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The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939-1945). The Allies became involved in World War II either because they had already been invaded or were directly threatened with invasion by the Axis or because they were concerned that the Axis powers would come to control the world. After 1941, the leaders of the United Kingdommarker, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republicsmarker, and the United States of Americamarker, known as "The Big Three", held leadership of the Allied powers. Francemarker, before its defeat in 1940 and after Operation Overlord in 1944, as well as Chinamarker were also major Allies.Other Allies included Australia, Belgiummarker, Brazilmarker, Canadamarker, Czechoslovakiamarker, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Mexicomarker, the Netherlandsmarker, New Zealandmarker, Norwaymarker, the Philippine Commonwealth, Poland, the Union of South Africa, and Yugoslavia.

During December, 1941, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt devised the name "United Nations " for the Allies. He referred to The Big Three and China as a "trusteeship of the powerful", and then later "the Four Policemen". The Declaration by United Nations, on 1 January 1942, was the basis of the modern UN. At the Potsdam Conference of July-August 1945, Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman, proposed that the foreign ministers of China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States "should draft the peace treaties and boundary settlements of Europe", which led to the creation of the Council of Foreign Ministers.



During the 1920s, the Kuomintang (KMT) government led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was aided by the Soviet Union, which helped to reorganise the party, superficially at least, along Leninist lines: a unification of party, state, and army. However, following the nominal unification of China in 1928, Chiang Kai-shek purged leftists from his party and fought against the Chinese Communist Party, former warlords, and other militarist factions. A fragmented China provided easy opportunities for Japan to gain territories piece by piece without engaging in total war. Following the 1931 Mukden Incident, the puppet state of Manchukuo was established. Throughout the early to mid 1930s, Chiang's anti-communist and anti-militarist campaigns continued while he fought small, incessant conflicts against Japan, usually followed by unfavorable settlements and concessions.

In the early 1930s, Germany and China became close partners in military and industrial matters. Nazi Germany provided the largest proportion of Chinese arms imports and technical expertise. Following the Marco Polo Bridge Incidentmarker of 7 July 1937, China and Japan became embroiled in a full-scale war which continued until 1945. The Soviet Union, wishing to keep China in the fight against Japan, supplied China with some military assistance until 1941, until it signed friendship with Japan.

Even though China had been fighting the longest among all the Allied powers, it only officially joined the Allies after the attack on Pearl Harbor, on 7 December 1941. Chiang Kai-shek felt Allied victory was assured with the entrance of the United States into the war, and he declared war on Germany and the other Axis nations. However, Allied aid remained low because the Burma Road was closed and the Allies suffered a series of military defeats against Japan early on in the campaign. The bulk of military aid did not arrive until the spring of 1945. More than 1.5 million Japanese troops were trapped in the China Theatre; troops that otherwise could have been deployed elsewhere if China had collapsed and made a separate peace with Japan.

Invasion of Poland

The original Allies were those countries that linked themselves in a military defence pact in August 1939, following explicit Adolf Hitler threats against Polandmarker around the problem of the German-speaking city of Danzigmarker.

These countries were allied to each other by a net of common defence pacts and military alliance pacts signed before the war. The Franco-British Alliance dated back to the Entente cordiale of 1904 and the Triple Entente of 1907, active during the World War I. The Franco-Polish Alliance was signed in 1921 and then amended in 1927 and 1939. The Polish-British Common Defence Pact, signed on 25 August 1939, contained promises of mutual military assistance between the nations in the event either was attacked by Nazi Germany.

The invasion of Poland started the war in Europe, when Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. Poland fielded the third biggest army among the European Allies, after the Soviet Union and Britain, but before France. The country never officially surrendered to the Third Reich and continued the war effort under the Polish government in exile. However, the Soviet Unionmarker unilaterally considered the flight to Romania of President Ignacy Mościcki and Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły on September 17 as an evidence of debellatio causing the extinction of Polish State, and consequently declared itself allowed to occupy (according to Soviet position: to protect) Eastern Poland starting from the same day.

Home Army, the biggest underground force in Europe, and other resistance organizations in occupied Poland provided intelligence that enabled successful operations later in the war and led to uncovering the Nazi war crimes (i.e., death camps) to the Western Allies. Notable Polish units fought in every campaign in Europe and North Africa (outside the Balkans). Polish Armed Forces in the West were created in France and, after its fall, in the United Kingdom. The Soviet Union recognized the London-based government but broke diplomatic relations after the revelation of the Katyn massacremarker. In 1943, the Soviet Union organized the Polish People's Army under Zygmunt Berling, around which it constructed the post-war successor state People's Republic of Poland. The Polish People's Army took part in the Battle of Berlin, the closing battle of the European theater of war.

British Commonwealth

The United Kingdom and other independent members of the British Commonwealth, known as the Dominions, declared war on Germany separately, either on the same day, or soon afterwards; these countries were Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. However, Newfoundland had given up self-rule and was at the time under effective rule from the UK; it did not become part of Canada until 1949. Southern Rhodesiamarker, while self-governing did not have independence in foreign policy or military matters.

Following the Statute of Westminster in 1931, the Dominions of the British Commonwealth had independence in foreign policy. Australia and New Zealand accepted and reiterated the British declaration of war on Germany. The South African Prime Minister, Barry Hertzog, refused to declare war, leading to the collapse of his coalition government on 6 September; the new Prime Minister, Jan Smuts, declared war that same day. Canada declared war on Germany on 10 September; this was necessary as Canada had ratified the Statute.

The Indian Empire (including the areas and peoples covered by the later Republic of Indiamarker, Bangladeshmarker and Pakistanmarker) and territories controlled by the Colonial Office, namely the Crown Colonies, were controlled politically by the UK and therefore also entered hostilities with Britain's declaration of war. The Indian Empire contributed about 2,500,000 personnel. It suffered 1,500,000 civilian casualties (more than the United Kingdom), mainly from the Bengal famine of 1943 caused by the fall of Burma to the Japanese, and 87,000 military casualties (more than any Commonwealth country but fewer than the United Kingdom). The UK suffered 382,000 military casualties.


France experienced several major phases of action during World War II:

Oslo Group

The Oslo Group was an organisation of officially neutral countries. Four members later joined the Allies, as governments in exile: the Kingdom of Norwaymarker, the Kingdom of the Netherlandsmarker, the Kingdom of Belgiummarker and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourgmarker.

The Republic of Finlandmarker was attacked by the USSR on 30 November 1939. Later Finland and the Kingdom of Denmark officially joined the Axis Anti-Comintern Pact. The Kingdom of Sweden remained officially neutral. Following the Moscow armistice of September 1944, Finland effectively helped the Allies and expelled German forces. This led to a series of armed clashes called the Lapland War.

Denmark was invaded by Germany on 9 April 1940. The Danish government did not declare war and it surrendered the same day, on the understanding that it retain control of domestic affairs, but it was disbanded by Germany in 1943. No government-in-exile was formed. Danes fought with both Allied and Axis forces. Icelandmarker, Faroe Islandsmarker and Greenlandmarker, which were respectively in union with Denmark and a Danish colony, were occupied by the Allies for most of the war. British forces took control in Iceland on 10 May 1940, and it was used to facilitate the movement of Lend Lease equipment. Forces from the United States, although they were officially neutral at the time, occupied Greenland on 9 April 1941. The U.S. also took over in Iceland on 7 July 1941. Iceland declared full independence from Denmark in 1944, but never declared war on any of the Axis powers. Finally, Denmark officially joined the Allies immediately after its liberation on May 5, 1945.


Although Portugal remained officially neutral, and the Salazar Dictatorship admired Fascist regimes, there was the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance — the world's oldest military alliance (1373) — reactivated by the United Kingdom during World War II, leading to the establishment of an Anglo-American base in Lajes, Terceira Islandmarker, Azores, which Salazar finally accepted (December 1943), though he was not in position to refuse anyway. Since 1940, both Churchill and Roosevelt were facing the possibility of a preventive occupation of Azores. Portugal also protested the occupation of Portuguese Timormarker by Allied forces in 1942 but did not actively resist. The colony was subsequently occupied by Japan. Timorese and Portuguese civilians assisted Australian commandos in resisting the Japanese.


On 17 September, 1939, Soviet Union invaded Poland from the East, and on November 30 Finland was attacked. The following year USSR annexed the Baltic states of Estoniamarker, Latviamarker, and Lithuaniamarker, together with parts of Romaniamarker. The German-Soviet agreement was brought to an end by the German invasion of the USSR on June 22, 1941.

Soviet Union so entered in alliance with the United Kingdom, which was lasted the sole effectively fighting Power in Europe after the capitulation of France in June 1940. Following USSR, these socialist, pro-Soviet or Soviet controlled forces fought against the Axis powers during the Second World War: the Albanian National Liberation Front, the Chinese Red Army (a.k.a 8th Route Army; ROC 18th Army or; New Fourth Army), the Greek National Liberation Front, the Hukbalahap, the Malayan Communist Party, the People's Republic of Mongolia, the Polish People's Army, the Tuvinian People's Republicmarker (annexed by Soviet Union in 1944), the Viet Minh and the Yugoslav Partisans.

Atlantic Charter

The Atlantic Charter was negotiated at the Atlantic Conference by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, aboard warships in a secure anchorage at NS Argentiamarker, Newfoundland (located on Placentia Baymarker) and was issued as a joint declaration on 14 August 1941.

The Atlantic Charter established a vision for a post-World War II world, despite the fact the United States had yet to enter the war.

In brief, the nine points were:
  1. no territorial gains sought by the United States or the United Kingdom;
  2. territorial adjustments must be in accord with wishes of the people;
  3. the right to self-determination of peoples;
  4. trade barriers lowered;
  5. global economic cooperation and advancement of social welfare;
  6. freedom from want and fear;
  7. freedom of the seas;
  8. disarmament of aggressor nations, postwar common disarmament;
  9. defeat of Germany and other Axis powers.

The Atlantic Charter proved to be one of the first steps towards the formation of the United Nations.

The United States of America joined the Allies following the attack on Pearl Harbor, on 7 December 1941. The Declaration by United Nations, on 1 January 1942, officially united 26 nations as Allies. The informal Big 3 alliance of the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and the United States emerged in the later half of the war, and their decisions determined Allied strategy around the world.

Pan American Union

The members of the Pan American Unionmarker, who were all neutral between 1939 and 1941, formed a mutual defense pact at a conference of foreign ministers at Havanamarker, on 21 July 1940 – 30 July 1940. The "Declaration on Reciprocal Assistance and Cooperation for the Defense of the Nations of the Americas" was part of the Final Act of the Second Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics at Havana, Cuba, July 30, 1940. There were twenty-one signatories:

From this group, three countries contributed military forces to the Allied war effort:

The other 18 countries from this group contributed given support in many ways on lesser degrees or limited to war declaration.

United Nations

Declaration by United Nations

The alliance was formalised in the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942. There were 26 signatories, as follows:

  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Republic of China
  • Canada
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • India
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Poland
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
  • United States of America
  • Yugoslavia

Alliance growing

The United Nations began growing immediately after their formation. In 1942, Mexico, Philippines and Ethiopia adhered to the declaration. The African nation had been restored in its independence by British forces after the Italian defeat on Amba Alagimarker in 1941, while Philippines, still dependent by Washington but granted of international diplomatic recognition, was allowed joining on June 10, despite their occupation by Japan.

During 1943, the Declaration was signed by Iraq, Iran, Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia. A Tripartite Treaty of Alliance with Britain and USSR formalised Iranmarker's assistance to the Allies. In Rio de Janeiromarker, Brazilian dictator Getúlio Vargas was considered near to fascist ideas, but realisticly joined the United Nations after their evident successes.

In 1944, Liberia and France signed. French situation was very confused. Free France forces were recognized only by Britain, while United States considered Vichy France as the legal government of the country until Operation Overlord, also preparing US occupation francs. Wiston Churchill urged Roosevelt restoring France in its status of a major Power after the liberation of Paris in August 1944: the Prime Minister feared that after the war, Britain could remain the sole great Power in Europe facing Communist threat, as it was happened in 1941 against nazism.

During the early part of 1945, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela, Uruguay, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria (these latter two ancient French colonies had been declared independent nations by British occupation troops, despite big protests by Petain before, and De Gaulle after) and Ecuador became signatories. Ukrainemarker and Belarusmarker, although not being independent nations but only members of Soviet Union, were accepted between the United Nations, as a form of reassurance by US and UK to Stalin who had Yugoslavia as the sole official communist partner into the alliance.

Charter of the United Nations

The Charter of the United Nations was agreed to during the war at the United Nations Conference on International Organization, held between April and July 1945. The Charter was signed by 50 nations on 26 June (Poland had its place reserved and later became the 51st "original" signatory), and was formally ratified shortly after the war on 24 October 1945. The four leading Allied nations, namely China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States met repeatedly during the war, such as at the 1944 conference at Dumbarton Oaksmarker where the formation and permanent seats of the United Nations Security Council were decided. The Security Council met for the first time in the immediate aftermath of war on 17 January 1946.United Nations Security Council: Official Records: First Year, First Series, First Meeting
The first version of the UN flag, introduced in April 1945.

These are the original 51 signatories (Security Council Permanent members are asterisked).:
* [[Iran|Imperial Kingdom of Iran]] * [[Kingdom of Iraq]] * [[Lebanon]] * [[Liberia|Republic of Liberia]] * [[Luxembourg|Grand Duchy of Luxembourg]] * [[Mexico|United Mexican States]] * [[Netherlands|Kingdom of the Netherlands]] * [[New Zealand|Dominion of New Zealand]] * [[Nicaragua|Republic of Nicaragua]] * [[Norway|Kingdom of Norway]] * [[Panama|Republic of Panama]] * [[Paraguay|Republic of Paraguay]] * [[Peru|Republic of Peru]] * [[Commonwealth of the Philippines]] * [[Second Polish Republic|Republic of Poland]] * [[Saudi Arabia|Kingdom of Saudi Arabia]] * [[Union of South Africa]] * [[Syria|Republic of Syria]] * [[Turkey|Republic of Turkey]] * [[Ukrainian SSR|Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic]] * [[Soviet Union|Union of Soviet Socialist Republics]]* * [[United Kingdom|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland]]* * [[United States of America]]*

Summary of Allied declarations of war on Axis Powers

Full list of the final 51 members of the United Nations:

After the German invasion of Poland

  • South Africa: 6 September 1939
  • : 10 September 1939
  • : 9 April 1940
  • : 9 April 1940

After the Phony War

  • : 10 May 1940
  • : 10 May 1940
  • : 10 May 1940
  • : 9 September 1940
  • Greece: 28 October 1940
  • Yugoslaviamarker: 6 April 1941

After the invasion of the USSR

After the attack on Pearl Harbor

  • : 7 December 1941
  • : 8 December 1941
  • : 8 December 1941
  • : 8 December 1941
  • : 8 December 1941
  • Hondurasmarker: 8 December 1941
  • : 8 December 1941
  • : 8 December 1941
  • : 9 December 1941
  • : 9 December 1941
  • : 9 December 1941
  • : 16 December 1941

After the Declaration by United Nations

  • : 22 May 1942
  • : 22 August 1942
  • Ethiopia: 14 December 1942
  • Iraq: 17 January 1943
  • : 7 April 1943
  • : 26 July 1943
  • Iran: 9 September 1943
  • : 27 January 1944
  • : 12 February 1944

After D-Day

  • : 2 February 1945
  • Paraguaymarker: 7 February 1945
  • : 15 February 1945
  • : 15 February 1945
  • : 23 February 1945
  • : 27 February 1945
  • Syriamarker: 27 February 1945
  • Saudi Arabiamarker: 1 March 1945
  • : 27 March 1945
  • : 11 April 1945

See also


External links

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