alliance of states and peoples fighting during World War II, 1939–45, against the aggressive bloc made up of Hitler’s Germany, Fascist Italy, militarist Japan, and their satellites.
The coalition unified states that were at war with the countries of the fascist bloc, but the contributions of different participants in destroying the enemy were very unequal. The decisive force in the coalition was the Soviet Union, which played the primary role in achieving victory. Four other great powers—the USA, Britain, France, and China—also employed their armed forces in the struggle against Hitler’s Germany, its European allies, and Japan. Formations of certain other countries also participated in military actions to varying degrees—Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, India, Canada, the Philippines, Ethiopia, and others. Some states of the coalition (for example, Mexico) aided the primary participants mainly by supplying military raw materials. There were also countries, however, which declared war on Germany only right before its defeat and which made no contribution to the victory over the common enemy (for example, Turkey).
When military actions against Japan were being concluded, the following countries were in a state of war with the countries of the fascist bloc: Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the Union of South Africa, Uruguay, the USA, the USSR, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia. Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, and Rumania, previously part of the aggressive bloc, also declared war on the Axis powers.
The popular resistance movement against the German, Italian, and Japanese occupiers and the reactionary forces which collaborated with them was a fighting ally of the anti-Hitler coalition. The resistance movement developed extensively in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Albania, France, Greece, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Burma, the Philippines, and elsewhere. It took such forms as armed struggle and sabotage in factories. The partisan struggle on USSR territory occupied by the aggressor gave serious support to the anti-Hitler coalition, as did the militant antifascist organizations, led by communists, in the countries of the fascist bloc—Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Germany itself. These organizations made an important contribution to the liquidation of the fascist regimes of their respective countries.
The anti-Hitler coalition was initiated by declarations of mutual support made by the governments of the USSR, the USA, and Britain after Hitler’s Germany attacked the USSR; by Anglo-Soviet and Soviet-American negotiations in the summer of 1941; by the conclusion of an Anglo-Soviet agreement on joint actions in the war against Germany on July 12, 1941; by the Moscow three-power conference of 1941; and also by a number of other agreements concluded among the allies in the war against the fascist bloc. On Jan. 1, 1942, a declaration of 26 states then at war with Germany, Italy, Japan, and their allies was signed at Washington. The declaration contained the commitment of the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition to utilize all the military and economic resources they possessed in the struggle against the fascist states and also the promise not to conclude a separate peace with them. Subsequently, allied relations among the participants in the coalition were strengthened by a new series of documents: the Anglo-Soviet treaty of 1942 on alliance in the war against Hitler’s Germany and its confederates in Europe and on cooperation and mutual aid after the war (signed May 26); the agreement between the USSR and the USA on the bases of mutual aid in the conduct of the war against aggression (June 11, 1942); the Franco-Soviet treaty of 1944 on alliance and mutual aid (concluded December 10); and the resolutions of the Tehran (November-December 1943), Crimea (February 1945), and Potsdam (July-August 1945) conferences of the heads of state of the USSR, USA, and Great Britain.
Throughout the war, two political lines struggled within the anti-Hitler coalition—that of the USSR, which consistently and unswervingly sought the adoption of resolutions aimed at the most rapid victory and the development of democratic principles for the postwar structure of the world; and that of the Western powers, who strove to subordinate the conduct of the war and the resolution of postwar problems to their own imperialistic interests. These two lines stood in opposition on such issues as defining the goals of the war, coordinating military plans, working out the basic principles for a peaceful postwar settlement, and creating a new international organ to maintain peace and security (the United Nations). The ruling circles of the USA and Britain permitted crude violations of the alliance obligations toward the USSR. This was expressed in the delays in opening a second front in Europe with the intention of bleeding and weakening the Soviet Union as much as possible, the repeated delays in supplying it with arms, and the efforts to bypass the USSR made by various representatives of the ruling circles to reach a separate peace with Hitler’s Germany.
However, the victories of the Soviet armed forces, the consistent line of the USSR in strengthening Allied relations, and also the contradictions among the imperialist states allowed the coalition as a whole to deal successfully with the tasks that arose throughout the war, down to the victory over Germany and, later, over Japan. But shortly after the war was concluded, the leading circles of the Western powers began to implement unfriendly, and later, clearly hostile policies with respect to the USSR and the people’s democratic states which arose after the war. The last major political act carried out jointly by the states of the anti-Hitler coalition was the development and signing, amid these complex circumstances, of peace treaties with Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, Rumania, and Finland in February 1947.
The USA and Britain, along with their Western allies, embarked on a path which involved the unleashing of an arms race, the creation of aggressive military-political blocs, atomic blackmail, and the stationing of armed forces and military bases along the borders of the USSR and other socialist countries—thus initiating the cold war, which sharply aggravated the entire international situation.