1940s: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on 1940s

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Millennium: 2nd millennium
Centuries: 19th century20th century21st century
Decades: 1910s 1920s 1930s1940s1950s 1960s 1970s
Years: 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
Categories: BirthsDeathsArchitecture

The 1940s was the decade that started on January 1, 1940 and ended on December 31, 1949.

The Second World War took place in the first half of the decade, which had a profound effect on most countries and people in Europe, Asia and elsewhere. The consequences of the war lingered well into the second half of the decade, with a war weary Europe divided between the jostling spheres of influence of the West and the Soviet Union. To some degree internal and external tensions in the post-war era were managed by new institutions, including the United Nations, the welfare state and the Bretton Woods system, providing to the post-World War II boom which lasted well into the 1970s. However the conditions of the post-war world encouraged decolonialisation and emergence of new states and governments, with India, Pakistan, Israel, Vietnam and others declaring independence, rarely without bloodshed. The decade also saw the early beginnings of new technologies (including computers, nuclear power and jet propulsion), often first developed in tandem with the war effort, and later adapted and improved upon in the post-war era.


Wars and Conflicts



World War II, images of different aspects of the major event (the war) of the 1940s. From top left: Marching German police during Anschluss, emaciated Jews in a concentration camp, Battle of Stalingrad, Capture of Berlin by Soviets, Japanese troops in China, Atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945
  • 1948 Arab–Israeli War (1948 - 1949) - The war was fought between the newly declared State of Israel and its Arab neighbours. The war commenced upon the termination of the British Mandate of Palestine in mid-May 1948. After the Arab rejection of the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (UN General Assembly Resolution 181) that would have created an Arab state and a Jewish state side by side, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria attacked the state of Israel. In its conclusion, Israel managed to defeat the Arab armies.

Major political changes

  • Establishment of the United Nations Charter (June 26, 1945) effective (October 24, 1945)
  • Establishment of the defense alliance NATO April 4, 1949.

Internal conflicts

Decolonization and Independence

David Ben-Gurion proclaiming Israeli independence from the United Kingdom on May 14, 1948


Science and Technology

ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic computer.


Atanasoff–Berry Computer replica at 1st floor of Durham Center, Iowa State University


Kon-Tiki, 1947

Popular Culture


Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane in "Citizen Kane" (1941)

Although the 1940s was a decade dominated by World War II important and noteworthy films about a wide variety of subjects were made during that era. Hollywood was instrumental in producing dozens of classic films during the 1940s, several of which were about the war and some are on most lists of all-time great films. European cinema survived although obviously curtailed during wartime and yet many films of high quality were made in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Soviet Union and elsewhere in Europe. The Cinema of Japan also survived. Akira Kurosawa and other directors managed to produce significant films during the 40s.

In France during the war the tour de force Children of Paradise directed by Marcel Carné 1945, was shot in Nazi occupied Paris.[5][6][7] Memorable films from Post-war England include David Lean's Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948), Carol Reed's Odd Man Out (1947) and The Third Man (1949), and Powell and Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1946) and The Red Shoes (1948), Laurence Olivier's Hamlet, the first non-American film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) directed by Robert Hamer. Italian neorealism of the 1940s produced poignant movies made in post-war Italy. Roma, città aperta directed by Roberto Rossellini 1945, Sciuscià directed by Vittorio De Sica 1946, Paisà directed by Roberto Rossellini 1946, La terra trema directed by Luchino Visconti 1948, The Bicycle Thief directed by Vittorio De Sica 1948, and Bitter Rice directed by Giuseppe De Santis 1949, are some well-known examples.

In Japanese cinema The 47 Ronin is a 1941 black and white two-part Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail 1945, and the post-war Drunken Angel 1948, and Stray Dog 1949, directed by Akira Kurosawa are considered important early works leading to his first masterpieces of the 1950s. Drunken Angel 1948, marked the beginning of the successful collaboration between Kurosawa and actor Toshirō Mifune that lasted until 1965.


  • The most popular music style during the 1940s was the swing which prevailed during the World War II.




World leaders

Military leaders

Activists and religious leaders



Perry Como as Nicky Ricci performing "Here Comes Heaven Again" in 1946 Doll Face.
Benny Goodman performing in 1943 Stage Door Canteen.


During the 1940s Sporting events were disrupted and changed by the events that engaged and shaped the entire world. The 1940 and 1944 Olympic Games were cancelled because of World War II. During World War II in the United States Heavyweight Boxing Champion Joe Louis and numerous stars and performers from American baseball and other sports served in the armed forces until the end of the war. Among the baseball players (including well known stars) who served during World War II were Moe Berg, Joe Dimaggio, Bob Feller, Hank Greenberg, and Ted Williams. They like many others sacrificed their personal and valuable career time for the benefit and well being of the rest of society. The Summer Olympics were resumed in 1948 in London and the Winter games were held that year in St. Moritz Switzerland.


During the early 1940s World War II had an enormous impact on Major League Baseball as many players including many of the most successful stars joined the war effort. After the war many players returned to their teams; while the major event of the second half of the 1940s was the 1947 signing of Jackie Robinson to a major league players contract by Branch Rickey the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Signing Robinson opened the door to the integration of Baseball finally putting an end to the professional discrimination that had characterized the sport since the 19th century.

Ted Williams being sworn into the military on May 22, 1942.
Jackie Robinson (left) with Branch Rickey, signing the contract for Robinson's 1948 season


World War II recruiting poster featuring Louis

During the mid-1930s and throughout the years leading up to the 1940s Joe Louis was an enormously popular Heavyweight boxer. In 1936 he lost an important 12 round fight (his first loss) to the German boxer Max Schmelling and he vowed to meet Schmelling once again in the ring. Louis's comeback bout against Schmelling became an international symbol of the struggle between the USA and democracy against Nazism and Fascism. When on June 22, 1938, Louis knocked Schmelling out in the first few seconds of the first round during their rematch at Yankee Stadium, his sensational comeback victory riveted the entire nation. Louis enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 10, 1942 in response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Louis's cultural impact was felt well outside the ring. He is widely regarded as the first African American to achieve the status of a nationwide hero within the United States, and was also a focal point of anti-Nazi sentiment leading up to and during World War II.[8]


  1. ^ "Holocaust," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009: "the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. The Germans called this "the final solution to the Jewish question ..."
  2. ^ Niewyk, Donald L. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia University Press, 2000, p.45: "The Holocaust is commonly defined as the murder of more than 5,000,000 Jews by the Germans in World War II." Also see "The Holocaust", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2007: "the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women and children, and millions of others, by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. The Germans called this "the final solution to the Jewish question".
  3. ^ Niewyk, Donald L. and Nicosia, Francis R. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia University Press, 2000, pp. 45–52.
  4. ^ Donald Niewyk suggests that the broadest definition, including Soviet civilian deaths, would produce a death toll of 17 million. [1] Estimates of the death toll of non-Jewish victims vary by millions, partly because the boundary between death by persecution and death by starvation and other means in a context of total war is unclear. Overall, about 5.7 million (78 percent) of the 7.3 million Jews in occupied Europe perished (Gilbert, Martin. Atlas of the Holocaust 1988, pp. 242–244). Compared to five to 11 million (1.4 percent to 3.0 percent) of the 360 million non-Jews in German-dominated Europe. Small, Melvin and J. David Singer. Resort to Arms: International and civil Wars 1816-1980 and Berenbaum, Michael. A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis. New York: New York University Press, 1990
  5. ^ DeWitt Bodeen, Les Enfants du Paradis, filmreference.com
  6. ^ [2] Gio MacDonald, Edinburgh University Film Society program notes, 1994-95
  7. ^ Quoted by Roger Ebert, Children of Pardise, Chicago Sun-Times, 6 January 2002 review oif the Criterion DVD release
  8. ^ John Bloom and Michael Nevin Willard, ed (2002). Sports Matters: Race, Recreation, and Culture. New York: New York University Press. pp. 46–47. ISBN 9780814798829. http://books.google.com/books?id=kC4qYeafQzMC&pg=PA64&dq=isbn:9780814798829. 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Alternative forms



pluralia tantum

1940s (pluralia tantum)

  1. The decade from 1940 to 1949.


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

Millennia: 2nd millennium
Centuries: 19th century - 20th century - 21st century
Decades: 1910s 1920s 1930s - 1940s - 1950s 1960s 1970s
Years: 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944
1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
Categories: Births - Deaths - Architecture
Establishments - Disestablishments

The 1940s decade ran from 1940 to 1949.


Events and trends

File:WW2 For Wikipedia Article.jpg
World War II was a truly global conflict with many facets: immense human suffering, fierce indoctrination, and the use of new, extremely devastating weapons such as the atomic bomb. From top going counterclockwise: Allied landing on D-Day 1944, German soldiers marching, the Nagasaki atom bomb 1945, the Soviet flag over the Reichstag in Berlin 1945 and the Gate of Auschwitz.

The 1940s were seen as a transition period between the radical 1930s and the conservative 1950s, which also leads the period to be divided in two halves:

The first half of the decade was dominated by World War II, the widest and most destructive armed conflict in human history. So consequential was this event and its brutal aftermath that it laid the foundation for other major world events and trends for decades to follow. This war was also the first modern civilian war.

The second half marked the beginning of the East-West conflict and the Cold War, together with major social upheaval caused by the destruction of the war, the large number of refugees, and soldiers returning home and demanding government recognition for their sacrifice, especially in colonies of European countries, many of which gained independence.

Josip Broz Tito, then president of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia publicly speaks out against Soviet leader Stalin and Soviet imperialism, the only president to do so.


The first nuclear weapon is built and tested in 1945.

War, peace and politics



There were many changes in film when it came to the 1940s. More women showed up in films, and better storylines and plots began to show up. This also lead into more women turning their interests toward fashion, or at least the women who could afford it. People who had exceptional riches often showed up in films, because they were the ones who actually watched them most regularly. Thus, people who were not rich viewed the films as an amazing treat.



Many fashion houses closed during occupation of Paris during World War II, including the Maison Vionnet and the Maison Chanel. Several designers, including Mainbocher, permanently relocated to New York. In the enormous moral and intellectual re-education program undertaken by the French state couture was not spared. In contrast to the stylish, liberated Parisienne, the Vichy regime promoted the model of the wife and mother, the robust, athletic young woman, a figure who was much more in line with the new political criteria. Germany, meanwhile, was taking possession of over half of what France produced, including high fashion, and was also considering relocating French haute couture to the cities of Berlin and Vienna, neither of which had any significant tradition of fashion. The archives of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture were seized, most consequentially the client list. The point of all this was to break up a monopoly that supposedly threatened the dominance of the Third Reich.

Due to the difficult times, the number of models in shows was limited to seventy-five, evening wear was shortened and day wear was much skimpier, made using substitute materials whenever possible. From 1940 onward, no more than thirteen feet (four meters) of cloth was permitted to be used for a coat and a little over three feet (one meter) was all that allowed for a blouse. No belt could be over one and a half inches (four centimeters) wide. Despite this, haute couture tried to keep its flag flying. Humor and frivolity became a way of defying the occupying powers and couture somehow survived. Although some have argued that the reason it endured was because of the patronage of the wives of rich Nazis, in actuality, records reveal that, aside from the usual wealthy Parisiennes, it was the wives of foreign ambassadors, clients from the black market, and a whole eclectic mix of people who carried on to frequent the salons, among whom German women were but a minority.

In spite of the fact that so many fashion houses closed down or moved away during the war, several new houses remained open, including Jacques Fath, Maggy Rouff, Marcel Rochas, Jeanne Lafaurie, Nina Ricci, and Madeleine Vramant. During the Occupation, the only true way for a woman to flaunt her extravagance and add to color to a drab outfit was to wear a hat. In this period, hats were often made of scraps of material that would have otherwise been thrown away, sometimes incorporating butter muslin, bits of paper, and wood shavings. Among the most innovative milliners of the time were Pauline Adam, Simone Naudet, Rose Valois, and Le Monnier.

Paris's isolated situation in the 1940s enabled the Americans to exploit the ingenuity and creativity of their own designers. During the Second World War, Vera Maxwell presented co-ordinates in plain, simply cut outfits and also introduced innovations to men's work clothes. Bonnie Cashin transformed boots into a major fashion accessory, and, in 1944, started to produce original and imaginative sportswear. Claire McCardell, Anne Klein, and Tina Leser formed a remarkable trio of women who were to lay the foundations of American sportswear, ensuring that ready-to-wear was not simply thought of as second best, but as an elegant and comfortable way for modern women to dress.

Among young men in the War Years the zoot suit (and in France the zazou suit) became popular. Many actresses of the time, including Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, and Marlene Dietrich, had a significant impact on popular fashion.

The couturier Christian Dior created a tidal wave with his first collection in February 1947. The collection contained dresses with tiny waists, majestic busts, and full skirts swelling out beneath small bodices, in a manner very similar to the style of the Belle Époque. The extravagant use of fabric and the feminine elegance of the designs appealed greatly to a post-war clientèle and ensured Dior's meteoric rise to fame. The sheer sophistication of the style incited the all-powerful editor of the American Harper's Bazaar, Carmel Snow, to exclaim 'This is a new look !'.


-Orson Welles


Sports figures



    This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at 1940s. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

    This article uses material from the "1940s" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

    Simple English

    Millennium: 2nd millennium
    Centuries: 19th century20th century21st century
    Decades: 1910s 1920s 1930s1940s1950s 1960s 1970s
    Years: 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
    Categories: BirthsDeathsArchitecture

    The 1940s was the decade that started on January 1, 1940 and ended on December 31, 1949.


    Important people

    World Leaders


    Got something to say? Make a comment.
    Your name
    Your email address