Watch World War II Rage Across Europe in a 7 Minute Time-Lapse Film: Every Day From 1939 to 1945

The Sec­ond World War was waged over six long years on every con­ti­nent save South Amer­i­ca and Antarc­ti­ca. Sev­en­ty-some years lat­er, the dai­ly shifts of the Euro­pean The­ater’s front lines can be tracked in under sev­en min­utes, thanks to a mys­te­ri­ous, map-lov­ing ani­ma­tor known var­i­ous­ly as Emper­or Tiger­star or Kaiser Tiger­star (the lat­ter accounts for the hel­met-wear­ing kit­ten grac­ing the upper cor­ner of his World War I time-lapse).

The pow­er-shift­ing col­ors (blue for Allies, red for Axis) are mes­mer­iz­ing, as is a relent­less timer tick­ing off the days between Ger­many’s inva­sion of Poland on Sep­tem­ber 1, 1939 and VE Day, May 8, 1945. Roy­al­ty-free music by Kevin MacLeod and audio sam­ples rang­ing from Hitler and Mus­soli­ni’s dec­la­ra­tions of war to Roo­sevelt’s Day of Infamy speech add import.

I def­i­nite­ly felt like throw­ing some tick­er tape around when blue tri­umphed, but most­ly I was curi­ous about this Emper­or Tiger­star, who relied on such dis­parate sources as Chris Bish­op’s Mil­i­tary Atlas of World War II and Wikipedia to cre­ate this extra­or­di­nary record in Win­dows Paint.

Care­ful read­ing of his blog reveals a diehard his­to­ry buff with a weak­ness for met­al music, whole­some CGI movies, and sta­tis­tics.

He’s also a worka­holic. His YouTube chan­nel boasts a bog­gling assort­ment of map ani­ma­tions. This in addi­tion to an alter­nate YouTube channel where he remaps his­to­ry in response to his own “what if” type prompts. Some­how he finds the time to pre­side over  The Blank Atlas, a site whose mem­bers con­tribute unla­beled, non-copy­right­ed maps avail­able for free pub­lic down­load. And he may well be a brony, as evi­denced by the video he was pur­port­ed­ly work­ing on this sum­mer, World War II: As Told by Ponies.

Only time will tell.

Mean­while, let us hope that he makes good on his threat to make a uni­ver­sal World War II map ani­ma­tion. Could that be the secret project he’s aim­ing to launch on Jan­u­ary 1, 2014? I can’t wait to find out.

via io9

Relat­ed Con­tent:

132 Years of Glob­al Warm­ing Visu­al­ized in 26 Dra­mat­i­cal­ly Ani­mat­ed Sec­onds

53 Years of Nuclear Test­ing in 14 Min­utes: A Time Lapse Film by Japan­ese Artist Isao Hashimo­to

5,000 Years of Reli­gion in 90 Sec­onds

Ayun Hal­l­i­day did­n’t know she’d be keep­ing things fresh by fail­ing to lis­ten to a sin­gle sec­ond of 8th grade Geog­ra­phy. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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Comments (36)
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  • Sheller says:

    Some­thing rarely dis­cussed is the USS­R’s huge role in defeat­ing the Nazis.

    • plastic jesus says:

      Yep. Why do we cel­e­brate Lib­er­a­tion on June 6, the anniver­sary of the Nor­mandy Land­ings in 1944? May 2, the anniver­sary of the lib­er­a­tion of Berlin by the Sovi­et Union in 1945, would make more sense.

      • Daniel says:

        Prob­a­bly because France con­sid­ered itself lib­er­at­ed, while Berlin was more accu­rate­ly sub­ju­gat­ed until the mid 1980’s. We like to remem­ber the parts of his­to­ry in which we “helped”.

    • Squak! says:

      Peo­ple rarely dis­cuss the fact that the USSR and the Naz­i’s joined togeth­er in the carv­ing up of Poland in 1939 either. The less said about the Com­mu­nist state that result­ed in so much mis­ery the bet­ter!

  • adrianrmarsh says:

    What is inter­est­ing are the points of sta­sis in the six years, where mil­i­tar­i­ly the front lines remain rel­a­tive­ly con­stant for a peri­od. What the map can’t show is the resis­tance and resilience of those pop­u­la­tions liv­ing under occu­pa­tion in these peri­ods, when much of the ener­gy of occu­pa­tion was direct­ed at par­ti­sans and guer­ril­la groups. Sad­ly the map can­not also detail the impact of occu­pa­tion on par­tic­u­lar pop­u­la­tion groups, the Jews and the Roma (Gyp­sies) specif­i­cal­ly and the organ­i­sa­tion of exter­mi­na­tion by the Nazis and their allies or clients. The turn­ing point, look­ing at these changes, seems to be around Decem­ber 1942, once both the USSR and the USA ful­ly engage with the pros­e­cu­tion of the war.

  • Auri says:

    Spain declared itself “neu­tral” but Ger­many helped the fas­cists rise to pow­er there, so it should be read from 1939 onwards. Until the fas­cist dic­ta­tor died on 1974.

  • Auri says:

    Spain declared itself “neu­tral” but Ger­many helped the fas­cists rise to pow­er there, so it should be read from 1939 onwards. Until the fas­cist dic­ta­tor died on 1974.

  • g says:

    There is no Bat­tle of Britain there, only the ground war, how could you rep­re­sent that to make the graph­ic even more dra­mat­ic?

  • mirela milojevic says:

    I am aware of my igno­rance, but can any­body explain in few words hap­pen­ing in Fin­land dur­ing the WWII? Thank you.

    • Daniel says:

      Think Poland, just cov­ered in snow and there­by able to fight off intrud­ers. It fought against and for both sides (Rus­sia vs Ger­many) at var­i­ous times/places.

    • ptaipale says:

      1939–1940: “Win­ter War”. Nazi Ger­many and Sovi­et Union are in pact (often called Molo­tov-Ribben­trop Treaty). They agree to split Poland, Baltic coun­tries and Fin­land. The plan works except that when USSR attacks Fin­land on 30 Nov 1939, Finns resist fierce­ly, and when towards March 1940 both France and Britain are threat­en­ing to fight both Sovi­ets and Ger­mans (yeah, right), Stal­in agrees to a tem­po­rary peace, tak­ing only some 11 % of the coun­try’s area. nn1941-1944: “Con­tin­u­a­tion War”: Fin­land wants to take back its own, with inter­est, from Sovi­ets. It advances to East Kare­lia, but stops its attack short of cut­ting the Mur­man­sk rail­way and there is not much enthu­si­asm on either side to do prop­er war. Fin­land does­n’t actu­al­ly close the Lado­ga gap of Leningrad Siege, not does it make a for­mal alliance with Ger­many until June 1944, when Rus­sians launch a major offen­sive. 1941–1944, Lap­land (north­ern­most part of Fin­land) is under respon­si­bil­i­ty of Ger­man troops who try to get to Mur­man­sk but have lit­tle suc­cess. June-July 1944 there’s a major bat­tle in Kare­lian Isth­mus between Lado­ga and Baltic Sea but Rus­sians start to move their atten­tion towards the race to Berlin.nn1944-1945: “Lap­land War”: Sovi­et offen­sive forces Finns to give in by Sep­tem­ber 1944. Tem­po­rary peace treaty with Allies and dec­la­ra­tion of war against Ger­many. Fin­land is under influ­ence of Sovi­et Union but not actu­al­ly occu­pied. Fin­land pleads to expel Ger­mans from Lap­land. First this hap­pens with lit­tle enthu­si­asm, then Stal­in puts on more pres­sure and there is some prop­er war, not just vol­un­tary Ger­man retreat. Every build­ing in Lap­land is burned to ground by Ger­man troops as Finnish forces push them to Nor­way. nn–nnAll in all, things end­ed up very well for Finns, since the coun­try avoid­ed actu­al occu­pa­tion by any­one, except the loss of Kare­lian Isth­mus to USSR, and destruc­tion of Lap­land. Stal­in’s attack in 1939 was a cost­ly, para­noid mis­take from the point of view of actu­al­ly enabling the Leningrad Siege that it sought to pre­vent.

  • Paolo Leoncini says:

    I am Ital­ian — you can under­stand bet­ter what hap­pens in my Coun­try nowa­days if you see how long my Coun­try was split into 2 parts

  • Paolo Leoncini says:

    you can also see that the first the­ater where the des­tiny of the war had been changed was in Africa

  • zoomdawg60 says:

    South Amer­i­ca WAS involved dur­ing WW2. Ever heard of the Bat­tle of the Riv­er Plate (Rio de la Pla­ta)? It was the first major naval bat­tle of the Sec­ond World War. The Rio de la Pla­ta is a part of Uruguay.

  • Jarno says:

    Oth­er­wise great, but Fin­land did­n’t lose inde­pen­den­cy. Rus­sia nev­er con­quared Fin­land.

    • Kelsi Clayton says:

      The video does­n’t show Fin­land being tak­en over, but rather hav­ing joined the side of the Allied forces (which includ­ed the USSR at that point). Col­or­wise it looks the same on the map, and that might be an assump­tion some­one not know­ing the his­to­ry would make, but it isn’t actu­al­ly what the map shows.

      • Ande says:

        Basi­cal­ly Fin­land was nev­er on the same side with the Allied forces. Fin­land made a deal (YYA-sopimus) with the Sovi­et Union, but still kept its inde­pen­dence. So, the col­or should be pur­ple still and forever­more.

  • Kylea Schwent says:

    could you do one for asia?

  • EmperorTigerstar says:

    I made a pre­view for the world­wide video. You were dead-on about my new years’ project.

  • Hamilton Barrett says:

    Thanks for this. It helped me to get an improved sense of the clash­es all across the Sovi­et Union.

  • Lily says:

    As a descen­dant of Yugoslav par­ti­sans, I am very proud of what my ances­tors did for lib­er­at­ing Yugoslavia. This video depicts it as being lib­er­at­ed by the USSR which is not fac­tu­al. Most of Yugoslavia has been lib­er­at­ed by its home-grown resis­tance move­ment

  • Username says:

    The video is not accu­rate: Roma­nia ceased to be an Axis Power/German satel­lite after 23 August, 1944.

  • Jarek says:

    Because the USSR helped Ger­many start the war by attack­ing Poland, Lithua­nia, Latvia and Esto­nia in the first place.

  • lstanbul says:

    Even less peo­ple dis­cuss the fact that Poland helped Nazis to carve up Czecho­slo­va­kia in 1938.

  • lstanbul says:

    West helped Hitler to start war with Munich agree­ment while USSR opposed it.

  • Piotr says:

    USRR was none ally for Poland. Occu­pant like Ger­mans only more cyn­i­cal.

  • Tony Bailey says:

    What I find fas­ci­nat­ing is see­ing the UK being the only coun­try stand­ing against the Axis in north­ern Europe 1941. It must have been so ter­ri­fy­ing for such a small coun­try, being the only coun­try left. (Even USA had­n’t declared war until Decem­ber 1941)

  • Jaana Garber says:

    An amaz­ing map!
    I have been watch­ing hun­dreds of hours of film of WWII over the years and although know my Euro­pean geog­ra­phy quite well, this was so help­ful to see all the bat­tles on a mov­ing map like this! I’m going to try to get it larg­er; right now I saw it as a 3 by 5 inch­es, so not very large. Will try to sign up to get more info, too! Thank you for your hard work Emper­or Tiger­star!!!

  • Nicole says:

    This is AMAZING! Thank you!!!

  • Lee says:

    JOINED ? NYET! IT WAS a Mon agres­sion pact. Poland just hap­pened to be a his­toric cor­ri­dor of inva­sion. Stal­in knew he would even­tu­al­ly have war with Ger­many. He just want­ed a buffer zone. Remem­ber this smart guy. 8 out of 10 Ger­man sol­diers killed died on the east­ern front. Before ONE allied sol­dier set foot in Europe. The USSR had Ger­many on the brink of defeat.

  • Frank says:

    There is anoth­er very inter­est­ing ani­ma­tion of the East­ern Front, high­ly rec­om­mend­ed:

    Ger­man ver­sion:


  • Monty Monaco says:

    His­to­ry seems to give Stal­in total cred­it for defeat­ing Ger­many but Stalin/Russia could not have over­came the Nazis with­out war sup­plies from Amer­i­ca via sui­ci­dal con­voys through Nazi infest­ed waters. Many Amer­i­can Mer­chant Marines and allied sea­man were killed in icy waters by Nazi tor­pe­does and Ger­many’s bat­tle­ship, Turpitz. Nev­er do you hear the lead­ers of Rus­sia includ­ing Putin thank­ing Amer­i­ca for their mil­i­tary aid. Hitler became greedy too quick­ly and bit off more than he could chew. As cru­el as Ger­man atroc­i­ties were to civil­ians, there were also com­mon infantry­man who were thrown into a ‘hell on Earth’ war against their will who also suf­fered ter­ri­bly from star­va­tion and those hor­ri­ble Siber­ian Win­ters. The Glo­ry of War only exists in Hol­ly­wood.

  • Tank Praul says:

    Well, Putin wasn’t born yet, so he’s not going to praise the US for help­ing out in what Russ­ian’ call “the Great Conflict/War” what Putin was born into and grew up with was when the “Allies” (of Rus­sia at one time), cre­at­ed NATO for the soul pur­pose of stop­ping the USSR from ever Unit­ing again.

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