Nations Invaded by Germany in World War Two

 

 

World War Two in Europe is largely the story of German aggression and the response of the Allied nations and the peoples of the nations occupied by the Germans.  Beginning with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded and occupied many nations in Europe as well as intervening in North Africa and in the Middle East.

Below is a list of nations invaded and attacked by Germany in World War Two, with dates and some detail as a summary.

German Paratroopers in Belgium in 1940

German Paratroopers in Belgium in 1940

 

1939-1945: German Invasions, Attacks, and Interventions During World War Two

*Unless indicated otherwise, Germany occupied the invaded nations (or parts of nations) from the date of the invasion to 1945.

1939: German Invasion of Poland (Sept. 1, 1939). Germany had made a pre-war deal with the Soviet Union, (Poland's hostile neighbor to the East), to divide Poland between them.  The German attack of September 1, 1939, was joined by Stalin's Red Army as the Soviets invaded Poland from the East on September 22, 1939.

1939-1945: Battle of the Atlantic (beginning with an Allied blockade of Germany, and then progressing to German submarine warfare on Allied and Neutral shipping).  Germany attempted a repeat of their naval tactics from World War One, using a powerful submarine fleet in an attempt to isolate and starve out Great Britain.  German surface vessels attempted to raid Allied shipping, but most of those ships were captured or destroyed by the middle of 1940.

1940: German Invasion of Denmark and Norway (also involved combat against intervening British and French forces in Norway). Germany occupied Denmark and Norway until the end of the war in May, 1945.

1940: German Invasion of Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France (also involved combat against the British Expeditionary Force in France). Germany occupied most of the so-called Low Countries until Allied forces sweeping up from France after D-Day drove out the Germans. Most of Belgium was liberated by the end of 1944.  Large areas of the Netherlands were still under German occupation when the war ended in May, 1945.

1940: The Battle of Britain (July to October, 1940)-Following the expulsion of British forces from Europe, Germany initiated a campaign of aerial bombardment in an unsuccessful attempt to bomb the British into submission)

1941-1943: German Intervention in the North African Campaign (to save the Italians from the British and Commonwealth forces based in Egypt.  The Americans would become involved in force in 1942. German units would fight in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia)

1941: German Invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece (also involved combat against intervening British forces in Greece)

1941: German Intervention in the Anglo-Iraqi War (German warplanes flew to Iraq to aid the Iraqi Army as it unsuccessfully fought the British)

1941: German Invasion of the Soviet Union/Eastern Front Campaign (June 22, 1941-this invasion would take German and Axis forces to the gates of Moscow before the Soviets slowly began pushing the Germans back toward Berlin)

1943-1945: Italian Campaign (German forces attempted to defend their Axis ally Italy from the Allied -primarily American and British- forces invading Sicily and Italy. Soon after the Allied invasion of mainland Italy in the summer of 1943, the Italians deposed Mussolini and began fighting against the Germans)

After the Allied invasions of Italy and France, and after the Soviets turned back Axis forces after the Battle of Stalingrad, German forces were on the defensive.

 

Questions about countries invaded and attacked by Germany in World War Two:

 

Wait, what about the European countries of Austria and Czechoslovakia?  Weren't they under German occupation also? 

Austria was occupied in 1938 by Germany and more-or-less voluntarily became part of Germany.  The Austrian complicity with Hitler's regime was such that after the war, Austria was treated as a member of the Axis and was occupied by Allied armies for ten years. 

Czechoslovakia was invaded (without actual combat), and annexed by Germany in pieces beginning in 1938 and extending into 1939. Though considered the first foreign victim of German aggression, this took place prior to the outbreak of the actual war.

 

Ok, that makes sense, but what about Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Finland?  They all had German troops fighting on their territory in World War Two?

True, but Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria were all allies of the Germans and actually joined Germany, Italy, and Japan in the Axis.  Finland never joined the Axis, but was a German ally beginning in 1941 when they joined in the invasion of the Soviet Union.  Finland's motivation was purely one of revenge.  The Soviets had defeated Finland in the Winter War of 1939-1940.

 

 

 

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