Which Countries Did Germany Invade During World War 2?

map placeholder

1. Czechoslovakia

The invasion of Sudetenland, the regions that border Czechoslovakia to the north and west, was the first time Adolf Hitler showcased his military power. The Czech government handed the territory over to the Germans to avoid war after they demanded that it be handed over. For Hitler, this invasion fulfilled two things. He tested how far he could push other European powers who backed down rather than defending Czechoslovakia. He was also able to unite the German-speaking people of Czechoslovakia with Germany — towards a bigger goal of uniting all German nations.

2. Austria

Like Czechoslovakia, Austria's invasion was also aimed towards creating a great Germany. Austria had been part of the German Confederation until Prussia pushed it out in 1886 during the Austro-Prussian War. In 1918, Germany attempted to include Austria in the larger Germany, but other European countries blocked this. To Adolf Hitler, taking over Austria was simply for the expansion of Germany.

3. Poland

With the creation of great Germany in play, Hitler wanted more land for them to occupy. The term 'Lebensraum,' meaning living space, was a belief Hitler had that the Germans had a right to occupy a greater territory to support them and ensure growth. This ideology came at the expense of other weaker regions such as Poland. The Germans invaded Poland because it had many agricultural lands, plenty of space, and was an easy target.

4. Denmark

Although Southern Denmark contained some German-speaking people, the Germans' invasion of Denmark in 1940 was more strategic. Northern Jutland in Denmark provided the Nazis a good base to launch attacks. Denmark's invasion was also convenient since taking the small country out helped Germany secure the northern land border.

5. Norway

Norway's invasion by the Germans was also strategic rather than ideological and was primarily based on economic reasons. Norway had ice ports with access to the North Atlantic with trade routes that were vital to Europe. The country also provided access to the mines of Sweden to the east and the south. Minerals and trade would be critical for the Germans to win the Second World War. Germany beat Britain and France to secure these resources and a strategic position to support German industry and trade.

6. Belgium

After the First World War, France built a sturdy concrete defense along its border with Germany. This line was referred to as the Maginot Line. The Germans attacking these defenses head-on would have cost them dearly and slowed their fast-moving blitzkrieg attacks. Because France had not extended the Maginot Line along the Belgium border, Germany invaded Belgium to bypass the French defenses and allow a fast invasion of France.

7. The Netherlands

By invading Belgium, the Germans violated the Dutch territory by going through the area known as the Maastricht Appendix. The head of the Luftwaffe, Herman Goring, feared that the Dutch might respond by allowing the British to use their airbases to launch attacks against the Germans. To protect itself, Germany invaded the Netherlands.

8. France

France was among the Allied powers that defeated Germany in the First World War. Revenge for the WW1 defeat was a significant part of Hitler's plan, making war with France inevitable. France's military alliance signed with Poland in 1921 gave Hitler the excuse he needed to invade France.

9. Britain — the Channel Islands

Britain was another Allied power that Hitler wanted revenge on after the First World War. The retaliation was also propagated by Britain joining France in declaring war against it after the invasion of Poland. Although mainland Britain was not invaded, the Channel Islands, being closer to France and far from England, were easy targets for the Nazis.

10. The Soviet Union

At the beginning of WW2, Germany and the Soviet Union were allies. However, their relationship failed since the Nazis opposed the ideology of communism that the Soviet Union upheld. Hitler used the opposition of communism by many other European nations to rise to power. He also believed that for his plans to succeed, the Soviet Union had to be defeated.

11. Italy

At the start of the Second World War, Italy was Germany's strongest ally. However, in 1943, the Allies invaded Italy, and on 25th July, Mussolini was ousted by the Italian government that wanted peace. The Germans couldn't let Italy surrender, and they rescued Mussolini and used him as a puppet leader in the north. In the end, Italy was occupied by two opposing armies, the allies in the south and the Germans in the north.

Which Countries Did Germany Invade During World War 2?

Country 2021 Population
Russia145,912,025
United Kingdom68,207,116
France65,426,179
Italy60,367,477
Poland37,797,005
Belgium11,632,326
Czech Republic10,724,555
Austria9,043,070
Denmark5,813,298
Norway5,465,630

Which Countries Did Germany Invade During World War 2?