This rare broadside map was printed in the Croatian language, in Zagreb, in the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH), the axis –backed Fascist state that occupied the territory of most of modern Croatia, all of Bosnia, as well as parts of Serbia. The HDH was ruled by the Ustaše regime led by the dictator Ante Pavelić. While the regime had its hands full fighting the Yugoslav Partisans, it watched events in the larger war with great interest, knowing that Nazi Germany’s fate would ultimately mirror its own. The map was issued by the Velebit Publishing firm, named after one of the country’s main mountain ranges, and which was closely associated with the Ustaše regime.
The present map depicts much of the Eastern Theatre of the World War II, and embraces most of the western U.S.S.R., extending from Leningrad, in the northwest, all the way down to take in all of the Caucuses, in the southeast. It was made in the wake of the Nazi’s Operation Barbarossa, their grand scheme to conquer much of the Soviet Union, launched in June 1941. Hitler planned to seize and annex the Western plains of western Russian and the Ukraine, populating it with Germans, while enslaving the indigenous peoples. Germany also desperately needed Ukraine’s vast crops of wheat, plus the great oil supplies of the Caucuses to sustain its overall war effort. Failure to seize these resources would ultimately result in Germany’s defeat.
Notably, the present map depicts the routes of the major Soviet oil pipelines that pumped the petroleum from the Caspian to the Black Sea and the Russian markets, which are represented by lines of arrow tracks.
However, while Operation Barbarossa resulted in the deaths of millions of people, it proved to be fantastically unsuccessful. The Wehrmacht failed to take Moscow at the Battle of Moscow (October 2, 1941 – January 7, 1942), so then turned its attention to Case Blue, a southeastward thrust towards taking the Caspian oil fields.
The map was made in 1942 when Case Blue was underway, but before the decisive showdown that halted the Nazi’s Eastern mission in its tracks, presaging Germany’s ultimate defeat in the war. In August 1942, the Nazi surge southeastwards got bogged down at Stalingrad, on the Volga River. This resulted in a six-month battle that was the most destructive and deadly in world history- resulting in over 1.2 million casualties! The besieged German force was finally defeated in February 1943, and from that point onwards, the Soviets continually rolled the German lines back, until they besieged Berlin in April 1945, securing the Nazis’ final defeat.
The map is evidently extremely rare; we have not been able to locate even a reference to another example.