YouTube user EmperorTigerstar has painstakingly mapped the changing front lines of World War II in Europe. Incredibly, the map accounts for every single day of the war — from the invasion of Poland through to the surrender of Nazi Germany.

This timelapse offers a fascinating glimpse into the ebbs and flows of the 6-year long conflict. Watching it, you can see how the front lines often moved in fits and starts (often an indication of winter and the infamous Russian spring rasputitsa), and how a sudden alliance or overthrow dramatically changed the geopolitical landscape. It's also interesting to see the massive encirclements on the Eastern front pop up and disappear from time-to-time (Stalingrad being the best example).

Unfortunately, it doesn't show the impacts of the Allied bombing campaign, nor does it account for partisan action.

Key dates to watch out for:

  • September 1, 1939: Germany invades Poland (watch the Soviets move in to take their half starting September 17)
  • April 9, 1940: Germany invades Norway
  • May 10, 1940: Germany invades France
  • April 6, 1941: Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece
  • June 22, 1941: Germany invades Soviet Union
  • November 25, 1941: The Battle for Moscow
  • July 3, 1942: Sevastopol falls to Germany
  • October 23, 1942: Battle of El Alamein begins
  • January 31, 1943: German surrender at Stalingrad
  • March 15, 1943: Germans retake Kharkov
  • May 12, 1943: Surrender of Axis forces in North Africa
  • July 10, 1943: Allied landings in Sicily (Operation Husky)
  • June 4, 1944: Rome captured by Allies
  • June 6, 1944: Allied invasion of Normandy (D-Day)
  • August 15, 1944: Allied landings in South of France
  • August 25, 1944: Paris liberated
  • January 17, 1945: Soviets capture Warsaw
  • April 13, 1945: Soviets capture Vienna
  • April 23, 1945: Soviets enter Berlin
  • May 8, 1945: VE Day declared

The Legend:

  • Maroon = Axis Powers proper and annexed lands (Germany, Italy, etc.)
  • Burgundy = Areas militarily occupied by the Axis powers, but not annexed
  • Red = Puppet states
  • Pinkish-red = Gains that day made by the Axis Powers.

According to EmperorTigerstar, he's working on a video for WWII worldwide.

If this interests you, you'll probably find this fascinating as well: 1,000 years of global war in 5 minutes. Also, an Interactive Timeline of Every Protest on the Earth Since 1979.