The US, Japan, and Germany in the 1940s

Table of Contents


The period between 1940 and 1949 forms one of the pillars of the modern world history. As a matter of facts, the period is associated with numerous and renowned events that goes down as remarkable occurrences in the world’s historical books. For instance, the world most famous war i.e. the Second World War as well as the battle of Britain took place during this time. According to Anonymous (2), the 1941 for instance was marked by a number of historical events which includes but not limited to the Japanese attacking of the Pearl Harbor, the invention of the jeep as well as the completion of the Mount Rushmore, the siege of Leningrad as well as the flying of the Germans Nazi to London for a peace negotiations mission (Rosenberg 7). Furthermore, 1941 virtually marked the beginning of the manhattans projects. On the other hand, the historical events in 1942 including the emergence of the battle of midway, the introduction of T-shirts to the world fashion as well as the going into hidings of the Anne Frank as well as King Nazi’s revenge on the death of Reinhardt Heydrich’s. In fact, there are very many other historical occurrences that took place in the decade beginning in the year 1940 to 1949, which the list is too large to exhaust. As a result, this paper therefore while looking at the timeline of the 1940s is inclined toward the Second World War as well as the inventions of the time. In addition, the paper reviews the social issues in the US, Japan, and Germany during the decade.

The Second World War

Ideally, the World War II is the most famous phenomenon to have taken place in the 1940. The global total war is a phenomenon that started in 1939 upon the invasion of Poland by the Germans Nazi and which did not end until the second of September 1945 (Braakhuis 2). Characteristically, the war refers to the historical military conflict that involved military personnel from all over the world including the world’s superpowers and which led to development of two military alliances namely; the axis and the allies. As a matter of facts, the Second World War goes down in history as the world greatest military conflict or rather a total war having involved mobilization of more than a hundred million military staff from various parts of the world (Chickering 64). According to the latter, the participants channeled a great deal of resources and investment into the world deadliest war in terms of scientific innovations, equipments, and economically. The Second World War was so widespread and deadly in terms of the fatal consequences that by the time it subsided in 1945, close to a hundred million had been killed including military personnel although majority of the casualties were innocent civilians. Furthermore, it led to war torn destruction of property.

The inventions during the 1940s

The 1940s decade was also marked by a host of famous invention ranging from scientific invention mainly to facilitate their participation in the Second World War to invention in the field of fashion and social life. For instance, the Jeep was initially invented in 1941 by Truck Automobile upon realization and recommendations by General Dwight D. Eisenhower that the United States military personnel were in need of a first lightweight cruiser that could endure all terrains to be effective in the World War II (Morison 6). Dwight later confessed that the jeep was so crucial to the US military in the war that US could have not won without it. Boredom over the World War II ignited individuals to look for alternative form of entertainment and fun, a fact that led to children discovering metal pie plates thus their tossing grew in popularity. Due to the hurting nature of the metal pies and the level of noise that they made upon tossing, Walter Morris thought of making them using plastic a move that led to the invention of the Frisbee in 1948 (Rosenberg 2). It is during the same decade that the first computer was invented. In 1945, a microwave oven was invented by Percy Spencer (Anonymous 5).

Among other simple inventions included the production and commercialization of ball point’s pen in 1944, the invention of paranoid cameras in 1948, and the debutant atomic bomb in the Soviet Union in 1949. In 1946, the initial computer typically referred as ENIAC was invented the latter of which was made of metals and vacuum tubes. The same year (1946), another breakthrough in the medical field was made via the invention of penicillin by Howard Florey of University of Pennsylvania as a practical antibiotic (Rosenberg 7). The 1949 marked the year in which the first nonstop flight flew round the earth. Fashion wise, a number of inventions were made in the 1940 particularly the sweaters and the introduction of T-shirts in 1942 (Anonymous 6). Furthermore, the period marked by the introduction of Bikinis in 1945. Over the same time, American designers responded to the fashion evolution with designs of great luxury and dresses like the evening dress (Connie 7). Between 1941 and 1942, the classic gypsy was developed (Weston 6).

The social issues in the 1940s

Despite the fact that the decade starting in 1940 was typically dominated by the Second World War a lot of social transformation took place in the 1940s. In the United States of America for instance, the period was particularly by major developments in the film and music industry as well as fashion took place. It is in this century that Hollywood the major producer of films in the US produced many of its famous films of the times (Sue 3). Example of such films include The Maltese Falcon, which was directed by John Huston produced in 1941, Citizen Kane directed by Orson Welles produced in the same year, Casablanca directed by Michael Curtiz 1942, It’s a Wonderful Life directed by Frank Capra in 1946, Double Indemnity directed by Billy Wilder and Meet Me in St. Lous directed by Vincente Minnelli 1944 as well as The Big Sleep directed by Howard Hawks in 1946 among others (Niewyk 45). The famous American musicians of the 1940 include Marian Anderson, The Andrews Sisters, Louis Armstrong, Gene Autry, Pearl Bailey, Benny Carter, Charlie Barnet, Count Basie, Irving Berlin, Mills Brothers to name but a few (Anonymous 8). Sporting events in the US, Germany and many other European countries were greatly disrupted by the Second World War. However, it is the time that base ball developed the latter of which formed a major recreation for the military staff (Niewyk 47).


The history of 1940s is typically identified by the Second World War, which was the deadliest total war in the world war history and which involved the whole world killing more than 80 million people from across the world. However, the period was also marked by major innovations ranging from scientific, technological, and fashions. Such innovations include the computer, paranoid camera, the American jeep, and introduction of T-shirts and bikinis into the fashion, commercialization of ball point pens among others. In action, 1940s was a decade of social transformation not only in the US but also in other part of Europe particularly in the development of the entertainment industry mainly films, music, and sports.

Works cited

Anonymous, 1940s History including Popular Culture, Prices, Events, technology and inventions, the peoples history, 2009. Web.

Braakhuis, Wilfred. The world at war, the history of ww2 1939-1945.1998. Wilfried Braakhuis, 2009.Web.

Chickering, Roger. A World at Total War: Global Conflict and the Politics of Destruction, 1937–1945 2006 Cambridge University Press. p. 64

Connie, Moody. Literature of the 1940s: A Decade of Change. A Language Arts Unit for Grades 7-9. (1995)

Goldstein, Margaret. World War II, Twenty-First Century Books, 2004, p. 35.

Morison, Samuel Eliot. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, University of Illinois Press, 2002, p. 60.

Niewyk, Donald & Nicosia, Francis. Social issues in the 1940s, Columbia University Press, 2000, pp. 45–52

Rosenberg, Jennifer. Timeline of the 20th Century, Guide. 2009. Web.

Sue, Goodwin. American Cultural History1940 – 1949, Kingwood College Library, 2005

Twentieth Century Decades Lone Star College – Kingwood 1999. Web.

Weston Pauline Thomas. C20th Costume History 1940-1950 1940s Utility Clothing to Look 1940s Fashion History, 2009. Web.

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