Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Tripartite Pact (27 September 1940)

Diplomatic agreement between Germany, Italy, and Japan. Negotiated in Tokyo, the pact was signed in Berlin on 27 September 1940 by German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano, and Japanese Ambassador Kurusu Saburo. Primarily designed to forestall the entry of the United States into the war, the agreement stated as its main principle the establishment and maintenance of a new order, calculated to promote the mutual prosperity and welfare of the peoples concerned. The pact formalized the Axis partnership.

The agreement, which was to last 10 years, contained six articles. In Article 1, Japan recognized the establishment of a new order in Europe under the leadership of Germany and Italy. In Article 2, Germany and Italy recognized Japanese leadership in the establishment of a new order in greater East Asia. Article 3 pledged each partner to cooperate in the processes that would lead to the final goal stated in Articles 1 and 2. Article 3 was also a direct warning to the United States, although there was no mention of that power by name. In it, the three Axis powers vowed to "to assist one another with all political, economic, and military means when one of the contracting powers is attacked by a power not involved in the European war or in the Chinese-Japanese conflict." Thus, Germany and Italy would be bound to fight on the side of Japan were the United States to attack that country. Article 4 called for joint technical commissions from the three powers to meet without delay to implement the agreement. Article 5 stated that the three powers respected the agreements made by the date on which the agreement was signed by any of the three powers with the Soviet Union. Article 6 set the 10-year limit of the agreement and provisions for its renewal.

Soviet leaders were alarmed by the pact, although Article 5 supported the German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact of 1939. In November 1940, to allay Soviet concerns, the German government formally asked the Soviet Union to join the pact, and meetings were held to discuss that possibility. Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov was invited to Berlin, and talks concerning German-Soviet relations began on 12 November 1940. These negotiations did not result in agreement, as Adolf Hitler, already planning to invade the Soviet Union, rejected the Soviet insistence on concrete agreements concerning territory and spheres of influence.

Other nations were also pressured by Germany to adhere to the Tripartite Pact. Romania signed on 23 November 1940, as did Slovakia the next day. Bulgaria joined on 1 March 1941, when Tsar Boris III pledged his county's allegiance. Yugoslavia adhered to the pact on 25 March 1941 but renounced its action two days later, after the government of Prime Minister Dragisa Cvetkovic was overthrown on the issue and replaced by that of General Dusan Simovic. Unlike the Allies, the Axis coalition never developed a grand strategy for fighting the war.

Joseph C. Greaney

Further Reading
Clark, Alan. Barbarossa: The Russian-German Conflict, 1941–1945. New York: Quill, 1965.; Fischer, Klaus P. Nazi Germany: A New History. New York: Continuum Publishing, 1995.; Gilbert, Martin. The Second World War: A Complete History. New York: Henry Holt, 1989.; Meskill, Johanna Menzel. Hitler and Japan: The Hollow Alliance. New York: Atherton Press, 1966.; Morley, James William, ed. Deterrent Diplomacy: Japan, Germany, and the USSR, 1935–1940. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976.

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