Talking About World War II: Why were the Axis powers (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and militaristic Japan) considered to be the “bad guys” during World War II?
The answer is simple: The Axis powers consisted of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and a militaristic, aggressive, and expansionist Japan, plus various satellite nations (such as Hungary, Romania, and (for a time) Finland. The Axis nations were led by Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Hideki Tojo, three guys who would never earn the Mr. Congeniality award either in their lifetimes or in prosperity’s point of view.
In essence, the Axis nations are considered to be World War II’s bad guys for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that their war aims were:
- Territorial expansionism at the expense of their neighbors
- Deliberate genocide of entire ethnic and religious groups
- Totalitarian rule on a continental scale
Interestingly, though Germany, Italy, and Japan were nominal allies in World War II, their military alliance was more or less cosmetic. The two major powers, Hitler’s Third Reich and Tojo’s Japanese Empire, discussed the division of their conquered lands in the Eurasian landmass but never really coordinated their war efforts. Italy was, before 1939 anyway, the more senior of the Axis powers because Mussolini had been in power since 1922 and had started wars of aggression before Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Italy became Germany’s junior partner after Hitler’s victories in Poland and Western Europe and was more of a liability to the Axis war effort than a true asset.
I suppose one can argue that several of the Allied powers, including France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Great Britain were colonial powers and were slightly “less bad” than the Axis powers because they had large overseas empires. One can also argue that the U.S. also had colonies in the Pacific (the Philippines, for one) and that the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin was a totalitarian regime that was just as murderous (or even more so) than the Nazis. But the truth of the matter is that none of the major western Allied powers (Great Britain and the U.S.) had the murderous agenda of expansionism and depopulation of entire regions that the Nazis and the Japanese had.