Did Argentina Fight in World War II?

Many Argentines served under the British and Canadian military during World War II.
Many Argentines served under the British and Canadian military during World War II.

The major Axis and Allied powers overshadowed Argentina's role in the Second World War. Prior to WWII, Germany and Argentina enjoyed close ties due to a large number of German immigrants in Argentina and the state’s ancient rivalry with Great Britain. After the war broke out in 1939, many believed that the Argentine government was Pro-Nazi. Argentina also had close relations with the United States and chose to remain neutral after the US joined the Allies. Several attempts by the United States to persuade Argentina to join the Allies failed. The state managed to avoid the war until it severed relation with the Axis powers on January 26, 1944, and formally declared war on March 27, 1945.

Argentine-German Relations

Argentina announced neutrality at the outset of the Second World War. The decision was based on its close relations to the Axis and Allies. The country was also seeking to revitalize the economy after the Great Depression. Argentina was a signatory of the Havana Conference of 1940 that obligated all the states in the Americas to join pact in response to an attack on any signatory. However, Argentina insisted that the entry into the war was a state's individual decision. The relation between Argentina and Germany began in the early 1930s and seemed to strengthen during the war. By 1939, about 100,000 Germans lived in Argentina; they controlled significant sectors of the state including the chemical, industrial, electrical, construction, and pharmaceutical industries. They were also major players in banking and insurance. The Allies persuaded Argentina to end economic and financial transactions with Germany to no avail as weapons, ammunition, technology, and money kept flowing to Germany.

Argentine-Allied Relations

Although Argentina kept closer relations with Germany, it also had close ties with Great Britain. Beef exports to Great Britain and the United States doubled during the war as the two countries struggled to feed soldiers on the front line. Although the allies tried to persuade Argentina to join, they were also keen not to push the state towards the Axis. In December 1943, Argentina aided the right-wing nationalist forces to overthrow the Bolivian government. The United States threatened to publish evidence that Argentina was involved in the coup and was planning several others in South America if it did not cut links with Germany.

Argentina’s Entry To The War

In 1944, the Allies were concerned that Germany was moving assets to neutral states including Argentina with the aim of planning a resurgence. A military coup in June 1943 uncovered a network of Nazi espionage that severed relations between Argentina and the Axis powers. In January 1944, a second coup installed General Edelmiro Farrell as the president. Farrell was sympathetic to the Nazi and began restoring relations between the two countries. The United States recalled its ambassador to Argentina and refused to recognize the government. It froze Argentine assets in the US and established a blockade against Argentine goods in the Pacific. On March 27, 1945, Argentina declared war on the Axis powers and the US consequently recognized the Argentine government. Argentina did not actually join the conflict, and the war ended six months later.

Argentines Serving During the War

Although the Argentine military did not join the conflict, that does not mean that no Argentines served during the war. Approximately 4,000 Argentines served as part of the British armed forces, nearly 500 served as part of the British Royal Navy, while more than 600 served under the British and Canadian Air Forces. In fact, the Royal Canadian Air Force's No. 164 squadron sported a shield featuring the sun from the Argentine flag.


More in World Facts