Top 10 Most Powerful Countries In 1939

Which countries were the most powerful at the start of WW2?
The Top Ten
1 Nazi Germany

At this time, the German Reich was one of the most powerful nations of the time. While they did not own an empire like many other powerful nations of the time, they still held a massive military in terms of size and technology. To top that off, they had one of the largest economies of the time.

Since I was anonymous in a previous post, I will not say much here, but I can offer more facts about why Nazi Germany was the most powerful nation entering 1939. Nazi Germany was already a good-sized nation, stretching from Northern and Northern Central Africa into Germany. They were already pressing into the Soviet Union with little effort and were bombarding Britain with their air force.

Although some may say that Nazi Germany propaganda claimed it was the most powerful nation, the facts speak for themselves. People who have encountered World War II will tell haunting events of German invasions of Europe or Allies' defeats at the hands of Nazi Germany. Hitler did not support propaganda like the vast Soviet Union, but he did use it to some extent. Instead, he got the support of the German people, telling them that they are the greatest and the so-called 'inferior' Jews are troublemakers.

The Nazis lost World War II, but they left a vast trail of wreckage in their wake. The Nazis had advanced technology and they could have controlled nuclear power and most likely the world if they did not make racist laws.

2 United States The United States of America, or the U.S.A. for short, is a federal republic composed of 50 states, 48 of them are contiguous states. There are two other states, Alaska and Hawaii, which are north and south of the contiguous states, respectively. The United States declared its independence from the... read more

Without the United States, the Allies might not have won World War II. The United States pushed the Japanese out of its Pacific island territories and forced the Japanese to surrender due to their newly developed nuclear weaponry. The United States was a major contributor in Operation Overlord (D-Day), which landed Allied forces in continental Europe and was eventually the key to defeating Germany. The US also pushed back Italy and forced them to join the Allies.

They built things rapidly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. They built some new ones, and they got smart scientists. They got so many supplies with an army of 12 million. Wow, very cool!

3 British Empire

In 1939, Britain was the world's major superpower. It had by far the world's strongest navy, and it had an empire so large it was home to roughly a quarter of the world's population - the largest empire in history.

In 1939, Germany was still recovering from the Treaty of Versailles. The Red Army had proven itself ineffective, and the USSR was still recovering from the Russian Civil War. Most of the world hated this country. The United States did not yet have a substantial military or dominant political position, and like the rest of the world, its economy was struggling from the Great Depression. Japan's military was very effective, but it always suffered from various limitations and never really succeeded in making it onto the platform of major powers.

In terms of power status, the only country that rivaled the British Empire was France, a British ally and major victor of the previous world war. But the following year, France proved incapable of defending itself against a weakened Germany.

4 Soviet Union

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was considered one of the most powerful nations in history. The Soviet Union pushed Germany back more than 6,800 miles and was the first nation to reach Berlin. The Soviet Union had an extremely large military and owned land in the farthest reaches of the globe, from Ukraine to Siberia. They were also the second nation to develop nuclear technology.

They didn't have the best military technology or tactics (since Stalin had executed all his high-ranking generals), but the Soviets fought the Nazis with unmatched force by simply overwhelming them with their sheer numbers. The Battle of Stalingrad was easily the bloodiest battle in WWII, if not of all time, resulting in over 2 million casualties. The fact that Stalingrad still never surrendered really says something about the strength of the Soviet military.

Heck, without these guys, the Allies would've been complete toast facing up against the Axis. It was only after Hitler invaded Russia that things started to tip in the Allies' favor. Roosevelt and Churchill were willing to ally with Joseph "the Brutal and Paranoid Dictator" Stalin just to get the Soviets on their side. And don't forget, these guys kicked the Nazis' asses in Eastern Europe. These guys were not to be messed with, which is one of the main reasons why we were so afraid of them during the Cold War. There's a reason the USSR and USA emerged as the two global superpowers after the war ended.

And don't forget, these guys were the ones who ended up taking Berlin, not the USA or Britain. That puts them just a little ahead in my book (though Americans and British were still very strong against the Nazis).

5 Japanese Empire

By 1939, the Japanese were considered a colonial empire, owning the regions of Manchuria, Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), and others. The Japanese military had been modernizing for over 50 years. By 1939, they had a vast expanse of planes, ships, and armored vehicles that were ready to take on the continent of Asia.

Japan had one of the most powerful navies in the world, second only to the US and Great Britain, giving it unparalleled force projection in the Eastern Hemisphere. Isoroku Yamamoto lost Midway through bad tactical judgment, crippling the IJN carrier force. If Yamamoto had engaged the US with his full fleet and maintained air superiority, the lightly escorted US carriers would have been picked off by the battleships Yamato and Nagato, and the US Navy would not have recovered.

6 China

While China was going through a civil war at the time, combined they were still relatively powerful. While they didn't have a particularly powerful military compared to Japan, they were able to hold off their attacks decently well. Although China wasn't extremely developed and had an economy that was primarily centered around agriculture, it was still very powerful compared to other nations of the time.

When combined, China was still indeed a powerful country in 1939. The war with its more powerful neighbor and an ongoing civil war, though, deeply hurt China economically.

7 Canada Canada is a country in North America that is next to the United States, and it's the 2nd largest country in the world by area (size is 9.985 million km²). This country has 10 provinces, and 3 territories. Canada became a dominion on July 1, 1867. Its 10 provinces are: Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec,... read more

Canada fought on all fronts of the war. She played a huge part in the Battle of the Atlantic and the invasion of Italy. Canada was on the beaches at Normandy and made major contributions in the air as well. Definitely made a larger contribution than France or Poland, which were defeated so early in the war, or India, Australia, or New Zealand who played very little roles in comparison. Pound for pound, Canada lost more men percentage-wise than the US. Canada is definitely more deserving to be in the top ten than a few of the nations that are already there.

8 French Empire

As of 1939, the French Republic was considered to have the largest army in the world and the second-largest empire of the time. With colonies in the farthest stretches of the globe, from French West Africa to French Indochina, they were easily considered one of the most powerful nations of the time. Some people even considered tanks from France to be the best in the world. Although France was later conquered by Nazi Germany, this was due to poor leadership and strategies.

France still retained Indochina and African and Pacific colonies in 1939. World War I had affected France more profoundly than perhaps any other nation economically, as did the Great Depression. France's fragile economy was only beginning to recover when the Depression hit in 1929. France was still very much military-oriented, comparable to its 1914 levels, as they were still extremely wary of the growing power of Germany in the east.

9 Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe, bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine and Belarus to the east; and the Baltic Sea, Kaliningrad Oblast (a Russian exclave) and Lithuania to the north. With a population of approximately... read more

Poland fought even when occupied. Its government never surrendered, and it was attacked by the USSR and Nazi Germany. Poland fought for the survival of its fatherland and lost 1/6 of its inhabitants during the war. It also fought in foreign armies in North Africa, Britain, France in 1940 and after Overlord, Italy, and the USSR.

Poland didn't appear that strong, but they only really lost because both Germany and Russia were attacking. They previously beat Russia in the Polish-Russian war of the 1920s. If Russia hadn't attacked Poland in 1939, the progress of Germany would have been slowed.

10 Ottoman Empire
The Contenders
11 Sweden Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe.

It borders Norway to the west and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund. At 450,295 square kilometers (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the third-largest... read more
12 Italian Empire

During the World War II period, Italy was considered one of the three Major Axis Powers. While they didn't gain any major victories during the war, they did conquer the two countries of Albania and Ethiopia. Although both of these attacks took place before the big action, they're still successful invasions. And compared to other nations of the time, they were still relatively powerful.

The Italian Empire was an empire now that Mussolini had invaded and conquered Abyssinia (Ethiopia) at the start of 1936. Compared to the big five, though, Italy was an embarrassment industrially, barely keeping up with small European states such as Belgium and the Netherlands. Mussolini's officials were usually corrupt and disloyal, and Mussolini couldn't and didn't check whether they were doing what he told them. The Fascist regime was, however, extremely militarily oriented, like Nazi Germany, and Italy maintained a population of just under 50 million.

13 India India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country (with over 1.2 billion people), and the most populous democracy in the world. Its capital is New Delhi. Some other major cities are Mumbai, Chennai, and Ahemdabad... read more

Single-handedly, India defeated the oncoming Japanese Imperial Army and also fought on the European front, despite not having full control over the army. India played a major role in the Great War, perhaps second only to the Soviet Union. The freedom of the West owes a great deal to the contributions of Indian soldiers.

It is unclear why China is ranked above India, considering that there was no China during World War II, and Chinese soldiers did not fight in Asia or Europe, while Indians fought on both fronts.

14 Turkey Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country in Eurasia, mainly in Anatolia in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. Turkey is bordered by eight countries with Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia,... read more

Mustafa Kemal was one of the greatest leaders ever in Turkey.

15 Spain Spain, or the Kingdom of Spain, is a country in southwestern Europe with parts of territory in the Atlantic Ocean and across the Mediterranean Sea. The largest part of Spain is situated on the Iberian Peninsula; its territory also includes the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the Balearic Islands... read more

Spain was the biggest empire a long time ago, and then they lost everything. Spain had a civil war. It was Spain vs. Republicans. Spain won, so Franco became Prime Minister of Spain. That's why Spain didn't join the Second World War.

16 Switzerland Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a federal republic in Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, and the city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities... read more
17 Yugoslavia A now-defunct country in Southeastern and Central Europe, Yugoslavia was established in 1918 and dissolved in 1992. Composed of several ethnic groups, the country faced significant political and social challenges, culminating in its breakup into several independent states. The capital was Belgrade,... read more

Only nation that freed itself from occupation.

18 Vatican City Vatican City, officially Vatican City State or the State of Vatican City, is a walled enclave within the city of Rome. It is the smallest nation on Earth, and is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

It should be the strongest since it's the smallest, you know?

19 Philippines The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines, is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It is situated in the western Pacific Ocean and consists of around 7,641 islands that are broadly categorized under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao... read more

The Philippines in 1939 had a small army, a small navy, and an almost non-existent air force. However, two key factors made the Philippines a very hard country to take. First of all, American support of this country greatly prolonged the actual invasion by the Japanese. Many US troops fought until they couldn't in defending key areas such as Manila Bay and parts of the Visayas.

Secondly, the Filipino soldiers were known to be even more resilient, clever, and brutal than even the Japanese. They often used stealth and surprise as weapons to butcher Japanese troops, often in painful and sanguine manners. While the Japanese might have surrounded the Philippines, the sheer number of those willing to die for their country allowed the liberation of the Philippines to be one of the easiest in the entire war. Never underestimate the cleverness, cruelty, willpower, and sheer patriotism of a Filipino soldier.

20 Netherlands The Netherlands, informally Holland, is a country located in north-western Europe with overseas territories in the Caribbean. It is the largest of four constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands consists of twelve provinces, and borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the... read more

It was stronger than Nazi Germany, and Hitler knew it. He made a plan to force the Netherlands to give up. The plan was to bomb Rotterdam, and it was completely wiped off the map.

21 Romania Romania is a sovereign state located in Southeastern Europe It borders the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, and Moldova. It has an area of 238,391 square kilometres and a temperate-continental climate. With over 19 million inhabitants, the country is the seventh-most-populous member state... read more
22 Greece Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the southern tip of the Balkans, and is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey... read more

Greece fought back an Italian invasion in 1940 and launched a counterattack into Albania. Germany had to conquer them.

To do justice to history, I am obliged to state that, of the enemies confronting us, the Greek soldier fought with death-defying valor. He surrendered only after further resistance had become impossible and senseless. - Hitler

Greece showed Italy and Albania that they are weak (Albania was already not that strong). Greece had such a victory that Germany itself had to face this brave land. It also saved Russian lives by stopping the invasion for a while.

23 Denmark Denmark is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It is the most populous and politically central constituent of the Kingdom of Denmark, a constitutionally unitary state that includes the autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland in the North Atlantic Ocean. European Denmark is the southernmost... read more
24 Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of 7,617,930 square kilometres (2,941,300 sq mi), Australia is the largest country by area in Oceania and... read more

We saved the butts of a lot of European armies. Back then, we were pretty powerful in comparison to a lot of other nations. We had a population back then that was able to keep Japan occupied. We helped in the Battle of Normandy.

In the Battle of the Pacific, we helped the US by giving them bases and also helped them side-by-side in naval and land campaigns. We also helped the UK and France in the Battle of France, alongside the US. Australia should get a lot more credit than it really does.

We helped by sending lots to war in Europe and shut off many things so our economy wouldn't collapse.

25 Greater Nepal

Greater Nepal is one of the most powerful but untold army forces. I never saw anything about the Nepal army before this article. But they fought so bravely with others.

8Load More
PSearch List