The flags of Germany, Japan, and Italy on the Japanese embassy in Berlin, September 1940.jpg

The Axis was a military coalition which existed primarily between Germany, Japan and Italy, although there were multiple other countries, such as Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and others.The alliance known as the Axis was formally created by the 'Pact of Steel' signed by Germany and Italy on May 22nd 1939,


Following Adolf Hitler's meeting on October 24th 1936 with Italian Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano, which formed the basis of the Axis alliance, and led to agreements regarding various aspects of German-Italian foreign policy, Mussolini used a speech in Milan on November 1st to describe the line between Berlin and Rome not as a Partition, but as an axis around which all European states animated by the will to collaboration and peace can also collaborate.[N 1]

Japan also became an Axis power in 1936.[3] The other countries to join the Axis alliance on a formal basis were Hungary (joining on November 20th 1940),[4] Bulgaria (March 1st 1941),[5] and Yugoslavia (March 25th 1941).[6]

the Axis was officially abolished on 2 September 1945 with the defeat of Japan.


  • Germany (1939-1945) - Nazi Germany, under the rule of dictator Adolf Hitler, was the primary Axis country and created the pact on May 22, 1939, several months before the invasion of Poland. Prior to its invasions, Germany had already acquired Austria and portions of Czechoslovakia in the Munich Agreements. In a little less than 2 years, Germany swept across continental Europe, crushing Poland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia, Greece, and controlled much of western Soviet Union.
  • Italy (1939-1943) - Italy, led by Benito Mussolini, was a major Axis power. In 1937, Italy invaded Ethiopia and Albania, attaching it to its 'New Roman Empire.'  At the start of the WW2, Italy did not participate most of the battles, but did show military support. It invaded France and let a coalition attack on Greece. However, in 1943, Italy was invaded and most of the country came under Allied control. Mussolini attempted to form the Italian Social Republic, which replaced Italy in the Axis, but it was unsuccessful as the Allies quickly took control of all of Italy and the Fascist leader was captured and executed. 
  • Japan (1939-1945) - Before signing the Tripartite Pact on May 22, 1939, Japan invaded northern China and annexed it, thereby creating a puppet regime. It invaded China and captured major cities of Beijing and Shnghai and established the Reorganized Government of China.  It headed south and quickly took French Indochina, Thailand, and Burma. Japan later occupied the Phillipines, Dutch East Indies, and various possessions in the Pacific.
  • Hungary (1940-1944) - Hungary, under regent Miklos Horthy, was the first country (other than Germany, Italy, or Japan) to adhere to the Axis powers on November 20, 1940. The Fascist government drew closer to the Axis powers and became a integral part of the pact. In its first and second Vienna awards, Hungary recently acquired northern Serbia and parts of Romania. It participated in the invasions of Yugoslavia and Soviet Union, donating more than 300,000 troops to the eastern front.
  • Romania (1940-1944) - Romania, originally allied to Britain, became an Axis member on November 23, 1940. King Michael's fascist government allied with Germany and Romania participated in the invasion of Soviet Union, contributing about 200,000 troops. However, as Germany raped Romania of its resources, the country felt more reluctant to serve with Germany. It joined the Allies when the Red Army marched into the country.
  • Slovakia (1940-1944) - On November 24, 1941, the dismembered Czechoslovakia signed the Tripartite Pact. In order to be spared military occupation, Slovakia was pressured into invading Poland and signing the Tripartite Pact. Slovakia shrunk greatly in size from the Vienna awards but invaded the Soviet territory alongside Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, and Finland. Slovakia was occupied by Germany in 1944 and was reunited with Czech Republic to from Czechoslovakia after Germany's defeat.
  • Bulgaria (1941-1944) - Bulgaria became an Axis power when it signed the pact on March 15, 1941. Allied with Germany in WW1, Bulgaria sought land it had lost, such as Greek Thrace, Macedonia, Romania's Southern Dobrudja, and various Serbian regions. It participated in the invasion of Greece and acquired Thrace, Macedonia, and Southern Dobrudja in return.  Bulgaria refused to invade its ally, the Soviet Union, and joined the Allies in 1944 upon the Soviet invasion of Romania.
  • Croatia (1941-1944) - NDH, or Croatia, was an Axis country formed out of the dismembered Yugoslavia.  Its leader, Ante Pavelic, led the country and invaded the Soviet Union. The country remained loyal to Germany even after its defeat, with Nazi supporters using guerrilla tactics to plague the Allies.
  • Thailand (1942-1945) - When Japan invaded Thailand, its government initially wanted to resist, but decided to ally with Japan, after seeing what happened to China. It invaded Burma and annexed regions of it. However, it had hoped that Japan would leave Thailand out of the war after its alliance, but was dragged in the Axis. Thailand was pressured into signing the Tripartite Pact on Frebruary 15, 1942, but afterward refused to engage in any military action. Even though Thailand had declared war on the U.S. and Great Britain during the war, it was pardoned from any punishments except returning the regions it had annexed.
  • Manchuria (1942-1945) - Manchuria was a puppet government set up after Japan took control of northern China.  The anti-Communist leader, Zhang Jinghui signed the Tripartite himself on February 15, 1942. It attended Japan's Greater East Asia conference but did not engage in any military action. Its status is widely disputed, but was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1945.
  • Reorganized Government of China (1942-1945) - Also known as Nanjing, or Republic of China, it signed the Tripartite Pact on February 15, 1942. For most of the war, Nanjing was occupied by the Japanese. It was re-incorporated back into China after Japan's defeat.  



  1. Mussolini had a predilection for the term. In 1923 he wrote that the axis of European history ran through Berlin.[2]


  1. Goralski, Robert. World War II Almanac 1931-1945. Hamish Hamilton Ltd. 1981. ISBN 0 241 10573 0 Page 84
  2. Goralski, Robert. Page 47
  3. Shaw, Antony. World War II Day by Day. Grange Books. 2001. ISBN 1 84013363 5 Page 9
  4. Shaw, Antony. Page 36
  5. Shaw, Antony. Page 40
  6. Shaw, Antony. Page 42
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