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1939 Osaka Mainichi Map of the European War, World War II

歐洲戰局地圖 / [Map of the War Situation in Europe]. - Main View

1939 Osaka Mainichi Map of the European War, World War II


The start of WWII in Europe, as seen from Japan.


歐洲戰局地圖 / [Map of the War Situation in Europe].
  1939 (dated)     21 x 15.5 in (53.34 x 39.37 cm)     1 : 6250000


This is a September 1939 Japanese map of Europe soon after Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland at the start of World War II (1939 - 1945). It appeared in the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun, one of the leading newspapers in Japan at the time. The map is one of only a few Japanese war-time maps to focus on the European Theater - a are of great interest to Japanese citizenry despite being on the opposite side of the world - see below.
A Closer Look
This map depicts the countries of Europe, shaded in different colors along their borders to heighten the contrast and help distinguish them. The legend includes symbols for important strategic information, such as cities, borders, railways, mines, and communication lines. Some mountains and their elevations are also noted on the map, as are the Maginot Line (マジノ線) and Siegfried Line (ジークフリード線), defensive fortifications that proved to be ineffectual during the conflict. The legend also includes symbols for famous tourist sites and hot springs, though these do not appear to be noted anywhere on the map, suggesting that this was a standard template legend used by Osaka Mainichi and the printer, Seiban Printing.
Events Leading to World War II in Europe
Following the 1933 rise of the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945), German ethno-nationalism, rearmament, and bellicosity threatened Europe's fragile harmony. In 1935, the Abyssinia Crisis led to Italy leaving the League of Nations (Germany and Japan had withdrawn in 1933), testing the international order. The following year, the Spanish Civil War erupted and became a proxy war between fascist and communist powers.

In March 1938, Germany annexed Austria, an event known as the Anschluss, and began presenting itself as the 'advocate' of ethnic Germans living in the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia. In October 1938, the Munich Agreement transferred the Sudetenland to Germany - negotiated as part of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement. At the time, Hitler claimed the Sudetenland would be his last land grab in Europe. Then, in Mach 1939, Germany invaded Czechoslovakia.

In late March, Hitler forced Lithuania to cede Klaipeda and postured for the Free City of Danzig. His demand for Danzig forced the British and French to act, which took the form of a pledge to guarantee Poland's independence. After fascist Italy conquered Albania in April 1939, similar guarantees were declared for Romania and Greece. In late August, Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, and shortly thereafter, on September 1, 1939, invaded Poland, igniting World War II. The United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany on September 3, and the Soviet Union invaded Poland on September 17.
Japan and the European War
The complex relationship between Japan and various European powers is an often-underappreciated aspect of the history of the Second World War. Japan and Germany both emerged as modern, industrial nation-states around the same time in the late nineteenth century, and the Japanese Meiji Constitution was strongly influenced by the Prusso-German model of constitutional monarchy. This affinity was marred by the nations being on opposing sides in the First World War and Japan's seizure of German colonies and concession in East Asia. However, with the rise of the Nazis and Japan's drift towards militarism in the 1930s, the countries found common cause in anti-Communism, signing the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936 and the Tripartite Pact in 1940.

Japan's relationship with Russia had been more combative dating back to the late nineteenth century, when it tussled for influence with the Tsarist Empire in Korea and Manchuria. The Siberian intervention in the Russian Civil War made the new Soviet Union even more suspicious towards Japan, which only worsened with territorial disputes over Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, Japan's invasion of Manchuria in 1931, and the establishment of puppet regimes in Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, and northern China during the 1930s.

Tensions increased to the point that Japanese and Soviet troops clashed in 1938 and 1939 around the borders of Manchuria and Inner Mongolia with the Soviet Union and the Mongolian People's Republic. This struggle climaxed at the Battle of Khalkhin Gol (known in Japanese as the Nomonhan Incident) in the summer of 1939, when Soviet and Mongolian troops defeated Japanese and Manchurian troops and the two sides agreed to a ceasefire. Immediately afterward, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and both Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland, starting the war in Europe. Eventually, Japan and the Soviet Union signed a Neutrality Pact in April 1941 that stabilized the border situation until the very end of the war.

This had tremendous significance for the course of the war in both Europe and Asia. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, once Stalin was convinced that the neutrality pact with Japan would hold, he sent large numbers of troops from Siberia to relieve Moscow, then under threat from the Germans, in a stunning counterattack in December 1941. For the Pacific War, the loss to the Soviets at Khalkhin Gol meant that Japan was forced to adopt a 'southern advance' strategy that brought them into direct conflict with the United States, rather than a 'northern advance' strategy that would have involved continued fighting with the Soviets.
Publication History and Census
This map was printed on September 15, 1939 (Showa 14) and published on September 20 of the same year in the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun. It was edited by Ishihara Hiroshi (石原博), who worked for the newspaper agency, and was printed by the Seiban Printing Co. (精版印刷株式會社). Its only known institutional holding is with the Chinese University of Hong Kong and it is very scarce to the market.


The Osaka Mainichi Shimbun (大阪毎日新聞; 1876 - 1942) was an Osaka based daily newspaper active in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Osaka Mainichi Shimbun (大阪毎日新聞, Osaka Daily News) was founded in 1876 as Osaka Nippo(大阪日報). In 1888 it was renamed Osaka Mainichi Shimbun. In 1911 it merged with the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun (東京日日新聞), but both companies continued to print their newspapers independently until 1943, they were consolidated under the Mainichi Shimbun (毎日新聞, Daily News) masthead. The Mainichi Shimbun is today one of Japans larges and longest lasting newspapers. More by this mapmaker...

Seiban Printing Co. (精版印刷株式會社; fl. c. 1925 - 1945) was an Osaka-based publisher in the early Showa period. A number of contemporaneous publishing houses used Seiban (or Seihan) in their name (帝国精版印刷, 京都精版印刷社, 日本精版印刷), but were evidently distinct from this publishing house, which specialized in producing maps of the Japanese Empire (such as Manchukuo and occupied areas of China), often for the Osaka Mainchi Shimbun. The company published its own brief history in English in 1929 (A brief history of the Seihan Printing Company Limited, OCLC 843142406), suggesting that the company had already existed for some time by that point. Learn More...

Ishihara Hiroshi (石原博; fl. c. 1938 - 1941) was an editor at the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun who specialized in news and maps about China, Europe, and Japan's foreign affairs. He also published a catalog of Japanese names in 1940 (日本人名選). Learn More...


Very good. Minimal wear along edges.


OCLC 1262525778.