World War II Role Play Scenarios
Directions: Cut each of the scenario slips apart and distribute one per group.
Scenario 1: On February 19, 1942, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced more than 110,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry to abandon their homes and businesses. Many of them were never able to recover their property. "We were told that these Japanese were dangerous to the country, that Japan had invaded us," recalls Sylvia Choate. (V is for Victory, 1993) Scenario 2: Since the Lend-Lease Act, American agriculture had been feeding the Allies. As a government slogan put it, "Food will win the war and write the peace." Housewives in rural areas canned fruits and vegetables for the military, and college students spent summers in the barnyard. At harvest time in the fall, county schools let out so kids and teachers could gather the crops. (V is for Victory, 1993) Scenario 3: Not even veteran news-hounds caught the scent of the greatest story on the home front: the "Manhattan Project" - the race to build the world's first atomic bomb. Like all defense workers, they were told to keep their mouths shut - "Loose Lips Sink Ships." All Manhattan Project participants risked a $10,000 fine and ten years in prison just for talking about what they were doing. After the first test of the bomb on July 16, 1945, people within 300 miles of the blast in the New Mexico desert reported seeing the flash. To stifle curiosity, army officials announced that an ammunition dump had exploded. (V is for Victory, 1993) Scenario 4: After Pearl Harbor, the government screened all letters that might affect national defense. "Yes, your private mail could be read," says Lee Saunders. He worked briefly for the U.S. Bureau of Censorship, sorting letters into piles based on country of origin - Germany, Italy, Japan, China. His superiors opened anything suspicious, hoping to intercept spy messages or to trace leaks of sensitive information. (V is for Victory, 1993) Scenario 5: The need for competent, willing hands spurred change. In Baltimore in 1942, about 9,000 black Americans worked in manufacturing. By 1944, nearly 36,000 did. Although women had made up about a quarter of the labor force in the 1930's, tradition dictated that they should keep house and raise children. By the end of the war, however, more than 18 million women, one-fourth of them married, held jobs. (V is for Victory, 1993) Scenario 6: All sorts of citizens volunteered to defend their communities. The American Legion of Wisconsin tried to organize a militia of deer hunters, and farmers on a Washington State island patrolled the beach with pitchforks. In Philadelphia, for instance, lawyers and cabdrivers alike guarded the city's ports, taking eight-hour shifts once every six days. There was, of course, a great rush of young men wanting to enlist.