1939 Axis alliance printed armband Japan & Germany
The Axis powers originally called the Rome–Berlin Axis was a military coalition that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.
The Axis grew out of the diplomatic efforts of Nazi Germany, the Kingdom of Italy, and the Empire of Japan to secure their own specific expansionist interests in the mid-1930s. The first step was the treaty signed by Germany and Italy in October 1936. Benito Mussolini declared on 1 November 1936 that all other European countries would from then on rotate on the Rome–Berlin axis, thus creating the term “Axis”. The almost simultaneous second step was the signing in November 1936 of the Anti-Comintern Pact, an anti-communist treaty between Germany and Japan. Italy joined the Pact in 1937 and Hungary and Spain joined in 1939. The “Rome–Berlin Axis” became a military alliance in 1939 under the so-called “Pact of Steel”, with the Tripartite Pact of 1940 leading to the integration of the military aims of Germany, Italy and Japan. As such the Anti-Comintern Pact, the Tripartite Pact, and the Pact of Steel were the agreements that formed the main basis of the Axis.
Particularly within Europe, the term “the Axis” is still often used primarily to refer to the alliance between Italy and Germany, though in the United States it is normally understood as including Japan.
At its zenith in 1942 during World War II, the Axis presided over territories that occupied large parts of Europe, North Africa, and East Asia. In contrast to the Allies, were no three-way summit meetings and cooperation and coordination was minimal, and on occasion the interests of the major Axis powers were at variance with each other. The war ended in 1945 with the defeat of the Axis powers and the dissolution of their alliance. As in the case of the Allies, membership of the Axis was fluid, with some nations switching sides or changing their degree of military involvement over the course of the war.