This map shows the territorial and political situation of Europe in
December 1941, more than two years after the beginning of the Second
World War. At that point in time, the territory occupied by Germany and
its allies stretched from the western coast of France to the Black Sea.
In the north, Denmark and Norway had been occupied; in the south,
Germany and the Axis Powers had managed to advance as far as Crete.
After a series of “Blitzkriege,” Hitler had succeeded in extending his
power to virtually the entire European continent. After the invasion of
Poland in 1939, German armed forces conquered Denmark, Norway, the
Netherlands, Belgium, and France, in quick succession. After the signing
of Franco-German Armistice on June 22, 1940, France was divided in two:
the northern portion of the country was under German occupation, while
the southern portion of the country was governed by the collaborationist
Vichy Regime. In early March/April 1941, Yugoslavia and Greece were also
occupied, and German troops cooperated with Italian forces in the
Mediterranean area, above all in Northern Africa. The state of
Yugoslavia was dissolved; the state of Croatia was founded. Success
eluded Hitler only in the air war against England. On June 22, 1941, the
Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union, registering initial successes there.
That same month, Romania joined the war on the side of the Axis Powers.
In the southern part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was occupied; in the
northern part, the Baltic states. On December 5, 1941, Estonia became
the last Baltic state to be incorporated into the "Reich
Commissariat Ostland". It remained an operational area for the
army, however, which is why it is marked both as an occupied territory
and an operational area in this map. After Japan launched a surprise
attack on the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, Hitler kept a promise he had made to
the Japanese government and declared war on the U.S. in December 1941.
Germany and its allies were now fighting in Russia, the Balkans, Africa,
and on the oceans against the Allied forces of America, England, the
Soviet Union, and the French government in exile.