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

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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 (35)
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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.

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