World War II: The Defeat Of The Axis
The World War II began on the 1st of September 1939. On that historical day, Nazi Germany invaded Poland under the directives of the German leader, Adolf Hitler.1 Though this attack was a unilateral decision by Germany, it later attracted the support of two more forces, the Japanese and the Italian, to give their reinforcement against Poland and its acquaintances such as France and Britain.
The three allies, Germany, Italy and Japan, had earlier formed an alliance, namely the Axis. The Axis was instigated due to German, Italian, and Japanese diplomatic efforts in securing their expansionist interests during the mid-1930s2. Their preliminary step was the German-Italy treaty which Hitler and Mussolini had signed. In the treaty, it was declared that all other European countries were from then required to be rotating on the Rome-Berlin Axis. This statement coined the term ‘Axis’ which became popular during the World War II.
The subsequent step in signing the treaty took place on 1st November 1939, attracting Japan to participate in it3. This was referred to as the Anti-Comintern Pact which was literally against the communist republics. During the World War II, the Axis was mandated to preside over the territories which had occupied expansive parts of Europe, East Asia, and North Africa. However, the conspicuous absence of three-way summit meetings of the Axis and the minimal coordination as well as cooperation compromised its efforts to achieve the victory during the World War II. This paper examines the possible reasons the Axis was defeated during the World War II and why it had to take it so long.
Why the Axis Was Defeated in the World War II and Why It Took Long
It is proven that during the World War II, the major Axis powers, Italy, Germany and Japan, ostensibly committed a host of catastrophic errors, which are hitherto regrettable for contributing to their defeat. First, it was the attempt by Mussolini to unilaterally lead Italian forces to invade Greece during the 1940’s summer after acknowledging that Germany had successfully conquered France4. This was a haste decision which he made simply to prove that Italy was also equal to the task and as a way of demonstrating his undying support to his ally Hitler. Contrary to the expectations, things never went quite that way. Surprisingly, the Greeks were equally combative in their counterattacks, forcing the massive Italian troops back.
To demonstrate his unrelenting spirit, Mussolini launched another attack to Greece, but as fate would be, the forces were for the second time defeated. The embarrassment prompted Hitler to come to the rescue of his ally; however, that collaboration resulted in a complete defeat against Greece. This did not favour Germany as it had committed its troops in Greece battle at the expense of the attack on Russia. This was the ample time which could have been led to the preclusion of the Wehrmacht from fighting during the Russian winter. In fact, Hitler would later be obliged to blame Mussolini for his defeat by the Russian troops. He claimed that the recklessness of Italian troops in the attack of Greece interrupted his plan of consolidating his position against the USSA.
Another reason the Axis was defeated was the mistake that Germany made during the invasion of the USSA. The initial plan of Hitler was to claim the vast Soviet territories for himself as he purged it on Bolshevism as well as other undesirable elements such as Slavs and Jews. Fully convinced that the battle would result in a facile victory, Hitler ignored the warnings from his military intelligences. He stated that they were only supposed to kick in the front door, and the rotten edifice Russia would come tumbling down. This move was motivated by their previous defeat of Poland and France as well as the historic embarrassing defeat of Russia at the hands of Finland.
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In 1941, Germany launched an ensuing attack on the USSA triggering the largest military confrontation in the history of humanity. They created a frontline that extended 1000 miles from the north to the south of the latter, involving three million soldiers from the Axis alliance5. Though the battle had begun well with Germany managing to capture a significant number of Russians in barely two weeks, the meddling of Hitler finally thwarted the spirit of the troops and led to their defeat. He all over a sudden paused to divert German forces from the centre of the Army Group towards Kiev in the south. This resulted in a disastrous delay that stalled the planned attack on Moscow and forced the German troops which were ill-equipped to fight in one of the worst Russian winters to draw back. Thereafter, Germany never recovered as the Wehrmacht never managed to sustain its pressure on Moscow but instead fought and ultimately retreated from entire Russian sectors.
The attack by Japan on Pearl Harbour was another great mistake which jeopardized the Axis’ quests for victory in the World War II. During the late 1941, the Japanese Empire found itself between a rock and a hard place. Ostensibly, its policies on hyper-expansionist as well as its steady encroachment on Southeast Asia and South Pacific made it susceptible to the military skirmishes and economic sanctions, including those from Britain, the US, and the Netherlands. For instance, the US terminated its oil exports to Japan in the year preceding 1941; instead, it actively provided military aid to China6. This limited Japan to two options: either to pull out of the territories that it had previously occupied, including China, or simply grab sources of raw materials which were located in the Southeast Asian European colonies.
Similarly to its Axis allies, Japan earlier made a bold decision never to relent despite the obvious looming odds. The projections were clear that the US would finally manage to regroup and trounce Japan entering the battle. The Japanese military leaders were obliged to rationalize that a major offensive in the Southern Resource Area was needful in securing the much lobbied oil and rubber. As an act of staving off the Americans, Japan resolved to Pearl Harbour. That operation was intended to destroy important fleet units of America. The operation struck a severe blow to the morale of US which promptly launched retaliatory attacks on Japan.
Though the infamous attack on Pearl Harbour elicited scanty victory for Japan, the Americans launched aircraft carriers out at the Pacific on exercises and were apparently untouched by the assault. The same carriers were obliged to strike a crushing blow to the Japanese fleet in a period of less than six months at the Battle of Midway. This signified that the US had officially been incorporated into the war. It emerged that Japan totally failed to handle the consequent onslaught and keeping up with production rates of the US. Japan’s feeble level of technology betrayed it as it gazed the dropping of two atomic bombs at Nagasaki7. Though it was no one’s expectations that the US would eventually enter the war against the Japanese had the Pearl Harbour incident not occurred. The confrontation was a lesson that perhaps Japan would never have learnt following its perpetual over-extension in the Pacific. Its catastrophic defeat at Guadalcanal in 1943 was a big blow to the Axis alliance in totality8.
Equally, the move by Hitler to declare war on the United States after the Pearl Harbour attack was another grievous mistake that was detrimental to the Axis alliance. The U.S. retaliatory attacks were majorly aiming at Japan but not Germany. However, seeming aggrieved, Hitler declared war on the US in late 1941, three days after the Pearl Harbour incident, even if Germany was under no obligation to act in such a way as enshrined in the provisions of the Tripartite Pact9. Hitler claimed to act in support of his Japanese colleague that seemed inundated by the U.S. combat forces. In fact, the German Foreign Minister, von Ribbentrop, had mired for some time when the Japanese Ambassador had demanded the declaration of Germany’s war on America. That obvious untenable position would befall Germany if it was to make that venture. However, the unrelenting Hitler disagreed sharply with Ribbentrop, as he expressed concern for US getting a head start. He therefore went ahead and simply declared war on the United States regardless of the repercussions.
Hitler may have also developed a sense of obligation to his Axis ally, Japan, as he feared of a potential falling out. Furthermore, he may have thought that Japan was capable of giving Americans a considerable trouble, including a defeat. The envisaged US out of the Axis way, Japan could be at liberty to join Germany in their central struggle against the USSR. However, as revealed by the subsequent events, the U.S. entry into the war morphed it into a superpower, as it provided the much-needed punch to the Allied effort against the Axis.
Despite that, under Hitler’s directive, Germany produced all kinds of superior and sophisticated weaponry gadgets during the World War II instead of only those that would matter at that time. This resulted in the destruction of its nuclear project which had been disjointed and poorly supported. By this time, the US had teamed up with Canada and Britain as they worked on the Manhattan Project. The latter was a massive endeavour that involved a good number of participants and cost a colossal amount of money.
Apparently, the Nazis failed in their appreciation of the finer details of the Physic theory, something which was associated with the Jewish science. At that very time, Hitler was obsessed with his wonder weapons such as the V1 and V2 rockets, jet aircraft, as well as massive tanks. In fact, towards the last moments of the war, he insisted in Germany to produce the extremely large tanks, creating considerable strain on the tank production industry, which had already been overstretched10. It also drained the much needed raw material for producing working tanks. This obviously made Germany off-guard as the war had already been declared, and there was no time of retreating to consolidate its combat strength. Shortly thereafter, its adversaries won dominion over the Axis troops and achieved victory in the battle.
Finally, Hitler’s underestimation of sea power was the most crucial mistake that resulted in the defeat of the Axis alliance. Ostensibly, Germany’s navy did not obtain the honour and support of Hitler as required. Although Hitler would occasionally support the use of wolf-pack tactics and U-boats, he hardly saw the importance of establishing pre-eminence at sea quarters because he was largely possessed with land armies. The defeat of the Axis is equally attributed to this weakness.
It was apparent that the Axis alliance was in the rightful position to achieve victory in the World War II against its adversaries such as Britain and France among others. However, the opponents might have quickly learnt its weaknesses which it later used to claim defeat. The blatant confusion that would occasionally be witnessed among the partners such as Mussolini was an obvious sign of defeat. The main actors were too confident in themselves, and that made them overlook many logistical factors in any war against their enemies. They also never took time to study the position of the enemy and make subsequent strategies before attacking it. For instance, by the immediate turn from Greece to the USSR, Germany proved to be powerful but thriving on shambolic strategies which ultimately resulted in its defeat. The defeat however was for long realized considering the fact that the United States which played an instrumental role in the battle had not initially intended to take part until Japan launched an attack on Pearl Harbour. This depicted that the Axis still had a good chance of winning the battle against its opponents had the US not come to their support. The defeat of the Axis gave the US and its acquaintances the guts to claim superiority and dominion over other countries in the world politically and economically. However, weaknesses performed by the Axis alliance during the World War II have since been a lesson to many countries in planning for wars.
1 David Alvarez, Allied and Axis Signals Intelligence in World War II (New York, NY: Routledge, 2013), 114-116.
2 Beevor Antony The Second World War (New York, NY: Little Brown, 2012), 37-41.
4 Richard Overy, Why the Allies Won (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995), 29.
6 Phillips Payson O’Brien, How the War Was Won: Air-Sea Power and Allied Victory in World War II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 56.
7 Phillips Payson O’Brien. How the War Was Won: Air-Sea Power and Allied Victory in World War II. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 28-37.
9 Alan Axelrod & Kingston Jack A. Encyclopedia of World War II, (Vol. 1). (New York, NY: H W Fowler, 2007), 23.
10 Ibid., 61.