As the atrocities of World War II consumed Earth in the 1940s, men armed themselves and died by the millions on battlefields all over the globe. Although most countries initially banned women from the fighting, as desperation took hold, more and more women grabbed machine guns and blasted their enemies to pieces. What do you really know about the famous women of the Second World War?
The United States never resorted to sending women to front-line combat. But in the Soviet Union, Stalin knew his country was in peril, so he allowed women to serve in various capacities. In some cases, Soviet women were right in the middle of combat, killing -- and being killed by — Nazi troops at every turn. What do you know about the famous women warriors who fought and died in the war?
Women served in many other capacities, too. They used their wits and courage as intelligence agents behind enemy lines. They coordinated French Resistance attacks, thwarted Third Reich missions, and gained infamy within the Gestapo, who hunted them down at all costs. What do you know about female spies of WWII?
If they weren’t killing and spying, other women toiled in factories to make the guns that made the war go “boom.” Others became indispensable politicians who forged alliances and worked to keep the home front operating smoothly. Pull up your hair so it doesn’t get bloody in this famous women of WWII quiz!
As the wife of President Franklin Roosevelt, Eleanor wasn’t content to merely socialize. She became an active first lady during the war, dedicating her time to numerous causes.
Travers was an ambulance driver, so when the French made a nighttime dash through German lines, she was driving the lead vehicle. Her truck was blasted with bullets but she still led thousands of French troops on a glorious escape.
The Germans considered Virginia Hall to be the most dangerous Allied spy of the war. She was an American who served with British special operations.
Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a deadly Soviet sniper, credited with an amazing 309 kills during WWII. She is called the deadliest female sniper ever.
In the years before the war, Hall accidentally shot herself on a hunting trip and doctors amputated her leg. During WWII, the Germans referred to her as "the limping lady" and they feared her intelligence-gathering skills.
Nancy Wake’s real-life exploits read like James Bond script. She became a secret agent who aided the French Resistance against the Nazi occupiers. And she was utterly and completely fearless.
Nancy Wake was so effective in the French Resistance that the German Gestapo put a price on her head. She was forced to leave the country ... but she would eventually return in full glory.
In 1942, sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a Soviet celebrity and she was invited to visit the White House, where she met President Roosevelt and the first lady. She actually became friends with Eleanor Roosevelt.
Nearne was caught as a spy and sent to a concentration camp. Later, she escaped and rejoined the Allies.
Eleanor was an active proponent of human rights issues in America, and she knew a war would take momentum from her causes. She was, for a time, very distraught that her mission might be jeopardized.
Whittle was the only female American POW of the entire European Theater. She was captured after her evacuation plane was blasted out of the sky in 1944. The Red Cross later negotiated her release.
In true secret agent style, Nancy Wake parachuted into occupied France. There she helped coordinate the actions of thousands of resistance soldiers against the Germans.
Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a better shot than most men, but army officials wanted her to be a nurse. She kept pressing for military action and eventually got her wish.
Roosevelt was horrified by the way Hitler treated groups like Jews. She pushed American leaders to relax immigration rules so that more people could flee the terrors of Europe.
Ott was a famous nurse in WWII. She was especially well-known for her innovations in flight nursing and was part of the first ever intercontinental air evacuation.
Mariana Drăgescu was a pilot in the famed Romanian White Squadron, which performed medical missions of all kinds during the war.
Gestapo officers called Nancy Wake "The White Mouse," because she was so good at evading Nazi police tactics. Wake lived until 2011.
Roosevelt was greatly admired in Europe as a champion of the common people and of the war effort. She received a hero’s welcome throughout England.
Lyudmila Pavlichenko was incredibly accurate, even compared to other snipers. It’s how she was able to kill more than 100 Axis officers during her killing spree.
Nadezhda Popova flew hundreds of missions with a bombing regiment that became known as the "Night Witches." Their favorite tactic? They turned off their plane engines before bombing runs so the Germans didn’t know they were coming.
Hall had just one leg, and she nicknamed her prosthetic leg "Cuthbert." She expressed worries that Cuthbert might slow her down as she fled the Nazis ... but she got away.
Roosevelt understood that working mothers needed more help. So she began advocating for government-sponsored day care in hopes of helping the women who were driving the home front.
In America, Rosie the Riveter inspired women to work. In Canada, it was Veronica Foster, or Ronnie, the Bren Gun Girl, who made big, deadly guns for Allied troops. She was a plainspoken woman who encouraged Canadian women to work as part of the war effort.
Lyudmila Pavlichenko killed hundreds of Germans and survived to tell about it. She later became a historian, one who’d already made plenty of history of her own.
Lamarr was a major movie star in the war era ... and she hated the Nazis. She worked to develop radio technologies that prevented Germans from jamming American torpedo guidance. The system worked -- but was ignored until the ‘60s.
Wake was no bystander special agent. She actually strangled a German guard with her bare hands. Later in lfe she said that during WWII, "I was not a very nice person."
Boyarski was a Polish teenager whose entire family was killed in the war. She persuaded a resistance group to let her join — and she became a famous fighter hellbent on revenge.
Scholl and her brother distributed anti-Nazi flyers at their university. They didn’t go unnoticed — the Nazis accused both of them of treason. She was executed by guillotine.
Scholl was part of the White Rose, an activist group that opposed the Nazis. History has judged the White Rose as an example of bravery in the face of violent oppression. Just before the Nazis chopped off her head for treason, she shrugged and said it was best to die for a worthy cause.
Szabo was captured on her second mission and send to a concentration camp. Then, she was unceremoniously executed, a testament to the fact that women paid the ultimate price while fighting Nazi oppression.