Works Set in World War II
This page covers works set during World War II
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A number of the works below cover multiple categories and are grouped according to their main setting.
In an era where the only major forms of mass entertainment were radio, theatre and cinema (British television went off for the duration), it is not surprising that a very large number of movies were made during the war. Most of them were patriotic flag-wavers of some form or another, but some of these films (including some flag-wavers) have stood the test of time, such as Casablanca
, In Which We Serve
and Went the Day Well?
The Pacific Front
Most of the works here focus on the American and Japanese part in the Far East, although Commonwealth forces also played a major role (primarily the ANZAC forces, for obvious reasons). Films about the Australian and New Zealand war efforts started appearing with the rise of those country's film industries, the relative lack of British films on the subject is harder to explain. Only recently have films dealing with the Second Sino-Japanese War
started to appear, unsurprisingly given the delicate politics of the matter.
Think partisan warfare, big naval battles (most famously Midway), jungles, starving civilians, and the inconsistent (mis)treatment of non-combatants.
- Tora! Tora! Tora! - An acclaimed joint US/Japanese production that depicts the Pearl Harbor attack from both sides
- Pearl Harbor - An un-acclaimed US production about the same battle (as well as the Doolittle Raid, the Battle of Britain, and a love triangle drama that leads up to the actual battle) that depicts the Pearl Harbor attack as envisioned by video game addicts who flunked Modern American History class in high school.
- Sands of Iwo Jima - John Wayne propaganda film
- Midway - about the turning point of the Pacific war, notable for lacking a special effects budget and using mostly Stock Footage, though still suprisingly good
- The Thin Red Line - about a squad of Marines island-hopping, although the title is an allegorical reference to a small Scottish force in the Crimean War
- The Human Condition - A socialist-leaning Japanese contractor in Manchuria starts to realize his country may be the bad guys...it got worse
- The Bridge on the River Kwai - focuses on British POWs put to work on the notorious "Railroad of Death" in Burma
- Grave of the Fireflies (2008 live-action film, not to be confused with the animated film of the same name) - a slice of Japanese civilian life in 1945. Based on the same novel as the animated film.
- The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Only partially takes place during WW2. The protagonist Eddie fights in the Philippines.
- Flags of Our Fathers - the lives of the flag-raisers in the famous photo of raising the flag upon Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima
- Empire of the Sun - the life of a boy living in the British concession in Shanghai, and then a POW camp
- Kokoda - Australian soldiers in New Guinea
- Windtalkers - focuses on a group of Amerindians trained as signalmen because their language is entirely unknown outside the U.S.
- South Pacific- Set mid-war, after the southern islands had become a backwater
- They Were Expendable - PT boat crews serving in the Philippines
- Objective, Burma! - controversial at the time as Australian Errol Flynn leads a group of US army soldiers on a raid in Burma, leading to some of the first British complaints about America Wins the War!
- Lust, Caution - focuses on the Japanese occupation of China and local Chinese resistance.
- Memoirs of a Geisha - a stylised account of the life of a Japanese entertainer-courtesan
- City of Life and Death - aka 'Nanjing, Nanjing', focuses on the aftermath of the Battle of Shanghai and the pacification of the lower Yangtze
- Guadalcanal Diary - made during the war, based on a 1943 memoir
- Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo - the story of the Doolittle Raid
- Fort Graveyard - A rare example of a film focusing on Japan vs. Manchurian China.
- Crusade In The Pacific: America Goes to War, an early (1951) 24 episode documentary serial that is surprisingly Fair for Its Day with relatively little of the racism, jingoism and triumphalism that mar other works of the period and not, despite the title, focused entirely on the US war effort. Covers both the prewar era and the postwar occupation, but does not cover the fire raids or the Soviet Union's last-minute contribution, perhaps because the Korean War was going on at the time. Useful if you're looking for coverage of some of the less ballyhooed aspects of the Pacific war, like the ANZAC campaign to liberate Indonesia. It even contains surprisingly sympathetic views of the causes and rise of Japanese militarism and Indonesia's postwar anti-colonialism.
- The Last Emperor - not purely a World War II movie, it focuses on Puyi, the eponymous "last emperor" of China and only emperor of Manchukuo, a puppet state the Japanese established in Manchuria from 1931 to 1945.
- PT109 - about the wartime exploits of future US President John F Kennedy.
- The Fighting Seabees - Another John Wayne propaganda film about some of the unsung heroes of World War II, the US Navy Construction Battalions ("CB" - get it?) who managed to build airfields, bases and port facilities across the Pacific much faster than anyone believed possible prior to the war.
- Mister Roberts: about one of the most essential but also most monotonous and least glamorous parts of the war, the men who served on the cargo ships far behind the fighting.
- Flowers of War - about the Rape of Nanking, as witnessed by an American.
- The Great Raid: about the raid at the Japanese POW camp near the Philippine city of Cabanatuan.
- In Harm's Way: Following the exploits of a group of American naval officers in Hawaii during the early part of the war. The last John Wayne film produced in black and white.
- Battle Of Okinawa: a Japanese film about the battle itself from Japanese POV.
- Zero Fighter Burns: a film focusing on the development, testing and ultimate failure of the Zero fighter plane in aerial combat.
- Away All Boats: yet another John Wayne film, this time about one of the amphibious assault ships that the U.S. Navy invented out of whole cloth in order to prosecute the Pacific War.
- Father Goose: 1960's romcom involving the adventures of Cary Grant as an unwilling coast watcher.
- A Town Like Alice: adaption of Nevil Shute's novel about British civilian prisoners of the Japanese in Mayla (based on real-world events surrounding a group of Dutch women.)
The Eastern Front
The bloodiest theatre of the war (the number of deaths there alone- over 25 million- would make the Eastern Front the worst war in history in its own right). Has been covered in film quite a bit (the Soviet film industry apparently made scores of them), but most of the examples aren't that well known outside of Eastern Europe. In most of the former USSR the focus is not on WWII in general, but on "The Great Patriotic War
" of 1941-45 - the Soviet-German war. A few US-made 1943-45 propaganda movies made about the Eastern Front glossed over many of the Soviet Union's more questionable activities, which would come back to haunt their creators and actors just a few years later during the late-40s to early-50s Red Scare.
It is common to see Germans in comedic works threatened with being sent to the Eastern Front - a posting there was nothing but trouble, and became a near-certain-death-sentence from '43 onwards. Saw the sieges of Leningrad and Stalingrad, for a start, and the fall of Berlin at the end. Also many real-life cases of the Macross Missile Massacre
, as the "Katyusha" multiple rocket launcher was designed for this purpose.
Somewhat under-represented in Western and Anglophone media, for the likely reason that the protagonists weren't British or American.
The Finnish Front
A special case of the above, covering the struggles of the Winter War of 1939-40 and the Continuation war of 1941-44. Has been depicted several times on film, but these films are little known outside Finland. Christopher Lee
volunteered to fight here, but never actually saw any combat on it.
- Kukushka (The Cuckoo), a Russian film.
- Tuntematon Sotilas (The Unknown Soldier), based on a novel of the same name written by war veteran Väinö Linna. Two versions exist, one from 1955 and another made 30 years later.
- Talvisota, a Finnish film set in the Winter War
The Western Front (1939-1940)
The early part of the war, from the invasion of Poland in September 1939 to the fall of France in spring 1940, which ended in the victory and domination of continental Western Europe by Nazi Germany
. Needless to say, this part of the war is rarely depicted.
- Atonement has a considerable section covering the evacuation of Dunkirk.
- Now Where did the 7th Company get to?, a French-Italian comedy about the adventures of three French soldiers lost somewhere on the front in May 1940 during the Battle of France
- Bon Voyage : the exodus of the French populations fleeing the German advance on the roads and the French government relocating itself in the city of Bordeaux
German Occupation of Europe (1939-1945)
The Western Front (1944-1945)
The fighting around northern and western Europe in 1944-1945, where the Americans play a large role. The British, Canadians and Free French (as well as a considerable number of other nationalities) were involved, but they tend to be left out of US films
Expect fighting in the woods, French villages and some very grateful Frenchwomen
- 36 Hours (1965) concerns a German attempt to find out the date and place of the D-Day landings by means of an elaborate deception.
- A Bridge Too Far looks at the Allied offensive in the Netherlands
- Battle of the Bulge: Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- The Big Red One - the second half of the film follows the US First Infantry Division during their campaign through Western Europe.
- The Bunker (2001) - horror film about a group of retreating German soldiers taking refuge in an abandoned bunker and find themselves haunted by dark figures as they try to retain order.
- Captain America: The First Avenger - most of the second half of the film takes place all over the Western Front.
- Eye Of The Needle where a Nazi spy discovers the Allies are pulling a king-sized fast one with Operation Fortitude on Germany to hide the true invasion destination for D-Day.
- Fury - follows the crew of the namesake M4A3 Sherman tank during the advance of the US forces into Germany.
- Hell Is For Heroes - a squad on the Siegfried Line bluffs a German pillbox into thinking they are a much larger force.
- Is Paris Burning? deals with the liberation of Paris in August 1944.
- Kellys Heroes focuses on a hodgepodge unit put together by the title character, which is attempting to steal Nazi Gold.
- Indigènes/Days Of Glory focuses on (ethnically not French) French Colonials fighting for the Free French through North Africa and into Italy.
- The Longest Day covers both the events leading up to and on the 6th of June, 1944, the longest day for both the Allied invaders and the Axis defenders.
- The Monuments Men - Based on a True Story film about a unit of art experts in the army tasked with protecting and rescuing plundered art from the Nazis.
- Patton - follows General Patton. The second half of the film takes place here.
- Saving Private Ryan focuses on a squad of Rangers as they make their way through the semi-organised chaos of Operation Overlord in search of the titular Private Ryan.
- When Trumpets Fade, set in the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest.
North Africa and Italy
Initially, just between The Commonwealth, Italy, and other independent nations. Later, the Germans (led by Erwin Rommel
) and the Americans also took part.
An area of desert tank warfare, it also saw the creation of the SAS and the work of the Long Range Desert Group.
Famous for the presence of two very quirky but effective generals
, George S. Patton and Bernard "Monty" Montgomery.
Greece, Yugoslavia, and the Mediterranean Theatre. The Yugoslav film industry celebrated the achievements of the Partisans, naturally. Note: there is some overlap with the La Résistance
/Special Forces category (see below).
- The Battle of Sutjeska
- Captain Corelli's Mandolin
- The Guns of Navarone
- In Which We Serve — A British destroyer is bombed and sunk and many of its men killed by German strafing, leading to various flashbacks depicting How We Got Here.
The Air War
In which the two sides of the war try to bomb each other into submission. A fair chunk of these are British and a number are based on true stories.
, which followed the Battle of Britain, was a German attempt to bomb the UK into surrendering, which didn't really work. The Battle of Britain had been a close run thing, as the British had spent much of the 1930s not investing in their fighter force as they had believed "the bomber will always get through". It took Winston Churchill
to persuade them otherwise- the Spitfire and the Hurricane arriving just in time. The Blitz was at its peak during 1940-1941 and 1944-1945, the latter mostly using V1 and V2 missiles. There were still attacks on the United Kingdom in-between, but Germany's resources were focused on the Eastern Front at the time.
While the actions of the Allied bombing missions in Germany have been subject to quite a bit of historical debate (although there were legitimate industrial targets in German cities, the bombing of German civilians did not have the planned effect of destroying German industry or morale- it simply made them more resolved, much like what had happened during the Blitz), it should be noted that these bombing raids were very dangerous for British airmen. They flew at night, unlike the USAAF (US Army Air Force) who did the day missions. Of every 100 airmen, 55 on average would end up dead. The issue of not awarding separate medals for the British Bomber Command crews (who got the Air Crew Europe star that everyone else who flew over Europe did) is raised from time to time.
This is not to say that the USAAF had it any better. Flying by day meant they had a monstrously high casualty rate, particularly before P-51s were available for long range escort. There was a policy of "25 and out". Once an airman had done 25 missions, his war was over. The ball turret gunner, despite not having a parachute close to hand and being exposed to ground fire, wasn't actually that dangerous, relatively speaking. Just unpleasant, as they ended up doing somersaults in a tiny, cold, plexiglass and metal ball looking at a really long drop. The 25 got upped to 30 and then 35. The average crew got shot down around the 20th mission
The Air War in the Pacific has received comparatively less attention, even though the scope and nature of the Pacific theater meant that air power played an even larger role there than it did in Europe. The strategic bombing campaign against Japan in particular has not received much attention, perhaps because it's difficult to portray massive fire raids against civilians in a heroic light. Even those who participated rarely considered it to be anything more than a necessary evil
- Battle of Britain: the RAF during the desperate days at the height of The Blitz
- The Dam Busters: based on a true story about an elite air unit
- 633 Squadron:
- Catch-22: a very dark Black Comedy set in the Mediterranean campaign
- Twelve O'Clock High: The US 8th Air Force's daylight bombing campaign
- Both versions of Memphis Belle: The first was a documentary, the second a dramatic feature.
- Reach for the Sky
- Red Tails: Lucas Film finally gives The Tuskeegee Airmen the patriotic war movie they deserve a half-century after the war.
- ''The Tuskeegee Airmen" an earlier and arguably less patriotic take on the same subject: Elite African American fighter pilots who are subjected to racism while fighting for their country.
- Mosquito Squadron
- The Big One
- Victory Through Air Power: Disney Wartime Cartoon (yes, Disney) that explains the vital role of airpower in modern warfare.
- The German
- The Way To The Stars surveys the entire western European air war as the protagonist progresses from New Meat RAF bomber pilot to a ground controller supporting both the British and American air forces.
- ''The War Lover": examines what it takes to be an Ace Pilot: is he a hero, or a psychopath?
Though less common, there are several movies about the Air War in the Pacific:
- Air Force - one of the earliest examples, a 1942 film about a B-17 bomber crew travelling to the Philippines in December 1941, passing through Hawaii on the day after the Pearl Harbor attack.
- God Is My Copilot - about the Flying Tigers
- The Flying Tigers — 1942 propaganda film with John Wayne
- The Flying Leathernecks — John Wayne yet again!
- Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo — John Wayne somehow missed this one.
Submarines/The Battle of the Atlantic
In which the German U-boats try to starve Britain into submission and stop equipment from getting to the Allies. The subs (on both sides) are hot, cramped and nasty. In fact, calling them submarines is slightly inaccurate, considering that most of their time was spent on the surface.
This campaign started pretty much on day one of the war, making it the longest battle in human history. A German U-boat mistook a passenger liner running without lights for an armed merchant ship... You get the idea
Three-quarters of those who went out in the U-boats did not return.
- Das Boot— a German movie from the U-boat crews' perspective: "hunters" who are actually the hunted and not likely to survive in any case.
- U571—an American movie that caused outrage in Britain due to showing the first captured Enigma machine to be recovered by an American submarine crew.
- We Dive at Dawn — a British movie made in 1942, set on a British submarine.
- Lifeboat — an Alfred Hitchcock movie made in 1943 about the survivors of a sunken merchant ship who are trapped in the titular lifeboat with the U-Boat captain who sank them.
- The Long Voyage Home — Merchant sailors taking military supplies to England while German U-boats prowled the Atlantic. Made prior to the American entry into the war.
- The Enemy Below — an American destroyer escort and a German U-boat duel on the high seas. Inspired the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Balance of Terror."
- The Cruel Sea — film version of the novel by Nicholas Monserrat, about the crew of a British corvette escorting convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic.
- Action in the North Atlantic — a tribute to the Merchant Marine, the civilian crews who had to sail the ships that carried the supplies that sustained the allied effort in WWII. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Raymond Massey.
- Below — A psychological horror film set aboard an American sub on patrol in the Atlantic.
The Americans carried out their own sub warfare against Japan, which succeeded in putting a large proportion of the country's people on the verge of death from starvation-related diseases.
The early years of the war in the Atlantic also saw some combat between surface ships, in particular the raids of the German battleships Admiral Graf Spee
and the (in)famous Bismarck
La Resistance/Special Forces
The most famous is arguably the French Resistance, but the other movements throughout Europe, most notably Greeks, Yugoslavs, Soviets and Poles, were very effective in their respective countries too.
- The Sorrow and the Pity is an excellent Documentary about both the French Resistance and the Vichy regime that they opposed.
- The Heroes Of Telemark
- The Dirty Dozen
- Female Agents
- Defiance: about the Bielski Partisans, a group of Jews who hid in the Belorussian forests and fought the Nazis and local peasant collaborators
- Flame and Citron, about the often-forgotten Danish Resistance.
- Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage, about several members of the German resistance (against the Nazi regime, that is).
- Valkyrie, about a group of German officers trying to assassinate Hitler.
- Where Eagles Dare
- The Guns of Navarone
- The Inglorious Bastards
- Inglourious Basterds
- Pimpernel Smith
- Army of Shadows
- Zwartboek (Black Book)
- Is Paris Burning??
- La Grande Vadrouille
- Le Vieux Fusil
- Max Manus, Norway's answer to Flame and Citron
- Winter in Wartime (Oorlogswinter)
- Many local Yugoslav movies, some of the more famous being: The Battle of Sutjeska, The Battle of Neretva, Raid on Drvar and Walter Defends Sarajevo. All involve the Yugoslav (communist-led resistance) fighting versus various Axis forces. Most were rather akin to Italian Spaghetti Westerns recycled in the WW2-era Balkans. Movies made in the last 10-15 years of Yugoslavia sometimes had a much darker tone, focusing on topics like atrocities, betrayal and trying to survive what was effectively a civil war. A good example of this kind of movie is Occupation in 26 pictures.
- Come and See: Belarusian partisans fight SS Einsatzgruppen.
- Escape to Athena: Greek resistance and POWS conspire against Nazis.
- Charlotte Gray
The Germans generally
kept the Geneva Conventions with regards to US, UK and French prisoners, although by the end of the war when almost everyone was on the verge of starvation they were seriously considering throwing the Conventions out of the window with the Allied bombing raids as the excuse. Geneva had never so much as been in the building when it came to the Slavic peoples - captured Red Army soldiers usually ended up as slaves or starved in death camps at best. And assuming they actually survived to be liberated their treatment upon returning home was frequently nearly as bad
since Stalin's Soviet Union practiced You Have Failed Me
on a massive scale and shuttled them directly from German prison camps to Siberian labor camps where they served, ironically enough, alongside the German prisoners of war the Soviets belatedly (and sometimes never) got around to releasing. Conversely, a number of repatriated Italian (and even some German) ex POW later emigrated back to the US and Canada, a testament both to the treatment they received and the relative lack of opportunity at home.
You did not
want to fall into the hands of the Japanese.
The Home Front - UK
The Home Front - USA
Films that don't really fit elsewhere:
- It Happened Here, an Alternate History about the Nazi occupation of Britain.
- Went the Day Well? depicts the infiltration and takeover of a fictional English village by Nazi soldiers in advance of a planned invasion of Britain.
- Saboteur, essentially The 39 Steps set in wartime America.
- The Brylcreem Boys, depicting combatants from both sides in a POW camp in neutral Ireland.
- The Others, a ghost movie set on the Channel Island, Jersey during the German occupation.
- The Tin Drum takes place before, during, and just after the war.
- A Matter of Life and Death, a supernatural love story about an RAF pilot who bailed out of a plane without a parachute and lived, much to heaven's chagrin. Set mainly in a British military convalescent hospital, and in the afterlife.
- Seventeen Moments of Spring, a famous Soviet series about a spy in the Gestapo.
- Shield and Sword, another series about Soviet spies.
- Captain America: The First Avenger takes place in the United States and Europe during World War II. Leading an international Allied unit, Captain America fights the forces of the Red Skull rather than the Nazis.
- The Eagle Has Landed is about a German commando unit infiltrating the English countryside to assassinate Winston Churchill.
- Why We Fight is a series of contemporary World War 2 documentaries, covering various aspects of the war in detail.
- 5 Fingers (1952), loosely based on the real exploits of Agent Cicero spying for the Germans in neutral Turkey.
- Before the Fall, about the Nazi National Political Academy.
- Mission to Moscow, about the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union in the years leading up to the war; now infamous for its pro-Stalinist message
- Nowhere In Africa: deals with a German Jewish family who flees to Kenya to avoid the Holocaust who try to run a ranch (in between being occasionally rounded up as enemy aliens, due to being German)
- Fatherland Alternate history (where Hitler was not defeated) set in the 1960's of an investigation into the Final Solution.
- Biloxi Blues depicts a young draftee's experiences in basic training during the war.
- Operation Crossbow offers a fictionalized account of the titular Allied espionage operation to hinder the German development and use of long-range weapons.
- Axis Powers Hetalia, obviously, although it spans from the Roman Empire to the present day.
- Barefoot Gen - about the Hiroshima bombing
- Grave of the Fireflies - The downward spiral a Japanese boy and his younger sister dying from starvation towards the end of the war. (No, that doesn't need a spoiler tag: you are told this at the start of the movie.) Based on the novel of the same name authored by Akiyuki Nosaka.
- Hellsing: The Big Bad and his Mooks are SS troops who have since been turned into vampires. A prequel manga titled Hellsing: The Dawn, covers two major characters dropping into Poland to make sure their vampires don't see the frontlines.
- Strike Witches is an Alternate History version of WWII with aliens and girls who don't wear pants.
- Space Battleship Yamato uses a famous World War 2 battleship as the protagonist ship, while enemy small craft are torpedo and dive bombers,and the whole "Quest for Iscandar" is basically a sci-fi, cathartic fantasy of Yamato's sucidal last mission actually succeeding.
- Completely unrelated to the anime is the 2005 live action film "Otoko-tachi no Yamato", literally "The Men's Yamato" - depicting Operation Ten-Go and the IJN Yamato's final mission, the last major Japanese naval operation in the Pacific.
- First Squad
- Kurogane Pukapuka Tai, a yuri manga about an IJN cruiser crewed entirely by women (except for the captain).
- Rail of the Star: an Anime about Japanese civilians desperate to escape North Korea after the war that notably glosses over why Japanese civilians would be desperate to escape Korea after the war.
- Captain America punched Hitler in his very first issue. Most Golden Age superheroes, since they were published during the war, fought Nazis at some point.
- Watchmen lampshaded this. In an Easter Egg during the course of the novel we learn that The Comedian saw action in his masked identity against the Japanese in the South Pacific in 1942.
- The Desert Peach is a well-researched comic you've probably never heard of based in Africa, about the Desert Fox's fictional gay younger brother.
- Snoopy from Peanuts showed up a few times; Charles Schulz (himself having been in the military in this time) had these show up around 06 June during the later years.
- A time-travel story in Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! had the team's speedster Fastback forcibly sent back in time to Earth-C's D-Day, where he winds up briefly helping the Allies fight the Ratzis alongside Golden Age DC funny-animal hero, the Terrific Whatzit (who turns out to be Fastback's uncle).
- Biggles appeared in a number of comics set in WW2.
- Sgt. Rock
- Howling Commandos
- Terry and the Pirates
- Block 109, an Alternate History comic book.
- Maus: The portions narrated by Art's father take place mostly in Poland during the Holocaust, while the framing story takes place in the modern day.
- Clark Kent was rated 4F (unfit for military service) due to poor vision because he accidentally used his X-Ray vision to read the eye chart in the next room. And since everyone knew Clark really, really needed his glasses he couldn't talk the military brass into letting it slide. Of course, all that meant was Superman kept showing up everywhere Clark Kent travelled as a war correspondent. Hmmm...nothing suspicious about that.
- Blake and Mortimer is mostly set in the Fifties, but occasionally uses the conflict in its backstory. Its first story's plot, The Secret of the Swordfish, is basically World War II set Twenty Minutes into the Future, when the villain is a thinly veiled Expy of Imperial Japan. The 2014 book Plutarch's Staff plot is set in 1944.
- The Children of Time episode "The Manhattan Conspiracy" takes place in New Mexico just before and during the first testing of the atomic bomb. The Cult of Skaro is looking to utilize the radiation of the bomb, and the Tenth Doctor & Co. arrive just in time to interfere.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Film of the Book turns a single sentence mentioning the Pevensie kids being sent to live in the country "because of the air raids" into a dangerous scene that takes place right in the middle of the London Blitz.
- Something of a reality to that- there was a second evacuation of vulnerable Londoners during the Blitz as many had returned after the initial feared raids hadn't materialised.
- The Len Deighton novel City of Gold, set in North Africa. Also Bomber. Also SS-GB which is about what it would be if England was occupied.
- Jack Higgins has written quite a few.
- Catch-22, set in Italy.
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, in part based on his experiences during the bombing of Dresden.
- The Guernsey / Armishire books in the Chalet School series are set during the Second World War, and the effects of the war on the school are a major part of the plots of The Chalet School in Exile, The Chalet School Goes To It and The Highland Twins at the Chalet School.
- Robert Ludlum has a few too.
- Dean Koontz' Lightning at least, that's Stefan's time period of origin and where various pivotal events take place. Other events range from 1955 to 1988.
- Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks, featuring an fictional invasion of England.
- Poul Anderson's alternate history Operation Chaos. In fact, one of the first things the narrator says is, better too much information than too little, and if you already know who won World War II, let me say it anyhow. Turns out you don't even know who fought World War II or where. (The timelines diverged early in the twentieth century.)
- Jane Yolen's fairytale adaption Briar Rose is one of these. Definitely falls under True Art Is Angsty, even if it doesn't COMPLETELY manage a Downer Ending.
- Also by Jane Yolen, "The Devil's Arithmetic" â€“ The Holocaust, the Grandfather Paradox, and sadly, a bucketload of teachable moments.
- Also, Number the Stars takes place in Denmark, World War II.
- Snow Treasure by Marie Mcswigan is based on a true story about a bunch of Norwegian kids that snuck their country's gold past Nazis in the winter of 1939-1940 and adults who got it to America.
- The Diary of Anne Frank is a diary written by a Jewish girl who went into hiding during the war. She was eventually captured and killed, and her family had parts of her diary published posthumously.
- The French novel Suite Francaise by the Ukrainian-French writer Irène Némirovsky, set in the German occupied France. The author was planning 5 volumes of which she managed to complete only 2 before being deported and killed in Auschwitz as a Jew.
- Connie Willis wrote a series of novels (Blackout/All Clear) and short stories ('Firewatch' 'Jack') about the experiences of British citizens during the war (and especially London during the Blitz.)
- The English Patient, set mostly in Italy and North Africa, with a bit of 1941-45 - Soviet-German war. A few US-made 1943-45 propaganda movies made about the Eastern Front glossed over many of the Soviet Union's more questionable activities, which would come back to haunt their creators and actors just a few years later during the late-40s to early-50s Red Scare.
- The Barrett Tillman novel Dauntless set during Midway. One character killed during the story is the father of Bud Callaway, President in his earlier novel The Sixth Battle.
- Atonement, or about two-thirds of the story - set in Dunkirk and the English homefront.
- The Book Thief is about Liesel Meminger growing up in a foster home in WWII Nazi Germany. And with a foster family that ends up hiding a Jew in their basement, too.
- The Caine Mutiny. Set on the Pacific front, but hardly features any combat.
- TheWindsOfWar and WarAndRemembrance is practically a grand tour of World War II.
- Douglas Reeman has written at least twenty novels of the Royal Navy in WWII, including several set on the Pacific front (both The Pride and the Anguish and Strike from the Sea focus on the fall of Singapore).
- Night by Elie Wiesel, an autobiography about his time in the concentration camps and on the way there.
- Similar to the above, Primo Levi's If This Is a Man details the author's survival in Auschwitz.
- Alistair MacLean wrote several novels based on his experiences in WWII, among them South by Java Head and HMS Ulysses.
- The novels by Sven Hassel on the 27th Penal Panzer Regiment.
- Settling Accounts (Harry Turtledove Alternate History pitting the USA against the Confederate States of America; CSA president Jake Featherston is Hitler in all but name. What minority is he wiping out in the death camps? Confederate Negroes).
- Also by Harry Turtledove, the Darkness series, which is WWII set in a fantasy environment, with each side replaced with a Fantasy Counterpart Culture and magic wands and dragons instead of guns and bombers.
- A third Harry Turtledove book set is the Worldwar series, about an alien invasion in May, 1942, following to the end of that war, plus further series looking at the 1960s and the 1990s.
- The Wing Commander novelizations are explicitly intended as sci-fi remakes of certain key points in WW2.
- Memoirs of a Geisha mainly took place during the Great Depression, though it was the start of the war that changed many things for the main character Sayuri.
- A Thread of Grace takes place in the year and a half between Italy's surrender and V-E day.
- Silent Ship, Silent Sea: A coming of age story aboard a damaged destroyer at Guadelcanal.
- Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall is Spike Milligan's account of serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa during the war.
- Shanghai Girls starts out in China in 1937, around the time Japanese soldiers invade.
- The Blindness of the Heart (Die Mittagsfrau) takes place in Germany and starts out in the World War I era, and then things get worse for the characters when the war begins: at least one character dies in the camps, and the main character is forced to deny her Jewish heritage and carry falsified Aryan papers.
- Biggles appears in a number of books set in WW2.
- The Animorphs book "Elfangor's Secret" has the heroes chasing a time-traveling Controller. By the time they get to World War II, things have been changed enough that Hitler is now a lowly jeep driver, though the war still happens, including the D-Day invasion happening on the same day.
- Robert Westall set several of his books and short stories during World War II, most famously The Machine Gunners but also, Blitzcat, The Blitz, and Blackham's Wimpey from the anthology Break of Dark.
- The Naked and the Dead, set on a fictional island at the Pacific.
- Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series is set from early 1942 onwards, based around two Asiatic destroyers and the japanese Battlecruiser Amagi and her crew sent to an alternate reality.
- Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones. Maximilian Aue is an SS officer of French and German ancestry. He helps carry out massacres during the Holocaust and finally flees from Germany to start a new life in northern France. Aue is present during several of the major events of the war.
- Living Alone by Stella Benson
- The Snow Goose
- Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean
- The Hiding Place is the telling of survivor Corrie ten Boom's experiences in occupied Europe.
- Vercors' Le Silence de la mer, which was written in 1942 and secretly published in Occupied Paris.
- Code Name Verity: set in Occupied France, about a captured Scottish spy and her downed pilot friend who ends out helping the Resistance
- Ken Follett's Winter of the World begins in 1933 and ends in 1949, more than half of the action describes the Second World War from the perspective of several protagonists from several origins (American, British, Russian, and German).
- In Margery Benery-Isbert's The Ark, the actual events of World War II are in flashback, but only months earlier for the refugee characters; one son managed to return from the front, but the father has not.
- The war heavily figures in the ''Aunt Dimity'' series, although the books themselves are set in the present. Dimity Westwood and Lori's mother met and became friends in wartime London; following her mother's wishes expressed in a letter, Lori researches people in Dimity's past in the first book. Several of the residents of Finch were child evacuees who returned to live there as adults, and one Italian POW settled in the area, later fathering several children who appear in later books. In Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince, Gracie Thames notes that she and her husband named three of their children for family members who were killed by the Nazis when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
- Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Quartet
- Catherynne M. Valente's children's novel The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland... takes place during and is affected by the war. The protagonist September is dealing with big changes in her home life while her father is away fighting and her mother works long hours in a factory.
- Code Name Verity revolves around a British spy in occupied France who's been captured by the Nazis and tortured into giving up the codes to the radios she was trying to smuggle to La Résistance. The second half revolves around her best friend, the pilot who flew her to France, who ends up working with La Résistance to accomplish her true objective—the destruction of the prison she's being held in.
- Mister Roberts takes place in the Pacific but features no action, to the great dissatisfaction of the title character.
- Charlotte Gray is about an Englishwoman who goes to France to join La Résistance and find her boyfriend, an airmen who went MIA there. Thought to be Very Loosely Based on the True Stories of Agents Nancy Wake and Pearl Cornioley.
- In Chrono Hustle World War 2 is occasionally mentioned as one of the time periods the time doors can go to. Characters finally actually go there at the end of #10.
- 'Allo 'Allo!
- Band of Brothers: Follows a paratrooper unit through France and into Germany.
- Black Sheep Squadron
- Bomb Girls
- Brass: briefly, at the end of the last of the three seasons.
- Changi: an Australian miniseries set in the titular Singaporean POW camp.
- Colditz: A British series set in the titular Nazi POW castle.
- Dads Army
- Doctor Who
- From the TV series, four stories — "The Curse of Fenric", "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", "Victory of the Daleks" and "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe".
- On the Doctor Who Expanded Universe front, the novels Timewyrm: Exodus, Just War, Autumn Mist, The Turing Test, Illegal Alien and The Shadow in the Glass.
- Enemy at the Door - the occupation of Guernsey
- Foyle's War
- Four tankmen and a dog
- Garrison's Gorillas
- Good Night Sweetheart features accidental time traveller Gary Sparrow finding a portal into 1940 London. Coming from 1993, Gary knows how the war ends and is able to capitalize on that, intimating that he works in intelligence and charming barmaid Phoebe with luxuries that she cannot otherwise get due to rationing.
- Hitler: The Rise of Evil takes place in the years leading up to Hitler's rise to power.
- Hogan's Heroes
- Home Front
- Island At War - the occupation of a fictional Channel Island
- Lazy Company, a (French) parody of films and series like Band of Brothers, running on Rule of Funny, and focusing on the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits of a US camp in Normandy.
- McHale's Navy
- Nuremberg is a 2000 miniseries about the Nuremberg Trials of the Nazi war criminals.
- Private Schulz
- The Rat Patrol
- Roll Out!
- Secret Army
- The Sinking Of The Laconia
- The first season of the Wonder Woman TV series.
- The Twilight Zone had several episodes set in, or strongly relating to, WWII.
- The Torchwood episode "Captain Jack Harkness" reveals where Jack, first introduced in Doctor Who's "The Empty Child", stole his identity from.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures episode Lost in Time has Clyde on the shores of Britain in 1941, discovering a Nazi plot involving alien tech.
- Danger 5 is set in WWII in the 60s with dinosaurs and Japanese robot soldiers. It follows the Danger 5 team trying to kill Hitler.
- Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter, a German Mini Series set between the Eastern Front and Berlin.
- JAG has the episode "Each Of Us Angels" which focuses on a group of Navy nurses before and during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Also the episode "Port Chicago" is based on a real-life accident.
- The Sanctuary episode "Normandy" takes place during World War II, in which the immortal Helen Magnus fought on the side of the Allies. They're trying to stop the Nazis from using a superabnormal to destroy the Operation Overlord invasion fleet before it can land.
- Wish Me Luck
- The Outer Limits (1995) episode "Tribunal", which is a Time Travel plot, partially takes place at a concentration camp in 1944.
- Europe Engulfed
- World at War
- Axis And Allies
- Flames of War - only covering the European and African parts of the war though.
- Weird War is like Deadlands, only during WWII. Werewolves of the SS included.
- In the 1960s through the 1980s, Avalon Hill and SPI thrived on tabletop games about WWII: Third Reich, Afrika Korps, Patton's War, Midway, Battle of the Bulge, and a zillion others
- Imagine This- a musical set in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942.
- Mister Roberts takes place in the Pacific but far from combat. V-E Day happens during the course of the play's action.
- South Pacific is likewise set far from the action in a backwater Pacific island.
- The Long And The Short And The Tall is a play about a section of Britsh infantrymen trapped behind enemy lines in Burma.
- The Commandos series
- The Wolfenstein series:
- Hidden & Dangerous and its sequel
- Medal of Honor - except for the 2010 reboot.
- Day of Defeat
- Call of Duty - except for the Modern Warfare games, which take place Twenty Minutes into the Future. Black Ops mostly takes place during the Cold War, but has a flashback to a Soviet special operation shortly after the Germans surrendered.
- World War II Online - a massively multiplayer first person shooter set during the Battle of France. Notable for featuring the French Armed Forces.
- The Real-Time Strategy game Company of Heroes started off with Americans and Germans on the Western Front, later adding British forces to the Opposing Fronts stand-alone expansion. Canadians' appear in the original game's final mission as The Cavalry and serve as units for the British's Royal Canadian Artillery Support doctrine. The sequel Company of Heroes 2 was set on the Eastern Front and is notably Darker and Edgier than its preceding game - the plot is a Russian veteran recounting his experiences in the brutal conflict under interrogation. The main fare of it involves the Russian Soviet Union and Germans, though Polish irregulars appear in a campaign mission and in some commanders for Soviet players.
- Afrikakorps vs Desert Rats, D-Day, 1944 Battle of the Bulge, and Moscow to Berlin (from the same developers)
- Hearts of Iron
- Silent Hunter Series (I through IV)
- Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War starts out as a metaphor for World War II, until things take a twist for the weird toward the end.
- Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is set in 1944, mentions all the loss of life from World War II as the reason the castle has reappeared, includes a grenade sub-weapon that looks like a US WWII-era grenade, and the cutscene preceeding the boss battle with Medusa shows a petrified GI (don't ask how they got in Dracula's castle, let alone in one of Brauner's portraits). Other than that, however, WWII has little relevance to the plot.
- Valkyria Chronicles is blatantly based off of WWII, complete with the attempted genocide of an ethnic minority.
- Battlestations Midway and the sequel Battlestations Pacific both cover aerial and naval warfare in the Pacific Theatre. Pacific features a new What If? scenario for the Japanese; what if they'd won the Battle of Midway and proceeded on to attack the United States?
- Operation Darkness (World War II WITH WEREWOLVES AND VAMPIRE NAZIS!)
- Sierra Online's "Aces" line, consisting of Aces of the Pacific (Pacific air war), Aces Over Europe (European air war), and Aces of the Deep (Battle of the Atlantic, from a U-boat viewpoint).
- A bunch of MicroProse games covered various aspects of World War II, from the submarine and air campaigns in both oceans, to the land war in Europe and northern Africa.
- IL-2 Sturmovik, a series of hardcore combat flight sims set during WWII.
- War Front Turning Point puts the whole of World War 2 into a What If? scenario, complete with Humongous Mecha and other advanced tech.
- Secret Weapons Of The Luftwaffe
- B-17 Flying Fortress
- The Nineteen Forty Two series of Shoot Em Ups—at least most of the series anyway—is very loosely based on WWII.
- * Rescue Raiders has present-day forces joining both sides of the war in a Terminator Twosome scenario.
- The last three missions of the German campaign of Empire Earth. Not to mention the Pacific campaign of Art of Conquest, two of the missions of the American campaign, a "Turning Point" D-Day scenario in the second game, and another "Turning Point" scenario taking place at the Battle of Kursk in Art of Supremacy.
- Clock Tower 3 features the protagonist evading a serial killer during the London bombings.
- The Saboteur - one of the few games focused on the French Resistance.
- World of Tanks — the heart of the game is here, although available tanks stretch from 1917 to 1966.
- World Of Warplanes
- Silent Storm
- TripleA, based off of Axis And Allies.
- Graviteam Tactics: Operation Star is set during the Third Battle of Kharkov; the WWII DLC campaigns cover other battles near Kharkov. Mius Front will cover battles along the Mius River in summer 1943.
- War Thunder is a Allegedly Free multiplayer game focused on aerial combat during this war.
- Panzer Front
- The First-Person Shooter Brothers in Arms has paratroopers of the U.S. 101st Airborne fighting on the Western Front in France for two games and later being deployed in Operation Market Garden in the series' third game.
- Red Orchestra is a First-Person Shooter set on the Eastern Front with combat Russian and Germans. The game's sequel also had a stand-alone expansion Rising Storm set on the Pacific Front between Americans and Japanese forces.
- Unity Of Command
- Ring Of Red