The Allies and Axis powers at the dawn of the German/Soviet invasion of Poland
1: The Republic of China and the Empire of Japan are involved in the early stages of the third year of armed conflict between them during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The war is in what will be known as the "Second Period", which starts in October 1938 and ends in December 1941. This conflict will eventually be swept up into World War II when Japan joins the Axis and China joins the Allies.
4: In the first British offensive action of the war, the Royal Air Force launch a raid on the German fleet in the Heligoland Bight. They target the German pocket-battleship Admiral Scheer anchored off Wilhelmshaven at the western end of the Kiel Canal. Several aircraft are lost in the attack and, although the German vessel is hit three times, all of the bombs fail to explode.
4: Japan announces its neutrality in the European situation. The British Admiralty announces the beginning of a naval blockade on Germany, one of a range of measures by which the British will wage economic warfare on the Axis powers.
24: Soviet air force violates Estonian airspace. The Estonians negotiate with Molotov in Moscow. Molotov warns the Estonians that if the Soviet Union doesn’t get military bases in Estonia, it will be forced to use "more radical actions".
25: German home front measures begin with food rationing.
25: Soviet air activity in Estonia. Soviet troops along the Estonian border include 600 tanks, 600 aircraft and 160 000 men.
26: Following a massive artillery bombardment, the Germans launch a major infantry assault on the centre of Warsaw.
26: Russian bombers seen in the Tallinn sky.
27: In the first offensive operations by the German Army in Western Europe, guns on the Siegfried Line open up on villages behind French Maginot line.
28: The remaining Polish army and militia in the centre of Warsaw capitulate to the Germans.
28: Soviet troops mass by the Latvian border. Latvian air space violated.
28: Estonia signs a 10-year Mutual Assistance Pact with the Soviet Union, which allows the Soviets to have 30 000-men military bases in Estonia. As a gift in return Stalin promises to respect Estonian independence.
30: French forces on the French-German border fall back to the Maginot Line in anticipation of a German invasion.
1: Latvian representatives negotiate with Stalin and Molotov. Soviets threaten an occupation by force if they do not get military bases in Latvia.
2: Declaration of Panama is approved by American Republics. Belligerent activities should not take place within waters adjacent to the American continent. A neutrality zone of some 300 miles (480 km) in breadth is to be patrolled by the U.S. Navy.
3: British forces move to the Belgian border, anticipating a German invasion of the West.
3: Lithuanians meet Stalin and Molotov in Moscow. Stalin offers Lithuania the city of Vilnius (in Poland) in return for allowing Soviet military bases in Lithuania. The Lithuanians are reluctant.
5: Latvia signs a 10-year Mutual Assistance Pact with the Soviet Union, which allows the Soviets to have 25,000 men in military bases in Latvia. Stalin promises to respect Latvian independence.
10: The last of Poland's military surrenders to the Germans.
10: The leaders of the German navy suggest to Hitler they need to occupy Norway.
10: British Prime Minister Chamberlain declines Hitler's offer of peace.
10: Lithuania signs a 15-year Mutual Assistance Pact with the Soviet Union, which allows the Soviets to have 20,000 men in military bases in Lithuania. In a secret protocol, Vilnius is made Lithuanian territory.
11: An estimated 158,000 British troops are now in France.
12: Adolf Eichmann starts deporting Jews from Austria and Czechoslovakia into Poland.
12: Finland's representatives meet Stalin and Molotov in Moscow. Soviet Union demands Finland give up a military base near Helsinki and exchange some Soviet and Finnish territories to protect Leningrad against Great Britain or the eventual future threat of Germany.
1: Russia continues its war against Finland; Helsinki is bombed. In the first two weeks of the month, the Finns retreat to the Mannerheim line, an outmoded defensive line just inside the southern border with Russia.
29: As the year ends, the Finns continue to have successes in fighting the invaders, along the way capturing many men and vehicles.
31: German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels makes a radio address reviewing the official Nazi version of the events of 1939. No predictions were made for 1940 other than saying that the next year "will be a hard year, and we must be ready for it."