Forces of Freedom at Home and Abroad: 1945–Present

Second Floor

The Goldring Family Foundation
and Woldenberg Foundation


The second floor of Liberation Pavilion, The Goldring Family Foundation and Woldenberg Foundation Forces of Freedom at Home and Abroad (1945–Present), explores the war’s impact in the postwar period and its lasting legacies today. Exhibits examine the rebuilding efforts of a world destroyed, the war crimes trials, the emergence of the US as a world “superpower,” movements for social change and civil rights, new technological innovations, and the war’s impact on foreign policy.

Forces of Freedom at Home and Abroad: 1945–Present



Coming Home: New Opportunities, New Challenges

While war has always required service and sacrifice, World War II placed unprecedented demands on the men and women who fought it. Service personnel fought in all conditions: the jungles of the South Pacific, the deserts of North Africa, and the dense urban terrain of Western Europe. Never before had the battles been so large or the military technology so deadly. Over 16 million Americans donned their country’s uniform, and more than 414,000 of them did not return to their homes and families.

Made possible through a gift from David and Rosemarie S. DeVido and DeVido Family — John, JoAnn, Phyllis, Raymond, Carol, Shana and Lara Martin DeVido, Leela and Meena Ramakrishnan, and the Stirnimann Family — Katharina, Clara, Antoinette, Hans, Joseph, Elsbeth, Rita, Karl and Albin, in Honor of Beatrice and Joseph DeVido, USN, Brigitta and Johann Stirnimann, Hosted Refugees in Switzerland.


Restoring Justice

As early as 1942, the Allies vowed to hold Japanese and German leaders accountable for their war crimes. Stunned by the breadth of atrocities they discovered, including the mass murder of civilians and brutal treatment of prisoners of war, the Allied nations made good on their promises for justice when the war ended. In the first ever international trials of war criminals, they prosecuted thousands of German and Japanese defendants accused of crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Made possible through a gift from The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation in honor of D. Paul Spencer.


Great Responsibilities Theater

Building on the themes in Restoring Justice and introducing the themes of the next two galleries, this theater features a film that illuminates the new position the United States held as a world “superpower” during the postwar period of 1945–1950, a status based on its vibrant economy and its monopoly on nuclear weapons. The film also connects visitors to the tensions felt at the start of the Cold War, as the threats of communism and catastrophic global warfare loomed and the survival of democracy was uncertain.

Made possible through a gift from Conrad N. Hilton Foundation


Prosperity and Change

World War II created a new global role for America as the “leader of the Free World.” Wartime innovation and military production propelled the United States into an era of unparalleled economic prosperity, creating the richest society in the world. Scientific, technological, and medical advancements created new opportunities in civilian life that sparked dramatic social change. While the 1950s seemed to be a time of calm and conformity, dramatic changes were underway, as servicemembers of color and women demanded equal rights. The changes begun by World War II reverberated for decades to come.

Made possible through a gift from Jennifer and Phil Satre


The Fight for Freedom

The panoramic Pam and Mark Rubin Liberation Theater features a 30-minute production with powerful personal testimonies capturing the complicated emotions felt by liberated Holocaust survivors as well as the US servicemembers who freed them. Survivors’ first feelings of hope and the joy of freedom at the moment of liberation from almost certain death are balanced only by the stark realization of their great loss.

Made possible through a gift from Pam and Mark Rubin, a child survivor of the Holocaust and Trustee of The National WWII Museum. Additional support provided by Morris Family Foundation.


What Does World War II Mean Today?

Whether serving on the Home Front or on the frontlines, American citizens fought, sacrificed, and died to preserve a free world during World War II. After the war ended, Americans continued the struggle to uphold opportunity, equality, safety, and liberty across the globe. The sacrifices of the WWII generation provide guidance and inspiration for Americans to this day. The memory of World War II continues to shape our world, inspiring the American people in their pursuit of peace, justice, and freedom. This interactive gallery provides a reflective space for visitors to voice their thoughts on the war’s legacy and what it means today, allowing them to use a digital kiosk to answer questions on the meaning of the war and see their responses appear on a large screen alongside comments from other guests.

Made possible through a gift in recognition of The Honorable Henry A. Kissinger, generously funded by Richard C. Adkerson & Freeport-McMoRan Foundation


Judith W. and Louis M. Freeman Terrace

Rising between Liberation Pavilion and Campaigns of Courage pavilion, this prominent outdoor space features benches and greenery, making it a perfect space for visitors to relax and gather. The terrace is home to a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, honoring not only the ultimate sacrifice of the fallen but also the enduring sacrifices of their families and loved ones—stories that are reflected across the Museum’s campus and especially in Liberation Pavilion. The Monument was made possible thanks to the Woody Williams Foundation, which has established these monuments in all 50 states and US territories.

Made possible through a gift from Judith W. and Louis M. Freeman

The National WWII Museum

Museum Campus

Building Location

Liberation Pavilion

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