European Territorial Changes During WWII

This dataset documents European territory changes during World War II, 1938-1945. The features in this dataset represent individual areas of territorial change marked by annexation.

Month to month territory changes are recorded only in the event of an annexation of territory (vs. military or civilian occupation, or alliance). While such a method is contentious and only partially representative of the on-the-ground experience, it was the most parsimonious method we could use given the lack of spatial data for territorial oocupation and dispute. Occupations and other events for which we have little spatial reference are marked in the attributes of many features. The data are much better presented with accurate military front lines, data which has not been fully digitized but would constitute a valuable addition to the research.

For further analyses and commentary, please visit Michael De Groot's article, "Building the New Order: 1938-1945" on the Spatial History Website at Stanford.


Source geography data includes Modern Europe data (ESRI) and dozens of scanned maps from the Library of Congress. For a listing of a access to source maps, contact the authors. Map content was supplemented by consulting historical texts.


Modern European borders were used as a template, and then modifed using scanned + georectified historical maps from the Library of Congress and USHMM.

Based on historical research and visible changes in the borders across historical maps, we developed a feature class of territories which "changed" over the course of 1938-1945. Many areas changed multiple times and were given a new date stamped feature to represent each change, Changed regions were defined as those which were annexed to another country, or set up as a new entity that was not a nation-state and separate from its previous country.

Projection: Europe_Albers_Equal_Area_Conic

Geographic coordinate reference GCS_European_1950

This section shows information about this dataset's attributes
Attributes Range Median Mean Std. Dev.
Former Gov Text column (no statistics available)
Gis Notes Text column (no statistics available)
Source_Dat Text column (no statistics available)
49875946.42  to  340471269318.00
11177089639.80 45357213091.56 82844895990.17
Source_Nam Text column (no statistics available)
Type Text column (no statistics available)
Territory Text column (no statistics available)
Alt Name Text column (no statistics available)
Govt Text column (no statistics available)
Source_Sca Text column (no statistics available)
Source_Pub Text column (no statistics available)
Change Dat Time or Date column (no statistics available)
Map Source Text column (no statistics available)
57004.82  to  5890869.57
773703.21 1348338.45 1428276.74
Historical Text column (no statistics available)
Source_N_1 Text column (no statistics available)