10 Best War Documentaries to Watch on Netflix

Best War Documentaries to Watch on Netflix Right Now

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

Netflix has lots of great documentaries to watch. Whether you like biographies, science, music, or history, there is something for everyone. And Netflix 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 them are on Netflix.

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.

2. The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War is a 10-part TV series directed by famed documentary maker, Ken Burns. It’s the first of two Burns productions on our list. 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.

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

3. 1945: The Savage Peace

best war documentaries - 1945 the savage peace

World War II claimed the lives of millions of people and led to untold suffering. However, for the defeated Germans, the end of hostilities in 1945 marked the beginning of a new chapter of pain.

This BBC war documentary investigates the post-war reprisals against otherwise innocent German people who lived in other Eastern European countries after the Nazis surrendered.

It’s packed with original footage, most of which was unseen prior to airing. Be warned, it’s harrowing stuff. The reality of shootings, death marches, the rapes of women and children, and hideous torture are all laid bare.

4. The Age of Tanks

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

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 use of tanks in the German Blitzkrieg, the Cold War, and 21st-century wars are all examined under the microscope.

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. The Civil War

The Civil War is the second Ken Burns documentary on our list. First broadcast in 1990, it’s considerably older than Burns’ The Vietnam War, but it still stands up as one of the best documentaries ever made about the all-American battle.

Indeed, at the time of release, it became the most-watched program ever on PBS on its way to picking up two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and a Peabody Award.

The series starts with the pro-secessionists and abolitionists in 1861 and progresses through nine episodes until the murder of Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

7. The Bomb Squad

Ostensibly started as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the War in Afghanistan is now the longest war in US history. The total cost of the conflict has cost American taxpayers nearly $1 trillion.

The Bomb Squad is a two-part BBC documentary. It explores the role of British bomb disposal teams stationed on the ground during the struggle. It explores the relationship between the men, as well as the stress that their jobs place on their families back home.

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 entire 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

Out of all the horrors which occurred during World War II, the Nazi concentration camps were among the worst. Today, experts believe that between 15 million and 20 million people were either killed or imprisoned in the camps 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.

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.

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