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{{Redirect|'40s|decades comprising years 40–49 of other centuries |List of decades}}File:1940s decade montage.png|Above title bar: events during World War II (1939–1945): From left to right: Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching Omaha Beach on D-Day; Adolf Hitler visits Paris, soon after the Battle of France; The Holocaust occurs as Nazi Germany carries out a programme of systematic state-sponsored genocide, during which approximately six million European Jews are killed; The Japanese attack on the American naval base of Pearl Harbor launches the United States into the war; An Observer Corps spotter scans the skies of London during the Battle of Britain; The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the first uses of nuclear weapons, killing over a quarter million people and leading to the Japanese surrender; Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Japanese Government, on board {{USS|Missouri|BB-63|6}}, effectively ending the war. Below title bar: events after World War II: From left to right: The Declaration of the State of Israel in 1948; The Nuremberg trials are held after the war, in which the prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany are prosecuted; After the war, the United States carries out the Marshall Plan, which aims at rebuilding Western Europe; ENIAC, the world's first general-purpose electronic computer.|420px|thumbrect 1 1 224 195 Normandy landingsrect 227 1 407 195 Battle of Francerect 409 1 572 195 The Holocaustrect 1 198 148 383 Attack on Pearl Harborrect 151 198 288 383 Battle of Britainrect 291 198 420 383 Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasakirect 424 198 572 383 Surrender of Japanrect 0 384 572 411 World War IIrect 1 412 125 599 Israeli Declaration of Independencerect 128 412 290 599 Nuremberg trialsrect 294 412 438 599 Marshall Planrect 441 412 572 599 ENIAC{{Decadebox|194}}The 1940s (pronounced "nineteen-forties" and commonly abbreviated as the "Forties") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1940, and ended on December 31, 1949.Most of World War II 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 Western world and the Soviet Union, leading to the beginning of the Cold War. 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, facilitating the post–World War II economic expansion, which lasted well into the 1970s. The conditions of the post-war world encouraged decolonization and the emergence of new states and governments, with India, Pakistan, Israel, Vietnam, and others declaring independence, although rarely without bloodshed. The decade also witnessed the early beginnings of new technologies (such as 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.{{TOC limit|3}}

Politics and wars


File:EasternFrontWWIIcolage.png|right|thumb|250px|World War IIWorld War IIFile:German Reich 1942.svg|220px|thumb|In Green: Nazi Germany at its peak (1942):{{legend|#336733|(:en:Nazi Germany|Germany)}}{{legend|#55c255|Civilian-administered occupied territories ((:en:Reichskommissariat|Reichskommissariat) and (:en:General Government|General Government))}}{{legend|#a5dfa5|Military-administered occupied territories ((:en:Military Administration (Nazi Germany)|Militärverwaltung))}}]]

Major political changes

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

Internal conflicts

Decolonization and independence

File:Declaration of State of Israel 1948.jpg|thumb|200px|right|David Ben-GurionDavid Ben-GurionFile:PRCFounding.jpg|left|thumb|200px|Mao Zedong proclaiming the establishment of the People's Republic of Chinathe People's Republic of China {{clear}}

Prominent political events

{{expand section|date=July 2018}}{{clear}}


{{expand section|date=July 2018}}The Bretton Woods Conference was the gathering of 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations at the Mount Washington Hotel, situated in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War II. The conference was held from July 1–22, 1944. It established the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and created the Bretton Woods system.BOOK, John Maynard Keynes and International Relations: Economic Paths to War and Peace, Markwell, Donald, Oxford University Press, 2006, 978-0-198-29236-4, Oxford, harv, Donald Markwell,

Assassinations and attempts

Prominent assassinations, targeted killings, and assassination attempts include:File:Mahatma Gandhi laughing.jpeg|thumb|Mahatma GandhiMahatma Gandhi

Science and technology


File:Two women operating ENIAC.gif|ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic computer, operated by Betty Jennings and Frances BilasFile:Atanasoff-Berry Computer at Durhum Center.jpg|Atanasoff–Berry Computer replica at 1st floor of Durham Center, Iowa State UniversityFile:Trinity shot color.jpg|July 16, 1945 - The Manhattan Project - The atomic age begins with the Trinity nuclear test, during which the United States detonates a nuclear bomb based on plutonium at the Trinity Site in New Mexico


File:First photo from space.jpg|October 24, 1946: V-2 rocket takes first picture of Earth from outer spaceFile:Expedition Kon-Tiki 1947. Across the Pacific. (8765728430).jpg|Thor Heyerdahl's raft Kon-Tiki crossed the Pacific Ocean from Peru to Tahiti proving the practical possibility that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times{{clear}}

Popular culture


File:Orson Welles-Citizen Kane1.jpg|thumb|right|Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane in Citizen KaneCitizen Kane 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 1940s.Polish filmmakers in Great Britain created anti-nazi color film Calling mr. Smith (1943) about current nazi crimes in occupied Europe during the war and about lies of nazi propagandaweblinkFilm Noir, a film style that incorporated crime dramas with dark images, became largely prevalent during the decade. Films such as The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep are considered classics and helped launch the careers of legendary actors such as Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner. The genre has been widely copied since its initial inception.In France during the war the tour de force Children of Paradise directed by Marcel Carné (1945), was shot in Nazi occupied Paris.DeWitt Bodeen, Les Enfants du Paradis, filmreference.comweblink {{Webarchive|url= |date=2009-01-13 }} Gio MacDonald, Edinburgh University Film Society program notes, 1994–95Quoted by Roger Ebert, Children of Paradise, Chicago Sun-Times, 6 January 2002 review of the Criterion DVD release 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 Toshiro Mifune that lasted until 1965.


{{expand section|date=July 2018}}File:Frank Sinatra in Till the Clouds Roll By.jpg|thumb|200px|Frank Sinatra gained massive popularity during the decade, becoming one of the first teen idolteen idol
  • The most popular music style during the 1940s was swing, which prevailed during World War II. In the later periods of the 1940s, less swing was prominent and crooners like Frank Sinatra, along with genres such as bebop and the earliest traces of rock and roll, were the prevalent genre.



As the 1940s went through times of hardship during and after WWII, the solution was significant rationing and fashion items and fabrics were no exception. Fashion became more utilitarian or function and comfortability over style. Besides this rationing, as a tribute, women's fashion also changed to reflect that and it was seen in the new silhouette that is featured suits. In order to feminize this, certain elements were added such as the straight knee-length skirts and accessories to complete the look. Even with the challenges imposed by shortages in rayon, nylon, wool, leather, rubber, metal (for snaps, buckles, and embellishments), and even the amount of fabric that could be used in any one garment, the fashion industry's wheels kept chugging slowly along, producing what it could. After the fall of France in 1940, Hollywood drove fashion in the United States almost entirely, with the exception of a few trends coming from war torn London in 1944 and 1945, as America's own rationing hit full force, and the idea of function seemed to overtake fashion, if only for a few short months until the end of the war. Fabrics shifted dramatically as rationing and wartime shortages controlled import items such as silk and furs. Floral prints seem to dominate the early 1940s, with the mid-to-late 1940s also seeing what is sometimes referred to as "atomic prints" or geometric patterns and shapes. The color of fashion seemed to even go to war, with patriotic nautical themes and dark greens and khakis dominating the color palettes, as trousers and wedges slowly replaced the dresses and more traditional heels due to shortages in stockings and gasoline. The most common characteristics of this fashion were the straight skirt, pleats, front fullness, squared shoulders with v-necks or high necks, slim sleeves and the most favorited necklines were sailor, mandarin and scallopedweblink{{See also|1930–1945 in fashion|1945–1960 in fashion}}


World leaders

File:Hitler, 1944 (first version).jpg|{{flagicon|Nazi Germany}} Führer Adolf HitlerFile:JStalin Secretary general CCCP 1942.jpg|{{flagicon|Soviet Union|1936}} General Secretary Joseph StalinFile:Churchill portrait (cropped).jpg|{{flagicon|United Kingdom}} Prime Minister Winston ChurchillFile:FDR 1944 Portrait.jpg|{{flagicon|USA|1912}} President Franklin D. RooseveltFile:Mussolini mezzobusto.jpg|{{flagicon|Kingdom of Italy}} {{flagicon|Italian Social Republic}} Duce Benito MussoliniFile:Truman 58-766-09.jpg|{{flagicon|USA|1912}} President Harry S. TrumanFile:Chiang Kai-shek(蔣中正).jpg|{{flagicon|Republic of China (1912–1949)}} President Chiang Kai-shekFile:Mao in 1945.jpg|{{flagicon|PRC}} Chairman Mao ZedongFile:Hirohito wartime(cropped).jpg|{{flagicon|Empire of Japan}} Emperor HirohitoFile:Ben-Gurion.jpg|{{flagicon|Israel}} Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion

Military leaders

File:Eisenhower d-day.jpg|General Eisenhower speaks with troops prior to D-DayFile:Isoroku Yamamoto.jpg|Isoroku Yamamoto, Japanese Imperial Navy Fleet Admiral responsible for attack on Pearl Harbor.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1977-018-13A, Erwin Rommel(brighter).jpg|Erwin Rommel, German Field Marshal who led the North African Campaign.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-14059-0018, Berlin, Oberbefehlshaber der vier Verbündeten.jpg|The Supreme Commanders on 5 June 1945 in Berlin: Bernard Montgomery, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Georgy Zhukov and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny.

Activists and religious leaders

File:MKGandhi.jpg|Mohandas Gandhi during the 1940sFile:Raoul Wallenberg.jpg|Raoul Wallenberg, c. 1944File:Jinnah Gandhi.jpg|Muhammed Ali Jinnah with Gandhi, 1944.File:Sugihara b.jpg|Chiune Sugihara c.1940s{{See also|List of individuals and groups assisting Jews during the Holocaust|List of Righteous among the Nations by country|Resistance during the Holocaust|Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust}}



File:Rita Hayworth in Blood and Sand trailer.jpg|Rita Hayworth as Doña Sol des Muire in Blood and Sand (1941)File:Cary Grant 1947 (cropped).jpg|Cary GrantFile:Clark Gable - publicity.JPG|Clark GableFile:Gangs all here trailer.jpg|Carmen Miranda in The Gang's All Here, (1943).{{col-begin}}{{col-3}} {{col-3}} {{col-3}} {{col-end}}


File:Glenn Miller Billboard.jpg|Glenn Miller, 1942File:BennyGoodmanStageDoorCanteen.jpg|Benny Goodman performing in 1943 Stage Door CanteenFile:BingCrosbyTheBellsofSaintMarysTrailerScreenshot1945.jpg|Bing Crosby, 1945File:Frank Sinatra by Gottlieb c1947- 2.jpg|Frank Sinatra, 1947File:Édith Piaf (cropped).jpg|Édith Piaf{{Div col|colwidth=30em}} {{Div col end}}



File:Hank Greenberg 1937 cropped.jpg|150px|thumb|Hall of Famer Hank GreenbergHank GreenbergDuring 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 many baseball players (including well known stars) who served during World War II were Moe Berg, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Hank Greenberg, Stan Musial (in 1945), Warren Spahn, 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.


File:Baseball. Jack Robinson BAnQ P48S1P12829.jpg|thumb|upright|Jackie Robinson with the Montreal RoyalsMontreal Royals{{See also|History of baseball in the United States#The war years|All-American Girls Professional Baseball League}}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 1945 signing of Jackie Robinson to a players contract by Branch Rickey the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Signing Robinson opened the door to the integration of Major League Baseball finally putting an end to the professional discrimination that had characterized the sport since the 19th century.


{{See also|Ring Magazine fighters of the year|List of The Ring world champions}}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 Schmeling and he vowed to meet Schmeling once again in the ring. Louis' comeback bout against Schmeling became an international symbol of the struggle between the US and democracy against Nazism and Fascism. When on June 22, 1938, Louis knocked Schmeling 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' 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.BOOK,weblink New York, Sports Matters: Race, Recreation, and Culture, John Bloom and Michael Nevin Willard, 2002, New York University Press, 978-0-8147-9882-9, 46–47, Bloom, John, Willard, Michael Nevin,

See also


The following articles contain brief timelines listing the most prominent events of the decade.



Further reading

  • Lewis, Thomas Tandy, ed. The Forties in America. 3 volumes. Pasadena: Salem Press, 2011.
  • Lingeman, Richard. The Noir Forties: The American People from Victory to Cold War (New York: Nation Books, 2012. xii, 420 pp.)
  • Yust, Walter, ed., 10 Eventful Years (4 vol., Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc, 1947), encyclopedia of world events 1937-46

External links

{{Commons category|1940s}} {{Events by month links}}{{20th century}}

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