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There were two major alliances during World War II: the Axis and the Allies.

The three principal partners in the Axis alliance were Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Finally, on September 27, 1940, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact, which became known as the Axis alliance.

Even before the Tripartite Pact, two of the three Axis powers had initiated conflicts that would become theaters of war in World War II.

On July 7, 1937, Japan invaded China to initiate the war in the Pacific.

The German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, unleashed the European war.

Italy entered World War II on the Axis side on June 10, 1940, as the defeat of France became apparent.

OTHER COUNTRIES JOIN THE AXIS ALLIANCE In July 1940, just weeks after the defeat of France, Hitler decided that Nazi Germany would attack the Soviet Union the following spring.

In order to secure raw materials, transit rights for German troops, and troop contributions for the invasion from sympathetic powers, Germany began to cajole and pressure the southeast European states to join the Axis.

On November 1, 1936, Germany and Italy, reflecting their common interest in destabilizing the European order, announced a Rome-Berlin Axis one week after signing a treaty of friendship.

Nearly a month later, on November 25, 1936, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan signed the so-called Anti-Comintern Pact directed at the Soviet Union.

Italy joined the Anti-Comintern Pact on November 6, 1937.

On May 22, 1939, Germany and Italy signed the so-called Pact of Steel, formalizing the Axis alliance with military provisions.

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