countries involved in World War Two
Map with the Participants in
World War II:
Dark Green: Allies
before the attack on Pearl Harbour
Light Green: Allied
countries that entered the war after the Japanese attack on
Orange: Axis Powers
World War II was primarily
fought between two large alliances. The Axis Powers were a
group of countries led by Nazi Germany and the Empire of
Japan, and are considered the aggressors of the conflict.
The Allies, led by the United Kingdom and, until its defeat,
France, were joined in the European theatre by the Soviet
Union in June 1941 and by the United States in December
1941. In the Asia-Pacific theatre, the Allies were led by
the Republic of China from the invasion of China by Japan in
1937 and then joined by the United States in 1941 after the
attack on Pearl Harbour.
Originally founded on the concept of the Rome-Berlin-axis
(the Pact of Steel), later the Tripartite Pact, the Axis was
not primarily a formal alliance. Each of the major countries
went to war on their own initiative (Nazi Germany in 1939,
Italy in 1940, and Japan in 1937 against China and 1941
against USA), and not necessarily to assist each other.
There was little sharing of technology or resources, and
also little in the way of cooperative strategic planning
between the major Axis Powers.
With the demise of Italy, Germany and Japan each functioned
as wholly separate powers, each conducting the war in their
theatre (Germany in Europe and Japan in the Pacific). There
were a number of smaller powers on the side of the Axis,
although for the most part the war effort was directed and
powered by Germany and Japan.
Like the Axis, the Allies were not a fully cohesive
alliance. The original Allied countries, bound by their
commitment to the security of Poland, were led by the United
Kingdom and France. As other countries were invaded by Nazi
Germany, they were added to the Allied ranks. The fall of
France left the United Kingdom as the sole remaining major
country of the Allies. Most of the remainder consisted of
the British Commonwealth and forces commanded by various
While the European war did not officially start until the
1939 invasion of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union, the
war began much earlier in Asia and Africa with the Italian
invasion of Ethiopia in 1936 and the Japanese invasion of
China in 1937. Subsequently, with the war spreading to
Europe and the Pacific Ocean, China, with one-third of the
country under occupation, dispatched its forces to help the
British defend India against Japan and recapture Burma (now
Myanmar) in 1944.
In 1941, with Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, the
British accepted the Communist Soviet Union into their
alliance. Previous to the attack, the United Kingdom was
unsure of how to deal with the Soviet leadership, as it had
been viewed as an aggressor against Britain's ally Poland,
though Winston Churchill in 1939 said that the new
Soviet-German border formed an anti-Nazi front, which Hitler
could never break. This passage many consider as an attempt
to provoke Hitler against the USSR. However, once the Soviet
Union joined the Allies, it mounted the major effort to
eliminate the main forces of German Wehrmacht.
Following the Japanese Pearl Harbour attack in 1941, the
United States formally entered the war, committing itself to
assisting the Allies in both theatres of war. The United
States had been a major contributor of resources and
production for the war effort prior to the attack on Pearl
Harbour, shipping material to most of the Allies to assist
their forces, but after the Japanese attack, the United
States began contributing its own forces to combat.
A much larger number of countries joined the Allies during
the war than joined the Axis. Not only did the countries
attacked by the Axis join, but later in the war, many
smaller countries not directly involved in the war joined
the Allies to ensure their own security as well as to gain
the support of the Allies economically and militarily during
and after the war.
Each country involved in or
affected by World War II is listed with a brief description
of its role in the conflict.
Note: Countries are listed alphabetically.
King Mohammed Zahir Shah successfully kept his isolated
kingdom out of the war. Oil prices went up and increased
trade with Afghanistan making it richer throughout the war.
Albania was forcibly annexed by Italy in 1939 shortly after
Germany had seized Czechoslovakia. Albania had no ability to
withstand the invasion, and ultimately became Italy's
launching point for its later invasion of Greece. When this
failed, Greek troops launched a counter-offensive and sought
to capture some Albanian territory from Italy. Once the
German Balkan Campaign was completed in 1941, Albania served
as the base for the Italian garrison in the Balkans, which
was replaced by German forces when Italy declared for the
Allies in 1943.
Andorra remained officially neutral for the duration of
World War II. At the beginning of the war, a small
detatchment of French troops was stationed in the country
due to the Spanish Civil War, but these forces were
withdrawn in 1940. When France fell, Philippe Pétain of the
Vichy regime was declared the new French Co-prince. After
the German invasion of Vichy France in 1942, a German
military force moved to the Andorran border near Pas de la
Casa, but did not cross. In response, a Spanish force was
established at La Seu d'Urgell, but it too remained outside
Andorran territory. In 1944, Charles de Gaulle established a
new provisional government, and assumed the position of
French Co-Prince. He ordered French forces to occupy Andorra
as a "preventative measure" to secure order.
Throughout the war, Andorra was used as a smuggling route
between Spain and Vichy France, and an escape route for
people fleeing German-occupied areas.
Under the militaristic government of Gral. Edelmiro T.
Farrell, Argentina was originally sympathetic to the Axis
Powers. However, for political reasons, Argentina joined
other Latin American countries and declared war on Germany
late in the conflict. Their contribution was minimal.
Australia was among the first countries to declare war on
Germany, on September 3, 1939. More than one million
Australians, both men and women served in the war. Although
it was ill-prepared for war, the Australian government had
soon dispatched Royal Australian Air Force squadrons and
personnel to serve with the Royal Air Force. The Royal
Australian Navy (RAN) commenced operations against Italy
after its entry into the war in June 1940. Later that year
the Australian Army entered campaigns against Italy and
Germany in North Africa and Europe. German submarines and
raiding ships operated in Australian waters throughout the
war. The most intensive and numerically largest part of
Australia's war effort came after the outbreak of
hostilities with Japan in late 1941. The Australian mainland
came under direct attack for the first time in 1942, when
Japanese aircraft made a major bombing attack on Darwin.
They also attacked many other towns in northern Australia,
and Axis covert raiding ships and submarines struck at
shipping and shore targets around Australia, including a
major submarine attack on Sydney Harbour.
For the remainder of the war, the Australian war effort was
concentrated in south-east Asia and the South West Pacific
Area: they were involved from January 1942 in Malaya, the
Dutch East Indies and the Australian territory of New
Guinea. Before the bulk of the Australian Army had returned
from overseas, from July onwards a small number of Militia
troops fought a stubborn rearguard action in the trying
conditions of the Kokoda Track. In August 1942, at the
Battle of Milne Bay, Australian infantry became the first
Allied soldiers to defeat Japanese ground forces during the
war. The bitter and deadly New Guinea campaign came to
occupy the attention of most of the Australian armed forces
until 1945. Later that year, as the war drew to a close,
Australian forces led the campaign to retake Borneo.
Austria became part of Germany in 1938 amongst popular
acclaim during the Anschluss. After the defeat of the Axis
Powers, the Allies occupied Austria at the end of World War
II in Europe until 1955, when the country again became a
fully independent republic under the condition that it
The Shiekh of Bahrain declared war on Germany on September
10, 1939. Bahraini forces fought under British command in
the Middle East theatre.
Like the Netherlands, Belgium declared its neutrality in an
effort to avoid being caught in another war between Germany
and France. Nazi Germany however did not respect Belgium's
neutrality and marched through Belgium as part of the
invasion of France in 1940. Thus, Belgium joined the Allies
and maintained a government-in-exile with control over its
colonial possessions until the country was liberated in
Bolivia was one of many Latin American countries to declare
war on Germany late in the war, joining the Allies on 4
December 1943. Shortly after war was declared, the President
of Bolivia, Enrique Peñaranda, was overthrown in a coup. The
new ruler, Gualberto Villarroel, had fascist and
anti-Semitic leanings, but foreign pressure compelled
Villarroel to remain at war and to purge the more extreme
Nazi sympathizers from among his supporters. Bolivia was a
supplier of vital war material, tin, to Allied militaries.
Brazil was under the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas, and
maintained its neutrality until the beginning of 1942. After
the German attack against Brazilian ships in the Atlantic
Ocean and in Pearl Harbor, Brazil sided with the Allies,
declaring war against Germany and Italy in 1942. Brazil
helped to patrol the South Atlantic and sent the 25,000
strong Brazilian Expeditionary Force to fight in Europe in
1944, being the only Latin American nation to send troops to
Europe. This army joined the U.S. Fifth Army under General
Mark Wayne Clark and participated in the Italian campaign
until the end of war.
Bulgaria was a minor German ally, signing the Tripartite
Pact in March 1, 1941, their main contribution being transit
rights for German units involved against Yugoslavia and
Greece. Many Bulgarians were captured in Stalingrad.
In the beginning of September 1944, the Bulgarian government
declared war on Germany. After the Communist-dominated coup
d'etat of September 9 and the simultaneous arrival of Soviet
troops in the country, four Bulgarian armies attacked the
German positions in Yugoslavia. An armistice was signed with
the Allies in Moscow on Oct. 28, 1944. After the Nazis fled
Yugoslav territory, the 1st Bulgarian army continued its
offensive in Hungary and Austria. It managed to withstand
the Nazi offensive on the Drava.
Bulgaria's participation in WW2 ended when its soldiers met
their British comrades-in-arms in Klagenfurt in May 1945.
More than 10 000 Bulgarian troops died in the battles
against the Nazis; about 30 000 were wounded.
As a member of the Commonwealth, Canada declared war on
Germany within days of the invasion of Poland (on September
10, 1939). Unlike World War I, however, Canadian units
remained more independent of British command, and they
played an important role in Allied campaigns in western
Europe. Canadian forces contributed heavily in the air raids
against Germany, the Battles of Britain, the Battle of the
Atlantic, the Italian campaign and D-Day, as well as the
subsequent campaigns in north west Europe. In Italy, an army
corps was fielded beginning in January 1944, and forces in
Normandy built up from a single division in June 1944 to a
full corps in July 1944, and the activation of an Army in
August 1944, under which several foreign national formations
were under command, including at various times British,
Polish, Dutch and American forces.
In March 1945, both I and II Canadian Corps came under
command of First Canadian Army in The Netherlands after the
former was repatriated from Italy in February. From 1941,
Canadian forces also participated in the defence of British
territories against Japanese forces, especially Hong Kong
where an under strength brigade was deployed and ultimately
destroyed. As the war in Europe wound down, from late 1944,
many Royal Canadian Navy ships and personnel were
transferred from the Atlantic to join the British Pacific
Fleet. About one million Canadians served in uniform during
The island of Sri Lanka, or Ceylon, as it was then called,
was used as a naval base for allied operations. On 5 April
1942 over 300 aircraft from Japanese carriers bombed the
island. Winston Churchill called it "the most dangerous
moment" of World War II, as the Japanese fleet wished to
have a surprise attack on the British fleet. They did not
see a repeat of the attack at Pearl Harbor as the British
ships were moved to Addu Atoll, 600 miles south-west of
Ceylon. Nevertheless, the British Eastern Fleet lost an
aircraft carrier, two cruisers and two destroyers, while the
RAF saw its squadrons massacred. The British fleet retreated
to East Africa until 1944.
The Ceylon Garrison Artillery on Horsburgh Island in the
Cocos Islands mutinied on the night of 8/9 May, intending to
hand the islands over to the Japanese. The mutiny took place
partly because of the agitation by the Lanka Sama Samaja
Party. The mutiny was suppressed and three of the mutineers
were the only British Commonwealth troops to be executed for
mutiny during the Second World War. Bombadier Gratien
Fernando, the leader of the mutiny, was defiant to the end,
confident of his place in the annals of history as a fighter
No Sri Lankan combat regiment was deployed by the British in
a combat situation after the Cocos Islands Mutiny, although
Supply & Transport Corps troops were used in rear areas in
the Middle East. The defences of Sri Lanka were beefed up to
three British army divisions because the island was
strategically important, holding almost all the British
Empire's resources of rubber. Rationing was instituted so
that Sri Lankans were comparatively better fed than their
Indian neighbours, in order to prevent disaffection among
Sri Lankans in Malaya and Singapore enlisted in the Lanka
Regiment of the Indian National Army to fight on the side of
the Japanese. While there was a plan to land them in Sri
Lanka to start a guerrilla war, they never actually saw
Initially, Chile chose to remain neutral in the war, having
close trading links with Germany. Later in the war, however,
Chile distanced itself from the Axis powers, and the Chilean
government took steps to dismiss pro-German military
officers. Relations with Axis countries were broken in 1943,
and in 1945, Chile declared war on Japan.
Already engaged in war with Japan, as well as enduring a
civil conflict between the Kuomintang and the Communist
Party of China when the war began, the Chinese Nationalist
Government's full attention was within her borders in
resisting the Japanese during the war. However, Chiang
Kai-shek still managed to send troops to Britain's aid in
Burma, in early 1942. China's participation in the war was
also pivotal in a sense that more than 1 million Japanese
military personnel were sent to China in order to finalise
its conquest. Japanese casualties in China are estimated at
Many of China's urban centres and industrial resources were
occupied by Japan for most of the war. China suffered a
large death toll from the war, both military and civilian.
One of the most serious atrocities against Chinese civilians
by the Japanese force was committed in December 1937 after
the fall of Chinese capital Nanking (now Nanjing). Hundreds
of thousands of Chinese civilians (some reports the number
upward to 300,000) living in Nanking were executed by the
Japanese occupation force within one month. After the war,
China became one of the main victorious countries and gained
one of the permanent seats in the United Nations Security
After the war ended, the Communists and Nationalists went
back to fighting each other, the Communists ultimately
driving the Nationalists off the mainland to Taiwan.
After the attack on Pearl Harbour, Colombia broke diplomatic
relations with the Axis powers. Then, in 1943, the U-505
German submarine destroyed a Colombian schooner, which
caused Colombia to declare a "status of belligerency"
against Germany. The German ambassador left the country and
measures of control were implemented, including
concentration of German citizens in designated areas.
Costa Rica joined the Allies late in the war. The leftist
administration of President Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia
was hostile to Nazism, and introduced a number of measures
to decrease German influence in the country. Costa Rica
declared war on Japan the day after the attack on Pearl
Harbour, and on Germany and Italy shortly afterwards. It
allowed the United States to establish an airfield on Cocos
Cuba joined the Allies on the 8th of December 1941, when it
declared war on Japan. On the 11th, it also declared war on
Germany and Italy. The United States naval station at
Guantanamo Bay served as an important base for protecting
Allied shipping in the Caribbean, and on 15 May 1943, a
Cuban warship sank a German submarine in waters near Havana.
Cuba began to plan a conscription program in order to
contribute troops, but this had not eventuated by the end of
Czechoslovakia was dismembered by Nazi Germany, starting
with Neville Chamberlain's Munich Agreement with Hitler in
1938 and the German–Italian Vienna Awards. A Nazi-dependent
puppet regime led by Jozef Tiso was ultimately inserted in
Slovakia. Part of southern Slovakia was annexed by Hungary.
The Slovak National Uprising, commenced in August 1944, was
put down by German forces at the end of October, however
partisans continue fighting in the hills till the end of the
war. In April, 1945, the Red Army defeated the Germans and
ousted Tiso's government, annexing part of eastern Slovakia
to the USSR.
Denmark remained neutral from the beginning of the war until
it was invaded and occupied by Germany on April 9, 1940 as
part of Operation Weserübung. Denmark's government remained
in function in Copenhagen until 1943 and joined the Anti-Comintern
Pact. After 1943 the occupation of Denmark was administered
by the German Foreign Ministry. May 10, 1940, Iceland was
invaded by the British, and in 1944 declared independent. In
1945, Bornholm was invaded by the Soviet Union while the
German forces in the rest of Denmark gave up on May 4, 1945.
One of the Caribbean Countries to join the Allies late in
Another of the South American nations to join the Allies
late in the war (joined against Germany on February 2, 1945;
let USA use Baltra Island for a naval base).
Egypt at the time was under the rule of the British Empire,
and it was seen by both the Axis and the Allies as a vital
strategic point, because of access to the Suez Canal. The
King of Egypt placed his Navy at the disposal of the
British. Initially Egypt was targeted by Italy, but after a
heavy defeat by the British forces under the command of
General Wavell, the Germans were compelled to enter the fray
with a division under the command of General Erwin Rommel.
Rommel's successes in the deserts of Libya and west Egypt,
and the fact that they came to within 100 miles of Cairo,
gave the Allied forces (in particular the British) a major
fright. The revolutionary officers that eventually came to
power in 1952 (led by Colonel Abdel Nasser) plotted to
support the Germans in their push for Cairo, seeing a German
victory as an opportunity to liberate Egypt from the British
From 1931 to 1944, El Salvador was ruled by Maximiliano
Hernandez Martinez, an admirer of Hitler and Mussolini.
Nonetheless, the dictator declared war on both Japan
(December 8, 1941) and Germany (December 12, 1941) shortly
after the attack on Pearl Harbor, for economic reasons. El
Salvador's economy depended heavily on the United States.
Martinez removed Germans from the government, and interned
Japanese, German, and Italian nationals. The Second World
War made Salvadoreans leery of their dictatorship and a
general national strike in 1944 forced Martinez to resign
and flee to Guatemala.
The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet
Union left Estonia in the Soviet sphere of interest. After
the war broke out between Germany and Poland, Polish
submarine ORP Orzeł escaped to Tallinn which lead to the
Orzeł incident. The Soviet Union, who at the time was in war
with Poland, accused Estonia of harboring Orzeł and not
disarming it. The Soviet Union threatened Estonia with war,
if Estonia did not agree with the mutual assistance pact,
which required allowing the Soviet Union to build military
bases into Estonia. Estonia, convinced that winning a war
against Soviet Union was impossible agreed on September 28,
The Soviets conducted a coup with support of the Red Army in
June 1940, and an election was held with great Soviet
political influence. The new government took command and the
Estonian Socialist Republic (ESR) was proclaimed on July 2,
1940. The ESR was formally "accepted" into the Soviet Union
on August 6 and the official name of the country became the
"Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic". Estonia was occupied
by Germany in 1941 after war broke out between Germany and
the Soivet Union. Many Estonians took part in anti-Soviet
resistance on the side of Nazi Germany and participated in
the Holocaust. Estonia was re-occupied by the Soviet Union
in 1944. The Soviet Union restored the Estonian Socialist
Republic and Estonia remained a part of the USSR until 1991.
Ethiopia had been invaded by Italy in 1936 after the
Abyssinia crisis in an attempt to show off its military
might. The nation was liberated in 1941 by British forces,
and Emperor Haile Selassie was returned to the throne after
Fiji was a British colony during World War II. The Fiji
Defence Force served with New Zealand Army formations, under
the Allied Pacific Ocean Areas command.
Finland was left to the Soviet sphere of interest in
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and when it refused to allow the
USSR to build bases on its territory, was attacked by Soviet
forces on the Winter War (November 30, 1939 - March 13,
1940). After the war Finland sought security from Sweden and
Britain but was thwarted by Soviet threats and German
actions. Then Finland pursued better relations with Nazi
Germany to counter the continued Soviet pressure. This
produced cooperation between the countries, which led to a
Soviet pre-emptive air attack on Finland after the start of
Operation Barbarossa, thus beginning the Continuation War
(June 25, 1941 - September 4, 1944), where Finland was a
co-belligerent of the Nazi Germany. Britain declared war on
Finland in December 6, 1941, but the United States never
did. To secure military support needed to stop Soviet
offensive coordinated with D-day, the Ryti-Ribbentrop
Agreement was signed on June 26, 1944, in which Finland and
Nazi Germany became active allies. An armistice was signed
after the Soviet offensive was stopped and Wehrmacht was
retreating from the Baltic States. The treaty required
Finland to expel all German troops, which led to Lapland War
(September 15, 1944 - April 25, 1945). Peace with the Soviet
Union and Britain was concluded in the Paris Peace Treaties,
France was one of the original guarantors of Polish
security, and as such joined with the United Kingdom at the
start of the war as a leader of the Allies. In 1940, France
was quickly defeated by Nazi Germany, leading to the
foundation of Vichy France. The Free French Forces of the
French National Committee, a London-based exile group, were
formed to maintain the French commitment to the Allies and
liberate French territory occupied by Germany. They played
an important role in the battles of the Western Front.
France was liberated by the Allies in 1944 and the French
Fourth Republic became a permanent member of the Security
Council of the United Nations and founding member of NATO
after the war.
Nazi Germany was the primary Axis Power in the European
Theatre led by Adolph Hitler. The surrender of the German
forces May 4–8 signalled the end of the war in Europe.
Greece dealt the first victory for the Allies by resisting
initial attempts of Italian invasion and pushing Mussolini's
forces back into Albania. Hitler was reluctantly forced to
send forces and delay the invasion of the Soviet Union by
six weeks. The Germans also met fierce resistance on the
island of Crete as the paratroopers suffered almost 7,000
casualties. These heavy losses eliminated the option of a
massive airborne invasion of the Soviet Union and further
expansion in the Mediterranean saving Malta, Gibraltar,
Cyprus, and the Suez Canal from airborne invasion.
Guatemala initially stayed out of World War II, with
President Jorge Ubico declaring the country's neutrality on
4 September 1941. This pronouncement was reinforced on 9
September with another declaration. Ubico implemented strong
prohibitions on Nazi propaganda in Guatemala, which had one
of Latin America's largest German immigrant populations.
Later, Guatemala moved into the Allied camp — on 9 December
1941, it declared war on Japan, and three days later, it
declared war on Germany and Italy.
Haiti remained neutral in World War II until the bombing of
Pearl Harbour, declaring war on Japan the day after the
attack, and on Germany and Italy shortly afterwards. Haiti
gave food supplies to Allied forces and hosted a detachment
of the United States Coast Guard but did not contribute
troops. The President of Haiti, Élie Lescot, introduced a
number of unpopular emergency measures during the war, which
critics claimed were designed to increase his power. Lescot
was deposed the year after the war ended.
Honduras was initially neutral in the war, but joined the
Allied side after the attack on Pearl Harbour. It declared
war on Japan on 8 December 1941, and on Germany and Italy on
13 December. It contributed food and raw materials to the
Allied war effort, but did not send troops.
Hong Kong was under the jurisdiction of the British, but
came under the control of the Japanese after the gruelling
Battle of Hong Kong drew to a close on Christmas Day of
1941. The city was liberated in 1945.
Hungary was a significant German ally throughout the war and
signed the Tripartite Pact in November 20, 1940.
Over two and a half million Indian citizens fought during
On September 12, 1939 the Upper House of the Central
Legislature of India sent a message of admiration to Poland.
On the same day the Aga Khan placed his services at the
disposal of the Government of India.
The Fifth Indian Division fought in the Sudan against the
Italians before being moved to defend Libya against the
Germans. The Division was then moved to Iraq to protect the
oilfields. After this the division was moved to the Burma
front, together with eight other Indian Divisions, and then
occupied Malaya. It was finally moved to Java to disarm the
occupying Japanese garrison.
The Fourth Indian Division fought in North Africa, Syria,
Palestine and Cyprus before being sent into Italy. Together
with the 8th and 10th Divisions it participated in the
taking of Monte Casino, after which it was moved to Greece.
Over 36,000 Indian members of the armed forces were killed
or went missing in action, and 64,354 were wounded during
the war. Indian personnel received 4,000 awards for
gallantry, and 31 Victoria Crosses.
India also provided the Allies with assault and training
bases, and provided huge quantities of food and other
materials to British and Commonwealth forces, and to people
on the British home front.
Thousands of Indians fought on the side of the Japanese in
the Indian National Army.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands
On March 23, 1942, Japanese forces invaded the Andaman &
Nicobar Islands. In December 1943 the Japanese-sponsored
Free India Movement (Provisional Government of Free India)
was formed. The Andaman Islands were renamed Shaheed
Islands, and the Nicobars were renamed Sawaraj Islands.
Andaman & Nicobar Islanders fought alongside the Japanese
during this time. The islands were not re-occupied by the
British until 6th October 1945.
During the start of the war the Allies demanded that Iran
remove German nationals from Iran fearing they might be Nazi
spies or harm the British owned oil but, Reza Shah refused
stating that they had nothing to do with the Nazis. The
Iranians by now hated the British for control of their oil
and their sphere of influence on the country and the
Iranians, therefore had sympathy with Germany. Iran however,
like most countries did not know of the extermination of the
Jews until after the war.
German demand for oil rose and the Allies worried that
Germany would look to neutral Iran for help. Soon the Allies
questioned themselves about Iran neutrality and they gave
Reza Shah a final warning to remove the German workers. He
refused once again. In August 1941, the British and Soviet
troops invaded Iran (Operation Countenance) and, in
September 1941, forced Reza Shah Pahlavi to abdicate his
throne. He was replaced by his son Mohammad Reza Shah
Pahlavi, who was willing to fight the Axis Powers. Within
months Iran entered the war on the side of the Allies and
became known as "The Bridge of Victory".
Iran's geographical position was also important to the
Allies. It provided a 'blue water' supply route to the
Soviet Union via the port of Bandar Abbas and a specially
constructed railway route. The supply routes were known
collectively as the Persian Corridor. Soviet political
operatives known "agitprops" infiltrated Iran and helped
establish the Comintern affiliate Tudeh Party in early in
By January of 1942, Britain and the Soviet Union agreed to
end their occupation six months after the end of the war.
The Soviet Union fomented revolts among Azeris and Kurds in
Iran and soon formed the People's Republic of Azerbaijan
(December, 1945) and the Kurdish People's Republic not long
after, both being run by Soviet-controlled leaders. However,
Soviet troops remained in Iran following the January 1946
expiration of a wartime treaty providing for the presence of
Soviet, American, and British troops in Iran during the war.
Iraq was important to Britain through its position on a
route to India and the strategic oil supplies that it
provided. After the ejection of the Ottoman Turks at the end
of the First World War, these were protected by a
significant Royal Air Force base at Habbaniya and the
maintenance of sympathetic governments.
Due to the United Kingdom's weakness early in the war, Iraq
backed away from its Anglo-Iraqi Alliance with the country.
When the British High Command requested to send
reinforcements to Iraq, the country's Prime Minister,
Nuri-es Said, allowed a small British force to land.
Consequently he was forced to resign after a pro-German coup
under Rashid Ali in April 1941. Later British requests to
reinforce Iraq were denied by the new leadership.
The new regime secretly began negotiations with the Axis
Powers. The Germans quickly responded and sent military aid
by Luftwaffe aircraft to Baghdad via Syria.
Indian troops consequently invaded in mid-April 1941 and
reached Baghdad and RAF Habbaniyah in May. The Iraqi army
attacked Habbaniyah but quickly capitulated and Rashid Ali
fled the country. Britain forced Iraq to declare war on the
Axis in 1942. British forces remained to protect the vital
British and Indian operations in Iraq should be viewed in
conjunction with events in neighbouring Syria and Persia
The island of Ireland was divided politically between Éire
(as the Irish Republic was officially called at the time)
and Northern Ireland.
At the outbreak of war, Éire was still a member of the
British Commonwealth but remained neutral, the only such
member to do so. Although this caused some bitterness in
Britain towards Éire (which lasted until quite recently),
Éire could be described as a friendly or sympathetic
neutral. Irish citizens were free to fill manpower shortages
in Britain and join the British armed forces. Éire exported
desperately needed food to Britain and allowed some
over-flying by British warplanes (the Catalina flying-boat
that located the Bismarck was based inland at Lough Erne in
County Fermanagh and would have used Irish airspace en route
to the Atlantic) and "hot-pursuit" into its territorial
waters of German U-boats by Royal Naval warships.
If Éire had declared war on Germany, Britain would have
gained access to sea and air bases that would undoubtedly
helped to protect its shipping. On the other hand, it is
doubtful whether either Britain or Éire would have had the
resources to protect Irish cities from air attack in the
early years of the war. Antipathy towards Britain from some
or many Irish people would also have had an effect upon
Éire's commitment to the war. Even as a neutral, Éire
suffered. Certain strategic materials, such as coal, were
limited and a state of emergency was declared.
Dublin was bombed by the Luftwaffe — to persuade Éire to
remain neutral, according to some accounts. When Belfast, in
Northern Ireland was heavily bombed (Belfast blitz), several
fire brigades from Éire assisted in the rescue work. There
were claims that the Irish Republican Army aided the
Luftwaffe with information and directional flares, but these
are not supported by German evidence.
Germany drafted plans for a diversionary invasion of Ireland
(Operation Green) and investigated cooperation with the IRA
(Operation Artur). There have been claims of joint military
planning between the UK and Éire for the event of a German
invasion of Ireland.
Belligerent personnel, Allied and Axis, were interned by the
government of Éire.
In 1945, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Éire, Eamon de
Valera, paid a visit to the German Minister in Dublin to
express sympathy over the death of the Führer, Adolph
As a part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland
participated fully as a belligerent. The particular
contributions were manpower, food, industry and geographical
position. Despite urgings from the Stormont government,
conscription was never implemented in the region.
Italy had completed two conquests (Ethiopia and Albania)
prior to its entry into World War II. Despite the Pact of
Steel with Nazi Germany, Italy did not join in the war until
June 1940, planning to get a share of Allied territory with
the defeat of France. Italy's war effort went poorly,
resulting in defeats in Greece, North Africa, and the
Mediterranean Sea. Italy was invaded by the Allies in 1943
and Mussolini's government collapsed. Italy was split
between an Allied-occupied south and the remnants of the
Fascist government in the north, the Italian Social Republic
(allied with Germany, also known as the Salò Republic).
Italy would become a member of NATO after the war, but lost
Istria peninsula to Yugoslavia.
Japan was part of the Axis Powers. Some people consider that
World War II actually began with the invasion of China by
Japan. The war ended with the capitulation of Japan after
the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan has
built back and is 1 of the most leading countries in
Was between USSR and Germany. These lands occupied Latvia
For Latvia and its people, World War II is a tough topic for
a conversation. Depending on one’s point of view, the end of
World War II was either occupation by the Soviet Union, or
liberation from Nazi Germany. If one is an ethnic Russian,
chances are it was liberation from the Nazis.
Lebanon was under the control of France during the war, and
thus controlled by the puppet Vichy government after
France's capitulation. Lebanon was wrested from Vichy France
by Allied forces. De Gaulle declared Lebanon independent on
November 22, 1943.
Liberia granted Allied forces access to its territory early
in the war. It was used as a transit point for troops and
resources bound for North Africa, particularly war supplies
flown from Parnamirim (near Natal) in Brazil. Perhaps more
importantly, it served as one of the Allies' only sources of
rubber during the war, as the plantations of Southeast Asia
had been taken over by the Japanese. The importance of this
resource led to significant improvement of Liberia's
transport infrastructure, and a modernisation of its
economy. Liberia's strategic significance was emphasised
when Franklin Roosevelt, after attending the Casablanca
Conference, visited Liberia and met its President, Edwin
Despite its assistance to the Allies, however, Liberia was
reluctant to end its official neutrality and declare war on
Germany. This did not occur until 27 January 1944.
Shortly following the end of World War I, Liechtenstein
concluded a customs and monetary agreement with neighboring
Switzerland. In 1919 the close ties between the two nations
were strengthened when Liechtenstein entrusted Switzerland
with its external relations. At the outbreak of war, Prince
Franz Josef II, who had ascended the throne only months
before, promised to keep the principality out of the war,
and relied upon its close ties to Switzerland for its
Attempts to sway the government did occur. After an
attempted coup in March 1939, the National Socialist "German
National Movement in Liechtenstein" was active but small.
The organization, as well as any Nazi sympathies, virtually
disappeared following the eruption of war.
It is interesting to note that many of the theories that
exist concerning the Papacy, Pope Pius XII, and Nazi Germany
include Liechtenstein as a component. One such theory talks
of a planned German invasion of the Vatican and establishing
a “puppet-papacy” in neutral Liechtenstein.
Lithuania had at first been hostile toward Nazi Germany over
Memmelland, which was seized by Hitler before the war broke
out and integrated into East Prussia. Later Lithuania was
annexed into the Soviet Union along with Latvia and Estonia
without any military resistance. This made the Lituanians
side with the Germans when Hitler eventually invaded the
Lithuania largely contributed to the Nazi cause,
participating in the holocaust and supplying troops but
after finally seeing that the Nazi's would treat them as "Untermenschen"
or "lower people" they switched sides as the U.S.S.R started
to push back the Germans.
Main article: Military history of Luxembourg during World
When Germany invaded France by way of the Low Countries,
Luxembourg, despite its neutrality, was quickly invaded,
occupied, and annexed by Germany until liberated by the
Allies at the end of 1944.
Under British rule; occupied by Japan in 1942-45. The
Malayan Communist Party (MCP), became the backbone of the
Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), which was the
most effective resistance force in the occupied Asian
The Legislative Council of Malta reaffirmed the people's
loyalty to Britain on September 5, 1939.
Between June 1940 and December 1942 Malta was one of the
most bombed place on earth, Malta became the besieged and
battered arena for one of the most decisive struggles of
World War II, with some historians calling this battle The
Mediterranean Stalingrad The George Cross was awarded to the
island of Malta in a letter dated 15 April 1942 from King
George VI to the island's Governor William Dobbie: "To
honour her brave people, I award the George Cross to the
Island Fortress of Malta to bear witness to a heroism and
devotion that will long be famous in history".
The fortitude of the population under sustained enemy air
raids and a naval blockade which almost saw them starved
into submission, won widespread admiration in Britain and
other allied nations. The George Cross is woven into the
Flag of Malta and can been seen wherever the flag is flown,
for example at the United Nations and more recently at the
Established in 1931 as a puppet state of Japan, the state of
Manchukuo was led by Pu Yi the last Emperor of China, who
reigned as Emperor Kang De. The state contributed little to
the war but remained a loyal ally to Japan until 1945. In
1945 the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and Manchukuo
was subsequently invaded and abolished. Roughly half the
state was returned to China whilst the Korean peninsula was
partitioned to form North Korea and South Korea.
Mexico declared war on Germany on 1 June 1942, due to
political pressure from the US government following the
sinking of two Mexican oil ships in the Gulf of Mexico (it
is said that a U-boat was responsible for both ships, but
others say that US sunk them to pressure the Mexican
government to declare war on Germany. Towards the end of the
war, the Mexican Air Force's Escuadron Aereo de Pelea 201
(201st Fighter Squadron) served with the US Fifth Air Force
in the South West Pacific Area.
While Prince Louis II's sympathies were strongly pro-French,
he tried to keep Monaco neutral during World War II, and
supported the Vichy France government of his old army
colleague, Philippe Pétain. Nonetheless, his tiny
principality was tormented by domestic conflict partly as a
result of Louis' indecisiveness and also because the
majority of the population was of Italian descent and they
supported the fascist regime of Italy's Benito Mussolini. In
1943, the Italian army invaded and occupied Monaco, setting
up a fascist government administration. Shortly thereafter,
following Mussolini's collapse in Italy, the German army
occupied Monaco and began the deportation of the Jewish
population. Among them was René Blum, founder of the Opera,
who died in a Nazi concentration camp. Under Prince Louis'
secret orders, the Monaco police, often at great risk to
themselves, warned people in advance that the Gestapo was
about to arrest them.
During the war, Mongolia was ruled by the communist
government of Horloogiyn Choybalsan, and was closely linked
to the Soviet Union. The Mongolian Army frequently fought
alongside the Red Army, and Mongolia provided supplies and
raw materials to the Soviet military. Fighting broke out
between Mongolia and Japan in 1939, when Japanese troops
stationed in northern China launched an invasion of eastern
A joint Soviet-Mongolian counter-offensive, led by Soviet
general Georgy Zhukov, heavily defeated the Japanese, and a
pact was signed in which Japan recognised Mongolia's
"territorial integrity". Japan did not attempt to invade
Mongolia again, but kept a considerable number of troops
stationed along the Mongolian border. As the Soviet Union
withdrew troops from the east to focus on the German
Operation Barbarossa, Mongolian forces became more
strategically important. Towards the end of the war, on 10
August 1945, Mongolia declared war on Japan once again, and
took part in the Soviet invasion of Japanese-occupied
Morocco was considered a protectorate of France during World
War II. When France was defeated, Morocco came under the
control of the Vichy regime, and therefore was nominally on
the side of the Axis powers, although an active resistance
movement operated. In November 1942, it was invaded by the
Allies as part of Operation Torch. From that point, Moroccan
volunteers (the Goumiere) fought on the side of the Allies.
Nepal declared war on Germany on 4th September 1939, and
offered Ghurkha troops to Britain.
Like the Belgians the Dutch declared neutrality in 1939. In
May 1940, after the capitulation of Norway, the Netherlands
was invaded after fierce resistance against the Nazis.
Rotterdam and Middelburg were heavily bombed. The Dutch
joined the Allies and contributed their surviving naval and
armed forces to the defense of East Asia, in particular the
Netherlands East Indies. Until their liberation in 1945, the
Dutch fought alongside the Allies around the globe, from the
battles in the Pacific to the Battle of Britain.
Netherlands East Indies
The rich oil resources of the Dutch East Indies were
arguably a prime objective of the Japanese military in its
attack on the Allies from December 7, 1941. The Royal
Netherlands Navy and the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army
were part of the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ADBACOM),
until the Allied forces in the Netherlands East Indies were
defeated by Japan, in March 1942. Some Dutch personnel and
ships escaped to Australia, from where they continued to
fight the Japanese. The Dutch East Indies was occupied by
the Japanese for the remainder of the war.
During World War II, Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and
Labrador) was a separate Dominion and not a part of Canada.
It joined the war on September 4, 1939, declaring war on
Germany. Fearing that a German invasion of Newfoundland
could be used as a prelude to an attack on Canada, in 1940
Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and
Newfoundland Governor Sir Humphrey T. Walwyn entered into
negotiations regarding the strengthening of defence
positions along the Newfoundland coast. Notwithstanding
their separate political identity, the defence of
Newfoundland and the Newfoundland Home Guard armed forces
were integrated with the Canada military and both
governments agreed to the formation of a joint coastal
defence battery. As part of the Anglo-American Lend Lease
agreement, the United States was granted military air and
naval bases on Newfoundland territory at Argentia,
Stephenville and St. John's.
Newfoundlanders were encouraged to enlist in the forces of
the United Kingdom and Canada. The Royal Navy enlisted some
3500 of those whom Churchill called, "the best small boat
sailors in the world." The Royal Artillery raised two
regiments, the 57th (later 166th) Newfoundland Field
Regiment which saw action in North Africa and Italy and 59th
Newfoundland Heavy Artillery which began service as coastal
artillery unit in England and later participated in the
campaigns in Normandy and north-western Europe. Another 700
Newfoundlanders served in the Royal Air Force, most notably
with the 125th Newfoundland Squadron. In all some 15,000
Newfoundlanders saw active service and thousands more were
engaged in the hazardous work of the Merchant Navy. Some 900
Newfoundlanders (including at least 257 merchant mariners)
lost their lives in the conflict and over 100 Newfoundland
civilians were killed in the sinking of the SS Caribou by a
Newfoundland was the only location in North America to be
subject to direct attack by German forces in World War II
when German U-boats attacked four allied ore carriers and
the loading pier at Bell Island. The carriers S.S. Saganaga
and the S.S. Lord Strathcona were sunk by U-513 on September
5, 1942, while the S.S. Rosecastle and P.L.M 27 were sunk by
U-518 on November 2, 1942 with the loss of 69 lives.
One of the original countries to declare war on Germany (on
September 3, 1939), New Zealand sent a division to the
European Theatre as well as participating in the Pacific.
While New Zealand's home islands were not attacked, the
casualty rate suffered by the military was the worst per
capita of all Commonwealth nations.
During the war, Nicaragua was ruled by Anastasio Somoza
García, who had assumed the presidency after a military coup
in 1937. Somoza was an ally of the United States, and
Nicaragua declared war on Japan immediately after the attack
on Pearl Harbour. Three days later, on 11 December,
Nicaragua declared war on Germany and Italy, and on 19
December, it declared war on Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary.
Norway remained neutral from the beginning of the war until
it was invaded and occupied by Germany on April 9, 1940 as
part of Operation Weserübung. The Norwegian government fled
the capital and after 2 months went to Britain and continued
the fight in exile.
After the occupation the Germans began producing a critical
component of atomic bombs in Norway, most notably deuterium
oxide, also known as heavy water. On February 2, 1944,
Germany's development of an atomic bomb was slowed by
Norwegian and British commandos who successfully sabotaged
the Norsk Heavy Water Plant and sank a ferry loaded with the
deuterium oxide and other machinery needed for bomb
In 1944 Finnmark was invaded by the Soviet Union while the
German forces in the rest of Norway gave up on May 8, 1945.
After the war, Norway became a member of NATO.
The Sultan of Oman declared war on Germany on September 10th
1939. Omanese forces fought under British command in the
Middle East theatre.
Panama was under continued American control throughout the
war and provided the U.S Navy with the ability to rapidly
move troops from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
Paraguay's authoritarian government under Higinio Morínigo
was sympathetic to the Axis powers early in the war; the
country's large German community in particular were
supporters of Nazism. Serious thought was given to joining
the war on Germany's side, however Franklin Roosevelt
managed to avoid this happening with aid and military
hardware in 1942. Despite this Paraguay did not declare war
on Germany until 2nd February 1945 when it was clear the
Allies were going to win.
Peru remained neutral until 1942, but when Japan attacked
Pearl Harbor, President Manuel Prado Ugarteche became the
first South American leader to declare war on the Axis
Powers. Because of its ability to produce aviation fuel and
proximity to the Panama Canal, the oil refinery and port
city of Talara, in north west Peru, became a major US air
In 1941, the Philippines was a semi-independent commonwealth
of the United States. The Philippine Army was commanded by
the U.S. General Douglas MacArthur and the Philippines was
one of the first countries invaded by Japan. Filipino forces
and the U.S. Army maintained a stubborn resistance (see:
Philippines campaign of 1941-42). MacArthur withdrew his
headquarters to Australia, where he made his famous
statement "I came out of Bataan and I shall return". Allied
forces in the Philippines officially surrendered at
Corregidor, on May 8, 1942.
Allied forces under MacArthur made their return from October
1944, beginning with the landings at Leyte. The United
States granted full independence to the Philippines on July
Poland was the first allied power to fall. In September 1939
it suffered an attack by Nazi Germany and later by the USSR.
Many Polish troops and servicemen escaped the country and
were integrated into the forces of the British with Polish
pilots serving with distinction in the Battle of Britain.
The Polish resistance was also established and along with
the Greek and Yugoslavian resistance movements is remembered
for its daring and brave methods of resisting occupation,
often facing German forces in pitched battle. Also an army
of Poles had been formed on the Soviet territory. Poles were
considered to be a threat to "the master race", and thus
millions of Poles were sent to concentration camps. Poland
was the 4th largest contributor to the Allied cause after
the U.S., Britain and Soviet Union.
For the duration of World War II, Portugal was under the
control of António de Oliveira Salazar, who led a government
bearing many similarities to the Franco regime in
neighbouring Spain. Like Spain, Portugal remained neutral
through the war, although its government was considered to
have Axis sympathies, and secretly supplied tungsten to
Germany. Late in the war, when the Axis Powers were in
decline, Portugal allowed the British to establish a naval
base in the Azores islands.
Although the Japanese military invaded and occupied
neighbouring British colony of Hong Kong in 1941, they
initially avoided direct interference in the affairs of
Macau. Although it remained neutral territory — in much the
same fashion as Portugal itself — Portuguese authorities
lacked the ability to prevent Japanese activities in and
around Macau. In 1943, Japan ordered the government of Macau
to accept Japanese advisors. The limited Portuguese military
forces at Macau were also disarmed, although it was never
In early 1942, Portuguese authorities maintained their
neutrality, in spite of warnings from the Australian and
Dutch East Indies governments that Japan would invade. To
protect their own positions in neighbouring Dutch Timor,
Australian and Dutch forces landed in Portuguese Timor and
occupied the territory. There was no armed opposition from
Portuguese forces or the civilian population. Within a
matter of weeks, Japanese forces landed but were unable to
subdue substantial resistance, in the form of a guerrilla
campaign launched by Allied commandos and continued by the
local population. It is estimated that 40,000-70,000
Timorese civilians were killed by Japanese forces during
Romania had its first involvement in the war in providing
transit rights for members of the Polish government, its
treasury, and many Polish troops in 1939. During 1940,
threatened with Soviet invasion, Romania ceded territory to
the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Bulgaria, and following an
internal political upheaval, Romania joined the Axis. As a
member of the Axis, the Romanian war effort was almost
entirely spent on the Eastern Front, for instance its forces
took part in capture of Odessa. With the entry of Soviet
troops into Romania near the end of the war, the government
was replaced by a pro-Soviet one and joined the Allies as a
co-belligerent for the remainder of the war. Romania became
a key member of the Warsaw Pact after the war.
Ever since the times of Garibaldi, San Marino has maintained
strong ties with the Italian state. San Marino joined Italy
in declaring war on Great Britain in 1940. Following the
Italian surrender, San Marino immediately declared its
neutrality. On 21 September 1944 San Marino declared war on
Germany, which eventually occupied the nation while
retreating northward. Following the war, San Marino provided
for nearly 100,000 refugees.
Saudi Arabia's contribution to the war effort was mainly in
the form of resources. Although officially neutral the
Saudis did provide the Allies with large supplies of oil.
King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, despite resenting the British and
French colonial presences in the Middle East was a personal
friend of Franklin D. Roosevelt (in fact the President gave
King Abdul a wheelchair as a present during a 1945 visit to
the kingdom). As a result Saudi Arabia remained on
favourable terms with the Allies.
Singapore was a crown colony under British rule and is in a
strategic location for shipping routes connecting Asia to
Europe. For these reasons, Japan invaded Singapore in the
Battle of Singapore from February 7, 1942 to February 14,
1942. The city was renamed Syonan and kept under Japanese
occupation until the end of the war in September, 1945.
As a member of the British Commonwealth, the Union of South
Africa declared war on Germany shortly after the United
Kingdom, on September 6, 1939. Several South African
divisions fought under allied command in the European war.
There was significant pro-Nazi sentiment among much of the
Afrikaner population, but this was suppressed by the
country's leader Jan Smuts.
Soviet participation in World War II began with a short
border war with Japan in Mongolia in 1939. Later that year,
protected with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, it invaded
eastern Poland about three weeks after the Germans invaded
the west of the country. During the next eleven months the
Soviets occupied and annexed the Baltic states (Estonia,
Latvia, and Lithuania).
Following Finland's refusal of Soviet demands for military
bases and a territorial swap, the Soviet Union attacked on
November 30, 1939, in the Winter War. The Soviet Union also
annexed Bessarabia (a Romanian province), leading Romania to
ally with Germany. Germany launched a surprise attack on the
Soviet Union in 1941. Thereafter, most of the German forces
were concentrated on the Eastern Front. The USSR played a
crucial role in the defeat of Nazi Germany, where 90% of all
German resources and manpower were concentrated and depleted
on the Eastern Fronts.
The Soviet Red Army mounted a successful counter-offensive
during the winter, and gained the initiative with a series
of major victories in 1943, culminating in the ultimate
advance of Soviet forces into Eastern Europe and Germany
itself in 1945, concluded with the Battle of Berlin. The
Soviet Union suffered greater losses, both among civilians
and military forces, than any of the other participants in
the war. Following the end of the war in Europe and the
American atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the USSR declared war
on Japan in 1945. The Soviet Union became one of the main
victors and gained one of the permanent seats in the United
Nations Security Council. After the war, the Soviet sphere
of influence was widened to cover most of Eastern Europe,
formalized in the Warsaw Pact, to counter the western Allies
and NATO. The Soviet Union came to be considered one of the
two superpowers of the Cold War.
The Franco government of Spain had risen to power as a
result to a significant degree of Italian and German
intervention and support. Spain, which was suffering the
aftermath of the recently-finished Spanish Civil War, did
not have the resources to join the war on its own and Franco
and Hitler did not achieve an agreement about the terms of
the Spanish participation. Spain however did send volunteers
to fight alongside Germans against the Soviet Union in the
form of the División Azul. However, Spain was considered a
non-belligerent country. As the Allies emerged as possible
victors, the regime became more neutral, finally declaring
its neutrality on July 1943.
Sweden maintained neutrality throughout the war, though some
Swedish volunteers participated in the Winter War as well as
in the Continuation War against the Soviet Union. Sweden
also supplied many materials for Germany, in particular
high-quality iron ore which enabled Germany to build up its
army and bearings which were crucial for fighter planes,
almost as tribute to avoid invasion. It should be noted that
the Allies put a lot of effort into the Norwegian theatre
simply to force Sweden into joining the war.
Switzerland intended to be a neutral power during the war,
but German threats and military mobilizations towards its
borders prompted the Swiss military to prepare for war.
Though a Nazi invasion of Switzerland, codenamed Operation
Tannenbaum was planned for 1940, the event never ultimately
occurred as Hitler decided such a conflict would be a waste
of resources at a time when he preferred to concentrate on
the invasion of Britain. Unlike the Netherlands, Belgium and
other western European nations which had easily fallen under
Nazi invasion, Switzerland had a strong military and a
mountainous geographic terrain that would have likely made
an invasion long and difficult.
Swiss machine guns were placed all over mountaintops
surrounding paths that lead into the country, and most
bridges had already been rigged to explode should the Nazis
start to invade. Although the Swiss government was
anti-Nazi, Swiss troops did not intervene into the European
conflict. Switzerland is thus usually regarded as the only
Western European country that was able to maintain some
semblance of uncontested neutrality during the entire
conflict, although it did become embroiled in post-war
controversies regarding the appropriation of assets
belonging to Holocaust victims and also, Nazi Officials used
Swiss banks to keep their money safe.
Syria was under French control throughout the war. From the
French surrender in 1940 this was the 'Vichy' government
that was sympathetic to the Nazi regime. Churchill had fears
about the use of Syria to threaten Britain's Iraqi oil
supplies. These appeared to be substantiated when Luftwaffe
supply flights to the new pro-German Iraqi regime (under
Rashid Ali) refuelled in Damascus.
In June, 1941, British and Free French forces invaded Syria
and after giving effective opposition, the Vichy forces
surrendered in July 1941. British occupation lasted until
the end of the war.
The province of Iskanderoun was given to Turkey to keep them
neutral in the war.
Tannu Tuva was under effective Soviet control for the
duration of the war. It entered the conflict on 25 June
1941, three days after the Soviet Union itself. Tannu Tuva
was integrated directly into the Soviet Union on 11 October
1944, before the war concluded.
Thailand was an ally of Japan during the war. At the time,
the country was ruled by Field Marshal Plaek Pibunsongkhram,
a military dictator with nationalist leanings. Thailand
remained uninvolved when war broke out in Europe, but took
the opportunity of France's defeat to settle historical
claims to parts of French Indochina. The conflict between
Thailand and the Vichy regime is known as the French-Thai
War. In 1941, the Japanese invaded the country; Phibun,
while reluctant, believed that Japan's superior military
power gave Thailand no choice but to order an armistice and
allow the Japanese to pass through. The Premier became more
enthusiastic about co-operation with Japan when the Japanese
performed well in Malaya, and on December 21, a formal
alliance was concluded. At noon on January 25, 1942,
Thailand declared war on the United States and Great
Britain. Some Thais supported the alliance, arguing that it
was in the national interest, or arguing that it was better
sense to ally oneself with a victorious power. Others formed
the Free Thai Movement to resist. Eventually, when the war
turned against the Japanese, Phibun was forced to resign,
and a Free Thai-controlled government was formed. On August
16, 1945, Thailand rescinded its declarations of war.
The Queen of Tonga put all the country's resources at the
disposal of Britain, and was a loyal supporter of the Allied
cause throughout the war.
Transjordan was nominally a British protectorate, and the
Transjordanian forces were under British command during the
Throughout most of the war, Turkey proclaimed neutrality
while providing Germany with raw materials such as its sole
supply of chromite. It was not until February 1945 that
Turkey declared war on Germany in order to secure a seat in
the United Nations. Turkey did not participate in any
The United Kingdom was one of the original Allies, entering
the war in 1939 to honour its guarantees to Poland. After
the Fall of France the United Kingdom was the only allied
nation left in Europe until the invasion of Greece. It
remained the only one of the Big Three in the war until 1941
when the Soviet Union was invaded. The United Kingdom was
heavily engaged in the Western European, Atlantic,
Mediterranean, African and South East Asian theatres, and
was considered one of the Big Three during Allied
conferences in the second half of the war. The United
Kingdom maintained close ties with the nations of the
British Commonwealth and often incorporated their forces
into British military operations.
These islands are self-governing British dependencies, off
the French coast and were the only British territory
occupied by Germany. Although, legally, the Channel Islands
are not a part of the United Kingdom, it's convenient to
consider them here.
They were occupied by German forces after the fall of France
and after British forces had been withdrawn. They played
little active part in the war. Strong German defences were
set up, but the islands were not assaulted, except by
occasional hit-and-run commando raids. German forces
surrendered at the end of the war.
Almost all Jewish people managed to flee the islands before
the German occupation, but those who remained were deported
United States of America
The United States of America was neutral early in the war,
although it steadily grew ties with the Allies and began
providing increasing levels of assistance to them. The
United States joined the Allies in December 1941 after the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, Hawaii when war on Japan
was declared by Congress on December 8. Germany and Italy
declared war on the United States shortly afterwards. The
United States subscribed to the Allied plan to make defeat
of Germany the priority, where it operated in coordination
with the United Kingdom in most major operations. However,
it also maintained a strong effort against Japan, being the
primary Allied power in the Pacific Theatre. The U.S. played
an important role in providing valuable industrial
production to support the Allied war effort. After the war
United States would retain military commitments to European
security while providing economic investment to rebuild
nations suffering devastation during the war. Politically,
the U.S. would become the leader of the western Allies in
forming NATO, and host the United Nations in which it gained
one of the permanent seats on the Security Council.
Uruguay was neutral for most of World War II, although later
joined the Allies. It declared its neutrality on 4 September
1939, although the President of Uruguay, Alfredo Baldomir,
was poorly disposed towards the Axis powers. Uruguay's
neutrality included a 300-mile exclusion zone extending from
its coast, established as part of the Declaration of Panama.
Neither side of the conflict acknowledged the exclusion
zones established by the declaration, and in December,
British warships and the German ship Admiral Graf Spee
fought a battle not far off Uruguay's coast. This prompted a
joint protest from several Latin American nations to both
sides. (The Admiral Graf Spee itself took refuge in
Uruguay's capital, Montevideo, claiming sanctuary in a
neutral port, but was later ordered out). Later, in early
1942, President Baldomir broke of diplomatic relations with
the Axis Powers. On 15 February 1945, near the end of the
war, Uruguay dropped its policy of neutrality and joined the
The government of Venezuela provided vast oil resources to
the Allies. It maintained a relative neutrality until the
last years of war, when it finally declared war on Germany
and the rest of the Axis countries.
After France was invaded by Nazi forces, the country was
split into two parts, an "occupied sector" and a "sovereign
sector" that became known as Vichy France. The Vichy regime
has a pseudo-fascist government under the leadership of
Vichy France is considered to have been an Axis-friendly
country, though it remained officially neutral during the
conflict. Prime Minister, Pierre Laval, repeatedly sought
France's entry into the war on the Axis side, but was vetoed
Aided by French Resistance groups, all of France was
ultimately liberated by the Allies, including Free French
forces led by Charles de Gaulle, who had set up an
anti-Vichy government in exile, and the Vichy regime
toppled. Laval was executed for high treason after the war.
The Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen, which occupied the
northern portion of modern Yemen, followed an isolationist
foreign policy under King Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din. It
remained neutral for the duration of the war. The southern
portion of modern Yemen, known as the Aden Protectorate, was
under British control.
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was originally an allied power.
However in 1941 German troops invaded the kingdom and forced
British garrisons to withdraw to Greece. The country then
established a puppet regime under the Nazis. Yugoslavia then
developed two resistance groups, the Nationalist
Yugoslavians and the Communists (headed by future president
Tito). Yugoslavia was liberated in 1944 by a joint force of
Communist resistance and the Red Army, Tito then established
himself as Prime Minister and continued to fight Germany.