World War II box set

Not sure if this is the right place for this - but here goes.

I am woefully ignorant about WWII - it was never covered in history lessons at school so most of my knowledge comes second hand via Hollywood and we all know the americans won! Obviously I knew we were fighting Germans but did not know the background.

However - today I have been given a boxed set of 8 x DVDs - a mixture of documentary and archive newsreel footage - which I am looking forward to watching. Subjects covered are :-

The rise of the Nazis.
German assaults on Denmark, Norway and France
The Battle of Britain
The Battle of Russia
Prelude to War
War comes to America
Fury in the Pacific
Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Each DVD runs for about 1 x hour - probably not something to watch back to back - but I hope to learn a lot from them.

I think that it is necessary to go back to the start of the 20th century European history before jumping into WW2. I’m of the opinion that what kicked off in Europe wasn’t WW2,. It was actually WW1 part two. Also that it was the shocking betrayal surrounding the Versailles Treaty that resulted in the inevitability of the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the emergence of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei aka the Nazi party - and the tale goes on.

Thank you, AT, will do some research.

Nobody likes a show off, Todger… :018: :slight_smile:

You can unwind history or rewind it, either way, if you weren’t there at the time, you will be none the wiser.

Being there at the time doesn’t mean you know what’s going on though.I’m sure a lot of Germans were unaware of what was really happening to the Jews.

True, but opinions were based on perceived truths, not lines of text, which is fake, being close or retrospective reporting?

That is a generalised comment BTW.

Have you ever heard the expression ‘The Airfix Generation’?
We are the Baby Boomer boys who spent the 1950s & 60s on a diet of Commando comics, plastic model kits, and war films

I include myself in that
Who knows why or how you become interested in any particular subject, but I’m fairly interested in WW2 and things military & warlike in general

If you want to know about any aspect of WW2 or other wars, just Search on YouTube

Apart from the varying suggestions offered above, I would recommend “The World At War” My son recently bought a restored version of the 1974?..3?..Original production. It is an awesome account of the whole war from the early 1930s to the aftermath. The coverage of the Normandy Invasion is particularly good. It is not meant to be a dry, scholarly thing. Very easy to absorb. No nonsense story telling with just the appropriate level of drama. It is narrated by Sir Lawrence Olivier. All original war footage with sound added later. Very convincing. IT’s a box set. Not cheap but worth having. My father was a Bren gunner with the AIF at El Alamein. He saw this doc before he died in 1984. He said it was very historically accurate.

The titles seem to indicate that you should gain a good “grounding” in the events that preceded WWII and the events of the war itself.

As a member of the ‘Airfix Generation’ (mentioned by zuludog), I have maintained and pursued an interest in WWII all my life. I was brought up amongst the bomb-sites of Coventry and all my older relatives “served” in some capacity in the war - my father and uncles were in the Royal Navy, serving mostly in the Atlantic but also in the Arctic, the Mediterranean and the Far East, so, given enough rum, they would recall lost convoys, U-boat attacks, shipwreck and survival at sea - it’s no wonder that “The Cruel Sea” (book and film) were early favourites of mine … :!:

Although I read “war” books prodigiously, as a child and later, the internet has, almost miraculously, opened up a treasure trove of knowledge about WWII, so I’m still learning and now have a massive video “bank” of downloads.

My favourite is still “The World At War” (26 episodes) but in recent years “Spitfire Women” and “Churchill’s Bodyguard” (13 episodes) are amongst documentaries which have revealed other, less well-known, WWII experiences.

However, as a member of the aforementioned ‘Airfix Generation’, I still collect documentaries on military aircraft, which evolved from biplanes to jets in a few short years.

You might want to start by reading “Mein Kampf”. It pretty much sums up the reasons for WWII…:wink:

It’s 750 pages or so, either in the original German or one of the 5 translations … :shock:

  • The irony … :shock:

Free copies are available online.

Thank you, Keezoy, will look out for that set.

Tabby, a critical reason, though not the only one, Hitler came to power were the draconian measures of the Treaty of Versailles. Following WW1 the Treaty of Versailles was signed and Germany was made to pay enormous sums to the Allies. This brought about the loss of German territories, massive employment, crippling inflation and widespread hunger. The inflation was so great that employees had to be paid 3 times /day. The working man quickly gave his pay to his wife and she immediately ran to the store to buy food staples.

Even still, when Hitler came to power in 1933, he gradually began to break "the treaty’ by re-arming. France, which had the largest most powerful army in Europe, had the ability to squash Hitler. Of course France did not do this and a golden opportunity was lost.

in March 1936, Hitler, in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles, sent troops into the Rhineland. France did not fire a single shot to prevent Hitler from re-militarizing the Rhineland. Another opportunity lost.

Moreover, in 1938, the English PM, Chamberlain flew to Munich in an attempt to ward off war. Unfortunately, Chamberlain, had no spine and he gave Hitler everything Hitler demanded. This only emboldened Hitler and the last opportunity was lost.

Winston S. Churchill was the only voice of reason, all through the 30’s and he publicly warned of the dangers Hitler presented. However, no-one paid the lest attention to Churchill.

Three other films you might watch: Spitfire: The First of the Few, The Gathering Storm and The Darkest Hour.

I too am fascinated by anything ww2, and yes, I was an airfix, commando boy, ( still occasionally buy the commando books if I see them), the world at war is brilliant watched it many times,
I also recommend band of brothers a docu- mini series , and also eugene sledges account of being a marine in the pacific, another mini series, called pacific, this one is based on three characters who fought in the conflict all true, though very gory in places, I absolutely loved it , so much so, I bought the book,

I agree that everybody should hack and trudge their way through Mein Kampf. Only too see what a deranged mind Hitler had. After that you should read “Hitler” by Ian Kershaw. Probably the world authority on the horrible little maggot. The back reads…

“Magisterial…anyone who wishes to understand the Third Reich must read Kershaw; for no one has ever done more to lay bare Hitler’s morbid psyche”

Coincidenatlly, I’ve actually just finished it. A must read.

Sounds like I have a lot of reading/watching to do!

Thank you everyone for your advice/links etc., - they are much appreciated.

My favourite is still “The World At War” (26 episodes) but in recent years “Spitfire Women” and “Churchill’s Bodyguard” (13 episodes) are amongst documentaries which have revealed other, less well-known, WWII experiences.

ST, this series can currently be found on the Yesterday channel (via Freeview) and, as others have said, is excellent.

That set of DVDs might be a good choice for someone not so familiar with the subject. It would be interesting to know who the authors are.

Reading and fully understanding Hitler’s book, however, would require a good knowledge about what was going on at the time because the book is overladen with a multitude of myths, half-truths, and lies. I benefited by also reading the annotated critical edition of Mein Kampf published by the Institute for Contemporary History which shows how distorted, selective, and hence subjective his perception of reality was.
There are also excellent books by Christopher Clark about WW I and Ian Kershaw about Hitler and WW II which are worth reading. I’d be careful about certain youtube videos which often have an agenda.
I disagree with those who say that you can’t learn anything about the past because you didn’t live then and, thus, lack personal experience. There are a lot of recorded interviews with contemporary witnesses. Needless to say that, as valuable as they are, they also provide a subjective and, thus, limited insight.