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World War II 1939-1945 : Invasion of Poland September 1939 –The Blitzkrieg – Battle of Britain – The Battle of the Atlantic – Pearl Harbor – Battle of Midway – Operation Torch, November 1942 – Guadalcanal – Battle of El Alamein – Battle of Stalingrad – Battle of Kursk – The final solution (The Holocaust) – Operation Overlord – D Day, 6 June 1944 – Okinawa – International Conferences: Tehran, Yalta, Potsdam – Surrender of Germany 8 May 1945 – Hiroshima – Nagasaki – Surrender of Japan  

Authors : Olivier FORLIN, Lecturer, Pierre Mendès France University, Grenoble
Caroline MACKENZIE
Vincent SEVIN

Voice : Richard Barnes

For online access to this series of 15 historical maps


La Seconde Guerre mondiale 1939-1945

The second World War, 1939-1945

Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 led to the outbreak of the Second World War.

During the early stages, the conflict was confined mainly to Europe, but later extended to the rest of the world following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which led to the United States also entering the war.

The "total war" mobilized the economic and industrial resources of all belligerents and caused the death of some 50 million people, most of whom were civilians.

The war ended with the fall of Berlin by the Red Army in May 1945 and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945.

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This series contains 15 animated historical maps. For a preview, see the maps on :

The Final Solution

The War goes global, June 1941 – end 1942

Moving towards War

In Europe: Mussolini and Hitler take power, remilitarisation of the Rhineland, 1936,  Anschluss 1938, Munich Conference 1938, German-Soviet Non-Aggression Treaty 1939.

In Asia: Japanese Protectorat in Manchuria 1931, Japanese campaign against China 1937.


War in Europe 1939-1941

Invasion of Poland, September 1939; the Phoney War, Narvik, Invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium and France, Battle of Britain, the Submarine War, Occupation of Yugoslavia and Greece.

Afrika Korps in Libya, Tobruk.


The Blitzkrieg

Blitzkrieg, a series of joint air and tank attacks, the German Army make successful lightening attacks during the early phases of the war.


The Battle of Britain July- November 1940

Operation Sealion, the various phases of the Battle of Britain, the Blitz begins 7 September, major air raids on London and other English cities.


The War goes Global, June 1941 – end 1942

In Europe: Operation Barbarossa, June 1941. Siege of Leningrad, Germany and Italy declares war on the United States, Germany’s Russian campaign in 1942, Stalingrad,

In Asia: Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941, Japanese campaign in Southeast Asia. Air-sea battles: Coral Sea, Midway, US landing at Guadalcanal.


German Europe in 1942

In 1942, most of Europe is dominated by Germany. The Reich’s objective: mineral resources found in occupied territories for its war industry.
Use of brutal repression and massacres in occupied countries. The decree “Nacht und Nebel”, Wansee conference, Resistance movements.


Asia: Japanese Power in 1942 

In 1942, Japanese control of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands; Japanese government’s conquests in search of resources to finance the war effort; sphere of co-prosperity.


The Turning Point, autumn 1942 to end 1943

On 8 November 1942, a second Allied front in North Africa. Operation Torch 
On 2 February 1943, surrender of German 6th Army in Stalingrad.
On 9 February, end of Japanese resistance at Guadalcanal.
Battle of Kursk July 1943. Allied landings in Sicily and Italy.
November, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, meeting in Tehran.


The Battle of the Atlantic

United Kingdom economy dependent on imported goods; Battle of the Atlantic a major stake in the Second World War.


Allied Victory 1944-1945

End 1943, the Axis powers lose ground on three major fronts: USSR, the Mediterranean and Asia-Pacific.
Allies concentrate on Germany before seeking victory over Japan.
Normandy landings, June 1944, landings in Provence August 1944
Surrender by Germany, 8 May 1945.
Official Japanese surrender signed on 2 September 1945


The Final Solution (The Holocaust, The Shoah)

Radical anti-Semitism promoted by Hitler and his regime.

The Polish ghettos, Massacres by the Einsatzgruppen; the extermination camps: Sobibor, Majdanek, Belzec, Chelmno and Auschwitz-Birkenau; the Wansee Conference; between 5 and 6 million European Jews killed between September 1939 and May 1945


The D-Day Landings and the Battle for Normandy

Operation Overlord, D-Day 6 June 1944; Allied landings  on Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno beaches; capture of Cherbourg, 26 June; 24 July, several thousand airplanes launch a huge carpet bombing attack on the Normandy countryside. General Patton’s American tank divisions reach Avranches on 30 July.


Military Operations in Asia 1944-1945

Japanese campaigns in Burma and China 1944;
Reconquest of the Mariana Islands and the Philippines;
Capture of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in March and June 1945;
Atomic bombs on the city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and on Nagasaki three days later;
Japanese surrender, 2 September 1945.


Major International Conferences

Throughout the war, the Axis military powers did not coordinate their campaigns. The Allies held regular international conferences during which they discussed major strategies and plans for the post-war period. Conferences in Casablanca, Tehran, Yalta, Potsdam.


Allied Decisions after the War

Creation of the UN, Nuremberg and Tokyo trials, occupation of Germany, major territorial decisions in Europe and Asia.



World War II: Invasion of Poland September 1939 –The Blitzkrieg – Battle of Britain – The Battle of the Atlantic – Pearl Harbor – Battle of Midway – Operation Torch, November 1942 – Guadalcanal – Battle of El Alamein – Battle of Stalingrad – Battle of Kursk – The final solution (The Holocaust) – Operation Overlord – D Day, 6 June 1944 – Okinawa – International Conferences: Tehran, Yalta, Potsdam – Surrender of Germany 8 May 1945 – Hiroshima – Nagasaki – Surrender of Japan  

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