Buildup to World War II: January 1931-August 1939

World War II Timeline: January 30, 1933-October 14, 1933

The buildup of World War II increased when Adolf Hitler acquired more power by becoming chancellor of Nazi Germany in January 1933. The World War II timeline below summarizes important events that occurred from January 30, 1933 to October 14, 1933.

World War II Timeline: January 30-October 14

January 30: Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of Nazi Germany.


February 4: Adolf Hitler tightens his absolute power in Nazi Germany with the decree "For the Protection of the German People," which gives the Nazis the authority to censor publications and ban political agitating.

February 27: The Reichstag building in Berlin is set afire. Adolf Hitler's government accuses Communists of arson, triggering an anti-Communist crackdown throughout Nazi Germany.

March 20: SS chief Heinrich Himmler announces the establishment of Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp. The camp will receive its first inmates, political prisoners, within the next few days.

March 23: Nazi Germany's Reichstag passes the Enabling Act, affording Adolf Hitler total dictatorial powers.

March 27: Japan announces that it will no longer be part of the seemingly impotent League of Nations.

April 1: Adolf Hitler orders a boycott of all Jewish-owned businesses in Nazi Germany. The boycott itself fails when most German citizens ignore it, but Adolf Hitler will follow with a series of laws that effectively strangle the civil liberties of German Jews.

April 7: With the passage of the Aryan Law, any German who is one-quarter or more Jewish is barred from civil service employment.

July 14: All German political parties except the Nazi Party are outlawed.

October 14: Nazi Germany announces that it intends to follow Japan's lead and withdraw from the beleaguered League of Nations.

World War II Headlines

Below are more highlights and images that outline the events of World War II and show the details of the Nazi's increasing power, as well as Japan's military offensive against China in the early 1930s.

The Reichstag fire: Less than a month after Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor, arson gave the Nazis an excuse to suspend civil liberties and crack down on their political enemies. On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag (parliament) building in Berlin went up in flames, and a Dutch Communist found at the scene was charged with the crime. Claiming that acts of terrorism were about to break out all over Nazi Germany, the Nazis imposed martial law, made mass arrests, and carried out summary executions. Many historians believe that the Nazis set the fire themselves.

The Kwangtung Army captures Shanhai Pass of the Great Wall: Once the Japanese established the puppet government of Manchukuo, the Kwangtung Army turned its attention to the northeast provinces of China. It achieved its first objective, the capture of Shanhai Pass -- the easternmost stronghold of the Great Wall -- on January 3, 1933. After Japan took the Chinese province of Jehol on March 1, Chinese troops attempted to make a stand along the Great Wall, but Japan drove them from the Wall by May 12. Representatives of both countries signed the Tanggu Truce on May 22, the provisions of which entirely favored the Japanese. China relinquished Jehol and agreed to a 100-mile-wide demilitarized zone south of the Great Wall.

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Japan's military successes fuel its future imperial ambitions in the Pacific and Southeast Asia: The Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 demonstrated Japan's emergence as a significant 20th century power. Its successful surprise attack against Port Arthur in 1904 -- without any declaration of war -- and the destruction of the Russian fleet at Tsushima in 1905 also indicated the way that Japan might conduct itself strategically and diplomatically in the future. By the 1930s, the leadership of an increasingly militaristic and radicalized country felt strategically isolated and economically threatened by Anglo-French-U.S. encroachments within the region and by Japan's lack of raw materials. These fears eventually precipitated Japan's campaigns in Manchuria and China from 1931. Its military successes fueled its future imperial ambitions in the Pacific and Southeast Asia areas.

Nazi Germany continued to gain strength and Benito Mussolini built up his Italian military. Go on to the next page for a detailed timeline highlighting the important World War II events that occurred from November 1933 to December 1934.

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