A rare Italian mapping of World War II’s global battlefield.

Le Chiavi Strategiche Della Guerra.


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SKU: NL-02123 Categories: ,
Cartographer(s): Editoriale Ultra
Date: ca. 1942
Place: Milan
Dimensions: 100 x 67 cm (39 x 26.75 in)
Condition Rating: VG


This rare Italian poster map from World War II is one of the countless attempts by Mussolini’s fascist government to win the propaganda war. The poster consists of five larger and six smaller maps, each depicting worldwide strategic locations. Each of the five larger maps has a short explanatory caption to contextualize their inclusion. Moving clockwise from the upper left corner, we have maps showing.

  • Greater Southeast Asia, with a caption in Italian reading: “Burma and India, pearls of the threatened English Empire.
  • The Libyan coastline, with a caption in Italian reading: “Our glorious Fourth Shore and the central Mediterranean.
  • Central Russia or USSR, with a caption in Italian reading: “The heart of Russia, which Axis weapons are striking to death.
  • The Indonesian Archipelago, with a caption in Italian reading: “Insulindia, Australia’s extreme defensive barrier.
  • The Middle East, with a caption in Italian reading: “The Caucasus, land of petroleum and the seething Muslim world.

Juxtaposing the five regional maps, we find six smaller maps taking up the central lower register. The smaller insets show more specific locations, including Gibraltar, Malta, Singapore, Alexandria, Pearl Harbor, and St Petersburg. In unison, these eleven maps represent what Mussolini’s government believed to be the war’s most crucial theaters and hubs of geo-political dominance. The striking and dramatic title banner across the top further confirms this. Interspersed with the vehicles of war (a tank, warplane, and battleship), it reads The Strategic Keys to the War.



The map is undated but appears to be a product from an early stage of the War, during which the Italian-German Alliance still considered themselves dominant. This is suggested by the focus on British foreign territories and by including Pearl Harbor as a strategic point of interest. Consequently, we believe that this map predates the Japanese bombing of the US Naval hub in December of 1941.

The map was printed by the Milanese publisher Editorale Ultra and is rare today. The OCLC does not list a single institutional holding, and we have not been able to identify any other examples on the market.


Editoriale Ultra

Editoriale Ultra was an Italian publisher based in Milan. Founded as a public limited company on 24 January 1934, they were significant producers of printed matter during the 1930s and into the Second World War. Their output included the novels of Maria Cecchi Betrone and popular series such as “Oliva, Storia e leggenda e l’Enciclopedia storica Ultra” and  Il flauto di Pan,” but also printed matter for Mussolini’s fascist government.

Editorale Ultra had only existed for a few years when the first bankruptcy proceedings against them began in 1936. Still, the company managed to survive through the war, in part due to their government contracts. After the war, it continued in a reduced capacity into the 1950s.

Condition Description

Good. Some wear along fold lines, loss at intersections.