Entertainment

The 10 Best War Documentaries to Watch on Netflix

Dan Price Updated 15-06-2020

If you want to watch the best war documentaries ever made, look no further than Netflix.

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Netflix has lots of great documentaries to watch. Whether you like biographies, science, music, or history, there is something for everyone. But Netflix really excels with its choice of war documentaries.

Here are the best war documentaries to watch on Netflix right now.

1. World War II in Colour

If you enjoy watching original footage rather than talking heads, World War II in Colour is the best documentary about the Second World War that you’ll find on Netflix.

This series was first released in 2009 on British TV. It combines original and digitally colorized footage, some of which had never been seen before. Robert Powell narrates the entire series.

Powell has narrated some of the other best World War II documentaries. They include Hitler’s Bodyguard, The Story of the Third Reich, and Secrets of World War II. Sadly, none of these are on Netflix.

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World War II in Colour consists of 13 episodes. They cover the action on the Western Front and Eastern Front, as well as in North Africa and the Pacific.

After learning about the historical events between 1939 and 1945, you should watch the best World War II movies on Netflix The Best World War II Movies to Watch on Netflix Here are the best World War II movies to watch on Netflix, allowing you to witness fictional slices of history. Read More .

2. The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War is a 10-part TV series directed by the famed documentary maker, Ken Burns. First broadcast on PBS in 2017, it is an epic series and is unquestionably one of the greatest war documentaries ever made; the entire series took more than 10 years to put together.

It contains original first-hand interviews with 79 witnesses (including those who fought in the war and those who protested against it). Burns also worked through 24,000 photos and 1,500 hours of video in a bid to leave no stone unturned.

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The series contains 10 episodes and has a total runtime of more than 17 hours.

3. The Russian Revolution

Despite lasting for less than an hour, this British documentary about the build-up to the Russian Revolution provides a surprisingly detailed, engaging insight into the growing rivalry between the Romanov and the Ulyanov families.

The Romanovs had been the ruling house in Russia since the early 1600s, but Lenin and his followers had become dissatisfied with life under their leadership. The story culminates in the abolition of the monarchy, the execution of the most prominent Romanovs, and the rise of Lenin’s Bolshevik party.

4. The Age of Tanks

The Age of Tanks traces the history of one of the 20th century’s most revolutionary creations—the tank.

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The series begins with the story of Basil Henriques. During World War I, the British soldier became the first man to drive a tank in active combat and use it to fire on enemy combatants. Over the following four episodes, the series examines the use of tanks in the German Blitzkrieg, the Cold War, and 21st-century wars.

5. Five Came Back

Five Came Back is an adaptation of the book of the same name. It tells the story of five famous American film directors (John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens), all of whom found themselves on the frontlines during the Second World War.

Narrated by Meryl Streep, the three-part series used more than 100 hours of archival footage to discuss the 40 documentaries and training films that the directors made to help the war effort. There’s a particular focus on Ford’s Battle of Midway, Capra’s Why We Fight, and Stevens’ life-changing experiences at Dachau.

6.  Dying to Tell

In the modern age, we wouldn’t know what was happening on the frontlines if it wasn’t for the work of brave journalists who put their own lives in danger to bring us the stories and the footage.

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Dying to Tell offers a fascinating insight into the effects the job has on those war reporters’ lives. We hear the stories of reporters who have been kidnapped, shot at by tanks, and even killed. There are interviews, unseen footage, and discussions with health professionals.

Directed by Hernan Zin, the film won “Best Documentary” at the Montreal World Film Festival.

7. Medal of Honor

The “Medal of Honor” is the most prestigious personal military decoration in the United States. To date, the US military has only given 3,500 people the award, with more than half of those occurring during the American Civil War.

This TV series tells the heroic stories of eight of the recipients, with one episode dedicated to each person. The eight people represent four momentous battles in America’s history: the Second World War, the War in Afganistan, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Content in the documentary is a mix of interviews, reenactments, and archive footage.

8. Behind Enemy Lines

best war documentaries - behind enemy lines

This isn’t the 2001 movie starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman. We’re talking about the excellent BBC documentary of the same name (also from 2001).

In 1940, the UK was in a precarious position. Western Europe had collapsed, the Battle of Britain raged in the skies, and Hitler was desperate to force Churchill into signing a peace agreement. In response, Churchill created the Commandos, a specialist unit designed to help turn the tide of the war.

This four-part documentary explores the new units’ role at four critical junctures in the progression of the conflict: Dunkirk, the St Nazaire Raid, the North African campaign, and Operation Market Garden.

9. November 13: Attack on Paris

Terrorism is a type of warfare unlike any other. The most noteworthy terrorist events in history—9/11, the Lockerbie Bombing, the 2011 Norway attacks—will be ingrained in our collective minds forever.

One such incident is the November 2015 Paris attacks. 130 people lost their lives in a series of coordinated bombings and shootings across the city. The attack became the deadliest on French soil since the Second World War.

This three-part Netflix documentary chronicles the events of the day. It includes a timeline of proceedings and dozens of interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses.

10. Nazi Concentration Camps

Of all the horrors which occurred during World War II, the Nazi concentration camps were the worst. Today, experts believe that the Nazis either killed or imprisoned between 15 million and 20 million people between 1933 and 1945.

This film, from 1945, opened the world’s eyes to the scenes that lay within. Compiled from 80,000 feet of film taken by Allied military photographers after liberation, it is a camp-by-camp analysis of the atrocities committed.

The Allies used the film as evidence in the Nuremberg trials. Ultimately, the footage proved vital in securing convictions against many of the Nazi high command, including Karl Dönitz, Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Alfred Jodl, and Wilhelm Frick.

More Documentaries to Watch on Netflix

We hope you agree with our list of the best war documentaries on Netflix. And if you think we’ve missed out on a must-watch documentary, be sure to let us know in the comments.

If you would like to learn about some of the other great documentaries available, read our article listings the best travel documentaries to watch on Netflix The 10 Best Travel Documentaries on Netflix Here are the best travel documentaries on Netflix, allowing you to see the world from the comfort of your own couch. Read More and the best nature documentaries to watch on Netflix The 10 Best Nature Documentaries to Watch on Netflix Are you keen to explore the great outdoors from the comfort of your own home? Then you should watch these nature documentaries on Netflix. Read More .

Related topics: Documentaries, Media Streaming, Movie Recommendations, Netflix.

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  1. dragonmouth
    June 15, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    Ken Burns' Civil War documentary.

  2. gregg
    November 8, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    Also, The 12th Man. At least in Canada.

  3. infmom
    November 7, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    I can't believe you didn't include They Shall Not Grow Old. My great-grandfather was among those men.