During World War II, many things were changing, especially gender roles and the importance of romance in the lives of those on and off the battlefield. Because of the war, people were feeling the stress of not knowing if or when they would next see their loved ones. This desperation to find time to show affection “threw people into each other’s arms with a sweetness and sadness rare in less dangerous times” (Geldern).
Individuals were expressing these feelings by writing beautiful poetry and songs. One such instance of this is in the film “Two Soldiers” as depicted in the poster above. In one particular scene of this film, the protagonist, Mark Bernes, sings a lovers’ anthem titled “Dark is the Night.” The song is as much sad as it is sweet, showing a young man’s desire to just be reunited with the one he loves one more time.
However, “the traditional roles that evoked such deep sentiment in songs, films and poems was strikingly at odds with the real life roles that women assumed during the war” (Geldern). Because most men were shipped off to the battlefront, many women took roles in their factories, families, and communities. The Soviet Union also placed women in dangerous roles, something unique to this country at the time. Women took jobs in transporting, combat, and as pilots during the war. Following the war, women did not forget these leadership positions that they played, leading them to help families who were without a spouse.
Because of the romance inspired during and after the war, births skyrocketed, many were illegitimate. The government had previously, in the 1930s, tried to reinforce family life and structure. However, the need for future soldiers and industry workers was evident in the loss of millions of lives in World War II. Because of this great need, the government even enacted a tax that would target families without children.
The effects of World War II are seen in many different manifestations. The increase in romance and love songs might have helped to ease the pain that both men and women were feeling during the war. The increase in these tendencies ultimately lead to an increase in births following the war. Women had seen themselves in more leadership roles that would eventually evolve to be much more. We can see through films and songs that the war created a sense of longing for what one cannot have. During the song “Dark is the Night,” we see the perfect example of man in a dugout with his fellow soldiers, longing to be with his lover.
This post was chosen for a “Comrade’s Corner” award by the editorial team.