At its height, approximately 80 nations and territories were engaged in World War II, with Germany, the Axis powerhouse, invading and occupying nearly one-fourth of those countries and territories.
Two years after the outbreak of World War II, German troops had taken over the whole continent of Europe using blitzkreig (flash war) tactics, which were ruthless and devastating at the same time.
During World War II, Germany invaded the following countries:
- Czechoslovakia (the modern Czech Republic and Slovakia)
- Guernsey (U.K. Channel Island)
- Jersey (U.K. Channel Island)
- Russia (partial occupation)
- San Marino
- Yugoslavia (modern Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia)
Following is a list of the countries that Hitler invaded during World War II:
Austria — March 12, 1938
During World War II, Germany’s annexation of Austria was a unique invasion: Austrians welcomed the Germans into their nation, thinking that the Anchluss (German for joining) would help Austria’s lagging economy.
Adolf Hitler saw Austria as an extension of Germany, despite the Treaty of Versaille forbidding such a union after World War I. As a result, most Austrians voted retrospectively in favour of the legislation and enthusiastically embraced the Nazi cause.
Czechoslovakia — September 29, 1938
The German conquest of Sudetenland, a bordering area of Czechoslovakia home to a substantial German-speaking population, was done with little violence.
As promised in 1924 and 1925, France vowed to defend Czech territory but signed the Munich Agreement in 1938, which agreed to German demands that Sudetenland is handed over to Germany, despite its previous promises.
When it was announced, Hitler had said that the Sudetenland would be the last of his territorial demands. Therefore it was generally believed that the Munich Agreement had avoided full-scale war in Europe.
The Munich Agreement had two key aims for Hitler. In the first place, it proved that he could push other European countries until they backed down without a struggle, which supported his bold methods.
To further his objective of unifying all Germany’s German-speaking people, it brought together the German-speaking population of Czechoslovakia and Germany.
During the spring of 1939, Hitler induced the Slovak area of Czechoslovakia to proclaim independence as the First Slovak Republic (Slovakia), which he immediately embraced as a puppet state of the Nazi party.
Despite the Munich Agreement, Hitler’s armies invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia, completing his control of the nation. Germany’s Italian ally, Italy, invaded Albania on April 7, 1939, and annexed it.
Poland — September 1, 1939
The assault on Germany by Adolf Hitler is often considered the beginning of World War II. Armed Soviet troops (who had signed a non-aggression pact with Germany) attacked from the east on September 17, joining the Nazi invasion from the north, south, and west on September 1.
Poland succumbed quickly, and on October 6, Russia and Germany split and seized the whole country. With increased living space, Hitler’s army could expand their control region since he believed the Germans, as the master race, had a right to expand their borders.
On November 30, 1939, Russia invaded Finland.
Denmark and Norway — April 9, 1940
Hitler’s interest in Denmark was more geopolitical than ethnic, despite the presence of a tiny German-speaking community in the country’s southern part.
In addition to securing Germany’s northern border, the little country’s capitulation on the day of the invasion provided the Nazis with a strategically important base from which to launch operations.
Aside from ideological motivations, Norway’s invasion was largely motivated by strategic considerations. Taking control of Norway on June 9 gave Germany access to important North Atlantic trade routes, increasing its trading choices but complicating those of the United Kingdom and France.
The mines of Sweden might also be reached through the country’s eastern and southern borders. The Germans’ war effort would be severely hindered without access to resources and reliable commerce channels.
France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg — May 10, 1940
When Germany decided to attack many countries at once in Western Europe, it moved its attention there. Within a day, Luxembourg was overwhelmed and captured by German tanks.
The Netherlands surrendered on May 14 after recognizing that it had no defense against the Luftwaffe’s catastrophic bombing assault on the Dutch capital city of Amsterdam.
Although the onslaught was a ruse, the Allied troops had been preparing for this kind of invasion for months.
Battle lines were skirted by the covert deployment of the main German army, which encircled and pushed back Belgian defenders into the English Channel, leading to Dunkirk’s famed sea-borne evacuation of more than 300,000 Allied troops and the capitulation of Belgium on May 28, 1940.
France (2nd offensive) — June 5, 1940
Following the loss of Germany in World War I, Hitler shifted his attention to France, which had previously invaded Germany in September 1939 before fleeing.
Maginot Line, France’s border defense, was built after the First World War and was dubbed such because of its concrete construction. On the other hand, France had not extended the Maginot Line to the border with Belgium.
Though French and British troops had been re-energized, more German forces could evade the Maginot line fully by cutting through Belgium and entering Paris relatively unhindered on June 14 despite their gallant efforts.
In 1940, France formally surrendered to Germany after signing an armistice on June 22. A second German surrender took place at Compiègne, France, which was also the site of the first. Vichy France is established as a German puppet state in France, which is unlawful.
Guernsey and Jersey (British Channel Islands) — June 30, 1940
The British government opted not to defend these tiny islands off the coast of Norway, despite including modest airfields. For its part, Dunkirk, Belgium’s people, were told to leave the island after helping evacuate soldiers from the city.
When the Germans came, they quickly seized control, built fortifications, and deported the remaining population back to Germany. Food shortages and fiercer-than-anticipated opposition from a few Channel Islanders throughout the occupation.
Greece — April 6, 1941
After two invasion attempts by Italy (in October 1940 and March 1941; this time through Albania), Germany only joined the attack on April 6, 1941, when Nazi soldiers invaded Bulgaria via Greece.
It proved too much for the Greek defenses; Athens surrendered on April 27, 1941, and the remainder of Greece on April 30. The Italians (who held the majority of Greek land), Bulgarians, and Germans fought for control of Greece.
Yugoslavia (modern Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia) — April 6, 1941
After Yugoslavia’s pro-Axis government collapsed in a coup d’état, Germany, Italy, and Hungary attacked the country. Yugoslavia capitulated on April 17, putting an end to the conflict fast.
The Independent State of Croatia, Nedi’s Serbia, and the Kingdom of Montenegro were among the illegal German puppet nations founded. Germany, Hungary, Italy, Albania, and Bulgaria received a portion of the remaining Yugoslavian land after Germany conquered it.
The Soviet Union — June 22, 1941
Hitler’s choice to invade the Soviet Union, which had been an ally of Germany up until that time, was a costly geopolitical mistake for him.
As for the Soviets, Hitler was hostile to their communist philosophy (as well as their numerous Jewish inhabitants) and saw repopulating western Russia as part of the Nazis’ destiny.
That was how the Eastern Front of the war was established when Germany broke its non-aggression treaty with Russia.
According to any standard, Operation Barbarossa was a monumental undertaking. With more troops than any other invasion in history, Axis countries fought a 2,900-kilometer (1,800-mile) long battle zone in the Soviet Union.
As a consequence of the conflict, millions of people were killed both on the battlefield and by the Nazis’ planned extermination and starving of captives and occupied peoples.
Despite a powerful early drive into the Soviet Union, Hitler’s soldiers were ultimately repelled. This defeat (and the Soviet Union’s eventual alliance with the Allies) is sometimes seen as a pivotal moment in World War II history.
Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia (Soviet territories) — June 22, 1941
Lithuania, a neutral nation sandwiched physically and politically between Germany and the Soviet Union, was subjected to one of the war’s most unusual occupations.
One of Hitler’s first targets was the Lithuanians, who were forced to surrender the Klaipda Region, a disputed region acquired from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles during World War I and then controlled by Lithuania, on March 20, 1939, or face invasion by Hitler.
The Germans seized control of the Klaipda region after receiving the request. It was, however, just a matter of time until Lithuania’s involvement in the battle was complete.
Similarly, the Soviet Union (then an Axis power) issued its injunction, requesting that the Soviets be allowed to install a puppet government and freely transport soldiers across Lithuania on June 14, 1940.
Lithuania, which had adequate armed forces, agreed to join the Soviet Union and was eventually fully integrated. A similar request was sent to Latvia and Estonia on June 16, both of which promptly yielded.
Germany declared war on the Soviet Union and invaded Lithuania on June 22, 1941, barely over a year later (and later Latvia and Estonia). Germans were welcomed by Lithuanians, who regarded the Nazis as a sign that the Soviets were being driven out of the nation.
The Nazi occupation, on the other hand, was even worse, with the killing of almost 95% of the 210,000 Jews residing in Lithuania at the time.
During the German occupation of Estonia and Latvia in 1941, both regions were subjected to comparable purges. The German occupation remained in effect until Soviet troops retook the Baltic nations in 1944.
Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia were integrated into the Soviet Union after the war and remained so until 1990.
Ukraine — June 22, 1941
In 1922, Ukraine became one of the first Soviet Union members. Many Ukrainians, like Lithuanians, first welcomed the Nazi invasion of Ukraine because they thought it would be better than the Soviet dictatorship already in place.
However, this was not the case since Nazi soldiers massacred an estimated seven million Ukrainian citizens (including many Jews). The last Germans were driven out of Ukraine in October 1944, today celebrated as Liberation Day in Ukraine.
Italy — September 8, 1943
Although Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy had been one of Hitler’s closest supporters from the beginning of the war, the situation had altered by 1943. A cease-fire was arranged between Italy and the Allies on September 3, 1943, after the overthrow of Mussolini’s regime.
On September 8, 1943, Hitler invaded the former Axis nation. Due to the collaboration between Italy and Germany, German soldiers were already in place across the country when the attack began.
Even more so, Italy’s new non-Mussolini-led administration has yet to finalize strategy or operational procedures. Hitler ordered the Germans to invade Italy and immediately turned their attention to the under-equipped and under-coordinated Italian troops.
Allies held on to a tiny section of southern Italy while Mussolini was installed as a puppet leader in the north; nevertheless, the Allies would retake most of the nation in the following weeks.
Monaco — September 9, 1943
When the Italians invaded on November 11, 1942, and remained there until September 9, 1943, and then the Germans from September 9, 1943, to September 3, 1944, the little state of Monaco steadfastly refused to give up its neutral position.
The Prince of Monaco, facing a difficult situation (the country had no military), chose to welcome and cooperate with the occupiers of Monaco, which allowed the Principality to escape the war with minimal death and destruction.
However, the deportation of 90 people, mostly Jews from “neutral” Monaco, to Germany was an act that weighed on the national conscience for generations, and Prince Albert II apologized in 2015.
Hungary — March 12, 1944
As early as 1944, the tides were turning against Hitler. As a result, longstanding Axis power Hungary had started secretly discussing capitulation with the Allies. When Hitler learned about this scheme, he immediately set out to prevent Hungary from surrendering.
Negotiations were held between him and Miklós Horthy (the Hungarian regent), who was left without an army commander in chief while he deployed soldiers to capture the nation.
As a result, Hitler handed Hungary’s prime minister Horty an ultimatum: appoint a neo-Nazi prime minister or face German invasion.
Also See: Viking Countries 2022
San Marino — September 1944
It was a blessing for San Marino that it was able to stay neutral throughout WWII and therefore avoid the bulk of the carnage.
On the other hand, German forces invaded San Marino in September 1944, and they engaged the Allies in the Battle of San Marino from September 17-20 that year. Order was rapidly restored when the Germans were defeated.
|Accurate Name||Invaded||Occupied by Germany|
|Albania (as Yugoslavia)||1941-April-06||September 1943 – 29 November 1944|
|Austria||1938-March-12||12 March 1938 – 9 May 1945|
|Belgium||1940-May-10||10 May 1940 – 4 February 1945|
|Croatia (as Yugoslavia)||1941-April-06||6 April 1941 – 15 May 1945|
|Czech Republic (as Czechoslovakia)||1938-September-29||1 October 1938 – 11 May 1945|
|Denmark||1940-April-09||9 April 1940 – 5 May 1945|
|Estonia (as Soviet Union)||1941-July-07||07 July 1941 – 28 October 1944|
|France||1940-May-10||10 May 1940 – 9 May 1945|
|Greece||1941-April-06||6 April 1941 – 8 May 1945|
|Guernsey (U.K. Channel Islands)||1940-June-30||30 June 1940 – 9 May 1945|
|Hungary||1944-March-12||19 March 1944 – May 1945|
|Italy||1943-September-08||8 September 1943 – 2 May 1945|
|Jersey (U.K. Channel Islands)||1940-June-30||1 July 1940 – 9 May 1945|
|Latvia (as Soviet Union)||1941-July-10||10 July 1941 – 28 October 1944|
|Lithuania (as Soviet Union)||1941-June-22||22 June 1941 – 28 January 1945|
|Luxembourg||1940-May-10||10 May 1940 – February 1945|
|Monaco||1943-September-09||8 September 1943 – 3 September 1944|
|Montenegro (as Yugoslavia)||1941-April-06||September 1943 – December 1944|
|Netherlands||1940-May-10||10 May 1940 – 20 May 1945|
|North Macedonia (as Yugoslavia)||1941-April-06||6 April 1941 – 15 May 1945|
|Norway||1940-April-09||9 April 1940 – 8 May 1945|
|Poland||1939-September-01||1 September 1939 – 9 May 1945|
|Russia (as Soviet Union - partial occupation)||1941-June-22||22 June 1941 – 10 May 1945|
|San Marino||1944-September-17||17 September 1944 – 20 September 1944|
|Serbia (as Yugoslavia)||1941-April-06||6 April 1941 – 15 May 1945|
|Slovakia (as Czechoslovakia)||1938-September-29||23 March 1939 – 11 May 1945|
|Ukraine (as Soviet Union)||1941-June-22||30 June 1941 – 28 October 1944|