Deschanel was elected President of France.
31/7/1919. Germany adopted the Weimar Constitution, named after the town where the constitution was drafted.
12/7/1919, Britain and France authorised the resumption of commercial relations with Germany.
4/7/1919. France demobilised its troops.
28/6/1919. The Treaty of Versailles was signed. This peace treaty between the Allies and the Germans was signed at Versailles and officially ended World War One, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand started it. Alsace Lorraine was returned to France, German colonies were under mandate, German East Africa went to Britain and German South West Africa (Namibia) to South Africa. The west bank of the Rhine and a zone 30 miles deep on its east bank was demilitarised. See 7/5/1919.
22/6/1919, The German National Assembly at Weimar authorised the signing of the Peace Treaty.
20/6/1919, The German Chancellor, Schiedemann, fell due to his opposition to the Paris Peace Plan. On 21/6/1919 Gustave Bauer formed a Cabinet comprising Social Democrats, Centre, and Democrats.
29/5/1919, German delegates made counter-proposals to the Paris Peace conference,
7/5/1919, Peace terms were dictated to Germany. Germany had to ceded Alsace-Loraine to France; Upper Silesia, most of Poznan, and West Prussia went to Poland. This separated East Prussia from the rest of Germany as Poland gained a corridor to the sea at Danzig. North Schleswig went to Germany and Memel went to Lithuania. See 28/6/1919.
6/5/1919. Peace conference shared out former German colonies.
2/5/1919. German troops entered Munich to crush the fledgling Soviet Republic in Bavaria.
4/4/1919. At Versailles, the Germans agreed to make Danzig a ‘free city’.
11/3/1919. The Allies agreed to supply famine-hit Germany with food.
22/2/1919. After the murder of the Bavarian Prime Minister, Kurt Eisner, a Soviet Republic was declared in Bavaria.
4/2/1919, The ‘Soviet Republic of Bremen’ was suppressed.
23/1/1919. The Socialists won the German elections.
18/1/1919, Peace talks opened at Versailles. See 20/1/1920. 27 nations attended; Germany was excluded
12/1/1919, Delegates arrived in Paris for the Peace talks, see 18/1/1919.
11/1/1919. The Spartacus League initiated a week of revolt in Berlin. Led by Rosa Luxembburg and Karl Leibknecht, they wanted a Communist workers State in Germany
10/1/1919, Bremen declared itself a Soviet Republic; this was crushed on 4/2/1919,
5/1/1919. The Nazi (National Socialist) Party was founded in Germany. Adolf Hitler, a soldier in World War One who was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery, and who was angry at the armistice terms imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, and extremely opposed to Communism, headed the new Party. Hitler was a poor student in the Austrian secondary school system. He became an artist but failed to gain entry to the Academy of Fine Arts; Hitler was a melancholic character, obsessed by fears that Jews, linked to communists, would take over the world.
30/12/1918, The German Communist Party was founded. However within a fortnight, irregular German troops had murdered its leaders.
23/12/1918, Helmut Schmidt, German leader, was born (died 2015)
6/12/1918. Allied troops occupied Cologne.
2/12/1918, One of the last acts of the British War Cabinet; it demanded the extradition of the German Kaiser Wilhelm.
1/12/1918. The British Second Army entered Germany.
30/11/1918. German occupation of Bucharest, capital of Rumania, ended, see 6/12/1916.
25/11/1918, French troops entered Strasbourg.
23/11/1918, Mutinous German sailors occupied the Chancellery and took Ebert hostage; he was rescued on 24/11/1918 by soldiers from Potsdam.
21/11/1918. Surrender of the German Fleet to the Allies at Scapa Flow, for internment. On 21/6/1919 it was scuttled at Scapa Flow, in the Orkneys.
18/11/1918. The German occupation of Brussels ended, see 20/8/1914.
11/11/1918. Armistice Day. World War One ended. Fighting ceased on the Western Front, and Austro-Hungary signed an armistice with the Allies. See 29/9/1918. Church bells rang out across Britain in celebration. The Allies had not expected such a sudden collapse of Germany; in September 1918 they were planning campaigns for 1919. However General Ludendorff was shaken by the sudden Allied advance (see 8/8/1918) and begged Kaiser Wilhelm to seek an armistice immediately. The Armistice was signed in Marshal Foch’s railway carriage, near Compiegne. Warsaw became the capital of a restored Polish State. The armistice required Germany to relinquish 5,000 heavy guns, 30,000 machine guns, 2,000 aircraft, all U-boats, 5,000 locomotives, 150,000 wagons and 5,000 lorries. The surface fleet was to be interned (see 21/11/1918), the Allies were to occupy the Rhineland, and the blockade of German ports would continue. World War One cost 9 million lives, with a further 27 million injured. Britain alone had lost 750,000 men, and a further 200,000 from the Empire, with another 1.5 million seriously injured. The War had cost the Allies an estimated US$ 126 billion, and the Central Powers a further US$ 60 billion. Britons now celebrated, and wages rose, although higher food prices eroded some of those gains. Women, at least those over 30, finally had the vote, and smoking, gambling and movies boomed, with Charlie Chaplin as movie star. The US was the greatest beneficiary of the War. US losses amounted to 53,000 men, a small number compared to 8,500,000 casualties of the European combatants. US industry had become more efficient, and key sectors such as chemicals had learned to do without Europe; the US aviation industry had been transformed. Economically, The US had needed European capital before 1914; by 1918 Europe owed the US some US$ 10,000 million.
9/11/1918. Kaiser William II abdicated and fled to Holland, and a German Republic was founded. On 11/11/1918 the Emperor of Austria, Karl, abdicated and a Republic was founded.
3/11/1918.. Austria signed an armistice with the Allies.
30/10/1918. Austria completed the evacuation of its troops from Italian territory. Austria became an independent German speaking state. See 23/10/1918,
28/10/1918, Mutiny broke out amongst German sailors at Kiel, spreading rapidly to Hamburg and Bremen. On 7/11/1918 insurrection broke out at Munich.
23/10/1918, Italian forces counterattacked against the Austrians near Vittorio Veneto, reaching the Piave River on 27/10/1918, By 30/10.1918 the Italians, with the aid of British forces, had the Austrians in full retreat.
20/10/1918. Germany stopped U-boat warfare.
19/10/1918, Belgian forces recaptured Zeebrugge and Brugges.
18/10/1918. Lille was recaptured from the Germans.
12/10/1918, Germany and Austria agreed to US President Woodrow’s demand that their troops should return to their own territory before an armistice could be signed.
9/10/1918, British forces took Le Cateau.
8/10/1918, The French retook Cambrai, see 26/8/1914.
29/9/1918. (1) Allied troops captured part of the Hindenburg Line. Ludendorff called for an armistice to avert a catastrophe for Germany. Negotiations opened with President Woodrow Wilson of the USA on 4/10/1918 but fighting continued till 11/11/1918.
(2) Bulgaria signed an armistice with the Allies.
26/9/1918, General Allied offensive on the Western Front; the Germans were fighting now only to cover their retreat.
14/9/1918, Austria-Hungary attempted to negotiate a separate peace deal with the Allies, which was refused.
13/9/1918. In the USA, 14 million men had registered for conscription.
12/9/1918, At the Battle of St Mihel, the US 1st Army under Pershing captured the St Mihel salient.
4/9/1918. The Germans retreated to the Siegfried Line.
30/8/1918. British troops crossed the Somme.
8/8/1918. General Haig initiated a surprise offensive against the Germans at Amiens which started a continuous retreat of the Germans through to Armistice Day on 11/11/1918. The lessons of The Somme (see 13/11/1916) had finally been learnt. Low flying aircraft drowned out the noise of tank manoeuvres, ammunition dumps were camouflaged, and decoy tank movements distracted the Germans. When the Allies began a major creeping bombardment, the tanks moved in behind to crush the barbed wire and infantry swiftly followed to consolidate the territorial gains. On their part, the Germans were demoralised by the stalling of their great Spring offensive (see 13/4/1918) and also by news of hunger, rioting and strikes back in Germany. Reinforced by US troops, the Allies found the Germans ready to retreat, and advanced eight miles on the first day. The battle lines had become mobile again, and were moving east. In Ludendorff’s words, it was a black day for the German Army.
The Allies were reinforced by US troops and further British troops were returning from Palestine. The British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, agreed to release reserve divisions of conscripts, which he had held back, now convinced he was not simply sending them into another meat grinder like The Somme or Passchendaele. With an assembly of 456 tanks and 2,000 guns and howitzers the Allies forced the Germans back on a 14-mile front, for 8 miles. 400 German guns were captured, along with 12,000 prisoners. The new Allied tactics continued to work against stiff German resistance and by mid September the Germans had retreated to the massive defences of their Hindenburg Line, 3 miles in depth. However the Germans were demoralised and after 10 days of fighting the Hindenburg Line was broken through at Saint Quentin. German soldiers going on home leave, passing fresh troops travelling west to the front, taunted them with calls of ‘you’re only prolonging the war’. However casualties on all sides were very high. In the three months following Amiens, August 1918, 531,000 French soldiers died or were wounded or captured, as many as in the eight months of Verdun 1916. The figure for US soldiers for those three months was 127,000, over twice as many as lost in Vietnam. For British and Empire troops, the toll was 411,000, the same as during the 4 ½ months of The Somme. German losses were even higher; 785,000 killed and wounded, and 386,000 prisoners taken by the Allies.
A major issue for Germany was lack of food. Germany had been over 80% self-sufficient in food in 1914, but the military had removed labour from the farms without compensatory inputs of fertiliser or mechanisation. German food production plummeted and by 1918 German citizens had just 64% of pre-war cereals, 18% of the meat, and 12% of the fats they had consumed in 1913.
On the German Home Front, Ludendorff and the other Generals knew the War was lost weeks before the November 1918 Armistice. Although by then Germany was effectively a military dictatorship, the military pretended that surrender was only due to the wishes of civilian politicians. This perpetuated a post-War myth that the German Army had not been defeated at all, but betrayed by left-wing politicians, that the German Army was in fact invincible. Less than 20 years later that myth helped fuel the rise of the Nazis.
From this day, the final German retreat began. Closing stage of World War Two.
18/7/1918. Allied forces launched a counter offensive on the Marne, capturing Soissons (see 9/4/1918).
15/7/1918, The Second Battle of the Marne began, when General Ludendorff attempted an advance; this was thwarted by British, French, and US troops. Marshall Ferdinand Foch of France launched an offensive on the Marne which led the Germans to seek an armistice in November 1918.
15/6/1918, The Austrians began an offensive against the Italians along the Piave River Front; they were attempting to break through to the fertile farmlands of the Veneto. See 23/10/1918.
10/6/1918, The Battle of Belleau Wood ended.
9/6/1918, Germany opened an offensive near Compeigne.
6/6/1918, Battle of Belleau Wood began.
27/5/1918, The Germans took Soissons in a thrust towards Paris.
9/5/1918, British troops averted a German attack on Ostend, Belgium.
7/5/1918. Romania signed a peace treaty with Germany (The Fourth Treaty of Bucharest). Southern Dobruja was transferred from Romania to Bulgaria; Bulgaria had been seeking the whole of the Dobruja. See 27/11/1919.
29/4/1918. The last big German offensive on the Western Front petered out.
23/4/1918.British forces raided Zeebrugge. They accomplished their objective of sinking concrete-filled British ships in the harbour entrance to block it, bottling up German submarines.
9/4/1918. Germany launched a major offensive at Ypres. Reinforced by the arrival of 70 divisions freed up on the eastern front by the capitulation of Russia, Germany tried to knock the western Allies out of the war before new American troops could arrive. However instead of concentrating his attack here on the British forces, Ludenforff ordered secondary attacks on the French sector of the front at Chemin des Dames on 27/5/1918 and west of Reims on 15/7/1918. The Allied line held and a major counter offensive was launched on 18/7/1918,
28/3/1918, Ludendorff launched Operation Mars against the left wing of the British Third Army, to force a salient into Allied lines, but he was repulsed.
26/3/1918, The Battle of Rosieres, northern France, began.
24/3/1918, The Battle of Baupame, northern France, began.
23/3/1918. German troops shelled Paris from a distance of 75 miles, using a large gun called ‘Big Bertha’.
21/3/1918. Major German offensive began on the Somme. This was Ludendorff’s desperate bid for victory before American troops could become effective. British casualties were over 300,000, and the Germans advanced on a 50 mile-wide front, in an attempt to reach the Channel ports, and drive a wedge between the British and French Armies, but the German advance was halted.
The last German offensives on the Western Front began. Penultimate stage of World War One.
3/3/1918. The Bolshevik government in Russia assigned the Treaty of Brest Litovsk with the Germans. Lenin insisted on signing, against the wishes of Trotsky. Trotsky wanted the Communist Revolution to spread throughout Germany, but Lenin feared the rapid advance of German troops into Russia, approaching Petrograd.
Russia lost heavily in terms of land and industry (Russia lost 56 million inhabitants, 79% of its iron, and 89% of its coal production), but the Bolsheviks needed peace at any cost before their new and shaky administration was overthrown, by Germany or by anti-Bolshevik White Russians and Czechoslovak troops. Under this Treaty, Finland regained its independence from Russia. The Baltic Republics were ceded to Germany. Communists (recruited from Finnish labourers) joined Red Guards to try and re-establish Communist control in Finland. Germany moved in to repulse them. See 6/4/1918. Turkey regained territories lost to Russia even in 1877.
For events of 1917 Russian Revolution see Russia
25/2/1918. Minsk was occupied by the Germans.
21/2/1918. Australian cavalry captured Jericho from the Turks.
18/2/1918, Germany launched a big offensive on the Russian Front.
9/2/1918. Ukraine signed a separate peace treaty with Germany.
28/1/1918. A general workers strike began in Berlin.
20/1/1918, The German naval base at Ostend was bombarded by Allied ships.
31/12/1917, During the year 1917 German submarines sank 6,500,000 tons of Allied shipping whilst only 2,700,000 tons was built. In April 1917 Britain had only two months’ worth of food stocks. However with US destroyer patrols searching for German submarines, escorted transatlantic convoys and the mining of the seas between Scotland and Norway, Allied losses were dramatically reduced and after April 1918 never exceeded 200,000 tons a month.
22/12/1917. The Bolsheviks opened peace talks with Germany and Austria. The Allies accused |Russia of betrayal.
10/12/1917, Italy torpedoed the Austrian warship Wien in Trieste.
5/12/1917. Russia signed an armistice with Germany, at Brest-Litovsk.
3/12/1917, Britain refused to recognise Bolshevik Russia. Meanwhile German and Austrian delegates met at Brest-Litovsk to end Russian participation in World War One, see 3/3/1918.
1/12/1917. German East Africa cleared of German forces.
29/11/1917, The Inter Allied War Conference opened. Lloyd George of Britain, Georges Clemenceau of France and Baron Sidney Sonnino of Italy were concerned that US soldiers and material quickly reach the front lines against Germany, since post-Revolution Russia had ceased fighting.
20/11/1917. Major British tank offensive at Cambrai. The Battle of Cambrai ended on 3/12/1917.
15/11/1917, General Allenby advanced to within three miles of Jaffa.
12/11/1917, Austrian forces established a bridgehead at Zenson, 20 miles north-east of Venice.
10/11/1917, The Third Battle of Ypres ended, see 31/7/1917. The plans of British General Haig to break through the German lines was in tatters; all the Allies had gained was a few square miles of swamp and an obliterated village, after 156 days of fighting and 250,000 deaths, at Paschaendaele. The tremors from the mining of the Messines Ridge had been felt in Downing Street. That August had been the wettest in living memory, turning the ground into an impassable quagmire; Allied troops faced death by drowning as much as by gunfire. The constant shelling had disrupted the system of dykes and streams which drained the flat fields of Flanders. Meanwhile in Palestine, British forces captured Tel-Aviv.
6/11/1917. Canadian troops captured the village of Paschendaele, during the Third Battle of Ypres.
5/11/1917. American troops under General Pershing went into action for the first time on the Western Front.
1/11/1917, In Germany, Count von Hertling was appointed Chancellor.
31/10/1917. The Italian army was shattered unexpectedly by a German onslaught in northern Italy and was retreating towards the Piave River, just 15 miles from Venice. The Italian Second Army had held the Austrians off during 1916 and had captured the fortress of Monte Santo only 2 months earlier. The Italians had seemed well dug in around the mountains of Caporetto and Udine. However a heavy creeping artillery barrage by the Germans and gas attacks drove the Italians back. Morale collapsed within the Italian army, and despite roadblocks and court martials, up to half a million soldiers deserted. A further 300,000 Italian soldiers were captured by the Germans, and the Italians lost 10,000 dead and 30,000 wounded in the German attacks.
24/10/1917, The Austrian offensive against Italy was halted on the Piave River. Boroevics army was so reduced by Italian forces during August and September 1917 that Germany and Austria feared a collapse of Austro-Hungary.
23/10/1917, The Battle of Caporetto began.
15/10/1917. The legendary Dutch spy Mata Hari, who danced in the nude, was executed by a firing squad in Paris, having been found guilty of espionage by the Germans.
4/10/1917, British victory on Passchendaele Ridge.
1/10/1917. (1) Air raids on London.
(2) Damascus fell to General Allenby.
1/9/1917, German offensive against Russia; Riga fell to the Germans.
20/8/1917 The French broke through the Verdun front on an 11 mile wide offensive.
17/8/1917, Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo; Italy made minor gains.
3/8/1917, German sailors mutinied at Wilhelmshaven.
31/7/1917. The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) began, see 10/11/1917.
25/7/1917, Mata Hari, a Dutchwoman called Margaretha Geetruida Macleod (nee Zelle), aged 41, who used her charms to tempt French Army officers to betray military secrets, was found guilty of spying by a military court (despite very little evidence of her guilt) and sentenced to death by firing squad. She was initially hired by the French to spy in German-occupied Belgium.
19/7/1917. Mutinies broke out in the German Navy. The German Reichstag passed a motion to end the war.
14/7/1917, General Pershing, 57, arrived in Paris to set up the headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF).
27/6/1917. 14,000 American troops arrived in France to fight with the Allies. The American expeditionary force was commanded by General John Pershing.
8/6/1917. Haig launched a new Flanders offensive.
7/6/1917, The British captured the Messines Ridge. The British had begun tunnelling under the Ridge from august 1915, and placed high explosives in the tunnels, detonated at 3.10 am. A million pounds of explosive was used, and the explosion was heard in London and Dublin.
4/6/1917. Brazil declared war against Germany and seized all German ships in its ports In France, with the co-operation of the provisional Russian government, a Polish army was formed to fight Germany.
15/5/1917. Henri Petain became French Commander in Chief.
5/5/1917. The Battle of Arras, 9 April to 5 May. The Allied Spring offensive against the Germans pushed them back 3 to 4 miles from the eastern suburbs of Arras, capturing several important hills.
4/5/1917. Widespread mutiny amongst French units on the Front.
3/5/1917, US destroyers arrived to join the British navy.
18/4/1917, The Second battle of Gaza; Turkish forces, with German support, forced back British forces.
11/4/1917. (1) Brazil broke off relations with Germany after the steamer Parana was torpedoed off France. On 1/6/1917 Brazil revoked its neutrality in the War as a mark of ‘continental solidarity and friendship with the USA’. After more Brazilian shipping was sunk, Brazil declared war on Germany on 26/10/1917. Brazil’s direct contribution to the war was the dispatch of part of its fleet to European waters and the sending of a medical mission and some aviators to the Western Front. The main contribution was placing its food supplies and other resources at the disposal of the Allies.
(2) British general Sir Edmund Allenby, commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, occupied Jerusalem following his victory in Palestine over the Turks.
10/4/1917 Canadian troops captured Vimy Ridge in northern France, with heavy casualties. This was a major assault during the Battle of Arras, World War One.
9/4/1917, The Canadians stormed Vimy Ridge, see 10/4/1917.
7/4/1917. Cuba declared war on Germany.
6/4/1917. The USA declared war against Germany, with a declaration signed by President Woodrow Wilson. This followed the revealing by the British on 1/3/1917 of the Zimmerman Telegram, a missive from Germany to Mexico urging it to declare war on the USA and recover its lost territories. The German Foreign Minister, Arthur Zimmerman, had sent a coded telegram to the German Ambassador in Mexico offering an alliance against the US, in which Mexico would recover its territories of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. British naval intelligence intercepted and decoded the message and passed it to President Wilson. American shipping bound for Britain had also been attacked by German submarines
The Germans did not believe that the US could raise and equip an effective army quickly enough to make a difference in Europe, and that even if they did, it could not be transported across a submarine-infested ocean. They seriously underestimated the determination and resources of the US. The US did indeed have only a relatively small standing army, 300,000 men including the National Guard and reserves, but conscription was introduced and many willingly signed up.
Meanwhile this day the King and Queen of England attended a Thanksgiving service at St Pauls Cathedral for the US’s entry into the ‘war for freedom’.
26/3/1917. Britain attacked the Turks at Gaza (First Battle of Gaza).
20/3/1917. A German U-boat sank a fully-lit hospital ship.
19/3/1917, French Prime Minister Briand resigned. Alexandre Ribot formed a Cabinet.
26/2/1917. News of the sinking of the Cunard liner Laconia by German U-boats reached capitol Hill just as Congress was debating measures to protect US shipping from the growing menace of U boats in the Atrlantic. Earlier in February 1917 a US ship, the Housatonic was sunk, making a total of 134 neutral ships destroyed by the Germans in the last 3 weeks. The US navy was already mounting patrols to protect its ships in the Atlantic.
The entry of the United States of America into the War; from this time on the German cause was doomed.
25/2/1917. The Germans retreated on the Ancre, and on 28/2/1917 the British captured Gommecourt.
13/2/1917, The Dutch spy Mata Hari was arrested by the French.
12/2/1917, US President Wilson refused to reopen negotiations with Germany until it abandoned its policy of unrestricted naval warfare; on 3/2/1917 the US liner Housatonic had been sunk by a German U-boat.
31/1/1917. Germany announced a policy of unrestricted naval warfare. All ships, passenger or cargo, found by Germans could now be sunk without warning. This was a calculated risk by Germany because it was bound to involve US shipping being sunk, and would therefore bring the USA in against Germany. But Germany reckoned on the inevitability of the USA entering the war against here soon anyway, and believed she could win the war before this happened. The German Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Von Holtzendorff, presented a memo to the Kaiser saying that if 600,000 tons of Allied shipping could be sunk each month, within five months Britain would have to surrender. In fact, in the worst month, April 1917, German U-boats sank 869,103 tons of shipping, 373 ships. The British adopted a convoy system, despite fears that a convoy’s speed was limited to that of the slowest ship. The Navy had feared it had too few destroyers for this job but then realised that it had enough if only ocean-going ships, not cross-Channel traffic, was guarded.
Meanwhile the British navy deployed Q-ships, gunships disguised as merchant ships which lured U-boats to the surface then opened their gun hatches at the last moment. The first trial convoy ran from Gibraltar on 10/5/1917. The convoy system worked; of 26,604 vessels convoyed in 1917, only 147 were sunk. Meanwhile the Germans lost 65 of their 139 U-boats. Meanwhile Allied shipping blockaded German trade, creating shortages of tea and coffee, but more seriously, fertiliser shortages too. In the final German land offensive of 1918, advancing German troops discovered their privations were not being endured by the enemy, and German morale fell.
4/1/1917, Britain and Germany agreed to exchange all internees aged over 45.
31/12/1916, By the end of 1916, Russia had seen some 3,600,000 of its citizens killed or wounded in the Great War, and a further 2,000,000 taken prisoner by the Central Powers.
15/12/1916. The Battle of Verdun, which began on 21/2/1916, ended. 364,000 Allied soldiers and 338,000 German soldiers, had died in this battle.
13/12/1916. New British offensive in Mesopotamia.
12/12/1916, Robert Nivelle was appointed Commander in Chief of French armies in N and NE France.
6/12/1916, The Central Powers occupied Bucharest.
13/11/1916, The Battle of the Somme ended. It had begun on 1/7/1916, and succeeded in driving the Germans north towards the coast, but cost over 600,000 Allied lives; 420,000 British and 200,000 French. German casualties were 450,000. At Verdun, ten months of fighting had cost another 400,000 men from both sides. The Allies gained, at the Somme, some two miles of ground for these casualties, about five lives lost per inch gained. The Germans knew the ‘Big Push’ was coming, and had prepared well by stockpiling ammunition then sitting deep in underground bunkers waiting. The Allied bombardment fully announced this push, but did not destroy the German bunkers. After the bombardment the Allied soldiers walked forward over no man’s land carrying their kit, guns, and grenades, at least 30 kg or 60 lbs per person on a hot summer day. The Germans, as soon as the bombardment ended, climbed back up and scythed down the Allies in a hail of machine gun fire. On the first day of that offensive, the Allies lost 19,000 men with a further 57,000 wounded, the greatest loss ever on a single day. Bad communications and slowness meant the few gains made were mostly lost again.
10/11/1916, Theobald von Bethmann, German Chancellor, made a speech to the Reichstag pledging that Germany would join or even lead a peace league after the War, to prevent such a catastrophic war from ever happening again. In part he was responding to anti-war concerns from Social Democrats within Germany. The German Government was also now open to a peace agreement for the same reason as the Allies opposed it – because Germany was now in control of large swathes of Europe from France to Russia.
26/10/1916. Francois Mitterand, President of France from 1981, and founder of the French Socialist Party, was born.
24/10/1916. French troops broke open a four mile stretch of the German lines at Verdun, and another offensive started there.
24/9/1916, The French bombed the Krupp works at Essen. A second Zeppelin was shot down in England.
17/9/1916, Manfred von Richtofen, the ‘Red Baron’, Germany’s greatest air ace, won the first of his 80 confirmed kills over Cambrai, France.
14/9/1916, Seventh Battle of Isonzo; Italian forces made small gains.
12/9/1916, British and Serbian forces mounted an attack from Salonika, but were unable to help Romania.
4/9/1916. British troops took Dar Es Salaam in east Africa.
30/8/1916. Paul Von Hindenburg became Chief of General Staff in Germany. He became Commander in Chief on the Western Front on 29/11/1916.
28/8/1916. Italy declared war on Germany.
27/8/1916. Rumania declared war on Germany, see 6/12/1916. Austria declared war on Rumania.
22/8/1916, Romania declared war on Austro-Hungary. Its troops crossed the passes into Transylvania but were expelled again by mid-November.
19/8/1916. German warships bombarded the east coast of England.
17/8/1916, The UK, France, Russia, and Italy guaranteed Romania the Banat, Transylvania, the Hungarian Plain as far as the Tisza River and Bukovina as far as the Prut River, if it declared war on Austro-Hungary.
1/7/1916. Battle of the Somme began. Britain and France launched a major offensive. This offensive lasted until 8/11/1916, and one million were killed, including 500,000 British. However the Germans were only beaten back ten miles – over one casualty per inch of ground won. The Germans retained the key rail junction of Bapaume. On this first day of battle alone, there were over 100,000 casualties, including 60,000 British. However for the Germans the massive casualties of the Somme made it impossible thereafter to obtain enough trained soldiers, hence it marked the turning point of the War for France.
24/6/1916. A new German offensive began at Verdun.
23/6/1916. A Russian offensive captured most of Galicia.
18/6/1916, Russian forces took Czernowitz (now Chernovtsy, Ukraine).
14/6/1916, Allied economic conference in Paris.
6/6/1916, Allied forces blockaded Greece.
5/6/1916. Lord Kitchener, British General and conqueror of the Sudan, born 24/6.1850 near Listowel, County Kerry, died when his cruiser HMS Hampshire hit a German mine off the Orkney Islands, en route to Russia. There were no survivors.
4/6/1916, Russia began the Brusilov Offensive, pushing back Austrian forces south of the Pripet Marshes. German reinforcements halted the Russian advance.
2/6/1916. Second Battle of Ypres.
1/6/1916, Germany established a War Food Office to set controlled prices for food. A bad harvest in Autumn 1916 led to strict food rationing.
31/5/1916. Battle of Jutland. On 31/5/1916 German Admirals Scheer and Hipper set sail from the Jade and Elbe estuaries. British intelligence picked up on this and Admirals Beatty and Jellicoe set out to engage them. Beatty happened to meet Hipper’s battle cruiser squadron, and the two main fleets began to engage. Although the British suffered larger losses, the British fleet had been much larger to begin with, and Scheer managed to retreat back to the safety of the Jade estuary. The German fleet rarely ventured to sea after this.
8/5/1916. Australian and New Zealand troops arrived in France.
18/4/1916, Russian forces captured Trebizond, Turkey.
17/4/1916. The Boer leader Jan Smuts led an anti-German drive from Kenya.
24/3/1916. German forces sank a cross-Channel steamer, the Sussex, after a decision in February 1916 that German forces would sink any armed merchant ships on sight. See 31/1/1917.
21/3/1916. Austrian soldiers killed 10,000 Serbian civilians.
20/3/1916. Food scarcities in Germany caused rationing to begin.
13/3/1916, Germany loosened its rules on its submarines attacking ships; they could now sink vessels around Britain if they ‘appeared not to be passenger ships’.
9/3/1916. Germany declared war on Portugal.
21/2/1916 Battle of Verdun began. The Germans launched an all-out attack on the fortress of Verdun, but Petain took over the defence and repulsed the Germans, achieving victory by June 1916. See 15/12/1916. The previous commander, General Joseph Joffre, had ignored intelligence reports and, believing the German attack would come at Champagne, failed to reinforce Verdun.
15/2/1916, Fifth Battle of Isonzo, between Italy and Austria
11/2/1916, Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered an escalation of the U-boat warfare.
28/1/1916. British and Belgian troops took Yaounde, capital of the German colony of Cameroon.
27/1/1916. In Berlin, the German Communist Party, Spartacus, was formed.
21/12/1915, William Robertson became British Chief of Staff.
31/12/1915, On the Western Front, positions had scarcely changed for a year amongst the trenches, despite appalling casualties. Major attacks became bogged down in bad weather, and tens or hundreds of thousands died for little territorial gain by either side. France had seen, during 1915, 330,000 soldiers killed and a further one million wounded, in addition to the 900,000 killed or wounded during 1914. In 1915 alone, 170,000 German soldiers were killed and 680,000 wounded. In 1915 alone, Britain saw 73,000 soldiers killed and 240,000 wounded.
19/12/1915, Douglas Haig replaced John French as British Commander in Chief for France and Flanders.
12/11/1915, Roland Barthes, French philosopher, was born (died 1980).
21/10/1915, The Battle of Isonzo began; Italian forces made small territorial gains.
9/10/1915. The Serbian capital, Belgrade, fell to the Austro-German army.
26/9/1915. British and French troops began two big offensives, in Champagne and Flanders.
25/9/1915. (1) The Battle of Loos began, and the London Regiment’s 18th battalion went over the top kicking a football.
(2) The British forces used poison gas for the first time. Its first use was by the Germans on 22/4/1915.
19/9/1915. The Germans took Vilna (Vilnius), capital of Lithuania.
18/9/1915, (1) The Kaiser gave renewed assurances that passenger ships would not be attacked.
(2) German forces entered Vilnius, Lithuania.
30/8/1915. The great Russian fortress of Brest-Litovsk fell to the Germans.
19/8/1915, Battle of the Gulf of Riga. The German High Seas Fleet was able to clear the Russian minefields and enter the gulf, but withdrew after German cruiser SMS Moltke was hit by a torpedo fired by British submarine HMS E1.
18/8/1915, The Germans took the fortress of Novo Georgievsk.
17/8/1915, The Germans took Kovno.
5/8/1915. Austro-German forces took Warsaw as the Russian abandoned it.
4/8/1915, Nurse Edith Cavell was arrested in Brussels, see 12/10/1915.
12/7/1915, The German Government took control of the coal industry.
23/6/1915, Italy launched its first major military campaign in World War One with an army of 225,000 under command of Luigi Cadorna attacking Austro-Hungarian positions above the Isonzo River in the Alps.
22/6/1915. The Austrians retook Lemberg (Lvov), capital of Galicia, which they had lost to Russia on 3/9/1914.
11/6/1915. Serbian troops invaded Albania and took Tirana, the capital.
9/6/1915, British troops in France were first issued with hand grenades.
6/6/1915, The Kaiser promised that in future the German Navy would not attack passenger vessels. However on 28/6/1915 a German submarine sunk the passenger liner Armenia off Cornwall, and the passenger liner Arabic was sunk on 19/8/1915.
4/6/1915. Austro-German troops retook Premsyl from the Russians.
23/5/1915, Italy entered the war on the Allied side, see 25/4/1915.
15/5/1915, Unsuccessful British and French offensive in NE France.
10/5/1915. Fierce fighting in the Ypres area.
9-25/5/1915, Battle of Aubers Ridge (second battle of Artois); the French advanced three miles at great cost.
2/5/1915, German forces broke through on the Eastern Front at Gorlice.
1/5/1915, (1) The US ship Gulflight was sunk without warning by a German U-boat.
(2) The Austrian commander Mackensen reversed earlier weaknesses of the Austrian Army, which in Spring 1915 was on the verge of collapse after repeated Russian attacks. At Dunajec-San, he forced the Russians to retreat.
30/4/1915. Germany invaded the Russian Baltic provinces.
25/4/1915. Italy signed a secret treaty, the Treaty of London, with Britain, France, and Russia. Italy agreed to enter the war on the Allied side within one month in return for territorial gains. Italy was to gain the Austrian provinces of Trentino, South Tyrol, Istria, Gorizia, Gradisca, and Trieste, also a large stretch of the Dalmatian coast and islands, some Albanian territory around Valona, full sovereignty over the Turkish-controlled Dodecanese Islands, the Turkish province of Adalia in Asia Minor, colonial gains in Africa, and a share of war indemnities. The Allies agreed to this because they believed that Italian intervention would soon destroy Austro-Hungary, opening the ‘back door to Germany’. Italy duly entered the war on 24/5/1915, but the expected breakthrough against Austria never materialised. When the Bolsheviks took over in 1917 they revealed the terms of this secret treaty, which ran totally against the ethnic-determination principles of President Wilson of the USA; he stated he did not consider the treaty terms as binding. At the Paris Peace Conference the UK and France also opposed implementation of the treaty’s terms, and Italy received far less than originally specified. This created popular resentment in Italy and was a factor in the rise of Mussolini and Fascism in Italy.
22/4/1915. (1) The British began a new offensive at Ypres.
(2) The Germans began using poison gas, chlorine, against the British north of Ypres. 4,000 tons of chlorine were sent over Allied lines, killing 6,000. Many Germans were also killed whilst releasing the gas and they did not press forward, losing any advantage gained from using the gas. The new weapon was used by Britain on 25/9/1915.
19/4/1915, The British captured Hill no.60.
5/4/1915. France began a broad offensive from the Meuse to the Moselle.
23/3/1915, The Hungarian fortress of Przemysl fell to Russian forces.
14/3/1915, The German battle cruiser Dresden was sunk.
11/3/1915. Britain began a naval blockade of Germany.
10/3/1915, Battle of Neuve-Chapelle began. By 12/3/1915 the Allies had captured the village and just 4 square miles of countryside. 40,000 Allied soldiers fought, and of these there were 7,000 British and 4,200 Indian casualties; the Germans lost a similar number. This amounted to one casualty per 5,000 square feet of ground won.
1/3/1915. Britain began blockading German ports.
18/2/1915. Germany’s blockade of Britain by submarine began.
17/2/1915. Germany captured the Polish port of Memel.
16/2/1915, France began a bombardment of German forces in the Champagne area.
7/2/1915-15/2/1915. Battle of the Masurian Lakes. The Russian 10th Army was defeated by the Germans under Otto Von Below.
4/2/1915, (1) British war casualties now stood at 104,000 dead.
(2) Germany began using submarines in warfare to blockade Britain.
(3) The Sarajevo conspirators were executed in Bosnia.
24/1/1915. Admiral Hipper was intercepted by the British navy off Dogger Bank after bombardment of UK coastal towns. The superior British force sank the German battleship, Blucher. After this German naval raids on UK coastal towns ceased.
23/1/1915, Heavy fighting began in the Carpathian Mountains between Russian and Austro-Hungarian forces. This continued until mid-April.
8/1/1915, Heavy fighting in the Bassee Canal and Soissons area of France.
3/1/1915, Tear gas was used in warfare for the first time; by Germany against the Russians, in Poland.
See also Russia 1910s
31/12/1914, By the end of 1914, France alone had seen 900,000 of its citizens killed or hospitalised.
30/12/1914, First Battle of Champagne. As the French launched a new assault, the German counterattacked their right flank and took out three lines of defence and inflicted major casualties.
26/12/1914, The German Government took control of food supplies and distribution.
25/12/1914. In World War One, an informal truce between the combatants ended at midnight.
24/12/1914. The first air raid on Britain took place. A single bomb fell in the grounds of St James Priory, Dover.
22/12/1914, Turkish forces made unsuccessful attacks on Russian forces in the Caucasus.
17/12/1914. Anzac (Australia, New Zealand, army corps) troops occupied Samoa and German New Guinea.
16/12/1914. The German navy bombarded Hartlepool, Scarborough, and Whitby with over 1,000 shells, killing 102.
14/12/1914, Serbian forces recaptured Belgrade.
8/12/1914. Battle of the Falklands. Six of the seven ships in the German Pacific Squadron were sunk. Admiral Sturdee’s victory over Vice-Admiral von Spee ended German naval activity in the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, allowing the British navy to concentrate on home waters and the Mediterranean for the remainder of World War One.
6/12/1914 The Germans captured Lodz, Poland.
5/12/1914, The Austrians defeated the Russians at Limanova, but failed to break the Russian lines at Krakow.
2/12/1914, The Austrians took Belgrade from Serbia.
30/11/1914, The Great War was spreading from the Franco-German border to encompass the world. There was fighting in the Dardanelles region of Turkey, Britain has occupied Cyprus, Russia invaded Armenia and naval battles off Sumatra. There were also conflicts in various parts of Africa between German and Allied colonies.
23/11/1914. The British navy bombarded Zeebrugge.
21/11/1914. Indian troops occupied the port of Basra, Persia.
18/11/1914, On the eastern front, the Germans broke the Russian line at Kutno.
10/11/1914, The Australian cruiser Sydney sank the German cruiser Emden off Sumatra. This cleared the Indian Ocean of German forces.
3/11/1914. (1) German ships bombarded Yarmouth.
(2) Britain declared the North Sea to be a military area, dangerous to merchant shipping, and mined it. Germany responded on 4/2/1915 by making a similar declaration and also mining, the area of the English Channel and waters around Ireland. Germany began a submarine blockade of Britain. On 1/3/1915 Britain announced that all ships presumed to be carrying goods of enemy origin, destination or ownership would be seized, regardless of ownership or destination of the ship.
1/11/1914. The British fleet was defeated at the Battle of Coronel, Chile.
31/10/1914, The front line in the Great War had stabilised into trench warfare, stretching from the Swiss border to the English Channel (see 30/9/1914). Fierce battle s raged for front-line towns such as Ypres, and Paris was bombed by Zeppelins.
29/10/1914, (1) Turkish warships bombarded the Russian ports of Sevastopol, Odessa and Novorossiysk. This provoked a declaration of war by Russia against Turkey on 4/11/1919; also by Britain and France on 5/11/1914. In Turkey the Young Turks, in 1908, had had two aims; to pull together the disintegrating remains of the Ottoman Empire, and to recover land lost to Russia. However they found the Turkish Treasury in debt to European banks by the then-colossal sum of £200 million. They sought an alliance with a wealthy European nation that could help rebuild the Turkish economy. Britain, which had helped found Turkey’s National Bank in 1908, was approached, as an enemy of Germany with whom the former Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid had been friendly. Britain declined the approach, believing that an alliance with Turkey would unite Europe against it. Turkey again approached Britain during the Balkan War (1912-13) and was again rebuffed. In July 1914 France also rejected overtures by Turkey. Moreover on 1/8/1914 Winston Churchill ordered the requisition of two warships being built in Britain for the Turkish Navy. Meanwhile the German General Otto Liman von Sanders was assisting the modernisation of the Turkish Army. Germany hoped that Turkey, possibly allied with Bulgaria, would threaten Russia without direct German involvement. The Young Turk, Ismail Enver Pasha, Minister for War, approached the German Ambassador in Constantinople on 22/7/1914 to propose a formal alliance. The German Ambassador, Freiherr von Wangenheim, declined; Germany assessed that an alliance with Turkey would exacerbate tensions with Russia, and therefore be of advantage to Britain and France, but be of no gain to Germany because of the weak state of the Turkish Army, and the parlous state of the Turkish economy that retarded the development of the Turkish military. However Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, on learning of Enver’s approach, overruled Wangenheim and instructed Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann to open negotiations with Turkey. A secret treaty of alliance between Germany and Turkey was signed on 2/8/1914, essentially a mutual guarantee of defence against, only, any attack by Russia. The secrecy allowed Enver to hedge his bets and only intervene against Russia when it suited him. Therefore although Germany had mobilised against Russia on 1/8/1914 Enver did not attack immediately. German Admiral Wilhelm von Souchon sailed two German ships, the SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau, past British ships in the Mediterranean just hours before Britain declared war on Germany, on 4/8/1914. Britain chased these ships but did not prevent their arrival at Constantinople, where they became part of the Turkish navy, replacing the ships confiscated by Britain. They were renamed the Yavuz Sultan Selim and the Midilli, and Turkey also received 20 million marks in gold by train from Germany, to assist in updating Turkish military capabilities. Once the gold was received, and Turkey had witnessed German successes against the Russians in East Prussia (following initial defeats inflicted on Germany at Tannenbirg and the Marne) the Yavuz Sultan Selim and the Midilli, complete with German crews, bombarded the Russian ports. Churchill was not too perturbed by Turkey’s entry into the Great War on the German side. Almost all the Turkish Army’s 43 divisions were only on peacetime strengths of 4,000 men, not the wartime basis of 10,000. The Turkish divisions based in Mesopotamia (now Iraq), also Arabia and the Levant, were manned by local recruits of dubious loyalty to the Ottoman Empire. The British enjoyed easy victories against these divisions in the Basra area, where the local oilfields were secured. However later in the war the Young Turks reinforced the fighting capabilities of the army, giving Britain a harder battle.
(2) Near Nieuport, Netherlands, the Yser area was flooded tactically
17/10/1914. German U-boats raided Scapa Flow, the main base of the British Fleet. Four German destroyers were sunk.
15/10/1914. The Germans, having captured Ghent and Bruges, took Ostend.
14/10/1914. British and French troops occupied Ypres. The Belgian government fled to France. Canadian troops arrived in Britain.
12/10/1914, The German Army entered Lille, after several days bombardment.
11/10/1914. Paris was bombed.
10/10/1914. The Germans took Antwerp.
9/10/1914, The Germans took Ghent.
30/9/1914, Paris was saved from occupation as German forces were driven back (see 31/8/1914). However |British losses were heavy and Germany still occupied a strip of northern France, along with almost the whole of Belgium. and all of The Netherlands. See 31/10/1914.
28/9/1914. German guns began bombarding Antwerp. Antwerp capitulated on 10/10/1914.
27/9/1914. The Russians invaded Hungary.
26/9/1914. The Australians took the German port of Friedrich Wilhelmshafen in German New Guinea.
23/9/1914. The British suffered heavy casualties at Mons, and retreated.
22/9/1914. Three British cruisers, Aboukir, Hogue, and Cressy, were torpedoed by a German submarine, 1,500 were killed.
17/9/1914, The ‘race to the sea’ between Allied and German forces trying to outflank each other; this established the Western Front from the North Sea to Switzerland.
16/9/1914, Trench warfare began on the Aisne salient.
14/9/1914. (1) The Allies drove back the Germans on the Marne, relieving the threat to Paris. The Germans retreated to Verdun.
(2) The Russians were forced to retreat from East Prussia, after the battle of the Masurian Lakes.
13/9/1914, The Battle of the Aisne began. It lasted until 28/9/1914.
9/9/1914, The first Battle of the Marne ended when the German advance on Paris under Von Moltke was halted by the British Expeditionary Force and the French under Joffre and Foch. This marked Germany’s furthest penetration into France.
8/9/1914, The French fortress of Maubeuge fell to the Germans.
6/9/1914. Battle of the Marne began. Advances by British and French forces. The Germans retreated to Verdun.
5/9/1914. The Germans took Rheims.
4/9/1914. Britain, France, and Russia agreed not to make separate peaces.
3/9/1914. Russian forces took Lvov.
31/8/1914. The German General Hindenburg had reversed earlier Russian successes (see 24/8/1914), surrounding and beating the Russians under General Samsonov, at the Battle of Tannenburg, taking 100,000 Russians prisoner. In the following week, Russian General Rennenkampf was forced to retreat and east Prussia was cleared of Russian forces. In France the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) initially held back the German advance but the French retreated, leaving the flank of the BEF exposed. The allies retreated towards Paris, but then halted the German forces before they occupied Paris. See 30/9/1914.
30/8/1914. (1) The Germans took Amiens.
(2) A New Zealand expeditionary force occupied the former German colony of Samoa.
29/8/1914, Battle of Guise, northern France.
28/8/1914. (1) The Germans began besieging Antwerp (see 18/8/1914), capturing it on 10/10/1914.
(2) The British sank three German cruisers and two destroyers off Heligoland Bight, opening the war at sea.
26-31/8/1914. Germany defeated Russia at the Battle of Tannenberg.
26/8/1914, (-11,213) (1) The German cruiser Magdeburg ran aground in the Baltic whilst on a reconnaissance mission. Unable to free her, the captain, Richard Habenicht, decided to scuttle his ship; however the appearance of two Russian cruisers prompted the German crew to set off the explosives prematurely. Habenicht and 57 of his crew were captured. Significantly also captured were German code books; Germany did not realise this had happened and carried on using the same codes for radio messages, enabling the Allies to track German warship movements.
(2) The Germans occupied Cambrai. See 8/10/1918.
25/8/1914, The Germans sacked Louvain.
24/8/1914. Belgian forces attacked the rear of the German right flank, to ease the pressure on the British and French left flank. This campaign halted on 25/8/1914 when news arrived of the Franco-British retreat into France, but the Belgian offensive had tied down some German forces. On learning, on 7/9/1914, that some of these forces were to be sent to France, the Belgians launched a fresh offensive on 9/9/1914, a crucial day in the Battle of the Marne. Meanwhile the Russians under General Alexander Samsonov and General Paul Rennenkampf were advancing into East Prussia, driving back a numerically inferior German force. See 31/8/1914.
23/8/1914. Battle of Mons, in Belgium near the French frontier. The heavily outnumbered British Expeditionary Force under Sir John French, in its first important battle, was forced to retreat after bitter fighting with Germany. This retreat continued until the Marne, where the tide turned against Germany.
22/8/1914, The Germans took Namur. The fortress of Namur had been expected to hold out for several months; its ‘impregnable’ defences were shattered by new German high explosives.
21/8/1914. (1) German atrocities were committed in Belgium to deter Belgian civilian resistance. On 21-22 August 384 Belgian civilians were shot in the market square at Tamines, and from 24 to 30 August the Cathedral city of Louvain was given to looting and burning by German troops.
(2) The Germans took Brussels. See 18/11/1918. France and Russia agreed that on Germany’s defeat an independent Poland would be restored, France would recover Alsace Lorraine and Denmark would recover Schleswig-Holstein from Germany, Bohemia would have independence from Austro-Hungary, and all German colonies would be confiscated.
20/8/1914. The German army was defeated by the Russians at Grumbinnen; Russian forces had mobilised faster than anticipated. French forces made headway a short distance into Germany but were turned back this day in battles at Mulhouse and Strasbourg.
18/8/1914. The Belgian government left Brussels for Antwerp. See 28/8/1914.
17/8/1914. A British Expeditionary Force of 70,000 men landed in France.
16/8/1914 Liege, Belgium, fell to the Germans. The Battle of Liege had begun on 4/8/1914 and the resistance here had seriously delayed the German occupation of Belgium.
15/8/1914, Russia invaded East Prussia.
12/8/1914. Britain and France declared war on Austria.
9/8/1914. The first British troops arrived in France. The British Expeditionary force was landed from 9th to 17th August at Boulogne.
8/8/1914. German troops entered Liege, Belgium.
7/8/1914. The French counter offensive began. French troops entered the upper Alsace, partly for political effect and partly to distract from the main French goal of destroying a German base at Basle and the Rhine bridges below this. By 19/8/1914 this French force reached the Rhine.
6/8/1914. (1) A major deployment of German troops westwards began. Between 1870 and 1914 the number of double German railway lines running towards her western frontier had been raised from 9 to 13, and all German railway development required approval from the Chief of Staff. Now, 550 trains a day crossed the Rhine, westwards, and by 12//8/1914 seven German armies of a total of 1.5 million men were fully supplied. The first British casualties of the War occurred when the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Amphion was damaged by mines in the North Sea and 150 men died as she sank.
(2) Austro-Hungary declared war on Russia. Serbia declared war on Germany.
4/8/1914. Britain declared war on Germany for violating the Treaty of London. President Wilson declared the USA neutral. That morning, Germany began the invasion of Belgium (see 2/8/1914, and 6/8/1914). The Austrian ultimatum to Serbia brought Russia in as Serbia’s ally, and Germany entered as Austria’s ally. Britain might well have stayed neutral had Germany not invaded Belgium in an attempt to outflank France. Germany began mining Danish waters and requested Denmark to mine the Great Belt. Denmark, believing Germany would mine it anyway, said it would do so. Britain believed the war would be over by Christmas.
3/8/1914. (1) Germany declared war on France, after false accusations of French air raids on Nuremberg. Germany had sought assurances that France would not intervene in a Russo-German war, but France merely said it would ‘act in its own interests’. Germany was seeking control over Belgium and the French coast from Dunkirk to Boulogne, cession by France to Germany of the Briey-Longwy iron basin and the fortress of Belfort, and German control of the French and Belgian colonies in Africa. France had fewer fighting men, with a total population of 40 million against 65 million Germans. However Russian and French forces combined were bigger than Germany plus Austria; Germany could, though, bank on Russia being slow to mobilise.
(2) Britain warned Germany it would honour the 1839 Treaty of London guaranteeing Belgian neutrality.
2/8/1914. (1) Britain mobilised the Royal Navy after Germany declared war on Russia.. The British Cabinet had finally agreed that a German presence in French Channel ports could not be tolerated, and so France must be helped against Germany (see 9/8/1914), although at the end of July most of the Cabinet had been for non-intervention in Europe.
(2) Belgium had failed to guarantee German troops free passage across its territory, as demanded by a German ultimatum delivered on the evening of 2/8/1914; Germany occupied Luxembourg, and invaded Belgium 2 days later, on 4/8/1914. Russian troops crossed into East Prussia.
1/8/1914. Kaiser Wilhelm II declared war on his cousin Czar Nicholas II. Italy declared herself neutral. France ordered the mobilisation of the army, but as a last-minute gesture had withdrawn its forces to 10 km behind the frontier. Denmark declared itself neutral, and mobilised an emergency force of 54,000 men.
31/7/1914. Germany ordered a general mobilisation of the army, rejecting Britain’s offer of mediation in the Austro-Serbian crisis as ‘insolence’.
30/7/1914. The Czar of Russia ordered general mobilisation of the army. European stockmarkets began to panic as war loomed.
29/7/1914, Russia, under Tsar Nicholas II, ordered a limited mobilisation of its 1.2 million strong army against Austria. However this move reassured Serbia in its resistance, and produced a German mobilisation.
28/7/1914. Austria declared war on Serbia. See 23/7/1914. Belgrade was bombarded by Austria on 29/7/1914, the first engagement of World War One. The Austrians took Belgrade on 30/7/1914, and Russia began to mobilise. The Serbs initially drove back the invading Austrians and themselves entered southern Hungary in the autumn of 1914. Russia attacked Austria and made advances against the Austrians in southern Galicia. France, as the ally of Russia, was also drawn in. Germany moved to help Austria and in early 1915 drove the Russians out of southern Galicia. Later in 1915 the Germans overran Serbia. On 9/10/1915 Belgrade fell to the Germans. Italy declared war on Austria on 23/5/1915, and here too the Germans were needed to help Austria against Italy.
26/7/1914. Serbia mobilised its army. Meanwhile in view of the deteriorating international situation, the British Admiralty ordered the Fleet, which had assembled at Portland for review, not to disperse. On 29/7/1914 the Fleet was able to set sail for the North Sea, giving Britain a vital dominance there for the duration of the War.
24/7/1914. The Russian Council of Ministers began plans for partial mobilisation of the army.
23/7/1914. Austria determined that the government of Serbia was involved in the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand on 28/6/1914, and sent an ultimatum to the President of Serbia, Narodna Odbrana, drafted so as to prepare for war with Serbia. The terms were designed to be too humiliating for Serbia to accept. In fact Serbia accepted most of the terms, but insisted that an Austro-Serbian judicial enquiry into the assassination would be subject to Serbian law, and Austria rejected this condition. See 28/7/1914. Austria’s real issue with Serbia was that it blocked potential Austrian territorial expansion southwards into the Balkans, to give Austria domination of the Aegean Sea,
22/7/1914, In Europe the financial press began to realise a major war might be starting. The first symptom of crisis was a rise in insurance rates for shipping.
5/7/1914. Germany promised support to Austria.
28/6/1914. Assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, nephew of Franz Joseph, in the Bosnian town of Sarajevo. Along with his wife he was shot and killed by the terrorist Gavril Princip, thus precipitating World War One. Born in Graz, Austria, in 1863, Ferdinand was the eldest son of the Archduke Charles Louis, who was the brother of the emperor Francis Joseph. When Francis Joseph died in 1896 Ferdinand became heir to the throne but because of his bad health in the 1890s his younger brother Otto was regarded as more likely to succeed to the throne of Austria. In foreign affairs he tried, without endangering the alliance with Germany, to restore Austro – Russian understanding. In 1913 Ferdinand became Inspector General of the Army. This was just before he was assassinated in June 1914, starting World War One with Austria’s declaration of war against Serbia. The assassin’s first bullet hit the archduke in the neck; his second hit his wife, who had flung herself in front of him. She died almost immediately, he died ten minutes later.
Gavril Princip was born in June or July of 1894 in the village of Obljaj, in what is now Bosnia. His father was a postman and the Princip family was very poor, and heavily taxed by local overlords. Bosnia had been part of the Ottoman Empire until 1878 when it was taken by Austria. Gavril left Obljaj for Sarajevo in 1907, enrolling in a secondary school where he did well academically; here he joined other teenagers seeking home rule for the Slav peoples. Archduke Ferdinand wanted to balance out competing nationalisms within his empire by minimising the over-arching influence of Serbia amongst the Slavic peoples under Austrian rule. Princip wanted Bosnia to become part of a greater independent Serbia. See 23/7/1914.
Gavril himself, arrested immediately after the shooting, was just under the 20-year age limit for the death sentence under Hapsburg law; he received a 20-year prison term, to be denied food one day each month, and was chained to the wall of his cell. He died in Spring 1918, just before the end of World War One, of skeletal tuberculosis that had caused the amputation of his right arm.
16/3/1914, Madame Caillaux, wife of the French Finance Minister, shot dead the editor of Le Figaro to protect her husband against libel.
18/12/1913, Willy Brandt, German Chancellor, was born in Lubeck as Karl Herbert Frahm.
20/11/1913, The Zabern Incident. A German officer insulted Alsatian recruits, causing friction between France and Germany.
7/8/1913, France passed an Army Bill, imposing three year’s compulsory military service.
6/6/1913. Germany passed a Bill for a large increase in its army.
7/4/1913, Jean Constans, French politician, died in Paris (born 3/5/1833 in Beziers).
5/3/1913, 71 sailors drowned when the German destroyer S-178 was accidentally rammed by the German cruiser Yorck in the North Sea off of Helgoland.
24/2/1913, Jules Gabriel Compayre, French educationalist, died in Paris (born 2/1/1843 in Albi).
21/1/1913, In France, Aristide Briand succeeded Poincare as Prime Minister.
5/1/1913, Gottlieb von Jagow became German Foreign Minister.
8/12/1912, The German Kaiser held a secret meeting with his military chiefs. It was agreed that the Schlieffen Plan, to quickly conquer France before turning east on Russia, should not be delayed much beyond 1914 because after that swifter Russian mobilisation would cause a collapse of the German Eastern Front before France fell. The Schlieffen Plan, named after Graf Schlieffen, Chief of the German General Staff 1890-1905, was to attack France through Belgium, by-passing the heavily-fortified Franco-German frontier. German troops defending this frontier were to be reduced, possibly even allowing for French advances into Germany here. However the German advance through Belgium would then swing eastwards to the south west of Paris and come round to hit the French Army in the rear. Schlieffen allowed for ten German divisions to hold the Russian front until France could be crushed (six weeks allowed for this task); also for a British Expeditionary Force of 100,000 to assist the French.
27/11/1912. France and Spain agreed on their respective spheres of influence in Morocco.
6/2/1912, Eva Braun, mistress of Adolf Hitler, was born.
4/11/1911, Germany settled the Morocco crisis with France. Germany agreed to allow France a free hand in Morocco, in exchange for territory in the Congo.
27/8/1911. At Hamburg the German Kaiser made his ‘place in the sun’ speech, foreshadowing a large increase in the German navy. Britain responded by increasing its navy, although Anglo-German relations remained friendly.
16/8/1911, E F Schumacher, German economist and statistician, was born (died 1977).
1/8/1911. Germany began to fortify Heligoland, a small island in the North Sea.
21/7/1911, Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, warned Germany not to threaten British interests in the western Mediterranean, or Gibraltar. See 1/7/1911. Germany denied such ambitions, but Britain began preparing for war with Germany.
10/7/1911, Russia warned Germany that it supported France in the Morocco crisis.
5/7/1911. Birth of Georges Pompidou, in Montboudif, Auvergne. He was French President from 1969 until his death in 1974.
26/5/1911, The German Reichstag granted the former French territory of Alsace-Lorraine its own legislature and a large measure of autonomy.
15/5/1911, King George V and his cousin the Kaiser reasserted their friendship.
10/3/1911. France adopted Greenwich Mean Time as standard time across the country.
24/2/1911, The Reichstag voted to increase the German Army by half a million men.
24/7/1909, Aristide Briant became French PM.
7/6/1909. France joined the arms race by announcing it was to spend £120 million on new naval ships.
13/9.1908, In Germany the Social Democrats staged a rally at Nuremberg.
6/8/1908, The British Admiralty stated that the new battleships being built by the Germans would be the most heavily armed in the world.
3/8/1907, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II met at Swinemunde to discuss the Baghdad Railway.
8/7/1908. The German Navy was catching up in strength with the British, according to the 'World Navy List'.
2/5/1907, King Edward VII of Britain met the French President in Paris.
28/1/1907, 164 miners died in a pit explosion at Saarbrucken, Germany.
11/1/1907, Pierre Mendes-France, French politician, was born (died 1982)
13/12/1906, A revolt of the Centre Party in the German Reichstag opposed spending on colonial wars. Von Bulow dissolved the Reichstag; in subsequent elections the Socialists lost ground.
25/10/1906, Georges Clemenceau became PM in France.
5/6/1906, Germany decided to build more battleships.
24/4/1906, The Nazi collaborator William Joyce, or ‘Lord Haw Haw’, was born in Brooklyn, New York City.
5/4/1906, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany dismissed Count Friedrich Holstein, a key advisor in the Foreign Department, ending fears of a German war with France over Morocco.
19/3/1906, Adolf Eichmann, German Nazi responsible for the execution of millions of European Jews during World War II, was born in Solingen.
11/3/1906, 1,200 miners died in a pit explosion in northern France.
10/2/1906, Britain launched the revolutionary new battleship Dreadnought. She made every other warship obsolete, outgunning and outranging them all. Her new steam turbine propulsion made her much faster than older ships. This marked the start of a keen naval arms race between Britain and Germany. Germany now realised that the latest class of battleships were too big to pass through the Kiel Canal. The Russo-Japanese War demonstrated the need for such battleship innovation, as naval battles were now fought at long range, using torpedoes, and torpedo boats therefore had to be destroyed at a distance with accurate long-range artillery.
4/2/1906, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian who was part of the group who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler, was born.
17/1/1906, In France, Clement Fallieres was elected president, through the influence of Georges Clemenceau.
1/1/1906, General Von Moltke was made head of the German armed forces.
19/9/1905, Britain and Germany held simultaneous war manoeuvres.
24/7/1905, Kaiser William of Germany and Czar Nicholas of Russia signed an alliance at a meeting in Finland.
6/6/1905, Theophile Delcasse, French Foreign Minister since 1898, resigned under pressure from Germany.
1/5/1905, In talks lasting until the 5th May, Paul Rouvier, French Prime Minister, failed to settle the Moroccan Question with Germany.
12/7/1904, Britain and Germany signed a five-year treaty, to resolve disputes through arbitration rather than by military means.
28/8/1904. A treaty was concluded in London whereby France would allow the British freedom of action in Egypt in return for the British allowing the French a free hand in Morocco. For many years the nominally independent Sultanate of Morocco had been losing power as it became increasingly dependent on French, Spanish, and German business and subsidies for financial security. In October 1904 the French also concluded a secret treaty with the Spanish. This disturbed Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany who saw his country being squeezed out of North Africa. Wilhelm II therefore landed at Tangier on 31 March 1905. The sultan sided with the Germans and serious friction with the French resulted. On 161/1906 the Algecieras Conference was held. German claims were backed by Austria whilst French claims were backed by Britain. Germany failed to curb France’s privileged position in Morocco. See 8/4/1904.
8/4/1904. Entente Cordiale set up between Britain and France. Each country recognised the other’s colonial interests. France agreed not to interfere in Egypt and England agreed not to interfere in Morocco. Germany, which also wanted control in Morocco, felt threatened by this entente. Britain had become unpopular with many countries after the Boer War, and needed friends; relations with France had been strained since the Fashoda incident in 1898. Now both Britain and France felt anxious over the rise of the German economy and military might, especially its navy. The entente meant Britain’s navy could concentrate on defending the North Sea whilst France’s monitored the Mediterranean. See 28/8/2904.
1/2/1904, Britain agreed with France to remain neutral if there was war between Russia and Japan.
6/7/1903, French President Emile Loubet, and Theophile Delcasse, visited London to begin the Entente Cordiale.
4/3/1903, King Edward VII of Britain concluded a visit to Paris, during which Anglo-French relations were strengthened.
22/11/1902. In Germany, the steel magnate Friedrich Krupp (1854-1902), head of Germany’s largest manufacturing firm and the richest man in the country, died unexpectedly of a stroke. He was aged 48. Friedrich’s father Alfred had founded the Krupp Company but Freidrich had been in charge since the age of 33 when his father died.
8/11/1902, The Kaiser arrived in London on a 12-day State Visit to try and improve Anglo-German relations.
1/11/1902, Italy signed the Franco-Italian entente with Italy. Italy assured France it would remain neutral if France was attacked.
3/6/1902, In France, Rene Waldbeck-Rousseau resigned, despite having a majority on the Chamber, over disputes with extremists. He was succeeded by Emile Combes, who pursued a strongly anti-clerical policy.
27/10/1901, Negotiations on an Anglo-German alliance broke down, after the British Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, made an anti-German speech in Edinburgh.
1/7/1901, France enacted its anti-clerical Association Law, which outlawed all religious institutions not formally registered with the State.
29/5/1901, Lord Salisbury, in a confidential memo, decided against developing an alliance between Britain and Germany.
24/4/1901, 200 were killed in an explosion at a chemical factory in Griesheim, Germany.
6/3/1901. Anarchists attempted to assassinate Kaiser Wilhelm, who escaped with face wounds.
16/12/1900, France and Italy agreed to respect each other’s sphere of influence in North Africa.
7/10/1900. Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler was born in Munich. He was leader of the Nazi SS, second in command to Hitler from 1929, and gained notoriety in 1934 when he masterminded the assassination of several Nazis whose loyalty to Hitler was in question. He controlled the concentration camps in which millions of Jews, communists, trade unionists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others, died.
12/6/1900, A second German Naval Act proposed a fleet of 38 battleships within the next 20 years.
14/4/1900. The World Exhibition opened in Paris.
28/7/1898. Bismarck died, three years after his wife, at Friedrichsruh. He was a Prussian politician and founder of the modern state of Germany.
28/3/1898. Germany passed an Act allowing for substantial expansion of its navy.
29/10/1897, Joseph Goebbels, Nazi political leader and propagandist, was born in Rheydt, son of a factory foreman.
15/6/1897, Tirpitz was appointed German Naval Secretary.
19/2/1897. The French tightrope walker Charles Blondin died. He was born on 28/2/1824.
24/6/1894, The President of France, Marie Francois Carnot, was stabbed to death at Lyons by an Italian anarchist.
26/4/1894, Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s deputy, was born in Alexandria, Egypt.
15/3/1894. Germany and France signed a treaty outlining their spheres of influence in tropical Africa
10/2/1894, Germany signed a commercial treaty with Russia.
13/7/1893. Germany passed a bill to substantially increase the size of its army.
30/4/1893, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s foreign minister, was born
12/1/1893, Hermann Goering, German Nazi leader and founder of the Luftwaffe, was born in Rosenbaum, Bavaria.
17/8/1892. Russia and France signed a military convention.
2/5/1892, Baron Mandred von Richtofen, German air ace of World War One, known as the ‘Red Baron’ because he flew a red Fokker, was born in Schweidnitz in Prussia, to aristocratic parents.
15/11/1891. Birth of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, commander of the Afrika Corps, in Heidenheim, Germany.
1/5/1891. In a violent clash between striking French workers and French troops, nine workers, including two children, were killed as troops opened fire. 60 more workers were injured. The workers were campaigning for an 8 hour day.
24/4/1891, Helmuth von Moltke, Prussian general, died.
22/11/1890, Charles de Gaulle, French President, was born in Lille (died 1970).
9/8/1890, Heligoland was formally transferred from Britain to Germany.
1//7/1890. Britain and Germany signed the Heligoland Treaty, by which Germany gave up claims in East Africa, including Zanzibar, in return for the British island of Heligoland in the Elbe estuary. Germany soon made Helogoland a major naval base for the defence of the newly constructed Kiel Canal.
18/3/1890, Prince Otto von Bismarck was dismissed from the German Chancellorship by Kaiser Wilhelm II, after 29 years as Germany’s first Chancellor. Bismarck’s foremost achievement had been the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership, but there had been increasing political dissent between Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm from 1888.
20/4/1889. Birth of Adolf Hitler, in Braunau, Austria (died 1945). His father was a customs official who changed his name from Schicklgruber.
15/6/1888, Frederick III, Emperor of Germany, died. He was succeeded by his 29-year son, Wilhelm II, who was the last German monarch.
9/3/1888, Death of Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia, aged 90. He was succeeded by his 57-year old son, Friedrich Wilhelm, but he died of cancer later in the year, on 15/6/1888.
27/2/1888, As Italian-French relations deteriorated, France imposed selective duties against Italian products. Italy retaliated in kind on 1/3/1888.
18/7/1887, Vidkun Quisling, Norwegian diplomat who turned traitor, was born in Fyresdal, Telemark province, southern Norway.
14/7/1887, Alfred Krupp, German manufacturer of arms in Essen, the Ruhr, died.
23/5/1887. The French crown jewels went on sale and raised six million francs.
29/1/1887, Construction work began on the Eiffel Tower, Paris.
14/1/1887. Bismarck dissolved the Reichstag because it refused to vote for the military budget.
11/1/1887, Bismarck proposed an expansion of the German Army.
29/6/1886, Robert Schuman, French politician and Prime Minister, was born in Luxembourg.
13/6/1886, Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, drowned, probably suicide.
20/11/1885, Albert Kesselring, German Air Force Commander, was born in Markstedt.
29/10/1879, Franz von Papen, German politician and ambassador, was born in Werl, Westphalia.
1/10/1879. An Austro-German alliance was signed.
2/6/1879, Louis, Prince Imperial of France and prospective Napoleon IV, was killed by a Zulu assegai. The French suspected British connivance.
19/10/1878. Bismarck passed an anti-Socialist law, placing many restraints on socialist meetings and banning trade union activities.
7/8/1876. The Dutch spy, Mata Hari (Margarete Gertrude Zelle), who passed secrets to the Germans in World War One, was born in Leeuwarden. The French arrested her in 1917 and she was executed by firing squad.
2/7/1876, Wilhelm Cuno, German statesman, was born at Suhl.
5/1/1876, Konrad Adenauer, West German Chancellor, was born in Cologne.
29/10/1873. King Albert of Saxony succeeded his father to the throne. He was born on 23/4/1828, and died on 10/6/1902.
16/9/1873. The last German troops left France. An economic recovery of France had taken place, which was to enable it to build up its military forces. However a recession began in France from 1873 onwards.
9/1/1873. Napoleon III of France, nephew of Bonaparte, died in exile at Chislehurst, Kent, to where he had withdrawn following his defeat by the Prussians and his imprisonment at Wilhelshohe Castle.
29/8/1871, Albert Lebrun, French President, was born.
28/5/1871, The Paris Commune, set up on 28/3/1871, was brutally suppressed by French government troops. Urban warfare in Paris had killed 33,000 and left sections of the city in ruins. Other Communes in Lyons and Marseilles had also collapsed. The Paris Communards had failed to adequately man a fort defending the west of Paris.
21/5/1871, The Treaty of Frankfurt was ratified.
10/5/1871. Germany and France signed a peace treaty at Frankfurt. France surrendered all of Alsace and most of Lorraine to Germany. France also had to pay an indemnity of 5 billion francs to Germany, the equivalent amount that Napoleon I imposed on Prussia in 1807; a German army was to remain in France till this is paid. The British Prime Minister, Gladstone, protested that Alsace and Lorraine should not be handed over without a vote by the people living there. Prussia’s Prime Minister, Bismarck, placed no limit in the treaty on the size of France’s future army, gambling that France was already isolated and humbled by her defeat at Sedan.
28/3/1871, French proletarian radicals proclaimed a ‘Paris Commune’, backed by intellectuals and workers, hoping to exploit popular discontent at France’s humiliating loss of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany. The French Government fled to Versailles. See 28/5/1871.
18/3/1871, The Commune insurrection against the French Government began in Paris.
1/3/1871, In France, Napoleon III was deposed and the Paris Commune set up.
26/2/1871. Prussia and France signed a preliminary peace treaty at Versailles.
17/2/1871, The Pact of Bordeaux was signed.
16/2/1871The French fortress of Belfort capitulated to the Germans.
28/1/1871. Starving and surrounded by Prussian troops, Paris surrendered to Germany. During the 5-month siege, balloons were used to maintain contact with the rest of France. Finally, a 3-week artillery bombardment destroyed all resistance. All the animals at Paris Zoo had been eaten (which one was eaten last?)
19/1/1871, Germany defeated the French at the Battle of St Quentin.
18/1/1871, William I, King of Prussia, was declared Emperor of Germany at Versailles.
15/1/1871, Battle of Lisaine, near Belfort; Germany defeated France.
10/1/1871, The Battle of Le Mans began; Germany defeated France.
9/1/1871, The Battle of Beaugency, near Orleans; Germany defeated France. Germany advanced towards Tours.
8/1/1871. Prussian troops bombarded Paris.
2/1/1871, Germany defeated France at the Battle of Baupame.
23/12/1870, Germany defeated France at the Battle of Hallue, near Amiens. German forces now advanced south west towards Rouen.
2/12/1870, Germany defeated France at the Battle of Loigny, near Orleans.
28/11/1870. The Germans in the Franco-Prussian War took Amiens.
9/11/1870, The Battle of Coulmiers, near Orleans; France defeated Germany.
3/11/1870. The Prussians besieged Belfort, 275 miles ESE of Paris. The siege continued until the armistice of 15/2/1871.
27/10/1870. The French at Metz, 140,000 troops, surrendered to Prussia after a two-month seige. In November 1870 the southern German states of Wurttemberg and Bavaria joined with the North German Confederation, ensuring Prussian political hegemony.
7/10/1870, Gambetta, French Minister of the Interior, escaped the siege of Paris in a balloon. Reaching the safety of Tours, he encouraged the French troops.
28/9/1870. Strasbourg, under siege by Prussia since August 1870, was surrendered by the French.
19/9/1870. Siege of Paris by the Germans began.
4/9/1870. France formed a Republic (The Third Republic) and a government of national defence was formed.
2/9/1870. Napoleon III of France capitulated to Prussia at Sedan. Fighting had lasted 44 days, and the 380,000 strong Prussian army had triumphed over the 235,0000 strong French army. Only a hastily assembled French National Guard stood between the Prussians and Paris. Empress Eugenie and the prince imperial fled to England. Napoleon III was held as prisoner in the comfortable royal apartments of Wilhelmshohe Castle. The French had sent a force to relieve their main Army besieged at Metz but this army, 84,000 men, 2,700 officers, 39 generals, surrendered to Prussia.
1/9/1870, (1) The Battle of Sedan; the Germans defeated the French.
(2) The siege of Metz began.
30/8/1870, Battle of Beaumont; Germany defeated France.
18/8/1870. Prussian forces defeated the French at the Battle of Gravelotte.
16/8/1870,The French lost to the Prussians at the Battle of Vionville.
13/8/1870, Germany defeated France at the Battle of Noisseville.
6/8/1870, Battle of Froeschwiller, in NE France; Germany defeated France.
4/8/1870. Germany defeated France at the Battle of Wissembourg, in NE France.
2/8/1870, Prussia had mobilised rapidly and now had 380,000 troops on the French border.
19/7/1870, France declared war on Prussia. The origins of this war lay in the vacancy of the Spanish throne, which the French regarded as their sphere of influence. There was a Hohenzollern (German) candidate for the Spanish throne, and Napoleon III demanded, not only the withdrawal of the Hozenhollern claim to the Spanish throne, but the guarantee from Germany never again to claim this position. In the Ems telegram of 13/7/1870 the Prussian King, in Ems, wrote to Bismarck declining to give such a guarantee.
France was unprepared for war and its army disorganised, and within a month the main French Army was besieged at Metz. See 2/9/1870.