How Many Countries Did Germany Control in 1940?

As we explore the topic of “how many countries did Germany control in 1940,” it’s important to have a clear understanding of the historical context and events leading up to this pivotal moment in world history. In this instruction, we’ll take a closer look at the hierarchical structure of this topic, highlighting key points that will help you gain a deeper understanding of this complex subject matter.

By the end of this instruction, you’ll have a comprehensive overview of the countries under Germany’s control in 1940, the impact of this control, and the key events that led to the end of German control. So let’s dive in and explore this fascinating topic together!

Background: Germany’s Rise to Power

Germany’s rise to power in the 1930s was marked by a number of factors, including the country’s defeat in World War I, economic instability, and a sense of nationalistic pride that had been building for years. The Nazi Party, led by Adolf Hitler, rose to power in 1933 and began implementing policies aimed at rebuilding the country’s military and asserting its dominance in Europe.

One of the key factors in Germany’s rise to power was the weakness of other European nations in the aftermath of World War I. The Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, imposed heavy reparations on Germany and stripped the country of its military and territories. This left Germany in a vulnerable position and paved the way for Hitler’s rise to power.

The Nazi Party’s expansionist policies, which aimed to create a “Greater Germany” by annexing neighboring territories and creating satellite states, were another key factor in the country’s rise to power. These policies led to the invasion of Austria in 1938 and the annexation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, which paved the way for the invasion of Poland and the beginning of World War II.

Overall, Germany’s rise to power was a complex and multifaceted process that was shaped by a variety of factors. Understanding this background is essential for gaining a deeper understanding of Germany’s control of other countries in 1940 and the impact of this control on Europe and the world.

Germany’s Expansionist Policies

In the early 1930s, Germany’s leadership began to pursue an aggressive foreign policy aimed at expanding their nation’s borders and securing additional resources. This policy was driven in part by the economic pressures of the Great Depression, as well as by a desire to restore Germany’s status as a world power following its defeat in World War I.

Adolf Hitler and his supporters in the Nazi party believed that Germany needed more land to accommodate its growing population and to provide the resources necessary to fuel its economy and military. This led to a policy of expansionism that would ultimately result in Germany’s involvement in World War II and the occupation of numerous countries throughout Europe.

The Invasion of Poland and the Beginning of World War II

On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, marking the beginning of World War II. The invasion was part of Adolf Hitler’s larger plan to expand the German empire and create a “New Order” in Europe. The invasion of Poland was a significant turning point in European history, as it led to the involvement of many other countries in the war and the eventual defeat of Germany.

The invasion of Poland was a surprise attack, and it was executed with great speed and efficiency. The German army, led by General Walther von Brauchitsch, employed a new form of warfare known as “Blitzkrieg” or “lightning war”. This tactic involved using a combination of tanks, infantry, and air power to overwhelm the enemy quickly.

Poland was unable to withstand the onslaught of the German military, and it quickly fell to the invading forces. The invasion was met with international condemnation, and Britain and France declared war on Germany in response.

The invasion of Poland marked the beginning of a long and bloody conflict that would engulf much of Europe and ultimately lead to the defeat of the Axis powers. The war would have a profound impact on the world, leading to the deaths of millions of people and the destruction of entire cities.

Despite the horrors of World War II, the invasion of Poland taught the world valuable lessons about the dangers of unchecked aggression and the importance of international cooperation in preventing conflict. Today, it serves as a reminder of the consequences of allowing extremist ideologies to take root and flourish.

German Control in Europe in 1940

By the summer of 1940, Germany had achieved significant military success in Europe. Following the invasions of Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, Germany had established control over a significant portion of Europe.

By controlling such a large portion of the continent, Germany was able to implement its policies and ideologies throughout the territories it occupied. This control allowed Germany to exert its power and influence over the economies, governments, and societies of the occupied territories.

However, the extent of German control was not uniform across all the territories it occupied. While some territories, such as Poland and Denmark, were under direct German control, others, such as France and Belgium, were governed by puppet regimes that were sympathetic to the German cause.

The extent of German control also varied in terms of the level of resistance it faced in each territory. In some cases, resistance movements were able to effectively resist German control, while in others, collaborationist governments were established, which further facilitated German control over the territories.

Despite the challenges it faced, Germany was able to maintain control over the territories it occupied until its eventual defeat in World War II.

Occupied Countries in Europe

During World War II, Germany occupied numerous countries throughout Europe. The number of countries varied throughout the war, but at its height in 1940, Germany controlled a vast portion of the continent.

Some of the major countries under German occupation included France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Greece, and Yugoslavia. These countries were subject to strict military rule, with German soldiers and officers enforcing their control over the occupied territories.

In addition to these major countries, Germany also occupied smaller territories, including the Channel Islands, the Aland Islands, and parts of the Soviet Union. German occupation had a significant impact on the people and economies of these territories, with many facing shortages of food, fuel, and other resources.

Resistance movements also sprang up in many of the occupied territories, with locals opposing the German occupation through acts of sabotage, espionage, and other forms of resistance. These movements played a crucial role in the eventual liberation of the occupied territories.

The end of German control in Europe came about gradually, as Allied forces liberated the occupied territories one by one. The liberation of France in 1944 was a major turning point, and by the end of the war, Germany had lost control of all the territories it had occupied. The legacy of German occupation continues to be felt in Europe to this day, with many countries still grappling with the effects of this tumultuous period in their history.

The Role of Collaborators and Resistance Movements

During World War II, many people and organizations in occupied countries collaborated with the German authorities. Collaborators often worked with the Germans to further their own interests, such as gaining political power or economic advantages. Resistance movements, on the other hand, were groups of people who opposed German control and worked to undermine the German war effort. Both collaborators and resistance movements played important roles in the history of German control in Europe during the war.


Collaboration with German authorities occurred in almost every country that was occupied during the war. Collaboration could take many forms, from politicians and civil servants working with the Germans to maintain the existing government structures, to individuals who simply worked as informants or spies for the Germans. Some collaborators believed that working with the Germans was the only way to maintain order and protect their country from the chaos of war. Others were motivated by greed, power, or a desire for revenge against their own governments.

Collaboration was not always a clear-cut issue, and many people who worked with the Germans did so for complex reasons. Some saw it as a way to protect their families or communities from German violence, while others believed that they could use their position to help the resistance movement. Still others may have felt that they had no other choice, given the overwhelming military power of the Germans and the harsh punishments they meted out to those who opposed them.

Resistance Movements

Resistance movements were groups of people who actively opposed German control and worked to undermine the German war effort. They engaged in activities such as sabotage, espionage, and propaganda, and often risked their lives to do so. Resistance movements existed in many countries throughout Europe, and were made up of people from all walks of life, including soldiers, students, intellectuals, and ordinary citizens.

Resistance movements were often motivated by a strong sense of national pride and a desire to protect their country from foreign occupation. They also believed that by resisting the Germans, they were contributing to the eventual defeat of the Axis powers and the restoration of democracy and freedom in Europe. Resistance movements faced many challenges, including the threat of arrest and execution by the Germans, lack of resources, and internal conflicts among different groups.

The Legacy of Collaboration and Resistance

The legacy of collaboration and resistance during World War II is complex and controversial. Collaborators have often been vilified as traitors and collaborators, and many were punished severely after the war. Resistance movements, on the other hand, have been celebrated as heroes and symbols of national pride. However, the reality is more complicated than these simplistic narratives suggest. Many people who collaborated with the Germans did so out of fear or a sense of necessity, while some who joined the resistance movement did so for personal gain or out of a desire for revenge. The true legacy of collaboration and resistance is a reminder of the difficult choices that people faced during the war, and the complexities of human behavior in times of crisis.

The Impact of Germany’s Control

Germany’s control over the countries it occupied during World War II had far-reaching consequences that would shape the course of history for years to come. The impact of this control can be seen in several areas, including:

Human Cost

The human cost of Germany’s control was immense. Millions of people lost their lives in the war, and many more were displaced from their homes or forced into labor. The Nazi regime was responsible for the systematic murder of millions of Jews, Romani people, homosexuals, and others who did not fit their narrow definition of what it meant to be “German.”

Economic Consequences

The economic consequences of Germany’s control were also significant. Many of the countries that Germany occupied were left devastated by the war, with infrastructure destroyed and economies in shambles. Germany itself was left heavily in debt, with its resources drained by the war effort.

Cultural and Social Impact

The cultural and social impact of Germany’s control can still be felt today. Many of the countries that were occupied by Germany experienced significant changes to their cultures and ways of life. The Nazi regime sought to impose its own cultural values and suppress those of the occupied countries, leading to the loss of many valuable cultural artifacts and traditions.

The Legacy of World War II

The impact of Germany’s control also extends to the legacy of World War II itself. The war had a profound impact on the world, leading to the formation of the United Nations and the establishment of the concept of human rights. The atrocities committed by the Nazi regime continue to serve as a reminder of the dangers of extremist ideology and the importance of remaining vigilant against hate and intolerance.

In conclusion, the impact of Germany’s control over the countries it occupied during World War II was profound and far-reaching. It left a lasting legacy on the world and serves as a reminder of the importance of preventing the rise of extremist ideologies that threaten the safety and well-being of all people.

The End of German Control

After years of war and occupation, Germany’s control over Europe finally came to an end in 1945. The German army was defeated by the Allied powers, and Germany was left in ruins. The country was divided into four occupation zones, controlled by the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.

The impact of Germany’s control was devastating. Millions of people were killed, cities were destroyed, and entire nations were left in ruins. The Holocaust, the systematic extermination of six million Jews, remains one of the darkest chapters in human history.

The end of German control marked the beginning of a new era for Europe. The post-war years were marked by efforts to rebuild and reunite the continent. The Marshall Plan, a massive aid package provided by the United States to help rebuild Europe, played a key role in this effort.

Today, Europe is a very different place than it was in 1940. The European Union, an economic and political union of 27 member states, was created to promote peace, prosperity, and cooperation among its members. The scars of war have largely healed, but the memory of the devastation caused by Germany’s control remains an important reminder of the importance of peace and cooperation among nations.


In conclusion, Germany’s control over several European countries in 1940 was a result of its aggressive expansionist policies, military might, and strategic alliances. The invasion of Poland and the beginning of World War II marked a turning point in the control of European territories by Germany. The occupation of several countries in Europe, including France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, was a significant demonstration of German dominance in the region. The impact of German control was devastating for many of these occupied countries, with the loss of lives, destruction of property, and subjugation of their people.

Despite the role of collaborators and resistance movements, Germany’s control over these countries was ultimately brought to an end through the efforts of the Allied forces, including the Soviet Union, the United States, and Great Britain. The defeat of Germany in World War II led to the liberation of the occupied territories and the restoration of sovereignty to the affected countries.

The impact of German control on Europe during World War II cannot be overstated, and the lessons learned from this dark period in history should continue to inform and guide us towards a peaceful and equitable world order.

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