How Well Do You Know the Important Dates of WWII?

John Miller

Image: youtube

About This Quiz

World War II wasn’t just the deadliest and most expensive war in human history. Its outcome ensured that the entire planet didn’t wind up saying words like “heil” and “obergruppenführer” for the rest of time. Each year during the war, there were days when things could have gone the other way – do you remember the vital dates of this momentous war?

Like 9/11, every American knows the significance of Dec. 7, 1941. It was a date that permanently altered the United States’ political importance, causing an evolution from an average society into a world industrial superpower. But do you know the vital dates that preceded and followed that Dec. 7 cataclysm?

For instance, the war may have never happened if it hadn’t been for Sept. 1, 1939. Do you know what occurred on that day? The following May, more troubling events emerged in Europe … what happened, and why?

Other vital events happened prior to 1939, before the start of the European fighting. Did you know that some of the deadliest combat of the war happened on the other side of Asia? Countless millions of people perished.

As the war dragged on and Nazi atrocities were unearthed, the world gathered against Hitler and his Axis allies. In June of 1944, the pendulum of karma began swinging the other way. We bet you know exactly what we’re talking about.

Prove it! Take our swashbuckling World War II quiz and see if you really know the dates that changed the history of the human race!

What major pre-war event happened Jan. 30, 1933?

On Jan. 30, 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, thanks largely to President Paul von Hindenburg. The Nazi Party continued its rise to power.

Which country did Italy's Benito Mussolini invade on Oct. 3, 1935?

Oct. 3, 1935, is a vital date in the WWII timeline, as it marks Italy's invasion of Ethiopia. It was some of the first real European violence since WWI, and it created a de facto green light for the violence that followed.

Which country attacked China on July 7, 1937?

On July 7, 1937, Imperial Japan attacked China and began the Second Sino-Japanese War. In the end, this conflict became one of the bloodiest areas of all of WWII.

On Sept. 1, 1939, which country did Germany invade?

It's a date that most historians mark as the beginning of WWII -- Sept 1, 1939. On that day Axis forces swept into Poland, beginning their westward march across the continent.

After the invasion of Poland, how long did it take for Britain and France to declare war on Germany?

Britain and France both had standing alliances with Poland. Two days after Germany invaded, they declared war … but it would be a long time before British and French troops took the field.

Which country did the Germans NOT invade on April 9, 1940?

After a winter lull, the Germans went on the move again, invading Denmark and Norway in early April. Things were about to get seriously ugly.

On May 10, 1940, which major Allied country was invaded by the Nazis?

It was the attack that had long been feared. On May 10, the Nazis swooped into France. The blitzkrieg savaged French units all across the country.

May 10, 1940, was a grim day for the Allies. But there was also a good moment. What was it?

On May 10, Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlin as prime minister of Britain. Churchill went on to become one of the most effective political leaders of the Allied war effort.

June 10, 1940, found which country joining the fight on the side of the Axis?

On June 10, after much hemming and hawing, Mussolini decided to join the Germans in the plundering of Europe. It was a decision that, years later, he'd come to regret.

June 14, 1940, saw the fall of which major Allied city?

It took the Germans just a few weeks to blast through French defenses. On June 14, they rolled into Paris, which had surrendered rather than be blown to smithereens.

By the end of May 1940, the French and British armies were driven back to the coast, beginning which dramatic event?

Stuck between the ocean and the Nazis at Dunkirk, Allied forces were in danger of annihilation. Then, the British government called for everyone who had a boat to cross the Channel and save whoever they could. The Dunkirk evacuation saved 340,000 soldiers, who would later fight again.

On July 10, 1940, a huge air battle called the _______ begins.

The German Luftwaffe began its air assault on Britain on July 10, 1940. British fighter planes swarmed into the air and shot down the Nazis by the hundreds during the Battle of Britain.

Which of the following countries did NOT sign the Tripartite Pact on Sept. 22, 1940?

The Tripartite Pact was an ominous agreement creating the alliance of Germany, Italy and Japan, the three core nations of the Axis. Their names are forever linked to the historical shame of WWII atrocities.

Which major operation commenced on June 22, 1941?

In 1941. as the British refused to surrender, Hitler's little mustache began trembling in rage. In exasperation, he turned his attention to Operation Barbarossa, an enormous attack on the USSR … the very country that helped Germany conquer Poland at the war's start.

Which date will "live in infamy"?

On Dec. 7, 1941, President Roosevelt gave a bleak announcement to America -- the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He swore it was a date that would "live in infamy," and he was right.

On Jan. 6, 1942, President Roosevelt announced the largest ____ in U.S. history.

In early January, a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt announced the biggest expansion to the federal budget in history. After all, beating the Nazis and Japanese wouldn't be cheap.

On Feb. 2, 1943 the Germans lost which major battle?

Hitler coveted Stalingrad, a major Soviet city, and he attacked in August 1942. For months, the Germans tried to bomb the Soviets into submission, but instead, the Red Army reared up and delivered the Nazis a resounding defeat in February 1943.

At the June 1942 Battle of ______, Americans finally got revenge for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Half a year after Pearl Harbor, American troops yeared for vengeance against the Japanese. At the Battle of Midway, they got it, sinking all four of Japan's large aircraft carriers during the ferocious assault.

Which Axis country surrendered on Sept. 8, 1943?

On Sept. 8, with Mussolini on the run, Italy surrendered and bowed out of the war. Italy granted the Allies access to the southern peninsula, and they soon landed there with the aim of pushing out the Germans.

Which city was liberated by the Allies on June 5, 1944?

After the fall of Mussolini, Italy became an easier target for the Allies. On June 5, they rolled into Rome, greeted by delirious citizens.

On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched a huge amphibious attack in which area?

June 6 saw the start of Operation Overlord, the attempted Allied liberation of Europe. The attacks started with an amphibious landing on the beaches of Normandy in France.

On Dec. 16, 1944, the Germans launched a frenzied offensive in Belgium and nearly broke the Allied lines. What was the name of this battle?

The Nazis were all but beaten when they initiated a surprise attack on Dec. 16, 1944. Frozen American troops were shocked by the assault but dug in for a fight that made headlines around the world.

What was the "July 20 plot"?

On July 20, 1944, some of Hitler's men tried to kill him. Instead, Hitler miraculously survived … and thousands of people were punished as a result.

How long was Paris occupied during WWII?

Paris fell in June 1940. It wasn't liberated until August 1944, after four long years of German occupation.

July 16, 1945, marked the testing of the first atomic bomb. The test was code named ______.

On July 16, the United States initiated Trinity, the first atomic bomb test, conducted in the desert of New Mexico. The successful test created a gigantic fireball and paved the way for wartime use.

On Jan. 7, 1945, the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by which nation?

Early January saw the liberation -- at last -- of the Auschwitz concentration camp, where the Nazis had murdered countless innocent people. The Soviets were greeted as heroes.

Which major figure died on April 12, 1945?

After years of declining health, President Roosevelt died on April 12. Harry S. Truman took his place and wound up making some of the most important decisions of the war.

What incredible event took place on May 2, 1945?

On May 2, 1945, more than half a decade after starting the worst war in history, Germany surrendered. Hitler killed himself a day earlier. Sadly, for America, the war was far from over.

In August 1945, which country was attacked with two nuclear weapons?

In early August, America dropped atomic bombs on Japan, one on Hiroshima and one on Nagasaki. After the second bomb, Japan's leaders feared the obliteration of their country.

True or false, did Sept. 2, 1945 mark the end of WWII?

Sept. 2, 1945 was V-J Day (Victory over Japan Day). Finally, the Japanese realized that there was no way forward. They surrendered on a battleship named the USS Missouri … and WWII came to an official end.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes