World War II
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How did World War II affect him/her? Whether he/she was on the front lines or holding down the home front, there's a story to tell. Select this Topic for help with preserving his/her World War II experiences.
After the turmoil of the Depression years, the world plunged into another crisis, World War II. Would you like to write about his/her interest in World War II?
- On September 1, 1939 German armies invaded Poland. Just 2 days afterwards France and Britain declared war on Germany. What did he/she think about this? Did it seem too far away to be important? Did he/she have relatives overseas that he/she feared for?
- At that point, did he/she know that these events would bring on World War II or did he/she think that the world had learned its lesson from World War I and would settle the problems peacefully?
- Where was he/she and what was he/she doing when he/she heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor? What was his/her reaction to the news?
- Did the attack influence how he/she thought of Japanese-Americans? Did he/she have any friends who were Japanese? How did it affect his/her relationships with them? What did he/she think about Japanese detention camps in the U.S.?
- The U.S. entered the war just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. What did he/she believe the U.S. was fighting for and against?
- What were his/her perceptions of FDR's leadership abilities? What qualities make a good leader? Which of these did he/she have? Which did he/she lack? Did he/she think that he/she inspired confidence in people?
- On April 12, 1945, Roosevelt died and Harry S. Truman became President. What was his/her reaction to the news? What did he/she think of Truman at the time? How did he/she think Truman would "stack up" to Roosevelt?
- On August 5th, 1945, American planes dropped the first atomic bomb in history on Hiroshima, Japan. What was the public's reaction to this? Did he/she agree with its use or not?
- Did knowing that the U.S. government had this kind of power make him feel safe? Did his/her views of atomic weapons change at all after that day? How and why?
- During World War II, the Nazis systematically killed millions of Jews, Gypsies, and other people. How did this make him feel? Did he/she think that something like that could ever happen again? Why or why not?
- Did he/she or someone he/she knew spend time in a Nazi concentration camp? Describe the experiences and people. In what ways did it affect him or those that he/she knew?
- What was it like to live through those years of massive destruction, to be involved with the war effort, and then finally to see peace?
- What did World War II mean to him? To his/her family?
Did he/she serve in the military during all or part of World War II?
- Which branch did he/she serve in? Did he/she enlist or was he/she drafted? How did he/she feel about the draft? Was he/she philosophically or politically opposed to serving in the military or was he/she proud to serve his/her country?
- Describe basic training. Who was his/her commanding officer? Who were his/her peers? Where and for how long was he/she trained? What did he/she do?
- Did he/she have trouble getting along with anyone in his/her unit? Why? What became of it? How did he/she deal with it?
- Did he/she have a nickname? What were the memorable nicknames of others?
- How did he/she feel about sharing his/her space with others? Did it feel cramped at first? Was it easy to get used to?
- What was his/her most vivid memory of this time? Specific people or places? A certain event?
- Which weapons was he/she trained to use? How did he/she feel about using weapons? Was he/she comfortable with one in particular?
- Was he/she especially skilled at one particular task? Did it become his/her "specialty"?
- Did basic training build up or cut down his/her self-confidence? Why or why not? Did he/she feel as if he/she was well-prepared for his/her duties? Did it turn out that he/she was prepared?
- Where was he/she stationed after basic training? What were the people and the surrounding area like?
- How did he/she keep in touch with his/her friends and family back home during this time? Did he/she save any letters he/she or they might have written?
- Did he/she become close friends with any of those he/she fought with? Did they keep in touch? Did he/she save any of their lives? Did they save his?
- Which battles did he/she fight in? Describe the time, place, number of participants, and what happened. How did these battles affect the war as a whole? What role did his/her unit play in this battle?
- Was he/she injured in any way? Describe what happened. What went through his/her mind when he/she realized he/she was hurt?
- If he/she was injured, did he/she heal quickly or not? How did it change him in ways that he/she still noticed years later?
- Did he/she ever need to take someone's life? Briefly describe the experience. How did it affect him/her both immediately and in the long term?
- Why did he/she leave the service? Honorable discharge? Injury? End of active duty? Describe the circumstances and how he/she felt about them.
- Was he/she able to return to "normal functioning"? Was it easy to put it all behind him and get on with his/her life, or did he/she have to struggle? What was the hardest to adjust to once he/she returned?
- Was there someone or something that was helpful in getting him through the adjustment of returning home? What was their role? What did they do?
- According to the history books, when the U.S. dropped 2 atomic bombs on Japan, the war was over. From his/her personal point of view, was this true? If not, describe what still had to be done.
- After all was said and done, what did he/she learn from his/her experiences in the military? Why were these lessons valuable to him? How did they change him and his/her ideas or values?
- How would he/she have been different if he/she had never had these experiences?
- What sort of memorabilia did he/she save from this time? What did it symbolize to him? What memories and feelings did it bring back?
Did he/she stay home during a portion of World War II?
- Why did he/she stay home? Was he/she not called up or was his/her tour of duty shorter than the war? Was he/she too young or too old? Did he/she wish that he/she could have gone?
- What was it like at home? How was life different because of the war? What was the biggest sacrifice he/she had to make because of the war?
- What did he/she do at home to help the war effort? Did he/she grow a victory garden?
- Did anyone he/she knew leave home to fight in the war? How did he/she feel when they left? Was he/she scared? Did he/she think that he/she would never see them again or did he/she feel that they would return? What actually happened?
- If anyone he/she knew left home, how did he/she keep in touch with them during this time? Did he/she save any letters he/she wrote or received?
- Did any of these people die because of the war? Who? Did he/she know how they died? How did he/she find out about their death?
- During the war, many things such as gasoline, food, and rubber were rationed. Did the rationing cause big changes in his/her life? What did he/she need to do without?
- Did he/she experience blackouts? What happened during them? Did he/she have blackout curtains?
- During the war years, many minorities and women took jobs that they couldn't get previously, and were paid more in general. Did he/she notice these changes? What did he/she think?
- When did the war end for him? Was it when the U.S. dropped the atomic bombs on Japan? Or perhaps it was when a loved one came home. Describe that day.
- What was it like when his/her friends and family finally came home? Had they changed in ways he/she didn't expect? Had he/she changed in ways they didn't expect? What was hardest to adjust to once they got back? What was easiest?
- Did it take a long time for life to return to normal? Did it ever? Was it easy for him to put it all behind him and get on with his/her life or did he/she have to struggle? Why?
- What sort of memorabilia did he/she save from this time? What did it symbolize to him? What memories and feelings did it bring back after the war?
Was he/she held in an American detention camp?
- How did he/she feel about his/her country? Was he/she angry? Did he/she feel like a scapegoat?
- What was a camp like? How were the living conditions? What was the mood of the people there?
- Did this have an affect on how he/she felt about himself and other people of his/her ethnicity?
- Describe his/her feelings on the day that he/she left the camp. Was he/she overjoyed? Was it a bittersweet day? How was he/she able to re-integrate himself into everyday life?
- Many years later, the government tried to repay Japanese families for what they lost. What were his/her thoughts about this?