Famous Figures of WWII: Axis Powers
Hitler's trusted inner circle included
Hello I'm Milo for About.com and today we're talking about the Axis Powers of World War II.Led by Germany, Italy, and Japan, the “Axis Powers” were a coalition of countries that joined together in opposition to the Allied Powers. Far and away the most significant member of the Axis Powers was of course Germany. Led by Adolf Hitler, it was Germany's invasion of neighboring Poland in 1939 that provoked all out war. Hitler's belief in the superiority of the German people formed his central driving force. His rise to power in the 1930s has been largely attributed to the devastating economic crisis in Germany that followed the First World War.Hitler's trusted inner circle included three notable men. Hermann Goering was Hitler's second in command at the outbreak of war and was the commander of the German air force, the Luftwaffe. Heinrich Himmler was the head of the German secret police and the Gestapo, and responsible for the creation of the concentration and extermination camps where millions died. And Joseph Goebbels, a faithful follower of Hitler with strong anti-Semitic views, was in charge of propaganda. Of these four, only Goering would survive the war and face trial for war crimes. NaziGermany's closest foreign ally was Italy, which was then lead by Benito Mussolini. At the outset of war, it was still uncertain on which side Italy would fight. It eventually joined the Axis Powers in June 1940 despite its relative military weakness. However, after a number of significant defeats and rising discontent within Italy, Mussolini's position became untenable. He was then ousted from power and eventually captured and shot in April 1945 while attempting to flee Italy. Italy went on to formally declare war on its Axis partner Germany in October 1943, effectively switching sides completely. Japan made up the third most significant member of the Axis Powers. Its leader, Emperor Hirohito, was at that time considered to have divine status by the Japanese people. It was the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor US naval base which brought the United States actively into the war. The war against Japan continued after the German defeat, but also ended soon thereafter when the US exploded atomic bombs over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war, while many of Emperor Hirohito's generals were tried for Japanese atrocities committed during the war, Hirohito himself was not and he remained Emperor after the war and until his death in 1989. For more excellent, insightful, and interesting information on the 20th Century, check us out at About.com.