World War II
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- On September 1, 1939 German armies invaded Poland. Just 2 days afterwards France and Britain declared war on Germany. What did you think about this? Did it seem too far away to be important? Did you have relatives overseas that you feared for?
- At that point, did you know that these events would bring on World War II or did you think that the world had learned its lesson from World War I and would settle the problems peacefully?
- Where were you and what were you doing when you heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor? What was your reaction to the news?
- Did the attack influence how you thought of Japanese-Americans? Did you have any friends who were Japanese? How did it affect your relationships with them? What did you think about Japanese detention camps in the U.S.?
- The U.S. entered the war just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. What did you believe the U.S. was fighting for and against?
- What were your perceptions of FDR's leadership abilities? What qualities make a good leader? Which of these did he have? Which did he lack? Did you think that he inspired confidence in people?
- On April 12, 1945, Roosevelt died and Harry S. Truman became President. What was your reaction to the news? What did you think of Truman at the time? How did you 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 you agree with its use or not?
- Did knowing that the U.S. government had this kind of power make you feel safe? Did your 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 you feel? Did you think that something like that could ever happen again? Why or why not?
- Did you or someone you knew spend time in a Nazi concentration camp? Describe the experiences and people. In what ways did it affect you or those that you 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 you? To your family?