Wehrmacht History 1935 to 1945


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1939 WWII Timeline

Day by day




Scharnhorst Battleship
Commissioned 7 January 1939

Otto Ciliax
Takes command of the Battleship Scharnhorst on 7 January 1939 to 23 September 1939

Lützow Heavy cruiser
Launched 7 January 1939

Adolf Hitler on 27 January 1939, orders Plan Z, a 5 year naval expansion programme intended to provide for a huge Kriegsmarine fleet capable of taking on the Royal Navy by 1944. The Kriegsmarine is given the first priority on the allotment of German economic resources.

On 6 February 1939, In a response to Georges Bonnet's speech of January 26, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, referring to Bonnet's alleged statement of 6 December 1938, accepting Eastern Europe as being in Germany's exclusive sphere of influence, protests that all French security commitments in that region are now off limits .

Bismarck Battleship
Launched 14 February 1939

Wehrmacht ground forces occupy the remaining part of Bohemia and Moravia on 15 March 1939, Czechoslovakia ceases to exist. The Ruthenian region of Czechoslovakia declares independence as Carpatho-Ukraine.

Tirpitz Battleship
Launched 1 April 1939

28 April 1939 In a speech before the Reichstag, Adolf Hitler renounces the Anglo-German Naval Agreement and the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact. Finally, addressing United States of America President Franklin Roosevelt's letter of 14 April 1939, in which Franklin Roosevelt requested Germany to guarantee the borders of 31 nations, Adolf Hitler noted the result of the subsequent survey that revealed most of the nations Poland excluded responded that they were not at all threatened by Germany.

On 6 May 1939, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler tells the British government that the German and Russian governments are secretly beginning a reconciliation with the aim of carving up Eastern Europe between them. Carl Friedrich Goerdeler also informs the British of German economic problems which he states threaten the survival of the national socialist regime, and advises that if a firm stand is made for Poland, then Adolf Hitler will be deterred from war.

On 1 June 1939, The Focke-Wulf Fw-190 V1 (civil registration D-OPZE), powered by a BMW 139 14 cylinder two row radial engine fighter made its maiden flight at Bremen, Germany. The aircraft displayed excellent handling characteristics and was highly manoeuvrable but suffered from engine overheating problems which required the fitting on a redesigned engine cowling.

On 24 July 1939, Hungarian PM Pál Teleki advised Germany and Italy that should war break out between Germany and Poland, Hungary would not take part in a joint invasion; German leader Adolf Hitler would soon intimidate Pál Teleki to take back the statement. On the same day, Italian leader Benito Mussolini warned Adolf Hitler that should war break out due to the Polish German tension, Italy would come to Germany's help, but Benito Mussolini thought it would not be a simple Polish German War, but rather, other nations such as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and France would be embroiled, leading to another war.

On the 31st August 1939 in spite of the fact that this was the first time that the Polish government heard of them, it was stated that the German government had waited in vain for two days before the arrival of a Polish negotiator, and therefore considered that the proposals had been rejected.

At 4:45 am on 1 September 1939, without any formal declaration of war, the German army crosses the Polish frontier, operation Fall Wiess has begun. The Wehrmacht cross the frontier at several points, with 53 divisions, under the command of General Walther von Brauchitsch, divided into two Heeresgruppen, Heeesgruppe Nord commanded by General Fedor von Bock, and Heeesgruppe Sud commanded by General Karl Rudolf von Rundstedt. The individual armies are commanded by General's Günther von Kluge, 4th Army Georg von Küchler, 3rd Army Wilhelm von List, 14. Armee Walter von Reichenau, 10th Army and Johannes Blaskowitz, 8th Army and the armoured formations are commanded by general Heinz Guderian, XIX Corps Erich Hoepner, XVI Corps and Paul von Kleist, XXII Corps The Polish defences are very quickly overwhelmed and the German Panzers penetrate deep into Polish territory. Simultaneously the Luftwaffe have two Luftflottes in service Luftflotte 1 commanded by Albert Kesselring, and Luftflotte 4 command by Alexander Löhr, bomb several major Polish cities, including Warsaw, Lodz and Krakow. In the port of Danzig the Pre-dreadnought Schleswig Holstein opens fire on the defences of Westerplatte where the Polish navies. Arsenal is located.

Kurt-Caesar Hoffmann
Takes command of the Battleship Scharnhorst on 23 September 1939 to 31 March 1942

On 14 October 1939 U-47 commanded by Günther Prien attacks a strongly defended naval base of Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands and sinks the British battleship HMS Royal Oak.

On 1-2 November 1939, Physicist Hans Ferdinand Mayer writes the Oslo Report on German weapons systems and passes it to the British Secret Intelligence Service.

On 13 December 1939, The Battle of the River Plate The Kriegsmarine heavy cruiser Admiral Graf Spee is cornered by cruisers HMS Ajax, HMNZS Achilles, and HMS Exeter after a running battle off the coast of Uruguay. The Admiral Graf Spee is scuttled by its crew off Montevideo Harbour on 17 December 1939.

Adolf Hitler On 14th December orders (OKW) the supreme command of the German armed forces to prepare a preliminary study of plans for an invasion of Norway

Admiral Graf Spee
Scuttled 17 December 1939

Hans Langsdorff
Commanding the Graf Spee commits suicide on 20 December 1939 so as not to disgrace the German Navy.


Scharnhorst Battleship
Lützow Heavy cruiser
Bismarck Battleship
Tirpitz Battleship
Focke-Wulf Fw-190
HMS Royal Oak
Admiral Graf Spee


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