This list contains WWII series which have made a lasting impression over the years for one reason or the other. These documentaries are warmly recommended to anyone interested in history, and especially to those keen to learn more about the Second World War. In addition to concise evaluation of each series, various pros and cons are contemplated.
Note: This list only includes series with multiple parts. Individual WWII related documentary films are excluded.
The World at War
(1973 - 26 regular episodes plus 8 extras, totalling over 22 hours)
The World at War is by far the most prominent documentary film series about the Second World War. Accurate and impressively comprehensive - from the battle of Stalingrad and the U-boat campaigns to the Atomic Bombs and the ruined post-war Europe - it includes a lot of original WW2 era footage. Even the extras are worth mentioning separately, since they include some very interesting topics, such as Adolf Hitler's secretary Traudl Junge speaking about her experiences.
Pros: Lot of content and wide range of topics covered. Has survived time amazingly well.
Cons: Inevitably, one or two aspects are out-dated because so much new research has been carried out after the Soviet archives finally opened in the 1990s.
Episodes: (1) A New Germany (2) Distant War (3) France Falls (4) Alone (5) Barbarossa (6) Banzai!: Japan (7) On Our Way: U.S.A. (8) The Desert: North Africa (9) Stalingrad (10) Wolf Pack: U-Boats in the Atlantic (11) Red Star: The Soviet Union (12) Whirlwind: Bombing Germany (13) Tough Old Gut: Italy (14) It's A Lovely Day Tomorrow: Burma (15) Home Fires: Britain (16) Inside the Reich: Germany (17) Morning (18) Occupation: Holland (19) Pincers (20) Genocide (21) Nemesis: Germany (22) Japan (23) Pacific (24) The Bomb (25) Reckoning (26) Remember - Extras: (1) Secretary to Hitler (2) Warrior (3) Hitler's Germany: The People's Community (4) Hitler's Germany: Total War (5) The Two Deaths of Adolf Hitler (6) The Final Solution: Part One (7) The Final Solution: Part Two (8) From War to Peace
The Nazis: A Warning from History
(1997 - 6 episodes totalling almost 6 hours)
How could the Nazis rise to power in a civilized country like Germany? Why was Hitler so popular? All this and much more explained by Germans who experienced the rise and fall of the Third Reich either in the Nazi Party, the Hitler Youth, the SA, or the SS. The greatness of this series is underlined by the fact that the topic - the Nazi phenomenon - is very difficult to approach without getting judgmental or ending up being entangled in the details. It is not too much of an exaggeration to state that this is the most underrated WWII related documentary series ever made.
Pros: If you want to understand the Nazi-era, Hitler's rise to power, and what it was like to live in the Third Reich - This is the series to watch. Great interviews.
Cons: It is difficult to come up with a more unappealing title for a series covering such an interesting and extreme period in history.
Episodes: (1) Helped into Power (2) Chaos and Consent (3) The Wrong War (4) The Wild East (5) The Road to Treblinka (6) Fighting to the End