Famous Quotes of World War II

While action may define the outcome of war, there is no doubt that rousing speeches and witty lines can sometimes be the right tool for the job. Words have the ability to inspire a single person or resonate through the world. We’ve compiled a list of some of the quotes that we believe capture the spirit of the Second World War.

…we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…

Winston Churchill

Churchill on the east bank of the Rhine, south of Wesel. March 25, 1945. By Morris (Sgt), No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit

One of Winston Churchill’s most famous speeches, which he delivered to the House of Commons on June 4, 1940. An interesting fact about the speech was that from the beginning “We shall fight on the beaches...” and ending “… we shall never surrender”, consists of words derived from Old English (Anglo-Saxon). The only exception is the word “surrender”, which is derived from Old French.

The enemy win their battles from the air! They knock out my panzers with American armor-piercing shells.

Field Marshall Erwin Rommel

That’s impossible! The Americans only know how to make razor blades.


We could do with some of those razor blades, Herr Reichsmarshall.

Field Marshall Erwin Rommel

Allegedly attributed to Rommel regarding the Second Battle of El Alamein, he briefed Hitler on his attack at Alam el Halfa and why it failed. Rommel stressed the superiority of the British Air Force, which is why Göring brought up the question.

I’ve had my fill of Hitler. These conferences called by a ringing of a bell are not to my liking; the bell is rung when people call their servants. And besides, what kind of conferences are these? For five hours I am forced to listen to a monologue which is quite fruitless and boring.

Benito Mussolini—to his son-in-law, June 10, 1941

Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler stand together on a reviewing stand during Mussolini’s official visit in Munich. By Muzej Revolucije Narodnosti Jugoslavije

From 1941, Mussolini and Italian Forces had begun suffering defeats, such as being overwhelmed at the Battle of Keren, with a final defeat happening at the Battle of Gondar. Mussolini and Hitler’s political relationship may have been deteriorating in the lead up to Operation Barbarossa, where the latter asked the former not to involve himself.

Defend Paris to the last, destroy all bridges over the Seine and devastate the city.

Adolf Hitler—August, 1944

Around mid-August, the ceasefire in Paris had collapsed and fighting had resumed. French Forces of the Interior were busy erecting barricades in the streets of the city to hold back German reinforcements. Choltitz, the last commander of Nazi-occupied Paris, was given the demand by Hitler in Berlin, but ultimately ignored it.

The fruits of victory are tumbling into our mouths too quickly.

Emperor Hirohito of Japan, April 29, 1942


Hirohito in dress uniform. Library of Congress

Japan scored a series of naval victories, including the Battle of Singapore in the South-East Asia Theatre, leading to the surrender of about 130,000 Indian, British, Australian and Dutch personnel. In March 1942, Japanese forces were attacked in Northern Burma by the Chinese Expeditionary Force, encircling 7,000 British soldiers.

They’re overfed, overpaid, overdressed... and over here


This was, supposedly, a common complaint of British people, as American troops were shipped to Britain to prepare for the invasion of German-occupied Europe. The first GIs landed in Britain in 1942, bringing Coca-Cola, cigarettes and nylon. Despite the quote, around 70,000 women became GI brides.

Your name is unknown. Your deed is immortal.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Moscow)


Guarding the Eternal Flame. Jeangagnon

The Tomb of the Unknown Solider is dedicated to Soviet soldiers lost during World War II. It is located at the Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden in Moscow. In front of the monument there is a five-pointed star in a square field of labradorite, with an Eternal Flame at its center. This flame illuminates a bronze inscription with the quote above.

Loose lips [might] sink ships.

Wartime propaganda slogan


American World War II poster by Seymour R. Goff, also known as Ess-ar-gee. Public Domain

This phrase, created by the War Advertising Council, originated on wartime propaganda posters during World War II. It was used on posters by the United States Office of War Information. The most famous poster featuring the phrase was created for the Seagram Distillers Corporation, by the designer Seymour R. Goff.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933—Inaugural address

Said during the first inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as the 32nd President of the United States. Roosevelt swore in on his family Bible, open to Corinthians 13, which, published in 1686, was the oldest Bible ever used in an inaugural ceremony. His speech lasted 20 minutes and was 1,883 words.

Nice chap, no General.

Field Marshal Lord Montgomery on Dwight D. Eisenhower

A senior officer of the British Army, Montgomery may have referred to Eisenhower this way because, at the time, the war effort was in need of hardened generals. The man himself first saw action in World War I. He commanded the British Eighth Army from August 1942 in the Western Desert until the final Allied victory in Tunisia.

If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking.

General George Patton


Patton near Brolo, Sicily, in 1943. By Army Signal Corps

While Patton has a…choice number of quotes to his name, this is short, sweet and to the point. The man was best known for his leadership of the Third United States Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy. Though often vulgar in his speeches, his charisma and ability to lead from the front inspired all those under him, and he was regarded highly by those in German High Command.