The Axis powers (German: Achsenmächte, Italian: Potenze dell'Asse, Japanese: 枢軸国 (Sūjikukoku?)), also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and Japan. The "Rome-Berlin Axis" became a full military alliance in 1939 under the Pact of Steel, and the Tripartite Pact of 1940 fully integrated the military aims of Germany, Italy, and Japan. At their zenith in the midst of World War II, the Axis powers ruled empires that dominated large parts of Europe, Africa, East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean, but the war ended with their total defeat and dissolution. Like the Allies, membership of the Axis was fluid, and other nations entered and later left the Axis during the course of the war.
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