Welcome to the World War II library guide from the McGovern Library.
This guide contains general information about World War II, as well as specific information about
South Dakota during World War II and the role of women during the war.
September 1, 1939
Germany invades Poland. Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and France soon fall under German control.
July 1940-September 1940
Germany and Great Britain fight an air war, the Battle of Britain, along the English coastline.
September 7, 1940-May 1941
German bombing campaign of nightly air raids over London, known as the Blitz.
June 22, 1941
Germany invades the Soviet Union.
December 7, 1941
Japan attacks the US Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, destroying more than half of the fleet of aircraft, and damaging all eight battleships. Japan also attacks Clark and Iba airfields in the Philippines destroying over half of the US Army’s aircraft there.
December 8, 1941
The US declares war on Japan. Japan invades Hong Kong, Guam, the Wake Islands, Singapore and British Malaya.
December 11, 1941
Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.
The Allies stop the Axis Powers’ advance in Northern Africa and the Soviet Union.
June 4-6, 1942
Japan attacks Midway and loses four aircraft carriers and over 200 planes and pilots in the first clear victory for the United States.
August 19, 1942
The battle for Stalingrad begins as Germany pushes further into Russia.
August 1942-February 1943
US Marines fight for and hold the Pacific island of Guadalcanal.
February 1, 1943
The German troops in Stalingrad surrender, defeated in large part by the Soviet winter. The defeat marks the halt of Germany’s eastbound advance.
July 10, 1943
Allied forces land in Italy.
November 1943-March 1944
US Marines invade the Solomon Islands at Bougainville to recapture it from the Japanese.
June 6, 1944
D-Day, in which Allied forces land on five beaches at Normandy: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The landing includes over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and over 150,000 service men.
August 25, 1944
American and Free French forces liberate Paris.
January 27, 1945
Soviet troops liberate the Auschwitz camp complex, located near Krakow, Poland.
February 19-March 26, 1945
US Marines battle the Japanese for the island of Iwo Jima.
April 12, 1945
Roosevelt dies in Warm Springs, Georgia. Vice President Harry Truman takes the oath of office as president.
April 25, 1945
Soviet troops surround Berlin.
April 29, 1945
US soldiers liberate the Dachau concentration camp outside of Munich, Germany.
April 30, 1945
Hitler and wife Eva Braun commit suicide.
May 7, 1945
Germany surrenders in a red school house in Reims, Germany, Eisenhower’s headquarters. Victory in Europe (V-E) Day is celebrated on May 8 because that is the day the armistice went into effect.
July 16, 1945
First successful test of the atomic bomb in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
July 29, 1945
Truman warns Japan that the country will be destroyed if it does not surrender unconditionally. Japan continues fighting.
August 6, 1945
The first atomic bomb used in warfare, nicknamed Little Boy, is dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing up to 140,000 people.
August 9, 1945
After getting no response from the Japanese government after the Hiroshima bombing, a second atomic bomb, nicknamed Fat Man, is dropped on Nagasaki, killing up to 80,000 people.
August 14, 1945
Japan unconditionally agrees to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and end the war. Victory over Japan (V-J) Day is declared.
September 2, 1945
Japan signs the formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
World War II
1939 - 1945
Causes of World War II
The Two Powers
The Axis Powers consisted of the countries of Germany, Japan, and Italy as the main powers, and were supported by Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, and Slovakia.
The Allied Powers consisted of The United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union. Additionally, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, British Commonwealth of Nations, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Philippines, and Yugoslavia joined the Allied Powers.
United States Statistics
Military Casualties by Country
World War II Records
The United States National Archives include military records pertaining to African Americans serving during World War II, Casualty and Missing lists, D-Day, Draft Records, German Records, the Homefront during World War II, Internment Records, and more.
Significant Events in World War II
Created by the United States Department of Defense, explore a pictorial timeline and explanation of the significant events during World War II.
World War II Photos
World War II was documented on a huge scale by thousands of photographers and artists who created millions of pictures. The National Archive's photo collection of World War II are organized by subject and campaign, and are mostly from the records of the Army Signal Corps, Department of the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Marine Corps, and the Office of the War Information.
World War II Military Situation Maps
This collection, from the Library of Congress, contains contains maps showing troop positions beginning on June 6, 1944 to July 26, 1945. Starting with the D-Day Invasion, the maps give daily details on the military campaigns in Western Europe, showing the progress of the Allied Forces as they push towards Germany.
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