1918
  November 11, 1918: World War I Armistice signed at Compiegne, France.1
1919
  GibraltarJune 28, 1919: Treaty of Versailles signed.1 At left, photo of "the Big 4" meeting in Paris to negotiate the Treaty: Lloyd George of Britain, Orlando of Italy,
Clemenceau of France, and Woodrow Wilson of the United States. Click on the photo for full view. Source: http://history.acusd.edu/gen/text/versaillestreaty/vercontents.html
1920
  January 16, 1920: League of Nations meets for the first time.1
1921
  July 19, 1921: Adolf Hitler assumes control of National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party.1
1922
  MussoliniOctober 29, 1922: Mussolini appointed Premier by King Victor Emmanuel III.1
1925
  January 3, 1925: Mussolini dismisses Italian parliament, begins to assume dictatorial powers.1
1925   Mein KampfJuly 18, 1925: Hitler's autobiography and political screed, Mein Kampf, is published.1
1931
  ManchuriaSeptember 18, 1931: Japan invades Manchuria.1
1932
  March 1, 1932: Japanese state of Manchuoko (formerly Chinese province of Manchuria) established under Manchu puppet Henry Pu Yi.2
1933
  January 30, 1933: Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg.1
    Japan leaves LeagueMarch 1933: Japan withdraws from League and Geneva Disarmament Conference.2
    October 14, 1933: Hitler withdraws from the League of Nations and the Geneva Disarmament conference. 2
1934
 

January 26, 1934: Hitler reveals Germany has a 10-year nonaggression pact with Poland.2

    Hitler postcardAugust 2, 1934: Hindenburg dies. Hitler becomes Supreme Commander of the armed forces. He's elected President August 19. 2
  December 5, 1934: A skirmish at Wal Wal (Ualval), Ethiopia, gives Mussolini a pretext for demanding compensation and preparing for war.2
1935
  SaionjiFebruary 1, 1935: "Saionji"Play movie
    February 23, 1935: Italy sends large forces to Ethiopia, with only mild protest by the Stresa Front.2
    HitlerMarch 8, 1935: "Germany" (Berchtesgaden, Bavaria!) Play movie
    March 1, 1935: The Saarland is officially reincorporated into Germany following the plebiscite vote Jan. 13 of 91 percent in favor.2
    March 1935: Hitler reveals his military programs to Europe.2
    StalinAnthony EdenMarch 29, 1935: Future British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden discusses Germany and the Stresa Conference with Stalin (left). Dapper Eden, right, was later featured on the cover of the April 4, 1938 Life magazine. Click on the photos for a larger view. Play audio
    April 5, 1935: What does Nazi Germany Want? Play audio
  April 11, 1935: England, France and Italy declare a Stresa Front to defend the boundary agreements of the Locarno Pact of 1925.2
    April 19, 1935: "Munitions" Play movie
    May 2, 1935: Franco-Russian alliance signed to defend against a resurgent Germany.2
    Navy war gamesMay 31, 1935: "Navy War Games" Play movie
    May 31, 1935: "Russia" Play movie
    June 18, 1935: The British government, led by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and Foreign Minister Samuel Hoare, sign the Anglo-German Naval Agreement to allow the German navy parity at 35 percent of the British navy.2
    August 16, 1935: "Army" Play movie
    August 26, 1935: Communist Deception Play audio
    August 26, 1935: Italian-Ethiopian Crisis Play audio
    August 27, 1935: The Soviet Response Play audio
    August 27, 1935: Mussolini's Son Play audio
    August 28, 1935: Marconi's Ray Gun Play audio
    August 31, 1935: Roosevelt signs first Neutrality Act.2
    Nazi flagSeptember 10, 1935: Annual Nazi party rally begins at Nuremberg; features first public display of the Wehrmacht; the announcement of the swastika as the nation's official symbol; and the announcement of the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws.2
    September 20, 1935: "Ethiopia" Play movie
    October 3, 1935: Italy invades Ethiopia; military leaders are authorized to use poison mustard gas and destroy civilian villages.2
    October 18, 1935: "Neutrality" Play movie
    October 18, 1935: "Palestine" Play movie
  December 13, 1935: "Japan-China" Play movie
1936
  January 7, 1936: "Pacific Islands " Play movie
    March 7, 1936: German troops begin reoccupation of the Rhineland.2
    TokyoMarch 13, 1936: "Tokyo, Japan" Play movie
    Veterans of Future WarsApril 17, 1936: "Veterans of Future Wars" Play movie
    April 17, 1936: Ethiopia Attacked/League Reactions Play audio
    May 7, 1936: Communist Flag Flies Above Supreme Court Play audio
    May 7, 1936: Learning the Fascist Salute Play audio
    May 11, 1936:
The Ethiopia Crisis
Play audio
Selassie Discusses Poison Gas Play audio
    May 12, 1936: Japanese Treatise on Conquering Britain Play audio
    GoebbelsMay 13, 1936: Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels criticizes Jews Play audio
    May 14, 1936: Future of the League Play audio
Where Now Is Our Victory?
Play audio
    May 14, 1936: A Glorious Adventure in Ethiopia Play audio
    May 15, 1936: League Sanctions Italy for Ethiopian Conflict Play audio
    May 15, 1936:
"League of Nations Union" Play movie
Hitler's ChildhoodPlay audio
   

April 24, 1936:
Britain's War Budget
Play audio
French Coal Miner Spy Play audio

    May 11, 1936: Hindenburg Swastika Play audio
    May 15, 1936: Two Rival Dictators in Austria Play audio
    FrancoJuly 1936: The Spanish Civil War begins when insurgents led by General Francisco Franco revolt against Spain's weak government in Madrid.3 Photo from www.rjgeib.com/heroes/unamuno/franco.html
    Hitler and MussoliniOctober 1936: Hitler and Mussolini sign the Rome-Berlin Axis Accord.3
    SelassieDecember 31, 1936: Last appearance of former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie before the League of Nations Play audio
  December 31, 1936: Church Bombed in Spain Play audio
1937
  January 1937: Hitler formally abrogates the Treaty of Versailles.3
    January 19, 1937: Japan withdraws from the Washington Conference Treaty limiting the size of its navy.1
    January 24, 1937: Goerings orders Heydrich to organize emigration of Jews still residing in Germany.3
   

January 27, 1937: Chancellor Hitler demands return of German colonies.3

    April 1937: German colored children are ordered sterilized.3
    Britain's Food DefensesApril 16, 1937: "Britain's Food Defenses" Play movie
  April 11, 1937: A new order from the German Ministry of the Interior deprives all Jews of municipal citizenship.3
    April 20, 1937: General Franco declares Spain a totalitarian state and assumes dictatorial power.3
    April 26, 1937: German warplanes from the Luftwaffe's Condor Legion destroy the Spanish (Basque) town of Guernica during what is described as the first air bombardment of an undefended town in history. More than 1,600 civilians are killed.3
    May 1, 1937: FDR signs the Permanent Neutrality Bill, which includes: mandatory arms embargo with belligerents; mandatory travel ban on belligerent ships; mandatory loan ban to belligerents; mandatory ban on arming of American merchant ships trading with belligerents; discretionary cash-and-carry for two years (plan to allow trade with belligerents in non-contraband goods if paid in cash and carried in foreign ships).2
    June 11, 1937: "Poland and War" Play movie
    Japanese soldiersJuly 7, 1937: A Chinese-Japanese military conflict at Marco Polo Bridge near Peking inaugurates Japan's all-out campaign to conquer China.3
    July 28, 1937: Japanese troops occupy the Chinese capital of Peking.3
    July 29, 1937: Peiping Play audio
    Rehearsal for WarAugust 6, 1937: "Rehearsal for War" Play movie
    August 26, 1937: British Embassy cars are attacked by the Japanese in China on August 26.3
    August 29, 1937: China and the Soviet Union sign a treaty of nonagression.3
    War in ChinaSeptember 10, 1937: "War in China" Play movie
    October 1, 1937: "Junk and War" Play movie
    October 21, 1937: 700 German bodies are shipped from Spain Play audio
    October 23-24, 1937: Following a pervasive anti-Semitic campaign, anti-Jewish riots break out in Danzig.3
    October 29, 1937: "Crisis In Algeria" Play movie
    November 3, 1937: The United States attends the Nine-Power Conference in Brussels on the Sino-Japanese dispute. Germany, Japan and Italy refuse to attend.3
    November 6, 1937: Italy joins the German-Japanese Anti-Comintern pact.3
    November 9, 1937: Japanese troops occupy Shanghai.3
    November 15, 1937: Nine-Power Conference adopts Anglo-Franco-American declaration chiding Japan as aggressor.3
    November 18, 1937: Remembering Armistice Day/Preparing for War Play audio
    November 18, 1937: Selassie's Poverty Play audio
    November 18, 1937: Last Surviving Japanese Naval Grad Play audio
    November 25, 1937: Nanking Attacked Play audio
    December 11, 1937: Italy withdraws from the League of Nations.3
    PanayDecember 12, 1937: U.S. gunboat Panay is attacked by Japanese planes on the Yangtze River.3
    December 13, 1937: Nanking falls—200,000 are killed
    December 30, 1937: Woman of the Year Play audio
  December 30, 1937:
Pope Blesses Spanish Rebellion
Play audio
Archbishop Pleads for Peace Play audio
1938
 

Kai-SheksJanuary 1938: Henry Luce makes Chiang Kai-Shek Time's "Man and Wife of the Year."2

    January 6, 1938: Sinking of the Panay (Ad) Play audio
    January 6, 1938: Rockefeller of China Assassinated/Chinese Plan Play audio
    January 6, 1938: Italian Babies Contest Play audio
    January 13, 1938: Radio War in Arab World Play audio
    Anti-Semitic signJanuary 21, 1938: "Inside Nazi Germany—1938" Play movie
    February 3, 1938: British Ship Sunk Off Spain Play audio
    February 10, 1938: Divisions Over Alliances Play audio
    February 10, 1938: A Navy Second to None Play audio
    February 17, 1938 (DATE?): Hitler Begins His Coup of Austria Play audio
    February 20, 1938: Hitler announces support for Japan.2
  NiemollerMarch 10, 1938: Church dissident Martin Niemöller arrested in Germany (photo from Simon Wiesenthal Center Multimedia Learning Center Online) Play audio
    AnschlussMarch 12, 1938: Hitler invades Austria. Anschluss (union) proclaimed.2
    March 17, 1938: Hitler Takes Austria—Is Czechoslovakia Next? Play audio
    March 18, 1938: "Arms and the League" Play movie
    March 24, 1938:
Bombs Hit Civilian Barcelona Play audio
Nazis in Austria
Play audio
Hitler in Austria Ad Play audio
    March 31, 1938:
Lost Chances with Col. House
Play audio
Spanish Loyalists' Desperation Play audio
    Hitler in AustriaApril 15, 1938: "Nazi Conquest—No. 1" Play movie
    May 1938: Vincon-Trammel Navel Expansion Act passes, including $1 billion expansion of two-ocean navy over 10 years, expansion of bases and ports, 69 new ships, and increase to 40,000 tons for carriers.3
    June 9, 1938: Civilian Casualties (Japanese Bombing Raids) Play audio
    GibraltarAugust 6, 1938: "Threat to Gibraltar" Play movie
    September 2, 1938: "Prelude to Conquest" Play movie
   
Chamberlain
Chamberlain
September 12-30, 1938: Munich Crisis, in which England, France, and Germany meet to decide Czechoslovakia's fate, with Mussolini moderating. The resulting Munich Pact allows Hitler to take over the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia; British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain states they have created "peace with honor."1&3
    September 16, 1938: The Sudeten Germans Rebel; read March of Time Script
    British DilemmaSeptember 30, 1938: "The British Dilemma" (left, Britons asleep at the wheel). Play movie
    Inside the Maginot LineOctober 28, 1938: "Inside the Maginot Line" Play movie
  November 10, 1938: Kristallnacht ("Night of the Broken Glass")—Anti-Jewish riots in Germany and Austria.3
    November 25, 1938: "Uncle Sam: The Good Neighbor" Play movie
  Thank you France--the refugeesDecember 23, 1938: "The Refugee—Today and Tomorrow" (photo from April 18, 1938 Life, p. 53; click for caption) Play movie
1939
  January 1939: Barcelona falls.2
    Boy ScoutsFebruary 1939: "Young America " Play movie
   

March 1939: Valencia and Madrid fall.2

    March 3, 1939: Tap Dancing for Hitler Play audio
    Children give fascist saluteMarch 1939: "The Mediterranean: Background for War" Play movie
    March 15, 1939: German troops seize the Moravia and Bohemia regions of Czechoslovakia.3
    March 17, 1939: Hitler Invades Czechoslovakia Play audio
    March 17, 1939: The Roosevelt administration issues a statement deploring the German takeover of Czechoslovakia as a threat to world peace.3
   

March 31, 1939: Prime Minister Chamberlain makes an official pledge of British defense of Poland, marking the end of appeasement.2

    Master of the OrientApril 1939: "Japan—Master of the Orient" Play movie
    April 1, 1939: The Spanish War ends as the Loyalists capitulate; the Nationalists control Spain. Roosevelt signs a proclamation ending the arms embargo against Spain.3
    May 22, 1939: The foreign ministers of Germany and Italy sign a military alliance, known as the Pact of Steel.3
   

June 8, 1939: The King and Queen of England arrive in Washington, D.C. They visit the New York World's Fair on June 10 and attend the "hot dog picnic" at Hyde Park on June 11.2

    BombproofJune 1939: "War, Peace, and Propaganda" Play movie
    August 23, 1939: Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact signed, including the secret section that divided Poland between Germany and the USSR.3
   

September 1, 1939: Germany invades Poland by "blitzkrieg."2

    September 3, 1939: England and France declare war on Germany.2
    September 3, 1939: Thirty Americans die when the British passenger ship Athenia is sunk by a submarine.3
    Hitler in AustriaSeptember 5, 1939: FDR declares neutrality and national emergency2
    September 17, 1939: Russia invades Poland, Baltics.3
    September 29, 1939: German-Russian treaty partitions Poland.2
    October 18, 1939: All U.S. ports and waters are closed to submarines by presidential order.3
    November 4, 1939: Roosevelt signs the Neutrality Act of 1939. It repealed the prohibition of arms exportation.3
    November 30, 1939: Soviet forces invade Finland. The outnumbered Finns sue for peace in March 1940.3
  December 14, 1939: The League of Nations expels the Soviet Union and asks League members to provide assistance to Finland.3
1940
  January 1940: Britain begins food rationing.3
    Auschwitz gateFebruary 1940: Germans begin the construction of Auschwitz. Photo from Simon Wiesenthal Center Multimedia Learning Center Online; it shows Auschwitz's gate, with the motto "Arbeit Macht Frei," or "work makes you free."3
    April 1940: Germany invades Norway and Denmark.3
    May 10, 1940: Germany invades The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.3 Winston Churchill is appointed British Prime Minister.1
    May 16, 1940: FDR's speech to Congress asks for new defense spending, enlarged Army, 50,000 planes; speech is applauded by Congress, public opinion favors defense program.2
    June 1940: Norway capitulates to Germany.1 Italy and Albania officially join the Axis. Italy declares war on France and Britain.3
   
Knox Stimson
Knox Stimson
June 20, 1940: FDR appoints former Republicans Henry Stimson as Secretary of the Army and Frank Knox as Secretary of Navy to counter isolationists. They joined Hull, Morgenthau, Hopkins as the "war cabinet"2 (Knox photo from www.history.navy.mil/photos/pers-us/uspers-k/f-knox.htm; Stimson photo from www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAstimson.htm).
    June 22, 1940: Fall of France
    July 1940: U.S. Gallup poll finds Americans more in favor of joining a war on the side of the Allies.3
    July 10, 1940: Three-month air war between Germany and Great Britain begins. The conflict ends October 30 after 57-day blitz on London. Brits lose 832 fighters, Germany loses 668 plus 600 bombers.2
    July 23, 1940: Soviet forces take Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.1
   

WWI soldier statueAugust 1940: March of Time's "Ramparts We Watch" is released

First 12 minutes of Ramparts Play movie The Lusitania Play movie
Horrors of War (World War I) Play movie At Home: Ready for War
Play movie
Entering War Play movie Baptism of Fire Play movie
ConclusionPlay movie  
    September 16, 1940: Military conscription introduced in the United States.1
    September 27, 1940: Japan, Germany, Italy sign Tripartite Pact.2
    October 1940: Germany invades Romania.3
    WillkieNovember 5, 1940: FDR defeats Willkie to win third term.2 (Photo from www.campaignbuttons-etc.com/willkie.htm).
    December 1940: Hitler states in his New Year's speech to his army: "The year 1941 will bring consummation of the greatest victory in our history."3
  December 29, 1940: FDR's Arsenal of Democracy speech attracts 76 percent of the radio audience.2
1941
  Americans AllFebruary 1941: "Americans All" Play movie
    June 1941: Germany invades the Soviet Union without warning.
    USS MarylandDecember 7, 1941: Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. Photo courtesy: www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwii-pac/pearlhbr/pearlhbr.htm
    December 11, 1941: The March of Time recreates the first week of war Play audio
 

TIMELINE SOURCES:

1 The Second World War. July 20, 2004. <http://www.qt.org/worldwar/timeline/>  

2 World War II Timeline. July 20, 2004. <http://history.acusd.edu/gen/WW2Timeline/start.html>.

3 American Studies at the University of Virginia: Americans in the 1930s Timeline. August 7, 2004. <http://xroads.virginia.edu/%7E1930s2/Time/timefr.html>

All photos that are not attributed are from March of Time newsreels.