German-occupied Europe (or Nazi-occupied Europe) refers to the sovereign countries of Europe which were wholly or partly militarily occupied and civil-occupied, including puppet governments, by the military forces and the government of Nazi Germany at various times between 1939 and 1945, during World War II, administered by the Nazi regime under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler.[2]

German-occupied Europe
"Das Lied der Deutschen"
"The song of the Germans"
Europe at the height of German expansion in 1942:
Common languagesGerman
Reich Commissioner 
• 1938–1945
Fritz Katzmann
• 1938–1945
Adolf Eichmann
• 1940–1945
Heinrich Himmler
• 1941–1945
Hermann Göring
Historical eraInterwar period
19423,300,000[1] km2 (1,300,000 sq mi)
• 1942
CurrencyReichsmark (ℛℳ)
Succeeded by
Allied-occupied Germany

The German Wehrmacht occupied European territory:

In 1941, around 280 million people in Europe, more than half the population, were governed by Germany or their allies and puppet states.[3] It comprised an area of 3,300,000 km2 (1,300,000 sq mi).[1]

Outside of Europe, German forces controlled areas of North Africa, including Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia between 1940 and 1945. German military scientists established the Schatzgraber Weather Station as far north as Alexandra Land in Francis Joseph Land. Manned German weather stations also operated in North America included three in Greenland, Holzauge, Bassgeiger, and Edelweiss. German Kriegsmarine ships also operated in all oceans of the world throughout World War II.


Several German-occupied countries initially entered World War II as Allies of the United Kingdom[4] or the Soviet Union.[5] Some were forced to surrender before the outbreak of the war such as Czechoslovakia;[6] others like Poland (invaded on 1 September 1939)[2] were conquered in battle and then occupied. In some cases, the legitimate governments went into exile, in other cases the governments-in-exile were formed by their citizens in other Allied countries.[7] Some countries occupied by Nazi Germany were officially neutral. Others were former members of the Axis powers that were subsequently occupied by German forces, such as Finland and Hungary.[8][9]

Concentration camps

Part of German-occupied Europe
Head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, inspects captured prisoners in German occupied Minsk, August 1941.
Attack type
Starvation, death marches, executions, forced labor

Germany operated thousands of concentration camps in German-occupied Europe. The first camps were established in March 1933 immediately after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. Following the 1934 purge of the SA, the concentration camps were run exclusively by the SS via the Concentration Camps Inspectorate and later the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office. Initially, most prisoners were members of the Communist Party of Germany, but as time went on different groups were arrested, including "habitual criminals", "asocials", and Jews.

After the beginning of World War II, people from German-occupied Europe were imprisoned in the concentration camps. About 1.65 million people were registered prisoners in the camps, of whom about a million died during their imprisonment. Most of the fatalities occurred during the second half of World War II, including at least 4.7 million Soviet prisoners who were registered as of January 1945.

Following Allied military victories, the camps were gradually liberated in 1944 and 1945, although hundreds of thousands of prisoners died in the death marches.

After the expansion of Nazi Germany, people from countries occupied by the Wehrmacht were targeted and detained in concentration camps. In Western Europe, arrests focused on resistance fighters and saboteurs, but in Eastern Europe arrests included mass roundups aimed at the implementation of Nazi population policy and the forced recruitment of workers. This led to a predominance of Eastern Europeans, especially Poles, who made up the majority of the population of some camps. The ethnicities of captured people were various other groups from other different nationalities were transferred to Auschwitz or sent to local concentration camps.

Occupied countries

The countries occupied included all, or most, of the following nations or territories:

Country or territory of occupation Puppet state(s) or military administration(s) Timeline of occupation(s) German annexed or occupied territory Resistance movement(s)
  Albanian Kingdom   Albanian Kingdom 8 September 1943 – 29 November 1944 None Albanian resistance
  Bailiwick of Guernsey

  Bailiwick of Jersey

  German Occupied Channel Islands
(Part of the Military Administration in France)
30 June 1940 – 9 May 1945 (Guernsey)

1 July 1940 – 9 May 1945 (Jersey)

None Channel Islands resistance
  First Czechoslovak Republic

  Second Czechoslovak Republic

  Third Czechoslovak Republic

  Slovak Republic

  German Zone of Protection in Slovakia

1 October 1938 – 11 May 1945   Gau Bayreuth
  Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
  Reichsgau Niederdonau
  Reichsgau Oberdonau
  Reichsgau Sudetenland
Czechoslovakian resistance
  Federal State of Austria None[b] 12 March 1938  – 9 May 1945   Reichsgau Kärnten
  Reichsgau Niederdonau
  Reichsgau Oberdonau
  Reichsgau Salzburg
  Reichsgau Steiermark
  Reichsgau Tirol-Vorarlberg
  Reichsgau Wien
Austrian resistance
  Free City of Danzig None[c] 1 September 1939 – 9 May 1945   Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia Danzigian resistance
  French Republic

  Free France

  Provisional Government of the French Republic

  French Tunisia

  Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France

  Military Administration in France

  Reichskommissariat of Belgium and Northern France

10 May 1940 – 9 May 1945   Gau Baden
  Gau Westmark
  Reichsgau Wallonien
French resistance
  Luxembourg   Military Administration of Luxembourg

  Civil Administration of Luxembourg

10 May 1940 – February 1945   Gau Moselland Luxembourg resistance
  Italian Islands of the Aegean   Italian Islands of the Aegean 8 September 1943 – 8 May 1945 None
  Belgium   Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France

  Reichskommissariat of Belgium and Northern France

10 May 1940 – 4 February 1945   Gau Cologne-Aachen
  Reichsgau Wallonien
Belgian resistance
  Denmark Protectorate state 9 April 1940 – 5 May 1945 None Danish resistance
  Kingdom of Greece   Military Administration in Greece 6 April 1941 – 8 May 1945 None Greek resistance
  Kingdom of Hungary   Kingdom of Hungary 19 March 1944  – May 1945 None Hungarian resistance
  Kingdom of Italy   Italian Social Republic 8 September 1943 – 2 May 1945 None Italian resistance
  Norway   Reichskommissariat Norwegen 9 April 1940 – 8 May 1945 None Norwegian resistance
  Netherlands   Reichskommissariat Niederlande 10 May 1940 – 20 May 1945 None Dutch resistance
  Kingdom of Yugoslavia   Albanian Kingdom

  German-occupied territory of Montenegro

  Independent State of Croatia

  Independent State of Macedonia

  Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia
6 April 1941 – 15 May 1945   Reichsgau Kärnten
  Reichsgau Steiermark
Yugoslav resistance
  Monaco None 8 September 1943 – 3 September 1944 None
  Finland None September 15, 1944 – April 25, 1945 None Finnish resistance
  Republic of Lithuania

Provisional Government of Lithuania

  Reichskommissariat Ostland 22 March 1939 – 21 July 1940

23 June 1941 – 5 August 1941

  Gau East Prussia Lithuanian resistance
  Republic of Poland   Military Administration in Poland

  General Government administration

  Reichskommissariat Ostland

  Reichskommissariat Ukraine

1 September 1939 – 9 May 1945   Bezirk Bialystok
  Gau East Prussia
  Gau Schlesien
  Gau Oberschlesien
  General Government
  Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
  Reichsgau Wartheland
Polish resistance
  San Marino None (military trespassing) 17–20 September 1944 None
  Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia   Commissioner Government

  Government of National Salvation

April 30, 1941 – January 1945 None Serbian resistance
  Slovak Republic   German Zone of Protection in Slovakia 23 March 1939 – May 1945 None Slovakian resistance
  Territory of the Saar Basin None.[d] 1 March 1935 – April 1945   Gau Palatinate-Saar
  Gau Saar-Palatinate
  Gau Westmark
Saar Basinian resistance
  Ukrainian National Government   Reichskommissariat Ukraine 30 June 1941 – September 1941   General Government Ukrainian resistance
Parts of the   Soviet Union Lepel Republic

  Military Administration in the Soviet Union

  Reichskommissariat Ostland

  Reichskommissariat Ukraine

22 June 1941 – 10 May 1945   Bezirk Bialystok
  General Government
Soviet resistance

Governments in exile

Allied governments in exile

Government in exile Capital in exile Timeline of exile Occupier(s)
  Austrian Democratic Union   London 1941–1945   German Reich/Greater German Reich
  Free France   London
  Algiers, French Algeria
(1942 – August 31, 1944)
1940 – August 31, 1944   French State
  German Reich/Greater German Reich
  Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France
  Reichskommissariat of Belgium and Northern France
  Government of the Republic of Poland in exile   Paris
(September 29/30, 1939 – 1940)
  Angers, French Republic
(1940 – June 12, 1940)
(June 12, 1940 – 1990)
September 29/30, 1939 – December 22, 1990   German Reich/Greater German Reich
  Reich Commissariat East
  Reich Commissariat Ukraine
  Slovak Republic
  Soviet Union
  People's Republic of Poland
  Belgium   London
(October 22, 1940 – September 8, 1944)
October 22, 1940 – September 8, 1944   German Reich/Greater German Reich
  Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France
  Reichskommissariat of Belgium and Northern France
  Denmark None 1943–1945   German Reich/Greater German Reich
  Luxembourg   London 1940–1944   German Reich/Greater German Reich
  Kingdom of Greece   Cairo, Egypt April 29, 1941 – October 12, 1944   German Reich/Greater German Reich
  Kingdom of Italy
  Kingdom of Bulgaria
  Norway   London June 7, 1940 – May 31, 1945   Reichskommissariat Norwegen
  Kingdom of Yugoslavia   London June 7, 1941 – March 7, 1945   Albanian Kingdom
Commissioner Government
  German-occupied territory of Montenegro
  German Reich/Greater German Reich
  Government of National Salvation
  Independent State of Croatia
  Independent Macedonia
  Kingdom of Bulgaria
  Kingdom of Hungary
  Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia
  Netherlands   London 1940–1945   Reichskommissariat Niederlande
  Provisional Government of Czechoslovakia   Paris
(October 2, 1939 – 1940)
  Aston Abbotts, United Kingdom
October 2, 1939 – April 2, 1945   German Reich/Greater German Reich
  Kingdom of Hungary
  Slovak Republic

Axis governments in exile

Government in exile Capital in exile Timeline of exile Occupier(s)
  Kingdom of Bulgaria   Vienna, Greater German Reich September 16, 1944 – May 10, 1945   Kingdom of Bulgaria
  Kingdom of Greece
  Kingdom of Yugoslavia
  French State   Sigmaringen, Greater German Reich 1944 – April 22, 1945   Provisional Government of the French Republic
  Kingdom of Hungary   Vienna, Greater German Reich

  Munich, Greater German Reich

March 28/29, 1945 – May 7, 1945   Czechoslovak Republic
  Kingdom of Hungary
  Kingdom of Romania
  Kingdom of Yugoslavia
  Kingdom of Romania   Vienna, Greater German Reich 1944–1945   Kingdom of Romania
  Montenegrin State Council   Zagreb, Independent State of Croatia Summer of 1944 – May 8, 1945   Kingdom of Yugoslavia
  Slovak Republic   Kremsmünster, Great-German Reich April 4, 1945 – 8 May 1945   Czechoslovak Republic
  Government of National Salvation   Kitzbühel, Great-German Reich October 7, 1944 - 8 May 1945   Soviet Union

Neutral governments in exile

Government in exile Capital in exile Timeline of exile Occupier(s)
  Belarusian Democratic Republic   Prague, Czechoslovak Republic

  Prague, Czecho-Slovak Republic

  Prague, German Reich/Greater German Reich

1919 – present   German Reich/Greater German Reich
  Realm Commissariat East
  Realm Commissariat Ukraine
  Republic of Poland
  Soviet Union
  Republic of Estonia   Stockholm, Kingdom of Sweden
(1944 – August 20, 1991)

  New York City, United States

June 17, 1940 – August 20, 1991   Reichskommissariat Ostland
  Soviet Union
  Ukrainian People's Republic   Warsaw, Republic of Poland

  Prague, German Reich/Greater German Reich

1920 – August 22, 1992   German Reich/Greater German Reich
  Kingdom of Hungary
  Kingdom of Romania
  Reichskommissariat Ukraine
  Soviet Union

See also


  1. ^ Including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the General Government
  2. ^ Although there was substantial popular support in Austria for some type of (re)unification with Germany, Chancellors Engelbert Dollfuss and his successor Kurt Schuschnigg wanted to maintain at least some type of independence. Dollfuss had implemented an authoritarian regime now termed Austrofascism, continued by Schussnigg, which imprisoned many members of the Austrian Nazi Party and the Social Democratic Party which both favored unification. Violence by Austrian Nazi Party members including the assassination of Dollfuss, along with German propaganda and ultimately threats of invasion by Adolf Hitler, eventually led Schuschnigg to capitulate and resign. Hitler, however, did not wait for his hand-picked successor, Austrian Nazi Arthur Seyss-Inquart, to be sworn in and ordered German troops to invade Austria at dawn on 12 March 1938, where they were met with cheering crowds and an Austrian army previously ordered not to resist.
  3. ^ Upon request of its Nazi-dominated senate, the city was directly annexed to Germany along with the surrounding Polish Pomeranian Voivodeship.
  4. ^ In a referendum in 1935, over 90% of residents supported reunification with Germany over remaining a League of Nations protectorate of France and the United Kingdom or joining France.


  1. ^ a b c Berend, Iván T. (2016). An Economic History of Twentieth-Century Europe: Economic Regimes from Laissez-Faire to Globalization. Cambridge University Press. p. 72. ISBN 9781107136427.
  2. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica, German occupied Europe. World War II. Retrieved 1 September 2015 from the Internet Archive.
  3. ^ "WWII: population of Germany and occupied areas 1941". Statista. Archived from the original on February 7, 2023. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  4. ^ Prazmowska, Anita (1995-03-23). Britain and Poland 1939–1943: The Betrayed Ally. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521483858.
  5. ^ Moorhouse, Roger (2014-10-14). The Devils' Alliance: Hitler's Pact with Stalin, 1939–1941. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465054923.
  6. ^ Goldstein, Erik; Lukes, Igor (2012-10-12). The Munich Crisis, 1938: Prelude to World War II. Routledge. ISBN 9781136328329.
  7. ^ Conway, Martin; Gotovitch, José (2001-08-30). Europe in Exile: European Exile Communities in Britain 1940–45. Berghahn Books. ISBN 9781782389910.
  8. ^ Hanson, Victor Davis (2017-10-17). The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465093199.
  9. ^ Cornelius, Deborah S. (2011). Hungary in World War II: Caught in the Cauldron. Fordham Univ Press. ISBN 9780823233434.


  • Bank, Jan. Churches and Religion in the Second World War (Occupation in Europe) (2016).
  • Gildea, Robert and Olivier Wieviorka. Surviving Hitler and Mussolini: Daily Life in Occupied Europe (2007).
  • Klemann, Hein A.M. and Sergei Kudryashov, eds. Occupied Economies: An Economic History of Nazi-Occupied Europe, 1939–1945 (2011).
  • Lagrou, Pieter. The Legacy of Nazi Occupation: Patriotic Memory and National Recovery in Western Europe, 1945–1965 (1999).
  • Mazower, Mark (2008). Hitler's Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 9780713996814.
  • Scheck, Raffael; Fabien Théofilakis; and Julia S. Torrie, eds. German-occupied Europe in the Second World War (Routledge, 2019), 276 pp. online review.
  • Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010), on Eastern Europe.
  • Toynbee, Arnold, ed. Survey of International Affairs, 1939–1946: Hitler's Europe (Oxford University Press, 1954), 730 pp. online review; full text online free.

Primary sources

  • Carlyle Margaret, ed. Documents on International Affairs, 1939–1946. Volume II, Hitler's Europe (Oxford University Press, 1954), 362 pp.

External links