World War II: Women at War


For the nations who were deeply involved in World War II, the war effort was total, with women volunteering in huge numbers alongside men. At home, women filled traditionally male positions, taking both active and supporting positions in factories, government organizations, military auxiliaries, resistance groups, and more. While relatively few women were at the front lines as combatants, many found themselves the victims of bombing campaigns and invading armies. By the end of the war, more than 2 million women had worked in war industries. Hundreds of thousands had volunteered as nurses or members of home defense units, or as full-time members of the military. In the Soviet Union alone, some 800,000 women served alongside men in army units during the war. Collected here are images that capture some of what these women experienced and endured during the war. A note: Most of the captions are from the original sources from the 1940s, complete with the frequent use of the term "girl" to describe young women. (This entry is Part 13 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II)
Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Anto Sembiring / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Dancing Noses, Olympic Jumps, Analog Astronauts

    A flour war in Greece, mountain hares in Scotland, students marching against guns in the U.S., the Mach Loop in Wales, and much more.

  • Mark Wallheiser / AP

    Photos: Teenagers Demand 'Never Again' in an Age of Mass Shootings

    A week after 17 people were murdered in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, teenagers across South Florida, in areas near Washington, D.C., and in other parts of the United States walked out of their classrooms to stage protests against the horror of school shootings and to advocate for gun law reforms.

  • Stéphane Mahé / Reuters

    A Quiet, Ancestral Farm Life in Western France

    Reuters photographer Stéphane Mahé visited a farmer named Jean-Bernard Huon on his farm in western France, where he deliberately lives a traditional, non-mechanized farm life.

  • Guadalupe Pardo / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Skiing Robots, a Bichon Frise Wins Best in Show

    The U.S. Toboggan Championships in Maine, scenes from New York Fashion Week, a camel trip on a Siberian steppe, and much more.