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World War II

Bebe Koch

Wanting to somehow contribute to the defeat of the Nazis persecuting her fellow Jews, Bebe Koch enlisted at age nineteen and rose through the ranks to become a platoon commander.

Bernice Sains Freid

Bernice Sains Freid called her time in WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during WWII “the happiest days of my life.”

Selma Cronan

Selma Kantor Cronan flew as a pilot both running transport missions during WWII and later as a civilian, winning competitive aerial races.

Charlotte Chaney

Lieutenant Charlotte Ellner Chaney was permanently changed by her work as one of the first army nurses to help survivors of Dachau recover from their ordeal.

Miranda Bloch

Miranda “Randy” Bloch not only served as a Marine during World War II, she was one of the rare women Marines to be issued flight orders, helping pilots and air crew train for radar bombing runs.

Matilda and Bernice Blaustein

While 150,000 women eventually served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in World War II, Matilda Blaustein was remarkable both as one of the first to volunteer and because she was joined in the service by her daughter, Bernice.

Joanna Eckstein

Joanna Eckstein widened the perspective of Seattle residents both with her travel writing and as a patron of the arts who supported individual artists and museums.

Miranda Bloch, The Flying Marine

"I am proud that I had the guts and the patriotism to defy my parents and enlist in the service of my country when it needed me." –Miranda Bloch

"What is a nice Jewish girl going to do in the military, especially in the Marine Corps?" –Miranda Bloch’s incredulous father

Did you know that there were women in the Marines in the 1940’s? I certainly didn’t.  

Frances Slanger, Purple Heart

“The fire was burning low, and just a few live coals are on the bottom. With the slow feeding of wood and finally coal, a roaring fire is started. I couldn't help thinking how similar to a human being a fire is. If it is not allowed to run down too low, and if there is a spark of life left in it, it can be nursed back. So can a human being.” –Frances Slanger

Lt. Frances Slanger of Roxbury, Massachusetts was one of four nurses who waded ashore at Normandy on D-Day. She was also the first American nurse to die in Europe in World War II.

Women of the U.S. Airforce: Selma Cronan and Yetta Moskowitz

In 1942, the United States was suffering through a severe shortage of pilots. Men were needed to fight overseas, and the government was forced to take a chance and train women to fly military aircraft. This pioneering group of civilian female pilots was called the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP for short. Over 1,000 young women were trained to fly B-26 and B-29 bombers, test new planes, and fly shipments across the country from factories to military bases. Fun fact: the WASP mascot was drawn by Walt Disney, and appeared on each woman’s shoulder patch. Less fun fact: All records of the WASPs were classified and sealed for 35 years, so their contributions were little known and all but inaccessible to historians.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "World War II." (Viewed on December 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/world-war-ii>.

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