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The influence of World War II has been profound and diverse, having an impact on many parts of culture.


Movies and television

World War II has provided material for many movies, television programmes and books, beginning during the war. The movie aspect had reached its peak by the 1960s, with movies such as The Longest Day (which had been adapted from a book), The Great Escape, Patton and Battle of Britain. In the UK the actor Sir John Mills became particularly associated with war dramas, such as The Colditz Story (1954), Above Us the Waves (1955) and Ice Cold in Alex (1958), and was seen as the personification of Britain at war, conveying heroism and humility.

Movies about World War II continued for the rest of the 20th century, though less in number and included The Thin Red Line (1998) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). Movies and television programmes about the war continued to be made into the 21st century, including the television mini-series Band of Brothers, The Pacific and Dunkirk. The majority of World War II movies are portrayed from the Allied perspective (increasingly being limited to that of the Americans). Some exceptions include Das Boot, Der Untergang, Letters from Iwo Jima, Stalingrad, and Cross of Iron. World War II used to provide most of the material for the USA TV channel, the History Channel. There are also some comedy shows based on the war; some examples are the British sitcom Allo Allo which makes fun of the French Resistance forces, Hogan's Heroes, which follows the actions of a group of Allied POWs involved in covert activities, and Dad's Army, which satirizes the British Home Guard, an anti-invasion force largely made up of men too old or in too bad health to join the regular forces. Mel Brooks also used the theme in the fictitious musical "Springtime for Hitler" in his 1968 film and 2001 musical, The Producers.

Many non-war-related TV shows in the USA such as The Simpsons, Family Guy and Seinfeld frequently make reference to World War II-related persons and subjects, such as Adolf Hitler, Franklin Roosevelt, battles during the war, the Holocaust and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. During the war several of the Donald Duck shorts were also propaganda films. In the sixth episode of Fawlty Towers, Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese) bases his comical routine on the paramount need that he and his staff be polite and "don't mention the War!" to their German guests, a task in which he signally and repeatedly fails himself.


Holocaust movies

Also some movies and TV series in an attempt to show and educate the future generation about the horror of racism and discrimination when taken into a national frenzy by making movies based on the Holocaust and other German war crimes atrocities committed by the Nazi Party. Movies like Schindler's List, Anne Frank: The Whole Story, Life Is Beautiful, The Devil's Arithmetic, The Pianist, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and many other movies depict the hardship the Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and communists had endured in Auschwitz and other concentration camps.

Eastern Asia

Due to the still sensitive subject between China, Japan and Korea, the War in the Pacific and the Second Sino-Japanese war is hardly made into any historical war movies intended for entertainment use (movies like Sands of Iwo Jima). However, reference about the ongoing war as a background setting is heavily used as a setpiece to drive the storyline on. For example, Hong Kong martial arts movies have used the "cartoon villain" portrayal of Japanese soldiers or generals being defeated by the Chinese lead character in an attempt to stop the Japanese from using biological weapons or stealing Chinese treasures (movies like Fist of Fury, Millionaire's Express and Fist of Legend). Some movies that depict Japanese war crimes were also made, such as the controversial exploitation movie Men Behind the Sun.

More serious documentary style movies have also been made such as the German made documentary "Nanking". However the depiction of the Defense of Sihang Warehouse was made in 1938, one year after the actual Battle of Shanghai, probably one of the earliest Sino-Japanese war movie intended for entertainment and moral boosting propaganda. Also recently, to celebrate the Chinese Red Army first victory (out of two major battles the Communists actually fought) over the Japanese, a heavy-handed propaganda film that depict the Battle of Pingxingguan was made in 2005 to commemorate the 60th anniversary. However it was heavily criticised by Taiwan government, accusing the PRC government for hiding the truth by discrediting the Nationalist Revolutionary Army who took the blunt of the battles as it was them who did most of the fighting against the invaders in more than twenty battles. Actually, the PRC has made several movies focusing on battles fought by Nationalist soldiers, such as the Battle of Taierzhuang and Battle of Kunlun Pass.

South Korea, which still has strong anti-Japanese sentiments, recently made a TV series about the Japanese assassination of Empress Myeongseong and the unfair treatment of the Korean people, also several movies based on Kim Du-han as a freedom fighter were made.


One relatively new development of the "World War II media franchise" is that of video games. They are an extremely lucrative aspect of the gaming industry, and many titles are usually released every year. Some established games series about World War II include Battlefield 1942, Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, Close Combat, Day of Defeat, Day of Defeat: Source, Brothers in Arms, Wolfenstein 3D and Commandos, as well as the grand strategy game Hearts of Iron 2. An RTS game was released based on America's western campaign called Company of Heroes. In 2001, a massively multiplayer online game MMORG World War II Online was introduced, and has thousands of players refighting the 1940 Western Europe campaign. There are however also much older games about the war, the arcade game 1942 being one of many examples.

Traditional board wargaming has replicated World War II from the tactical to the grand strategic levels. Axis and Allies and other such games continue to be popular. Avalon Hill and other wargame companies produced such complex games as Squad Leader and Panzerblitz in the 1970s. Other popular World War II games still in production include Australian Design Group's World In Flames and Decision Games reproductions of SPI World War II games.

World War II has also been replicated through miniatures tabletop wargaming. Games like Flames of War, Command Decision, Spearhead, BlitzkriegCommander and others have become popular among historical miniature wargamers. A novelty is the upcoming of free internet based wargames in high quality such as Final Round.


The war also figures prominently in many thousands of novels and other works of literature, including many published in the 1990s and 2000s.

Pop culture reference

The war has also influenced footballing (soccer) rivalries. Most notably, the subject of World War II is used as chants by fans of the English football team. One such chant is "2 World Wars and 1 World Cup, do dah, do dah."

Campaigns, battles and so on have been commemorated throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century, mostly by veterans of the war and people that lived through it. In 2004 the commemoration of the D-Day landings took place which included, for the first time, German veterans of the war. Later that year, the commemoration of the campaigns in Italy and the Netherlands also took place. The 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp was commemorated in January 2005, while many other campaigns will also be commemorated, as well as the end of the war in Europe and the Far East.

See also


  • Wood, Edward W. (2007). Worshipping the Myths of World War II: Reflections on America's Dedication to War. Potomac Books. ISBN 978-1-59797-163-8.  


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