I can think of a few civil wars where different groups would fight each other but can’t think of a situation with countries. Of course the game theory thing to do would be for two sides to ally and destroy the third side and then sort out there differences later, but some guys just hate everyone.
There’s several- besides the already mentioned WWI and WWII, the South African Border War (Angola vs. South Africa vs. the Namibian Independence Movement) springs readily to mind.
You’ve also got the latter stages of Part I of the Chinese Civil War (Nationalists vs. Communists vs. the Japanese, where the scenario described is exactly what did happen), the Indian Mutiny (Hindu vs. Muslim vs. The East India Company), and I’m pretty sure there’s been at least one multi-way war in Central or South America as well.
How does WWII qualify? What true infighting was there among Axis or Allies nations between 1939 and 1945?
WARNING: I’m apt to move the goal posts around on what constitutes “true infighting”. An internal civil doesn’t seem to qualify, for example. Nothing on the order of Japan attacking Germany or the U.S. attacking Great Britain ever happened.
Besides Yugoslavia (which has already been mentioned), you’ve got the UK vs. Vichy France vs. Free France (Churchill and de Gaulle hated each other and spent a lot of time trying to nobble and undermine each other’s plans), you’ve got The British vs. Japan vs. India (Azul Hind were Indians fighting with the Japanese against the British and the British Indians). You’ve also got Holland vs. Japan vs. the Indonesian Independence Movement, Italy vs. Germany vs. The Allies (admittedly the Italians switched sides, but even so), Poland vs. Germany vs. Russia, and Vichy French Indochina vs. Japan vs. the Viet Minh.
There were Free Polish forces operating with the British and there were also people within Poland fighting the Russians as well. Remember, the Germans and the Russians invaded Poland from different ends of the country at about the same time (1st and 17th September, 1939 respectively)
The Soviet-Polish partisans and the Armia Krajowa resistance movement were also fighting with each other and the Germans as well… there are some very good Wikipedia articles on the subject if you’re interested.
Vichy France, as essentially a puppet state of Germany, was an Axis nation. When was Vichy France in open battle with Germany? I read that the Vichy gov’t did arrest German spies at times, but that seems to fall below the threshhold of open war.
Still two parties to the conflict, though. Japan + some Indian nationals versus Britain + the remainder of India. Had the Indian government set up two fronts to boot out both Japan and Britain out of Burma, then that would meet the OP’s requirement.
If Dutch troops engaged Japanese troops at some point, this qualifies.
Bolded is the nonqualifier.
Seems to work … the Viet Minh were targeting both Japanese and French troops? Makes sense, this is just a totally overlooked chapter in the American view of WWII.
Germany and Russia divided Poland between them before the war started - and Russia invaded while the Poles were still fighting the Germans in the West. Not really a three-way war, tough, as the German-Russian war started a year and a half after the end of hostilities in Poland. Then of course the Russians “liberated” Poland in late '44/'45, and there was indeed some fighting between partisans…
I was actually thinking of Vichy France fighting against The UK who were also fighting with Free France, who were fighting the Vichy French. (ie two French States fighting each other, the Germans, AND the British) The entire situation is really complicated, but technically speaking Vichy France was a separate entity- At least until 1942, and they were arguably collaborationist rather than a puppet state, but even so.
Azad Hind (sorry, my mistake) were recognised as a separate Government of India by the Japanese, the Germans, and a few other places (admittedly under Nazi or Japanese nominal control), and Azad Hind also had control of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (part of India). They were Indians, controlling part of India, and they were fighting against the British and British Indians, who were fighting the Japanese. So, you had Britain vs. Japan vs. India, at least to a limited extent.
Azad Hind never numbered more than a few thousand fighters as opposed to the 2.5 million strong British Indian Army, an all volunteer force I might add. The romanticising of Azad Hind and Bose is a post Independance thing and mostly from India and Nehru (who actually was the defence counsel for some of the INA cadre in the Agra Trials).
The handful of British fighting for the Nazis never claimed to be a separate country from (or a legitimate government of) the UK the way Azad Hind and Vichy France/Free France claimed to be a legitimate government of India and France respectively, and- this is very important- actually controlled territory which could be recognised as being part of their “country”.
Let’s face it, their were Dutch and French members of the SS as well, not to mention White Russians and Cossacks fighting the Soviets. The whole thing was a complicated mess for everyone, basically.