Today in WW II: 5 Nov 1939 Hitler meets with von Brauchitsch, the Commander in Chief of the German Army, regarding planned offensive in the west. Plot with Halder and Beck to arrest Hitler, unless he relents on the plan, collapses.  More 
5 Nov 1940 President Franklin Roosevelt elected to an unprecedented third term.
5 Nov 1942 At Gibraltar, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower opens Allied operational HQ for the invasion of North Africa.
5 Nov 1942 British Lt. Gen. Montgomery announces complete British victory in Egypt with Rommel's Afrika Korps in full retreat.
Visit the World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

World War II Timeline: 1939

New York Times coverage of German invasion of Poland, 1 September 1939
New York Times coverage of German invasion of Poland, 1 September 1939.

This page presents World War II Timeline events for the year 1939.

Links are provided in the timeline with additional information from pages or relevant books on the event or subject. For additional compilations of the events of World War II, go to one of the recommended time line web sites listed at the bottom of the main WWII Timeline page. If you have other events to suggest, or spot any errors, please contact

24 January National Central Office for Jewish Emigration is set up with offices in Vienna and Prague; Hermann Göring orders the SS leadership to speed up Jewish emigration from the Third Reich.
6 February British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain states in the House of Commons that any German attack on France will be automatically considered an attack on Britain.
14 March Germany invades Czechoslovakia after annexing the Sudetenland.
20 March Nazi Germany issues ultimatum to Lithuania to cede its Klaipeda Region [Memel Territory], lost by Germany in WW I.
22 March Nazi Germany absorbs Klaipeda Region [Memel Territory] from Lithuania without resistance by any of Lithuania's allies.
23 March Slovak-Hungarian War: Slovak planes strafed and bombed Hungarian ground troops.
24 March Slovak-Hungarian War: Heavy bombing and air combat as Slovak and Hungarian air forces have their most intense day of fighting.
31 March Britain and France commit to support Poland against invasion by Nazi Germany, a pledge formally signed in London as the Polish-British Common Defence Pact, 25 August 1939.
1 April Spanish Civil War ends with the surrender of the last of the Republican forces.
3 April Adolf Hitler orders German military planning of the invasion of Poland [Fall Weiss].
4 April Slovak-Hungarian War ends with Slovakia ceding eastern territories to Hungary.
7 April King Zog of Albania flees the invasion of his country by Italian fascists, forcing him into exile.
1 May Unit 731 of the Japanese Army begins tests of biological and chemical warfare agents during clashes with Soviet forces in Mongolia [exact date not known].
11 May Japanese begin attempt to seize Mongolian land to the banks of the Khalkin Gol River at Nomonhan, clashing with Soviet troops.
22 May Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany sign the Pact of Steel, a declaration of trust and cooperation that also included secret provisions on military and economic matters.
4 June German ship MS St. Louis denied permission to land in Florida with its 907 Jewish refugee passengers. Ship returns to Europe where passengers die in Nazi death camps.
14 June Japanese blockade the British concession in Tianjin, China, a crisis which almost precipitates Anglo-Japanese war [Tientsin Incident].
6 July All remaining Jewish enterprises in Germany are closed by the Nazis.
2 August Albert Einstein writes to Pres. Roosevelt about the potential for a uniquely powerful uranium weapon and indications of German interest in it, the inspiration for the Manhattan Project.
20 August Battle of Khalkhin Gol: Soviet Gen. Zhukov decisively defeats Japanese Imperial Army forces in the Japanese-Soviet border war in Inner Mongolia [20-31 Aug].
23 August Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia sign a mutual non-aggression pact [Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement] with secret clauses giving the Soviets access to the Baltic states.
25 August Polish-British Common Defence Pact signed in London, a military alliance against Germany.
25 August Mussolini notifies Adolf Hitler that Italy will not support an attack on Poland because the British were not deterred; Hitler postpones planned invasion for a few days.
27 August First turbojet-powered aircraft, the Heinkel 178, maiden flight piloted by Captain Erich Warsitz.
1 September German troops, tanks, and aircraft begin Blitzkrieg attack on Poland, the start of WW II in Europe.
3 September Great Britain and France declare war on Germany, supporting Poland against the Nazi invasion.
6 September Cracow, the second city of Poland, falls to German onslaught.
7 September Light French units entered German territory in the Saar, keeping their pledge to Poland after German attack there [7-8 Sep].
9 September In large pincer movement east of Warsaw, German forces trap and reduce the remaining Polish forces [9-17 September].
14 September German troops enter Gdynia, west of Danzig, capturing Poland's only seaport.
17 September Soviet troops invade Poland from the east.
18 September Soviet troops link up with German troops at Brest Litovsk and Vilna, dividing Poland.
27 September Siege of Warsaw ends with surrender of Polish forces to Germany, although pockets of resistance remain throughout Poland.
29 September Poland partitioned between Germany and Soviet Union; independent Poland ceases to exist.
29 September Soviet Union forces Estonia to sign a treaty permitting USSR to establish military bases on Estonian soil.
1 October German forces enter Warsaw to take control of Poland.
2 October Battle of Kock, the final battle in the invasion of Poland, begins [2-5 October].
5 October Soviet Union forces Latvia to sign a treaty permitting USSR to establish military bases on Latvian soil.
5 October German victory parade is held in Warsaw, Poland celebrating the success of Blitzkrieg attack.
5 October Battle of Kock, Poland ends with the surrender of defending Polish forces, the last significant resistance to the German and Soviet invasions.
6 October In a Reichstag speech, Adolf Hitler reveals plans for a Jewish enclave in Poland for millions of Jews from Germany, Poland and other lands, a plan understood as a huge concentration camp.
8 October Germany extends its borders by annexing former western Polish areas and the former Free City of Danzig, plus the separate area of Suwalk.
10 October Soviet Union forces Lithuania to sign a treaty permitting USSR to establish military bases on Lithuanian soil.
11 October Letter signed by Albert Einstein is delivered to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging the United States to rapidly develop the atomic bomb before Germany does, the inspiration for the Manhattan Project.
14 October German U-Boat U-47 sinks the British battleship HMS Royal Oak at Scapa Flow in Orkney, Scotland, with loss of 833 sailors.
16 October Germans counterattack in the Saar, quickly expelling the French invaders.
27 October In a radio broadcast to the US, King Leopold III of Belgium declares that Belgium is determined to defend its neutrality.
5 November Hitler meets with von Brauchitsch, the Commander in Chief of the German Army, regarding planned offensive in the west. Plot with Halder and Beck to arrest Hitler, unless he relents on the plan, collapses.
8 November Hitler narrowly escapes a bomb planted in Munich at the site of his annual speech commemorating the failed 1923 Beer Hall putsch; 7 killed, 63 injured.
30 November Soviet Union invades Finland.
17 December German Pocket Battleship Graf Spee is scuttled at Montevideo, Uruguay after Battle of the River Plate, first major naval battle of WW II.
23 December Adolf Hitler visits troops and fortifications of the West Wall [23-25 Dec].
25 December King George VI makes an inspiring and reassuring Christmas speech, broadcast to all citizens of the British Empire worldwide as they again face an impending world war.

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