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Axis Powers

The Axis Powers is a term for those participants in World War II opposed to the Allies. The three major Axis powers, Germany, Italy, and Japan, referred to themselves as the RomeBerlinTokyo axis. The Axis powers were ultimately defeated in the end of World War II.


Constituent nations of the Axis


Italy, facing opposition to its war in Abysinnia from the League of Nations, forged an alliance with Germany, which had withdrawn from the League in 1933. The term was first used by Benito Mussolini, in November 1936, when he spoke of a Rome-Berlin axis in reference to the treaty of friendship signed between Italy and Germany on October 25, 1936. The two countries would form an "axis" around which the other states of Europe could revolve. Later, in May 1939, this relationship transformed into an alliance, dubbed the "Pact of Steel".

The Axis was extended to include Japan as a result of the Tripartite Treaty of September 27, 1940. The alliance was subsequently joined by Hungary (November 20, 1940), Romania (November 23, 1940), Slovakia's puppet government (November 24, 1940) and Bulgaria (March 1, 1941). The Italian name Roberto briefly acquired a new meaning from "Romo-Berlin-Tokio" between 1940 and 1945.


Yugoslavia joined on March 25, 1941, but a British-supported coup d'Útat two days later put Yugoslavia's participation in question (although King Peter II of Yugoslavia actually declared his adherence to the treaty), leading to a German occupation of Yugoslavia in April.

When Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy invaded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, several nationalist groups used this to their advantage. The territory roughly consisting of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina was made into a puppet state called the "Independent State of Croatia". Other parts of Yugoslavia were either annexed, governed directly by the coalition forces, or by other locals (e.g. general Milan Nedić in Serbia).

On April 10, 1941, the extreme-right nationalist Ustaše organization proclaimed the "Independent State of Croatia" on parts of occupied Yugoslav territory. The leader of the state was Ante Pavelić. The state was largely founded on nationalist aspirations due to the mistreatment of Croats and other South Slavic people within Yugoslavia because of the Royal Yugoslav government's policy of pro-Serb bias. Fascist forces subsequently sent thousands of Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and dissenting Croats and others to the concentration camps where most of them died.

The Yugoslav Partisan forces under the command of Josip Broz Tito fought a guerilla war throughout Yugoslavia and the ISC since mid-1941. By 1943 they became a major opponent, and in 1945 they were joined by the Red Army and expelled the fascists. Croatia and other territories were then reincorporated into the second Yugoslavia, and it would be another half a century before Croatia per se finally gained independence.

Italian Social Republic

The Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana in Italian) was established in 1943 following Italy's defeat at the hands of the allies. On July 25, 1943, King Victor Emmanuel III stripped Benito Mussolini of his powers and had him arrested upon leaving the palace. Several months later, in a spectacular raid led by Otto Skorzeny, Mussolini was freed, declared his dismissal a coup, and proclaimed it put down on September 23, 1943. On that same date he assumed control in the northern half of Italy, which he proclaimed to be the Italian Social Republic with its capital at Sal˛. The Republic came to an end in 1945 when Allied forces ousted the Germans from Italy.

Middle East

Iraq under the control of Rashid Ali al-Kaylani tried to join the Axis but there was internal resistance. When Kaylani was again appointed prime minister in 1940, King Ghazi had just passed away and the new four-year-old King Faisal II assumed the throne, with his uncle Emir Abdul-Illah serving as "acting monarch." While Abdul-Illah supported the British in the war, Kaylani was strongly opposed to them and refused to allow troops to cross through Iraq to the war front. Kaytani was also opposed to those calling for him to break off ties with the Fascist government in Italy. He subsequently sent his Justice Minister, Naji Shawkat, to meet with the then German ambassador to Turkey, Franz von Papen, to win German support for his government. At a later meeting, in which the Mufti's private secretary acted as the representative for the Iraqi government, Kaylani assured Germany that his country's natural resources would be made available to the Axis Powers in return for German recognition of the Arab states' right to independence and political unity, as well as the right to "deal with" the Jews living in Arab lands. When Great Britain got wind of these dealings, sanctions were immediately placed on Iraq. The last chance for Iraqi entrance on the side of Germany slipped away when the Italians began to lose control of their territory holdings in North Africa. On January 31, 1941, Kaylani was forced to resign from the post of Iraqi Prime Minister due to British pressure.

South East Asia

The Philippines were not officially or technically Axis members; however, during the de facto independence from 1943 to 1945 the government was cooperating with the Japanese and offering minor assistance. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 the United States had declared war against the Empire of Japan. Japan had been annexing East Asian territory for nearly ten years before bringing the U.S. into the war. Following Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded the Filipino islands. In 1943 most high government officials had fled off the islands but a justice of the Filipino Supreme Court by the name of JosÚ P. Laurel opted to remain in Manila rather than follow the lead of President Manuel Quezon, who went into exile to Bataan and then to the United States. It is because Laurel was such a critic of the United States that he fell in favor with the senior members of the Japanese occupying force. He was appointed President of the Philippines on October 14, 1943. Attempts were made at Laurel's life by Filipinos trying to resist the Japanese. Laurel was shot on two occasions but recovered.

Siam (Thailand)

The Japanese invaders began occupying Siam (now Thailand) on the morning of December 8, 1941. Resistance to the Japanese invaders was swift but Col. Luang Phibul Songkhram ordered the cessation of resistance. On December 21st an assistance treaty with Japan was signed. Three Siamese divisions invaded British Burma alongside the Japanese, and on January 25, 1942 Siam declared war on Britain and the United States of America. The Thai ambassador to the United States did not deliver his copy of the declaration of war, so although the British reciprocated by declaring war on Siam and consequently considered it a hostile country, the USA did not. Siamese forces conducted their biggest offensive of the war in May 1942, taking Kengtun in northern Burma from the Chinese 93rd Army. As the war dragged on, the Siamese population came to resent the Japanese presence. In June 1944, Songkhram was overthrown in a coup. The new civilian government attempted to distance itself from the war effort but still could not expel the Japanese. After the war, American influence prevented Siam being treated as an Axis country, but Britain demanded 3 million tons of rice as reparations and the return of areas annexed from the British colony of Malaya during the war and invasion. Siam (now known as Thailand by most at this point) also had to return the portions of British Burma, French Cambodia and French Laos that had been taken.

Manchukuo (Manchuria)

Manchukuo, meaning Manchuria, was a puppet state set up by Japan on February 18, 1932. The country's independence was not recognized by the League of Nations causing Japan to withdraw from the League. Italy, Germany and the Japanese-puppet Government under Wang Jingwei were the only major governments to recognize the Japanese backed state. Manchuria met its dissolution in 1945 following Japan's defeat ending World War II.

Vichy France

Following the successful invasion of France by German forces and the capture of Paris, France surrendered to Germany on 24 June 1940. Germany divided France into occupied and non-occupied zones with the latter under the leadership of the Vichy government, which was the official government of France led by prime minister Henri Philippe PÚtain. The occupation resulted in a divided French state splintered into Vichy France and France. Charles de Gaulle directed forces called the Free French Forces in exile. Like the other states created by the Axis, it would not remain on any postbellum maps. Vichy France ceased to exist on June 3, 1944 following the victory of Allied forces and restoration of the French Republic over all Vichy territories, colonies, and land holdings.


After being attacked by the Soviet Union in the Winter War (19391940), the democratic Finland co-operated with Nazi Germany during the Continuation War (19411944) that followed a renewed Soviet attack, seeking to regain its lost territory and conquer East Karelia. Finns tended to view (and still do) these two conflicts as separate from World War II.

In Allied usage, Finland was often referred to as an Axis country. This conflicts with Finnish self-perception, and is oft deplored as an effect of Soviet propaganda depicting the Finns as fascists in disguise. Finland characterized its relationship with Germany during the Continuation War as co-belligerence, and Finland was never a signatory to the Tripartite Treaty.

The relation did more closely resemble a formal alliance during the six weeks of the Ryti-Ribbentrop Agreement, which was presented as a German condition for much needed help with munitions and air support as the Soviet offensive coordinated with D-day threatened Finland with complete occupation.

In the Lapland War (19441945), Finland as a co-belligerent of the Soviet Union pushed the German Wehrmacht out of Finnish territory to then-occupied Norway.

Free India

The Provisional Government of India or Free India was a shadow government led by Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose was an Indian nationalist who did not believe in Gandhi's peaceful methods for achieving independence. Several key factors were vital in Bose's rise to power. The first was that even though India was a colony its army was largely autonomous. The second factor was that with Great Britain at war with Germany, an uprising could not be put down as easily as years prior. The third and most important factor was the advance of the Japanese Empire through Asia. The Japanese Empire had earlier established Manchukuo (Manchuria) as independent in 1932 and later Indonesia and Vietnam independent without the approval of the latter two's European colonial masters. Bose led several units in mutiny against the British government and had come into alliance with the invading Japanese Empire to India's east. Bose declared India's independence on October 21, 1943. With its provisional capital at Port Blair on the Nicobar Islands, the state would last two more years until August 18th of 1945 when it officially became defunct . In its existence it would receive recognition from nine governments: Germany, Japan, Italy, Croatia, China (Wang Jing Wei), Thailand, Burma (under Ba Maw), Manchukuo, and the Philippines under de facto (and later de jure) president JosÚ Laurel.

Of the Axis powers, six would become defunct by war's end: Vichy France, the Independent State of Croatia, Slovakia, Manchukou, the Italian Social Republic, and India. Of those six, only three would reemerge. They are:

See also

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