World War II

The first three modules of Voices in Wartime’s, The World at War: World War II are filled with the poetry of hundreds of poets. In the “case study” section of the first module, poets who were directly linked to a specific event are highlighted. For example, an excerpt from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s long poem, “Lidice,” recounts the horrendous massacre in that Czech village at the hands of the Nazis; and Anna Akhmatova recalls the 900-Day Siege of Leingrad in the case study of the same name. In the study on the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the witness poetry of Toge Sankichi and Shinoe Shoda recount that catastrophic event.   

This module features more than 130 poets, from both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific who write about the Second World War. The majority of these writers are professional poets coming from different sides of the war, many of them intimately involved in the struggle to survive the war. Some never lived to see the liberation, an end to their concentration camp lives, or the signing of the armistice. Others who write of the horrors of the battlefields do so because of their sense of history, of recalling stories they heard, or in fear that the world will lose its sanity and embark on still another war.  

Brief biographies of the poets in this section follow the introduction. The section, “Activities on Working with Poetry” section precedes the poetry offerings. An annotated bibliography of poetry from the Second World War, and especially of the available works of poets contained here, ends the module. “Voices of Many: Quotes from World War II,” follows the poetry section. Several of the quotes are “near poetry” in their own right. Words offered by Yehuda L. Bialer, Martin Niemoeller, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower are excellent examples of poetic quotes.