Facts about Axis Powers WW2
- Facts about Axis Powers WW2
- Who were the Axis Powers?
- Axis Leaders in WW2
- How Did the Axis Powers Form?
- Axis Powers Timeline
- Axis Powers Video
- Expanding the Axis Powers
- Axis Powers Co-Belligerents
- The End of the Axis Powers
- Axis Powers References
The Axis Powers were the countries that fought against the Allies in World War II. The alliance started in 1936 when treaties were signed between Germany, Italy, and Japan. In 1939 the so-called “Rome-Berlin Axis” became a military alliance, and in 1940, with the Tripartite Pact they set their military aims. At their height, during World War II, the Axis powers had an enormous empire that controlled vast parts of Europe, East and Southeastern Asia, and Africa. The war ended in 1945; the Axis lost not only the battle, but their alliance was also gone. Membership in the alliance changed, much like the alliance of the Allies, during the war, with some countries entering the coalition and some leaving.
Who were the Axis Powers?
The two most significant forces in World War II were two groups, the Axis and the Allies. The Axis Powers consisted of Germany, Italy, and Japan. In their vision, Germany ruled Europe, Italy over the Mediterranean Sea, and Japan over the Pacific and East Asia.
Unlike the Allies, the Axis powers never organized institutions for foreign or military policy, but they did have common interests. The first interest was territorial expansion and the creation of empires by conquering other countries. Their second common goal was the destruction of Soviet communism.
Axis Leaders in WW2
The Second World War was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945. During this time, the Axis Powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan—were united under a coalition of dictators known as “Axis Leaders.” These men were responsible for the most horrific atrocities of the war, but their personal stories are often overlooked. In this post, we will take a closer look at Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Hideki Tojo—the three Axis Leaders who changed the course of history.
Adolf Hitler: Leader of Nazi Germany
Adolf Hitler will go down in history as one of the most notorious tyrants ever. His fascist regime and terrible policies caused millions of deaths and widespread destruction throughout Europe. Hitler’s extreme racial ideologies and passionate speeches inspired a generation of German people to follow him blindly into war.
Benito Mussolini: Dictator of Italy
Benito Mussolini was another major figure of the Axis Powers during World War Two. While he initially opposed pro-fascist party members and kept Italy neutral during the early stages of the conflict, Mussolini eventually joined forces with Hitler in 1940 and declared war on Britain and France. He supported Italian imperialism and strongly encouraged anti-communist movements. Mussolini’s leadership eventually led to Italy’s defeat in 1943, forcing him to flee the country before being captured and executed by Italian partisans in 1945.
Hideki Tojo: Prime Minister of Japan
The third Axis Leader was Hideki Tojo, Prime Minister of Japan from 1941 until 1944. Like his counterparts, Tojo was an oppressive dictator who instituted totalitarian rule and sought to expand Japanese territory through military conquest. His attempts to conquer parts of China and Southeast Asia ultimately failed, leading to Japan’s surrender in 1945. Though Tojo escaped execution after the war, he was sentenced to death for war crimes in 1948.
How Did the Axis Powers Form?
On November 1, 1936, Germany and Italy announced the Rome-Berlin Axis that would complement the treaty they had signed one week before. A month after, Germany signed a Comintern Pact with Imperial Japan, and Italy joined that pact on November 6. On September 27, 1940, the three countries signed the Tripartite Pact, the keystone of the Axis alliance.
Even before they signed the Tripartite Pact, Germany and Japan started provoking war. Japan invaded China, which would start the Pacific war, and Germany invaded Poland, leading to World War II. Italy joined its fellow pact members on the Axis side when it entered World War II on June 10, 1940.
Axis Powers Timeline
- November 25, 1936: Germany and Japan sign the Anti-Comintern Pact, forming an alliance against the Soviet Union and other communist nations.
- October 25, 1936: Germany and Italy sign the Rome-Berlin Axis, formalizing their alliance.
- September 1, 1939: Germany invades Poland, beginning World War II.
- September 27, 1940: Germany, Italy, and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact, forming the Axis Powers.
- June 22, 1941: Germany launches a surprise attack on the Soviet Union, beginning the Eastern Front.
- December 7, 1941: Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into the war.
- January 14, 1942: Allied forces in North Africa launch Operation Torch, a major offensive against Axis forces in the region.
- February 2, 1943: The German Sixth Army surrenders to Soviet forces at Stalingrad, marking a significant turning point in the Eastern Front.
- July 10, 1943: Allied forces invaded Sicily, beginning the Italian Campaign.
- June 6, 1944: Allied forces launch the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.
- December 16, 1944: Germany launches a surprise counteroffensive in the Ardennes region of Belgium, known as the Battle of the Bulge.
- April 30, 1945: Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin.
- May 8, 1945: Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies, ending the war in Europe.
- August 6 and 9, 1945: The United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- August 15, 1945: Japan announces its surrender to the Allies, officially ending World War II.
- 1945-1947: The Allies conduct a series of war crimes trials, including the Nuremberg Trials, which prosecute Axis leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- April 28, 1952: The Allies officially dissolve the Axis Powers.
Axis Powers Video
Expanding the Axis Powers
In July 1940, after the German victory over France, it was also decided that Germany would attack the Soviet Union. For such a colossal operation, Germany needed raw materials, transit rights, and more allies. To secure all these, Germany started pressuring other European states into joining the Axis powers; Germany offered support to Slovakia, Romania, and other countries to persuade them to join the Axis.
Germany was also concerned about Italy’s failure to conquer Greece because they needed a flank in the Balkans. To make matters worse for the Axis powers, because of the success Greece had, the British also formed a front in the Balkans; this could also have led to Greece interfering with Romania’s oil fields which the Germans needed for their invasion plans. To get rid of the British from the mainland Germany needed a route through Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.
Bulgaria wanted to avoid war with the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, so they resisted German pressure. They finally joined the Axis when Germany offered them Greek territory in Thrace. Yugoslavia reluctantly joined the Axis when the Germans agreed to let them stay neutral and not use their territory for troop transit. After two days, a coup came about in Yugoslavia, so Germany decided to invade the country. Afterward, it became the so-called Independent State of Croatia, joining the Axis on June 15, 1941.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor led to Germany’s declaration of war on the United States, other European Axis powers quickly followed, and the Atlantic and Pacific wars became part of World War II.
Axis Powers Co-Belligerents
The other Axis countries, while they were not official signatories of the Tripartite Pact, were essential to both Germany and Japan during World War II.
- Thailand, for example, granted its military access to Japanese forces, allowing them to use Thai territory as a base to invade other countries in Southeast Asia.
- Finland, although it declared war on the Soviet Union at the request of Hitler, managed to maintain autonomy from Germany throughout the conflict.
- San Marino also contributed to the Axis cause; although it was officially internationally neutral, it was infiltrated by Nazi sympathizers who sought to bolster the German war effort.
- Iraq proved an invaluable ally of both Germany and Japan; their leaders provided resources for their armaments – including oil – and remained loyal to the Axis until their ultimate defeat in 1943.
Though all four Axis co-belligerents did not commit to signing the Tripartite Pact, they nonetheless played an important role in supporting the Axis cause throughout World War II. Through their contributions, these small countries helped shape the course of history.
The End of the Axis Powers
The Allies, mainly the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain, won the Second World War and defeated the Axis. Italy gave up first, six weeks after the Fascist Party removed Benito Mussolini from power. After an overthrow, Romania changed sides as well. Bulgaria surrendered on September 8, 1944, when the communist Fatherland Front took over the government of Bulgaria.
Croatia was liberated mainly by Tito’s Partisans, a Yugoslav force that drove out the Ustasa, which controlled the Independent State of Croatia.
Seven days after Adolf Hitler’s suicide, on May 7th, 1945, Germany was forced to accept their defeat and unconditionally surrender to the Allies. It marked the end of a long and devastating war that saw millions of lives lost and millions more shattered forever. While it was a momentous victory for the Allies, it was also a devastating loss for those who fought or had family members fighting in the war.
The defeat of Germany meant that Japan was now the last Axis power standing. However, despite desperate and determined attempts to hold out, Japan was eventually forced to capitulate on September 2nd, 1945. The Second World War was finally over, and the world could breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Axis Powers References
- Tripartite Pact Text, Avalon Yale Project, Last Viewed: 22 November 2013
- The Tripartite Pact is Signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan, History.com, Last Viewed: 21 November 2013.
- An Alliance is Formed, Wake Forest University, Last Viewed 22 November 2013.