What defines an Axis nation?

Discussions on all aspects of the smaller Axis nations in Europe and Asia. Hosted by G. Trifkovic.
Robert Zeller
Member
Posts: 258
Joined: 13 Mar 2002 00:37
Location: America

What defines an Axis nation?

Post by Robert Zeller » 25 Apr 2003 17:35

I was curious as to the perspective in the forum of the issue of what defines an Axis power.

Would the Axis be restricted to Germany, Italy, and Japan as members of the tri-partite pact?

Would the Axis also included Germany's allies such as Finland, Hungary, Romania, Albania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia and so on and so forth?

Would the Axis in edition to the previously mentioned nations include neutral nations attacked by the Allies such as Iceland and Iran?

And would Iraq, which rebelled in support of German mid-war be considered an Axis power?

User avatar
Sam H.
Member
Posts: 1975
Joined: 19 Sep 2002 21:21
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Post by Sam H. » 25 Apr 2003 18:12

To me, the Axis would include all the active participants allied with Germany - Italy, Japan, Romania, Finland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, and Croatia (though the last two are a bit sticky ... since they were nations formed by Germany after the occupation of their territory and former governments).

I would not include nuetral nations or nations that rebelled against the allies (Iraq and Iran).

User avatar
Korbius
Member
Posts: 1795
Joined: 30 Sep 2002 23:53
Location: DC

Post by Korbius » 25 Apr 2003 18:19

Just a small correction Robert: Albania was overrun by the Italians therefore it wasn't its free will to join the axis. Just like Czechoslovakia was taken by the Germans, and it still was considered an ally country.

Phaethon
Member
Posts: 935
Joined: 07 Apr 2002 21:14

Post by Phaethon » 25 Apr 2003 18:28

The original accord reached between Hitler and Mussolini in October 1936 gave rise to the expression "Rome-Berlin Axis". This was solidified by the Italo-German alliance formed in May 1939. In September 1940 the so-called "Berlin Pact" formed a military alliance between Germany, Italy and Japan and thus the 'Axis' was expanded to three members. Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Croatia adhered to the Berlin Pact later. The "Anti-Comintern Pact" between Germany and Japan, concluded in 1936 later had as adherents the Berlin Pact nations and Spain, Denmark, Finland, and the puppet governments of Manchukuo and Nanjing.

So, 'Axis' is an unofficial term orignally coined for Italy and Germany, extended to Japan and then to other nations as they reached alliances and non-aggression treaties with 'the big three'. I suppose this definition technically means that the Soviet Union was an Axis nation at first 8^)

Conquered countries like Poland are never referred to as 'Axis' and neither is France although I suppose there might be an argument for including Vichy France, but that hardly reflects the free will of the people.

Cheers,

K.

User avatar
Marcus
Member
Posts: 33963
Joined: 08 Mar 2002 22:35
Location: Europe

Post by Marcus » 25 Apr 2003 20:06

A post about the current "Axis of Evil" was moved to a new thread in the Lounge.

/Marcus

User avatar
Hanski
Financial supporter
Posts: 1887
Joined: 24 Aug 2002 19:18
Location: Helsinki

Post by Hanski » 25 Apr 2003 21:30

I strongly object to the idea that Finland should be regarded as an "axis" country, for the following reasons:

1. Finland fought her two wars against the U.S.S.R. on her own behalf, not for Hitler. The Winter War 1939-40, see: http://www.winterwar.com -- The III Reich remained on Stalin's side then, against Finland! Finland was a victim of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty, secretly agreed to belong to the Soviet sphere of influence between those two dictatorships.

The Continuation War 1941-1944 coincided with Operation Barbarossa, but Finland had goals of her own and despite being a co-belligerent with The III Reich clearly refused to comply with Hitler's demands (like attacking Leningrad or cutting off Murmansk railway line). Those goals were above all a) re-annexation of the territory lost in the Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940 b) eliminating offensive bases against Finland and securing advantageous lines of defence against possible counteroffensives.

2. A formal pact was never formulated and signed about any kind of military alliance between Germany and Finland. Before operation Barbarossa, Finland did grant Germany the right of transit for the logistics support of German troops in Northern Norway -- just like the neutral Sweden did. Germany was seen as a welcome counterforce against the Soviet threat, which had so recently materialized in the Winter War, and neither the neutral Sweden nor the Western Allies were simply available as guarantors of Finland's security against the U.S.S.R. (which actually started the Continuation War with air bombardments).

3. The German intentions of launching Operation Barbarossa were kept secret from the Finns and told at a very late stage ahead, and there was no joint planning in remarkable scale.

4. Finland never waged or declared war on any other Allied country, even despite that Great Britain declared war on her.

5. Finland never had a politically influential nazi or fascist party, neither before the Continuation War nor during it. Nazi ideology was not promoted in any particular way, beyond what was the rule regarding freedom of speech in any democratic society.

6. Among the participant countries of WWII, there were only two countries in Europe which were governed by a parliamentary democratic government throughout the war: 1) Great Britain 2) Finland.

7. Despite German demands, Finland never sent her Jews to the Holocaust, but Finnish Jews fought the Red Army in the Finnish Army.

8. As Finland had fought a war of her own, she also wanted a separate peace of her own. In order to make it, Finland actively fought the Lapland War 1944-45 against German troops in Northern Finland. See another thread in this forum.

9. A nation of 4 million people was realistically aware of being in a totally different company, regarding her resources, power, and influence, than the great powers that actively formulated history, like the III Reich, Italy, or Japan, and the Allied powers on the other side.

Of course, Finland was a co-belligerent and fought the same enemy as the III Reich, and of course it was in Finland's interests to co-operate effectively with the German forces to achieve the aims of war. Finland did purchase weapons, food, and equipment from Germany (where else?), and Finland provided German war industry with nickel from the Petsamo mine by the Arctic Ocean. There was mutual high appreciation of military professionalism on both sides, and polite relations were actively maintained (Hitler visited Marshal Mannerheim in Finland on his birthday, high Finnish decorations were awarded to the III Reich leaders). And in June 1944 Germany gave important support against the Russian grand offensive on the Karelian Isthmus. Prominent Communists were held in custody throughout the Continuation War as a security measure.

However, these do not warrant Finland being called an "Axis" country - any reasonable and responsible leaders would have done the same, just to secure the fate of his nation. Whoever claims the opposite, should present a realistic alternative option "how to remain non-axis" than what Finland's leaders actually did.

Robert Zeller
Member
Posts: 258
Joined: 13 Mar 2002 00:37
Location: America

Post by Robert Zeller » 26 Apr 2003 18:01

Well, to start with, this was a topic to determine what OTHERS thought an Axis nation meant, not to state my own opinions, though, I would say I would feel any nation fighting an Allied power would be an Axis power, just as I feel any nation fighting an Axis power would therefore be an Allied country (though the war itself is obviously FAR too complicated to possibly actually draw up realilistic lines and these total alliances of "Axis/Allied" countries are of course not accurate, but I think it gives a general understanding of what occurred, and who was with who, though WWII can be divided into probably a thousand seperate wars if you really wanted to, and no, I didn't count...yet)

Just a small correction Robert: Albania was overrun by the Italians therefore it wasn't its free will to join the axis. Just like Czechoslovakia was taken by the Germans, and it still was considered an ally country.-Korbius


Of course, your right about Albania, I (among others) often throw that in with the Axis side, but of course their is a great distinction from the free axis nations fighting for their causes, and an occupied force simply pushed into a war because of an occupying power.

As for what you said concerning Czechoslovokia, I would disagree about it being an Allied power, I think it is important to remember that anything before September, 1939 (regardless of wether someone supports the allies or axis) is not part of WWII, and this category would include the occupation of the Czechs, who at best as a nation can be considered neutral as they did not officially fight in the war. Slovokia, however, was not occupied, and signed on to the alliance against the Soviet Union, where it freely fought hand in hand with it's German comrades.
(Czechs: Meaning the Czech region of Czechoslovokia and Slovokia: meaning the Slovak region of Czechoslovokia)

Therefore I feel that Czechoslovokia can not be considered to have fought in the war, as that nation did not exist, was obviously not Allied, and as the Czechs were occupied, they were therefore, automatically neutral in the war itself (though im sure they did not like Germany) as they did not fight voluntarilly for one side or the other. The new nation of Slovokia, in my opinion was in Axis power, as it and it's people fought voluntarilly along side Germany and others.


Conquered countries like Poland are never referred to as 'Axis' and neither is France although I suppose there might be an argument for including Vichy France, but that hardly reflects the free will of the people. -Phaethon


Well, of course vanquished Allied powers would not be Axis powers (nor vice versa) and I agree, there could very well be an arguement for Vichy France

I strongly object to the idea that Finland should be regarded as an "axis" country -Hmononen


I read this and your reasons why you believe this, and though I respect your point of view on the issue, I would disagree.

Though you clearly expressed the fact that Finland was not a puppet of the Third Reich, and did not due Germany's bidding, I do not think that would warrant taking Finland out of the category of the "Axis powers". The reasons other nations fought against the Allied powers, often include

1: Self Defence (Finland, Iceland, Iran)
2: Economic Purposes (The Japanese attack on the U.S.)
3: Common Causes (Slovokia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and so on)
4: Freedom/Independence (Iraq)
5: Common Beliefs (Italy)

None of these causes were over serving Germany, and they did not include helping Hitler either. Nations fought for their own salvation, and for doing what they thought was right, and necisarry, the exact same reasons Allied powers fought in the war. So I don't think it's inappropriate or insulting to group Finland with the other Axis nations, as there is nothing dishonorable about being called in Axis nation

User avatar
Hanski
Financial supporter
Posts: 1887
Joined: 24 Aug 2002 19:18
Location: Helsinki

Post by Hanski » 26 Apr 2003 22:56

Well, of course one might say it is ultimately a matter of semantics, or the linguistics of meaning, or a question of opinion, how one wishes to define an Axis country.

I completely agree with Robert Zeller in that there is nothing dishonourable about being called an Axis nation, and it is not for this reason that I think Finland should not be regarded as one. It is just because the term "Axis" simply gives a false idea on how Finland acted in reality regarding those 9 criteria that I used as my arguments.

I could add a tenth argument:

10. The concept of a separate war was not something that was just invented after the war as an excuse, but even during the wartime Finland made it clear to the Germans as well as anyone else in no uncertain terms that despite being brothers-in-arms with the Germans, Finns fought a separate war.

Maybe it would give a more accurate classification to speak of a "core" Axis between The III Reich and Italy, joined by Japan, and "core" Allies Great Britain, the USA, and the Soviet Union.

These were actually the decisive key strategic players, whose action was decisive to the development and outcome of the WWII, and who held the most remarkable strategic resources. Both of these groups were joined by lesser nations with varying degrees of independence or dependence on the "core" nations. Some of the lesser players joined their "teams" by their own choice, others were occupied and forced to contribute to the war effort of their masters. Their status could in some cases change during the course of the war. In addition, there were countries that remained neutral (Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Ireland).

Thus I would agree that Finland was a co-belligerent of the III Reich and fought on the Axis side from June 1941 until September 1944 because she was attacked by one of the core Allied powers and did not have a choice. But of course Germany and Italy never treated a nation of 4 million as an equal, and Finland could only play a minor role regarding the course of the whole WWII, so it would be by far exaggeration to call her a proper Axis Power. Just because Finland fought the Lapland War 1944-45 against Germany, it would also not make sense to call her an Allied country for that period of time.

Finland was certainly not either a puppet of The III Reich despite having fought on the Axis side, like Robert Zeller correctly mentioned. In my opinion, the political system in power and the amount of freedom to pursue own policies regardless of Berlin, Rome, or Tokyo should be criteria when discussing which were Axis countries.

Tapani K.
Member
Posts: 867
Joined: 09 Jul 2002 11:29
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Post by Tapani K. » 28 Apr 2003 05:55

Robert Zeller wrote:
1: Self Defence (Finland, Iceland, Iran)




Iceland was not an independent nation at the time but ruled by Denmark and therefore a part of an Allied nation. Here is a quote from the CIA World Factbook:

Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the world's oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, established in 930. Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark. Fallout from the Askja volcano of 1875 devastated the Icelandic economy and caused widespread famine. Over the next quarter century, 20% of the island's population emigrated, mostly to Canada and the US. Limited home rule from Denmark was granted in 1874 and complete independence attained in 1944. Literacy, longevity, income, and social cohesion are first-rate by world standards.



And AFAIK Czechoslovakia was regarded by Allies as one of them. There was a Government-in-exile in London and Czechoslovak troops in both the Western and the Eastern front fighting the Germans.

regards,
Tapani K.

User avatar
Harri
Member
Posts: 4214
Joined: 24 Jun 2002 11:46
Location: Suomi - Finland

Post by Harri » 28 Apr 2003 21:54

Because hmononen could state excellent arguments for Finland not being one of Axis states, I must agree with him. It is true that Finland since the beginning of Continuation War clearly announced that our war was separate from the war Germany had started. The fact that Finns didn't follow Germans' orders is also an affirming prove on separate war.

There were two sides in WW II: Allies and Axis forces. The only conclusion can be that Finland did belong to Axis side not being one of the Axis states. Personally I don't mind if Finland is counted Axis nation.

User avatar
Ike_FI
Member
Posts: 578
Joined: 04 Dec 2002 21:32
Location: Helsinki. Finland

Post by Ike_FI » 29 Apr 2003 12:44

Just two comments to your quite throughly resoned list:

hmononen wrote:3. The German intentions of launching Operation Barbarossa were kept secret from the Finns and told at a very late stage ahead, and there was no joint planning in remarkable scale.


Manuno Jokipii concludes in his huge book/research document "Jatkosodan synty" that there was actually quite active exchange of information between Finns and Germans already couple of months before the Germans attacked (altough actual date was not known in advance), and it did not came as a nasty surprise but rather somewhat conveniently that Finland was invited to the play by Soviet bombings. You can find some references to Jokipii's conclusion at http://www.ennenjanyt.net/3-01/is.htm
(in Finnish only, sorry). The reasons for Finnish wartime leaders' hard decision - Soviet Union's continuous intimidation, Finland's justified desire to get back Winter War's losses, economical and agricultural crisis, etc., and most importantly, the then-perceived most likely outcome of the obviously inevitable war (Soviet Union's collapse and subsequent Germany's unchallenged hegemony in Eastern Europe) are duly listed in Jokipii's book as well. While he doesn't give them absolution from certain opportunism, he doesn't suggest either that there was necessarily any other scenario that would have appeared as more realistic or less destructive for the country's leadership.

4. Finland never waged or declared war on any other Allied country, even despite that Great Britain declared war on her.


Absolutely correct: a striking indication of Finland's attempt to show that this was a separate war, was that Finland continued to pay back her old debt to United States, even as late as in June 44, when the country was hardly in position to afford to buy badly needed supplies.

User avatar
Harri
Member
Posts: 4214
Joined: 24 Jun 2002 11:46
Location: Suomi - Finland

Post by Harri » 29 Apr 2003 13:30

Ike_FI wrote:Mauno Jokipii concludes in his huge book/research document "Jatkosodan synty" that there was actually quite active exchange of information between Finns and Germans already couple of months before the Germans attacked (altough actual date was not known in advance), and it did not came as a nasty surprise but rather somewhat conveniently that Finland was invited to the play by Soviet bombings.


Right, but we didn't have many alternatives in 1940 and 1941. We could have possibly stayed neutral but Germany was interested in our nickel and other metals. That would have meant battles somewhere in Finnish soil. If we had allied with Soviets (a very unlikely possibility!!) Germans would for sure have attacked Finland sooner or later. Third possibility was to fight with Germans. This was the best available option because Germany offered safety, support, food, ammunition and arms. We had also a chance to get back our lands we had ceded to USSR in 1940.

Initially there were only unofficial negotiations with Germans. It is for sure that the whole Barbarossa plan was not shown to Finns until in June 1944. The official negotiations were at the beginning of June 1941 and then it was decided to mobilize Finnish troops starting on 18.6.1941. This was not done for a German attack alone but also because of possible Soviet attack against Finland after Soviet - German war.

As far as I know Finns didn't realize how bad relationships between Germany and USSR actually were in June 1941. I have read from many occasions that Finnish political leaders were optimictic that there will be no war. They were terribly wrong and it has been said that Germans made them believe so on purpose.

All sea minings on the Gulf of Finland were solely defensive and were laid to protect Finnish coast. Luftwaffe activities through Finnish territory are more difficult to explain but that was probably the price we had to pay when we accompanied Germans. Finnish long-range patrol was moved to Stalin's Canal by German aircraft on 21.6.1941, but this mission was planned by the Germans. All Finns were volunteers with no Finnish equipment and signs.

---

So, what was actually agreed with Germans before Barbarossa? Germany promised to defend Finland if USSR will attack. That promise was something we really needed. Finland on the other hand promised to assists Germans as far as it was in our own interests.

JariL
Member
Posts: 425
Joined: 15 Mar 2002 08:45
Location: Finland

Mine laying operations

Post by JariL » 29 Apr 2003 14:41

<All sea minings on the Gulf of Finland were solely defensive and were <laid to protect Finnish coast.

Hi,

The above is not quite true. Finnish submarines laid mines in the Estonian cost from June 17 onwards on a couple of missions. German mine layers and other surface vessels were also allowed to enter the Finnish archipelago around Turku. When the war between SU and Germany began the ships laid several mine fields that were intended to prevent the Red Banner Navy to enter the western part of the Baltic sea.

While it is true that Finnish leaders did not know the exact date of the attack and avoided making any definite commitments, they were prepared to grasp the opportunity when it arose. Talks with Germans had given Finns enough information to prepare for war allthough Finns suspected German motives until the first shots were fired.

Given that there were both Soviet and German troops in Finnish soil in June 1941 Finns had to show colour. Neutrality was not allowed. However murky the path to war is one thing is clear, Finnish political and military leadership put their faith in Germany back then. And they did not go against the public opinion in that decision.

Weather Finland was part of Axis powers or not depends on how they are defined. If a written agreement is required Finland was not an axis power. If the side on which you fought is sufficient Finland certaily was part of the axis between 1941 and 1944 even if she was fighting for her own goals.

Hungary and Romania also tried to keep their war politically separate from German war effort but did not succeed for various reason. Finland managed to make hersefl and exception but that was not written to the stars. With hindsight it was a combination of knowing when to hit hard, when to lie low and when to get out of the fight -augmented with good luck in timing.

Regards,

Jari

User avatar
Harri
Member
Posts: 4214
Joined: 24 Jun 2002 11:46
Location: Suomi - Finland

Re: Mine laying operations

Post by Harri » 01 May 2003 19:06

JariL wrote:The above is not quite true. Finnish submarines laid mines in the Estonian cost from June 17 onwards on a couple of missions.


You forget that Soviet troops were already in Finnish soil at Hanko. These minings were also laid for interfering Soviet shipping to Hanko and elsewhere.

JariL wrote:German mine layers and other surface vessels were also allowed to enter the Finnish archipelago around Turku. When the war between SU and Germany began the ships laid several mine fields that were intended to prevent the Red Banner Navy to enter the western part of the Baltic sea.


That is another part of the tale (from Germans' point of view), but anyway these minings protected the coast of Finland as well.

JariL wrote:While it is true that Finnish leaders did not know the exact date of the attack and avoided making any definite commitments, they were prepared to grasp the opportunity when it arose. Talks with Germans had given Finns enough information to prepare for war allthough Finns suspected German motives until the first shots were fired.


That's is understandable. Many Finns (especially political leaders) believed in German propaganda which told that USSR and Germany are negotiating all the time. Actually there weren't such negotiations.

JariL wrote:Given that there were both Soviet and German troops in Finnish soil in June 1941 Finns had to show colour. Neutrality was not allowed. However murky the path to war is one thing is clear, Finnish political and military leadership put their faith in Germany back then. And they did not go against the public opinion in that decision.


There was no other choice in that situation. USSR offered us a good reason to declare war bombing both civilian and military targets in Finland.

JariL wrote:Weather Finland was part of Axis powers or not depends on how they are defined. If a written agreement is required Finland was not an axis power. If the side on which you fought is sufficient Finland certaily was part of the axis between 1941 and 1944 even if she was fighting for her own goals.


That's the point.

JariL wrote:Hungary and Romania also tried to keep their war politically separate from German war effort but did not succeed for various reason. Finland managed to make hersefl and exception but that was not written to the stars.


Finland didn't sent troops to fight with Germans (except SS volunteers), German troops came here to fight with Finns (or officially to defend Finland if needed). That's the main difference.

JariL wrote:With hindsight it was a combination of knowing when to hit hard, when to lie low and when to get out of the fight -augmented with good luck in timing.


Some have said it was not good luck but excellent military-political "manoueuvres".

JariL
Member
Posts: 425
Joined: 15 Mar 2002 08:45
Location: Finland

Missed the point I think

Post by JariL » 02 May 2003 10:49

<You forget that Soviet troops were already in Finnish soil at Hanko. <These minings were also laid for interfering Soviet shipping to Hanko <and elsewhere.

Hi,

Laying mines in the Estonian coast was an act of war even if it's main purpose was to prevent traffic to and from Hanko. Weather it was for offensive or defensive purpose is not very meaningfull in this context. Had Finnish navy sub been cought in action on the wrong side of Gulf of Finland what do you think that the reaction abroad would have been? I don't think that navigation error would have been accepted as an excuse.

Soviet troops were in Hanko based on the peace treaty after the Winter War. Indeed, it was a forced settlement and Soviet intentions were all but cordial , but the base still existed based on a treaty that had been approved in legal order by Finnish government and parliament. On part of the contract was free passage to the Soviet ships that sailed in and out from Hanko.

I don't disagree in that Finland did not really have but one choice back then -given that one did not want to change the political system to the Soviet model. But putting all the blame for starting the shooting to the Soviet side is not quite as straight forward as it was in the Winter War.

Finns were not only sitting on their buts but acted in a modest scale already one week before the hostilities between Germany and Soviet Union started by laying mines. Finns also attacked the Soviet consulate at Petsamo 2 days before the war broke out between Finland and Soviet Union June 25. Booty was a Soviet code book that proved very valuable. German planes that could not bomb St. Petersburg because weather changed right after start were sent against Hanko from Finnish bases with the permission of the commander of FAF. With his word "tästä ei sitten puhuta" ("we shall not tell anyone").

At the same time Soviet airplane flew constanly over Finnish territory, there were border incidents and if I remember correctly artillery shells fired to the Finnish side from Hanko already before the hostilities started. Both sides were still a bit uncertain about how things were going to turn out but both were prepared for a clash.

Regards,

Jari

Return to “Minor Axis Nations”