Why We Fight Series (WWII Films)
Why We Fight is a series of seven propaganda films commissioned by the United States government during World War II to demonstrate to American soldiers the reason for U.S. involvement in the war. Later on they were also shown to the general U.S. public to persuade them to support American involvement in the war. Most of the films were directed by Frank Capra, who was daunted yet also impressed and challenged by Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda film Triumph of the Will and who worked in direct response to it. The series faced a tough challenge: convincing an only recently non-interventionist nation of the need to become involved in the war and ally with the Soviets, among other things. In many of the films, Capra and other directors spliced in Axis powers propaganda footage—recontextualizing it so it promoted the cause of the Allies instead.
WHY WE FIGHT SERIES: FILM #1 "Prelude to War"
Produced by the U.S. Army Special Service Division, and directed by Frank Capra "Why We Fight" is a seven part propaganda/documentary series that traces the earliest beginnings of the second world war starting with Japan's invasion of China in 1931, to the Nazi's march across europe.
**Best Documentary Academy Award in 1943**
This famous propaganda piece, used as a U.S. Army training film in WWII before theatrical release, asks 'why we fight.' The answer compares the 'free' and 'slave' worlds. Included: development of dictatorships in Italy, Germany and Japan, while anti-militarism and isolationism rise in the USA; a look at enemy propaganda; and the first acts of aggression. Walter Huston narrates a combination of archival footage, maps, and other graphics.
WHY WE FIGHT SERIES: FILM#2 "The Nazis Strike"
In this installment of the Why We Fight propaganda film series, we see the events of Nazi Germany's diplomatic and military acts of international aggression. One by one, we learn of the Nazi's consistently underhanded and relenting violation of every promise of peace and exploitation of their foes's attempts of appeasement until the invasion of Poland September of 1939 which led to Britain and France finally taking an armed stand against Hitler.
Won Oscar - Best Documentary (1943)
WHY WE FIGHT SERIES: FILM #3 "Divide and Conquer"
"Divide and Conquer," Chapter III of Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series, begins with Britain and France's declaration of war on Germany
after Hitler's invasion of Poland. The film covers the Nazi capture of Denmark and Norway, steps necessary to mount a future attack on Britain, then describes in detail Hitler's strategy as he conquers Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Special attention is paid to Nazi atrocities. Dead and injured children are shown en masse and the film explains how the bombing of Rotterdam leads to "thirty thousand men, women and children killed in ninety minutes." The narrator tells how the Luftwaffe bombs small villages so that refugees clog the highways, and how it uses precision machine gun fire to herd the survivors toward the allied armies, who find their progress severely constrained as a result. An American military officer details the Nazi plan for an invasion of France, which Hitler conquers in just over a month. The Germans bludgeon the French armies into surrender, then "enslave" much of the local population to service the German military regime.
WHY WE FIGHT SERIES: FILM #4 "The Battle Of Britain"
In this installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda film series, we have the account of Great Britain's last stand against the forces of Nazi Germany. This mainly focuses on the desperate, but successful, battle to maintain their vital air superiority over the British Isles and the morale of the people to prevent invasion.
WHY WE FIGHT SERIES: FILM #5 "The Battle Of Russia"
In this installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda series, we learn about the events on the Russian front of World War II. We learn about Russia's heroic resistance to invasion in the past and how those qualities were called upon in the current war. We also learn about Russian tenacity and their determination to win against the seemingly invincible forces of Nazi Germany in the bloodiest fighting of the war.
Examines the war in Russia, 1941-1943. Reel 1 dramatizes Russia's military history. Alexander Nevsky defeats the German knights in 1242. The Swedes are defeated in 1704 in a cavalry battle at Poltava. French troops retreat from Moscow in 1812. Kaiser Wilhelm inspects troops on the Eastern front in 1917. Reel 2 shows mine operations, agricultural scenes, oil fields, and manufacturing scenes. People of many ethnic groups present native dances. Civilian and military units parade in Moscow. Maksim Litvinoff asks the League of Nations to aid Ethiopia in 1935. Reel 3 maps Axis expansion into eastern Europe. Hungarian, Rumanian, and Bulgarian troops parade prior to Nazi occupation. Footage shows puppet leaders Admiral Miklos von Nagybanya Horthy, General Ion Antonescu, King Michael of Romania and King Boris of Bulgaria. Adolf Hitler and Generals Wilheim Keitel and Alfred Jodl meet. Nazis march through Hungarian cities. Yugoslavian cities are bombed and Greece is occupied. Tanks roll from Russian assembly lines and troops are inducted. German panzer divisions invade Russia in June 1941. Reel 4 maps the German advance in 1941 and analyzes Russian strategy. Hitler makes a victory speech in October. Footage shows intense street fighting in Sevastopol. Russians of all ages are mobilized. In Reel 5, houses, factories, and a large dam in the Ukraine are burned or dynamited before the advancing Nazis. Guerilla units draw arms and then dynamite Nazi installations. Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, and other leaders pose. Red troops parade in Moscow in Dec. 1941. In Reel 6, citizens pray in churches on Christmas Day. Russian tanks, cavalry units, and ski troops advance beneath air support. Villages are liberated and refugees return. In Reel 7, dead and tortured Russian civilians are found. Footage shows prewar Leningrad. Barricades are erected. The city is intensively bombed. In Reel 8, the city is besieged. Women remove rubble from streets. Defenses are manned. Food is rationed. Shell manufacture continues. Supplies are brought in by truck, tractor, and railroad across frozen Lake Ladoga. Winter snows blanket the city. Nazi planes bomb trucks on the lake. The spring thaw arrives. Children play in the sunshine. German prisoners enter the city. Reel 9 maps the battle for the Caucasus and the Crimea. Stalingrad is bombarded from the air by artillery and house-to-house fighting is shown. Reel 10 maps the Russian encirclement of Nazis at Stalingrad. Marshal Nikolai Voronoff confers with his aides. The encircling Red armies meet in Dec. 1942. Flamethrowers, rockets, and artillery are used to force the surrender of remnants of 22 Nazi divisions. The final scene maps Russian gains and cites statistics on Nazi losses thus far in the campaign.
WHY WE FIGHT SERIES: FILM #6 "The Battle of China"
In this installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda series, we learn about the country of China and its people. With a brief history of the country, we also learn of why the Japanese wanted to conquer it and felt confident about succeeding. Finally, the history of the war in that theatre is illustrated and shows the stiff determination of the Chinese who use all their resources to oppose Japanese aggression to the end.
WHY WE FIGHT SERIES: FILM #7 "War Comes to America"
Part VII of the "Why We Fight" series of wartime documentaries. This entry attempts to describe the factors leading up to America's entry into the Second World War.
This Film is in the Public Domain