Essay Topics for World War II

World war II soldiers
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Students are often required to write a paper on a topic as broad as World War II, but you should know that the instructor will expect you to narrow your focus to a specific thesis. This is especially true if you are in high school or college. Narrow your focus by making a list of words, much like the list of words and phrases that are presented in bold type below. Then begin to explore related questions, like those that follow the words in this list. The answer to questions like these can become a good starting point of a thesis statement.

Below, you'll find a list of more than 50 cool WWII topics. You will find that many of the terms below could relate to any topic, like animals, advertising, toys, art, and more, but look for ways to relate them to WWII.

World War II Topics

  • Advertising - How did food packaging change during the war? How did advertisements change in general? What were the advertisements for?
  • African Americans and rights - What impact did the war years have on the rights of African-Americans? What were they allowed or not allowed to do?
  • America's entry into the war - How is the timing significant? What factors are not so well known?
  • Animals - How were horses, dogs, birds, other animals used? Did they play a special role?
  • Art - What art movements were inspired by wartime events? Is there one specific work of art that tells a story about the war?
  • Bridges and roads - What transportation-related developments came from wartime or post-war policies?
  • Clandestine operations - Governments went to great lengths to hide the true date, time, and place of their actions.
  • Clothing - How was fashion impacted? How did clothing save lives or hinder movement? What materials were used or not used?
  • Communication - How did radio or other types of communication impact key events?
  • Destruction - Many historic cities and sites were destroyed in the UK (Liverpool, Manchester, London, Coventry) and elsewhere.
  • Domestic violence - Was there an increase or a decrease?
  • Families - Did new family customs develop? What was the impact on children of soldiers?
  • Fashion - Did fashion change significantly for civilians? What changes had to be made during war times?
  • Food preservation - What new preservation and packaging methods occurred during and after the war? How was this helpful?
  • Food rationing - How did rationing impact families? Were rations always the same for different groups of people? Were soldiers affected by rations?
  • Hawaii - How did events impact families or society in general?
  • Hitler - His rise to power was quick. Why?
  • Italy - What special circumstances were in effect?
  • Jet engine technology - What can be traced to WWII needs?
  • "Kilroy was here" - Why was this phrase important to soldiers? 
  • Love letters - What do letters tell us about relationships, families, and friendships? What about gender roles?
  • Motorcycles - What needs lead to the development of folding motorcycles? Why was there widespread use of military motorcycles by the government?
  • Nationalist Socialist Movement in America - What impact has this movement had in society and government since WWII?
  • New products - What products were invented and became a part of popular culture? Were these products present only during war times, or did they exist after?
  • New words - What new vocabulary words emerged during and after WWII?
  • Nutrition - Were there battles that were lost or won because of the foods available? How did nutrition change at home during the war because of the availability of certain products?
  • Occupations - What new jobs were created? Who filled these new roles? Who filled the roles that were previously held by many of the men who went off to war?
  • Penicillin and other medicine - How was penicillin used? What medical developments occurred during and after the war?
  • Political impact - How was your local town impacted politically and socially?
  • POW camps after the war - Where were they and what happened to them after the war? Here's a starting point: Some were turned into race tracks after the war!
  • Prisoners of War - How many POWs were there? How many made it home safely? What were some long-lasting effects?
  • Propaganda - How did society respond to the war? Do you know why?
  • Radar - What role did radar play, if any?
  • Resistance movements - How did families deal with living in an occupied territory?
  • Rockets - How important was rocket technology?
  • Sacrifices - How did family life change?
  • Ship-building achievements - The achievements were quite remarkable during the war. Why and how did this happen?
  • Spies - Who were the spies? Were they men or women? What side were they on? What happened to spies who were caught?
  • Submarines - Were there enemy submarines on a coast near you? What role did submarines play in the war?
  • Surviving an attack - How were military units attacked? How did it feel to jump from a plane that was disabled?
  • Technology - What technology came from the war, and how was it used after the war?
  • The Holocaust - Do you have access to any personal stories?
  • Toys - How did the war impact the toys that were manufactured?
  • Troop logistics - How were troop movements kept secret? What were some challenges of troop logistics?
  • TV technology - When did televisions start to appear in home and what is significant about the timing? What TV shows were inspired by the war, and how realistic were they? How long did World War II affect TV programming?
  • Views on freedom - How was freedom curtailed or expanded?
  • Views on government's role - Where was the government's role expanded? What about governments elsewhere?
  • War crime trials - How were trials conducted? What were political challenges or consequences? Who was or wasn't tried?
  • Weather - Were there battles that were lost or won because of the weather conditions? Were there places where people suffered more because of weather?
  • Winston Churchill - What role did this leader play that interests you most? How did his background prepare him for his role?
  • Women in warfare - What roles did women play during the war? What surprises you about women's work in World War II?
  • Women's work at home - How did women's work change at home during the war? What about after the war ended?