World War II Timeline
January 9, 1945
- U.S. Army troops land on Luzon in the Philippines.
January 17, 1945
- Advancing from the East, Soviet troops capture Warsaw.
January 26, 1945
- Japanese troops retreat to the coast of China.
January 27, 1945
- Soviet troops liberate the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, discovering hundreds of corpses from people who were recently murdered, thousands of people barely alive, and the earthly remains of approximately 1,000,000 men and women.
January 28, 1945
- In Western Europe, the Battle of the Bulge ends. Americans suffered some 75,000 casualties and the Germans lost 80,000 to l00,000. The Americans can recover from their military losses; the Germans cannot. Few people besides Hitler believe Germany can still win the war.
January 30, 1945
- A Soviet submarine sinks the Wilhelm Gustloff. It is the single deadliest sinking in maritime history, killing between 6,000 and 10,000 people, most of whom were civilian refugees and wounded German soldiers.
February 4, 1945
- The Yalta Conference between the U.S., Britain, and the USSR begins. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin discuss their plans for Europe after the war, and Stalin agrees to declare war on Japan. In the Pacific, the Allies finally retake Manila in the Philippines after three years of brutal Japanese occupation.
February 13, 1945
- The Allies begin firebombing Dresden, Germany, killing at least 135,000.
February 19, 1945
- In the Pacific, U.S. Marines land on Iwo Jima.
February 20, 1945
- In Europe, the Allies capture Saarbrucken.
March 3, 1945
- Finland declares war on Germany.
March 7, 1945
- The Allies capture two significant targets in Germany -- the Remagen bridge over the Rhine, and the city of Cologne.
March 9, 1945
- U.S. firebombing of Tokyo kills about 85,000 Japanese.
March 16, 1945
- U.S. troops complete the capture of Iwo Jima from the Japanese, at the cost of 20,000 American casualties.
March 20, 1945
- The Allies capture Mandalay, Burma.
March 30, 1945
- Soviet troops capture Danzig.
April 1, 1945
- U.S. troops invade Okinawa, the first Japanese home island to be reached. The fierce Japanese defenders would inflict about 35,000 American casualties.
In Europe, the Allies surround over 300,000 German troops in the Ruhr, and the final Allied offensive in northern Italy begins.
April 10, 1945
- The Allies capture Hanover, Germany.
April 11, 1945
- U.S. troops reach the Buchenwald concentration camp and discover that the prisoners had liberated themselves from a forced evacuation. A few days later, British troops liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp for women.
April 12, 1945
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 63. Harry S. Truman becomes president of the United States.
April 13, 1945
- Soviet troops capture Vienna, Austria.
April 15, 1945
- The Allies capture Arnhem, in the Netherlands.
April 18, 1945
- The last of the German troops trapped on the Ruhr River surrender.
April 23, 1945
- Soviet troops reach Berlin.
April 25, 1945
- U.S. and Soviet troops meet at the Elbe River in Germany.
April 28, 1945
- Benito Mussolini is captured by Italian anti-fascists and executed.
April 29, 1945
- U.S. troops liberate the Dachau concentration camp where they discover evidence of gruesome medical experiments.
April 30, 1945
- Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun commit suicide in a Berlin bunker as Soviet troops advance through the city. Nazi Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels is scheduled to become the new German Chancellor but he also kills himself -- after having his wife and six children killed. Karl Donitz is named as Hitler's successor.
May 2, 1945
- Soviet troops complete the capture of Berlin. The remaining German troops in Italy surrender.
May 7, 1945
- Germany surrenders unconditionally.
May 8, 1945
- V-E Day is declared -- Victory in Europe.
May 9, 1945
- Soviet troops occupy Prague and the Allies liberate the Channel Islands.
June 21, 1945
- U.S. troops complete the capture of Okinawa, providing a secure base for the final assault on Japan.
July 16, 1945
- The world's first atomic bomb is successfully tested in New Mexico -- The Trinity Test. The parts of the bombs to be dropped on Japan are already on their way. In Germany, the Potsdam Conference between the U.S., Britain, and the USSR begins. Disagreements over the future of Europe plant more seeds for the coming Cold War.
July 26, 1945
- The U.S., Britain, and China issue the Potsdam Declaration which gives an ultimatum to Japan: unconditionally surrender immediately, or face "prompt and utter destruction."
In Britain, Clement Atlee replaces Winston Churchill as Prime Minister.
August 6, 1945
- A U.S. B-29 named Enola Gay drops the "Little Boy" atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan.
Approximately 140,000 people in the area will die by the end of the year.
August 8, 1945
- The USSR declares war on Japan. Soviet troops invade Japanese-held Manchuria.
August 9, 1945
- A U.S. B-29 named Bock's Car drops the "Fat Man" atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.
Approximately 70,000 people in the area will die by the end of the year.
August 14, 1945
- Japan agrees to unconditionally surrender.
August 15, 1945
- V-J Day is declared -- Victory over Japan.
September 2, 1945
- Japan signs the formal surrender agreement on board the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay. World War II, the most devastating war in human history, is over.