History Timeline 1940's

Troops from the United States and other Allied nations land on the beach at Normandy, France in 1944, beginning the western European invasion that would lead to defeat of Nazi Germany.

World War II, Invading Africa

U.S. Timeline - The 1940s

World War II



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  • 1949 Detail

    April 4, 1949 - NATO, the North American Treaty Organization, is formed by the United States, Canada, and ten Western European nations (Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom). The treaty stated that any attack against one nation would be considered an attack against them all.

    Signing of NATO Pact


    It was a necessary step for security in the wake of the end of World War II just passed and the continuously emerging threat of the Cold War on the rise. There had been an attempt already at a treaty that would secure the states of the North Atlantic against attack. The Treaty of Brussels had been signed on March 17, 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom as a mutual defense pact against the Soviet Union. Eight days later, the Soviet Union issued orders that would restrict military and passenger traffic between the French, British, and American sectors of Germany and Berlin. By June 24, the Berlin blockade was in full force. The Treaty of Brussels was not going to be enough. The power of the nations involved would not be strong enough to counter the Soviet Union.

    Secret negotiations on a stronger pact began in 1948, involving the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. The tenants of the organization were strong. Paramount to the North Atlantic Treaty was the promise that an attack against any one of those who signed would be considered an attack against all. The other nations would respond, either diplomatically or militarily, to assist. During the first year, NATO was predominantly considered a political organization, however, with the outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula in 1950, that began to change. By January of 1951, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, as Supreme Allied Commander, was placed in charge of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe and tasked with devising military plans. Thirty-five divisions would be ready to take action, if necessary, with nuclear weapons used as a threat to insure peace. Military exercises showing the power of the alliance would begin in September 1952.

    "By this treaty, we are not only seeking to establish freedom from aggression and from the use of force in the North Atlantic community, but we are also actively striving to promote and preserve peace throughout the world." Harry S. Truman, August 24, 1949.



    Timeline of the Expansion of NATO


    April 4, 1949 - Original Members - Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States. Note: Iceland does not have its own Army. France withdrew from the integrated military command in 1966 due to de Gaulle's disagreement with U.S. preeminence, but returned in full in 2009.

    February 18, 1952 - Greece and Turkey join. Greece would withdraw from the integrated military command from 1974 to 1980 due to tensions with Turkey.

    May 6, 1955 - West Germany joins NATO with full integration as a united Germany on October 3, 1990.

    May 30, 1982 - Spain.

    March 12, 1999 - Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.

    March 29, 2004 - Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia.

    April 1, 2009 - Albania and Croatia.

    June 5, 2017 - Montenegro.

    At the current time, approximately 7.3 million troops, both active and reserve, are available in the military of the various nations combined.


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    Full Text, NATO Treaty 1949


    NATO Treaty; Washington DC, 4th April 1949

    The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.

    They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.

    They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.

    They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security.

    They therefore agree to this North Atlantic Treaty:

    ARTICLE 1 - The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

    ARTICLE 2 - The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting conditions of stability and well-being. They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.

    ARTICLE 3 - In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.

    ARTICLE 4 - The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.

    ARTICLE 5 - The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all, and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective selfdefence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually, and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

    Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

    ARTICLE 6 - For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:

    - on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France, on the territory of Turkey or on the islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer; - on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.

    ARTICLE 7 - The Treaty does not effect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting, in any way the rights and obligations under the Charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.

    ARTICLE 8 - Each Party declares that none of the international engagements now in force between it and any other of the Parties or any third State is in conflict with the provisions of this Treaty, and undertakes not to enter into any international engagement in conflict with this Treaty.

    ARTICLE 9 - The Parties hereby establish a Council, on which each of them shall be represented to consider matters concerning the implementation of this Treaty. The Council shall be so organised as to be able to meet promptly at any time. The Council shall set up such subsidiary bodies as may be necessary; in particular it shall establish immediately a defence committee which shall recommend measures for the implementation of Articles 3 and 5.

    ARTICLE 10 - The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty. Any State so invited may become a party to the Treaty by depositing its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America. The Government of the United States of America will inform each of the Parties of the deposit of each such instrument of accession.

    ARTICLE 11 - This Treaty shall be ratified and its provisions carried out by the Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional processes. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited as soon as possible with the Government of the United States of America, which will notify all the other signatories of each deposit. The Treaty shall enter into force between the States which have ratified it as soon as the ratification of the majority of the signatories, including the ratifications of Belgium, Canada, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, have been deposited and shall come into effect with respect to other States on the date of the deposit of their ratifications.

    ARTICLE 12 - After the Treaty has been in force for ten years, or at any time thereafter, the Parties shall, if any of them so requests, consult together for the purpose of reviewing the Treaty, having regard for the factors then affecting peace and security in the North Atlantic area including the development of universal as well as regional arrangements under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.

    ARTICLE 13 - After the Treaty has been in force for twenty years, any Party may cease to be a Party one year after its notice of denunciation has been given to the Government of the United States of America, which will inform the Governments of the other Parties of the deposit of each notice of denunciation.

    ARTICLE 14 - This Treaty, of which the English and French texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the Government of the United States of America. Duly certified copies will be transmitted by that government to the governments of the other signatories.

    The Brussels Treaty, March 17, 1948


    Treaty of Economic, Social and Cultural Collaboration and Collective Self-Defence

    His Royal Highness the Prince Regent of Belgium, the President of the French Republic, President of the French Union, Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands and His Majesty The King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas,

    Resolved: To reaffirm their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the other ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations; To fortify and preserve the principles of democracy, personal freedom and political liberty, the constitutional traditions and the rule of law, which are their common heritage; To strengthen, with these aims in view, the economic, social and cultural ties by which they are already united; To cooperate loyally and to coordinate their efforts to create in Western Europe a firm basis for European economic recovery; To afford assistance to each other, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, in maintaining international peace and security and in resisting any policy of aggression; To take such steps as may be held to be necessary in the event of a renewal by Germany of a policy of aggression; To associate progressively in the pursuance of these aims other States inspired by the same ideals and animated by the like determination; Desiring for these purposes to conclude a treaty for collaboration in economic, social and cultural matters and for collective self-defence;

    Have appointed as their Plenipotentiaries: His Royal Highness the Prince Regent of Belgium: His Excellency Mr. Paul-Henri Spaak, Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and His Excellency Mr. Gaston Eyskens, Minister of Finance; The President of the French Republic, President of the French Union: His Excellency Mr. Georges Bidault, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and His Excellency Mr. Jean De Hauteclocque, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the French Republic in Brussels; Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg: His Excellency Mr. Joseph Bech, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and His Excellency Mr. Robert Als, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Luxembourg in Brussels; Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands: His Excellency Baron C.G.W.H. Van Boetzelaer Van Oosterhout, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and His Excellency Baron Binnert Philip Van Harinxma Thoe Slooten, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Netherlands in Brussels; His Majesty the King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: The Right Honourable Ernest Bevin, Member of Parliament, Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and His Excellency Sir George William Rendel, K.C.M.G., Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of His Britannic Majesty in Brussels; who, having exhibited their full powers found in good and due form, have agreed as follows:

    Article I - Convinced of the close community of their interests and of the necessity of uniting in order to promote the economic recovery of Europe, the High Contracting Parties will so organise and cordinate their economic activities as to produce the best possible results, by the elimination of conflict in their economic policies, the coordination of production and the development of commercial exchanges.

    The cooperation provided for in the preceding paragraph, which will be effected through the Consultative Council referred to in Article VII as well as through other bodies, shall not involve any duplication of, or prejudice to, the work of other economic organisations in which the High Contracting Parties are or may be represented but shall on the contrary assist the work of those organisations.

    Article II - The High Contracting Parties will make every effort in common, both by direct consultation and in specialised agencies, to promote the attainment of a higher standard of living by their peoples and to develop on corresponding lines the social and other related services of their countries.

    The High Contracting Parties will consult with the object of achieving the earliest possible application of recommendations of immediate practical interest, relating to social matters, adopted with their approval in the specialised agencies.

    They will endeavour to conclude as soon as possible conventions with each other in the sphere of social security.

    Article III - The High Contracting Parties will make every effort in common to lead their peoples towards a better understanding of the principles which form the basis of their common civilisation and to promote cultural exchanges by conventions between themelves or by other means.

    Article IV - If any of the High Contracting Parties should be the object of an armed attack in Europe, the other High Contracting Parties will, in accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, afford the Party so attacked all the military and other aid and assistance in their power.

    Article V - All measures taken as a result of the preceding Article shall be immediately reported to the Security Council. They shall be terminated as soon as the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.

    The present Treaty does not prejudice in any way the obligations of the High Contracting Parties under the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. It shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

    Article VI - The High Contracting Parties declare, each so far as he is concerned, that none of the international engagements now in force between him and any other of the High Contracting Parties or any third State is in conflict with the provisions of the present Treaty.

    None of the High Contracting Parties will conclude any alliance or participate in any coalition directed against any other of the High Contracting Parties.

    Article VII - For the purpose of consulting together on all the questions dealt with in the present Treaty, the High Contracting Parties will create a Consultative Council, which shall be so organised as to be able to exercise its functions continuously. The Council shall meet at such times as it shall deem fit.

    At the request of any of the High Contracting Parties, the Council shall be immediately convened in order to permit the High Contracting Parties to consult with regard to any situation which may constitute a threat to peace, in whatever area this threat should arise; with regard to the attitude to be adopted and the steps to be taken in case of a renewal by Germany of an aggressive policy; or with regard to any situation constituting a danger to economic stability.

    Article VIII - In pursuance of their determination to settle disputes only by peaceful means, the High Contracting Parties will apply to disputes between themselves the following provisions.

    The High Contracting Parties will, while the present Treaty remains in force, settle all disputes falling within the scope of Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute of the International Court of Justice by referring them to the Court, subject only, in the case of each of them, to any reservation already made by that party when accepting this clause for compulsory jurisdiction to the extent that that Party may maintain the reservation.

    In addition, the High Contracting Parties will submit to conciliation all disputes outside the scope of Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. In the case of a mixed dispute involving both questions for which conciliation is appropriate and other questions for which judicial settlement is appropriate, any Party to the dispute shall have the right to insist that the judicial settlement of the legal questions shall precede conciliation.

    The preceding provisions of this Article in no way affect the application of relevant provisions or agreements prescribing some other method of pacific settlement.

    Article IX - The High Contracting Parties may, by agreement, invite any other State to accede to the present Treaty on conditions to be agreed between them and the State so invited.

    Any State so invited may become a Party to the Treaty by depositing an instrument of accession with the Belgian Government.

    The Belgian Government will inform each of the High Contracting Parties of the deposit of each instrument of accession.

    Article X - The present Treaty shall be ratified and the instruments of ratification shall be deposited as soon as possible with the Belgian Government.

    It shall enter into force on the date of the deposit of the last instrument of ratification and shall thereafter remain in force for fifty years.

    After the expiry of the period of fifty years, each of the High Contracting Parties shall have the right to cease to be a party thereto provided that he shall have previously given one year's notice of denunciation to the Belgian Government.

    The Belgian Government shall inform the Governments of the other High Contracting Parties of the deposit of each instrument of ratification and of each notice of denunciation.

    In witness whereof, the above-mentioned Plenipotentiaries have signed the present Treaty and have affixed thereto their seals.

    Done at Brussels, this seventeenth day of March 1948, in English and French, each text being equally authentic, in a single copy which shall remain deposited in the archives of the Belgian Government and of which certified copies shall be transmitted by that Government to each of the other signatories.

    Photo above: President Harry Truman signs the North Atlantic Treaty in the White House, August 24, 1949, with (left to right) Sir Derick Boyer Millar, United Kingdom; Ambassador Henrik de Kauffmann of Denmark; W. D. Matthews, Canada; Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson; Ambassador Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstierne of Norway; Ambassador Henri Bonnet of France; Ambassador Pedro Theotonio Pereira of Portugal; Secretary of State Dean Acheson; Jonkheer O. Reuchlin, the Netherlands; and Mario Lucielli, Italy, 1949, Abbie Rowe. Courtesy National Archives. Image below: Four photographs from a NATO conference with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, including photos with Charles de Gualle and Winston Churchill, 1963, U.S. News and World Report Magazine Collection. Courtesy Library of Congress. Info source: Harry Truman Library, American Foreign Policy 1950-1955 Basic Documents, Volume 1, Department of State Publication 6446 General Foreign Policy Series 117, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1957 via the Avalon Project, Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy, Yale Law School; NATO.int; Wikipedia Commons.


    Eisenhower at a NATO Conference




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