Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Rollover text informationAmerican Experience Logo
The Film & More
Special Features
People & Events
Teacher's Guide

spacer above content
Timeline: World War II in Europe

1939-1942 | 1943-1945  


FDR and Churchill January: Roosevelt and Churchill hold a conference at Casablanca, Morocco. They affirm their goal of securing the Axis nations' unconditional surrender.

May: U.S. troops led by Generals Dwight Eisenhower and George S. Patton join forces with British troops under the command of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery to defeat German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in North Africa.

June: Eisenhower is appointed commander of the U.S. forces in Europe.

fighting in Italy July - September: Allied forces capture Sicily and key spots in southern Italy. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini is overthrown and imprisoned. Hitler dispatches German troops to fend off an Allied advance in what will be a series of hard fought, costly battles.

November: The "big three," Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, convene in Teheran, Iran to discuss the invasion of Italy. It is the first time all three have met.

December: Eisenhower is named supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe.


D-Day February: German aircraft production centers are the target of a massive bombing campaign by the U.S. Army Air Corps. Shortly thereafter, more than six hundred U.S. bombers raid Berlin. Despite the devastation caused by the bombing, Germany is able to maintain weapons and aircraft production levels.

June: The Allies capture Rome, Italy.

May 30: The Allied invasion of France commences; troops based in England begin their mobilization to cross the Channel, in a massive effort code-named Operation Overlord. Eisenhower will wait for a good weather forecast to determine the exact day of the invasion.

June 5: Overlord is set into motion. An advance wave of paratroopers flies to drop spots over France late in the evening, and descends into enemy territory.

June 6: D-Day. Over 160,000 Allied troops and 30,000 vehicles are landed along a 50-mile stretch of fortified French coastline and begin fighting on the beaches of Normandy.

July: The Allies take control of the French port city of Cherbourg. The retreating Germans, however, have left the city badly razed and booby-trapped.

August Paris Liberated : After four years of German occupation, the Allies liberate Paris with the help of French resistance troops led by General Charles de Gaulle.

Battle of the Bulge December 16: The Battle of the Bulge begins. Hitler sends a quarter million troops across an 85-mile stretch of the Allied front, from southern Belgium into Luxembourg. In deadly cold winter weather, German troops will advance some 50 miles into the Allied lines, creating a deadly "bulge" pushing into Allied defenses.


January: By the end of the month, the Battle of the Bulge ends. Over 76,000 Americans have been killed, wounded, or captured. The Allies regain the territory they held in early December.

February 4-11: The last meeting of the Big Three -- Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin -- takes place in the Soviet city of Yalta. Roosevelt and Churchill agree to allow Stalin to control the governments of Eastern Europe at war's end, thereby setting the stage for future Cold War clashes.

March: U.S. forces cross the Rhine River. The Germans retreat into Germany.

April 30: As Soviet forces push into Berlin, Adolf Hitler takes shelter in his bombproof bunker. There, he marries his mistress, Eva Braun, before poisoning her and shooting himself. His remains will never be found.

Germany signs surrender May 7: General Dwight Eisenhower accepts Germany's unconditional surrender at Reims, France. Germany likewise surrenders to Russia in Berlin.

See a related timeline of World War II in the Pacific on the American Experience MacArthur Web site.

1939-1942 | 1943-1945  

Site Navigation

D-Day Home | The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline
Maps | People & Events | Teacher's Guide