the Arctic 1939: Outbreak of World War II
While Norway and Denmark were disputing ownership of Eastern Greenland, Japan invaded Manchuria and Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. By the end of the decade, the expansionist policies of these two nations were threatening the existing order. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Britain and France declared war, with Canada following suit a week later.
30 Jan 1933 Chancellor Adolf Hitler▲
In a coalition agreement between the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP or Nazi party) and the German National People’s Party (DNVP), German President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Nazi leader Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany. From here Hitler would move swiftly to consolidate absolute power.
5 Apr 1933 International Ruling on Greenland▲
The Permanent Court of International Justice ruled against Norway in its dispute with Denmark over eastern Greenland (Erik the Red’s Land). In the wake of the court’s ruling, Norway abandoned its claim.
30 Jan 1934 Newfoundland Act▲
In accordance with the recommendation of the Newfoundland Royal Commission under Lord Amulree, the British Commission of Government took control of the Dominion of Newfoundland, with the government of the United Kingdom made responsible for the finances of the country. This state of affairs was intended to last until the island overcame its financial woes and became self-supporting again.
7 Jul 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident▲
On the night of 7 July 1937 Japanese forces based at Fengtai crossed into Chinese territory to conduct military exercises, but ended up exchanging fire with Chinese troops at Wanping. Further clashes occurred later that night and over the next day, most notably at Marco Polo Bridge on the outskirts of Beiping (Beijing). By the 11th these confused skirmishes had escalated into a full-scale battle in which Beiping and Tianjin fell to Japanese forces, making them the first shots of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
23 Aug 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact▲
In August 1939 German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, his Soviet counterpart, signed the Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in Moscow. The pact provided a guarantee that neither of the two powers would take up arms against the other, as well as secretly dividing eastern Europe between them.
1 Sep 1939 Germany invasion of Poland▲
Using several German-staged incidents as casus belli, Nazi Germany struck Wieluń, Poland, with the Luftwaffe at 04:40 on 1 September 1939—the first blow of World War II. Five minutes later, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on a Polish military transit depot in the Free City of Danzig, with Germany launching an all out attack on Poland’s northern, western, and southern borders later that day.
3 Sep 1939 Declaration of War on Germany▲
Responding to the German invasion of Poland, France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. The official Declaration of war by France and the United Kingdom was read out by the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in Westminster, London, on behalf of both countries. Although the declaration fulfilled the two powers’ guarantees to Poland, moves of practical support were limited.
10 Sep 1939 Declaration of war by Canada▲
When the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, Canada’s political leaders unnecessarily sought political approval of the federal parliament to declare war to make a point of the dominion’s new independence from Britain. The House of Commons and Senate of Canada approved authorization for the declaration on 9 September, after which the High Commissioner obtained the signature of King George VI as head of state. Canada officially declared war on Germany on 10 September.