world War II to be a great tragedy, declare 60 million lives and also throwing millions an ext into turmoil. However the war likewise spurred rapid technical development, quickened the finish of colonialism, and also laid the structure for establishments like the unified Nations and the europe Union. Right here are 42 maps that explain the conflict — exactly how it started, why the Allies won, and how it has actually shaped the modern-day world.

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1) world War II, animated

World battle II was the biggest conflict in people history, with significant battles on 3 continents and some the the largest naval engagements in history. This amazingly in-depth animated map, by YouTube user Emperor Tigerstar, provides a global view that the conflict. It shows Japanese occupations in the Pacific, German benefit in Europe, and then the slow however inexorable Allied initiative to recapture the lost territory. The complete YouTube animation, obtainable here is even much more detailed, through a structure for each day the the war.

2) The Allied nations had bigger economies, a vital factor in your triumph

Tyson Whiting, data courtesy of mark Harrison A most factors contributed to the ultimate success of the Allies over the Axis powers. Yet the most important factor was economics. Once the joined States and also the Soviet Union entered on the Allied side of the battle in 1941, the an unified economic output of the Allies was approximately twice that of the Axis powers. And that was vital because civilization War II was the many mechanized war in background up to the point. Troops required a consistent supply of brand-new tanks, guns, airplanes, ships, bombs, and also other manufactured goods. It was just a issue of time before the space in economic output detailed a decisive benefit on the battlefield.

3) After human being War I, the allies took region away indigenous Germany

Fluteflute meeting in Paris in 1919, in ~ the end of human being War I, the victorious Allies redrew the map of Europe. They dismembered the previous Austro-Hungarian Empire and also shrank the boundaries of Germany, creating several new countries in main Europe. Adolf Hitler exploited German resentment that the war’s result to assist his rise to power. When Hitler began forcefully linking territory come his eastern in 1938, the provoked a political dilemm and, a year later, the start of civilization War II.

The Axis (and the Soviet Union) attacks

4) Japan and China were currently at battle in 1937

unified States army Academy

People often describe world War II as beginning in September 1939 once Germany got into Poland. But Japan and also China had already been at battle for several years at that point. China was politically chaotic in the at an early stage 1930s, and also Japan saw opportunities for territorial expansion. Japan established a puppet state referred to as Manchukuo in Manchuria in 1932 and also dispatched troops to the area. Stress escalated into full-scale war by 1937. This map reflects the case in 1940; the areas in pink were under Japanese control. Japan never acquired full manage of China, however neither might Chinese forces under Chiang Kai-shek expel the Japanese from Chinese are without assist from the united States.

5) Hitler demands the Sudetenland, the German-speaking parts of Czechoslovakia

Fext Hitler annexed neighboring Austria in 1938, an occasion that was welcomed by countless of the country’s inhabitants. Next, he collection his sights on the Sudetenland, a region of Czechoslovakia with big German-speaking populations. This map reflects the fraction of German speakers in every of the righteousness districts in the contemporary Czech Republic (which to be then the western half of Czechoslovakia) in the 1930s. As you deserve to see, areas near the borders with Germany (to the Northwest) and also Austria (to the Southwest) were mostly German-speaking. Hitler declared that these regions have to be part of Germany, and his hazards to take them by force sparked a political crisis. British prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler in Munich, in September 1938 to talk about the crisis. The Czechoslovakian federal government wasn’t invite the the negotiations. Chamberlain agreed to let Hitler annex these sections of Czechoslovakia in exchange because that a promise native Hitler no to seek more territorial gains. Chamberlain declared that the agreement represented “peace because that our time,” i beg your pardon of course it didn’t.

6) Germany and also the Soviet Union shock the civilization with a non-aggression pact

Peter Hanula civilization were offered to reasoning of Nazis and also Communists as occupying opposite end of the political spectrum, so the world was stunned in august 1939 when Hitler and also Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin make a non-aggression pact. While the visibility of the pact to be made public, the world didn’t know about a an enig addendum detailing Hitler and also Stalin’s joint plan to dismember the countries that lay in between them. So when Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, the British and also French responded by advertising war top top the Nazis. In contrast, Stalin simply made plan to invade Poland native the other direction. Through the finish of 1940, the Soviet Union had actually not just annexed part of Poland, yet the nations of Latvia, Lithuania, and also Estonia as well.

7) Russia invades Finland in the “winter war”

Americans mainly remember civilization War II as a conflict to protect against aggression by Germany and also Japan. Yet it’s vital to remember that America’s ally, the Soviet Union, was also guilty the unprovoked aggression. Not just did Soviet troops annex the Eastern half of Poland soon after Hitler attacked the country, yet the Russians launched the little-remembered “Winter War” versus Finland in November 1939. The vastly outnumbered Finnish troops placed up a surprisingly stiff resistance, imposing hefty losses ~ above a Russian army that wasn’t well ready for combat in the gall cold atmosphere of a Finnish winter. Finland combated the Soviets to a standstill, losing about 10 percent of their territory but maintaining their sovereignty. Finland’s hostility towards the Soviets forced the relatively liberal democracy right into an aer de facto alliance v Nazi Germany. Together a result, Finland to be diplomatically isolated after the war and also wasn’t invite to sign up with the anti-Soviet NATO alliance.

8) France’s Maginot heat helped more than friend think

joined States army Academy The trench warfare of world War I encouraged the French that a solid defense would be critical to preventing a future German invasion. Therefore France constructed a collection of fortifications known as the Maginot line (the hefty blue line in the lower-right the the map here) that extended along the typical border between France and also Germany. Hitler realized the a frontal assault on the Line would certainly be counterproductive. Instead, in a repeat of German strategy from civilization War I, Germany struck through Belgium and Holland, two little countries the lay north of France. The Germans soon reached the portion of the French border not protected by the Maginot Line. The pink region in this map reflects German gains between May 10 and May 16, 1940. The Maginot heat has end up being a symbol because that backwards-looking bureaucracies that waste resources “fighting the critical war.” however this criticism is somewhat unfair. The true that the solved defenses that the heat were less useful versus highly cell phone Nazi tanks than they would have been against German troops circa 1914. But the Maginot heat still played critical role in the defense that France. The forced early on fighting to take place on Belgian rather than French soil, providing the French army time come mobilize before German troops arrived. And also it permitted the French — whose army was smaller sized than Germany’s — to concentration their forces along the parts of the border not protected by the Maginot Line. The line didn’t protect against the Germans native overrunning French defenses, but it most likely helped.

The Allies besieged

9) tens of thousands of British troops escape from Dunkirk

joined States army Academy The war in France didn’t walk well for the Allies. French and also British troops were required to retreat promptly as German troops advanced. By may 21, German troops had encircled the brother forces, successfully trapping them through their backs come the sea. Together the Germans close up door in from three sides (gaining the territory highlighted in pink here), the brother troops were ordered come evacuate, which castle did in between May 27 and also June 4. In all, 338,000 British and also French troops escaped. If the circumstances that necessitated the evacuation weren’t an excellent news for the Allies, the effective evacuation was a minor triumph. The saved thousands of thousands of brother troops that would go on to fight the Nazis later on in the war.

10) The amphibious intrusion of the united kingdom that never ever happened

Wereon Germany knocked France the end of the war by the finish of June 1940, leave the united kingdom to face the Nazis alone. This map reflects Hitler’s planned next step: one amphibious invasion of the brother Isles. Yet first, Germany necessary to gain manage of the skies end Britain. The brothers were figured out to protect against that. The dispute British element Minister Winston Churchill referred to as the “Battle that Britain” was the very first large-scale conflict to be battled primarily in the air. It didn’t go well for the Nazis. Between July and also October, they shed dramatically more airplanes than the British. British sector was maybe to develop planes an ext quickly 보다 their enemies can destroy them, something the wasn’t true because that the Germans. As the British advantage in the waiting grew, Hitler was required to shelve his intrusion plans.

11) Hitler starts targeting brother cities

Bomb Sight job
As it came to be clear he wasn’t going to be able to destroy the imperial Air Force, Hitler switched strategies and began battle British cities, an occasion that came to be known as the Blitz. Many thanks to the Bomb vision project, you have the right to see an interaction map that bombs to reduce on London between October 7, 1940, and also June 6, 1941. These attacks took a hefty toll, through as many as 43,000 brothers civilians killed and also 139,000 injured. And also those Londoners not straight touched by tragedy to be profoundly influenced by having to spend many long, uncomfortable nights in bomb shelters. Hitler hoped that attacking civilian populations can break the spirit of the brother people, yet he underestimated his foes. Brits arised from month of bombings as figured out as ever. The British and Americans bombers would topic German cities to even more intensive bombings later on in the war. A three-day battle campaign versus Dresden in February 1945 took an ext than 20,000 German lives.

12) A Nazi-friendly French federal government takes power in Vichy

Eric Gaba and Rama Officially, Germany didn’t complete its conquest of France in 1940. Instead, France signed an armistice that kept a degree of French sovereignty in the southern components of France that had not yet been overrun by German troops. In a July 10 vote, the French conference voted to provide power come a new, Nazi-friendly routine under former general Philippe Pétain. What sovereignty the Vichy government had was ended in November 1942, once the Nazis lived in the remainder of France. While the Vichy federal government maintained nominal control after 1942, it to be a puppet routine for the remainder the the war. The level to i beg your pardon the Vichy program collaborated v the Nazis — consisting of participation in the persecution that Jews — has been a source of controversy and also recrimination in French culture ever since.

The USA and also USSR are drawn into the conflict

13) Hitler betrays Stalin and also invades Russia

Gdr, Zocky, Marskell, Felix116, Forteblast, and also Mahahahaneapneap In 1939, Hitler had actually signed a pact vowing not to strike the Soviet Union. Yet in June 1941 Hitler broke his promise and also invaded his east neighbor. In the first couple of months, the project was stunningly successful. The Nazis were able to drive hundreds of miles east and reach the outskirts of Moscow by October. But then Stalin was conserved by the bile cold winter. The Soviets had more experience operation in cold weather and were much better prepared than the Nazis. German tools was not designed for below-zero temperatures, German soldiers were under-dressed, and also they short essentials such together antifreeze. Germany never took Moscow, and that failure showed to it is in a critical turning suggest in the war. Germany just didn’t have actually the manpower or commercial base come fight a lengthy two-front war versus the Soviet Union and the brother Empire.

14) The Nazis start a gruesome siege that Leningrad

Katikati college among the worst locations to it is in during world War II was in Leningrad (modern-day St. Petersburg), i m sorry is located at a strategic place on the Gulf of Finland. As soon as the Germans got to Leningrad in September 1941, they made decision to merely encircle the city and also starve its citizens into submission. They received some assistance from the adjacent Finns, who took are north the Leningrad. Numerous thousands that Leningrad residents died in the winter of 1941-42. The worst month that the famine, February 1942, had actually days when more than 20,000 human being died. The city’s suffering would have been also worse if the Soviets had actually not prospered in building the “Road of Life,” a route across the frozen Lake Ladoga that allowed some provisions to be brought into the city and some civilians to be sent out out. The city stayed under siege for much more than two years before the Red military finally journey the Nazis the end of the area.

15) The Japanese stage a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor

Del Leu

As war raged in Europe and Asia, Americans continued to be ambivalent about the conflict. Numerous took a dim view of America’s authorized in human being War I, and also they didn’t want to send your sons to dice on remote battlefields again. However everything readjusted on December 7, 1941, once the Japanese launched a surprise assault on the united state Pacific Fleet in Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor. This map mirrors which ships to be in the harbor that morning and how much damages the Japanese assault did. Japan pertained to US entry right into the battle as unavoidable (America had already imposed trade limitations over Japanese strikes in China), and also they hoped that a surprise strike would damage enough of the American marine to certain Japanese supremacy of the sea. This proved to it is in a miscalculation. Because that one thing, the most an effective ships in the American fleet, its aircraft carriers, were no in the area on the fateful day. But an ext important, the American economic climate was much more than 5 times as huge as Japan’s — the US easily replaced the pearls that had actually been destroyed, and would eventually build many more.

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16) The Japanese realm expands in the Pacific

Reports of general MacArthur (1950) Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor to be intended to knock the united state Navy the end of commission, clearing the means for one ambitious military campaign in the Pacific. The is depicted by this map all set by Douglas MacArthur, among the top American commanders in the Pacific. (Solid lines present actual Japanese attacks, dotted lines show assaults the americans feared could come next.) In the months after the Hawaii attack, the Japanese attacked the Philippines, Burma, brand-new Guinea, and also the Dutch eastern Indies. The Japanese took the British colonies of Hong Kong in December and also Singapore in February. By the summer of 1942, the Japanese had overcame a broad swath of south east Asia, smashing the aura of European and American invincibility that had permitted Western nations to overcome the an ar for for this reason long.