What Does “Axis” Really Mean?

Germany started capturing counties like Czechoslovakia while Italy turned its army towards the Balkans and Africa.

When World War 2 and the participants are discussed, you hear names such as “Allies” and “Axis.” These are alliances between countries formed through political deals and settled by diplomats.

They sound almost like business deals, but they have a philosophy and a master strategy behind them. They can even involve a mathematical way of thinking. Think back to your school days when the teacher spoke about the “XY axis.”

Germany and Italy.  Nazi and Fascist. XY. Axis.

The Axis powers formed not only a war strategy but also a philosophy and a way of living. It was Mussolini’s idea that the day would come that the world would spin around the “axis” of Berlin-Rome.

The two countries made a pact together, and they wanted to think it through every detail. After all, you cannot take over the world without a grand name and an all-encompassing philosophy behind your actions.

Germany’s Führer Adolf Hitler beside Italy’s Duce Benito Mussolini. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1969-065-24 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Germany’s Führer Adolf Hitler beside Italy’s Duce Benito Mussolini. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1969-065-24 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Il Duce and the Führer had similar value systems and ways of thinking. Germany started capturing counties like Czechoslovakia while Italy turned its army towards Balkan and Africa.

The Axis powers took on the war fiercely from the start when Hitler invaded Poland.

Hitler watching German soldiers marching into Poland in September 1939. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S55480 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Hitler watching German soldiers marching into Poland in September 1939. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S55480 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

With a circle-like movement, Hitler’s army managed to invade Belgium and later defeat the Allies, with the British soldiers retreating helplessly.

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The policy of the Axis powers was always to expand as if following a straight line on an XY Axis. But Germany made a mistake when it tried to force England to spin around the Axis.

126 German aircraft or “Adolfs” were claimed by Polish pilots of 303 Squadron during the Battle of Britain
126 German aircraft or “Adolfs” were claimed by Polish pilots of 303 Squadron during the Battle of Britain

After already taking France with such speed, the Germans started to see if there was anyone else who was able to resist the Nazi’s power. Hitler noticed that Great Britain was still standing and had no intentions of surrendering.

So, Hitler launched an attack to obtain air superiority over the English Channel, hoping he could beat the British with mind games. But that was a mistake. Not only did he fail to achieve superiority, but he also wasted a lot of time and postponed the British invasion.

Pattern of condensation trails left by British and German aircraft after a dogfight.
Pattern of condensation trails left by British and German aircraft after a dogfight.

Italy had already taken over unprotected countries like Ethiopia, and Mussolini wasn’t really gathering any glory, even if he was the creator of the Axis philosophy. Being called the “soft underbelly” of Europe by Churchill could not have been easy for him.

The Italian part of the Axis continued its invasion of other lands although they embarrassed themselves when they tried to take Egypt and failed. Later, attempts to invade Greece also went terribly wrong. At that point, the line on the Axis chart started to curve downwards.

Italian soldiers in the North African Campaign in 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-783-0104-09 / Moosmüller / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Italian soldiers in the North African Campaign in 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-783-0104-09 / Moosmüller / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Eventually, Hitler decided that Stalin was not “Axis” enough and that Moscow didn’t deserve to be included in the Berlin-Rome Axis. So, he decided to invade the country instead.

Read another story from us: Hitler’s Plans for a New World Order After His Victory in WW2

Marching three million troops into Russia, Hitler thought that he was a world conqueror. After all, through his “Axis” strategy he had managed to expand into most of Europe. Consequently, the same fate was to befall Russia as well.

But the Axis proved to be nothing but an unsolvable problem, a corrupted equation, which risked all and tried everything, but ultimately could not avoid a disastrous ending.