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The three major Allied powers in World War II (1939–45) were Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Their leaders were the Big Three: Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874–1965) of Britain, President Franklin Roosevelt (1882–1945) of the United States, and Premier Joseph Stalin (1879–1953) of the Soviet Union. These leaders and their military advisors planned the strategy to defeat the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan), although Stalin, for the most part, acted alone on the Soviet front. China, which had been at war with Asian rival Japan since 1937, joined the Allied cause along with forty-six other countries who became part of the Allied front before the war was over.
Poland entered the war on September 1, 1939, after being invaded by Germany. Within days Britain declared war on Germany. In 1940 Britain was joined by Australia, New Zealand, India, France, South Africa, and Canada as well as Norway, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. All of these countries were under siege by Nazi (an abbreviation for the National Socialist German Workers' Party) Germany. Greece entered the war later that year, as did Yugoslavia in the spring of 1941. On June 22, 1941, the Soviet Union entered the war. In the days after the Japanese bombing of the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, twelve more Allied countries pledged to fight Nazi Germany, chief among them, the United States and China. (The others, with the exception of Czechoslovakia, were all Caribbean and Latin American countries—Panama, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, and Guatemala.) In 1942 three more countries join the Allies—Mexico, Brazil, and Ethiopia. In 1943 and 1944, in what was perhaps the darkest period of the war, Iraq, Bolivia, Iran, and Columbia signed on as Allied nations. They were followed by the tiny country of San Marino (situated wholly within the boundaries of Italy, an Axis power), Colombia, and Liberia. In February and March 1945 another wave of nations sided with the Allies—the South American countries of Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Argentina, along with the Middle Eastern countries of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. Mongolia (the Mongolian People's Republic), in Central Asia, was the last country to join the Allies, on August 9, 1945. The level of support lent to the war varied among the Allied nations.
Further Information: Calvocoressi, Peter. Total War; the Story of World War II. New York: Pantheon Books, 1972; Overy, Richard J. Why the Allies Won. New York: Norton, 1997; Steins, Richard. The Allies against the Axis: World War II (1940-1950). Breckenridge, Colo.: Twenty-First Century Books, 1995.
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