Axis leaders of World War II: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Axis leaders of World War II were the important political and military figures during the war. They basically led all of the other Axis powers. They were established with the signing of the Tripartite Pact in 1940 and pursued a strong militarist and nationalist ideology with a policy of anti-communism. During the early phase of the war, puppet governments were established in the occupied nations. When the war ended many leaders faced trial for war crimes and treason. The main leaders were Adolf Hitler of Germany, Benito Mussolini of Italy, and Emperor Hirohito alongside Japan Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and Fumimaro Konoe of Japan. Unlike what happened with the Allies, there never was a joint meeting of the main Axis heads of government, although Mussolini and Hitler did meet on a regular basis.

Propaganda poster of the Shōwa era showing Adolf Hitler, Fumimaro Konoe and Benito Mussolini, the political leaders of the three main Axis powers in 1938


Nazi Germany Greater German Reich (Nazi Germany)

Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party.
Heinrich Himmler was Chief of the German Police and Minister of the Interior.
  • Heinrich Himmler became the second in command of Nazi Germany as Supreme Commander of the Home Army and Reichsführer-SS. Himmler was also commander of the Schutzstaffel and the Gestapo. He was chief architect of the "Final Solution" and was responsible for the establishment of the Nazi concentration camps. He held final command responsibility for annihilating "subhumans" who were deemed unworthy to live. Shortly before the end of the war, as provisional leader of Germany he offered to surrender all of "Germany" to the Allies if he was spared from prosecution as a Nazi leader. Himmler committed suicide with cyanide when he became a captive of the British Army.
  • Joseph Goebbels was Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda from 1933 until 1945. An avid supporter of war, Goebbels did everything in his power to prepare the German people for a large scale military conflict. He was one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers. After Hitler's suicide he became Chancellor for one day before his suicide.
  • Hans Frank was Chief of Administration of General Government of occupied Poland. Frank oversaw the segregation of the Jews in to the ghettos and the use of Polish civilians as slave labour. Frank was captured by American troops in 1945 and tried at Nuremberg.
  • Albert Speer was German Minister of Armaments from 1942 until the end of the war, in which position he was responsible for organizing most of the logistical aspects of Germany's war effort. He was tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to twenty years in prison.
  • Wilhelm Keitel was an army general and the Chief of the OKW, the High Command of the German Military, throughout the war. He was condemned to death at Nuremberg for commission of war crimes and hung.
  • Alfred Jodl was an army general and Operations Chief of the OKW throughout the war. Like his chief, Keitel, he was condemned to death at Nuremberg and hung.
  • Walther von Brauchitsch was commander in chief of the army from 1938 until his dismissal in December 1941, when Hitler took personal command of the army.
  • Albert Kesselring was a German Luftwaffe general. He served as commander of Luftflotte 2 for the early part of the war, commanding air campaigns in west and east, before being assigned as commander in chief of German forces in the Mediterranean, a position he would occupy for most of the war, commanding German forces in the defense of Italy. In March 1945, he became the last German commander-in-chief in the west.
  • Erich von Manstein is credited with the drawing up of the Ardennes invasion plan of France. He also conquered the Sevastopol and was then made Generalfeldmarschall. The winner of the battle of Kharkov, he is considered one of the finest German strategists and field commanders of World War II.
  • Erwin Rommel was the commander of the Afrika Korps and became known by the nickname "The Desert Fox". Rommel was admired as a strategic genius by both Axis and Allied leaders during the war. Later he was in command of the German forces during the invasion at Normandy.

Empire of Japan Empire of Japan

Hirohito, the Emperor of Japan.
Hideki Tōjō, Prime Minister of Japan from 1941 to 1944.
  • Hideki Tojo was Prime Minister from 1941 until 1944. Tojo was a strong supporter of the Tripartite Alliance between Japan, Germany and Italy. Minister of War in the second cabinet of Fumimaro Konoe, he was chosen as prime minister by the emperor in October 1941. He was one of the main proponent of the war against Occident. Tojo strengthen the Taisei Yokusankai to create a single-party state. He was demoted in July 1944 by the emperor, following the Battle of Saipan and condemned to death by the Tokyo tribunal.
  • Mitsumasa Yonai was Prime Minister in 1940 and minister of the Navy from 1937 to 1939 and 1944 to 1945. During his second mandate as Navy minister, the Imperial Japanese Navy implemented the tokkōtai or suicide units against the Allied fleet. He cooperated with SCAP to fix the testimony of the high officers accused in the Tokyo trials and was exonerated from criminal prosecutions.
  • Kuniaki Koiso was an army General who served as Prime Minister from July 1944 to April 1945.
  • Kantaro Suzuki was an admiral who served as Prime Minister from April to August 1945. He agreed to Japan's surrender to the allies on August 15, 1945.
  • Hajime Sugiyama was minister of the Army from 1937 to 1938, then chief of staff from 1940 to 1944. During this period, the Army kept using chemical weapons and implemented the sanko sakusen. He committed suicide in 1945.
  • Isoroku Yamamoto was commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1939 to 1943 and was responsible for Japan's early naval victories, including the atttack on Pearl Harbor. Considered the most brilliant Japanese naval commander of the war, his death in 1943 deprived the military of a skilled tactician and was a severe blow to Japanese morale.

Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) Kingdom of Italy (Until 1943), Italy Italian Social Republic (1943-1945)

  • Benito Mussolini was Prime Minister from 1922 until 1943 commonly called Duce ("Leader") by his Fascist supporters. Mussolini was the de facto dictator of Italy during that period, as King Emmanuel III delegated his powers to Mussolini and opposition to Mussolini and the Fascist state was seen as treason. Mussolini was the official head of the Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale, MVSN ("Volunteer Militia for National Security"), often called the "Blackshirts", who were Fascist partisans loyal specifically to him, rather than the King. Mussolini was later Head of State of the Italian Social Republic (regime under control of Nazi Germany), that succeeded the Kingdom of Italy in the Axis between 1943 and 1945. Mussolini was the founder of fascism and made Italy the first fascist state using the ideas of nationalism, militarism and anti-communism combined and state propaganda. Mussolini's regime was an influence on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
  • Ugo Cavallero was the head of the Italian Royal Army during the Second World War, his powers being delegated to him from the King, who was the official supreme commander of the Italian Royal Army. He led Italian forces during the Greco-Italian War in which Italian forces faltered badly.
  • Arturo Riccardi was the head of the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) from 1940 to 1943, his powers being delegated to him from the King, who was the official supreme commander of the Italian Royal Navy.
  • Italo Balbo was the head of the Italian Royal Airforce (Regia Aeronautica) from the 1930s until his death in 1940. His powers were delegated to him from the King, who was the official supreme commander of the Italian Royal Air Force. He also commanded the Tenth army in Libya until his death.
  • Galeazzo Ciano was appointed minister of foreign affairs in 1936 by Mussolini (who was his father-in-law) and remained in that position until the end of the Fascist regime in 1943. Ciano signed the Pact of Steel with Germany in 1939 and subsequently the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Japan in 1940. Ciano attempted to convince Mussolini to bring Italy out of the war as casualties mounted but was ignored. In 1943, Ciano supported the ousting of Mussolini as Prime Minister. Ciano was later executed by Fascists in the Italian Social Republic for betraying Mussolini.
  • Roberto Farinacci wasfire incident on June 28, 1940. Graziani was ordered to invade Egypt by Mussolini. Graziani expressed doubts about the ability of his largely un-mechanized force could defeat the British, however, he followed orders and the Tenth Army attacked on September 13. He resigned his commission in 1941 after being defeated by the British in Operation Compass. Graziani was the only one of the Italian marshals to remain loyal to Mussolini after Dino Grandi's Grand Council of Fascism coup, and was appointed Minister of Defence of the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana, or RSI). Graziani had under his command the mixed Italo-German LXXXXVII "Liguria" Army (Armee Ligurien) of the RSI.

Hungary Kingdom of Hungary

Regent Miklós Horthy of Hungary.
  • Géza Lakatos was a general in the Hungarian Army during World War II who served briefly as Prime Minister of Hungary, under governor Miklós Horthy from August 29, 1944, until October 15, 1944.
  • Béla Miklós was as acting Prime Minister, at first in opposition, and then officially, from 1944 to 1945.
  • Iván Hindy was colonel-general in the Hungarian Army. He orchestrated the defence of Budapest. On February 11, 1945, Hindy was captured by the Soviets when he tried to escape just prior to the fall of the city on February 13. He was sentenced to death and in 1946, he was executed.

Romania Kingdom of Romania (Until 1944)

Bulgaria Kingdom of Bulgaria (Until 1944)

  • Kyril, Prince of Bulgaria, head of the regency council, 1943-44
  • Ivan Ivanov Bagrianov was Prime Minister in 1944. He attempted to pull Bulgaria out of the war and declare neutrality.

Thailand Kingdom of Thailand

  • Ananda Mahidol was King of Thailand from 1935 until his death in 1946. During the war, Mahidol stayed in neutral Switzerland. He returned to Thailand in 1945 after the war.
  • Pridi Banomyong former revolutionary and cabinet minister, appointed to the regency council in 1941. By 1944 became sole Regent and de-facto Head of State, however this position was only nominal. Secretly became leader of the resistance forces or the Free Thai Movement in 1942.
  • Plaek Pibulsonggram was Field Marshal of the Thai Army and was Prime Minister of Thailand from 1938 until 1944. Pibulsonggram regime embarked upon a course of economic nationalism and Anti-Chinese policies.In 1940 he decided to invade Indo-China known as the French-Thai War. In 1941 he had Thailand allied with Japan and allowed them to use the country for the invasions of Burma and Malaya. When Japanese defeat was eminent he was pressure to resign in 1944.

Finland Republic of Finland (Until 1944)

  • Karl Lennart Oesch was one of the leading Finnish generals during the war. At the end of the Continuation War, two-thirds of the Finnish ground forces were under his command.

Iraq Kingdom of Iraq (Until 1941)

Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husayni talking with Moslem Waffen SS recruits from the Legion Aserbaidschan.

[citation needed]

  • Rashid Ali al-Kaylani was Prime Minister of Iraq from 1940 -1941. Ali al-Kaylani overthrew the pro-British Nuri Said Pasha and established a pro-Nazi regime[citation needed]. Britain responded with severe economic sanctions against Iraq and an invasion. The Anglo-Iraqi War ended with a British victory and Ali al-Kaylani out of power.[citation needed]

Iran Imperial State of Iran (Until 1941)

France French State (Until 1944)

  • Pierre Laval was Pétain's head of government in 1940, and later from 1942 to 1944. Under his second government, collaboration with Nazi Germany intensified. In 1945, Laval was tried for treason, sentenced to death and executed.
  • Joseph Darnand was the commander of the paramilitary French Militia. A pro-Nazi leader he was a strong supporter of Hitler and Pétain government. He established the Milice to round-up Jews and fight the French Resistance. After the war, Darnand was tried for treason and executed.
  • Jean Decoux was the Governor-General of French Indochina representing the Vichy government. Decoux's task in Indochina was to reverse the policy of appeasement towards the Japanese led by his predecessor general Georges Catroux, but political realities soon forced him to continue down the same road. Arrested and tried after the war, Decoux was not convicted.

Puppet States of Nazi Germany

Serbia Serbian Government of National Salvation (Until 1944)

Slovakia Slovak Republic

Croatia Independent State of Croatia

Ante Pavelić, self-proclaimed "Poglavnik" (Head-man) of Croatia.

Norway Norwegian National government

Puppet states of the Kingdom of Italy

Montenegro Kingdom of Montenegro (Until 1944)

Greece Hellenic State (Until 1944)

Albania Albanian Kingdom (Until 1944)

Puppet States of Imperial Japan

Manchukuo Great Empire of Manchukuo

Mengjiang Mengjiang United Autonomous Government

  • Demchugdongrub was the vice-chairman, then the chairman. In 1941 he became chairman of the Mongolian Autonomous Federation.

Republic of China Republic of China-Nanjing

Burma State of Burma (Until 1945)

Philippines Second Philippine Republic

India Provisional Government of Free India (1943-1945)

Vietnam Empire of Vietnam (1945)

Cambodia Kingdom of Cambodia (1945)

Laos Kingdom of Laos (1945)

See also


  1. ^ Daniel Barenblat, A plague upon humanity, 2004, p.37.
  2. ^ Yoshiaki Yoshimi, Dokugasusen Kankei Shiryō II, Kaisetsu(Materials on Poison Gas Warfare), 1997, pp.25–29., Herbert P. Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, 2001

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address