Watch World War II In Colour

World War II in Colour is a thirteen-episode documentary that covers every theater of the war, using original combat footage that has been transitioned from black and white into color. The footage has been collected from hundreds of sources, representing both the Axis and Allied forces, over the course of decades to create a complete view of the war and the destruction it caused throughout the globe. The series recounts the action in complete neutrality to either side, presenting the war as it occurred historically.

The episodes follow a chronological order beginning with a post-WWI world in the midst of a devastating economic depression that helps give rise to Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. The war in Europe is the focus of the first several episodes, covering Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939, the Battle of Britain in 1940 and Hitler's strike against the Soviet Union in 1941. Half-way through the series, the focus is transitioned to the Pacific War between the Japanese Empire and the United States and her allies. Each episode progresses forward through the war, from early Axis victories in France, Northern Africa and Southeast Asia to their ultimate crushing defeat with the capture of Berlin and the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The political, economic and social impact of the fighting is also discussed in full detail, including the high costs paid by the civilians affected and Hitler's Final Solution to eliminate the Jewish race in the Holocaust.

World War II in Colour methodically displays a comprehensive view of the war and the horrors that it created. The colorization of the footage adds a more realistic feel to the scenes being described. Much of the brutal fighting comes from footage that has rarely, or even in some cases never, been viewed by the public prior to the release of the documentary.

Discovery Channel
1 Season, 13 Episodes
September 4, 2009
Documentary & Biography, Military & War
8.7/10
Cast: Robert Powell
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World War II In Colour Full Episode Guide

  • The months of the war in Europe were shocking and desperate. This film follows the British and the Americans as they cross the Rhine and the Russians as they push through Poland into Germany itself. It covers the horrors of the liberation of Belsen and Buchenwald, and the final terrible street fighting in Berlin. The story culminates in the suicide of Hitler, the carving up of Germany between the Allies and the Nuremberg trials.

  • Since December 1941, a vicious war against Japan was being waged in the Pacific. The Japanese were driven back across the ocean, island by island, in savage hand-to-hand fighting. American dominance at sea was finally established in "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot", when radar gave the US Navy Advance warning of a huge Japanese attack and the last vestiges of Japanese naval air power were destroyed. But this film also looks at the war in the jungles, in places like Burma, where new specialist fighting units - like Ord Wingates Chindits - slowly pushed back the Japanese despite horrific conditions.

  • In 1944 America and Britain in the West and Russia in the East began to close their pincer around Germany. But even now, the outcome was in the balance. The film explores the Allied disaster at Arnhem and the tragedy of the Warsaw uprising, when Polish freedom fighters were abandoned to their fate by Stalin. It tells the shocking story of the liberation of the death camps, when the full extent of the Holocaust became clear for the first time. The film ends with Hitler's last great gamble, as he threw all his last reserves against the oncoming Allied forces in the Ardennes.

  • Today it is easy to see D-Day as an inevitable - a straightforward victory against a German army that was already all but defeated. This film explodes that myth. It charts the careful planning of the campaign, the development of specialised equipment needed for the amphibious landing. It reveals the deception plan that wrong-footed Hitler. It shows how the Americans were very nearly driven off Omaha beach. If that had happened, the whole operation might have failed. The film ends with the liberation of Paris, as the Free French forces led by Charles de Gaulle marched down the streets of the capital.

  • By July 1943, the full extent of Hitler's failed gamble in the East had become clear. After failing to deliver knock-out blows at Stalingrad and Moscow, his army was now at the mercy of the vast Soviet war machine. With its huge resources and seemingly limitless numbers of men, the Red Army slowly pushed the Germans back out of Russia through Ukraine, Poland, the Balkans and Hungary. This was war on a monster scale, pitching armies of millions against each other. But it was also a war fought by small bands of partisans, men like Tito in Yugoslavia, leading guerrilla bands against Nazi forces.

  • Both the Allies and the Nazis were always looking for a single knock-out blow to end the war. Britain's Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris thought the answer might lie in "strategic bombing." This, he argued, would cripple the Nazis' ability to wage a war and the ordinary people would soon lose the will to fight. But it led directly to the tragedy of Dresden, when Allied planes firebombed tens of thousands of ordinary Germans. The Germans believed that the knock-out blow would come from their submarines. If they could only cut American supply lines to Britain across the Atlantic, then the Allied effort would collapse. So began a long game of cat-and-mouse between U-Boats and British and American convoys.

  • Mussolini's ambition had always been to recreate the old Roman Empire. The trouble was, militarily he as a disaster. After failed attacks in North Africa and Greece, his armies were on the run. Hitler now faced a difficult choice. Did he divert troops needed at other fronts to support his ally, or did he let Mussolini fall? Hitler chose to support him - a decision that would spell disaster for both of them. Hitler would, lose hundreds of thousands of troops. Mussolini would lose his life. This film tells the extraordinary story of the war in North Africa and features the heroics of the tiny island called Malta as it withstood wave after wave of Nazi assault. It ends with the Allies fighting their way up Italy and Germany in retreat.

  • December 7th 1941 is "a date that will live in infamy" proclaimed President Franklin Roosevelt. That was the day that Japan entered World War II, with its surprise attack upon the US Fleet in Pearl Harbour. Japan swiftly followed this up with the defeat of a huge British army in Singapore. For a while Japan was rampant in the Pacific. But gradually, America, the sleeping giant, awoke. The war that would follow would be characterised by major innovations. In particular it saw the battleship consigned to history and the emergence of the aircraft carrier as the decisive weapon of the seas.

  • When Hitler expounded his intention to invade Russia his generals looked at him in horrified silence. The Soviet Union was vast and had matchless resources. Hitler's whole plan depended upon striking a swift and decisive knock-out blow. Get sucked into a long, drawn-out war and Germany would surely lose. Hitler was certain his forces could do it. No one had so far defeated them. But there had never been a military gamble like it... This film takes in Stalingrad and the battle of Kursk, the biggest tank battle in all history.

  • In July 1940, Britain stood alone against the Nazis. Hitler was convinced that it was only a matter of days before it sued for peace. He had more troops, a better air force and the better weapons. This film shows how close Britain came to defeat, as its exhausted air force struggled to fight off the German Luftwaffe. However, because of critical errors by the Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering, Britain was able to regroup. Then using its brilliant team of code crackers and specially trained spies, it begin the fightback, working alongside the resistance movements in the occupied territories.

  • The series starts with that great paradox. How could the settlement at the end of World War One - the "war to end all wars" - lead to an even greater conflict just a few years later? The answer is a tale with terrible resonance today. This film shows how the Great Depression sapped the will of the emocracies of the West to face up to a new and disturbing political phenomenon - the rise of militaristic dictators, in Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain. The result was that the major powers ignored all the warning signs and allowed the likes of Mussolini and above all Hitler to begin the course that would lead the world into catastrophe. The programme ends as Hitler plots his attack upon Poland.

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