German expansion across Europe

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Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, after its defeat in the First World War, Germany lost land in Europe as well as it's colonies in Africa.

In 1933, when Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany, the boarders of the country were still as outlined in the treaty.

Hitler had long vowed to regain the lands Germany had lost. He also dreamed of creating a great German world power. Very soon he would be seeking to fulfill these promises.

Click on the other maps to learn about the chronology of the expansion of German influence and control over Europe.

During 1938, Nazi Germany took its first steps towards increasing its size and strength within Europe.

 

Austria

On 13 March 1938, Hitler’s army occupied Austria (Anschluss). This led to instant persecution, by Austrian citizens and the German occupiers, of the Jews of Vienna and other towns across Austria. 

By the beginning of the Second World War, on 3 September 1939, some 126,445 of the 184,000 Austrian Jews had managed to escape this persecution. However, many had chosen to travel to countries that would later be invaded by the German army.

 

The Sudetenland

Very soon after the Nazis had come to power in Germany, the Hungarian government sought to build an alliance with Nazi Germany. In March 1938, Hungary began to issue anti-Jewish legislation.

During October 1938, Germany annexed the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia. Many of the area's Jews became refugees. Large numbers escaped to the safety of Prague, the Czech capital.

Germany gave a portion of the newly annexed Sudetenland area to Hungary, bringing the Jews living in these areas under the Hungarian antisemitic laws.

In 1939,Hitler's armies gained more land, this time to the East.

 

Czechoslovakia

During October 1938, the Eastern Slovak region of Czechoslovakia had broken away from the Czech region (in the West of the country). Jews within the region were attacked and banished to an area between Slovakia and Hungary. In March 1939, Slovakia became an independent state and an ally of Nazi Germany.

On 15 March 1939, the German army marched into Czechoslovakia. The Western regions of the country were renamed Bohemia and Moravia and governed as a German protectorate. On the eve of the German invasion, approximately 120,000 Jews lived in 136 communities across the country.

 

Poland

Then, on 1 September 1939, the Germans invaded Poland from the West. Poland was split into three sectors: Western Poland was annexed into 'Greater Germany', whilst the General Government was created in the remaining part under German control. The other sector came under the control of the Soviet Union as a result their invasion from the East as part of the Nazi-Soviet pact

On the eve of the invasion around 3.3 million Jews lived in Poland. Around 1.2 million of these Polish Jews came under Soviet rule.

 

The Nazis wasted little time in enacting their brutal anti-Jewish laws in both Polish and Czech lands.