10 Best World War 2 Documentaries

Thursday, January 27 by Lori Boyd

Watch these 10 best World War 2 documentaries and see all aspects of the war. Some of these World War 2 documentaries were made during or just after the war and others were made more recently. Regardless, each has a unique perspective on the war.

  1. “World at War: The Complete Set”. This film is unparalleled among World War 2  documentaries. Narrated by Sir Lawrence Olivier, it was made by Sir Jeremy Isaccs and contains 32 hours of interviews and original footage of one of the best documented wars in history.
  2. “Battlefield”. Six two hour programs chronicle individual World War 2 battles including rare footage. Graphics make military strategy more clear and the context of the battle in world events is discussed.
  3. “World War 2: The Lost Color Archives.” Finally, a World War 2 film that is in color. Most of the footage is from the Pacific and Europe. Most moving are the film clips from the area occupied by the Nazis.
  4. Triumph of the Will”. One of the most infamous propaganda films of all time is this film footage of a Nazi Party Rally held in 1934 in Nuremberg, Germany. It is an interesting look into the Nazi mindset and the lure of fascism.
  5. “The War”. This Ken Burns documentary tells the story of World War 2 through the eyes on the American experience. This epic documentary not only tells the story of the soldier but the shows the effect on common Americans.
  6. “The Battle of San Pietro”. This documentary directed by John Huston was intended as a soldier training film but was considered too graphic to be used for that purpose. The film was shot during the Allied invasion of Italy and is considered a classic.
  7. WWII in Color”. The color footage of this World War 2 film begins with the raid on Tokyo in 1942 continues with the invasion on the beaches of Normandy, the operations of air craf carriers in the Pacific, and ends with the liberation celebrations in Europe.
  8. “Victory at Sea”. This award winning series included 26 episodes that use docu-drama techniques to cover all aspects of World War 2. Even the musical score was created by the famous Richard Rogers.
  9. “Why We Fight World War II – The Complete Series”. This set of seven films made in 1943 was made to garner support for World War II by the public. Although the point of view is definitely meant to persuade, it is a good example of the kind of documentaries about World War 2 from the time period.
  10. “World War II Battle Force: Panzer”. Tanks and tank warfare are the focus of this documentary. Film footage, diagrams, and items from museums are used to explore the role that the tanks played in World War 2.
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