Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as seeking to stop German, Italian and Japanese aggression, with the Danzig crisis as the immediate trigger.
The anti-German coalition at the start of the war (1 September 1939) consisted of France, Poland and Great Britain, soon to be joined by the British Commonwealth (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland and South Africa.) After first having cooperated with Germany in partitioning Poland whilst remaining neutral in the Allied-Axis conflict, the Soviet Union joined the Allies in June-1941 after being invaded by Germany and its allies in Operation Barbarossa. The United States joined in December 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As of 1942, the "Big Three" leaders of Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States controlled Allied policy; relations between Britain and the U.S. were especially close, the latter replacing France as Britain's prime partner after the Entente Cordiale dissolved in the aftermath of the fall of France, despite last ditch efforts to save it by turning it into a fully fledged Franco-British Union. Other key Allies included China, the British Raj (India), the Netherlands, Norway and Yugoslavia as well as Free France; there were numerous others. Together they called themselves the "United Nations" (and in 1945 created the modern UN).
- 1 Origins and creation
- 2 Major affiliated state combatants
- 2.1 China
- 2.2 United Kingdom
- 2.3 France
- 2.4 Soviet Union
- 2.5 United States
- 3 Minor affiliated state combatants
- 4 Major co-belligerent state combatants
- 5 Client states
- 6 United Nations
- 7 Summary of United Nations members' joining the war on the Axis Powers
- 8 See also
- 9 Footnotes
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 External links
Origins and creation
The origins of the Allied powers stem from the Allies of World War I and cooperation of the victorious powers at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919. Germany deeply resented being forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles. The new Weimar republic's legitimacy became shaken. However the 1920s were peaceful.
With the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, political unrest in Europe soared including the rise in support of revanchist nationalists in Germany who blamed the severity of the economic crisis on the Treaty of Versailles. By the early 1930s, the Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler became the dominant revanchist movement in Germany and Hitler and the Nazis gained power in 1933. The Nazi regime demanded the immediate cancellation of the Treaty of Versailles, and made claims to German-populated Austria, and German-populated territories of Czechoslovakia. The likelihood of war was high, and the question was whether it could be avoided through strategies such as appeasement.
In Asia, when Japan seized Manchuria in 1931, the League of Nations condemned it for aggression against China. Japan responded by leaving the League of Nations in March 1933. After four quiet years, the Sino-Japanese War erupted in 1937 with Japanese forces invading China. The League of Nations condemned Japan's actions and initiated sanctions on Japan. The United States in particular was angered at Japan and sought to support China.
In March 1939, Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, violating the Munich Agreement signed six months before, and demonstrating that appeasement was a failure. Britain and France decided that Hitler had no intention to uphold diplomatic agreements and responded by preparing for war. They tried, in 1939, to avert a German move east by promising to go to war with Germany if it invaded Poland, and seeking an alliance with the USSR. Hitler ended the risk of a war with Stalin by a non-aggression pact with the USSR in August 1939. It secretly divided the independent nations of eastern Europe between the two powers and assured adequate oil supplies for the German war machine. On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland; two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany. Poland fell in a matter of weeks. A government in exile was set up and it continued to be one of the Allies, a model followed by other invaded countries. After a quiet winter, Germany in April 1940 invaded and quickly defeated Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland and France. Britain and its Empire stood alone against Hitler and Mussolini. In June 1941, however, Germany invaded the USSR. In December Japan attacked the US and Britain. The main lines of World War II had formed.
Major affiliated state combatants
During December 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt devised the name "United Nations" for the Allies. He referred to the Big Three and China as a "trusteeship of the powerful", and then later the "Four Policemen". The Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942 was the basis of the modern United Nations (UN). At the Potsdam Conference of July–August 1945, Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman, proposed that the foreign ministers of China, France, the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and the United States "should draft the peace treaties and boundary settlements of Europe", which led to the creation of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the "Big Five", and soon thereafter the establishment of those states as the permanent members of the UNSC.
In the 1920s the Soviet Union provided military assistance to Kuomintang, or the Nationalists and helped reorganize their party along Leninist lines: a unification of party, state, and army. In exchange the Nationalists agreed to let members of the Chinese Communist Party join the Nationalists on an individual basis. However, following the nominal unification of China at the end of the Northern Expedition in 1928, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek purged leftists from his party and fought against the revolting Chinese Communist Party, former warlords, and other militarist factions. A fragmented China provided easy opportunities for Japan to gain territories piece by piece without engaging in total war. Following the 1931 Mukden Incident, the puppet state of Manchukuo was established. Throughout the early to mid-1930s, Chiang's anti-communist and anti-militarist campaigns continued while he fought small, incessant conflicts against Japan, usually followed by unfavorable settlements and concessions after military defeats.
In 1936 Chiang was forced to cease his anti-communist military campaigns after his kidnap and release by Zhang Xueliang, and reluctantly formed a nominal alliance with the Communists, while the Communists agreed to fight under the nominal command of the Nationalists against the Japanese. Following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of 7 July 1937, China and Japan became embroiled in a full-scale war. The Soviet Union, wishing to keep China in the fight against Japan, supplied China with military assistance until 1941, when it signed a non aggression pact with Japan. Continuous clashes between the Communists and Nationalists behind enemy lines cumulated in a major military conflict between these two former allies that effectively ended their cooperation against the Japanese, and China had been divided between the internationally recognized Nationalist China under the leadership of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and the Communist China under the leadership of Mao Zedong until the Japanese surrendered in 1945.
Prior to the alliance of Germany and Italy to Japan, the Nationalist Government held close relations with both Germany and Italy. In the early 1930s, Sino-German cooperation between the Nationalist Government and Germany in military and industrial matters. Nazi Germany provided the largest proportion of Chinese arms imports and technical expertise. Relations between the Nationalist Government and Italy during the 1930s varied, however even after the Nationalist Government followed League of Nations sanctions against Italy for its invasion of Ethiopia, the international sanctions proved unsuccessful, and relations between the Fascist government in Italy and the Nationalist Government in China returned to normal shortly afterwards. Up until 1936, Mussolini had provided the Nationalists with Italian military air and naval missions to help the Nationalists fight against Japanese incursions and communist insurgents. Italy also held strong commercial interests and a strong commercial position in China supported by the Italian concession in Tianjin. However after 1936 the relationship between the Nationalist Government and Italy changed due to a Japanese diplomatic proposal to recognize the Italian Empire that included occupied Ethiopia within it in exchange for Italian recognition of Manchukuo, Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano accepted this offer by Japan, and on 23 October 1936 Japan recognized the Italian Empire and Italy recognized Manchukuo, as well as discussing increasing commercial links between Italy and Japan.
The Nationalist Government held close relations with the United States. The United States opposed Japan's invasion of China in 1937 that it considered an illegal violation of China's sovereignty, and offered the Nationalist Government diplomatic, economic, and military assistance during its war against Japan. In particular, the United States sought to bring the Japanese war effort to a complete halt by imposing a full embargo on all trade between the United States to Japan, Japan was dependent on the United States for 80 percent of its petroleum, resulting in an economic and military crisis for Japan that could not continue its war effort with China without access to petroleum. In November 1940, American military aviator Claire Lee Chennault upon observing the dire situation in the air war between China and Japan, set out to organize a volunteer squadron of American fighter pilots to fight alongside the Chinese against Japan, known as the Flying Tigers. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted dispatching them to China in early 1941. However, they only became operational shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Soviet Union recognised the Republic of China but urged reconciliation with the Communist Party of China and inclusion of Communists in the government. The Soviet Union also urged military and cooperation between Nationalist China and Communist China during the war.
Even though the Republic of China had been fighting the longest among all the Allied powers, it only officially joined the Allies after the attack on Pearl Harbor, on 7 December 1941. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek thought Allied victory was assured with the entrance of the United States into the war, and he declared war on Germany and the other Axis nations. However, Allied aid remained low because the Burma Road was closed and the Allies suffered a series of military defeats against Japan early on in the campaign. General Sun Li-jen led the R.O.C. forces to the relief of 7,000 British forces trapped by the Japanese in the Battle of Yenangyaung. He then reconquered North Burma and re-established the land route to China by the Ledo Road. But the bulk of military aid did not arrive until the spring of 1945. More than 1.5 million Japanese troops were trapped in the China Theatre, troops that otherwise could have been deployed elsewhere if China had collapsed and made a separate peace.
Communist China had been tacitly supported by the Soviet Union since the 1920s, though the Soviet Union diplomatically recognised the Republic of China, Joseph Stalin supported cooperation between the Nationalists and the Communists—including pressuring the Nationalist Government to grant the Communists state and military positions in the government. This was continued into the 1930s that fell in line with the Soviet Union's subversion policy of popular fronts to increase communists' influence in governments. The Soviet Union urged military and cooperation between Soviet China and Nationalist China during China's war against Japan. Initially Mao Zedong accepted the demands of the Soviet Union and in 1938 had recognized Chiang Kai-Shek as the "leader" of the "Chinese people". In turn, the Soviet Union accepted Mao's tactic of "continuous guerilla warfare" in the countryside that involved a goal of extending the Communist bases, even if it would result in increased tensions with the Nationalists.
After the breakdown of their cooperation with the Nationalists in 1941, the Communists prospered and grew as the war against Japan dragged on, building up their sphere of influence wherever opportunities were presented, mainly through rural mass organizations, administrative, land and tax reform measures favoring poor peasants; while the Nationalists attempted to neutralize the spread of Communist influence by military blockade and fighting the Japanese at the same time.
The Communist Party's position in China was boosted further upon the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in August 1945 against the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo and the Japanese Kwantung Army in China and Manchuria. Upon the intervention of the Soviet Union against Japan in World War II in 1945, Mao Zedong in April and May 1945 had planned to mobilize 150,000 to 250,000 soldiers from across China to work with forces of the Soviet Union in capturing Manchuria.
Great Britain and other members of the British Commonwealth, known as the Dominions, declared war on Germany separately from 3 September 1939 with the UK first, all within one week of each other; these countries were Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa. Southern Rhodesia, while self-governing, did not have independence in foreign policy.
Self-governing sovereign dominions or colonies
Australia was a self-governing sovereign dominion under the British monarchy under the terms of the Balfour Declaration of 1926.
Canada was a self-governing sovereign dominion under the Statute of Westminster in 1931. In a symbolic statement of autonomous foreign policy Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King delayed Parliament's vote on a declaration of war for seven days after Britain had declared war. Canada was the last member of the Commonwealth to declare war on Germany on 10 September 1939.
New Zealand was a self-governing sovereign dominion under the British monarchy under the terms of the Balfour Declaration of 1926.
South Africa was a self-governing sovereign dominion under the British monarchy the terms of the Balfour Declaration of 1926. South Africa held authority over the mandate of South-West Africa.
Southern Rhodesia was a self-governing colony, having received responsible government in 1923. It was not a sovereign dominion. It governed itself internally and controlled its own armed forces, but had no diplomatic autonomy, and therefore was officially at war as soon as Britain was at war. The Southern Rhodesian colonial government issued a symbolic declaration of war nevertheless on 3 September 1939, which made no difference diplomatically, but preceded the declarations of war made by all other British dominions and colonies.
Colonies and dependencies
British West Africa and the British colonies in East and Southern Africa participated, mainly in the North African, East African and Middle-Eastern theatres. Two West African and one East African division served in the Burma Campaign.
In the Americas
Newfoundland was ruled as a royal colony 1933-49, with a governor appointed by London who made the decisions.
Territories controlled by the Colonial Office, namely the Crown Colonies, were controlled politically by the UK and therefore also entered hostilities with Britain's declaration of war. At the outbreak of World War II, the Indian army numbered 205,000 men. Later during World War II the Indian Army became the largest all-volunteer force in history, rising to over 2.5 million men in size. These forces included tank, artillery and airborne forces. Indian soldiers earned 30 Victoria Crosses during the Second World War. It suffered 1,500,000 civilian casualties (more than the United Kingdom), mainly from the Bengal famine of 1943 caused by the fall of Burma to the Japanese and the transfer of food to the war effort, and 87,000 military casualties (more than any Crown colony but fewer than the United Kingdom). The UK suffered 382,000 military casualties.
The Cyprus Regiment was formed by the British Government during the Second World War and made part of the British Army structure. It was mostly Greek Cypriots volunteers and Turkish speaking Cypriot inhabitants of Cyprus but also included other Commonwealth nationalities. On a brief visit to Cyprus in 1943, Winston Churchill praised the "soldiers of the Cyprus Regiment who have served honourably on many fields from Libya to Dunkirk". About 30,000 Cypriots served in the Cyprus Regiment. The regiment was involved in action from the very start and served at Dunkirk, in the Greek Campaign (Battle of Greece) (about 600 soldiers were captured in Kalamata in 1941), North Africa (Operation Compass), France, the Middle East and Italy. Many soldiers were taken prisoner especially at the beginning of the war and were interned in various POW camps (Stalag) including Lamsdorf (Stalag VIII-B), Stalag IVC at Wistritz bei Teplitz and Stalag 4b near Most in the Czech Republic. The soldiers captured in Kalamata were transported by train to prisoner of war camps.
"At the end of five months of war, one thing has become more and more clear. It is that Germany seeks to establish a domination of the world completely different from any known in world history."
"The domination at which the Nazis aim is not limited to the displacement of the balance of power and the imposition of the supremacy of one nation. It seeks the systematic and total destruction of those conquered by Hitler and it does not treaty with the nations which it has subdued. He destroys them. He takes from them their whole political and economic existence and seeks even to deprive them of their history and culture. He wishes only to consider them as vital space and a vacant territory over which he has every right."
"The human beings who constitute these nations are for him only cattle. He orders their massacre or migration. He compels them to make room for their conquerors. He does not even take the trouble to impose any war tribute on them. He just takes all their wealth and, to prevent any revolt, he scientifically seeks the physical and moral degradation of those whose independence he has taken away."
France experienced several major phases of action during World War II:
- The "Phoney War" of 1939–1940, also called drôle de guerre in France, dziwna wojna in Poland (both meaning "Strange War"), or the "Sitzkrieg" ("Sitting War") in Germany.
- The Battle of France in May–June 1940, which resulted in the defeat of the Allies, the fall of the French Third Republic, the German occupation of northern and western France, and the creation of the rump state Vichy France, which received diplomatic recognition from the Axis and most neutral countries including the United States.
- The period of resistance against the occupation and Franco-French struggle for control of the colonies between the Vichy regime and the Free French, who continued the fight on the Allies' side after the Appeal of 18 June by the general de Gaulle, recognized by the United Kingdom as France's government-in-exile. It culminated in the Allied landings in North Africa on 11 November 1942, when Vichy ceased to exist as an independent entity after having been invaded by both the Axis and the Allies simultaneously, being thereafter only the nominal government in charge during the occupation of France. Vichy forces in French North Africa switched allegiance and merged with the Free French to participate in the campaigns of Tunisia and of Italy campaigns and the invasion of Corsica in 1943-44.
- The liberation of mainland France beginning with D-Day on 6 June 1944 and operation Overlord, and then with operation Dragoon on 15 August 1944, leading to the Liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944 by the Free French 2e Division Blindée and the installation of the Provisional Government of the French Republic in the newly liberated capital.
- Participation of the re-established provisional French Republic's First Army in the Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine and the Western Allied invasion of Germany until V-E Day on 8 May 1945.
Colonies and dependencies
In Africa these included: French West Africa, French Equatorial Africa, the League of Nations mandates of French Cameroun and French Togo, Madagascar, French Somaliland, and the protectorates of French Tunisia and French Morocco.
In Asia and Oceania
In Asia these included: French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, New Caledonia, the New Hebrides, French Indochina, French India, the mandates of Greater Lebanon and French Syria. The French government in 1936 attempted to grant independence to its mandate of Syria in the Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence of 1936 signed by France and Syria. However opposition to the treaty grew in France and the treaty was not ratified. Syria had become an official republic in 1930 and was largely self-governing. In 1941, a British-led invasion supported by Free French forces expelled Vichy French forces in operation Exporter.
In the Americas
General Secretary Joseph Stalin and the government of the Soviet Union justified the Soviet war effort that resulted from the German invasion of the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941, as a defensive war being fought by patriotic Soviet people for their survival. Stalin had supported popular front movements of anti-fascists including communists and non-communists from 1935 to 1939. The popular front strategy was terminated from 1939 to 1941 when the Soviet Union cooperated with Germany in 1939 in the occupation and partitioning of Poland while the Soviet Union refused to endorse either the Allies or the Axis from 1939 to 1941, as it called the Allied-Axis conflict an "imperialist war". After the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Stalin endorsed the Western Allies as part of a renewed popular front strategy against Germany and called for the international communist movement to make a coalition with all those who opposed the Nazis.
The Soviet Union intervened against Japan and its client state in Manchuria in 1945, cooperating with the Nationalist Government of China and Nationalist Party led by Chiang Kai Shek; though also cooperating, preferring, and encouraging the Communist Party led by Mao Zedong to take effective control of Manchuria after expelling Japanese forces.
On 20 August 1939, forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics under General Georgy Zhukov, together with the People's Republic of Mongolia eliminated the threat of conflict in the east with a decisive victory over Japan at the Battle of Khalkhin Gol in eastern Mongolia.
On the same day, Soviet party leader Joseph Stalin received a telegram from German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, suggesting that German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop fly to Moscow for diplomatic talks. (After receiving a lukewarm response throughout the spring and summer, Stalin abandoned attempts for a better diplomatic relationship with France and the United Kingdom.)
On 23 August, Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov signed the non-aggression pact including secret protocols dividing Eastern Europe into defined "spheres of influence" for the two regimes, and specifically concerning the partition of the Polish state in the event of its "territorial and political rearrangement".
On 15 September 1939, Stalin concluded a durable ceasefire with Japan, to take effect the following day (it would be upgraded to a nonaggression pact in April 1941). The day after that, 17 September, Soviet forces invaded Poland from the east. Although some fighting continued until 5 October, the two invading armies held at least one joint military parade on 25 September, and reinforced their non-military partnership with a German–Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Demarcation on 28 September.
On 30 November, the Soviet Union attacked Finland, for which it was expelled from the League of Nations. In the following year of 1940, while the world's attention was focussed upon the German invasion of France and Norway, the USSR militarily occupied the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as parts of Romania.
German-Soviet treaties were brought to an end by the German surprise attack on the USSR on 22 June 1941. The Soviet Union so entered in alliance with the United Kingdom. Following the USSR, a number of other communist, pro-Soviet or Soviet-controlled forces fought against the Axis powers during the Second World War. They were as follows: the Albanian National Liberation Front, the Chinese Red Army, the Greek National Liberation Front, the Hukbalahap, the Malayan Communist Party, the People's Republic of Mongolia, the Polish People's Army, the Tuvan People's Republic (annexed by Soviet Union in 1944), the Viet Minh and the Yugoslav Partisans.
The United States had indirectly supported Britain's war effort against Germany up to 1941 and declared its opposition to territorial aggrandizement. Material support to Britain was provided while the U.S. was officially neutral via the Lend Lease Act starting in 1941.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill in August 1941 promulgated the Atlantic Charter that pledged commitment to achieving "the final destruction of Nazi tyranny". Signing the Atlantic Charter, and thereby joining the "United Nations" was the way a nation joined the Allies, and also became eligible for membership in the United Nations world body that formed in 1945.
The US strongly supported the Nationalist Government in China in its war with Japan, and provided military equipment, supplies, and volunteers to the Nationalist Government of China to assist in its war effort. In December 1941 Japan opened the war with its attack on Pearl Harbor, the US declared war on Japan, and Japan's allies Germany and Italy declared war on the US, bringing the US into World War II.
On 8 December 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Congress declared war on Japan at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This was followed by Germany and Italy declaring war on the United States on 11 December, bringing the country into the European theatre.
The US led Allied forces in the Pacific theatre against Japanese forces from 1941 to 1945. From 1943 to 1945, the US led and coordinated the Western Allies' war effort in Europe under the leadership of General Dwight Eisenhower.
The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor followed by Japan's swift attacks on Allied locations throughout the Pacific, resulted in major US losses in the first several months in the war, including losing control of the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island and several Aleutian islands including Attu and Kiska to Japanese forces. American naval forces attained some early successes against Japan. One was the bombing of Japanese industrial centres in the Doolittle Raid. Another was repelling a Japanese invasion of Port Moresby in New Guinea during the Battle of the Coral Sea. A major turning point in the Pacific War was the Battle of Midway where American naval forces were outnumbered by Japanese forces that had been sent to Midway to draw out and destroy American aircraft carriers in the Pacific and seize control of Midway that would place Japanese forces in close proximity to Hawaii. However American forces managed to sink four of Japan's six large aircraft carriers that had initiated the attack on Pearl Harbor along with other attacks on Allied forces. Afterwards the US began an offensive against Japanese-captured positions. The Guadalcanal Campaign from 1942 to 1943 was a major contention point where American and Japanese forces struggled to gain control of Guadalcanal.
Colonies and dependencies
In the Americas and the Pacific
In the Pacific it held multiple island dependencies such as American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Midway Islands, Wake Island and others. These dependencies were directly involved in the Pacific campaign of the war.
The Commonwealth of the Philippines was a sovereign protectorate referred to as an "associated state" of the United States. The Philippines were occupied by Japanese forces from late 1941 to 1944 who established a client regime there during their military occupation.
Minor affiliated state combatants
Czechoslovakia along with the United Kingdom and France attempted to resolve German irredentist claims to the Sudetenland region in 1938 with the Munich Agreement, however in March 1939, Czechoslovakia was invaded by Germany and partitioned between Germany, Hungary, and a German client state of Slovakia. The Czechoslovak government-in-exile joined the Allies, the occupation and partition of Czechoslovakia amongst the Axis powers was not accepted by the Allied powers. Czechoslovakian military units took part in the war.
The invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, started the war in Europe, and the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany on 3 September. Poland fielded the third biggest army among the European Allies, after the Soviet Union and United Kingdom, but before France. The country never officially surrendered to the Third Reich, nor to the Soviet Union, primarily because either of the totalitarian powers did not request an official surrender, and continued the war effort under the Polish government in exile. However, the Soviet Union unilaterally considered the flight to Romania of President Ignacy Mościcki and Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły on 17 September as an evidence of debellatio causing the extinction of Polish State, and consequently declared itself allowed to invade (according to Soviet position: "to protect") Eastern Poland starting from the same day. It must be noted that the Red Army had invaded the Second Polish Republic several hours before Polish president fled to Romania. The Soviets invaded on Sept. 17 at 3 a.m.,l  while president Mościcki crossed the Polish-Romanian border at 21:45 on the same day. The Polish military continued to fight, and the last major battle of the war, the battle of Kock, ended at 1 a.m. on October 6, 1939 with the Independent Operational Group "Polesie," a field army, surrendering due to lack of ammunition.
Polish soldiers fought under their own flag but under the command of the British military. They were major contributors to the allies in the theatre of war west of Germany and in the theatre of war east of Germany, with the Soviet Union. The Polish armed forces in the West created after the fall of Poland played minor roles in the Battle of France, and important ones in the Italian and North African Campaigns. The Polish People's Army took part in the Battle of Berlin, the closing battle of the European theater of war. They occupied the city alongside the Soviet Red Army.
Home Army, the largest underground force in Europe, and other resistance organizations in occupied Poland provided intelligence that enabled successful operations later in the war and led to uncovering of Nazi war crimes (i.e., death camps) to the Western Allies. Notable Polish units fought in every campaign in Europe and North Africa (outside the Balkans). The Soviet Union recognized the London-based government at first. But it broke diplomatic relations after the Katyn massacre of Polish nationals was revealed. In 1943, the Soviet Union organized the Polish People's Army under Zygmunt Berling, around which it constructed the
On 1 August 1944 Warsaw Uprising began; it was the largest, coordinated armed revolt of WWII taken against Axis powers. The goal of the Home Army was to liberate Warsaw from the hands of occupying German troops before the Soviets arrived. After initial successes they were ultimately defeated after 63 days of struggles at the streets of the city. The Polish soldiers were heavily outclassed both in number as well as equipment and received very little outside support. As a revenge for the revolt Germans destroyed remnants of the city (85% of original architecture samples demolished by January 1945).
Denmark was neutral until assaulted by Germany as a stepping stone for its invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940; utterly overwhelmed, the country capitulated in a matter of hours, with neither king nor government able to flee.
Because of its strategic location for control of the sea lanes in the North Sea and the Atlantic, both the Allies and Germany worried about the other side gaining control of the neutral country. Germany ultimately struck first with operation Weserübung on 9 April 1940, resulting in the occupation of Norway.
The Netherlands became an Allied member after being invaded on 10 May 1940 by Germany. During the ensuing campaign, the Netherlands were defeated and occupied by Germany. The Netherlands was liberated by Canadian, British, American and other allied forces during the campaigns of 1944 and 1945. The Prinses Irene brigade, formed from escapees from the German invasion, took part in several actions in 1944 in Arromances and in 1945 in the Netherlands. Navy vessels saw action in the British Channel, the North Sea and the Mediterranean, generally as part of Royal Navy units. Dutch airmen flying British aircraft participated in the air war over Germany.
Colonies and dependencies
The Dutch East Indies (modern-day Indonesia) was the principal Dutch colony in Asia, and was attacked by Japan in 1942. During the Dutch East Indies Campaign, the Netherlands played a significant role in the Allied effort to halt the Japanese advance as part of the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Command. The ABDA fleet finally encountered the Japanese surface fleet at the Battle of Java Sea, at which Doorman gave the order to engage. During the ensuing battle the ABDA fleet suffered heavy losses, and was mostly destroyed after several naval battles around Java; the ABDA Command was later dissolved. The Japanese finally occupied the Dutch East Indies in February–March 1942. Dutch troops, aircraft and escaped ships continued to fight on the Allied side and also mounted a guerrilla campaign in Timor.
Before the war, Belgium had pursued a policy of neutrality and only became an Allied member after being invaded by Germany on 10 May 1940. During the ensuing fighting, Belgian forces fought alongside French and British forces against the invaders. While the British and French were struggling against the fast German advance elsewhere on the front, the Belgian forces were pushed into a pocket to the north. Finally on 28 May, the King Leopold III surrendered himself and his military to the Germans, having decided the Allied cause was lost. The legal Belgian government was reformed as a government in exile in London. Belgian troops and pilots continued to fight on the Allied side as the Free Belgian Forces. Belgium itself was occupied, but a sizeable Resistance was formed and was loosely coordinated by the government in exile and other Allied powers.
British and Canadian troops arrived in Belgium in September 1944 and the capital, Brussels, was liberated on 6 September. Because of the Ardennes Offensive, the country was only fully liberated in early 1945.
Colonies and dependencies
Belgium had the colony of the Belgian Congo and the League of Nations mandate of Ruanda-Urundi. The Belgian Congo was not occupied and remained loyal to the Allies as an important economic asset while its deposits of uranium were useful to the Allied efforts to develop the atomic bomb. Troops from the Belgian Congo participated in the East African Campaign against the Italians. The colonial Force Publique also served in other theatres including Madagascar, the Middle-East, India and Burma within British units.
Albania was occupied by Italy in April 1939, King Zog was forced into exile, and Albania was turned into an Italian protectorate. After Italy capitulated to the Allies in 1943, Albania came under German occupation and a German puppet state was established. Albanian resistance to Axis control arose during the war, particularly communist Partisans led by Enver Hoxha.
Greece was invaded by Italy on 28 October 1940 and subsequently joined the Allies. The Greek Army managed to reverse the Italian offensive from Italy's protectorate of Albania, and Greek forces pushed Italian forces back into Albania. However after German intervention, German forces managed to occupy Greece. The Greek government went into exile, but German forces met fierce opposition from the Greek Resistance. Axis forces left Greece in 1944.
Yugoslavia entered the war on the Allied side after invasion by the Axis powers on 6 April 1941. A part of the country was occupied, with the anti-Axis resistance movement split in Serbia between the royalist Chetniks and the communist Yugoslav Partisans of Josip Broz Tito who fought both against each other during the war and against the occupying forces. Independent State of Croatia was declared on Croatian "ethnic and historical territory" what is today Republic of Croatia (without Istria), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Syrmia and Bay of Kotor. The Yugoslav Partisans managed to put up considerable resistance to the Axis occupation, forming various liberated territories during the war. In August 1943, there were over 30 Axis divisions on the territory of Yugoslavia, not including the forces of the Croatian puppet state and other quisling formations. In 1944, the leading Allied powers persuaded Tito's Yugoslav Partisans and the royalist Yugoslav government led by Prime Minister Ivan Šubašić to sign the Treaty of Vis that created Democratic Federal Yugoslavia.
The Partisans were a major Yugoslav resistance movement against the Axis occupation and partition of Yugoslavia. Initially the Partisans were in rivalry with the Chetniks over control of the resistance movement. However the Partisans were recognized by both the Eastern and Western Allies as the primary resistance movement in 1943. After that, their strength increased rapidly, from 100,000 at the beginning of 1943 to over 648,000 in September 1944. In 1945 they were transformed into Yugoslav army, organized in 4 field armies with 800,000 fighters.
The Chetniks, the short name given to the movement titled the Yugoslav Army of the Fatherland, were initially a major Allied Yugoslav resistance movement. However, due to their royalist and anti-communist views, Chetniks were considered to have begun collaborating with the Axis as a tactical move to focus on destroying their Partisan rivals. The Chetniks presented themselves as a Yugoslav movement, but were primarily a Serb movement. They reached their peak in 1943 with 93,000 fighters. Their major contribution was Operation Halyard in 1944. In collaboration with the OSS, 413 Allied airmen shot down over Yugoslavia were rescued and evacuated.
Initially, Brazil maintained a position of neutrality, trading with both the Allies and the Axis Powers, while Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas's quasi-Fascist policies indicated a leaning toward the Axis powers. However, as the war progressed, trade with the Axis countries became almost impossible and the United States initiated forceful diplomatic and economic efforts to bring Brazil onto the Allied side.
At the beginning of 1942, Brazil permitted the United States to set up air bases on its territory, especially in Natal, strategically located at the easternmost corner of the South American continent, and on 28 January the country severed diplomatic relations with Germany, Japan, and Italy. After that, 36 Brazilian merchant ships were sunk by the German and Italian navies, which led the Brazilian government to declare war against Germany and Italy on 22 August 1942.
Brazil then sent a 25,700 strong Expeditionary Force to Europe that fought mainly on the Italian front, from September 1944 to May 1945. Also, the Brazilian Navy and Air Force acted in the Atlantic Ocean from the middle of 1942 until the end of war. Brazil was the only South American country to send troops to fight in the European theatre in the Second World War.
Mexico declared war on Germany in 1942 after German submarines attacked the Mexican oil tankers Potrero del Llano and Faja de Oro that were transporting crude oil to the United States. These attacks prompted President Manuel Ávila Camacho to declare war on the Axis powers.
Mexico formed Escuadrón 201 fighter squadron as part of the Fuerza Aérea Expedicionaria Mexicana (FAEM—"Mexican Expeditionary Air Force"). The squadron was attached to the 58th Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Forces and carried out tactical air support missions during the liberation of the main Philippine island of Luzon in the summer of 1945.
Some 300,000 Mexican citizens went to the United States to work in factories that produced war supplies and to help in any way that would benefit the Allies. Around 15,000 US nationals of Mexican origin and Mexican residents in the US enrolled in the US Armed Forces and fought in various fronts around the world.
Korea was recognized as part of the Japanese Empire. Since 1919, the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea (KPG) operated in exile in China but was not recognized as one of the Allies. The Provisional Government, led by Kim Gu declared war on Japan and Germany on 9 December 1941; its Korean Liberation Army fought alongside Chinese forces against Japan during the war.
Major co-belligerent state combatants
Italy initially had been a leading member of the Axis powers, however after facing multiple military losses including the loss of all of Italy's colonies to advancing Allied forces, Duce Benito Mussolini was deposed and arrested in July 1943 by order of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy in co-operation with members of the Grand Council of Fascism who viewed Mussolini as having led Italy to ruin by allying with Germany in the war. Victor Emmanuel III dismantled the remaining apparatus of the Fascist regime and appointed Field Marshal Pietro Badoglio as Prime Minister of Italy. On 8 September 1943, Italy signed the Armistice of Cassibile with the Allies, ending Italy's war with the Allies and ending Italy's participation with the Axis powers. Expecting immediate German retaliation, Victor Emmanuel III and the Italian government relocated to southern Italy under Allied control. Germany viewed the Italian government's actions as an act of betrayal, and German forces immediately occupied all Italian territories outside of Allied control.
Italy became a co-belligerent of the Allies, and the Italian Co-Belligerent Army was created to fight against the German occupation of Northern Italy, where German paratroopers rescued Mussolini from arrest and he was placed in charge of a German puppet state known as the Italian Social Republic (RSI). Italy descended into civil war until the end of hostilities after his deposition and arrest, with Fascists loyal to him allying with German forces and helping them against the Italian armistice government and partisans.
Albania (Hoxha regime)
In 1944, after Soviet forces entered Albania, a communist regime was established that was led by Enver Hoxha.
Bulgaria had been a member of the Axis powers from 1941 to 1944, but abandoned the Axis and joined the Allies upon facing invasion by the Soviet Union.
Mongolia fought against Japan during Battles of Khalkhin Gol in 1939 and the Soviet–Japanese War in August 1945 to protect its independence and to liberate Southern Mongolia from Japan and China. Mongolia had been a Soviet sphere of influence since the 1920s.
Poland (Gomułka regime)
By 1944 Poland entered the Soviet sphere of influence with Władysław Gomułka forming a communist government. Polish forces fought alongside Soviet forces against Germany.
Romania had initially been a member of the Axis powers but switched allegiance upon facing invasion by the Soviet Union. In a radio broadcast to the Romanian people and army on the night of 23 August 1944 King Michael issued a cease-fire, proclaimed Romania's loyalty to the Allies, announced the acceptance of an armistice (to be signed on September 12) offered by Great Britain, the United States, and the USSR, and declared war on Germany. The coup accelerated the Red Army's advance into Romania, but did not avert a rapid Soviet occupation and capture of about 130,000 Romanian soldiers, who were transported to the Soviet Union where many perished in prison camps. The armistice was signed three weeks later on 12 September 1944, on terms virtually dictated by the Soviet Union. Under the terms of the armistice, Romania announced its unconditional surrender to the USSR and was placed under occupation of the Allied forces with the Soviet Union as their representative, in control of media, communication, post, and civil administration behind the front.
Tannu Tuva was a partially recognized state founded from the former Tuvan protectorate of Imperial Russia. It was a client state of the Soviet Union and was annexed into the Soviet Union in 1944.
The Kingdom of Egypt was nominally an independent state since 1922 but effectively remained in a British sphere of influence with the British Mediterranean fleet being stationed in Alexandria and British army forces being stationed in the Suez Canal zone. Egypt faced an Axis campaign led by Italian and German forces during the war. Frustration by the UK over Egypt's King Farouk's rule resulted in the Abdeen Palace Incident of 1942 where British army forces surrounded the Abdeen palace, a residence of King Farouk, demanding a new government be established, that nearly forced the abdication of Farouk until he submitted to British demands.
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Declaration by United Nations
The alliance was formalised in the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942. There were 26 signatories:
The United Nations began growing immediately after their formation. In 1942, Mexico, the Philippines and Ethiopia adhered to the declaration. The African nation had been restored in its independence by British forces after the Italian defeat on Amba Alagi in 1941, while the Philippines, still dependent on Washington but granted international diplomatic recognition, was allowed to join on 10 June despite their occupation by Japan.
During 1943, the Declaration was signed by Iraq, Iran, Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia. A Tripartite Treaty of Alliance with Britain and USSR formalised Iran's assistance to the Allies. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian dictator Getúlio Vargas was considered near to fascist ideas, but realistically joined the United Nations after their evident successes.
In 1944, Liberia and France signed. The French situation was very confused. Free France forces were recognized only by Britain, while United States considered Vichy France as the legal government of the country until Operation Overlord, also preparing US occupation francs. Winston Churchill urged Roosevelt restoring France in its status of a major Power after the liberation of Paris in August 1944: the Prime Minister feared that after the war, Britain could remain the sole great Power in Europe facing Communist threat, as it was in 1941 against Nazism.
During the early part of 1945, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela, Uruguay, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria (these latter two French colonies had been declared independent nations by British occupation troops, despite big protests by Petain before, and De Gaulle after) and Ecuador became signatories. Ukraine and Belarus, which were not independent nations but parts of the Soviet Union, were accepted as members of the United Nations as way to provide greater influence to Stalin, who had only Yugoslavia as a communist partner in the alliance.
Charter of the United Nations
The Charter of the United Nations was agreed to during the war at the United Nations Conference on International Organization, held between April and July 1945. The Charter was signed by 50 nations on 26 June (Poland had its place reserved and later became the 51st "original" signatory), and was formally ratified shortly after the war on 24 October 1945. The three leading Allied nations, namely the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States met repeatedly during the war, such as at the 1944 conference at Dumbarton Oaks where the formation and the permanent seats (for the "Big Five", China, France, the UK, USA and USSR) of the United Nations Security Council were decided. The Security Council met for the first time in the immediate aftermath of war on 17 January 1946.
These are the original 51 signatories (UNSC permanent members are asterisked):
Summary of United Nations members' joining the war on the Axis Powers
After the German invasion of Poland
- September 1939
- Poland: 1 September 1939
- France: 3 September 1939
- United Kingdom: 3 September 1939
- Kingdom of Nepal: 4 September 1939
- April 1940
After the Phoney War
- Belgium: 10 May 1940
- Luxembourg: 10 May 1940
- Netherlands: 10 May 1940
- Greece: 28 October 1940
- Yugoslavia: 6 April 1941
After the invasion of the USSR
After the attack on Pearl Harbor
- United States of America: 7 December 1941
- Panama: 7 December 1941
- Costa Rica: 8 December 1941
- Dominican Republic: 8 December 1941
- El Salvador: 8 December 1941
- Haiti: 8 December 1941
- Honduras: 8 December 1941
- Nicaragua: 8 December 1941
- China: 9 December 1941
- Cuba: 9 December 1941
- Guatemala: 9 December 1941
- Czechoslovakia (government-in-exile): 16 December 1941
After the Declaration by United Nations
- Mexico: 22 May 1942
- Brazil: 22 August 1942
- Ethiopia: 14 December 1942
- Iraq: 16 January 1943
- Bolivia: 7 April 1943
- Colombia: 26 July 1943
- Iran: 9 September 1943
- Liberia: 27 January 1944
- Peru: 12 February 1944
- Romania: 25 August 1944
- Bulgaria: 8 September 1944
- Hungary: 20 January 1945
- Ecuador: 2 February 1945
- Paraguay: 7 February 1945
- Uruguay: 15 February 1945
- Venezuela: 15 February 1945
- Turkey: 23 February 1945
- Egypt: 24 February 1945
- Lebanon: 27 February 1945
- Syria: 27 February 1945
- Saudi Arabia: 1 March 1945
- Finland: 3 March 1945 (effectively from 15 September 1944)
- Argentina: 27 March 1945
- Chile: 11 April 1945 (only declares war on Japan)
- Diplomatic history of World War II
- Allies of World War I
- Axis Powers
- Neutral powers during World War II
- Participants in World War II
- Free World (World War II)
- Military production during World War II
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- Government-in-exile of Free France continued fighting with Britain from 18 June 1940 to 19 August 1944. Philippe Pétain's government formally capitulated on 22 June 1940 and the Vichy regime was later an Axis supporter. Free France contributed to Allied war effort; the Provisional Government of the French Republic was officially recognized by the Allies as the legitimate government of France, on 23 October 1944 (Ordre de la Libération). Pétain's demand of surrender in 1940 was also legally nullified, as was the Vichy regime as a whole (ref)
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- The Viceroy made the decision for all of India.
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- Formally member of Axis from 25 March to 6 April 1941, Yugoslavia was initially represented as an Ally by the government-in-exile of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, a signatory to the Declaration by the United Nations. Democratic Federal Yugoslavia, which would succeed the kingdom, was founded on 29 November 1943 by the communist-led Yugoslav Partisans, who were recognised as the official Yugoslav armed resistance force two days later at the Tehran Conference.
- Despite members of USSR, Ukraine and Belarus were recognized as separate fighting States by UK and US at the end of the war, to reassure Stalin from a capitalistic dominance of the alliance.
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- At war with the Empire of Japan since 1937.
- Dear and Foot, Oxford Companion to World War II pp 279-80
- Formerly annexed by Italy t h the Abyssinia Crisis.
- Occupied by Allies in 1941.
- Former Axis power. Romania accepted Allied armistice terms on 23 August 1944; declared war on Germany (25 August 1944), Hungary (7 September 1944), and Japan (7 March 1945); and signed an armistice with the Allies on 12 September. Romanian troops fought alongside the Soviets against Axis forces in Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria during 1944–45. Romania did not join the United Nations during the war.
- Former Axis power. Bulgaria declared war on Germany on 8 September 1944 and signed an armistice with the Allies on 28 October. Bulgarian troops fought alongside the Soviets against Axis forces in Yugoslavia, Hungary and Austria during 1944–45. Bulgaria did not join the United Nations during the war.
- Former Axis power. Hungary signed an armistice with the Allies and declared war on Germany on 20 January 1945. The country did not join the United Nations during the war.
- Former co-belligerent of Germany in the Continuation War. Finland signed an armistice with the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom on 19 September 1944, and fought against German forces in the Lapland War from 1 October 1944. On 3 March 1945, Finland retroactively declared war on Germany from 15 September 1944. Finland did not join the United Nations during the war.
- En consejo de gabinete se firmó el decreto que declara el estado de guerra con el Japón. El Mercurio 12 de abril 1945 (periódico chileno)
- Quedó aprobada la declaración de guerra al Japón. El Mercurio 13 de abril 1945 (periódico chileno)
- Davies, Norman (2006), Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple Victory. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-69285-3
- Dear, Ian C. B. and Michael Foot, eds. The Oxford Companion to World War II (2005), comprehensive encyclopedia for all countries
- Overy, Richard (1997), Russia's War: A History of the Soviet Effort: 1941–1945. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-027169-4.
- R. Holland (1981), Britain and the Commonwealth alliance, 1918–1939, London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-333-27295-4
- Weinberg, Gerhard L. A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II (1994) comprehensive coverage of the war with emphasis on diplomacy excerpt and text search
- Changing Alliances In the International Arena
- The Atlantic Conference: Resolution of 24 September 1941
- WWII: Key Allied Figures – slideshow by Life magazine