Due to the Great Depression that hit the world in the 1930’s and made thousands of people all over the world lose their jobs, suffer, and starve, governments became unstable and the voices calling for fascism and communism found many welcoming ears. In addition to the Great Depression, Germany was a special case. The Germans were not only suffering from the results of the depression along with the rest of the world, but they also had to live under a ruined economy because of the millions of dollars Germany had to pay to the winning countries in World War I as war reparations.
These two problems were the main two reasons for World War II starting by the rise of fascism in Italy under Mussolini’s leadership and the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany under Adolf Hitler’s leadership. Along with Japan, those were the three main countries that the Axis Powers consisted of.
The loss of World War I almost destroyed Germany entirely. Forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles after losing the war, Germany was billions of German marks in debt to Great Britain, France, and the rest of the Allied Powers of World War I. The German armed forces were not allowed to have more than 100,000 men total and were prevented from manufacturing any tanks, airplanes, or submarines.
This added humiliation to the suffering of the German people. When Adolf Hitler presented himself and the Nazi Party as the way to restore German pride and glory, the German people’s support for him was guaranteed.
Being on the winning side with the Allied Powers in World War I, Italy hoped to acquire more territory than it actually received. The anger towards the rest of Allied Powers, as well as suffering from the results of the Great Depression, made the Italian people believe Benito Mussolini when he said he had the solution for all of Italy’s problems.
Mussolini, with the people’s support, became the Italian Prime Minister in 1922. After he secured his position in control of Italy, Mussolini proceeded to establish his dictatorship and became the first dictator in Europe, “Il Duce.”
Before World War II, Japan was expanding its land and resources through invading Manchuria and China. When the Allies started to stop Japan from assaulting its neighbors, the conflict made Japan join the Axis Powers.
In October 1936, German leader Adolf Hitler and Italian leader Benito Mussolini, signed a friendship treaty between the two countries. Mussolini called this treaty the Rome-German Axis. At the same time, Germany signed another pact with Japan called the Anti-Comintern Pact.
Three years later, in 1939, the three countries signed another pact that is considered to be the official pact to join the three Axis Powers. It was called the Tripartite Pact.
Other countries in the Axis forces
Hungary played a main role in the German invasion of the Soviet Union, which later pushed the Soviet Union to put its differences with the Western Democracies aside and join the Allied Powers.
Bulgaria was also on the Axis Powers side until the Soviet Union invaded and turned the country’s forces to the Allied Powers.
Romania was with the Axis Powers in the beginning of the war, but switched sides to the Allied Powers.Finland was not officially on the Axis Powers, as they never signed the Tripartite Pact. However, they did help in the fight against the Soviet Union.
Back to World War II topics