Home » Product » Mappa de Europa

Mappa de Europa

  • Author: Anonymous (Portuguese)
  • Publisher: Unknown, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Date: 1942
  • Dimensions: 46 x 36 cms


Rare pro-Axis pictorial propaganda map of Europe published in neutral Lisbon, Portugal, probably in late 1941 or early 1942

About this piece:

Mappa de Europa

Colour lithograph map printed on glossy but thin newspaper-type paper. A couple of marginal tears just intruding into printed surface. Some light soiling in upper left and right margins. In all a nicely preserved example, particularly considering its separately published format.

An unusual separately issued pro-Axis propaganda map dating from late 1941 or early 1942. Surprisingly the map appears to have been published in Lisbon in neutral Portugal shortly after the initial stages of Operation Barbarossa and the German invasion of Russia.

The map depicts the mainland European conflict as a straightforward battle between the rival forces of Fascism and Communism, one between the Axis powers and their supporters in occupied territories and the brutality of Soviet Russia, here represented by the giant bare-footed figure of a ragged & monstrous Red Army soldier. With a rifle in one hand and a firebrand in the other, he is confronted by a line of soldiers from Czechoslovakia, Hungary & Rumania, backed by an equally large Wehrmacht soldier representing “Greater Germany”. The Russian stands amid scenes of murder and destruction, the scene offering a clever visual hark-back to the viciously caricatured figures portrayed in anti-Communist posters of the Russian Revolutionary period.

The other Western European countries, amongst them Belgium, Holland, Spain (interestingly directed eastwards by the neighbouring figure of Marianne), Denmark, Norway & Finland are represented by armed soldiers, presumably members of the small national volunteer brigades which were incorporated within the German SS, as the war progressed.

In Britain, a smiling John Bull and Russian soldier embrace, as the surrounding waters display an array of sinking British merchant vessels.

Interestingly a subsequent revised edition of the map (P Soucacos: Satirical Maps, pp.242-243) replaces the embracing figures of John Bull & the Russian soldier with a contemporary photograph of the Russian Foreign Minister, Vyacheslav Molotov and Soviet Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ivan Maisky. The photo appears to have been taken during the Russian visit to London in May 1942 on the occasion of the official signature of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of Alliance at Downing Street. The agreement specified that neither country could make peace with Germany or its allies without the consent of the other.  It is interesting that such a photo should have found its way into the hands of the map’s Portuguese-based editors and that the map should then have been revised accordingly. It at least provides a indication of the likely date of publication of the revised edition.

Portugal alone stands apart & aloof from the conflict, fully armed and ready for battle, but staring in the opposite direction, westwards towards the Atlantic. Portugal in September 1939 was a country that was entering the sixth year of the Estado Novo (“New State”) regime of its authoritarian corporatist dictator, Antonio Salazar, a man who, despite considerable pressure from both the Axis & Allied powers, skilfully managed to navigate Portugal neutral course throughout the ensuing conflict. On September 1st 1939 Portugal had declared the centuries-old Anglo-Portuguese Alliance (dating from 1373) would continue to remain intact. Moreover since Great Britain had not called upon Portugal for assistance, she (Portugal) would continue to maintain her neutrality in the war, as was her right so to do under the terms of the original alliance. The fear of both Salazar & Churchill was that if Portugal did throw its wight behind the Allied cause, she would rapidly fall victim to attack and conquest by Nazi forces, aided and abetted by the Fascist-sympathising Spanish leader, General Franco.

As the War progressed, not only did Lisbon become one of the last safe haven for refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe, it also established an unenviable reputation as a melting pot of diplomatic intrigue, espionage and  duplicitous propaganda, of which this item appears to be a rare & tangible manifestation.

However, it was Portugal’s overseas territories, and most notably its Atlantic island outposts – Madeira, the Canaries, the Cape Verde Islands and the Azores – which became an increasingly weighty asset for the Allies. Portugal’s role (initially covertly) in permitting the landing, refuelling & resupply of Allied naval & aerial forces at these outposts, and most particularly in facilitating long-range air cover & U-boat reconnaissance for Allied convoys throughout the Battle of the Atlantic, proved critical, the more so after the United States’ entry into the war in December 1941.  In 1943 & 1944 Portugal signed formal agreements with both the British and US in respect of their lease & use of bases on the Azores.

Refs: P Soucacos: Satirical Maps, pp.242-243