Entertainment

The Best World War II Movies to Watch on Netflix

Dan Price Updated 24-03-2020

World War II has long been a rich source of ideas and inspiration for moviemakers. All of the streaming services boast war films, but what are the best World War II movies on Netflix?

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In this article, we list the best World War II movies to watch on Netflix. So, if a recent blockbuster has made you want to delve deeper into World War II, this is a good place to start.

1. Mission of Honor (2019)

2019’s Mission of Honor—directed by David Blair—follows a group of Polish fighter pilots. They arrive in the UK during the Battle of Britain and join the RAF’s famous 303 Squadron.

As the specter of Nazi rule loomed over the UK, many expressed severe doubts about how long the isolated British could continue to repel German military power. For the Polish fighters, the existence of their entire country was under threat.

Equipped with the near-obsolete Hurricane aircraft, they fought valiantly and claimed their place in history.

2. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Inglourious Basterds isn’t based on real-life events. The movie is a fictional story about two plots to assassinate the leaders of the German war machine.

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Directed by Quentin Tarantino, the film boasts an all-star cast, including Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, and Diane Kruger. It earned eight nominations and one win at the 2010 Oscars.

3. The Pianist (2002)

Roman Polanski’s 2002 biographical drama movie won widespread acclaim at the time of its release. It won three Oscars—including Best Actor and Best Director—and earned a further four nominations.

The Pianist tells the life story of the famed Polish-Jewish composer and pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman. Szpilman was popular in his home country before the outbreak of war, but by 1942 he found himself deported to Treblinka, a Nazi extermination camp.

4. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas takes us inside the Nazi extermination camps.

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The protagonists are two eight-year-old boys, Bruno and Shmuel. Bruno is the son of a Nazi guard; Shmuel is an inmate. The story plots their growing friendship, but more importantly, offers a look at the horrors endured by the people inside.

5. The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Based on E. M. Nathanson’s 1965 bestselling book of the same name, The Dirty Dozen earned four nominations and one win at the 1968 Oscars.

The story centers on a group of prisoners who have been selected for a suicide mission in northern France ahead of D-Day. It has an impressive cast, with Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, and Ernest Borgnine all taking leading roles.

6. Alone in Berlin (2016)

If you’d prefer a slower-paced WWII movie, Alone in Berlin might be worth considering. The film is based on the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel. They protested against Hitler’s regime in the war’s early years by writing postcards and leaving them in public places around Berlin. The couple were caught and executed in 1943.

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Alone in Berlin’s lead actors—Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, and Daniel Brühl—earned critical praise for their performances when the movie was unveiled at the Berlin Film Festival in 2016.

7. The Battle of Midway (1942)

The Battle of Midway was arguably the turning point in the Pacific theater. Coming six months after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese hoped to impart another demoralizing defeat on the US Navy.

Allied cryptographers were able to learn of the attack in advance, allowing the Americans to plant an ambush. Japan lost all four of its large aircraft carriers, handing the Americans an advantage that would last until the end of the conflict.

This movie is only 18 minutes long, but it features some of the best footage of the Pacific war that was ever captured. Directed by John Ford, it won the 1942 Academy Award for Best Documentary and earned Ford a Purple Heart.

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8. The Great Raid (2005)

The Great Raid takes place in the Philippines. It focuses on American soldiers and Filipino resistance guerrilla fighters as they attempt to liberate 500 soldiers from a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Japanese forces have held the prisoners in shocking conditions for the last three years, and the camp lies 30 miles behind enemy lines.

Some people have criticized the film for being too long and too complicated. But if you’re looking for a World War II film to get your teeth into, it might be worth watching on Netflix.

9. The Photographer of Mauthausen (2018)

The Photographer of Mauthausen is a Spanish movie about Spanish Civil War veteran turned famous photographer, Francisco Boix.

The Nazi regime sent Boix to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, where he was an inmate from 1941 to 1945. Due to his background, he worked in the photography department of the camp’s administration team.

During his imprisonment, he managed to take 20,000 secret photos and hide their negatives around the site. After the war, Boix was called to be a witness in both the Nuremberg trials and the Dachau trials.

10. Hitler: A Career (1977)

Hitler: A Career is a German documentary about the Fuhrer’s rise to power and subsequent regime.

Produced by one of Hitler’s most well-known biographers, Joachim Fest, the movie was groundbreaking at the time of its release. Here’s how TIME magazine described it in 1977:

“[It] is the smash of the summer, drawing thousands to the box offices and spurring a nationwide re-examination of the Nazi past.

To younger viewers, the film is a revelation. The school system of West Germany after the war either disregarded the Hitler period or raced through it. Among older viewers, the reaction is often uneasiness. Says one Berliner, 76: ‘That was how Hitler was. He was black magic, and intoxicated people.'”

11. The Exception (2016)

If the rise of Hitler is a little too heavy going, try this romantic drama instead.

The Exception’s central character is Wehrmacht Captain Stefan Brandt. He is assigned to be the personal bodyguard of deposed German Emperor, Wilhelm II, in The Netherlands. He quickly falls for one of the maids, and the couple begin to plan their escape.

12. Defiance (2008)

Set in Nazi-occupied Belarus during late 1941, Defiance uses the Bielski partisans—a group of Belarusian-Jewish resistance fighters—as its inspiration.

In the movie, a family of Jewish brothers (played by Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, and George MacKay) escape into the forests, meet up with a group of Russian fighters, and attempt to build a secret village to house 1,000 Jewish refugees.

More Great Movies to Watch on Netflix

Remember, the list of movies on Netflix is continually evolving, so if you notice another WW2 movie on Netflix that isn’t on our list, make sure you let us know in the comments below.

And if you’ve worked through all of our recommendations and are ready for something else to watch, here are the best BBC shows on Netflix that Americans will enjoy The Best BBC Shows on Netflix That Even Americans Will Enjoy There are lots of British TV shows available on Netflix. Here are the best BBC shows on Netflix that Americans can enjoy! Read More .

Related topics: Media Streaming, Movie Recommendations, Netflix.

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  1. scott lee
    December 19, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    In this outstanding pickup from the documentary slate at Sundance, the directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert take their cameras into a former General Motors factory in Dayton, Ohio, that has been occupied by Fuyao, a Chinese car-window manufacturer. The merging of ex-G.M. employees with workers brought over from China results in some strange and often hilarious and touching encounters, but differences in corporate culture, particularly the diminished salary and safety conditions, create long-term headaches. Without editorializing, “American Factory” shows globalism at its best and worst, exposing a sharp contrast in work ethic and individual rights. There has been an ongoing debate in N.B.A. circles over the effectiveness of “small ball,” a strategy that involves giving up size to an opponent in order to beat them with speed, agility and outside shooting. For the Chinle Wildcats, a high school team from the Navajo Nation reservation in Chinle, Ariz., their drastically undersized players give them no other choice. The documentary series “Basketball or Nothing” follows the Wildcats in their run for the state championship, tying their struggles and triumphs to a community where the median annual household income is less than $30,000 and the essentials of running water and electricity are not guaranteed.

  2. Grant
    July 13, 2019 at 3:06 am

    Horrible Article hahaha. Almost all are not available 😂😂

  3. Gary
    December 20, 2018 at 3:00 am

    Okay here it goes in no apparent order: Attack, Dirty Dozen, Force 10 from Navarone, Fury, Kelly's Heroe's, Red Tails, The Big Red One, The Enemy Below, The Fighting SeaBees, The Great Raid, The Thin Red Line, The Tuskegee Airmen, U-571, Von Ryan's Express, Where Eagles Dare. Plus what all of you have posted.

  4. Edward
    December 2, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Dunkirk is a garbage movie that is all about being melodramatic and skips over the real heros of the battle completely. It's a crappy movie that takes a dumb "artistic" view of the battle.
    Also I have never heard anyone say that is when "hitler lost the war."
    Terrible movie worth skipping!

  5. Elsa
    October 24, 2018 at 10:55 am

    The only problem with this article is that half the movies on this list are not in fact available on Netflix - e.g. Patton, Inglorious Bastards, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, etc. ???

    • Dan Price
      October 24, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      Hey Elsa. They were all available in the US at the time of writing back in July 2017. Unfortunately, Netflix rotates its movies regularly so the list is now out of date.

  6. Robert
    October 12, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Tuntematon Sotilas (2017) Unknown Soldier.

  7. SAIMADHAV YV
    September 28, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    What about Tora,Tora,Tora ?

  8. Chuck
    February 13, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    "Come and See"

  9. Andrew
    August 15, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Classic British: The Cruel Sea, Angels One Five and The Way to the Stars.
    How could you forget The Train with Burt Lancaster and Paul Schofield
    or a more humerous take on Stalag 13 watch The Very Important Person.
    633 Squadron
    The Heroes of Telemark
    Just a good as Midway, Tora, Tora, Tora!

    • Andrew
      August 15, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      Just remebered: Ice Cold in Alex
      Don't forget the lager

  10. Richard
    August 8, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    12 O'Clock High
    Saving Private Ryan
    Stalag 13

  11. Hekdg
    August 3, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    Hacksaw ridge was really good!

  12. sekar
    August 3, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Das Boot
    Stalingrad

  13. Lou
    August 2, 2017 at 1:54 am

    Bridge on the river Kwai
    Defiance
    Battle of Britain
    The Great Escape
    The Railway Man

  14. Alejandro
    August 2, 2017 at 1:07 am

    I recommend:
    - Objetive Burma
    - Tobruk
    - Torpedo Run
    - Destination Tokyo
    - Run Silent Run Deep

  15. Mr T
    August 1, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Anthrapoid AMAZING

    • RockySnow7
      August 25, 2017 at 9:44 am

      Yeah! Also, Enemy at the Gates

  16. Evan
    August 1, 2017 at 2:48 am

    Von Ryan's Express...

    It isn't a serious or particularly believable movie but it's Frank Sinatra fighting Nazis on a train. If that description doesn't sell you then nothing will.

    Trevor Howard is also great in it. As he always is.

  17. Ronen
    July 31, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    I think an honorable mention will be Robert Benigni's "Life Is Beautiful" (La vita è bella) from 1997, which, in part a comedy, also deals with the Jewish Holocaust.

  18. infmom
    July 31, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Just don't watch Too Late the Hero. It's an inadvertent laugh riot.

  19. Hazel Edmunds
    July 31, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Casablanca
    The Dam Busters
    From Here to Eternity
    The Great Escape
    In Which We Serve
    A Matter of Life and Death
    The One That Got Away

    • rudy
      August 1, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Great list!

      • Joe lppolito
        December 23, 2017 at 8:47 pm

        Why not offer "The Battle of the Bulge": the most pivotal battle of the. Western Front of WW2

        • Kent Gittings
          October 31, 2018 at 4:03 pm

          Sink the Bismarck,
          The Guns of Navarone, The Battle of Britain, Sands of Iwo Jima just to name a few.