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The World at War

All Episodes 1989 - 1974

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  • Ended
  • ITV
  • 1973-10-31T21:00:00Z
  • 60 mins
  • 1 day, 2 hours, 0 mins (26 episodes)
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • FremantleMedia
  • Documentary
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Originally broadcast in 1973 as 26 one-hour programmes, The World at War sets out to tell the story of the Second World War through the testimony of key participants. The result is a unique and unrepeatable event, since many of the eyewitnesses captured on film did not have long left to live. Each hour-long programme is carefully structured to focus on a key theme or campaign, from the rise of Nazi Germany to Hitler's downfall and the onset of the Cold War. There are no academic "talking heads" here to spell out an official version of history; the narration, delivered with wonderful gravitas by Sir Laurence Olivier, is kept to a minimum. The show's great coup was to allow the participants to speak for themselves. Painstaking research in the archives of the Imperial War Museum also unearthed a vast quantity of newsreel footage, including on occasion the cameraman's original raw rushes which present an unvarnished and never-before-seen picture of important events. Carl Davis' impressive score underlines the grand scale of the enterprise.
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43 episodes

This is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the individuals, the technology, and the historical resources that made this examination of World War II such a powerful and unforgettable visual experience.

The harsh outcome of the First World War left Germany ripe for Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party's swift rise to power, promising a devastated nation's return to international prominence. See how the Germans worked, played and organised themselves for war as the Third Reich set the stage for the second world war.

Continuing the in-depth look at Hitler's regime through the lives of ordinary citizens, this special presentation shows how they coped with mass bombing, invasion and ultimately defeat.

Special 4 Secretary to Hitler

  • 2002-12-09T21:00:00Z — 60 mins

Traudl Junge found herself in Berlin during the war because she wanted to be a ballet dancer. A friend told her about a job vacancy in Hitler's chancellery; she applied for it and looking like Hitler's mistress Eva Braun, she became one of his private secretaries. Traudl Junge saw Hitler at close quarters, shared his public life and was with him in the bunker at the end.

Years after his death, mystery still surrounds the circumstances under which Adolf Hitler ended his life. Did he die from a self-inflicted gunshot? Or did he swallow cyanide with his recent bride Eva Braun?

Special 6 Warrior

  • 2002-12-09T21:00:00Z — 60 mins

Reflections of men at war compiled from interviews and archive film obtained for The World at War series. A measured and decidedly unromantic look at the heat of battle, Warrior weaves together eyewitness accounts and rarely seen archive footage to reveal the deadly realities of combat.

Special 7 From War to Peace

  • 2002-12-09T21:00:00Z — 60 mins

Renowned historian Stephen Ambrose examines the aftermath of World War II. Was peace truly gained? Or did a new war with weapons of policy take its place?

Special 8 The Final Solution: Part 1

  • 2002-12-09T21:00:00Z — 60 mins

Examining the growth of the Nazi racial doctrines from their origins to 1939, we see the terrifying and unforgettable stories as told by death camp survivors and also compelling interviews with German participants.

Special 9 The Final Solution: Part 2

  • 2002-12-09T21:00:00Z — 60 mins

Archive photographs and shocking footage filmed by the Nazis themselves, capture the full horror of Germany's systematic extermination of millions of Jews and other non-Aryan civilians. Unflinching and often disturbing, this is a profound and necessary examination into the darkest corners of humanity.

In this 2 hour 30th Anniversary retrospective, we commemorate the original 1973 broadcast with new interviews with the makers of the programme.

Prominent scholars and military figures recount specifics of the war, from first hand accounts of Okinawa to the D-Day landing and analyse key wartime actions in these previously unseen and extended interviews taken from the archives at the Imperial War Museum.

This is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the individuals, the technology, and the historical resources that made this examination of World War II such a powerful and unforgettable visual experience.

The “Restoring The World at War” featurette shows how the documentary was treated with high-definition picture and surround sound to make the series stand out like never before. High-definition editors focused first on color grading and then high definition using a program called Archangel. The process was meticulous, and the way the documentary approaches the process is equally so.

Previously unseen and extended interviews from The World at War film archives held at the Imperial War Museum.

Finding strength in unity at home in Britain during the war, it was a time of gas masks, Winston Churchill, Dig for Victory, evacuation, George Formby, the Land Army, ITMA, the Squander Bug and the Beveridge Report.

1x01 A New Germany (1933 - 1939)

  • Series Premiere

    1973-10-31T21:00:00Z — 60 mins

Germany, a nation stricken by humiliating defeat and emerging from crippling economic depression, looks to one man for a resurgence of hope and dignity. That man is Adolf Hitler…

In Eastern Europe, the full force of the Nazi machine rolls on - but in Britain, an uneasy calm settles on the nation. It is the 'phoney' war, with the sound of distant guns thundering ominously on the horizon…

France discovers it is woefully unprepared for modern warfare as the Nazi war machine easily skirts around the Maginot Line. Britain retreats and prepares for invasion.

1x04 Alone (May 1940 - May 1941)

  • 1973-11-21T21:00:00Z — 60 mins

After Dunkirk, Britain faces the German onslaught. Although the RAF wins the Battle of Britain, the cities are blitzed and on the continent the last Allies are conquered. The outlook is grim.

After dominating southeastern Europe through force or intrigue, Germany begins Operation Barbarossa, the massive invasion of Soviet Union. Despite several quick victories, the invasion ultimately stalls after a failed assault on Moscow during Russia's harsh winter

1x06 Banzai!: Japan (1931 - 1942)

  • 1973-12-05T21:00:00Z — 60 mins

The rise of the Japanese Empire, the Sino-Japanese War, the Soviet-Japanese border conflicts, Pearl Harbor and the early Japanese successes in the fall of Malaya and Singapore. At war since 1931 on the Chinese mainland, the Japanese hope for easy victories over the British and Dutch. And then on December 7th 1941, Japan makes their infamous attack on Pearl Harbour.

The opposition by various factions to the United States of America entry into the war, U-boat attacks on Atlantic convoys and America's gradated responses, the mobilization of America after Pearl Harbor, the loss of the Philippines, the Doolittle Raid, Midway and Guadalcanal.

For 2 years the 8th Army and Rommel's Afrika Corps fight in the wastes of North Africa. Finally the tide turns at El Alamein.

Hitler's early successes in Russia made him reckless and he resolves to capture Stalingrad. The battle lasts six months with the Russians emerging as victors. The Wehrmacht never recovers.

In a war of high technology and animal courage, the German U-Boats fight Allied merchantmen, hounding them in packs.

For two years the Soviet Army fights the Germans almost alone. After one of the greatest land battles in history, the nation survives and triumphs - but with a loss of no less than twenty million of its people.

Bomber Command begin bombing German cities by night and the Americans reinforce the attacks by day; a whirlwind of terror and destruction that will win the war.

Churchill called Italy the 'soft underbelly of the crocodile' and thought the Allies could cut through it to the heart of Germany. But the soft underbelly turned out to be a 'tough old gut'.

Vera Lynn sang of a lovely day tomorrow, but the war in Burma was mud and monsoon. Britain's largest army learned to master the jungle and fought the Japanese to standstill.

Finding strength in unity at home in Britain during the war, it was a time of gas masks, Winston Churchill, Dig for Victory, evacuation, George Formby, the Land Army, ITMA, the Squander Bug and the Beveridge Report.

Initial victory in Europe turns sour after the defeat at Stalingrad, yet Germany prepares to fight to the end - even after an assassination attempt on the Führer.

1x17 Morning (June - August 1944)

  • 1974-02-27T21:00:00Z — 60 mins

The Western Allies resolve to invade Europe. England becomes a floating supply dump and the British and Americans assemble the largest invasion fleet in history. It is June 6th 1944 - D Day.

Through a neutral country, Holland is attacked by Germany without warning in 1940. During the next four years, life carries on seemingly without incident, but underneath resistance never dies.

The end of the war appears close at hand with the liberation of Paris in 1944, but the British and Americans disagree on how to advance. Meanwhile, Poland suffers devastating losses to achieve victory.

1x20 Genocide (1941 - 1945)

  • 1974-03-27T20:00:00Z — 60 mins

The Nazi's are racist; the Aryans are a master race, others, particularly the Jews are sub-human. Himmler's SS sets about ridding Europe of millions of Jews.

Hitler retreats to the Fuhrer bunker is Berlin as Germany crumbles around him and his lieutenants abandon him to a fate of suicide. Meanwhile, the Russians raise the red flag in Berlin.

1x22 Japan (1941 - 1945)

  • 1974-04-10T20:00:00Z — 60 mins

Initially apprehensive about the outcome of declaring war, the Japanese quickly turn to celebration with early victory. In the end, their worst fears are unimaginably exceeded.

The Americans fight their way across the Pacific towards Japan and the Philippines. Perhaps the bloodiest campaign of all, each island has to be taken by storm and the Japanese fight to the last man.

Western scientists have developed a new, immensely powerful weapon - the atomic bomb. On August 6th 1945, the Enola Gay delivers the world's first atomic bomb to Hiroshima. The world would be forever altered.

1x25 Reckoning (1945...and after)

  • 1974-05-01T20:00:00Z — 60 mins

The war ends slowly and messily. Britain is victorious but exhausted and the super-powers confront each other as they decide the fate of Europe.

1x26 Remember

  • 1974-05-08T20:00:00Z — 60 mins

For many the Second World War was the most significant experience of their lives. Heartbreaking first hand remembrances from a vast array of survivors on both sides of the war.

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