Background to War: The "China Incident" 1931-1934



Sept. 18-19, 1931 Japanese units attacked the Chinese Army'snear Mukden. The action allegedly resulted from Chinese "sabotage," the dynamiting of a small section (actually less than three feet) of South Manchurian Railway track. The "Manchurian Incident" was all the pretext needed for the assertive Japanese Kwantung Army to embark on its China adventure. Postwar disclosures revealed that elements of the Kwantung Army carefully planned to extend Japan's influence in China through force. Firm control over Manchuria was clearly an initial objective of the Japanese military&emdash;of key officers in China and Tokyo&emdash;and the approval or acquiescence of all governmental elements confirmed the basic direction of Japanese policy. Manchuria was seen as a strategic base for possible operations against the Soviet Union. It also offered tremendous resources for the Japanese, who were hard pressed for basic raw materials. Japanese public opinion avidly supported expansion in Manchuria. General Sadao Araki represented an extreme nationalist element, but his racial views won growing popular support: "Japan must no longer let the impudence of the white peoples go unpunished. It is the duty of Japan . . . to cause China to expel foreign influence from Manchuria, and to follow the way of imperial destiny."

Sept.19, 1931 Mukden and several towns in south Manchuria were bombed and then occupied by the Japanese. Invoking the need for "the maintenance of the safety of Japanese nationals and the protection of the railway," the Kwantung Army swiftly seized banks, utilities, and municipal administration centers.

Sept.21, 1931 China appealed to the League of Nations . Although the foreign office in Tokyo continued to indicate Japan's intention to localize the Manchurian dispute, the Kwantung Army began occupying the whole of Kirin Province.

Sept.28, 1931 Demonstrations in China deman an all-out war against Japan.

Sept.30, 1931 The League Council took official note of Tokyo's intention to withdraw its troops from newly occupied Manchurian territory and its statement that Japan entertained no territorial designs on Manchuria.

Oct. 8, 1931 Japanese planes bombed Chinchow in Liaoning Province, 100 miles southwest of Mukden. The action was significant because the military extremists calculated it would inflame international public opinion and force Tokyo once and for all to support the conquest of Manchuria. It had the effect of dashing all hopes a settlement could be reached.

Oct. 9, 1931 Japan refused to withdraw its troops from occupied Manchuria on any fixed schedule but said it would negotiate with the Chinese. Among the key issues was the anti-Japanese boycott in China. Tokyo claimed it was "an instrument of national policy under the direction of the Nationalist party."

Oct.13, 1931 Japan informed the League Council that its policy in Manchuria was to support the principle of economic equality in China for all nations.

Oct.24, 1931 Invoking Article 10 of the League Covenant, the Council assailed Japan for refusing to set a date for troop withdrawals from Manchuria. Japan was asked to remove its troops by Nov.16. The Council vote was 13 to 1, Japan casting the only negative vote.

Nov. 4, 1931 Fighting erupted in Manchuria again as Japanese and Chinese troops clashed at tlse strategically and economically important Nonni River Bridge.

Nov. 7, 1931 Mao Tse-tung proclaimed the "Chinese Soviet Republic" in the village of Juichin, in the southern area of Kiangsi Province.

Nov.21, 1931 Japan proposed the League send a commission to investigate conditions in Manchuria. Tokyo believed the Kwantung Army's actions would be understood and condoned by an impartial inquiry into the "realities" of Manchuria and China. Most of Manchuria was already occupied.

Nov.27, 1931 Tokyo rejected the dispatch of League observers to Manchuria saying, "in the interest of good relations between China and Japan" there should be "no interposition of third parties."

Dec.10, 1931 The League Council voted to establish a Commission of Inquiry to look into the Manchunan affair. Headed by the British Earl of Lytton, the commission included representatives of Italy, France, Germany, and the U.S.

Dec.11, 1931 The Japanese cabinet resigns over the Lytton Commission. It was unable to stand as a buffer between the militarists and the League Council. The government knew it could not justify the army's actions in Manchuria. Public opinion however supported these actions.

Dec.21, 1931: The Japanese delivered an ultimatum to the Chinese to force the turnover of Chinchow. At the same time, Japanese army units launched "large scale anti-bandit operations" in the disputed area.

Dec.28, 1931 Japanese Prime Minister Inukai said Tokyo would adhere to the principles of the Open Door policy and called on other powers to join with Japan in developing Manchuria economically.


Jan. 3, 1932 Citing the continuing danger of "bandits," Japanese troops occupied Chinchow and forced most of the remaining organized Chinese forces out of Manchuria.

Jan. 7, 1932 US Secretary of State Stimson enunciated the Doctrine of Non-recognition. In notes to the Japanese and Chinese governments, the U.S. "can not admit the legality of any situation de facto nor does it intend to recognize any treaty or agreement entered into between those governments or agents thereof which may impair the treaty rights of the United States or its citizens in China, including those which relate to the sovereignty, the independence, or the territorial and administrative integrity of the Republic of China, or to the international policy relative to China, commonly known as the open-door policy; and that it does not recognize any situation, treaty, or agreement which may be brought about by means contrary to the covenants and obligations of the Pact of Paris of August 27, 1928." The declaration of U.S. policy, which was later adopted by the League of Nations, was the first national act challenging Japan's moves in China.

Jan. 9, 1932 A Korean nationalist attempted to assassinate Japanese Emperor Hirohito. Japanese public opinion&emdash;enraged by the act itself&emdash;turned hostile toward the Chinese when the official newspaper of the ruling Chinese Nationalist party (the Kuomintang) expressed regret the emperor was not killed. The Japanese community in Shanghai, 30,000 strong, demanded an official apology.

Jan.18, 1932 Five Japanese civilians, two of them monks, were attacked by Chinese factory workers in Shanghai, the first major violence arising from the anti-Japanese boycott and organized civilian resistance to Japanese encroachments in China.

Jan.20, 1932 Japan sought a formal apology from the city of Shanghai for this incident,, the arrest of those involvedt indemnification, effective control of the Japanese boycott, and the dissolution of all anti-Japanese organizations.

Jan.21, 1932 Japanese Rear Admiral Kiochi Shiozawa, military commander of the Shanghai area, threatened to "take necessary steps" unless Japan's demands of Jan.20 were met immediately.

Jan. 28, 1932 The Shanghai Municipal Council capitulated and accepted the Japanese demands.U.S. and British troops moved into prearranged defense positions in the International Settlement . Seven hours later the Japanese notified the mayor to remove all Chinese troops from the Chapoi quarter of the city within 30 minutes., while Japan's General Staff approved a plan for the army to occupy Harbin, a key city in Kirin Province which would facilitate control over northern Manchuria.

Jan.29, 1932 Japanese army and navy units bombed and virtually destroyed Chapei, an important suburb of Shanghai. It was the first example of indiscriminatge bombing of a civilian population. No accurate estimate of casualties is possible. Thousands died, but the fearful toll was lost in the superficial interest of the world at the time and the subsequent desensitization to slaughter on any scale. An eventual force of 70,000 Japanese began moving into the Shanghai area. The battle for the city and area lasted until Mar. 3. About 4,000 Chinese troops and 8,000 civilians were killed in the fighting.

Februay, 1932 Tokyo figures showed Japan's exports to China had fallen dramatically, the direct result of the massive boycott of Japanese goods by Chinese consumers and merchants. In a year, goods shipped to central China had fallen 96 percent, south China 97 percent, and 72 percent in trade through Hong Kong.

Feb. 1, 1932 A Japanese warship shelled Nanking. Several rounds were fired. The incident added to the deepening concern about an expanding war in China and further inflamed the Chinese population. U.S. citizens began to be evacuated.

Feb. 5, 1932 Japan extended its military occupation of Manchuria, including those areas recently dominated by the Soviet Union. Harbin was occupied with Japanese forces taking advantage of an outburst of fighting between rival Chinese armies.

Feb. 9, 1932 Former Japanese Finance Minister Junnosuke Inouye was killed by extremists in Tokyo.

Feb.18, 1932 The North Eastern Administrative Committee set up by the Japanese in the captured territory of Manchuria issued a "declaration of independence" for a Manchu-Mongolian state, to be known as Manchukuo.

Feb.29, 1932 The former Manchu emperor of China, Henry Pu-yi, was named the provisional president of Manchukuo by the All-Manchuria convention in Mukden.

March 3, 1932 Japanese forces completed their military domination of Shanghai and a cease-fire went into effect.

April, 1932 A group of prominent Japanese began organizing the Great East Asian Propaganda Society in Mukden. Its goals were not published until much later, but the purpose agreed upon at the time foretold future events with remarkable accuracy: "The ultimate purpose of Manchukuo . . . is the creation of a foundation so as to successfully serve the unified and friendly Nippon in her struggle against the Anglo-Saxon world, as well as against Comintern aggression. In this holy struggle, all the people of east Asia must join to form the united front of the common fight with the oppressors."

April 15, 1932 The Chinese Soviet Republic under Mao Tse-tung declared war on Japan, the only such formal act in the China "incident.". The Communist regime was not recognized by the international community, and the gesture had no effect on the course of events except to strengthen a conviction among many that the Communists were more capable to defend China than the central government in Nanking..

May 5, 1932 Japan and China signed an armistice accord, stating that "the cessation of hostilities is rendered definite." A demilitarized zone was established around the International Settlement in Shanghai, and the anti-Japanese boycott was ended.

May 15, 1932 Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai of Japan was assassinated by a group "opposed to weakness and corruption in government and to capitalism."

May 26, 1932 Admiral Viscount Makoto Saito became Japan's premier. With the formation of the military-dominated cabinet, democratic party government effectively came to an end in Japan.

Aug. 9, 1932 Chiang Kai-shek returned to head the Chinese government.

Aug.25, 1932 Japan recognized the independent state of Manchukuo, claiming it was "a notable step towards making Manchuria a happy and peaceful land for natives and foreigners alike, on the basis of the realities of the situation." Uchida declared the Japanese people "were solidly determined not to concede a foot, even if the country turned to scorched earth."

Aug.27, 1932 The Japanese cabinet agreed to replenish its military supplies of the army in Manchuko and to prepare mobilization and emergency economic plans.

Oct. 2, 1932 The Lytton Report on the Sino-Japanese dispute was released by the League of Nations in Geneva. Its main point was that Manchuria should remain a part of China and that Japan's claims were unfounded. Japan's special interests, however, were recognized.

Dec. 7, 1932 A majority of the League Assembly voted to approve the Lytton Report and censure Japan for its actions in China. Japan's League representative, Yosuke Matsuoka, responded by saying, "We are prepared to be crucified, but we do believe, and firmly believe, that in a very few years world opinion will be changed, and that we also shall be understood by the world as Jesus of Nazareth was."


Jan. 1, 1933 Fighting flared anew in China as Japanese and Chinese forces clashed at Shanhaikuan, on the Manchurian-north China boundary, along the rail line between Mukden and Peking. It set the stage for the occupation of Jehol Province.

Jan. 5, 1933 Declaring that "no Japanese Cabinet which advocated a compromise of the Manchukuo question could survive," Japanese Ambassador Katsuji Debuchi informed the U.S. that the Manchurian issue was closed.

Feb.23, 1933 Japan issued an ultimatum to China demanding Manchukuan sovereignty over Jehol. When Nanking rejected the ultimatum the next day, Japanese toops occupied Jehol.

Feb.24, 1933 The League of Nations accepted its committe report and Japan was thus declared an aggressor. Japan cast the only negative vote (the tally was 42 to 1), and it promptly withdrew from the Assembly. Tokyo said Japan had "reached the limit of endeavors to cooperate with the League." Japan retained possession of Manchuria. In fact, the League never demanded its withdrawal and even sanctioned continued control, if under nominal Chinese sovereignty.

March 4, 1933 Jehol City fell to the Japanese. Even though the Chinese force in the area numbered 200,000 men&emdash;four times the size of the Japanese force&emdash;the defenders were routed.

May 7, 1933 Japanese troops launched a massive campaign to drive the Chinese out of the Shanhaikuan-Hsifengkow-Luanchow triangle. The Kwantung Army had insisted on permanent withdrawal of Chinese troops from the area. Instead, the Chinese stayed and engaged the Japanese in skirmishes. The campaign was pressed, however, and Chinese resistance ended within three weeks.

May 31, 1933 The Truce of Tangku was signed to end the fighting between China and Japan. China was simply incapable of resisting Japan's military moves. Japanese control of Manchuria and Jehol was thus confirmed. A four-year period of comparative peace in China resulted from the Tangku truce.

March 1 1934 Henry Pu-yi, the last of the Manchu emperors, was crowned as Kang Te, emperor of Manchukuo. He had abdicated the throne of China in 1912 and was a convenient puppet for the Japanese, who controlled all Manchurian activities through advisers and officials in directly responsible positions.

July 7, 1934 A new government was named in Japan. Admiral Keisuke Okada became prime minister, and the military's firm control of the country continued.




Background to War: Adolf Hitler's Rise to Power


April 20 1889 Adolf Hitler born in Braunau Austria.

August 1, 1914: Outbreak of World War I, Adolf Hitler, although an Austrian citizen, volunteers and joins a Bavarian [German] Regiment. He will serve at the front for the next 4 years.

October 1918: Hitler is severely gassed and is in a hospital outside Berlin when the war ends and with it the German Empire. Hitler moves to Munich.

April 1919: While German politicians are drafting a Constitution in the city of Weimar, a handful of intellectuals in Munich create a Soviet Republic of Bavaria. The revolution is crushed by veterans who volunteer in Storm Troops.

October 1919: Adolf Hitler is recruited by Ernst Röhm to infiltrate a political party which might serve as a good front for the official German army and its "unofficial" storm troop contingents. Hitler joins the German Workers Party (DAP) and becomes its most successful speaker.

July 1921: Threatening to quit unless his demands are met, Adolf Hitler assumes leadership of the DAP which he renames to the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) or Nazis.

August 3, 1921: Hitler founds the Storm Troopers (SA) as a para-miliatary and athletic division of the party

January 1923: Accusing Germany of defaulting on reparations payments of telephone poles, the French and Belgium army crosses the demilitarized zone in the Rhineland and occupies the Ruhr valley, Germany's industrial heartland. The government proclaims "passive resistance," and prints money to pay salaries. Start of the Great Inflation.

November 9 1923: Using his SA troopers, and allied with a number of other right-wing organizations, Adolf Hitler starts his "march on Berlin." This attempt at immitating Benito Mussolini's rise to power in October 1922 fails, and goes down in history as the Beer Hall Putsch (Putsch being the German word for "coup").

December 20, 1924: Sentenced to Five Years Imprisonment for his attempted overthrow of the German government, Hitler is released in a Christmas amnesty having served nine months in prison. During this time, he resolves never again to attempt an armed revolution, but to gain power by using the instruments of democracy. He reforms the NSDAP and enters election campaigns.

November 1929: The Great Depression comes to Germany, with soaring bankruptcies, deficit budgets, and vast unemployment. The Nazi Party capitalizes on this to blame the politicians of the Republic for all Germany's problems.

September 1930: The Republic's last democratic and parliamentary supported government collapses, and in the subsequent elections, the Nazi Party jumps from 12 to 108 seats in the Reichstag becoming the second largest party in Germany. The parties cannot, however, agree to a coalition which can gain a majority in the new Reichstag, so Germany will be ruled for the next two years by Presidential decree, under Article 48 of the Constitution.

Feb. 2 1932 The Disarmament Conference required by Article 9 of the League Covenant gathered in Geneva. Sixty-four nations were invited. Fifty-nine sent delegations, including non-League members the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The opening session was dramatically delayed by reports on the fighting in Shanghai and League Council discussions on events in China. The conference adjourned without success in October 1932. The thorniest issue was how soon Germany would be permitted to rearm, with Berlin demanding the right to possess "defensive weapons" immediately. Germany phrased her demands as "equal status and rights."

Feb 18 1932: German Chancellor Brüing called on the disarmament negotiators to draw up a plan "on the basis of equal rights and equal security for all peoples," which was a demand for German military "equality" and an abrogation of the Versailles restraints on Germany.

Feb, 25 1932: Hitler becomes a German citizen in order to run for the Presidency.

March 13, 1932: Hilter looses to old Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, but gains 11,392,000 votes Since no candidate has a majority, a second election is required.

April 10, 1932. Hindenburg re-elected by 53%, Hitler polls 36.8%

May 30, 1932 Chancellor Brüning of Germany is ousted because President Hindenburg felt Brüning had lost the support of the army and the general public. Contrary to the Constitution, the President hand-picks a group of non-party experts under Franz von Papen to form a government.

July 9, 1932 The Lausanne Convention was signed, whereby reparation payments growing out of the war were simply abolished. The Great Depression had interrupted payments in any case.

July 31, 1932 General elections in Germany gave the Nazis 37.8% and the Communists 14.6%, thus netting the two parties committed to overthrowing the Weimar Republic a majority in the Reichstag. Neither extremist party would join in a coalition.

Sept.12, 1932 Germany walked out of the reconvened Geneva Disarmament Conference, saying it "cannot be expected to take part in negotiations with regard to the measures of disarmament to be laid down

Dec.10, 1932 Constantine von Neurath, Germany's foreign minister, arranges a Big Four agreement at Geneva. In return for Britain, France and Italy's recognition of her rights to equal military weapons and amounts, Germany returns to the Disarmament Conference. Neurath tells the Chancellor, Kurt von Schleicher (who had replaced Papen a few weeks earlier) that the Disarmament Clauses of the Versailles Treaty are dead.

Jan 30 1933: Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of a Government of National Concentration. He is joined in the cabinet by only two other Nazis (Göring and Frick), while the remaining 11 members are either non-party civil servants and diplomats or Conservatives.

Feb 25, 1933: The Reichstag is burned by a demented Dutch Communist. Hitler uses this to have his cabinet enact a series of measures&emdash;the Reichstag Fire Decrees&emdash;which proclaims a state of emergency in Germany and suspends a number of civil rights for the duration. This decree becomes the legal basis for all subsequent domestic actions, such as the formation of Concentration Camps in March 1933.

March 6 1933: Hitler's NSDAP wins 44% of the vote, thus disappointing Hitler's expectation that he could establish a new order in Germany on his own. His Conservative allies win a little over 6%, so the Government of National Concentration has a slight majority.

March 23 1933: Not satisfied with having to rule with such a narrow majority, the German Cabinet submits an Enabling Bill, which when accepted by 2/3's of the Reichstag, suspends the legislative functions of the Reichstag for four years. Henceforth, the German cabinet is the supreme authority in the country, and Hitler controls the cabinet.

April 1, 1933: Nazi party officials proclaim a boycott of all Jewish stores and businesses. Under pressure from his Foreign Minister and from President Hindenburg, Hitler agrees that the "boycot" will only last one day. It is then removed.

June 11, 1933: Fearful that Nazism would continue to make headway in Hitler's native country, Austrian police began a crackdown on Nazi organizations and arrested numbers of German and Austrian party members, some of whom were deported to Germany.

June 14, 1933: Hitler's "Inspector for Austria," Theo Habicht, was expelled from Austria, provoking a new round of demonstrations by the Nazis.

June 19, 1933: The German Nazi party was outlawed in Austria. The Vienna government invoked a World War law "to guard against the economic dangers associated with a disturbance of public peace, order and security."

July 8, 1933: A concordat between the Vatican and Germany was initialled in Rome, with Berlin agreeing to respect Catholic rights, practices, and institutions in Germany but limiting any activity which might be construed as political.

July 14, 1933: The Nazi party was declared the only legal political party within Germany.

Oct.13, 1933 Following Germany's return to the Disarmament Conference, repeated oppposition by France shows that Germany will not be granted her promised military equality. Upon the advice of the foreign minister, Hitler announced "The path of negotiation is now closed. . . . we shall therefore have to leave both the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations, since the condition that we be recognized as a nation with equality is not fulfilled."

Nov.12, 1933 In a national plebiscite, more than 90% of the German voters endorsed their government's decision to withdraw from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations.

Dec.18, 1933 Germany stated its position on disarmament to the French: "The heavily armed states either have no intention of disarming or do not feel in a position to do so. Germany is entitled to obtain, in one way or another, equality of treatment as regards her own security." In answering charges that the SS and SA organizations should in fact be considered additions to the German army, officials described the Nazi SA and SS as simple organizations whose "sole mission is to organize the political masses of our people so as to make the return of the Communist peril impossible forevermore" and "to immunize the country, intellectually and physically, against the risk of Communist disintegration."


Jan.26, 1934 Germany and Poland signed a 10-year nonaggression pact. It was proposed by Hitler, and in signing, Poland never consulted France, its chief ally. Germany was signaling that it had no quarrel with Poland, only with Communist Russia. Warsaw had concluded it could no longer rely on outside support in preserving Poland's independence. Significantly, Poland became the first nation to enter into a harmonious relationship with the new Nazi regime.

Jan.31, 1934 The British ambassador in Berlin sent an analysis of the German situation to the British Foreign Office in which he commented: "Here it may be said that nothing has so enhanced the prestige of Herr Hitler in Germany as the behavior of the ex-Allies since he took office. All reasonable and cautious opinion in Germany foretold disaster, occupation of the Rhineland, sanctions, perhaps blockade, if Germany reverted to nationalism. The Nazis seized power, and nothing happened. Herr Hitler left the League and still nothing happened. On the contrary, the statesmen of Europe were represented here as having been galvanised into running after Germany. The fear that force may be used against Germany exists, but it is rapidly disappearing, and the man, particularly the young man, in the street thanks Hitler for the removal of a distressing bogey. It is therefore not surprising if the Chancellor pursues methods which hitherto have brought him success."

Feb, 1934. The British Air Ministry estimated that Germany possessed or was building a total of 334 military aircraft, a clear violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Britain did not wish to protest since it was then hoping to win an arms control treaty with Hitler which would limit military aircraft production.

Feb. 12-15, 1934 The Austrian government cracked down on the Social Democrats, who had called for a general strike. It outlawed the party, its unions, and social clubs. The actions produced armed uprisings by unions and the Austrian army was called out to enforce the ban violently. As a result, the government of Chancellor Dollfuss lost most working class support and became estranged from a potential ally against the Nazis.

April 30, 1934 The Austrian parliament approved a new constitution giving Dollfuss dictatorial rights and then voted itself out of existence.

June 14-15, 1934 Hitler visited Venice in what was an unsuccessful effort to establish rapport with Mussolini. In their first face-to-face meeting, the two future allies were unimpressed with each other, for Mussolini's support of Dollfuss was unshaken.

June 23, 1934 Italian warships steamed into the Albanian port of Durazzo, dispatched after Albania closed all Italian schools. Albania quickly capitulated and Rome was granted broad concessions.

June 30-July 2, 1934 Hitler launched his bloody purge of opposition elements in and out of his party. The Nazi SS murdered Ernst Röhm, leader of the SA. Among the other victims were military leaders and some prominant democratic politicians. As many as 200 may have been killed. Hitler admitted the execution of 74 individuals said to be plotting against him. Röhm and many of the Storm Trooper leaders were indeed conspiring to overthrow Hitler, who was believed to be overly willing to make common cause with the army. The Röhm faction had only contempt for the traditional militarists and sought to control the armed forces. Many innocent people were killed, however, in an excess of SS zeal.

July 12, 1934 Austria decreed the death penalty for terrorists, an action directed at the Nazis whose violent activities had been treated with almost benign tolerance and leniency. The decree infuriated the Nazis.

July 25, 1934 Chancellor Dollfuss was assassinated as part of an unsuccessful Nazi Putsch in Austria. Some government buildings and the radio station were seized before the revolt was quelled. Italy quickly mobilized forces at the Brenner Pass to forestall any German ambitions growing out of the Vienna incidents.

July 30, 1934 Education Minister Kurt von Schuschnigg was named Dollfuss's successor as Austrian chancellor. He was soon faced with the loss of Italy's full support in resisting Germany's predatory moves. Mussolini told Schuschnigg cryptically, "You must stand on your own feet because we will be busy in East Africa.

Aug. 2, 1934 Hitler became president of the Reich upon the death of Hindenburg. The revered hero of Germany, who suffered from senility, was a mere figurehead during his last year as president. He died of natural causes at the age of 88. No sooner had Hitler assumed office, than all members of the German armed forces took a new oath of allegiance (which was suggested by the leading generals, not by Hitler).

Aug.19, 1934 Hitler was affirmed in his new role as president and chancellor by the German people in a plebiscite. 88% of the voters approved giving Hitler full executive powers.





The Interlinking of Crises Throughout the World


Aug.-Sept, 1934: Chinese Nationalist forces waged a massive military operation to oust Communist troops from the latter's stronghold south of the Yangtze River.

Oct. 5 1934: Socialists, Communists, and Syndicalists launched a general strike throughout Spain and sparked revolutionary turmoil in Madrid, Catalonia, and Asturias.

Oct. 9, 1934: A Macedonian revolutionary working with Croatian dissidents in Marseilles assassinated King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and Foreign Minister Barthou of France.

Nov.28, 1934: Winston Churchill (a dissident Conservative who was anxious to return to power as a member of the Cabinet) addressed Parliament and warned that the Germans were building a modern air force which would be a menace to Britain. For this speech, he used top secret reports, most of which turned out to be inaccurate.

Dec. 1, 1934: Soviet Communist leader Serge Kirov was assassinated. The killing of Dictator Joseph Stalin's close associate triggered off the great purges in which Stalin eliminated opposition to his rule from within the Communist partv.

Dec. 5, 1934: Fighting broke out between Italian and Ethiopian troops at Wal Wal near the frontier between Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland. The incident which triggered the Italo-Ethiopian war began with the arrival on Nov.22 of an Anglo-Ethiopian Border Commission and a 600-man military escort at Wal Wal, an oasis 60 miles inside Ethiopia. Emperor Haile Selassie had invited the group there knowing it was occupied by Italy (as it had been for years). He hoped the commission's arrival would force an Italian withdrawal from Wal Wal. For the next two weeks, Italians and their native soldiers (askaris) and Ethiopians faced each other menacingly. The Ethiopians demanded water and pasturage rights in their own territory, but the Italians insisted they controlled the land. Finally, on Dec. 5 a shot was fired and soon a full-scale battle erupted. The Italians sent three airplanes and two armored vehicles, routing the Ethiopians in short order. In all, 107 Ethiopians were killed and 45 wounded. All the casualties on the Italian side were native troops, 30 killed and 100 wounded.

Dec.22, 1934: International troop contingents arrived in the Saar&emdash;a western province of Germany administered by France under the provisions of the Versailles Treaty. The area was to vote in January 1935 on its future: become independent, stay with France, return to Germany. The international troops were to oversee the plebiscite.

Dec.29, 1934: Japan declared its intention not to adhere to the provisions of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty which had established imposed limitations on the relative size of each nation's fleet (5;5;3;1.67;1.67 for the U.S., Britain, Japan, Italy, and France, respectively). This is the first major challenge to the Post-war military balance in the Pacific

Dec.30, 1934: Mussolini issued a secret order to the Italian military for "the destruction of the Abyssinian [Ethiopian] armed forces and the total conquest of Ethiopia."


Jan. 3, 1935: Ethiopia appealed to the League for actions "to safeguard peace," which Addis Ababa claimed had been broken by Italy.

Jan. 7, 1935: France and Italy signed a treaty in Rome, giving Italy a portion of French Somaliland and a share of the Ethiopian railway. France was anxious to use Franco-Italian solidarity as a balance against the menacing actions of Germany. The immediate consequences undercut international efforts against Italy for its actions in Ethiopia and the dispatch of large numbers of troops to the Italian colony of Eritrea. Mussolini now assumed he had virtual freedom of action in east Africa.

Jan.13 , 1935: A League-supervised plebiscite was held in the Saar, with the voters casting 90.35% of their ballots in favor of rejoining Germany. Of the 528,005 participants, only 46,513 voted for a continuation of League rule and 2,124 supported union with France.

Jan.18, 1935: Japanese and their Manchurian troops crossed into the demilitarized zone between the provinces of Chahar and Jehol. 

Feb. 5, 1935: Italy began mobilizing its reserves, placing two infantry divisions on a war footing. Shortly thereafter, units began sailing for Ethiopia.

March 9, 1935: Germany announced to foreign air attaches that a German Air Force (Luftwaffe) had officially came into being on March 1. Such a force was specifically forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. 

March 15, 1935: France extended military conscription for two more years in the face of German rearmament measures. 

March 16, 1935: In response to French actions, Hitler formally denounced the Versailles treaty clauses on disarmament. Berlin announced plans to create 36 divisions (550,009 men) and ordered compulsory military service This action, like the earlier creation of the Luftwaffe, violated the Treaty of Versailles. It should be added that the other nations of Europe had agreed to disarm but failed to do so, and Germany witnessed increases in the military strength of its traditional rivals, France and Russia. 

April 11-14, 1935: At the Stresa Conference, Britain, France, and Italy considered steps to meet Germany's militant actions and "unilateral repudiation of treaties." Italy's involvement was essential, and the hope was that Rome's fear of German encroachments in Austria would bring Italy into an anti-German bloc. But such a hope ignored Italy's preoccupation with Ethiopia. 

May 30, 1935: Japanese military leaders demanded the Chinese administration in Peking take steps to halt anti-Japanese activities in Chinaand demanded the removal of Chinese Nationalist forces from Peking (the capital city) and Tientsin (its port). 

June 10, 1935: China capitulated to the Japanese demands, having no resources to resist the anticipated military measures if it refused to yield. 

June 18, 1935: Upon the suggestion of London, Germany and Britain signed a naval agreement limiting Germany's fleet to 35 per-cent of Britain's surface craft and 45 percent of its submarines. It deeply upset the French since Paris thought Britain was signaling approval of German rearmament, which it was, of course. The agreement was the first time a European power not only condoned but agreed to an overt violation of the Versailles treaty. This treaty, which had been under negotiations since early May 1935, had prompted the French to begin to negotiate a five-year treaty of mutual assistance with the Soviet Union. Initialed on May 2 1935, it required both states to come to the other's aid if attacked, presumably denying Germany the opportunity of avoiding a two-front war. Berlin was incensed by the agreement and thus took up the British suggestion about naval talks even though naval rearmament had never been metnioned before by German authorities. 

June 19, 1935: With a continuing Italian military build-up in east Africa, Ethiopia said Rome was making war "inevitable." Ethiopia requested neutral observers be sent to the disputed region. Italy had now stationed about 240,000 troops and laborers in its east African colonies. 

Aug.16, 1935: At a Paris meeting, France and Britain told Italy that Rome would be permitted wide economic freedom in Ethiopia, provided the government in Addis Ababa agreed to such an arrangement. Italy's rejection underscored the feeling that only total control of the African state would satisfy Mussolini. 

Aug.3, 1935: Italy called up 200,000 more men, raising its army to one million.

Sept.10, 1935: U.S. Ambassador Breckinridge Long (Rome) advised the State Department that Italy appeared determined to continue her advances against Ethiopia: ". . . the whole population, both military and civilian, are in complete accord with Mussolini's policies as they have been developed up to now and as they are prospected for the future." 

Sept.14, 1935: Italy's council of ministers rejected a League-inspired compromise solution to its disputes with Ethiopia.

Sept.22, 1935: A new proposed settlement by the League's Committee of Five (Britain, France, Poland, Spain, and Turkey)&emdash;requiring League protectorate over Ethiopia with Italy gaining outright control over vast desert areas of Ethiopia&emdash;was turned down by Rome. 

Sept.23, 1935: Ethiopia accepted the League's proposals as a basis for future negotiation.

Sept.26, 1935: Aware of its failure, the League Council appointed another committee to report on the Italian-Ethiopian dispute. At the same time, the League issued its sternest warning to Italy: "Don't you dare go to war&emdash;not for three months."

Sept.28, 1935: Ethiopia ordered a general mobilization for war and was immediately criticized by Italy for its "warlike and aggressive spirit."

Oct. 2, 1935: Italy announced general mobilization "because there is an attempt to commit against [us] the blackest of all injustices, to rob [us] of a place in the sun. . . to us were left only the crumbs from the sumptuous colonial booty of others. . . . With Ethiopia we have been patient for 40 years. Now, enough!" 

Oct. 3, 1935: Italy invaded Ethiopia. Four Italian divisions and large numbers of native forces crossed into Ethiopia from Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, "to repulse the imminent Ethiopian threat." There was no formal declaration of war. Defenseless towns were bombed. There was no immediate Ethiopian opposition, Haile Selassie having withdrawn his meager, ill- equipped forces. 

Oct. 5, 1935: Italy declared its actions in Ethiopia were required to protect its African colonies from Ethiopian aggression. 

Oct. 6, 1935: Italian troops occupied Adowa (Adwa), where in 1896 Ethiopian troops annihilated 12,000 Italian troops, an event which had festered for 39 years in Italy. (A monument was later erected there inscribed: To the Dead of Adowa, Avenged At Last.) 

Oct. 7, 1935: Italy was declared an aggressor in Ethiopia by the League Council for having caused war "in disregard of the obligations of Article 12 of the Covenant." Four days later, the League Assembly voted arms and economic sanctions against Italy.

Nov.15, 1935: In a resumption of Japanese moves to gain greater control of China, the pro-Japanese Chinese commissioner of the demilitarized zone, Yin Ju-keng, called for an autonomous north China. A Manchukuo-like administration was envisaged by Tokyo: Japanese domination under nominal Chinese administration. 

Nov.19, 1935: Under threat of military occupation, Japanese military authorities demanded "autonomy" for north China. 

Nov.24, 1935: Chinese administrator Yin Ju-keng declared eastern Hopei Province to be independent.. The Japanese sought economic control over an area which produced coal and the port facilities for its shipment. It was also important as an entry point for goods of Japanese manufacture to be smuggled into China. Hopei also became a key source of drugs which flowed to countries around the world. 

Dec. 1, 1935: Chiang Kai-shek became president of the Chinese Executive Yuan in Nanking.

Dec. 8, 1935: The secretly-arranged Hoare-Laval agreement was signed, giving Italy control over two-thirds of Ethiopia. Pierre Laval, the Premier of France, believed his counrtry would not go to war against a "desperate" Italy over the African controversy. The agreement remained secret only a day, and the cynicism of the French agreeing to the Italian territorial gains while deploring them publicly made a mockery of collective security. 

Dec.12, 1935: Hopei and Chahar, the two provinces bordering Manchuria, were declared autonomous under a Japanese-controlled "Political Council."

Dec. 12, 1935: The League postponed a proposed embargo on oil shipments to Italy because the Council 5was considering a French and British proposal to end the Italian-Ethiopian war. How unwise the decision was can be seen from Mussolini's comment to Hitler in 1938: "If the League of Nations had followed Eden's advice in the Abyssinian [Ethiopian] dispute and had extended economic sanctions to oil, I would have had to withdraw from Abyssinia within a week. That would have been an incalculable disaster for me.

Dec.22, 1935: Anthony Eden replaced Hoare as British foreign secretary because of the latter's attempts to negotiate a settlement of the Ethiopian dispute with France's Laval. The Hoare-Laval plan was thus repudiated.


Jan.15, 1936: Japan withdrew from the London Naval Conference, and announced it would not be bound by the Washington Naval Treaty after Dec. 31, 1936.)

Jan.22, 1936: The Laval government fell in France for approving Italian expansionism. 

Jan.23, 1936: The Ethiopians stopped the first major Italian offensive. The four-day battle ended with 1,100 Italians and 8,000 Ethiopians dead and wounded. 

Feb.10, 1936: Italian forces launched a 200,000 man attack against Amba Aradam in northern Ethiopia where Haille Salesse had his greatest strength, 60,000 men. Rome described the attack as the Italian "battle of annihilation." 

Feb.15, 1936: The Italians routed the Ethiopian force at Amba Aradam, killing 6,000. Italian aircraft pursued the retreating Ethiopian force for four days by dropping mustard gas. Six thousand more Ethiopian troops were killed in this way, and the army of Ras Mulugeta (the Ethiopian war minister) was decimated. 

Feb.16, 1936: The Leftist Popular Front won a majority in the Spanish general elections. and Manuel Azana became premier.

Feb.26, 1936: Japanese army extremists assassinated the minister of finance, the director-general of military education, and a former prime minister, Makoto Saito. They sought a military-socialistic dictatorship under the emperor and an end to measures pressed by moderates to curb the military's involvement in politics. Prime Minister Keisuke Okada escaped death when his residence was attacked, but the would-be assassins mistook his brother-in-law for Okada. 

Feb.21, 1936: Italian troops opened the second battle of Tembien, leading to further devastation of the Ethiopian forces. Bombs and mustard gas left only scattered survivors and the emperor's personal guard to resist the onrushing Italians.

March 7, 1936: In a cunning gamble German troops marched into the demilitarized left bank of the Rhineland. Three battalions of unarmed German troops were ordered to occupy the area in direct violation of the treaties of Versailles (1919) and Locarno (1925) The French and British did nothing and this military finesse worked. Nations which might have taken immediate counteraction or resisted were preoccupied with Ethiopia, or simply felt incapable of action. General Maurice Gamelin (Commander of the French Military) told the cabinet they were not prepared to undertake offensive action, and they persuaded the civilian leaders that it would be unwise to assemble the large expeditionary force which the generals felt would be required.

March 9, 1936: Poland secretly proposed to France that they jointly attack Germany because of the reoccupation of the Rhineland. Paris declined. Warsaw concluded that regional alliances were useless.

March 9, 1936 Foreign Minister Koki Hirota was named Japanese prime minister, and the cabinet was restructured to give the military even greater power. Hirota himself favored expansion into China and became a prime mover in Japan's membership in the Axis.

March 29, 1936: In a plebiscite on Hitler's foreign policy (which was centered on remilitarization of the Rhineland and other renunciations of the Versailles treaty), 98.7% approved.

March 31, 1936: Ethiopian troops&emdash;including the Imperial Guard&emdash;counterattacked Italian positions under the personal command of Haile Selassie. Eight thousand men struck in the Mecan Pass. They were successful in taking some Italian positions at first but quickly withdrew after absorbing heavy casualties and almost running out of ammunition.

April 1, 1936: Austria began plans for conscription, whether it was able to rearm or not. Vienna had became fearful of Germany's military muscle-flexing. 

April 20, 1936: The League Council appealed to Italy and Ethiopia "for the prompt cessation of hostilities and the restoration of peace." By this time Italy had virtually completed its conquest and there were no Ethiopian troops left to fight. 

May 2, 1936: Haile Selassie abandoned the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and fled the country.

May 5, 1936:: Marshal Pietro Badogho's Italian forces entered Addis Ababa. 

May 9, 1936: Mussolini staged a victory celebration in Rome, saying, "At last, Italy has her empire . . . a civilizing empire, humanitarian toward all the peoples of Ethiopia." Victor Emmanuel III was proclaimed the new emperor of Ethiopia. The newly conquered nation was grouped with Eritrea and Italian Somaliland into what was designated "Italian East Africa." 

May 12, 1936: Italy announced its intention to withdraw from the League of Nations, an act of protest against Ethiopia's continuing membership.

June 2, 1936: Chinese regional military commanders in the southwest demanded Nationalist forces be used to resist the Japanese military buildup in north China rather than be involved in the ongoing internal disputes involving only the Chinese. The demand showed a growing opposition to the weak stand of the Nanking government while the country was being gobbled up by the Japanese.

 June 4, 1936: Socialist Leon Blum became premier of France at the head of a Popular Front coalition government. It was the first time that a European government included members of the Communist Party. 

June 30, 1936: Haile Selassie delivers a moving address to the League of Nations in Geneva. 

July 17, 1936: Civil war erupted in Spain. General Francisco Franco and his legions in Spanish Morocco sought to oust "the ineffectual government in Madrid." The uprising was triggered by the assassinations of an army officer on the 12th and a rightist politician on the 13th. Within days the army rebellion spread through Spain. It was directed against the policies of President Manuel Azana and the Spanish Left which had assumed power in May. The "Loyalists" were anticlerical and antimonarchy (King Alfonso XIII went into exile in 1931) and included Republicans, Socialists, Communists, and Syndicalists. Conservatives supported the military insurgents and combined forces under the label of "Nationalists." 

July 20, 1936: The Spanish premier of the Loyalist government requested French military aid. Subsequently France did help covertly, while the Russians aided the Loyalist cause openly with arms and men. Italy and Germany supported the Nationalists as openly and even more massively. 

July 25, 1936: France embargoed arms shipments to Spain, though it practiced tolerance to those shipping material to the Loyalists. Hitler agreed to a request from Franco to airlift Nationalist troops from Tetuan in Morocco to Spain and Luftwaffe transport planes flew out the next day. 

July 28, 1936: The Loyalist [Republican] government confiscated all religious property in Spain.

Aug.15, 1936: Britain and France agreed on a Spanish non=intervention pledge to become effective when Germany, Italy, Russia, and Portugal offered similar assurances. 

Aug.15, 1936:: Premier Hirota&emdash;who became increasingly receptive to extremists in the military&emdash;outlined Japan's foreign policy goals to the emperor. They included expansion into the Dutch East Indies, Manchurian economic growth, independence for the Philippines, the end of white rule in Asia, but all while continuing peaceful cooperation with the U.S. and Britain. 

Sept. 4, 1936: Madrid was threatened by Nationalist forces. The Giral government resigned and was replaced by a coalition of leftists, Socialists and Communists, headed by Largo Caballero.

Sept. 6, 1936: Chiang Kai-shek strengthened his control over China when independent leaders agreed to end local autonomous rule and incorporate their forces into the Nationalist army. 

Sept. 9, 1936: The No-nintervention Committee on Spain (representing 25 European nations) met in London. It was clear by then, however, that the Germans, Italians, and Russians had no intention of keeping out of the Spanish Civil War. 

Sept.19, 1936: Two Japanese consular policemen were killed in Hankow, China. 

Sept.22, 1936: Japanese marines landed in the key coastal cities of Hankow and Pakhoi.

Sept.23, 1936: Japanese naval forces seized control of Hongkew, China. 

Oct. 1, 1936: General Franco named commander of the Spanish Nationalist army and chief of the Spanish state (caudillo), resolving disputes over leadership roles among the Nationalists. 

Oct.24, 1936: Count Galeazzo Ciano, Italy's new 34- year-old foreign minister and Mussolini's son-in-law, visited Hitler at Berchtesgaden and formed the basis for the Axis alliance. Germany recognized Italy's annexation of Ethiopia. Italy, for its part, was prepared to support Germany in all its colonial demands. 

Oct. 25-27, 1936: The Rome-Berlin Axis was forged "to defend the great institutions of Europe." It included Italian-German understanding on Austria, ending that sore point, and put into formal agreement the anti-Communist position covered by the Hitler-Ciano talks.

Oct.28, 1936: Russia said it was not bound to embargo arms to Spain. An armored Russian force commanded by "General Pavlov." brought in tanks and underwent their baptism of fire in a successful counterattack against the Nationalist units attacking Madrid.

Nov. 6, 1936: Germany's "Condor Legion" began to be assembled in Seville on the Nationalist side. It would eventually consist of 6,500 men, equipped with Junkers 52 bombers, Messerschmitt 109 and Heinkel 51 fighters&emdash;96 aircraft in all. 

Nov.25, 1936: Germany and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact. The purpose was to block Soviet interference abroad. A secret clause barred either side from making political agreements with the Soviet Union and should Germany or Japan become involved in a war with Russia there would be consultation on joint action. 


Jan.21, 1937: After years of bitter name-calling and bloody fighting, Chinese Nationalists and Communists reached agreement to combine their forces in fighting the Japanese. Overall authority went to Chiang Kai-shek and the Nanking government.

Feb.21, 1937: A ministry of defense was created in France. Paris announced plans to extend the Maginot line northward along the Belgium border..

April 16, 1937: Japan announces an autonomous north China (the provinces of Hopei, Shansi, Shantung, Chahar, and Suiyuan) closely aligned with Manchukuo in pro-Japanese, anti-Soviet policies. 

April 22, 1937: Mussolini met with Schuschnigg in Venice where the Italian said in effect that Rome would not support Austria against Germany. Schuschnigg begins to realize the hopeless isolation of Austria. 

April 21, 1937: The Spanish city of Guernica in Vizcaya Province was wantonly destroyed by German planes. Guernica became an antifascist symbol and inspired Pablo Picasso's celebrated painting.

May 8, 1937: Nazi candidates won a two-thirds majority in the Danzig Volkstag (parliament).

May 15, 1937: In response to criticism of its extremist policies (especially against the Church and landed estates), the Republican Caballero government of Spain fell. A new government under Juan Negrin had no radical left-wing Socialists and Anarchists, but included two Communists.

June 11, 1937: Eight high-ranking Russian generals were executed for treason. The purges continued through 1938. More than 20,000 officers were executed, including 90 percent of the generals and 80 percent of the colonels.

July 7-8, 1937: On the pretext that a Japanese soldier was killed, the Japanese army demanded the right to search the Peking suburb of Wanping and touched off the "Marco Polo Bridge Incident." Soldiers were massed in the area for "maneuvers," and when local Chinese refused to permit Japanese entry, the Japanese launched an infantry and artillery attack. The action was focused on a thrust across the Marco Polo Bridge, which spanned the Hun River at Lukouchiao. The "China incident" becomes the full-scale Sino-Japanese war which continued through 1945.

July 11, 1937: Although China and Japan reached a settlement of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Japanese Premier Konoye authorized the movement of massive numbers of troops into China, including the Kwantung Army, a division from Korea, and three divisions from Japan itself. In all, 150,000 men were rushed into the area.

July 25, 1937: Japanese forces in north China launched a campaign of punitive action against the Chinese. The Japanese advanced Tientsin to Peking, bombing and capturing cities.

July 27, 1937: Japan's army minister, General Hajime Sugiyama, defended the use of force in China and called on the Diet to support the action. Sugiyama said Japanese forces were compelled to surmount the situation and enhance the prestige of the nation," "We'll send large forces and get the whole thing over with quickly, " he promised.

July 29, 1937: Chinese garrison militia troops massacred more than 300 Japanese civilians, men and women, in Tungchow. The next day, the Kwantung Army reduced the city to ruins. On the same day, Japanese pilots bombed Tientsin, concentrating on Nankai University.

July 30, 1937: Tientsin fell to the Japanese. 

July 31, 1937: The Japanese occupied Peking.

Aug. 9, 1937: Two Japanese soldiers were killed after trying to enter Hungjao airfield near Shanghai during "military maneuvers." The Japanese responded by bringing in two divisions and several cruisers and destroyers, raising their naval strength in Shanghai waters to 30 men-of-war.

Aug.13, 1937: Heavy fighting broke out in Shanghai.

Aug.15, 1937: Japan said its aims in China were to "eradicate the anti-foreign and anti-Japanese movement rampant in China, and completely eliminate the fundamental causes of unfortunate incidents such as the present one, with a view to bringing about truly harmonious collaboration among Japan, Manchukuo, and China. 

Aug.23, 1937: In a move to outflank the Chinese, Japanese troops landed at Woosung, on the coast immediately north of Shanghai.

Aug.25, 1937: Japanese naval forces began blockading Chinese ports, from Shanghai and extending 800 miles southward. Only Hong Kong and Macao, the British and Portuguese colonies, were not covered.

Sept. 5, 1937: Japanese Foreign Minister Hirota assailed the Chinese government for mobilizing "her vast armies against us," and said that Japan must force China to mend her ways. By now, the Japanese naval blockade of China had been extended to all major ports.

Sept.11, 1937: Japanese forces launched an offensive against Chinese units concentrated south of Peking and Tientsin.

Sept.15, 1937: China appeals to the League of Nations, invoking Articles 10,11, and 17 of the Covenant,Japan, the foreign minister said, "aims not only at the political domination and conquest of China, but also at the elimination of foreign interests wherever the Japanese sword holds sway, and the eventual expulsion of Europe and America from their territorial possessions in Asia.

Sept.19, 1937: Japanese aircraft launched a series of attacks on Nanking and Canton.

Oct. 6, 1937: The League Assembly declared Japan in violation of the Nine-Power Treaty (Feb. 6, 1922), and expressed its "moral support for China."

Oct.18, 1937: Sudeten Germans demanded autonomy for areas of Czechoslovakia with predominantly German~speaking populations.

Oct.23, 1937: Japanese planes raided several cities in eastern China.

Oct. 23-24, 1937: Danzig erupted in anti-Jewish rioting after local Nazis stepped up their racial propaganda campaign.

Oct.21, 1937: Japan refused to participate in a conference on the Sino-Japanese conflict, citing "China's violent anti-Japanese policy and practices, exemplified particularly in her provocative acts in appealing to force of arms."

Nov. 3, 1937: Boycotting the international conference in Brussels, Tokyo insisted direct negotiations between Japan and China would be the best way to solve their differences.

Nov. 5, 1937: Hitler met with the Commander-in-Chief of the German armed forces, and heads of the Army, Navy and Air Force at the Reich Chancellery in Berlin and declared in the presence of his foreign minister Germany's need for Lebensraum (elbow room) could only be acquired by force. He said Germany could never be self-sufficient within its present borders. Britain and France would not permit German expansion, and only by "resort to force with its attendant risks" could Germany achieve its goals. The immediate objectives would be Austria and Czechoslovakia. Hitler sketched out two scenarios which would permit this expansion without involving war, and said all preparations had to be completed by 1938 at the earliest. Otherwise, he was determined to use his military build-up by 1943-1945 at the latest. Although all the military figures (except Göring) and the foreign minister questioned Hitler's analysis, it seems clear that by now Hitler was determined on a policy of expansion even if it ran the risks of war. Notes of the meeting were taken by Hitler's military adjutant, Colonel Hossbach.

Nov. 5, 1937:: Three Japanese divisions (30,000 men) made an unopposed landing 30 miles south of Shanghai, bringing to 225,000 the number of troops in north China. The Chinese offered surprisingly strong resistance to the superior force, but were compelled to back down to avoid total annihilation.

Nov. 8, 1937: Chinese resistance in Shanghai ended. It was estimated that more than 100,000 Chinese troops were killed or wounded in the fight for the city, while the Japanese suffered 40,000 casualties. Civilian casualties were estimated at 200,000.

Nov.12, 1937: A truce was signed to end the 92-day-long battle for Shanghai, and the Japanese completed occupation of the city.

Nov.17, 1937: British Foreign Minister Lord Halifax met with Hitler to help the British assess Germany's intentions in Europe. Halifax proposed peaceful settlements of the Sudeten and other "minority" problems, establishing a pattern of British appeasement. Hitler started off with a diatribe against the democracies, but his attitude changed during the conversation as he sensed the British desire to avoid a military showdown. Hitler concluded the meeting with the observation: "Only a country like Soviet Russia could gain by a general conflict."

Nov.19, 1937: Nazi Sudeten leader Konrad Henlein wrote a pleading letter to Hitler calling for "action" to resolve the problem of German minorities in the Czech border areas. Hitler refuses.

Nov.20, 1937: The capital of the Chinese Republic was moved from Nanking to Chungking.

Nov.2, 1937: Tokyo stated it would not relinquish its mandate over South Pacific islands which had beem formerly German and came to Japan after World War I. The announcement was significant because the former German colonies represented a major area of discord between the two new allies, and Tokyo was standing firm.

Dec. 6, 1937: Two Japanese army groups-the Shanghai Expeditionary Force and the Japanese X Corps, moving from the east and south-linked up outside Nanking

Dec.11, 1937: Italy withdrew from the League of Nations.

Dec.12, 1937: Japanese aircraft bombed and sank the Panay, a U.S. naval gunboat, on the Yangtze River, about 30 miles southwest of Nanking. The Japanese eventually paid $2,214,007.36 as "settlement in full" for the Panay, and for the injuries suffered by 74 men on the ships attacked.

Dec 12, 1937: Japanese-supported Chinese established a provisional government of the Chinese Republic in Peking.

Dec.13, 1937: Nanking fell to the Japanese. The infamous "Rape of Nanking" followed when for two weeks Japanese forces engaged in ruthless criminality. A third of the city was destroyed. More than 200,000 civilians were slaughtered. An estimated 20,000 women were raped, then murdered,


Jan.15, 1938: Japanese aircraft began systematic bombing raids on Chungking, seat of the Chinese government. Until Sept.1941 the city was to be attacked 142 times.

Jan.16, 1938: Japan cut off further dealings with the Chinese Nationalists who, Tokyo said, blindly persist in their opposition against Japan, with no consideration either internally for the people in their miserable plight or externally for the peace and tranquility of all Asia." Military operations against Kuomintang (Nationalist) forces would continue until their "complete extermination." Japan now had an army of 540,000 men in China.

Feb. 2, 1938: The League of Nations "deplored" the "deterioration" of the situation in China.Japan was unmoved by the rhetoric.

Feb. 4, 1938: A fortuitous set of circumstances permitted Hitler to rid himself of political and military leaders (primarily Foreign Minister Constantin von Neurath, War Minister Werner von Blomberg, and Army Chief of Staff Werner von Fritsch) who were not enthusiastic about his policies.. Neurath's resignation was accepted after continued efforts to disassociate himself from Hitler's aims. Blomberg was ousted because his new wife had been a prostitute, and Fritsch was removed on the fabricated pretext of homosexuality. Hitler appointed Joachim von Ribbentrop as foreign minister and, at the suggestion of ousted General Blomberg, assumed direct control of the military under a newly-formed High Command of the Armed Forces (0KW.).In addition, more than a dozen ambassadors and nearly 20 senior generals were retired. Whether planned or not, the action eliminated most of the traditional diplomatic and military elite, and made room for more compliant yes-men.

Feb. 9, 1938: Partially to cover up the evidence of divisions within his government, Hitler invited Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg to Berchtesgaden to discuss Austrian-German problems.

Feb.12, 1938: Schuschnigg met with Hitler at Berchtesgaden and accepted German demands for Nazi participation in the Vienna government and freedom of action for the Nazi party in Austria. In the talks, Hitler threatened to invade Austria unless Schuschnigg complied.

Feb.15, 1938: Austria's cabinet accepted Hitler's demands, rubber-stamping the Berchtesgaden agreement. Pro-Nazis were installed as ministers of foreign affairs and internal security in the Austrian government. Seyss-Inquart was appointed to the important post of interior minister

Feb.17, 1938: Foreign Secretary Eden said Britain would seek Italian support in blocking Germany's moves in Austria under terms of the 1934 Stresa agreement, but Mussolini refused to get involved in the Austrian dispute, easing Hitler's deepest fear-that Rome would challenge Nazi domination of their mutual neighbor.

Feb.20, 1938: In a Reichstag speech, Hitler demanded self-determination for the ten million Germans living in Austria and in the Sudetenland portion of Czechoslovakia..

Feb.21, 1938: Austria banned all gatherings and demonstrations of all parties except the government- approved Fatherland Front. The action was designed to suppress Nazi agitation.

March 1, 1938: Rioting broke out in Graz, Austria, which soon spread to the province of Styria. The outbreaks placed Austria in a state of near anarchy.

March 9, 1938: Schuschnigg announced a plebiscite to be held on the 13th to determine if the Austrian people wanted a "free independent, social Christian and united Austria."

March 10, 1938: Berlin believed that Britain and France had forced Schuschnigg to renege on the Berchtesgaden agreement. The announced plebiscite was so arranged that a vote against union with Germany was inevitable. Austrian Nazis rioted in the streets of Vienna, Linz, Grax, and Klagenfurt, and Seyss-Inquart called on Schuschnigg to resign over the plebiscite issue. Hitler asks that German troops be mobilized along the Austrian frontier, but the military informs him that they had no plans for such a mobilization..

March 11, 1938: Embarassed by his role in the plot to oust the senior German military officials and assume that post for himself, Göring interrupts the Court Martial procedures for General Fritsch in order to telephone demands to Vienna that the Austrian plebiscite be cancelled. Under pressure from Austrian Nazis both inside and outside his government, Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg agreed. He was then called upon to resign, which he did. The pro-Nazi Minister of the Interior Seyss-Inquart was Göring's choice to head the Austrian government. The appointment was duly made. Seyss-Inquart was at once told to "request" German troops "to prevent bloodshed" in Austria.

March 12, 1938: German army troops crossed into Austria at dawn. They met no resistance and were embraced by the bulk of the civilian population who displayed pride at the "reunification of the Germanic peoples" (Anschluss). That afternoon, Hitler arrived in his schoolboy home of Linz and announced completion of his mission "to restore my dear homeland to the German Reich." The French and British governments protested the "use of coercion, backed by force, against an independent state in order to create a situation incompatible with its independence." Hitler, however, won the blessing of Mussolini. By taking Austria, Hitler added nine million people to his domain. 

March 13, 1938: The new Nazi government in Vienna proclaimed Austria "a province of the German Reich." Austria's army was incorporated into the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) and some Austrian units were immediately sent to Germany. Nazis began anti-Semitic demonstrations with an attack on Zionist headquarters in Vienna.

March 14, 1938: Britain declared Anschluss was a fact and "nothing could have arrested this action by Germany unless we and others with us had been prepared to use force to prevent it." The German ambassador in Washington cabled Berlin: "It was striking that the Congress took no stand on the German action in Austria and that neither representatives nor senators made use of the popular method of expressing their opinions on everything between heaven and earth." 

March 16, 1938: Sudeten Nazi leader Henlein called on all Germans in Czechoslovakia to join the Nazi party for the forthcoming national elections.

March 17, 1938: Poland issued an ultimatum to Lithuania, demanding normalization of relations between the two countries by the end of the month. The two had been negotiating for nearly two decades but could never agree on any plan to establish diplomatic or trade ties or even to recognize the border between them. Warsaw's apparent motive for acting so harshly is that the Poles were convinced of the need to secure their flank along the East Prussian border.Lithuania capitulated to Polish demands. 

March 19, 1938: Hitler announced a plebiscite for April 10 in Germany and Austria on Anschluss. 

March 24, 1938: Chamberlain told Parliament Britain would not be bound automatically to come to the aid of France if war broke out over Czechoslovakia but implied Britain would join France in fighting Germany over Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain believed that Russia was "stealthily and cunningly pulling all the strings behind the scene to get us involved in a war with Germany.

March 25, 1938: For the first time in the modern era, Japan suffered a major military defeat. The battle of Taierchuang when 3,000 Chinese troops attacked the Japanese garrison holding the walled town on the Grand Canal. Only 2,000 of the 18,000 Japanese survived. The rest were killed. About 15,000 Chinese troops died in the action. 

March 28, 1938: The Japanese established the "Reformed Government of the Republic of China" in Nanking. A one-time warlord, General Wu Pei-fu, was selected its figurehead, but he courageously said he would accept only when all Japanese troops left China. Instead, the Japanese selected Wang Ching-wei, a more pliable politician who had been vice president of Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang.

March 29, 1938: Demands for Sudeten autonomy were supported by Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak Clerical members of the Czech parliament. Hitler conferred with Henlein, who had emerged not only as a Nazi leader, but head of a united German party in the Sudetenland. Hitler called Henlein his "viceroy" in the territory and said Germany would remain interested in seeing that the German-speakers there would receive justice. Henlein stated that his tactic would be "we must always demand so much more that we never can be satisfied." Hitler agreed. 

April 10, 1938: In a result which astonished even Hitler, Austrians approved Anschluss overwhelmingly as 99.73% of the near total turnout of eligible voters cast affirmative ballots. German approval was equally massive.

April 21, 1938: Plans for an invasion of Czechoslovakia, were completed by the German High Command. 

April 24, 1938: Henlein in Karlsbad outlined eight demands on the Czech government which would result in complete autonomy for the German- speaking areas, including their right to adhere to "the ideology of Germans." 

May, 1938: Japan launched a series of offensives to seize territory south of areas already occupied in China. They met little opposition from the hopelessly outgunned Chinese.

May 5, 1938: German army Chief of General Staff Ludwig Beck began circulating criticisms of Hitler's military strategies and policies, especially a projected military attack upon Czechoslovakia.

May 6, 1938: Czech Foreign Minister Krofta rejected Henlein's demands of greater rights and freedom for Germans in the Sudetenland.

May 11, 1938: Driven by German Sudeten successes, Polish minority spokesmen in Czechoslovakia demanded greater autonomy for Poles.

May 15, 1938: In a series of battles in Honan Province, Chinese forces were routed and ordered to retreat.

May 20, 1938: Claiming (erroneously) that Germany was mobilizing its army to march, Czechoslovakia ordered a partial mobilization of its own armed forces and garrisoned the German border (in which Sudeten Germans lived).. Clashes occurred between Sudeten Germans and Czech police. The violence was used by the German Sudeten party as justification for ending negotiations with Prague on Henlein's demands.

May 21, 1938: Believing the Czech claims, Britain informed Germany it might be "forced" to join with France if Germany attacked Czechoslovakia.

May 25, 1938: Stating that Russia did not "want to be isolated in international affairs," the Soviet ambassador to the United States, A. A. Troyanovsky, said Moscow was "ready to defend Czechoslovakia in the event of aggression.

May 26, 1938: The Japanese cabinet was reshuffled, with generals and admirals holding six ministries.

May 30, 1938: Hitler changes the army's standing orders which had indicated he had no interest in raising the Sudeten German question, and now insisted it was his "unalterable decision" to crush Czechoslovakia.

June, 1938: Fearing Japanese seizure of the vast area between the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, Chiang Kai-shek ordered General Shang Chen to blow up the dikes of the latter. The Chinese XXXII and XXXIX corps evacuated the area and then unleashed the water's full force. While the Japanese advance toward Hankow was halted for a short time, the destruction to the Chinese people was catastrophic. More than two million were left homeless as the torrents swept over portions of Honan, Anhwei, and Kiangsu provinces. Eleven larger cities and towns and 4,000 villages were destroyed. Loss of the crops and washing out of topsoil led to famine for years to come. The precipitate action earned Chiang the contempt of millions of Chinese 

June 7, 1938: Sudeten Germans called for the virtual dismemberment of Czechoslovakia by demanding autonomy for all minorities under Prague's rule.

June 10, 1938: The Japanese Central China Expeditionary Force launched a major offensive to crush the Chinese military and impose a settlement. It was the largest drive yet mounted by the Japanese in China. Nearly 400,000 men were thrown into the offensive, aimed at taking Chiang's temporary capital, Hankow.

July 11, 1938: Major fighting broke out between Russian and Japanese forces at Changkufeng, near the juncture of Manchuria, Siberia, and Korea. It lasted for a month, with the Soviets administering an embarrassing slap at the victory-conscious Japanese.

July 11-13, 1938: British troops were sent to Palestine to quell an Arab uprising and to control mounting terrorism.

July 12, 1938: France stated its guarantees to Czechoslovakia were "indisputable and sacred."

July 26, 1938: Chamberlain announced that Lord Runciman-at the invitation of the Prague government-would go to Czechoslovakia to mediate the Sudeten dispute.

Aug.18, 1938: General Ludwig Beck resigned as chief of the German General Staff in opposition to Hitler's policies, believing they could only lead to a war which Germany would lose. He insisted that his letter or resignation be entered into official military files so that future Germans would know that the German army leadership had refused to participate in such a risky and unnecessary undertaking.

Aug.21, 1938: Czech government leaders met with Sudeten Germans as part of Lord Runciman's efforts to facilitate a new agreement.

Sept. 1, 1938: Hitler and Henlein conferred on the Sudeten problem 

Sept. 3, 1938: Hitler set Sept. 27 as the date for the invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Sept. 6, 1938: With menacing German moves clearly impending, the Czech government agreed to virtually all of the German Sudeten demands. On the same day, French newspapers&emdash;apparently under government inspiration&emdash;began to suggest that the Sudeten issue should not be allowed to spark a general war.

Sept. 7, 1938: Although most Sudeten German leaders-believed that the new Czech proposals met 90 to 95 percent of their demands, they broke off negotiations on the grounds that Czech police had assaulted a Sudeten deputy in Ostrava.In Britain, The London Times proposed the partition of Czechoslovakia and supported a policy of appeasement.

 Sept.13, 1938: In his Nazi Party Day speech at Nürnberg, Hitler vilified Czechoslovakia and threatened unspecified action to aid the Sudeten Germans. Rioting broke out almost immedietely in the Sudetenland. Czech officials proclaimed martial law and clamped tight restrictions on the Sudetenland to quell the rioting.

Sept.15, 1938: Taking his first plane ride, Britih Prime Minister Chamberlain flew to Berchtesgaden to see Hitler. Chamberlain believed the French were not prepared to go to war over Czechoslovakia, and he sought to determine Germany's minimum demands. From his talks with Hitler, Chamberlain who concluded that Germany would be satisfied to annex those parts of Czechoslovakia with a majority German population. 

Sept.16, 1938: Henlein demanded immediate German occupation of the Sudetenland and then fled to Germany to escape arrest. Sudeten German demanded Prague cede all territory with a German majority population 

Sept. 17, 1938: The French and British cabinets met, aware of conflicting attitudes held by their military commanders and strong pacifist opinions among the general public. Meanwhile, Polish newspapers&emdash;reflecting the government's position&emdash;called for the return of the Czech area of Teschen to Poland. 

Sept.18, 1938: Britain and France called on the Czechs to cede German-majority districts to Germany. Czechoslovakia declared a state of emergency, and at the same time, Hitler met with his top generals for five hours to discuss the Czech situation. The military leaders tried to dissuade him from attacking, but Hitler remained adamant and finally dismissed them with contempt. General Alfred Jodl noted in his diary: "It is tragic that the Führer should have the whole nation behind him with the single exception of the German Generals."

Sept.20, 1938: Prague suggested arbitration with Germany on the basis of the 1925 Locarno treaty, a proposal immediately turned down by London and Paris.

Sept.21, 1938: Czechoslovakia accepted the German demands. It had no alternative except a German invasion without assured French, British, or Russian support. Paris and London had already told the Czech government leaders that unless the Germans received what they wanted, Prague would be totally isolated. Prague said it was "yielding to unheard-of pressure." Poland and Hungary immediately demanded the same rights for their minorities in Czechoslovakia as were accorded the Germans.

Sept.22, 1938: Chamberlain flies again to meet Hitle, this time at Godesberg on the Rhine outside of Bonn, and was confronted with new demands from the German leader. Hitler reneged on his earlier promises at Berchtesgaden and outlined broader areas to be turned over to the Reich by Oct. 1. The Czech government fell and was replaced by a "government of national defense" headed by the popular General Jan Sirovy. Strikes and mass protests against capitulation erupted throughout the country. An immediate full mobilization was ordered.

Sept.24, 1938: Czechoslovakia rejected Hitler's Godesberg demands, saying: "Our national and economic independence would automatically disappear with the acceptance of Herr Hitler's plan."

Sept.25, 1938: Hitler declared that once the Sudeten crisis was settled, Germany would have no more territorial claims in Europe. Czechoslovakia agreed to negotiate with Poland on Teschen in order to forestall war, but the Poles refused. France ordered partial mobilization after the cabinet decided to reject Hitler's Godesberg demands.

Sept.26, 1938: Premier Daladier and Foreign Minister Bonnet flew to London for further talks with the British. That night, in an emotional Sportspalast speech, Hitler refused to budge on his Godesberg demands and promised to invade Czechoslovakia by Oct. 1 if they were not granted. Hitler screamed, "German patience has come to an end." 

Sept.27, 1938: Czechoslovakia again declared its willingness to negotiate or arbitrate the dispute. The British Foreign Office said France was obliged to aid Czechoslovakia if invaded by Germany and in that case Britain and Russia would stand by France. The statement added: "It is still not too late to stop this great tragedy and for the peoples of all nations to insist on a settlement by free negotiation." Yet din the evening, Chamberlain addressed the British people by radio and 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."

Sept.28, 1938: Chamberlain repudiated the foreign ministry statement of the previous day, saying, "We cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in war simply on [Czechoslovakia's] account." Later in the day, Chamberlain proposed to Hitler a conference involving Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Germany, and Britain, saying "I cannot believe that you will take responsibility of starting a world war which may end civilization for the sake of a few days' delay in settling this long-standing problem." In Berlin, former Foreign Minister Neurath and staff members of the foreign ministry sought to by-pass the compliant Ribbentrop and contacted Mussolini. In turn, Mussolini asked Hitler to postpone his invasion of Czechoslovakia for 24 hours and invited Chamberlain, Daladier and Mussolini to a Munich meeting. ". . . I feel certain that you can get all the essentials without war and without delay."

Sept. 29-30, 1938: The fate of Czechoslovakia was decided in Munich by leaders of Germany, France, Italy, and Britain&emdash;but without a single Czech representative. Mussolini, who proposed the eleventh-hour meeting, presented a draft agreement (which was written by Neurath and others in the German foreign office). There were a few minor changes in the draft, and Hitler got what he wanted&emdash;the Sudetenland became part of Germany and the boundaries were guaranteed by Britain and France. Russia was shocked by Munich, a conference to which it was not invited. Moscow would have been forced to act independently to help Czechoslovakia (and only by crossing Poland or Rumania, who would not give overland transit rights). The word "appeasement" was given a new negative meaning, and Munich became a symbol of capitulation. For at the time of Munich Hitler had only 13 divisions (with another 44 available under full mobilization). Czechoslovakia possessed 35 divisions, France 85, Russia 260, and Britain's fleet was vastly superior to Germany's. The French ambassador to Germany, André Francois-Ponçet, was to say of Munich: "Thus does France treat her only allies who had remained faithful to her."

Sept 30, 1938: Poland delivered an ultimatum to the Czechs to cede Teschen by Oct. 2. The 419-square-mile area had a population of 240,000, 40 percent of them Poles.

Oct. 1, 1938: German troops marched into the Sudetenland, occupying 10,000 square miles of territory with a population of 3,500,000 (including 700,000 Czechs).

Oct. 2, 1938: Poland occupied Teschen.

Oct. 3, 1938: Munich was debated in the British House of Commons. Labor opposition leader Herbert Morrison called the agreement a betrayal of the Czechs. Even some Conservatives opposed it. Churchill said it was "a disaster of the first magnitude." But Chamberlain's action was approved 366 to 144.

Oct. 4, 1938: The French Popular Front collapsed when the Communists refused to support the Munich agreement. They alone voted as a bloc against it as the Chamber of Deputies approved Munich 535 to 75. From this point on, France drifted to the right in its domestic politics.

Oct. 5, 1938: Eduord Benes resigned as Czech president.

Oct. 6, 1938: The Slovak Congress formally requested autonomy for the Slovaks within a Czech federal framework. Two days later, Czechoslovakia promised to grant autonomy to Slovakia and Ruthenia.

Oct.12, 1938: Japanese forces landed at Bias Bay, close to Hong Kong which was thus threatened. The action primarily served to prepare for Japanese occupation of southeast China.

Oct.21, 1938: Canton was occupied by the Japanese. Seizure of the city cut off the last seaport and the primary rail line for supplies to be shipped to the Chinese Natrionalist armies.

Oct.24, 1938: Ribbentrop informed the Polish ambassador in Berlin that Germany wished to resolve differences between the two countries. He called for German control of Danzig and rail and highway links across the Polish Corridor to join East Prussia and Germany. As a carrot, he held out the promise of German aid if Poland sought to take the Ukraine from the Soviet Union.

Oct.25, 1938: Hankow fell to the Japanese, who now effectively controlled the Yangtze River from Hankow to the coast. It has been estimated the Chinese military suffered one million casualties and the civilian population two million from the Marco Polo Bridge Incident to this date, about a year. With the fall of Hankow, the Japanese consolidated their positions and there was virtually no fighting for the next three years. To the Japanese, all that was important in China was now conquered.

Oct.28, 1938: Thousands of Polish Jews, living as registered aliens in Germany, were deported to Poland in retaliation against Polish laws restricting foreign immigration.

Nov. 2, 1938: In the first of the "Vienna Awards" by the Italian and German Arbitration Commission, Hungary was given those districts of Czechoslovakia with predominantly Hungarian populations, approximately 12,000 square miles of territory, with a population of one million (80% Magyar). 

Nov. 4, 1938: Japan declared the Nine-Power Treaty guaranteeing China's independence and territorial integrity obsolete

Nov. 7, 1938: A German diplomat, Ernst vom Rath, was killed in Paris by Herschel Grynszpan the son of a Polish Jewish family which had been deported on Oct. 28. He claimed it was an act of protest against the deportation of Polish Jews from Germany.

Nov. 9-10, 1938: Joseph Goebbels and the SA launched a campaign of terror against the Jews in Germany in retaliation for the Rath murder. "Crystal Night," so-called because of the shattered glass (valued at six million marks) resulting from unbridled window-smashing, marked the vilest form yet of Nazi Party anti-Semitism. Altogether, 267 synagogues were plundered, 815 shops were wrecked, 36 Jews were killed, and 20,000 were arrested. Subsequently, Hermann Göring, head of the Four Year Plan, confiscated the insurance money paid the Jews by imposing a billion mark penalty on them for what he called "their abominable crimes."

Dec. 1, 1938: Prague granted local utonomy to Slovakia and Ruthenia. Slovakia created is own independent government under Father Joseph Tiso.

Dec. 6, 1938: Mussolini approved a plan to annex Albania, saying he was only concerned about reaction from Yugoslavia.

Dec.11, 1938: Elections in Memel, Lithuania, gave the Nazis more than 90% of the vote. Memel had been left a part of Germany by the Versailles Treaty, but had been siezed by Lithuania in 1920, with no foreign protest. 

Dec.22, 1938: Premier Konoye said extermination of the Kuomintang regime was an essential element of Japan's "new order" in east Asia. 

Dec.23, 1938: The Spanish Nationalists of Franco opened their decisive drive in Catalonia. The Loyalists fought back savagely against great odds.

Dec.26, 1938: Chiang said Japan was "dominated by a horde of militarists who know no law and order:" He said if they continued in power, "the fate of Japan is doomed."


Jan 5, 1939: Hitler told Polish Foreign Minister Joseph Beck that Germany would guarantee Poland's frontiers if a "final settlement" could be reached Danzig. Hitler stated, "Danzig was German, would always remain German, and sooner or later would return to Germany."

Jan.20, 1939: With no nation willing to impose sanctions on Japan, the League of Nations called on member states to undertake unspecified but "effective measures of aid to China." It was the League's final expression of concern on the Sino-Japanese war.

Jan.24, 1939: Göring directed Reinhard Heydrich of the SS to accelerate the emigration and evacuation of Jews from Germany as a solution to the "Jewish problem." Thus this thorny issue is taken away from State institutions and turned over to the SS.

Jan.26, 1939: Barcelona fell to the Spanish Nationalists, backed up by extensive Italian support. 200,000 Loyalist troops crossed into France, where they were disarmed.

Jan.30, 1939 Hitler privately assured Mussolini of German support if any country interfered with Italy's projected conquest of Albania.

Feb.10, 1939: Poland declared it would not permit German road or rail transit across the Corridor.

Feb. 10, 1939 Japanese forces occupied French-occupied Hainan Island in the South China Sea, giving them a base for southern and Chinese operations.

Feb.28, 1939: Germany informed Britain and France it could not guarantee the frontiers of Czechoslovakia because of conditions within the country and an unsatisfactory state of relations between Berlin and Prague.

March 6, 1939: The new Czech President Hacha ousted pro-Nazis from the Ruthenian cabinet in the face of mounting demands for Ruthenian autonomy.

March 10, 1939: Czech President Hacha dismissed Premier Tiso and the Slovak cabinet were and proclaimed martial law in certain areas to suppress Slovak separatist and movements.

March 12, 1939: Czech troops marched into Bratislava and deposed Father Tiso as premier of Slovakia.

March 13, 1939: Father Tiso was summoned to Berlin and told to proclaim Slovak independence. Simultaneously Berlin demanded dismissal of anti-Nazi Czech ministers.

March 14, 1939: Encouraged by German prodding, Slovakia and Ruthenia declared their independence, thus dissolving the Czechoslovak state. Military action by the Czechs was impossible, since the mountainous boundary regions which offered a natural defense barriers were now lost. In a last desperte move to save his country, Czech President Hacha asks to see Hitler

March 15, 1939: In an all-night meeting in Berlin, Hacha places the Czech remnant under the Protection of Hitler. At dawn, German troops crossed the Czech frontier, and President Hacha order no resistance. Former German Foreign Minister Neurath was named "Protector." Hungarian troops crossed into Ruthenia. Budapest demanded the withdrawal of all Czech units from the newly proclaimed state. Chamberlain said the Slovak declaration of independence absolved Britain from any obligations to guarantee the Czech frontiers.

March 16, 1939: Slovakia was formally declared a German protectorate.

March 19, 1939: Germany annexed predominantly German-speaking Memel from Lithuania. In return Lithuania received German guarantees of independence and trade between the two countries.

March 21, 1939: Germany offered Poland Slovakia in compensation for the return of Danzig and German control of overland routes between Germany and East Prussia. Poland refused.

March 23, 1939: Germany signed a treaty with Slovakia guaranteeing the latter's political independence and territorial integrity for 25 years. In fact, Germany had now gained hegemony over the entire area of defunct Czechoslovakia.

March 25, 1939: For the first time Hitler said the "Polish problem" might have to be settled by military means. He ordered Generals Wilhelm Keitel and Walther von Brauchitsch, his top military advisers, to develop plans for war against Poland. He made clear to his military leaders that he did not want war with Britain and thought Poland could be absorbed without the risk of war.

March 25, 1939: Italy issued an ultimatum to King Zog of Albania to place his country under Italian protection. Zog requested British aid but was told London would not help.

March 28, 1939: The Civil War ended in Spain. Madrid formally surrendered to General Franco. In all, about 750,000 people were killed in the Spanish civil struggle. The Italians had as many as 75,000 "volunteers" involved on the Nationalist side. Germany provided 19,000 men.

March 31, 1939: In reaction to the German march into "rump Czechoslovakia," Britain and France offered total and unqualified support to Poland "in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence." The result was to stiffen Warsaw's resistance to Hitler. Not incorrectly, Hitler felt the blank-check commitment permitted the Poles to exercise control over the policies of France and Britain. It also gave impetus to Hitler's thoughts on reaching an agreement with the Russians.)

April 3, 1939: German military planners complete plans for a war against Poland to be launched by Sept. 1. Hitler himself drafted the introductory section.

April 3, 1939: Italy sent an ultimatum to Albania demanding Italian control over the small Adriatic state.

April 6, 1939: Italy assured Britain it had no designs on Albania. London voiced its concern about military movements which appeared directed at Albania.

April 7, 1939: On this Good Friday, Italian forces-struck at Albania. A naval bombardment of coastal centers preceded the troop landings, and the Albanian military was able to offer only token resistance. Hitler had approved of the Italian move generally but was never told when it would happen. The king of Italy questioned Mussolini about the wisdom of an invasion to "grab four rocks." Mussolini's actions can only be understood by his petulance over Germany's successes while Italy's imperial wishes were being frustrated.

April 9, 1939: Italy gave its assurance to Britain that it would respect Albania's independence.

April 13, 1939: Italy annexed Albania.

April 13, 1939: Alerted by [false] rumors that Germany was planning to march into the Balkans, Britain and France gave guarantees to Greece and Rumania, the same kind of unqualified support for territorial integrity against external threat it had pledged Poland two weeks earlier.

April 26, 1939: The British government announced that Parliament would be asked to authorize military conscription.

April 27, 1939: Berlin renounced the 1935 Anglo-German naval agreement. Britain had by now, of course, given guarantees of aid for the first time to countries east of the Rhine.

April 28 1939, In a speech at Wilhelmshaven, Hitler abrogated the German-Polish non-aggression pact of 1934, saying it was incompatible with the encirclement policy being directed against Germany. Poland at once told the British it would be willing to join with London and Moscow in a common front against the Germans.

May 3, 1939 V.M. Molotov, an old-line Bolshevik, replaced M.M. Litvinov as Soviet foreign minister, signaling a new direction in Moscow's foreign policy. Until now, Moscow had pursued actions within the framework of collective security and cooperation with the League of Nations.

May 5, 1939: Warsaw again turned down Germany's bid for control over Danzig and overland routes through the Polish Corridor.

May 7, 1939: Hitler assured Mussolini the Alps would forever form the Italian-German frontier. Rome was concerned about possible German claims on the South Tyrol, regarded as the single obstacle to firm relations between the two countries.

May 12, 1939: Outer Mongolian and Manchurian troops battle along their border in what became known as the "Nomonhan Incident," touched off when 700 Mongol horsemen crossed the Khalka River which the Japanese considered to be the Manchurian-Mongolian border. Each side accused the other of starting the original fighting, but the issue was lost in the escalation of forces. (By September, Japanese forces were to suffer 18,000 casualties. Russian-Mongolian casualties, according to Moscow, were 9,000.)

May 18, 1939: Supported by waves of aircraft, Japan attacked the Russians on the Khalka River between Outer Mongolia and Manchuria. The Japanese secured all territory in dispute.

 May 19, 1939: General Maurice Gamelin, French commander-in-chief, signed an agreement with Poland promising that if the Germans invaded Poland "France will launch an offensive against Germany with the main bodies of her forces, beginning on the fifteenth day from the first day of Polish general mobilization." 

May 22, 1939: The "Pact of Steel" was forged in Berlin, creating a military alliance between Germany and Italy. Each pledged to come to the other's side immediately in case of war. It marked the true creation of the Axis, yet Mussolini and Foreign Minister Ciano let the Germans know unequivocally that Italy would not be ready to wage war for several more years.

May 23, 1939: Hitler told his military commanders Poland was to be attacked and destroyed.

May 28, 1939: Heavy fighting erupts between Russian and Japanese forces at the Khalka River.

June 14, 1939: Following the alleged murder of a Japanese customs officer in Tientsin the Japanese launched a program of harassment and mistreatment of British and French residents in the Tientsin.. Japanese warships blockaded the Concessions. Tokyo demanded Britain end its support of the Nationalist government.

July 9, 1939: Churchill proposed Britain enter into a military alliance with the Soviet Union.

July 17, 1939: Marshal Edward Smigly-Rydz declared that Poland would fight alone if necessary should Germany attempt to take Danzig.

July 26, 1939: In response to renewed Japanese conquests in Southern China, the U.S. denounced its 1911 commercial treaty with Japan.

July 27, 1939: France and Britain agreed to send military missions to Moscow, but seem in no hurry since they send them by ship.

Aug.2, 1939: Albert Einstein wrote a letter to Roosevelt alerting him to the potential of creating an atomic bomb. To indicate the power of such a device, Einstein said if the bomb were exploded in a port, it "might destroy the whole port together with some surrounding territory."

Aug.14, 1939: Responding to veiled suggestions from a Russian Trade Delegation in Berlin, Ribbentrop announced to the Russians that he would be willing to fly to Moscow "to lay the foundation for a final settlement of German- Russian relations."

Aug.15, 1939: France and Britain separately informed Germany that each would go to war "automatically" if a conflict broke out between Germany and Poland 

Aug. 15, 1939: Molotov asked Germany if it were prepared to enter into a nonaggression treaty and use its influence to improve Russo-Japanese relations.

Aug.17, 1939: Germany responded favorably to Soviet suggestions of a nonaggression pact and urged speed in completing it.

Aug.20, 1939: Hitler personally cabled Stalin to request Ribbentrop be received in Moscow as early as possible because of the imminence of war. Stalin at once agreed.

Aug. 20-25, 1939: General Georgi K. Zhukov, commander of the Soviet Far Eastern Army, attacked Japanese Kwantung Army positions along the Khalka River, touching off one of the largest battles since World War I and, until then, the biggest tank fight in history. Zhukov hurled 690 armored vehicles at the Japanese. A total of 150,000 combatants were involved. The Japanese suffered heavy losses, including 18,000 casualties and more than 100 planes. Japanese troops suffered their worst military setback in modern history.

Aug.23, 1939: Molotov and Ribbentrop signed the German- Russian nonaggression pact in Moscow. It contained no "escape clause" should either launch a war. Secretly, Germany and Russia carved out spheres of influence in eastern and central Europe, with Russia getting Finland, Estonia, Latvia, eastern Poland, and Bessarabia. Germany received the rest of Poland and Lithuania. Berlin's allies, Italy and Japan, were stunned. They had been left in the dark and the "pact with Satan" could not have fallen harder than in Tokyo and Rome.

Aug.25, 1939: Britain and Poland signed a five-year mutual assistance agreement, an unambiguous declaration of London's intention to fight if Poland were invaded. Nothing was mentioned about automatic action if, say, Russia invaded Poland.

On the same day, Mussolini told Hitler that Italy could not fight if the Germans became involved in a war with Britain and France because it did not have sufficient supplies. The air force had fuel for only three months, and the other services were equally short of vital material. As a result of this news, Hitler cancelled his orders for an invasion of Poland. At the same time, he told Paris the French borders would not be violated by Germany in the event of a Polish war and assured London the British Empire's status quo would be upheld by Germany.

Aug.26, 1939: France urged direct negotiations between Germany and Poland to avoid war.

Aug.27, 1939: Hitler wrote to French Premier Daladier that war appeared inevitable: "I see no possibility of persuading Poland, who deems herself safe from attack by virtue of guarantees given to her, to agree to a peaceful solution."

Aug.28, 1939: Poland called up additional reservists.

Aug.29, 1939: Hitler agreed to begin direct talks with Poland and suggested a Polish delegation be sent to Berlin immediately 

Aug.30, 1939: Ribbentrop told the British ambassador Germany had 16 demands to present to the Poles, but he said the issue was academic since Poland was unwilling to send a representative to arrive by midnight.



Per Cap
































German and Allied Naval Forces

Great Britain



Battle Cruisers


Pocket Battleships


Aircraft Carriers









German and Allied Air Forces

Great Britain



Dive Bombers


Attack Planes




Observation Planes


Total Planes


Aug.31, 1939: Germany announced it considered its demands rejected by Poland: "The Führer and the German Government have now waited for two days in vain for the arrival of an authorized Polish delegate."

Sept. 1, 1939: German forces slammed into Poland from Silesia, East Prussia, and Slovakia, 1,500,000 men (52 divisions) against a Polish army a third that size. Britain and France notified Germany that unless all military action ceased, they would have to come to Poland's aid. Britain and France ordered total mobilization. Danzig was proclaimed to be a part of Germany by Gauleiter Forster. Italy proclaimed its nonbelligerent status. Norway, Switzerland, and Finland declared their neutrality. Russia mobilized and lowered its draft age from 21 to 19.

Sept. 2, 1939: Poland called on France and Britain to begin military action against Germany as soon as possible. France declared it would fulfill its obligations to Poland.

Sept. 3, 1939: Ten British bomber squadrons began deploying to France. France and Britain issued an ultimatum to Germany demanding the immediate withdrawal of the German forces in Poland. German pincers movements began to meet. Czestochowa fell, and the German Tenth Army crossed the Warta River. The Polish air force ceased to exist as an effective fighting element.

Britain announced a blockade of Germany. Churchill became first lord of the Admiralty. British Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft dropped six million leaflets on cities in northern Germany and the Ruhr, the first of the propaganda raids. Britain completed the three-day evacuation of 1,500,000 civilians from the larger cities to the country.

Sept. 4, 1939: The Polish Army of Poznan was threatened with encirclement. Government officials were told to prepare to evacuate Warsaw.

Sept. 5, 1939: German Tenth and Fourteenth army units crossed the Vistula River and occupied Krakow, which the Poles abandoned to avoid entrapment. Hitler visited the front. So far, the German military had lost 150 men killed and 700 wounded in the Polish campaign. Polish rear guards and armed civilians offered determined resistance at Bydgoszcz before yielding. The invaders found hundreds of German residents of the city massacred by the fleeing Poles. Hitler used these instances of such documented atrocities to justify the invasion 

Sept. 6, 1939: German troops reached the Warsaw suburb of Ochota but were turned back. Kielce was captured.

Sept.7, 1939: Defenders in the Polish enclave of Westerplatte in Danzig surrendered.

Sept. 8, 1939: Sixty thousand Polish soldiers were encircled west of Radom. The German 4th Panzer Division smashed its way to the outskirts of Warsaw. Polish units counterattacked near Kutno on the Bzura River, the beginning of a week of bitter fighting. The attack on Warsaw was temporarily delayed.

Sept. 9, 1939: Molotov prematurely congratulated Berlin on the "entry of German troops into Warsaw" and promised Soviet intervention "within the next few days." Ribbentrop had invited the Russians to advance to their new common frontier, the Narew, Vistula, and San rivers. 

Sept.10, 1939: The main body of British forces began moving to France under the command of Lord Gort.

Sept.11, 1939: German ground troops forced their way across the San River line in Poland. The Polish force at Radom was destroyed and 60,000 men captured.

Sept.12, 1939: Polish units pushed the Germans back 12 miles south of Kutno. Lowicz was recaptured. Gdynia was evacuated.

Sept.14, 1939: German forces from Fast Prussia broke into the open when they crossed the Narew River near Modlin and swept around Warsaw to begin encirclement of the Polish capital. Lwow was cut off completely by the Germans. Ukrainians, residents of Poland, began an uprising in Lwow and Stanislawow (Ivano-Frankovsk), attacking small Polish army units 

Sept.15, 1939: German troops closed in on the encircled Polish Poznan Army at Kutno. Brest-Litovsk, 120 miles east of Warsaw, was surrounded. Warsaw's military commander (Major General Juliusz Rommel of the Polish army) refused to discuss a surrender proposal from the Germans.

On the same day, anxious to secure its eastern flank, Moscow concluded a cease-fire agreement with Japan, ending the border warfare along the Mongolian-Manchurian border. Tokyo was equally disposed to settle the problem, having suffered fierce Soviet reaction to the frequent forays of the Kwantung Army.

Sept.17, 1939: Russia invaded Poland. The Red Army struck across Poland's thousand-mile long eastern border with an estimated 40 divisions. Poland had only 25 Frontier Corps battalions left in the east. Nevertheless, the Russians were hard pressed to reach their prearranged line dividing Poland with the Germans because of the swiftness of the German advances. By this time Poland had lost all defensive strength it possessed, and the Russian march westward went almost unchallenged.

Forty thousand Polish military prisoners were taken at Kutno. Brest-Litovsk was captured by the Germans after a bitter three-day battle. German armies were given a stop line because of the Russian moves in the east. Warsaw was totally isolated as converging German forces met at Siedlce. Stragglers from the Polish government crossed into Rumania. 

Sept.18, 1939: German and Russian troops joined up in Poland, and the two governments quickly implemented plans to divide Poland along the Brest-Litovsk line.Meanwhile, the German Third and Tenth armies began attacking Warsaw.

Sept.19, 1939: Hitler told Britain and France the war could be concluded on the basis of Germany's territorial gains, or it would be fought to its conclusion. He said, "This Germany does not capitulate. We know too well what fate would be in store for Germany. . . . We are determined to carry on and stand this war one way or another.

About 30,000 Polish troops reached Warsaw after fighting their way out of Kutno. German bombers began a continuing assault on Warsaw, initially striking at utilities and other essential public facilities.

Sept.20, 1939: Replying to Hitler, Britain and France vowed to keep fighting. They declared the Allies "will not permit a Hitler victory to condemn the world to slavery and to ruin all moral values and destroy liberty." These were nice words, but no military actions were undertaken 

Sept.22, 1939: Lwow and Bialystok in Poland were taken by the Russians. Hitler visited the front, observing the shelling of Warsaw's suburb of Praga.

The Red Army has captured by now more than 250,000 Prisoners of War, including 15,000 officers. The latter are concentrated in two large camps in the Katryn Forest in Eastern Poland. Over the next few weeks all the officers will be systematically killed and buried in mass graves.

Sept.23, 1939: Berlin announced that all organized fighting in Poland had ended: "The Polish Army of a million men has been defeated, captured, or routed. No single Polish active or reserve division, none of their independent brigades, etc., escaped this fate. Only fractions of individual groups were able to avoid immediate destruction by fleeing into the swamps of Eastern Poland. They succumbed there to Soviet Russian troops. Of the entire Polish army only an insignificant remainder still is fighting at hopeless positions in Warsaw, in Modlin, and on the Peninsula of Hela."

Sept.25, 1939: Warsaw was subjected to murderous aerial bombardment as wave after wave of Luftwaffe planes attacked the now defenseless city. 

Sept. 27, 1939 Warsaw surrendered. More than 140,000 Polish troops laid down their arms. The siege had resulted in the deaths of 2,000 Polish soldiers and 10,000 civilians. An eighth of the city's buildings were destroyed.

On the same day, emboldened by what he considered spectacular success, Hitler told his military commanders that he had decided "to attack in the West as soon as possible since the Franco-British Army is not yet prepared." He set Nov.12 as the tentative attack date.

Sept.28, 1939: Under threat of invasion, Estonia signed a 10-year mutual assistance pact, with the Soviet Union, conceding the Soviets military rights and access to raw materials. (Moscow was to sign similar pacts with Latvia on Oct. 5 and Lithuania on the 10th, completing Soviet hegemony over the Baltic states.)

Sept.29, 1939: Germany and the Soviet Union formally divided Poland, giving the Germans control over the area generally west of the Bug River. Germany got nearly 73,000 square miles of Polish territory, Russia, 78,000. The Russians were permitted to include all of Lithuania in their sphere of influence. An economic agreement was also signed and Moscow promised the Germans the entire oil output of the Dohowicz fields. Stalin had achieved his gains with a loss of only 737.

Oct. 1-2, 1939: RAF planes flew over Berlin for the first time, dropping leaflets.

Oct. 3, 1939: The German Tenth Army was pulled out of Poland and rushed to the western front.

Oct. 5, 1939: Having digested the Baltic States, the Soviet Union invited Finland to begin discussions on territorial adjustments.

The last of the Polish troops surrender.In all, about 694,000 Poles out of an 800,000-man force were captured by the Germans. The remainder were killed, captured, or fled to Rumania and Hungary. German army losses in the campaign were 13,111 killed and missing and 27,278 wounded.

Oct. 6, 1939: Hitler delivered a Reichstag speech in which he indicated Germany was now content with its conquests and would agree to peace with the Allies: "Germany has no further claims against France. . . . nowhere have I ever acted contrary to British interest."

Oct. 9, 1939: Hitler issued a formal directive to put the German army on the offensive in the wes through Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland. Hitler said the neutrality of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland was to be assumed.

Oct.11, 1939: Finnish delegates met with the Russians in Moscow on demands for Soviet military bases in Finland.

Oct.12, 1939: Britain rejected Hitler's peace overtures. Russia presented its official demands to Finland, an exchange of territory (2,123 square miles of Russian for 1,042 Finnish) and military bases designed to secure "the safety of Leningrad" and assurances that "Finland will maintain firm, friendly relations with the Soviet Union." Leningrad was 20 miles from the frontier.

Oct.14, 1939: Finland offered counterproposals to the Soviets, which Moscow rejected.

Oct.18, 1939: The president of Finland met with the kings of the Scandinavian nations to consider the threat resulting from the Soviet military demands on the Finns.

Oct.27, 1939: Hitler again commanded his generals to prepare for the western offensive.

Oct.31, 1939: Molotov-in a speech before the Supreme Soviet-asserted the Russians had a right and duty to adopt strong measures to insure their security and again demanded territorial concessions from Finland.

Nov. 5, 1939: Hitler again sets Nov. 12 for the attack on France and the Low Countries.

Nov. 7, 1939: Prompted by the German military leaders' insistence that their armed forces were not ready, Hitler delayed the start of the western offensive, the first of many such postponements.

Nov. 8-9, 1939: Hitler escaped an assassination attempt. He had left a Munich beer hall 20 minutes before a bomb, concealed in a supporting pillar, exploded.

Nov.13, 1939: Negotiations between Finland and Russia were terminated. Stalin ordered plans for an immediate war against Finland.

Nov.26, 1939: Russia charged that Finland had launched artillery barrages on Soviet territory.

Nov.27, 1939: Finland denied any shelling of Russian territory and said the firing observed the day before near the village of Mainila actually came from the Soviet side of the frontier.

Nov.29, 1939: Russia broke off diplomatic relations with Finland, claiming Finnish troops were continuing attacks on Russian units on the Karelian Isthmus and other points along their frontier.

Nov.30, 1939: Russia invaded Finland, launching the Winter War. Red Army forces struck across the border on three fronts. Moscow assumed the action would be the simple military disposition of the "Finnish Problem," and would be completed in 12 days or less. The Russians encountered difficulties from the very beginning and the war revealed serious deficiencies in the Red Army's leadership, equipment, and morale. Four Soviet Armies, 600,000 men, were involved in the attack from Petsamo in the extreme north to a point 800 miles south. The Finnish army consisted of about 150,000 men.

Dec. 3, 1939: Finland sought intervention by the League of Nations in the war with Russia.

Dec. 5, 1939: Russia rejected League proposals to settle the war with Finland. Moscow claimed it was no longer at warsince it had concluded a "peace" with a newly created puppet state, The People's Republic of Finland.

Dec.10, 1939: Finland issued a general appeal for aid, stating it had been attacked by Russia "without the slightest cause." The U.S. granted Finland $10 million credit for agricultural supplies, a gesture largely due to Finland's unique payment of war debts to the United States.

Dec.11, 1939: Finland asked for concrete aid, "not merely words of encouragement," from the League of Nations.

Dec.12, 1939: Russia turned down a League appeal for a cease-fire and mediation on Finland.

Dec.14, 1939: Hitler ordered the German High Command to "investigate how one can take possession of Norway." On the same day, the League of Nations expelled Russia after branding her an aggressor in violation of treaties with Finland, the League Covenant, and the Pact of Paris. Never before had such action been taken against a League member.

Dec.22, 1939: The Finns launched an unexpected major counterattack against the Russians.

Dec.29, 1939: Finnish forces administered a resounding defeat to the Russians at Suommusalmi.

Dec.30, 1939: China's revivified air force was dealt a crushing defeat over Liuchow. Forty Chinese fighters challenged 13 Japanese Type-96 planes. In the ensuing air battle 14 of the Chinese planes were shot down without a Japanese loss.

Jan. 2, 1940: Soviet forces launched major offensive actions against Finnish positions on the Karelian Isthmus.

Jan. 8, 1940: The Finns scored a major victory on the Karelian front, wiping out the entire Russian 44th Division.

Jan.20, 1940: Hitler informed his military leaders the inva sion of France and the Low Countries would have to be postponed at least until March.

Feb. 5, 1940: Britain and France decided to send military aid to Finland.

Feb.11, 1940: In tense fighting developed between the Russians and Finns on the Karelian front as the Red Army launched what was to become the decisive assault on the Mannerheim line. About 140,000 Russians attacked on a 12-mile front, a massive concentration of seven men each yard.

Feb.12, 1940: The Finnish cabinet authorized moves to end the war against the Russians. It became apparent the Karelian defense line would not hold.

Feb.16, 1940: British raiders freed naval prisoners of war in Norwegian waters in the Altmark episode. Altmark was one of the German ships most sought after by the Royal Navy at this time. To the British it was a prison ship, for Altmark was known to have aboard hundreds of merchant seamen rescued from the nine ships destroyed by the Graf Spee. After a hemispheric search the Altmark was located at Trondheim, Norway, a neutral port. The British destroyer Cossack followed her out of Trondheim on the morning of the 16th when Altmark tried to break out, but she sought refuge in the Jössing Fjord on the southwest tip of Norway when pursued. Cossack entered the fjord with five other men-of-war and demanded release of the prisoners. The Ger mans refused, and the Norwegian authorities insisted Altmark was unarmed and had been searched. Captain Philip Vian order British marines to board and the Germans were overpowered after a brief skirmish. The British found&emdash;and freed&emdash;299 British prisoners and quickly steamed to Britain, leaving Altmark intact. Hitler concluded the incident was proof the British would not respect Norwegian neutrality and ordered accelerated planning for the occupation of Norway.

Feb.20, 1940: Moscow offered new peace terms to Finland.

Feb.22, 1940: Russian forces gained control of the islands in the Gulf of Finland.

Feb.23, 1940: Helsinki requested Sweden and Norway to grant transit rights for foreign troops to enter Finland. Two days later, they refuse the request.

March 2, 1940: France and Britain formally requested Swedish and Norwegian approval to send Allied troops to Finland through the Scandinavian countries. (Units were to begin arriving by the 20th, a force of 50,000 French "volunteers" and 150 aircraft and Britain planned to send a force of 100,000 men.) The request was rejected. Paris and London were primarily interested in occupying the Swedish iron ore fields and denying their strategic output to Germany.

March 5, 1940: Finland agreed to discuss Soviet proposals for ending the war.

March 9, 1940: Britain and France told the Finns troops and planes would be sent to fight the Russians if Helsinki would request such aid. On the same day, Admiral Raeder told Hitler the British and French might occupy Norway and Sweden under the pretext of aiding the Finns and encouraged an invasion of Norway at the earliest time.

March 12, 1940: The Russo-Finnish war ended with an agreement signed in Moscow. Russia got an area of about 16,000 square miles, including the Karelian Isthmus, the naval base at Hangö, and the city of Vupuri. Two hundred thousand Finns in the ceded areas were to be sent to Finland. The campaign cost Russia a dear price. More than 68,000 men were killed in action, and 1,600 tanks and 700 aircraft were lost. Finland suffered 24,923 military dead.

March 19, 1940: Chamberlain defended Britain's lack of assistance to Finland. He said "It was fear of Germany which prevented Norway and Sweden from giving us permission to pass our troops through their countries, the fear of Germany which prevented her (Finland) from making her appeal to us for help."

March 20, 1940: Daladier resigned as French premier and was succeeded by Paul Reynaud, who promised a vigorous prosecution of the war. He wanted it to be fought in Norway!

March 28, 1940: The Supreme War Council of the Allies agreed neither France nor Britain would enter into separate peace arrangements. A study was ordered "for the bombing of the Russian oil area of the Caucasus,"&emdash;a reflection of concern that the Germans would be fueled by Soviet oil. The council also ordered the mining of Norwegian waters.

March 30, 1940: A pro-Japanese government for all of China was proclaimed in Nanking to be headed by Wang Ching-wei. Tokyo stated, "A renascent China has just set out on the road to progress; a new defence is about to commence in East Asia." The U.S. refused to recognize the Japanese puppet Chinese government: "In the light of what has been happening in various parts of China since 1931, the setting up of a new regime at Nanking has the appearance of a further step in a program of one country by armed force to impose its will upon a neighboring country and to block off a large area of the world from normal political and economic relationships with the rest of the world."

April 7, 1940: A British military force departs from Scapa Flow with the goal of occupying Norwigian ports.

April 8, 1940: British and French ships mined the waters of neutral Norway because "Germany obtains from Norway facilities which place the Allies at a dangerous disadvantage." The Norwegian government protested. The Polish submarine Orzel sank the German troop transport Rio de Janeiro, one of the invasion-fleet ships, off the south coast of Norway. A few of the troops survived, reached shore, and told the Norwegians they were bound for Narvik to help fight the British. German secrecy was preserved, because Oslo was more afraid of British action against her independence.

April 9, 1939: Germany invaded Denmark and Norway. In a swift series of land, sea, and air strikes, Germany extended the war. Denmark submitted to Germany under protests, but its military forces were directed to offer no resistance. About 10,000 German troops&emdash;hidden aboard merchant vessels&emdash;stormed ashore at Oslo, Bergen, Kristiansand, Trondheim, and Narvik, while paratroopers seized the airfields of Oslo and Stavanger. The invasion caught the Norwegians completely by surprise, but the King vowed to fight, escaping north with a small contigent of the Nowegian army.. Denmark's government capitulated when German forces gained all their objectives within four hours. Resistance was almost nonexistent. The Danish army suffered 13 dead and 23 wounded. German casualties were 20. Copenhagen authorities issued the following statement by afternoon

Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov told the German amabassador in Moscow, "We wish Germany complete success in her defensive measures [against Norway and Denmarkj."

April 10, 1940: The First Battle of Narvik was fought off the Norwegian coast. German and British naval forces suffered equally in this initial full-scale duel, but the commander of the British expedition is killed while withdrawing his destroyers.

April 11, 1940: King Haakon called on all Norwegians to resist the Germans.

April 11-13, 1940: In the Second Battle of Narvik, ten British warships-led by the battleship War- spite-sank seven German destroyers.

April 18, 1940: German forces pressed their advances in Norway, breaking out of the Oslo area and advancing toward Hamar to the north.

April 19, 1939: Two thousand French mountain troops landed in central Norway, but the operation was a logisitics nightmare. The units operated without most of their heavy weapons and equipment.

April 24, 1939: Germany assumed administrative control over occupied Norway after King Haakon refused to negotiate with the invasion force. British and French forces failed in a drive to advance toward Trondheim.

April 26, 1940: Under increasing German pressure, Allied units in northern Norway began retreat ing.

April 27, 1940: Himmler issued orders for the construction of a concentration camp at Auschwitz in occupied Poland.

April 30, 1940: German units advancing northward from Oslo linked up with the Germans fighting around Trondheim. The important rail center of Dombas was captured.

May 1, 1940: The Norwegian force at Lillehammer surre dered.

Japanese forces resumed offensive operations in China, with broad attacks in western Hupei Province aimed at extending control over the entire Yangtze River and adding to the pressures on Chungking, the seat of Chiang Kai-shek's government.

May 3, 1940: All British troops in central and southern Norway were evacuated, leaving only a small force at Narvik.

May 5, 1940: German troops began pressing north from Trondheim, while the 13th Demi-Brigade of the French Foreign Legion landed at Narvik.

May 8, 1940: Marshal Timoshenko was named Soviet defense commissar initiating broad reforms of the military command structure.

May 9, 1940: Mussolini made his final decision to bring Italy into the war. It was a personal choice, made without consultation or comment from his staff or advisers.

May 10, 1940: Germany invaded the Low Countries. Claiming the British and French were preparing to attack Germany through Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, the Germans marched into the countries which had repeatedly stated their desire to remain neutral. The invasion was aimed primarily at France and a quick knockout blow at the Allied forces in the west.

Chamberlain resigned and Winston Churchill became Britain's new prime minister.

May 11, 1940: German troops advanced rapidly into the Low Countries, easily reaching one of their key initial objectives-the Albert Canal. Belgian units had failed to demolish many important bridges in their hurried retreat, facilitating the German armor and infantry advance. Fort Eben Emael fell to a small paratroop detachment. It was one of the supposedly solid outer defense points to protect Liege.

May 11-12, 1940: The German city of Moünchengladbach, near Düsseldorf, was attacked by 18 Whitley and 18 Hampden bombers of the RAF. The night raid was directed against roads and rail facilities and was considered the first major attack by either side against a "population center." Three of the RAF bombers were lost.

May 12, 1940: General Heinz Guderian's XIX Panzer Corps, breaking through the Ardennes forest, reached the Meuse River.

May 13, 1940: Churchill declared in the House of Commons that Britain would prosecute the war at all costs, "for without victory there is no survival." But he added, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat."

German paratroopers landed in northeast France. Liege fell. The 7th Panzer division under General Erwin Rommel crossed the Meuse River at Huy, driving a wedge into the thinly held front of the French Ninth Army. General George-Hans Reinhardt's XLI Panzer Corps crossed the Meuse at Monthermé against feeble Ninth Army resistance. Guderian's XIX Panzer Corps established bridgeheads south of the Meuse at Sedan, overpowering the French 55th and 71st divisions, which fell back in panic. Meanwhile in the North, Dutch fortifications were outflanked by the rapidly advancing Germans.

May 14, 1940: The government of the Netherlands fled to Britain, saying it "wanted to prevent ever being placed in such a position that it would have to capitulate." All Dutch resistance in the Netherlands ceased. German Stuka bombers attacked Rotterdam in a brutal raid, the most devastating until then, killing 980 people and destroying 20,000 buildings.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to stop the German troops from concentrating in the Sedan bridgehead, the RAF suffered it greatest losses ever, when 45 Battles and Blenheims out of a force of 109 planes were shot down. Simultaneously French attempts to counterattack near Sedan broke down in confusion. Guderian's tanks smashed through the French defenses and wheeled to the west thus isolating the Allied forces in Belgium.

May 15, 1940: In a disastrous climax to a futile three days of combat, the RAF lost more of its French- based bombers, bringing the total to 100. Half the force was lost in 72 hours.

Churchill wrote his first message to Roosevelt as prime minister outlining his "immediate needs from the U.S., a loan of up to 50 older destroyers, several hundred late-model aircraft, antiaircraft guns and ammunition, steel, a 'prolonged' visit to Irish ports by U.S. Navy ships, and American use of Singapore 'in any way convenient' to 'keep the Japanese quiet in the Pacific.'

May 15-16, 1940: The largest raid thus far in the RAF's strategic air offensive was launched against oil and steel facilities in the Ruhr. A total of 99 bombers was involved but results were negligible.

May 16, 1940: British forces began retreating west of Brussels in an attempt to avoid entrapment.

May 18, 1940: German forces in Belgium broke through toward the coast, capturing Antwerp. In France, they reached Amiens. A fifty-mile-wide gap in the French line was quickly flooded with the advancing Germans who moved 45,000 vehicles in columns at a rate of 30 miles a day. Cambrai and St.-Quentin were captured.

May 19, 1940: General Maxime Weygand was designated commander-in-chief of Allied forces, replacing Gamelin. The French 4th Armored Division under General Charles de Gaulle launched a counteroffensive against the German flank at Laon but was beaten back..

May 20, 1940: General Paul von Kleist's panzers reached the English Channel west of Abbeville in France, cutting off all Allied forces to the north.

May 21, 1940: Rommel's 7th Division halted a counterthrust by the British Expeditionary Force south of Arras designed to isolate Guderian's Panzer Corps to the west. The Allies were now forced to retreat westward to the Lys River. No further major offensive action was initiated by Allied forces.

May 23, 1940: Boulogne, Amiens, and Arras were occupied by the Germans.

May 24, 1940: Hitler ordered German armored units to halt their advance up the English Channel, and concentrate instead Southward toward Paris. If the panzers had continued they would have wiped out the Allied troops caught in ever- smaller pockets. Hitler overruled his commanders on the scene because he was sticking to the original plan of a southward thrust after the breakthrough to the English Channel. The largest concentration, about 380,000 Allied troops, were encircled by German forces around Dunkirk. They were trapped in an area of about 60 square miles, but the main German movement now was away from Dunkirk.

May 26, 1940: The evacuation of Allied troops at Dunkirk began. A hastily assembled fleet of 861 ships and boats began pulling what was left of the trapped Allied armies off the beaches of Dunkirk. In a week, 224,585 Britis~ and 112,546 French and Belgians were taken to safety. About 40,000 Frenchmen were left behind. A total of 231 of the rescue vessels were sunk, mostly by the Luftwaffe, but German air strikes were restricted by bad weather and the tenacious fighters of the RAF. For all the glory that accompanied the gallant retreat, Dunkirk represented the nadir of the war for Britain.

Late on this day, after a crucial two-day delay, Hitler ordered German troops to attack Dunkirk, but the main force could not be organized until the following day. "By then," said General Guderiari, "it was too late to achieve a great victory."

May 27, 1940: The port of Calais on the English Channel&emdash;a mere 26 miles from Dover, England&emdash;fell to the Germans after determined resistance by the trapped Allied defenders.

May 27-30, 1940: RAF fighters fought off German planes attempting to impede the Allied evacuation from Dunkirk. The British downed 179 Luftwaffe aircraft while losing only 29. No German ships appear in the area.

May 28, 1940: The Belgian army of nearly a half- million men surrendered under orders from King Leopold III, but the government (which had moved to France) repudiated the action. Leopold was ordered deposed.

May 29, 1940: Germany occupied Ypres, Ostend, and Lille.

May 30, 1940: Mussolini informed Hitler that Italy would enter the war against France within ten days.

June 3, 1940: German forces renewed their assault on the Maginot line. Paris was bombed by German aircraft.

June 4, 1940: The Dunkirk evacuation was completed. British aircraft losses during the operation totaled 180. Nine British and six French ships were sunk or severely damaged. When the last boat had left, the British had left behind 11,000 machine guns, 1,200 artillery pieces, 1,250 antiaircraft and anti-tank guns, 6,400 antitank rifles, and 75,000 vehicles.This afternoon, Churchill told the House of Commons: "We shall not flag or fail. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing ground, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender."

June 5, 1940: German forces launched their attack on France proper. The French now possessed only 37 divisions, and as General Weygand said, they were nothing but "a line of troops without depth or organization." German troops occupied Dunkirk.

June 7, 1940: The Norwegian government fled to Britain and established an administration "ri exile." British and French troops began withdrawing from Narvik. German casualties in the Norwegian campaign were 1,317 killed, 1,604 wounded, and 2,375 missing or lost at sea. The Allied dead included 4,400 British, 1,335 Norwegian, and 530 French and Polish.

June 8, 1940: While aiding in the evacuation of Narvik, the British aircraft carrier Glorious was sunk by the German warships Scharnhorst, Gnciscnau, and Hipper. Inexplicably, the planes on Glorious were not flying scouting missions, and the ship was caught totally surprised by the attack. Two destroyers accompanying Glorious were also lost. Of the 1,561 men aboard the three stricken British ships, only 46 survived.

June 9, 1940: The French Tenth Army was encircled as a panzer division crossed the Somme River and pressed westward. German infantry pushed across the Oise River east of Paris and established bridgeheads for panzers to charge through to the Marne. German Army Group A launched its offensive to break through to the south over the Aisne. Here, French resistance was determined.

June 10, 1940: Italy entered the war. Italian forces invaded France and declared war on France and Britain. Mussolini announced: "We take the field against the plutocratic and reactionary democracies who always have blocked the march and frequently plotted against the existence of the Italian people. . . . We want to break the territorial and military chains that confine us in our sea, because a country of 45 million souls is not truly free if it has not free access to the ocean." Italy was ill-equipped to enter the war. Its army was halted at the border town of Menton, leading Mussolini to delare, "It is the material I need. Even Michelangelo had need of marble to make statues. If he had only clay, he would have become a potter."). President Roosevelt referred to the Italian invasion of France as '. . . the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor."

Three Japanese divisions attacked the Yangtze River port of Ichang, between Hankow and Chungking. The Chinese defenders fell back into the city itself after the Japanese quickly advanced to within five miles of it.

June 11, 1940: Panzer units under Kleist and Guderian smashed through Champagne and drove toward Troyes and St. Dizier. The French pulled back across the Marne at Soissons. Premier Reynaud asked Churchill to release France from its pledge not to sign a separate peace arrangement. Churchill rejected the request.

June 12, 1940: Churchill conferred with Reynaud and Weygand in France. German units advanced to within 12 miles of Paris. Reims and Rouen were occupied by the Germans. The British 51st Highland Division was trapped at St. Valery.

June 13, 1940: Paris was declared an open city. From a chateau in the Loire valley, Reynaud appealed to President Roosevelt to send "clouds of war planes ... to crush the evil force that dominates Europe." Vice-Premier Marshall Philippe Petain told the cabinet, "An armistice is, in my view, the necessary condition for the survival of eternal France."

June 14, 1940: German troops marched into Paris. The Maginot line was breached by the German First Army south of Saarbrucken. With air and artillery support, the Germans easily cracked the supposedly impregnable line, mostly by blind- side attacks with flame throwers and grenades.

The pro-Japanese Nanking government of China demanded the withdrawal of all British, French, and Italian troops from China "in order to maintain peace and order and protect the lives and property of the Chinese in the areas conccerned."

Prompted by the Italian declaration of war on England, British desert forces surprised and routed the Italian garrison at Fort Capuzzo, an important frontier outpost just inside the Libyan border. Outnumbered overall in North Africa, however, the British chose to abandon the fort and retain mobility.

June 15, 1940: Verdun-the French city which had been defended so valiantly by Allied troops in World War I-was captured by the Germans. French forces began pulling out of the Maginot line.

June 16, 1940: In a desperate bid to bolster France, Churchill's cabinet offered a union of their empires. Reynaud resigned as premier-because he refused to issue a cease-fire order-and was succeeded by Marshal Petain. German forces reached the Swiss border at Pontarlier.

June 16-17, 1940: At midnight, the last constitutional government of the Third Republic was formed at Bordeaux for the purpose of negotiating an end to the war. Reynaud proposed Petain as his successor, and President Albert Lebrun agreed.

June 17, 1940: France sued for peace. Petain asked the Germans for armistice terms but indicated peace with honor" was an essential condition. In a speech over French radio shortly after noon, Petain said, "With a heavy heart, I tell you today that it is necessary to stop the fighting."

German forces poured through the Maginot line and reached Belfort. French units in Alsace and Lorraine were completely enveloped by panzer units.

Britain announced it would carry on the fight against Germany alone: "What has happened in France makes no difference to British faith and purpose. We have become the sole champions now in arms to defend the world cause."

Moscow announced that Estonia and Latvia, like Lithuania, was under Soviet domination. Russian troops would have free rights of passage and new friendly governments would be formed. The pretext was that the Baltic states were planning joint military defense measures against Russia, and Moscow "considers that such a situation cannot be tolerated any longer." Russian troops immediately moved to occupy the two countries.

Two Chinese army corps counterattacked in the Ichang area and reentered the ancient city which had been abandoned the week before. Japanese losses were heavy, but the Chinese decided to pull out again. In six weeks of fighting in Hupei Province the Japanese had suffered about 20,000 casualties, to 50,000 for the Chinese. Another lull in the fighting now developed.

June 18, 1940: General de Gaulle, who had been Secretary for War in the last French Government, broadcasting from London to which he had fled, and called on Frenchmen to join him in continuing the fight: "He assured his audience: "France has lost a battle. But France has not lost the war."

On the same day, Churchill delivered his memorable speech: "Let us brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say, 'This was their finest hour'."

June 19, 1940: Lyon fell to the Germans. General de Gaulle called on Frenchmen in France's colonies and possessions abroad to continue the fight:

Tokyo announced it would object to any change in the status of French Indochina because of Japan's geographic proximity and special economic interests in the Asian colony.

June 20, 1940: A Japanese military mission arrived in Vietnam with the permission of French authorities in Indochina. The area of Tonkin&emdash;adjacent to China&emdash;was opened to Japanese military control. At the same time Tokyo called for an embargo on all arms shipments to China from French Indochina.

June 21, 1940: France surrendered to Germany. The agreement was signed at Compiegne in the same railway car in which Germany had surrendered 22 years before. Hitler personally witnessed the humiliation of the French. He now expected an early end to the conflict. He told Jodl, "The British have lost the war, but they don't know it. One must give them time, and they will come round."

Prince Konoye formed a new Japanese cabinet with General Hideki Tojo as minister of war.

June 22, 1940: Polish officials and remnants of the Polish army which had fought in France sailed for England from St.-Jean-de-Luz aboard the Polish liner Batory, the last ship to escape from France. In it are also the Polish cryptologists and their machines which were reading the top secret German messages.

June 23, 1940: Laval was named vice premier of France. Weygand formally ousted de Gaulle from the government.

Casualties of the Blitzkrieg in France and the Low Countries

German Casualties
Allied Casualties













(Total British casualties - 68,111)

(Total Belgian casualties - 23,350)

(Total Dutch casualties - 9,779)


Luftwaffe 1,284

RAF 931 (477 fighters)

French 560 (225 on the ground)

The total German losses was remarkably low, less than 1/3 of the number of men killed in the Battle of Verdun in 1916.

June 24, 1940: German troops advanced at will along the entire French Atlantic coast area. Admiral Jean Darlan ordered all French naval captains to keep their ships from falling under German control. French troops holding out in the Vosges Mountains laid down their arms. The surrender at Le Donon netted the Germans 22,000 prisoners.

The new Petain government declared it would remain in France and exercise domestic control: It settled on the spa-resort town of Vichy as its headquarters.

France yielded control of its sector in Shanghai to the Japanese.Tokyo called on the British to halt the shipment of war goods to China through Burma and Hong Kong.

June 25, 1940: All fighting ended in France.

Churchill said Britain had agreed to the French armistice but only on condition the "French fleet is dispatched to British ports and remains there while the negotiations are conducted." But, Churchill stated, the French had agreed that French warships, except those needed to protect France's colonial interests, "shall be collected in ports to be specified and there demobilized and disarmed under German or Italian control."

June 26, 1940: Russia issued an ultimatum to Romania to cede Bessarabia and the Ukrainian-majority area of Bukovina to the Soviet Union within 48 hours,

On the same day, Hitler urged Mussolini to launch an offensive from Libya toward the Suez Canal. "Any such strike," he said, "would be a great gain." The Italians had a 215,000-man force in Libya, while the British had only 36,000 troops in Egypt, plus a 30,000-man Egyptian army which was not trained for combat. British Middle East forces were also faced with a severe supply problem. With the Mediterranean insecure at best, ships had to haul war goods 12,000 miles from Britain to Egypt around the Cape of Good Hope, a six-week trip.

June 27, 1940: The French army commander in Syria accepted terms of the surrender to Germany. Allies fear that this important spot will soon be occupied by German troops.

June 28, 1940: Britain recognized the Free French government of de Gaulle.

The Germans told the French government that French naval ships would be interned in French- retained territory and would not have to proceed to Nazi-occupied bases. Without knowing this, the British organized a task force at Gibraltar to destroy the French ships if necessary to deny them to the Germans.

The Channel Islands were evacuated and demilitarized by the British.

June 29, 1940: Japan declared the South Seas as an area where it had a special interest, broadening its assumed sphere of influence. Foreign Minister Arita said, "The countries of East Asia and the regions of the South Seas are geographically, historically, racially, and economically very closely related. . . . The uniting of all those regions in a single sphere on a basis of common existence, insuring thereby the stability of that sphere, is a national conclusion."

June 30, 1940: The Channel Island of Guernsey was occupied by German forces.