WW2 and the rest of the world

What was the late 30s-early 40s like for nations who were NOT aligned as Allies or Axis powers?

I mean, what was life like for the average citizen of Kenya, Sri Lanka, or Chile?

Well - Both Kenya and Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) were British colonies, so many of the men would have been fighting. I imagine that the Chilean people were largely unaware of what was going on. Of course China kept right out of it - maybe hoping to pick the entrails of Japan afterwards.

It wasn’t called a World Way for nothing.

Sorry, China? In World War Two? When they’d been fighting the Japanese invaders since 1937? Or were you thinking of another war?

Okay, I figured the inhabitants of Colonies/Protectorates would be called upon to provide personell and materiel for the war effort, but there were some Independent, Neutral nations some distance from a Theater of Operations.

Certain remote areas of the Pacific developed Cargo Cults as a response to the material goods the war rained down upon them and washed up on their shores:


I have to imagine you’re thinking of WWI. Because, you know, China was involved in a decade-long horrific war with Japan. I know it doesn’t get much play in America, but most of Japan’s army was bogged down fighting in China, even at the end.

I imagine that unless the place was cut off from the 20th century, Afghanistan-style, trade disruptions and shortages due to war efforts in various countries were probably the primary way that unaffiliated nations were affected by the war.

But for your average say… Sudanese, I doubt there was much difference between say… 1938, 1942, 1944 and 1946, with the exception of some British changes to administration that were intended to lead toward independence, and weren’t specifically war-related.

Some nations did quite well as neutrals. Others got hurt badly due to less import/export and less call for non-necessary goods.

Spain was still recovering (but pro-Axis)and Sweden did Ok by selling steel to the Nazis and on the other hand committing itself to humanitarian efforts such as accepting most of the Jews from Denmark. They also leased a large part of the Swedish merchant navy to Britain. In 1945 the Swedes indicated that if necessary they would come into the war on the side of the Allies to help save Denmark.

Pretty much every nation was on one side or the other by the end, the few hold-outs (not covered above) were:
Ireland (Pro Allied)
Portugal (Pro Allied)

Plus a few microstates.

Argentina & Chile famously joined the Allies only about a month before the war was over.

In El Salvador the usual military dictators had sympathies for the Fascist governments in Europe, but they had the smarts to not support them, like almost all of Latin America El Salvador officially joined the Allies in WWII.

And more remarkable, even with those fascist sympathies some even fought alongside the allies and we even had a Salvadorean Schindler:

José Castellanos Contreras

Obligatory joke many Salvadoreans from that tiny nation remember from those days:

*In WWII, after the Pear harbor attack, Germany declared war to the USA. El Salvador then in support to the USA declared war to the axis powers! (Up to here the story is true!)

In Germany, inside the war head quarters in Berlin, Hitler and his henchmen were looking at a world map. A messenger will drop and say:

-“Mein Fuller! Australia has declared war to Germany!”

Then a tiny red flag was put nonchalantly over Australia. Then more soldiers came with more declarations:

-“New Zealand declared war!”, “The Netherlands mein Fueller!” “Brazil!”…

Soon the war map was filled with a field of red flags, then suddenly one more soldier wearily comes in and said:

-“El Salvador declared war to Germany!”…

Hitler and Goering looked at each other…

-"Gott in himmel! Where is that?” said Hitler. No one ever heard of such a place… “Well, everybody, look for it on the map!”

-“Jawohl! Mein Fueller!!” said the officers.

After an hour of looking, everybody was beginning to think it was joke from Goebbels when suddenly one officer said:

-“Mein Fueller! I found it! It was completely covered by this white pin!”*

IIRC, Japan maintained a million man plus army in China for the entire duration of the conflict. Hopefully Bob misspoke.

I once saw a museum-specimen world map, produced by the Allied side, showing belligerent and neutral nations “as at” toward the end of the war. Was moved to some surprise at how little of the world was indicated there as “neutral”. One may explain this circumstance, I feel, thus – of the parts of the world not touched at first hand by hostilities: in the Old World and Oceania, most belonged at the time, to the empires of European powers; and post-late 1941, nearly all Latin American nations declared war, taking the Allied side, in solidarity with the USA (doing this, mostly, just as a “token” thing). One takes it that in the main, in these areas removed from actual theatres of war (and excluding British Dominions): no inhabitants had to get involved in the war, who did not actually choose to.

Aside from the several European nations (including here, Turkey) which remained neutral, the big exception was Argentina: whose government genuinely wished not to be aligned with either side – the country stayed neutral. In fact, Argentina did notionally enter the war on the Allied side, one month before Germany’s surrender in 1945 – understandable in practical terms, but to my “gut feeling”, a bit of a shabby way to behave.

I don’t recall every detail of the mentioned wartime map; would imagine that a few small and obscure Old World nations were neutral throughout, and not involved. I see Nepal and Bhutan, and probably some of the lesser states in the Arabian peninsula, continuing on their happy way and ignoring the global conflict. I learn from Wiki that Afghanistan was officially neutral throughout the war, though tending toward the Axis camp earlier on, then manoeuvered into favouring the Allies.

Overtaken by the 5-minute limit: made my above post, then realised too late, that the thread had moved on after post #6. Apologies particularly to DrDeth and

HAITI DECLARED WAR ON GERMANY! It was mostly because the corrupt government officials wanted to seize (steal) German owned assets for themselves.

I supposed a number of these countries were persuaded (greasing a few palms) to declare war on Germany in 1945 to prevent Hitler, Himmler, Fat Hermann and others from getting sanctuary in a neutral country if they made it out. In 1919 article 227 of the Treaty of Versailles specifically called  for Wilhelm II to be extradited from the Netherlands to be tried as a war criminal. The Dutch refused and what trials the Allies did came off badly. Dealing with a far more evil  Nazi Germany in 1945, the Allies  wanted to do war crimes trials right and that meant  capturing the top echelon.

Australia and New Zealand had been at war with Germany for over two years when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The Netherlands were attacked by Germany in May 1940 and so never formally declared war. Handy list here.

One reason for the late-war declarations of war on Germany was that the Allies issued a declaration calling themselves the United Nations in 1942. Any country could join by agreeing to the general principles and declaring war on Germany. As time went on, it became clear that this was going to be the framework for the post-war international entity that would be a (hopefully) more effective version of the League of Nations. Anyone who didn’t want to be left out of what might be a very powerful organization that would certainly include the most powerful countries in the world could get in with a basic signature and declaration of war against Germany, even if it was just a token, unless they had a strong reason not to (like Switzerland and their neutrality policy).

I’m not sure if you mean to say that the British Dominions did not have a choice to enter the war, but if so, that’s not the case. They did have the choice.

Unlike WWI, where the British declaration of war bound the Dominions, by 1939 all of the Dominions had full autonomy in international affairs and were not bound by the British declaration of war.

Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa all chose to enter the war in support of Britain.

For the record, China was also part of World War I. China declared war on Germany in 1917 and over a hundred thousand Chinese served in Europe.

Panama’s President Arnulfo Arias, elected in 1940, was an open Nazi sympathizer and admirer of Hitler.

Obviously the US couldn’t tolerate this in a country that hosted the Panama Canal, and Arias was bounced in a US supported coup in October 1941. Panama actually seems to have declared war on Japan on December 7, a day before the US did.

[Foghorn Leghorn]

“That was a joke, I say that’s a joke son!”