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Axis powers

The Axis powers, also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries or sometimes just the Axis were those countries that were opposed to the Allies during World War II. The three major Axis powers, Germany, Italy and the Japan were part of a military alliance on the signing of the Tripartite Pact in September 1940, which officially founded the Axis powers. At their zenith, the Axis powers ruled empires that dominated large parts of Europe, Africa, East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean, but World War II ended with their total defeat. Like the Allies, membership of the Axis was fluid, and some nations entered and later left the Axis during the course of the war.

Origins

The term "axis" is believed to have been first coined by Hungary's fascist prime minister Gyula Gömbös who advocated an alliance of Germany, Hungary, and Italy and worked as an intermediary between Germany and Italy to lessen differences between the two countries to achieve such an alliance. Gömbös' sudden death in 1936 while negotiating with Germany in Munich and the arrival of a non-fascist successor to him ended Hungary's initial involvement in pursuing a trilateral axis, but the lessening of differences between Germany and Italy would lead to a bilateral axis being formed.

In November 1936, the term "axis" was first officially used by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini when he spoke of a Rome-Berlin axis arising out of the treaty of friendship signed between Italy and Germany on 25 October 1936. Mussolini declared that the two countries would form an "Axis" around which the other states of Europe (and of the world) would revolve. This treaty was forged when Italy, originally opposed to Nazi Germany, was faced with opposition to its war in Abyssinia from the League of Nations and received support from Germany. Later, in May 1939, this relationship transformed into an alliance, called by Mussolini the "Pact of Steel".

The term "Axis powers" formally took the name after the Tripartite Pact was signed by Germany, Italy and Japan on September 27, 1940 in Berlin, Germany. The pact was subsequently joined by Hungary (November 20, 1940), Romania (November 23, 1940), Slovakia (November 24, 1940) and Bulgaria (March 1, 1941). The Italian name Roberto briefly acquired a new meaning from "Rome-Berlin-Tokyo" between 1940 and 1945. Its most militarily powerful members were Germany and Japan. These two nations had also signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with each other as allies before the Tripartite Pact in 1936.

Participating nations

Major Axis powers

Three major Axis powers were the original signatories to the Tripartite Pact:

Germany

Germany was unofficially the leader of the Axis powers as it had the largest and most technologically-advanced armed forces of the Axis powers. Germany was ruled at this time by Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers' Party (a.k.a. the Nazi Party).

German citizens felt that their country had been humiliated as a result of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I in which Germany was forced to pay enormous reparations payments, and forfeit German-populated territories and its colonies. German nationalists blamed the country's defeat on pacifists, Communists, and Jews. The Germans had to pay large reparations which placed pressure on the German economy leading to hyperinflation during the early 1920s. In 1923, the French occupied the Ruhr region as a result of late payments leading to greater feelings of discontent. Although Germany began to improve economically in the mid-1920s, the Great Depression created more economic hardship and a rise in political forces that advocated radical solutions to Germany's woes. The Nazis under Adolf Hitler followed and promoted the nationalist belief that Germany had been betrayed by Jews and Communists and promised to rebuild Germany as a major power and to create a Greater Germany which would include Alsace-Lorraine, Austria, Sudetenland, and other German-populated territories in Europe. In addition to this, the Nazis aimed to occupy non-German territory of Poland, Baltic countries, and the Soviet Union to colonize with Germans as part of the Nazi policy of seeking Lebensraum ("living space") in eastern Europe.

Germany renounced the Versailles treaty in 1935 and began to rearm. The Rhineland was remilitarised. Germany later annexed Austria in 1938, the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia and Memel from Lithuania in 1939. Germany then invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia in 1939, creating the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and Slovakia as a country.

The invasion of Poland led to the subsequent beginning of World War II. By 1941, Germany occupied most of Europe and its military forces were fighting the Soviet Union, nearly capturing its capital of Moscow. However, crushing defeats at the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk devastated the German armed forces. This combined with Western Allied landings in France and Italy led to a three-front war which depleted Germany's armed forces resulting in Germany's defeat in 1945.'''

Japan

Japan was the principal Axis power in Asia and the Pacific. The Empire of Japan, commonly referred to as Imperial Japan, was a constitutional monarchy ruled by Emperor Shōwa. The constitution prescribed that "The Emperor is the head of the Empire, combining in Himself the rights of sovereignty, and exercises them, according to the provisions of the present Constitution" (article 4) and that "The Emperor has the supreme command of the Army and the Navy" (article 11). Under the imperial institution were a political cabinet and Imperial General Headquarters with two chief of staff.

At its height, Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere included Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, large parts of China, Malaysia, French Indochina, Dutch East Indies, The Philippines, Burma, some of India, and various other Pacific Islands - specifically in the central Pacific.

As a result of the internal discord and economic downturn of the 1920s, militaristic elements set Japan on a path of expansionism. Japan had plans to establish its hegemony in Asia and thus become self-sufficient, as the Japanese home islands lacked natural resources needed for growth, by acquiring areas with abundant natural resources. Japan's expansionist policies alienated it from other countries in the League of Nations and by the mid-1930s brought it closer to Germany and Italy which both had pursued similar expansionist policies which resulted in condemnation by a number of countries. Initial steps of Japan aligning itself militarily with Germany began with the Anti-Comintern Pact, in which the two countries agreed to ally with each other to challenge any attack by the Soviet Union.

Japan's first major belligerent action was against the Chinese in 1937. The subsequent Japanese invasion and occupation of parts of China resulted in numerous atrocities against civilians such as the Nanking massacre and the Three Alls Policy. The Japanese also fought skirmishes with Soviet Union forces in Manchukuo in 1938 & 1939. Japan sought to avoid potential war with the Soviet Union by signing a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union later in 1941.

With European colonial powers focused on the war in Europe, Japan sought to acquire their colonies. In 1940 Japan responded to the collapse of France to the Germans, by sending the Japanese forces to occupy French Indochina. The regime of Vichy France, a de-facto ally of Germany, accepted Japan's takeover of Indochina. Allied forces did not respond with war. However, with the continuing war in China, the United States instituted in 1941 an embargo against Japan cutting off the supply of scrap metal and oil needed for its industry and war effort.

In order to isolate American forces in the Philippines and American naval power, the Imperial General Headquarters ordered the Imperial Japanese Navy to attack the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. The Japanese also invaded Malaysia and Hong Kong. The Japanese initially were able to inflict a series of defeats against the allies, however by 1943 American industrial strength was made apparent and the Japanese were pushed back towards the home islands. The Pacific War lasted until the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The Soviets formally declared war in August, 1945 and engaged Japanese forces in Manchuria and northeast China during Operation August Storm.

Italy

The Kingdom of Italy was under the leadership of the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in the name of King Victor Emmanuel III.

During World War I, Italy had entered the war against Germany and Austria-Hungary. At the end Italy made only minor gains rather than the large concessions promised by the London Pact. The London pact was nullified with the treaty of Versailles, Italian nationalists and the public saw this as an injustice and an outrage, there had been over 600,000 Italian casualties. This resentment together with internal discontent and an economic downturn allowed the Italian Fascists under Benito Mussolini to rise to power in 1922.

In the late 19th century after the reunification, a nationalist movement grew around the concept of Italia irredenta which advocated the incorporation of Italian-speaking areas under foreign rule into Italy; there was a desire to annex Italian speaking areas in Dalmatia. Italy's Fascist regime's intention was to create a "New Roman Empire" in which Italy would dominate the Mediterranean Sea. In 1935-1936, Italy invaded and annexed Ethiopia. The League of Nations protested, however no serious action was taken, though Italy faced diplomatic isolation by many countries. In 1937 Italy left the League of Nations and in the same year joined the Anti-Comintern Pact which was signed by Germany and Japan the preceding year. In March/April 1939 Italian troops invaded and annexed Albania. Germany and Italy signed the Pact of Steel on May 22. Italy entered World War II on June 10, 1940. In September 1940 Germany, Italy and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact. By 1941, however, the Italians had suffered multiple military defeats; in Greece and against the British in Egypt. It was only through German intervention in Yugoslavia, the Balkans and North Africa that Italy managed to avert a major military collapse. By 1943 the Italian people had lost faith in Mussolini and no longer supported the war; Italy had lost its colonies, the allies had taken North Africa in May and Sicily had been invaded in July.

On July 25, 1943, King Victor Emmanuel III dismissed Mussolini, placed him under arrest, and began secret negotiations with the Allies. Italy then signed an armistice with the Allies on September 8 1943 and later joined the Western Allies as a co-belligerent. On September 12, 1943, Mussolini was rescued by the Germans in Operation Oak and a puppet state was formed in northern Italy (see "German puppet states" below), although it exercised little real power and Italy continued as a member of the Axis Tripartite Pact in name only. This resurrected Fascist state was referred to as Repubblica di Salò or the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana/RSI).

Minor powers

Several minor powers formally adhered to the Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy and Japan in this order:

Hungary

Hungary was ruled by Regent Admiral Miklós Horthy. Hungary was the first country apart from Germany, Italy, and Japan to adhere to the Tripartite Pact, signing the agreement on 20 November 1940.

In the late 1910s and early 1920s, political instability plagued the country until a regency was established by Miklos Horthy. Horthy, who was a Hungarian nobleman and Austro-Hungarian naval officer, became Regent in 1920. In Hungary, nationalism was strong, as was anti-Semitism, which drew Hungarian nationalists to support the Nazi regime in Germany. There was a desire by Hungarian nationalists to recover the territories lost through the Trianon Treaty. Hungary drew closer to Germany and Italy largely because of the shared desire to revise the peace settlements made after the First World War. Because of its pro-German stance, the Hungarians received favourable territorial settlements in the form of territory from German annexed Czechoslovakia in 1939 and Hungarian speaking Transylvania from Romania in the Vienna Awards of 1940. During the invasion of Yugoslavia, the Hungarians permitted German troops to transit through their territory and Hungarian forces also took part in the invasion. Parts of Yugoslavia were annexed to Hungary; in response, the United Kingdom immediately broke off diplomatic relations.

Although Hungary did not participate initially in the German invasion of the Soviet Union, on 27 June, Hungary declared war on the Soviet Union. Over 500,000 troops served in the Eastern Front. All five of Hungary's field armies ultimately participated in the war against the Soviet Union; the largest and the most significant contribution was made by the Second Army.

On 25 November 1941, Hungary was one of thirteen signatories to the revived Anti-Comintern Pact. Hungarian troops like their other Axis counterparts were involved in numerous actions against the Soviets. By the end of 1943, however, the Soviets had gained the upper hand while the Germans found themselves in retreat. The Hungarian Second Army was destroyed in fighting near Voronezh, on the banks of the Don River. In 1944, with Soviet troops advancing toward Hungary, Horthy attempted to reach an armistice with the allies. However, the Germans replaced the existing regime with a new one. Eventually Budapest was taken by the Soviets, after fierce fighting. A number of pro-German Hungarians retreated to Italy and Germany where they fought until the end of the war.

Romania

Romania, under King Mihai I and the military government of Ion Antonescu signed the Tripartite Pact on November 23, 1940. When war erupted in Europe in 1939, Romania was pro-British and was allied to the Poles. However with the defeat of Poland and the German conquest of France and the low countries, Romania found itself increasingly isolated. Pro-German and pro-fascist elements began to grow.

On June 28, 1940, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and Hertza County. On August 30, 1940, Germany forced Romania to cede Northern Transylvania to Hungary as a result of the second Vienna Award. Southern Dobruja was also ceded to Bulgaria in September 1940. In an effort to appease the Fascist elements with the country and obtain German protection, King Carol II appointed the General Ion Antonescu as Prime Minister on September 6, 1940. Two days later, Antonescu forced the king to abdicate and installed the king's young son Michael on the throne, then declared himself Conducător (Leader) with dictatorial powers. German troops entered the country in 1941 and used the country as platform for invasions of both Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Romania was also a key supplier of resources, especially oil and grain.

Romania joined the German led invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Nearly 800,000 Romanian troops fought on the Eastern front. Areas that were annexed by the Soviets were reincorporated into Romania. By 1943, the tide began to turn and the Soviets pushed further west closer to Romania. Led by pro-allied elements, Romania switched sides during King Michael's Coup on 23 August 1944. Romanian troops then fought alongside the Soviet Army until the end of war, reaching as far as Czechoslovakia and Austria.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria was ruled by King Boris III. The country signed the Tripartite Pact on March 1, 1941. Bulgaria had been an ally of Germany in the First World War and like Germany, sought a return of lost territory specifically Macedonia and Aegean Thrace. During the 1930s, because of traditional right-wing elements Bulgaria drew closer to Nazi Germany. In 1940, under the terms of the Treaty of Craiova, Germany pressured Romania to return Southern Dobrudja to Bulgaria which was ceded in 1913.

Bulgaria participated in the German invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece, and annexed Vardar Banovina from Yugoslavia and eastern Greek Macedonia and Western Thrace from Greece. Bulgarian forces garrisoned in the Balkans fought various resistance movements. Despite German pressure, Bulgaria did not join the German invasion of the Soviet Union and never declared war on this country. However, despite the lack of official declarations of war by both sides, the Bulgarian Navy was involved in a number of skirmishes with the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, which attacked Bulgarian shipping.

The Bulgarian government declared war on the Western Allies. However, this turned into a disaster for the citizens of Sofia and other major Bulgarian cities, which were heavily bombed by the USAAF and RAF in 1943 and 1944. As the Red Army approached the Bulgarian border, on September 2, 1944, a coup brought to power a new government which sought peace with the Allies. However, on September 5 the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria and the Red Army marched into the country, meeting no resistance. During the coup d'état of 9 September 1944, a new government of the Fatherland Front took power and Bulgarian troops fought on the Allies' side throughout the rest of the war. Bulgaria kept Southern Dobrudja but lost the occupied parts of the Aegean region and Vardar Macedonia resulting in 150,000 Bulgarians being expelled from Western Thrace.

Yugoslavia

For about two days in 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (Kraljevina Jugoslavija) was briefly a member of the Axis. On 25 March 1941, fearing that Yugoslavia would be invaded otherwise, Regent Prince Paul signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Two days later, after uprisings in the streets, Prince Paul was removed from office by a coup d'état. 17-year-old Prince Peter was proclaimed to be of age and crowned king. The new Yugoslavian government under King Peter II, still fearful of invasion, attempted to indicate that it would remain bound by the Tripartite Pact. But German dictator Adolf Hitler suspected that the British were behind the coup against Prince Paul and vowed to destroy the country.

The German invasion began on 6 April 1941. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic country from its creation and was heavily dominated by the Serbs. It also had unresolved questions of national identity so most of the peoples were not motivated to fight. Resistance crumbled in less than two weeks and an unconditional surrender was signed in Belgrade on 17 April. By this time, King Peter II and much of the Yugoslavian government had already fled.

While the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was no longer capable of being a member of the Axis, several Axis-aligned puppet states emerged after the kingdom was dissolved. Local governments were set up in Serbia, Croatia, and Montenegro. The remainder of Yugoslavia was divided among the other Axis powers. Germany annexed Slovenia. Italy annexed coastal parts of Croatia (Dalmatia and the islands). Hungary annexed several border territories. Bulgaria annexed Macedonia.

Ivan Mihailov's faction of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) welcomed the Bulgarian annexation of Vardar Macedonia. In early September 1944, when the Bulgarian government left the Axis, Germany offered Mihailov support in establishing an independent Macedonian state, but he declined.

Co-belligerents

Finland

Although Finland never signed the Tripartite Pact and legally (de jure) was not a part of the Axis, it was Axis aligned with its fight against the Soviet Union. The common term used in that kind of relationship is co-belligerence. Finland signed the revived Anti-Comintern Pact of November 1941.

Having been a victim of Soviet aggression during the Winter War, Finland had sought protection and support from the United Kingdom and neutral Sweden, but was thwarted by Soviet and German actions. This resulted in Finland being drawn closer to Germany, first with the intent of enlisting German support as a counterweight to thwart continuing Soviet pressure and later to help regain lost territories.

In the opening days of the Operation Barbarossa, Finland permitted German planes returning from bombing runs over Leningrad to refuel at Finnish airfields before returning to bases in East Prussia. In retaliation the Soviet Union launched major air offensive against Finnish airfields and towns, which resulted Finnish declaration of war to the Soviet Union on June 25, 1941. The Finnish conflict with the Soviet Union is generally referred as the Continuation War.

The Finnish main objective was to regain the territory lost to the Soviet Union in the Winter War, but on July 10, 1941, Field Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim issued an Order of the Day which contained a formulation what was understood internationally as a Finnish interest to the Russian Karelia. Diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Finland were severed on August 1, 1941, after the British bombed German forces in the Finnish city of Petsamo. The United Kingdom repeatedly called on Finland to cease its offensive against the Soviet Union, and on December 6, 1941, declared war on Finland, although no other military operations followed. War was never declared between Finland and the United States.

Unlike other Axis powers, Finland maintained command of its armed forces and pursued its war objectives independently of Germany. Finland refused German requests to participate in the Siege of Leningrad, and also granted asylum to Jews, while Jewish soldiers continued to serve in her army.

The relationship between Finland and Germany more closely resembled an alliance during the six weeks of the Ryti-Ribbentrop Agreement, which was presented as a German condition for help with munitions and air support, as the Soviet offensive coordinated with D-Day threatened Finland with complete occupation. The agreement, signed by President Risto Ryti, but never ratified by the Finnish Parliament, bound Finland not to seek a separate peace.

After Soviet offensive were fought to standstill, Ryti's successor as president, Marshall Mannerheim, dismissed the agreement and opened secret negotiations with the Soviets, which resulted a ceasefire at September 4 and the Moscow Armistice on September 19, 1944. Under the terms of the armistice, Finland was obligated to expel German troops from Finnish territory, which resulted in the Lapland War. In 1947, Finland signed a peace treaty with the Allied powers.

Iraq

Iraq was a co-belligerent of the Axis, fighting the United Kingdom in the Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941.

Anti-British sentiments were widespread in Iraq prior to 1941. Seizing power on April 3, 1941, the nationalist government of Iraqi Prime Minister Rashid Ali repudiated the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 and demanded that the British abandon their military bases and withdraw from the country. Ali sought support from Germany and Italy in expelling British forces from Iraq.

In early May 1941, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem and associate of Ali, declared "holy war" against the British and called on Arabs throughout the Middle East to rise up against British rule. On May 25, 1941, the Germans stepped up offensive operations. Hitler issued Order 30,

"The Arab Freedom Movement in the Middle East is our natural ally against England. In this connection special importance is attached to the liberation of Iraq... I have therefore decided to move forward in the Middle East by supporting Iraq."

Hostilities between the Iraqi and British forces began on April 18, 1941, with heavy fighting at the RAF air base at Lake Habbaniya. The Germans and Italians dispatched aircraft and aircrew to Iraq. The Germans and Italians utilized Vichy French bases in Syria, which would later invoke fighting between British and Vichy French forces in Syria.

The Germans planned to coordinate a combined German-Italian offensive against the British in Egypt, Palestine and Iraq. Iraqi military resistance, however, ended by May 31, 1941. Rashid Ali and the Mufti of Jerusalem fled to Persia, then Turkey, Italy and finally Germany where Ali was welcomed by Hitler as head of the Iraqi government-in-exile in Berlin. In propaganda broadcasts from Berlin, the Mufti continued to call on Arabs to rise up against the British and aid German and Italian forces. He also helped recruit Muslim volunteers in the Balkans for the Waffen SS.

Thailand

Thailand became a formal ally of Japan from January 25, 1942.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces invaded Thailand's territory on the morning of December 8, 1941. Only hours after the invasion, the then prime minister Field Marshal Phibunsongkhram, ordered the cessation of resistance against the Japanese. On December 21, 1941, a military alliance with Japan was signed and Thailand declared war on Britain and the United States. The Thai ambassador to the United States, Mom Rajawongse Seni Pramoj did not deliver his copy of the declaration of war, so although the British reciprocated by declaring war on Thailand and consequently considered it a hostile country, the United States did not.

On May 10, 1942, the Thai Phayap Army entered Burma's Shan State, at one time in the past the area had been part of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The boundary between the Japanese and Thai operations was generally the Salween. However, the area south of the Shan States known as Karenni States, the homeland of the Karens, was specifically retained under Japanese control. Three Thai infantry and one cavalry division, spearheaded by armoured reconnaissance groups and supported by the air force engaged the retreating Chinese 93rd Division. Kengtung, the main objective, was captured on May 27. Renewed offensives in June and November evicted the Chinese into Yunnan.

The Free Thai Movement ("Seri Thai") was established during these first few months, parallel Free Thai organisations were also established in the United Kingdom and inside Thailand. Queen Ramphaiphanni was the nominal head of the British-based organisation, and Pridi Phanomyong, the regent, headed its largest contingent, which was operating within the country. Aided by elements of the military, secret airfields and training camps were established while OSS and Force 136 agents fluidly slipped in and out of the country.

As the war dragged on, the Thai population came to resent the Japanese presence. In June 1944, Phibun was overthrown in a coup d'état. The new civilian government under Khuang Aphaiwong attempted to aid the resistance while at the same time maintaining cordial relations with the Japanese. After the war, U.S. influence prevented Thailand from being treated as an Axis country, but the British demanded three million tons of rice as reparations and the return of areas annexed from the colony of Malaya during the war. Thailand also returned the portions of British Burma and French Indochina that had been annexed. Phibun and a number of his associates were put on trial on charges of having committed war crimes and of collaborating with the Axis powers. However, the charges were dropped due to intense public pressure. Public opinion was favourable to Phibun, since he was thought to have done his best to protect Thai interests

Soviet Union

Relations between the Soviet Union and the major Axis powers were generally hostile before 1939. In the Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union gave military aid to the Second Spanish Republic, against Spanish Nationalist forces, which were assisted by Germany and Italy. However, the Nationalist forces were victorious. In 1938 and 1939, the USSR fought and defeated Japan in two separate border wars, at Lake Khasan and Khalkhin Gol. The Soviets suffered another political defeat when an ally, Czechoslovakia, was partitioned and partially annexed, by Germany, Hungary and Poland — with the agreement of the UK and France — in 1938-39.

There were talks between Soviet Union and United Kingdom and France for an alliance against the growing power of Germany but these talks failed. As a result, on August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which included a secret protocol whereby the independent countries of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania were divided into spheres of interest of the parties. On September 1, barely a week after the pact had been signed, the partition of Poland commenced with the German invasion. The Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east on September 17 and on September 28 signed secret treaty with Nazi Germany on joint coordination in fight against any potential Polish resistance

Soon after that, the Soviet Union occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in addition, it annexed Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina from Romania. The Soviet Union attacked Finland on November 30, 1939 which started the Winter War. Finnish defence prevented an all-out invasion, but Finland was forced to cede strategically important border areas near Leningrad.

The Soviet Union supported Germany in the war effort against Western Europe through the German-Soviet Commercial Agreement with exports of raw materials (phosphates, chromium and iron ore, mineral oil, grain, cotton, rubber). These and other export goods were being transported through Soviet and occupied Polish territories and allowed Germany to circumvent the British naval blockade. Germany ended the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by invading the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa on June 22, 1941. That resulted in the Soviet Union becoming one of the main members of Allies.

Germany then revived its Anti-Comintern Pact, enlisting many European and Asian countries in opposition to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union and Japan remained neutral towards each other for most of the war by the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact. The Soviet Union ended the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact by invading Manchukuo in Operation August Storm on August 8, 1945.

Japanese puppet states

The Empire of Japan created a number of puppet states in the areas occupied by its military, beginning with the creation of Manchukuo in 1932. These puppet states achieved varying degrees of international recognition.

Manchukuo (Manchuria)

Manchukuo was a Japanese puppet state in Manchuria, the northeast region of China. It was nominally ruled by Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty, but in fact controlled by the Japanese military, in particular the Kwantung Army. While Manchukuo ostensibly meant a state for ethnic Manchus, the region had a Han Chinese majority.

Following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, the independence of Manchukuo was proclaimed on February 18, 1932, with Puyi as "Head of State." He was proclaimed the Emperor of Manchukuo a year later. Twenty three of the League of Nations' eighty members recognised the new Manchu nation, but the League itself declared in 1934 that Manchuria lawfully remained a part of China. This precipitated Japanese withdrawal from the League. Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union were among the major powers who recognised Manchukuo, other countries who recognised the state were the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and the Vatican. Manchukuo was also recognised by the other Japanese allies and puppet states, including Mengjiang, the Burmese government of Ba Maw, Thailand, the Wang Chingwei regime, and the Indian government of Subhas Chandra Bose. The Manchukuoan state ceased to exist after the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in 1945.

Mengjiang (Inner Mongolia)

Mengjiang (alternatively spelled Mengchiang) was a Japanese puppet state in Inner Mongolia. It was nominally ruled by Prince Demchugdongrub, a Mongol nobleman descended from Genghis Khan, but was in fact controlled by the Japanese military. Mengjiang's independence was proclaimed on February 18, 1936, following the Japanese occupation of the region.

The Inner Mongolians had several grievances against the central Chinese government in Nanking, with the most important one being the policy of allowing unlimited migration of Han Chinese to this vast region of open plains and desert. Several of the young princes of Inner Mongolia began to agitate for greater freedom from the central government, and it was through these men that Japanese saw their best chance of exploiting Pan-Mongol nationalism and eventually seizing control of Outer Mongolia from the Soviet Union.

Japan created Mengjiang to exploit tensions between ethnic Mongolians and the central government of China which in theory ruled Inner Mongolia. The Japanese hoped to use pan-Mongolism to create a Mongolian ally in Asia and eventually conquer all of Mongolia from the Soviet Union.

When the various puppet governments of China were unified under the Wang Chingwei government in March 1940, Mengjiang retained its separate identity as an autonomous federation. Although under the firm control of the Japanese Imperial Army which occupied its territory, Prince Demchugdongrub had his own army that was, in theory, independent.

Mengjiang vanished in 1945 following Japan's defeat ending World War II and the invasion of Soviet and Red Mongol Armies. As the huge Soviet forces advanced into Inner Mongolia, they met limited resistance from small detachments of Mongolian cavalry, which, like the rest of the army, were quickly brushed aside.

Wang Jingwei Government

A short-lived state was founded on March 29, 1940 by Wang Jingwei, who became Head of State of this Japanese supported collaborationist government based in Nanking.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan advanced from its bases in Manchuria to occupy much of East and Central China. Several Japanese puppet states were organised in areas occupied by the Japanese Army, including the Provisional Government of the Republic of China at Peking which was formed in 1937 and the Reformed Government of the Republic of China at Nanking which was formed in 1938. These governments were merged into the Reorganised Government of the Republic of China at Nanking in 1940. The government (known as the Wang Jingwei Government) was to be run along the same lines as the Nationalist regime and adopted symbols of the latter.

The Nanking Government had no real power, and its main role was to act as a propaganda tool for the Japanese. The Nanking Government concluded agreements with Japan and Manchukuo, authorising Japanese occupation of China and recognising the independence of Manchukuo under Japanese protection. The Nanking Government signed the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1941 and declared war on the United States and the United Kingdom on January 9, 1943.

The government had a strained relationship with the Japanese from the beginning. Wang's insistence on his regime being the true Nationalist government of China and in replicating all the symbols of the Kuomintang (KMT) led to frequent conflicts with the Japanese, the most prominent being the issue of the regime's flag, which was identical to that of the Republic of China.

The worsening situation for Japan from 1943 onwards meant that the Nanking Army was given a more substantial role in the defence of occupied China than the Japanese had initially envisaged. The army was almost continuously employed against the communist New Fourth Army.

Wang Jingwei died in a Nagoya hospital on November 10, 1944, and was succeeded by his deputy Chen Gongbo. Chen had little influence and the real power behind the regime was Zhou Fohai, the mayor of Shanghai. Wang's death dispelled what little legitimacy the regime had. The state stuttered on for another year and continued the display and show of a fascist regime.

On September 9, 1945, following the defeat of Japan, the area was surrendered to General He Yingqin, a nationalist general loyal to Chiang Kai-shek. The Nanking Army generals quickly declared their alliance to the Generalissimo, and were subsequently ordered to resist Communist attempts to fill the vacuum left by the Japanese surrender. Chen Gongbo was tried and executed in 1946.

Burma (Ba Maw regime)

The Japanese Army seized control of Burma from the United Kingdom during 1942. A Japanese puppet state in Burma was then formed on August 1 under the Burmese nationalist leader Ba Maw. The Ba Maw regime established the Burma Defence Army (later renamed the Burma National Army), which was commanded by Aung San.

Philippines (Second Republic)

The Japanese established a puppet state in the Philippine Islands in 1942. In 1943, the Philippine National Assembly declared the Philippines an independent republic and elected Jose P. Laurel as President of the Second Republic of the Philippines. There was never widespread support for the state, largely because of the anti-Japanese attitude of the people. The Second Philippine Republic ended with the Japanese surrender. Laurel was arrested and charged with treason by the US government, but was granted amnesty and continued being involved in politics, ultimately winning a seat in the Philippine Senate.

India (Provisional Government of Free India)

The Provisional Government of Free India was a shadow government led by Subhas Chandra Bose, an Indian nationalist who rejected Gandhi's nonviolent methods for achieving independence. Its authority existed only in those parts of India which came under Japanese control. One of the most prominent leaders of the Indian movement of the time and former president of the India National Congress, Bose was arrested by British authorities at the outset of the Second World War. In January 1941 he escaped from house arrest, eventually reaching Germany and then in 1942 to Japan where he formed the Indian National Army, made up largely from Indian prisoners of war.

Bose and A.M. Sahay, another local leader, received ideological support from Mitsuru Toyama, chief of the Dark Ocean Society along with Japanese Army advisers. Other Indian thinkers in favour of the Axis cause were Asit Krishna Mukherji, a friend of Bose, his wife Savitri Devi, a French writer admiring Hitler, and the Pandit Rajwade of Poona. Bose was helped by Rash Behari Bose, founder of the Indian Independence League in Japan. Bose declared India's independence on October 21, 1943. The Japanese Army assigned to the Indian National Army a number of military advisors, among them Hideo Iwakuro and Saburo Isoda.

The provisional capital was located at Port Blair on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, these islands fallen to the Japanese. The government would last two more years until August 18, 1945, when it officially became defunct. During its existence it received recognition from nine governments: Germany, Japan, Italy, Croatia, Manchukuo, China (under the Nanking Government of Wang Chingwei), Thailand, Burma (under the regime of Burmese nationalist leader Ba Maw, and the Philippines under de facto (and later de jure) president José Laurel.

The Indian National Army saw plenty of action (as did their Burmese equivalent). The highlight of the force's campaign in Burma was the planting of the Indian national flag by the "Bose Battalion" during the battle of Frontier Hill in 1944, although it was Japanese troops from the 55th Cavalry, 1/29th Infantry and 2/143rd Infantry who did most of the fighting. This battle also had the curious incidence of three Sikh companies of the Bose Battalion exchanging insults and fire with two Sikh companies of the 7/16th Punjab Regiment (British Indian Army).

The Indian National Army was encountered again during the Second Arakan Campaign, where they deserted in large numbers back to their old "imperial oppressors" and again during the crossing of the Irrawaddy in 1945, where a couple of companies put up token resistance before leaving their Japanese comrades to fight off the assault crossing by 7th Indian Division. It subsequently held the area around Mount Popa, protected Kimura's flank while the latter attempted to retake Meiktilla

Vietnam

The Empire of Vietnam was a short-lived Japanese puppet state that lasted from March 11 to August 23, 1945.

When the Japanese seized control of French Indochina, they allowed Vichy French administrators to remain in nominal control. This ruling ended on March 9, 1945 when the Japanese officially took control of the government. Soon after, Emperor Bảo Đại voided the 1884 treaty with France and Trần Trọng Kim, a historian, became prime minister.

Despite the state's short existence, it suffered through a famine and had succeeded in replacing French-speaking schools with Vietnamese language schools taught by Vietnamese scholars.

Cambodia

The Kingdom of Cambodia was a short-lived Japanese puppet state that lasted from March 9, 1945 to April 15, 1945.

In mid-1941, the Japanese entered Cambodia, but allowed Vichy French officials to remain in administrative posts. The Japanese calls of an "Asia for the Asiatics" won over many Cambodian nationalists, despite Tokyo's policy of keeping the colonial government in nominal control.

This policy changed during the last months of the war. The Japanese wanted to gain local support, so they dissolved French colonial rule and pressured Cambodia to declare its independence within the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Four days later, King Sihanouk declared Kampuchea (the original Khmer pronunciation of Cambodia) independent. Co-editor of the Nagaravatta, Son Ngoc Thanh, returned from Tokyo in May and was appointed foreign minister.

On the date of Japanese surrender, a new government was proclaimed with Son Ngoc Thah as prime minister. However, in October, when the Allies occupied Phnom Penh, Son Ngoc Thanh was arrested for collaborating with the Japanese and was exiled to France. Some of his supporters went to north-western Cambodia, which had been under Thai control since the French-Thai War of 1940, where they banded together as one faction in the Khmer Issarak movement, originally formed with Thai encouragement in the 1940s.

Laos

Fears of Thai irredentism led to the formation of the first Lao nationalist organization, the Movement for National Renovation, in January 1941, led by Prince Phetxarāt and supported by local French officials, though not by the Vichy authorities in Hanoi. This group wrote the current Lao national anthem and designed the current Lao flag, while paradoxically pledging support for France. The country declared its independence in 1945.

There matters rested until the liberation of France in 1944, bringing Charles de Gaulle to power. This meant the end of the alliance between Japan and the Vichy French administration in Indochina. The Japanese had no intention of allowing the Gaullists to take over, and in late 1944 they staged a military coup in Hanoi. Some French units fled over the mountains to Laos, pursued by the Japanese, who occupied Viang Chan in March 1945 and Luang Phrabāng in April. King Sīsavāngvong was detained by the Japanese, but his son Crown Prince Savāngvatthanā called on all Lao to assist the French, and many Lao died fighting against the Japanese occupiers.

Prince Phetxarāt, however, opposed this position, and thought that Lao independence could be gained by siding with the Japanese, who made him Prime Minister of Luang Phrabāng, though not of Laos as a whole. In practice the country was in chaos and Phetxarāt's government had no real authority. Another Lao group, the Lao Sēri (Free Lao), received unofficial support from the Free Thai movement in the Isan region.

Italian puppet states

Montenegro

Sekula Drljević and the core of the Montenegrin Federalist Party formed the Provisional Administrative Committee of Montenegro on July 12, 1941, and proclaimed on the Saint Peter's Congress the "Kingdom of Montenegro" under protectorate of the Fascist Kingdom of Italy. The country served Italy as part of its goal fragmenting the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia, expanding the Italian Empire throughout the Adriatic Sea, and both Italy's and Germany's drive to end pan-Slavism. The country was mostly caught by the rebellion of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland and Drljevic was already in October 1941 expelled from Montenegro which became under direct Italian control with the remainder of the Montenegrin collaborators. In 1943 with the Italian capitulation, Montenegro became a direct sector of occupation of Nazi Germany.

In 1944, Drljević formed a pro-Ustaše Montenegrin State Council in exile based in the Independent State of Croatia with the aims of restoring rule over Montenegro. It subsequently formed a Montenegrin People's Army out of various Montenegrin nationalist troops. By then the Partisans already liberated most of Montenegro, which became a Federal Unit of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia. Montenegro endured intense air bombing by the Allied air forces in 1944. The regime is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

German puppet states

Slovakia (Tiso regime)

The Slovak Republic under President Josef Tiso signed the Tripartite Pact on November 24, 1940. Slovakia had been closely aligned with Germany almost immediately from its declaration of independence from Czechoslovakia on March 14, 1939. Slovakia entered into a treaty of protection with Germany on March 23, 1939.

Slovak troops joined the German invasion of Poland, having interest in Spiš and Orava. Those two regions (alongside with Cieszyn Silesia) were divided and disputed between Poland and Czechoslovakia since 1918, until the Poles fully annexed them following the Munich agreement. After the September Campaign, Slovakia reclaimed control of those territories. Slovakia declared war on the Soviet Union in 1941 and signed the revived Anti-Comintern Pact of 1941. Slovak troops fought on Germany's Eastern Front, with Slovakia furnishing Germany with two divisions totalling 20,000 men. Slovakia declared war on the United Kingdom and the United States of America in 1942. Slovakia was spared German military occupation until the Slovak National Uprising, which began on August 29, 1944, and was almost immediately crushed by the Waffen SS and Slovak troops loyal to Josef Tiso, the Catholic priest-turned-dictator of Slovakia. After the war, Tito was executed and Slovakia was rejoined with Czechoslovakia. The border with Poland was shifted back to the pre-war state. Slovakia and the Czech Republic finally separated into independent states in 1993.

Italy (Salò regime)

Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini formed the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana in Italian) on September 23, 1943, succeeding the Kingdom of Italy as a member of the Axis.

Mussolini had been removed from office and arrested by King Victor Emmanuel III on July 25, 1943. The King publicly reaffirmed his loyalty to Germany, but authorized secret armistice negotiations with the Allies. In a spectacular raid led by German paratrooper Otto Skorzeny, Mussolini was rescued from arrest.

Once safely ensconced in German occupied Salò, Mussolini declared that the King was deposed, that Italy was a republic and that he was the new president. He functioned as a German puppet for the duration of the war.

Albania (under German control)

After Benito Mussolini was overthrown by his own Italian Grand Council, a void of power opened up in Albania. The Italian occupying forces could do nothing as the communists took control of the south and the National Liberation Movement (NLM) took control of the north. Albanians in the Italian army scurried to join the guerrilla forces. In September 1943, the guerrillas moved to can take the capitol of Tirana, but before they could, German paratroopers dropped into the city and sent the guerrillas running to the hills and to the south. Soon after, German High Command announced that they would recognize the independence of a neutral Albania and organized an Albanian government, police, and military. The country retained the official name the Albanian Kingdom and existed in borders set by Italy in 1941. Since King Zog I was in absentia, a High Council of Regency was created to carry out the functions of a head of state, while the government was headed mainly by Albanian conservative politicians. The Germans didn't exert heavy control over Albania's administration. Instead, they attempted to gain popular appeal by giving the Albanians want they wanted, including the annexation of Kosovo. Given their autonomy, the Albanian government refused to hand over their Jewish population. However, the Axis powers did have success in cooperating with some Balli Kombëtar units in suppressing the communists. In addition, several Balli Kombëtar leaders held positions in the regime. Many Albanian collaborators joined the Skanderbeg SS Division which expelled and killed Serbs living in Kosovo. Albania was completely liberated on November 28, 1944.

Hungary (Szálasi regime)

After relations between Germany and the regency of Miklos Horthy collapsed in Hungary in 1944, Horthy was forced to abdicate after German armed forces held his son hostage. Following Horthy's abdication, Hungary was politically reorganized into a totalitarian fascist country called the Hungarian State in December 1944 led by Ferenc Szálasi who had been Prime Minister of Hungary since October 1944 and was leader of the anti-Semitic fascist Arrow Cross Party. In power, his government was a Quisling regime with little authority other than to obey Germany's orders. Also, days after its inception, the capital of Budapest was surrounded by the Soviet Red Army. German and fascist Hungarian forces tried in vain to hold off the Soviet advance but failed. In March 1945, Szálasi fled Hungary for Germany to run the state in exile until the surrender of Germany in May 1945.

Joint German-Italian Puppet States

Croatia

On 10 April 1941, the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, or NDH) was declared to be a member of the Axis. The NDH remained a member of the Axis until the end of Second World War, its forces fighting for Germany even after NDH had been overrun by Yugoslav Partisans. On 24 April 1941, Ante Pavelić, a Croatian nationalist and one of the founders of the Croatian Uprising (Ustaše) Movement, was proclaimed Leader (Poglavnik) of the new state.

The Ustaše was actively supported by the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini in Italy which gave the movement training grounds to prepare for war against Yugoslavia as well as accepting Pavelić as an exile and allowed him to reside in Rome. Italy intended to use the movement to destroy Yugoslavia, which would allow Italy to expand its power through the Adriatic Sea. In Germany, the idea of creating any Slavic puppet state was not welcomed by Hitler who saw all Slavs, including Croats as racially inferior. Also Hitler did not want to engage in a war in the Balkans until the Soviet Union was defeated. But the Italian occupation of Greece was performing badly, Mussolini wanted Germany to invade Yugoslavia to save the Italian forces in Greece. Hitler reluctantly submitted and Yugoslavia was invaded, and the Italian agenda to set up a puppet Croatian state was achieved with the creation of the Independent State of Croatia. Relations between Germany and Croatia would improve as the Ustaše proved effective at violently repressing Serb Chetniks and the communist Yugoslav Partisans of Joseph Broz Tito.

Pavelić led a Croatian delegation to Rome and offered the crown of Croatia to an Italian prince of the House of Savoy, who was crowned Tomislav II, King of Croatia, Prince of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Voivode of Dalmatia, Tuzla and Temun, Prince of Cisterna and of Belriguardo, Marquess of Voghera, and Count of Ponderano. The next day, Pavelić signed the Contracts of Rome with Mussolini, ceding Dalmatia to Italy and fixing the permanent borders between Croatia and Italy. Furthermore, Italian armed forces were allowed to control all of Croatia's coastline, effectively giving Italy total control of the Adriatic Sea coastline.

Its ruling fascist Ustaše movement utilized the motive that Croatians had been oppressed by the Serb-dominated Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and that Croatians deserved to have an independent nation after years of domination by foreign empires, to draw support to their radical agenda. The Ustaše perceived Serbs to be racially inferior to Croats and saw them as infiltrators who were occupying Croatian lands, and saw the extermination of Serbs as necessary to racially purify Croatia.

While in Yugoslavia, many Croatian nationalists violently opposed the Serb-dominated Yugoslav monarchy and assassinated Yugoslavia's King Alexander together with Macedonian VMRO organization. The regime enjoyed support amongst radical Croatian nationalists. Ustashe forces fought against Serbian Chetnik and communist Yugoslav Partisan guerrillas throughout the war. Regular forces Croatian Home Guard (domobran) usually fought against Serbian Chetnik and often joined or surrendered with weapons to antifascist Partisans.

Upon coming to power, Pavelić formed the Croatian Home Guard (Hrvatsko domobranstvo) as the official military force of Croatia. Originally authorized at 16,000 men, it grew to a peak fighting force of 130,000. The Croatian Home Guard included a small air force and navy, although its navy was restricted in size by the Contracts of Rome. In addition to the Croatian Home Guard, Pavelić also commanded the Ustaše militia. Some Croats also volunteered for the German Waffen SS.

The Ustaše government declared war on the Soviet Union, signed the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1941 and sent troops to Germany's Eastern Front. Ustaše militia garrisoned the Balkans, battling the Partisans.

During the time of its existence, the Ustaše government applied racial laws on Serbs, Jews and Romas, and after June 1941 deported them to the Jasenovac concentration camp (or to camps in Poland). The exact number of victims of the Ustaše regime is uncertain due to the destruction of documents and varying numbers given by various historians vying for political clout. The estimates of the total number of victims in Jasenovac is from between 56,000 and 97,000 to 700,000 or more. The racial laws were enforced by the Ustaše militia.

Although Ustaše had some support in all parts of Croatia, their wide popular support was limited to the traditionally most strongly nationalistic regions.

Greece

The Hellenic State was formed in May 1941 as a puppet state of both Italy and Germany. Initially, Italy had wished to annex Greece, but pressure from Germany to avoid civil unrest such as occured in Bulgarian-annexed areas, resulted in Italy accepting to create a puppet regime with the support of Germany. Although Italy had been assured by Hitler of "prepoderanza" in Greece, and most of the country was held by Italian forces, strategic locations such as Central Macedonia, parts of Attica and Crete were held by the Germans, who in addition seized most of the country's economic assets, and effectively controlled the collaborationist government. The puppet regime never commanded much real authority, neither did it gain the allegiance of the people, although it was somewhat successful in preventing secessionist movements like the "Principality of Pindus" (see below) from establishing themselves. By mid-1943, the Greek Resistance had liberated large parts of the mountainous interior ("Free Greece"), setting up a separate administration there. After the Italian armistice, the Italian occupation zone was taken over by the German armed forces, who remained in charge of the country until their withdrawal in autumn 1944. In some Aegean islands however, German garrisons were left behind, and surrendered only after the end of the war.

Pindus and Macedonia

The Principality of Pindus and the Voivodship of Macedonia were Italian-sponsored attempts at forming client states in the regions of northern Greece (parts of Epirus, Thessaly and West Macedonia) inhabited by ethnic Aromanians and Slavic Macedonians.

The state adopted certain anti-Greek policies but was not anti-semitic. Jews from Kastoria, Veria, and Ioannina were in top positions in the hierarchy of the Principality. However, a majority of the Aromanian population, including the first quisling Prime Minister, Georgios Tsolakoglou, did not support the secessionist movement, which either way faltered as guerrillas took control of most of its claimed area in 1943.

Axis collaborator states

France (Vichy regime)

France and its colonial empire, under the so-called Vichy regime of Marshal Pétain, collaborated with the Axis from 1941 until 1944 when the regime was dissolved.

Pétain became the last Prime Minister of the French Third Republic on June 16, 1940 as the battle of France following the German invasion army entering Paris on June 14. Pétain sued for peace with Germany and six days later, on June 22, 1940, his government concluded an armistice with Hitler. Under the terms of the agreement, Germany occupied approximately two thirds of metropolitan France, including Paris. Pétain was permitted to keep an "armistice army" of 100,000 men within the unoccupied southern zone. This number included neither the army based in French colonial empire nor the French fleet. In French North Africa and French Equatorial Africa, the Vichy were permitted to maintain 127,000 men under arms after the colony of Gabon defected to the Free French. The French also maintained substantial garrisons at the French mandated territory of Syria and Lebanon, the French colony of Madagascar and in the French Somaliland.

After the armistice, relations between the vichy French and the British quickly deteriorated. Fearful that the powerful French fleet might fall into German hands, the British launched several naval attacks, most notable of which was against the Algerian harbour of Mers el-Kebir on July 3, 1940. Though Churchill defended his controversial decisions to attack the French Fleet, the French people themselves were less accepting of these actions. German propaganda was able to trumpet these actions as an absolute betrayal of the French people by their former allies. France broke relations with the United Kingdom after the attack and considered declaring war.

On July 10, 1940, Petain was given emergency "full powers" by a majority vote of the French National Assembly. The following day approval of the new constitution by the Assembly effectively created the French State (l'État Français) replacing the French Republic with the unofficial Vichy France; for the resort town of Vichy where Petain chose to maintain his seat of government. The new government continued to be recognised as the lawful government of France by the United States until 1942. Racial laws were introduced in France and its colonies and many French Jews were deported to Germany. Albert Lebrun, last President of the Republic, did not leave the presidential office when he moved to Vizille in July 10, 1940. By April 25, 1945, during Petain's trial, Lebrun argued he thought he would be able to return to power after the fall of Germany since he had not resigned.

In September 1940, Vichy France allowed Japan to occupy French Indochina, a federation of the French colonial possessions and protectorates roughly encompassing the territory of modern day Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The Vichy regime continued to administer the colony under Japanese military occupation. French Indochina was the base for the Japanese invasions of Thailand, Malaya and Borneo. In 1945, under Japanese sponsorship, the Empire of Vietnam and the Kingdom of Cambodia were proclaimed as Japanese puppet states.

The British permitted French General Charles de Gaulle to headquarter his Free French movement in London in a largely unsuccessful effort to win over the French colonial empire. On September 26, 1940, de Gaulle led an attack by Allied forces on the Vichy port of Dakar in French West Africa. Forces loyal to Pétain fired on de Gaulle and repulsed the attack after two days of heavy fighting. Public opinion in vichy France was further outraged, and Vichy France drew closer to Germany.

Vichy France assisted Iraq in the Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941, allowing Germany and Italy to utilize air bases in the French mandate of Syria to support the Iraqi revolt against the British. Allied forces responded by attacking Syria and Lebanon in 1941. In 1942, Allied forces attacked the French colony of Madagascar.

Vichy France was staunchly anti-Communist and enthusiastically sided with Germany in its war with the Soviet Union, and also signed the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1941. Almost 7,000 volunteers joined the anti-communist Légion des Volontaires Français (LVF) from 1941 to 1944 and some 7,500 formed the Division Charlemagne, a Waffen-SS unit, from 1944 to 1945. Both the LVF and the Division Charlemagne fought on the eastern front. Hitler never accepted that France could become a full military partner, and constantly prevented the buildup of Vichy's military strength.

Other than political, Vichy's collaboration with Germany essentially was industrial, with French factories providing many vehicles to the German armed forces.

In November 1942, Vichy French troops briefly but fiercely resisted the landing of Allied troops in French North Africa, but were unable to prevail. Admiral François Darlan negotiated a local ceasefire with the Allies. In response to the landings, and Vichy's inability to defend itself, German troops occupied southern France and Tunisia, a French protectorate that formed part of French North Africa. The Bey of Tunis formed a government friendly to the Germans.

In mid-1943, former Vichy authorities in North Africa came to an agreement with the Free French and setup a temporary French government in Algiers, known as the Comité Français de Libération Nationale, with De Gaulle eventually emerging as the leader. The CFLN raised new troops, and re-organized, re-trained and re-equipped the French military under Allied supervision.

However, the Vichy government continued to function in mainland France until late 1944, but had lost most of its territorial sovereignty and military assets, with the exception of the forces stationed in French Indochina.

Axis autonomous territories

Territories held directly under with Axis states that technically had autonomous governments but remained under the jurisdiction of the Axis states.

Albania (under Italian control)

Albania was an Italian protectorate as it had little if no independence from Italy and was intended to become part of a Greater Italy.

Though Albania was physically separated from Italy and had a majority Albanian population, it was ruled in personal union as a protectorate with Italy under Victor Emmanuel III, whose full title was King of Italy, Albania, and Emperor of Ethiopia, indicating Albania's subordination as only a part of the Italian Empire. Furthermore Albania's government was led by Italian governors appointed by Italy after 1939, and an agenda was pursued to "Italianize" the Albanian population. On June 3, 1939, the Albanian foreign ministry was merged into the Italian foreign ministry, and the Albanian Foreign Minister, Xhemil Bej Dino, was given the rank of an Italian ambassador. The Italian language and history was learned in school in place of the Albanian language and history.

Before 1939, Albania had been in Italian orbit since the First World War when it was pressured by Italy to become a "protectorate" in accordance with the London Pact. From the 1920s to 1939, Albania had its own King and its own government. Italian troops were withdrawn from the city of Vlora where the Patriots fought. But throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Albania became increasingly dependent on Italy. The Albanian government and economy were subsidised by Italian loans, the Albanian army was trained by Italian military instructors, and Italian colonial settlement was encouraged. The Albanian military was placed under Italian command and formally merged into the Italian Army in 1940. Additionally, the Italian Blackshirts formed four legions of Albanian Militia, initially recruited from Italians living in Albania, but later from ethnic Albanians.

With the major powers of Europe distracted by Germany's occupation of Czechoslovakia, Mussolini issued an ultimatum to the Albanian King Zog on March 25, 1939, demanding that Zog permit the country to be occupied by Italy as a protectorate. Zog refused. On April 7, 1939, Italy invaded Albania. Zog, his wife and newborn son immediately fled the country. After the war they were declared traitors. Five days after the invasion, on April 12, the Albanian parliament voted to depose Zog and join the nation to Italy "in personal union" by offering the Albanian crown to Victor Emmanuel III. The parliament elected Albania's largest landowner, Shefqet Bej Vërlaci, as Prime Minister. Verlaci additionally served as head of state for five days until Victor Emmanuel III formally accepted the Albanian crown in a ceremony at the Quirinale place in Rome. Victor Emmanuel III appointed Francesco Jacomoni di San Savino as Lieutenant-General to represent him in Albania as viceroy.

Albania automatically followed Italy into the war with the UK and France on June 10, 1940. Albania served as the base for the Italian invasion of Greece in 1941, and Albanian troops participated in the Greek campaign. Albania was enlarged by the annexation of parts of Montenegro, Vardar Macedonia, and Kosovo from the former Yugoslavia in 1941, and parts of Epirus from Greece.

Belarus (under German control in Reichskommissariat Ostland)

An autonomous government was established in Belarus under the German colonial administration Reichskommissariat Ostland. It was a local government under the name of Belarusian Central Rada (BCR). The chairman of the BCR was Radasłaŭ Astroŭski.

Bohemia and Moravia (under German control)

The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was created in 1939 following the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. The region was part of a Greater Germany and ruled by a German administrator called a "Reichsprotektor". The region had its own currency, and a Czech civil government. Bohemia and Moravia was intended to be eventually colonized by Germans.

Initially, considerable autonomy was allowed for the Czech population but after 1941 the territory increasingly came under repressive rule after the appointment of Reinhard Heydrich as Reichsprotektor. In 1941, all Czech cultural organizations were ordered to be shut down. Following the assassination of Heydrich, mass arrests of Czechs took place.

General Government (under German control)

The General Government for the Occupied Polish Territories was an autonomous entity of Greater Germany formed on October 26, 1939 after the invasion of Poland.

In August 1941, the Soviet annexed territories were added to the General Government. Both the government and the administration were made up entirely of Germans who made sure that the word Poland was never to be used in any document or administrative. The final objective of the government was to become a German province completely void of a Polish population

Serbia (under German control)

Serbia was under the direct rule of German military governors as part of the Military Administration of Serbia ("Militärverwaltung in Serbien"). A local Serbian civil government was allowed and Serbian General Milan Nedić was instructed to form the "Government of National Salvation" in German-occupied Serbia. Nedić served as Prime Minister of the puppet government which recognized the former Yugoslavian Regent, Prince Paul, as its head of state. But Germany did not recognize Serbia's sovereignty and dictated the policies that Serbia would undertake. Mass killings of Serbs were undertaken in the region by the Germans without the sanctioning of the Serbian civil administration. A military governor was in charge of all armed forces, German and Serb within the territory. The region had its own currency, but so did the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia which was a German-run administration. It is possible that much like Norway under Quisling (which was a Reichskommissariat, not an independent state), Nedić's government wanted to be recognized by Germany as an independent state, but was not granted.

Nedić's armed forces, the Serbian State Guards and the Serbian Volunteer Corps, which were initially largely members of the fascist Yugoslav National Movement "Zbor" (Jugoslovenski narodni pokret "Zbor", or ZBOR) party. These forces wore the uniform of the Royal Yugoslav Army as well as helmets and uniforms purchased from Italy. Nedić's forces fought under German control and support against the resistance movements in Serbia. Unlike Hitler's Nordic collaborators who sent troops to fight the Soviet Union, Nedić's Slavic troops were confined to duty in Serbia. Several concentration camps were formed in Serbia and at the 1942 Anti-Freemason Exhibition in Belgrade the city was pronounced to be free of Jews (Judenfrei). On 1 April 1942, a Serbian Gestapo was formed.

The evidence shows that there was an organized Serb civil administration, and armed forces, but there were Dutch, Norwegian, and Estonian governments and armed forces which did not constitute states.

Lokot Autonomy (under German control)

During the Axis actions of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, alongside occupation plans in Reichskommissariat Ostland and Reichskommissariat Ukraine, the Axis powers developed a political and administrative experiment in the so-called Lokot Autonomy.

The Lokot Autonomy was the territory of one little anti-Soviet Russian pro-Axis local administration under Axis direct control. It was led at first by Konstantin Voskoboinik and later, after Voskoboinik's death, succeeded by Bronislaw Kaminski, himself also a commander of native anti-communist forces of the Russian National Liberation Army or RONA. The idea of liberation from the Bolsheviks found some support in German-occupied areas, and this state is one example of collaboration between natives and Axis forces. Another Russian anti-communist leader with similar thinking was Andrey Vlasov and his local anti-Stalinist pro-Axis force of the Russian Liberation Army (ROA).

The Autonomy's life came to an end in 1943, soon after the war on the Eastern Front changed course at the Battle of Stalingrad. Kaminski had to evacuate (over 30,000 persons, with families) to Lepel in the Vitebsk oblast, Belarus. In August, he set up a new "Lepel Republic" where he and his RONA were folded into the Waffen SS as "Russian SS unit No. 1". Soon thereafter Kaminski was executed by the Nazis, and the RONA was disbanded.

Controversial cases

States listed in this section were not officially members of Axis, but had controversial relations with one or more Axis members at some point during the war.

Denmark

On May 31, 1939, Denmark and Germany signed a treaty of non-aggression, which did not contain any military obligations for either party. On April 9, 1940, citing intended British mining of Norwegian and Danish waters as a pretext, Germany invaded both countries. King Christian X and the Danish government, worried about German bombings if they resisted occupation, accepted "protection by the Reich" in exchange for nominal independence under German military occupation. Three successive Prime Ministers, Thorvald Stauning, Vilhelm Buhl and Erik Scavenius, maintained this samarbejdspolitik ("cooperation policy") of collaborating with Germany.

  • Denmark coordinated its foreign policy with Germany, extending diplomatic recognition to Axis collaborator and puppet regimes and breaking diplomatic relations with the "governments-in-exile" formed by countries occupied by Germany. Denmark broke diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and signed the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1941.
  • In 1941, a Danish military corps, Frikorps Danmark was created at the initiative of the SS and the Danish Nazi Party, to fight alongside the Wehrmacht on Germany's Eastern Front. The government's following statement was widely interpreted as a sanctioning of the corps. Frikorps Danmark was open to members of the Danish Royal Army and those who had completed their service within the last ten years. Between 4,000 and 10,000 Danish citizens joined the Frikorps Danmark, including 77 officers of the Royal Danish Army. An estimated 3,900 of these soldiers died fighting for Germany during the Second World War.
  • Denmark transferred six torpedo boats to Germany in 1941, although the bulk of its navy remained under Danish command until the declaration of martial law in 1943.
  • Denmark supplied agricultural and industrial products to Germany as well as loans for armaments and fortifications. The German presence in Denmark, including the construction of the Danish part of the Atlantic Wall fortifications, was paid from an account in Denmark's central bank, Nationalbanken. The Danish government had been promised that these expenses would be repaid later, but this never happened. The construction of the Atlantic Wall fortifications in Jutland cost 5 billion Danish kroner.

The Danish protectorate government lasted until August 29, 1943, when the cabinet resigned following a declaration of martial law by occupying German military officials. The Danish navy managed to scuttle 32 of its larger ships to prevent their use by Germany. Germany succeeded in seizing 14 of the larger and 50 of the smaller vessels and later to raise and refit 15 of the sunken vessels. During the scuttling of the Danish fleet, a number of vessels were ordered to attempt an escape to Swedish waters, and 13 vessels succeeded in this attempt, four of which were larger ships. By the autumn of 1944, these ships officially formed a Danish naval flotilla in exile In 1943, Swedish authorities allowed 500 Danish soldiers in Sweden to train themselves as "police troops". By the autumn of 1944, Sweden raised this number to 4,800 and recognized the entire unit as a Danish military brigade in exile. Danish collaboration continued on an administrative level, with the Danish bureaucracy functioning under German command. Active resistance to the German occupation among the populace, virtually nonexistent before 1943, increased after the declaration of martial law. The intelligence operations of the Danish resistance was described as "second to none" by Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery after the liberation of Denmark.

Spain

Generalísimo Francisco Franco's Spanish State gave moral, economic, and military assistance to the Axis powers, while nominally maintaining neutrality. Franco described Spain as a "nonbelligerent" member of the Axis and signed the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1941 with Hitler and Mussolini.

Franco had won the Spanish Civil War with the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy both of which were eager to establish another fascist state in Europe. Spain owed Germany over $212 million for supplies of matériel during the Spanish Civil War, and Italian combat troops had actually fought in Spain on the side of Franco's Nationalists.

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Franco immediately offered to form a unit of military volunteers to join the invasion. This was accepted by Hitler and, within two weeks, there were more than enough volunteers to form a division - the Blue Division (División Azul in Spanish) under General Agustín Muñoz Grandes.

Additionally, over 100,000 Spanish civilian workers were sent to Germany to help maintain industrial production to free able-bodied German men for military service.

German, Italian and Japanese World War II cooperation

Nazi Germany's and Imperial Japan's cooperation was largely twofold during and little before World War II. First cooperation was the opposition to communism through the Anti-Comintern Pact and second one is on military alliance through the Tripartite Pact. Both nations had been adversaries during World War I and these agreements settled previous animosity between the nations through Yosuke Matsuokas visit to Berlin, a German delegation sent to Tokyo to celebrate the Tripartite Pact's signing, and through the Japanese ambassador to Germany Hiroshi Oshima among others correspondences.

Germany's declaration of war further solidified German-Japanese relations and showed Germany's solidarity with Japan and encouraged Japanese cooperation against the British. Both envisioned a partnered linkage running across the Indian subcontinent that would allow for the transfer of weaponry as well as other possibilities. The failed Indian revolt against British rule and a deteriorating Axis position forced exchanges to be made across the high seas. While it is likely that the Germans expected little reciprocation in the Soviet Far East, eyes were focused directly on India, the Middle East and the Mediterranean region, all vital to the British war effort. Earlier Nazi Germany's government included the Japanese people after the Anti-Comintern Pact in their concept of "honorary Aryans"

There was general mistrust between the two countries because of the ideological differences and political reasons as it would further probably antagonize and create mistrust with the Americans, British and the Dutch, and therefore several prominent Japanese military commanders were reluctant to an alliance, for instance being Fleet Admiral and navy commander in chief Isoroku Yamamoto, Lieutenant-General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, etc. However in the beginning of the worldwide conflict, most of the militant leaders were in top position, one of the most prominent being Prime Minister and General Hideki Tojo.

In the end Japan and Germany might have viewed each other as capable nations and military allies in "struggle" (as is termed in the Tripartite Pact and Anti-Comintern Pact) against the United States and the United Kingdom. Both nations had been humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles and subsequent post-war agreements which stripped Germany of its military power and forced Japan to cede its gains in the Pacific. Both nations desired overseas empires and both lacked the resources or international prestige to pursue these ambitions. Neither country had militarily or economically powerful allies. Many German and Japanese statesmen viewed the Western democracies as their chief obstacle to attaining national glory. The ruling classes in Berlin and Tokyo, even before the rise of fascism, feared Communist influence, and people in both countries had been indoctrinated with a strict sense of nationalism, even under democratic rule. Politicians in both nations played on a sense of victimization that justified national aggression and war. Confronted with the international influence of the British and French, the great wealth of the United States, and the ideological aggression of the Soviet Union, Germany and Japan were really natural allies. International sanctions imposed once they began their march toward world power, such as the Anschluss or the occupation of Manchuria, only reinforced this perception. For instance according to Fumimaro Konoe, the Prime Minister of Japan earlier at that time said:

The peace that the Anglo-American leaders are urging on us amounts to no more than maintaining a status quo that suits their interests. … The true nature of the present conflict [WWI] is a struggle between the established powers and powers not yet established…. At an early stage, the UK and France colonized the ‘less civilized’ regions of the world, and monopolized their exploitation. As a result, Germany and all the late-coming nations also, were left with no land to acquire and no space to expand...Should their policy prevail, Japan, which is small, resource-poor, and unable to consume all its own industrial products, would have no resort but to destroy the status quo for the sake of self-preservation, just like Germany. … We must require all the powers to open the doors of their colonies to others, so that all nations will have equal access to the markets and natural resources of the colonial areas.

Germany's and Italy's declaration of war against the United States

On December 7, Japan attacked the naval bases in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. According to the stipulation of the Tripartite Pact, Nazi-Germany was required to come to the defense of her allies only if they were attacked. Since Japan had made the first move and attacked, Germany was not obliged to aid her. Nevertheless, on December 11, Hitler ordered the Reichstag to formally declare war on the United States along with Italy.

Hitler made a speech in the Reichstag on December 11, 1941 three days after the United States declaration of war on the Empire of Japan saying that

The fact that the Japanese Government, which has been negotiating for years with this man [Franklin D. Roosevelt ], has at last become tired of being mocked by him in such an unworthy way, fills us all, the German people, and all other decent people in the world, with deep satisfaction...Germany and Italy have been finally compelled, in view of this, and in loyalty to the Tri-Partite Pact, to carry on the struggle against the U.S.A. and England jointly and side by side with Japan for the defense and thus for the maintenance of the liberty and independence of their nations and empires...As a consequence of the further extension of President Roosevelt's policy, which is aimed at unrestricted world domination and dictatorship, the U.S.A. together with England have not hesitated from using any means to dispute the rights of the German, Italian and Japanese nations to the basis of their natural existence...Not only because we are the ally of Japan, but also because Germany and Italy have enough insight and strength to comprehend that, in these historic times, the existence or non-existence of the nations, is being decided perhaps forever.
This declaration of war against the United States is believed to be one of the mistakes made by the Axis powers as it allowed the United States to join the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union in war against Germany without any limitation. Consequently, Americans participated in both the strategic bombardment of Germany and the invasion of the continent, effectively ending German domination in Western Europe. However, Hitler was aware of such plans and skeptical of American Neutrality even before the war began. Based on the information at their disposal, the Germans were well aware of Rainbow Five and the proposed American military buildup that was issued at the start of the war. As a result, the Germans expected war with the United States no later than 1943. A large naval expansion program also was initiated. As was the case in 1917, American war industries were already engaged in keeping the UK supplied in 1941, the same year that mass military recruitment also commenced. Still, Germany's and Italy's early war policy reflected the belief that it was good strategy to avoid confrontation with the United States. Every effort was made to prevent a potential Lusitania and incite the American public. However, the isolationists gradually lost their hold over the country due in large part to the influence of the media. Hitler's decision to declare war may have been nothing more than a showing of solidarity with Japan within the context of a seemingly inevitable future conflict with the United States. It was also widely believed that it would take some time for the Americans to mobilize and make a greater contribution to the war than they had thus far. At the time of Pearl Harbor, a quick victory over the Soviet Union also still seemed likely. Victory in the Soviet Union would have led to a Eurasian sphere of influence greatly dominated by Japan, Germany, and little by Italy due to location. Supposedly Hitler wanted to finish conquering Europe first to establish a balance of power and then eventually confront the United States after a victory over the Soviet Union among others, and he was not really happy that the US was now a full combatant in the war at the same time that the war was going on with the Soviet Union.

Hitler awarded Japanese ambassador to Nazi Germany Hiroshi Oshima the Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle (1st class) after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On this occasion he said:

You gave the right declaration of war. This method is the only proper one. Japan pursued it formerly and it corresponds with his own system, that is, to negotiate as long as possible. But if one sees that the other is interested only in putting one off, in shaming and humiliating one, and is not willing to come to an agreement, then one should strike as hard as possible, and not waste time declaring war.

Yanagi Missions

These Yanagi (Willow) were missions enabled under the Tripartite Pact to provide for an exchange of strategic materials and manufactured goods between Germany and Japan. The allies often sought to exchange knowledge and other raw materials. Germany needed rubber, metals such as copper and bismuth, and medicines such as quinine while Japan needed steel, mercury and optical glass. In addition, the two nations were interested in each other’s latest military hardware, including prototypes of the latest weapons and blueprints for research.

Initially, cargo ships were used in these exchanges, but when this was no longer possible, submarines were used. The missions were extremely perilous with a number of vessels being lost to allied anti-submarine patrols.

Joint Operations in the Indian Ocean

Japanese and German submarines operated together against British shipping in the Indian Ocean.

Racism and Anti-Semitism

Imperial Japan was regarded as one of the safest places for Jewish people and their heritage, for instance through the Fugu Plan. Inspired by anti-Semitic works such as Mein Kampf, the Japanese hoped to use the supposed Jewish economic prowess and influence to the benefit of Imperial Japan, creating a plan in the 1930s to relocate many Jewish residents to Japan from Germany. Throughout the war, the Japanese government continually rejected requests from the German government to establish anti-Semitic policies. At war's end, about half these Jews later moved on to the Western Hemisphere (such as the United States and Canada) and the remainder moved to other parts of the world, many to Palestine.

In terms of anti-Semitic policies of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, foreign minister of Japan Yosuke Matsuoka at one point said on December 31, 1940 to a group of Jewish businessmen that he was

the man responsible for the alliance with Hitler, but nowhere have I promised that we would carry out his anti-Semitic policies in Japan. This is not simply my personal opinion, it is the opinion of Japan, and I have no compunction about announcing it to the world.

In spite of this fact, the Japanese preached racial superiority and racialist theories. Some of the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army on countries like China, Korea, The Philippines and others, were motivated through extreme prejudice and were equally, if not more, destructive and brutal. The Imperial army established concentration camps such as Unit 731 throughout China, where biological weapons were researched and inmates and prisoners-of-war were regularly experimented upon, resulting in as many as 200,000 casualties.

With the creation of the Nazi-backed puppet Italian Social Republic, about 20% of Italy's Jews were killed, despite the Fascist government's initial refusal to deport Jews to Nazi death camps.

See also

General information

Pacts and treaties

Citations and notes

References

External links

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