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World War II year by year


A map of Europe in September 1939A map of Europe in September 1939Declaration of war Following the Anschluss (union) of Germany and Austria in March 1938 and the German invasion of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Europe stood on the brink of war. In August, the Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler and the Communist leader of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin signed the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, a non-aggression agreement between the two countries that also contained a secret plan to divide up eastern Europe into German and Soviet "spheres of influence". Germany then invaded Poland on 1st September. Having pledged to guarantee Poland’s borders five months earlier, Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3rd September.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944 was the last time battleships have engaged each other in a naval conflict.

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