Information on World War 2 Books and Movies is provided. Included are reviews of books, and; movies related to World War 2 . The German war events are emphasized.
World War 2 was undoubtedly the greatest (and most tragic!) war of all time and Europe was the major theater of that war.
Germany was largely responsible for World War II and the books and movies, listed below, cover the major events prior to the war, during the war and after World War 2
The first four (4) references provide a good foundation for a study of the German Side of World War 2. Additional top-rated books are listed below those four classics. Both non-fiction and fiction books are listed:
1. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich by Dr. Louis L Snyder. By far the best encyclopedia-type reference book on the war. I referred to this book heavily in preparing this web site.
2. Inside The Third Reich by Albert Speer. Was top German leader, Speer, really the "good Nazi" as some claim? We do know that he and Hitler were soul brothers for years. Speer was close to many of the top German leaders. Additionally, he was friends with many of the wives (Eva Braun, Magda Goebbels, etc) of the leaders and they loved to confide in him. A most fascinating book. My favorite book on World War 2.
3. The Goebbels Diaries, 1942-1943 by Paul Goebbels. Goebbels, a top German leader, was more fanatical than Hitler! Incredible detail from the first master of propaganda. You can see into the mind of a fanatical Nazi leader as he contemplates the events unfolding around him. Goebbels and Rush Limbaugh have to be closely related or, if not, they are at least soul brothers.
4. Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer. This is the classic book covering the history of Hitler's Third Reich. One theme in the book is that, for whatever reason, most of the German people went along with Hitler. The majority were not victims but willing participants. Will this ever happen in America?
5. Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel Goldhagen. This book puts to rest the presumption that most of the German people did not know the Holocaust was going on and that those participating were forced to participate. The truth is that tens of thousands of Germans directly took part voluntarily. Anti-Semitic feelings permeated all of German society during this time period.
6. D DAY June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose. Although this web site is directed toward Germany the book is directed toward the Allied side, this is one of the most acclaimed books of the war and should be read. The cross-channel attacks on Normandy, Omaha Beach, and Utah Beach are covered. D-Day was the battle Germany had to win to have any chance of survival.
7. Hitler Slept Late and Other Blunders That Cost Him The War by James Duffy. A favorite pastime of the German side of World War 2 is to show how Hitler could have won. According to this book, he (fortunately for us) liked to stay up most of the night then sleep the day away.
8. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. We should have believed him when he said he was going to get us!
9. The Hidden Hitler by Lothar Machtan. A recent attempt to explain Adolf Hitler by moving him into the homosexual category. This is not the first time. I don't agree that this is the explanation for the Hitler phenomena. I still believe the explanation for Hitler has not been determined and may never be determined. The book makes for fascinating reading anyway.
10. Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris by Ian Kershaw. The first of a two-part series examining Hitler. This volume shows how he came to power prior to World War 2. Some critics state that this two-book series is the best work ever on Hitler.
11. Hitler: 1936-1945 Nemesis Hitler: 1936-1945 Nemesis by Ian Kershaw. The second of a two-part series examining Hitler. This volume starts with Hitler in full control of Germany and takes him to his suicide in the bunker as the war ended. A good look at the German side.
12. From Normandy to the Ruhr: With the 116th Panzer Division in WWII by General Heinz Guderian. The German master of Blitzkrieg war and the top German general (in my opinion) tells how it was done. Rommel, the better know German general in the United States, was actually Guderian's understudy, i.e., grasshopper. Guderian taught him everything.
13. Panzer Leader by Heinz Guderian. The father of modern tank warfare and, along with General von Manstein, the best military mind in the Second World War 2. This military book describes his many great tank battles and discusses the top German leaders. Guderian was Hitler's favorite general for years until Guderian's role in the failure to capture Moscow in 1941 led Hitler to sack him. Guderian's soul brother, Rommel, was also one of Hitler's favorite generals, and, in the end, he got even rougher treatment when he fell out of favor.
14. Tank Combat in North Africa: The Opening by Thomas L. Jentz. This reference book provides incredible detail about tank warfare in North Africa during the early days of World War 2. The author spent 30 years collecting details about the action. A must-read for those interested in tank warfare (including war gamers). The Germans in Africa were masters of tank warfare and were able to hold the British at bay during this phase of the war with about 100 tanks.
15. The German Army, 1933-1945 by Matthew Cooper. Detailed discussion of the longtime development of the German Army and the tactics they used in World War 2. Cooper disputes the idea that the Blitzkrieg is a new development. His discussion of General Heinz Guderian is excellent.
16. Strategy by Liddell Hart. The classic book on modern warfare. Heavily studied by Guderian, Rommel, and other German experts on Blitzkrieg tactics (The French with the exception of DeGaulle didn't bother to read it). Hart stressed flexibility, surprise, adapting to circumstances, . He believed strongly in the indirect approach (Blitzkrieg) rather than the direct approach (trench warfare in WW I). He sought to minimize casualties and believed in a just peace as a practical matter rather than trying to extract revenge on the defeated foe. He disagreed with the Clausewitz theory that "blood is the price of victory." Hitler used the indirect approach in his early World War 2 campaigns with great success but began to deviate after attacking Russia and suffered great losses as a result. His refusal to allow his army to retreat in the Russian winter of 1941 caused many German casualties. His refusal to evacuate North Africa when all was lost also cost him many fine soldiers. Also, Hitler's harsh treatment of Russia civilians turned many possible Russian allies into guerilla foes. All of these losing actions would not have been allowed by Hart's strategy.
17. On War by Carl Von Clausewitz. Modern ultimate fighters may want to read this book. First written in 1832, the book remains a classic and heavily influences those who would wage war. Clausewitz believed in the direct approach to war as opposed to the indirect approach recommended by Liddell Hart, above. Clausewitz defines war as violence intended to compel the opponent to submit to the will of the proponent. Submission of the enemy is the object. Not for Clausewitz is Liddell Hart's goal of a just and fair peace. The chivalrous code of conduct and honor is gone from war. Attack on civilians is permitted and is justifiable. As far as battle tactics are concerned, if the enemy is thrown off balance, he must not be allowed to recover but instead is to be hit with blow after blow until he collapses. Clausewitz's direct battle system obviously causes more casualties than Liddell Hart's indirect approach and is criticized for causing bloodbaths, e.g., World War I trench warfare. Hitler, at times, appeared to follow, first, one system then the other, although the German generals favored the Liddell Hart approach.
18. The Rommel Papers by Erwin Rommel. Rommel was a brilliant German general though not quite of the caliber of Heinz Guderian. He won and lost many battles and this book tells all in his own words. Rommel was an excellent writer and, as one reviewer put it, this military book makes you feel that you are at the command table with Rommel as he plans. He was Hitler's favorite general for awhile but eventually Hitler forced him to commit suicide when he was implicated in the plot against Hitler. Rommel was a German general who treated POW's with respect, was concerned for the welfare of his troops, and conducted war without hate. In contrast, today in the war on terrorism, many nations are increasingly treating POW's as criminals and, in many cases, the prisoners are subjected to torture or near-torture. A gentlemanly general such as Erwin Rommel would not have approved of this conduct.
19. Black Edelweiss: A Memoir of Combat and Conscience by a Soldier of the Waffen-SS by Johann Voss. The war from the view of an SS soldier that fought in World War 2 and who also became an allied prisoner of war. A different perspective on the German side of World War 2.
20. Blitzkrieg by Len Deighton. Deighton is normally a novelist so the book reads much faster than most historical or military books. Describes the development of the Blitzkrieg concept and its incredibly successful application in the German conquest of France in 1940. Contains much information on weapons used early in the war. Heavily illustrated.
21. Hitler and His Generals by Helmut Heiber. In 1942, after a few military reverses, Hitler ordered complete minutes of all his staff meetings with his generals prepared so there would be no question about his orders. Some important meetings are missing but students of the German side of World War 2 will find the discussions between Hitler and his Generals absorbing. One reviewer noted that the minutes resolved the question of who lost the war for Germany by showing Hitler and the German generals about equally responsible for the loss of the war.
22. Strange Victory by Ernest May. This is a book whose premise that I agree with. This premise is that the French lost, not because of a breakdown in their society and the overwhelming superiority of the German army, but because German intelligence and planning was much superior to that of the Allies. Hitler, a corporal in World War I, had an instinct for strategy far superior to the fossilized French planners. German intelligence was also far superior. With these advantages, the Germans concocted a plan whereby they hit the French and their allies where they were weakest. Individual French units fought well but, overall, the French were outsmarted. This is a revisionist theory to that expressed in "The Collapse of the Third Republic" by Shirer (see below).
23. Battle of Britain by Paul Patrick Jacobs. This military book is not from the German side of World War 2 but the battle was so important that it had to be included here. France, Poland, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark have fallen.......the only thing that stands between Hitler and total domination of Western Europe is Britain. Britain's expeditionary army has just escaped Dunkirk but has had to leave their weapons behind. But they still have their small but very competent air force with its fine Spitfires and Hurricane fighters and. Goering talks Hitler into trying to crush Britain from the air and launches an armada of bombers at the British. The greatest air battle of World War 2 and, indeed, the greatest air battle in history is on. It is a fight to the finish, no holds barred, no quarter asked, as the Germans go after both military and civilian targets. The Germans outnumber the British and have fine aviators but, technologically, in the air, the British equipment is slightly better, they also have fine fighter pilots, and they have an excellent battle plan. The British win after a savage battle and western civilization is saved! It was the British finest hour! Germany loses a thousand or so of the finest pilots the world had ever seen and this would hurt them in the coming attack on Russia.
24. The Luftwaffe War Diaries: The German Air Force in World War II by Cajus Bekker. The definitive book on the Luftwaffe. During the first part of World War 2, it was the force that enabled Guderian to break out during the early part of the Blitzkrieg against Poland and France. Aircraft against aircraft, it was superior to allied craft early in the war. As the war went on, however, Hitler's neglect, as well of misuse of the Luftwaffe in tasks that it was not designed for, weakened the Luftwaffe.
25. Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. Again this reference book is from the American side of World War 2 and not the German side. The tale of E Company, 505th Regiment, 101st Airborne. This elite company landed at Utah Beach on D-day, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, liberated Dachau concentration camp and captured Hitler's "Eagle's Nest." The book also explores what happened to the men after the war. Made into a top ranking movie.
26. Battleship Bismarck: A Survivor's Story by Burkard Baron von Mullenheim-Rechberg. The epic tale of the classic battle in World War 2 between the powerful German battleship Bismarck and the British Navy. Told by the highest ranking German survivor of the battle. Covers the early history of the Bismarck, the great battle with the British battleship Hood and the other elements of the British navy who pursued the Bismarck, the time spent by the author in a prison camp, and his return home to a devastated Germany after the end of the war The hull of the Bismarck was recently found off the French coast.
27. A Man Called Intrepid by William Stevenson. A book about espionage in World War 2. Espionage prevented the Germans from developing the atomic bomb among other things. In addition to discussions about espionage, the use of intelligence in the beginning of the cold war is also discussed. As one reads this book, he cannot help but feel sad as he observes the competence of America's espionage forces during World War 2 and compares it with the incompetence of the present intelligence forces during the buildup and aftermath of the second Iraq War. As long as we are fighting third rate militaries, we can get away with relying on a third rate intelligence force. God forbid that we face a first class military before we get our intelligence affairs in order! The formerly first class British intelligence service doesn't appear to be any better off.
28. Night of the Long Knives by Max Gallo and Lilly Emmet (translator). On June 30, 1934, newly chosen President Hitler decided to move against the SA (brown shirts), a hooligan organization that had helped him achieve power. The organization was led by Ernst Roehm, a long-time associate of Hitler. The SA had become too powerful and corrupt and many of their leaders were openly homosexual. The book documents in great deal how Hitler organized and carried out the slaughter of Roehm and an assortment of other SA leaders and others that Hitler either did not trust or did not like.
29. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Diary of a teenage Jewish girl who records her observations and emotions as she hides from Nazis.
30. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War by Martin Gilbert. Some think this is the best of the many histories of the horrible events of the Holocaust. Not a pretty picture but definitely part of the German side of World War 2.
31. The Abandonment of the Jews by David Wyman. The extermination policies by the Nazis toward the Jews was well know during the war, however, too little was done by the Allies to assist them until it was too late to save most. Why?
32. FDR and the Holocaust by Verne Newton. A collection of 13 essays on the subject of Roosevelt & the Holocaust. Why didn't we offer more refuge before the war when Jews were allowed to leave Germany?
33. The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941-1945 by Michael Beschloss. Discusses the political maneuvering by President Roosevelt and, later, President Truman in determining how post-World War Germany was to be handled. Roosevelt's reluctance to deal with the Jewish problem, which was becoming well known, is documented. Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., shocked at Roosevelt's inattention to the issue accused President Roosevelt of acquiescence in the murder of the Jews thereby risking his close relations with Roosevelt. Morgenthau became so enraged over the Holocaust that he laid out a plan ("Morgenthau Plan") for the total destruction of Germany's factories as a means of preventing Germany from ever starting another World War. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and Secretary of War Henry Stimson opposed the plan and leaked it to the press to help kill it. There is also considerable information on Roosevelt's illnesses and their affect on him. Did the Russians take advantage of his deteriorating health? Truman's ability to pick up the pieces after Roosevelt died is also documented. Somehow, things worked out regarding German reconstruction and this reconstruction is now widely regarded as the model for post-war reconstructions. How do we repeat the success in Iraq?
34. Women in Nazi Germany by Jill Stephenson. Discusses the role of German women in prewar and wartime Nazi Germany. Offers a penetrating look at what life for women was like in the Third Reich. Were the German Women victims or villains?
35. When I Was a German, 1934-1945: An Englishwomen in Nazi Germany by Christabel Bielenberg. An Englishwomen married to a German experiences the Nazi's takeover of Germany and World War 2 with all the terrors of the air raids, hunger, and the Gestapo. She moved from passive acceptance to active resistance of the Nazi regime.
36. Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics by Claudia Koonz. The role of German women in World War 2 is closely examined. The author does not whitewash their participation in the Nazi takeover of Germany and the ensuing atrocities. Instead, it is stated they played an integral role in supporting the Nazi system.
37. Adolf Hitler by John Toland. A massive book about the number one villain of World War 2. Toland leaves his emotions out of the book and presents an unbiased view of Hitler - the self-made man and megalomaniac who thought of himself as a Christ-like figure. If Hitler had not had his dark obsession about Jews and had he spent his time building up Germany instead of starting the war, he would probably now be considered a great leader. But those are some big ifs.....
38. The Last 100 Days: The Tumultuous and Controversial Story of the End of World War II by John Toland. A suspenseful book covering the last eventful days of the war in Europe.
39. Three Against One: Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin Against Hitler by Vance Stewart. The leaders of three great nations - Britain, the United States, and Russia face Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany in World War 2. Hitler was outnumbered. The war was a fight to the finish...give no quarter, receive no quarter. Winner take all. Those were the days of giants. Compare those men with the leaders we have today. No wonder we have been heading down the road to possible disaster. There is a need to study World War 2 more and see where great leadership can take you. I hope President Obama reads this book.
40. Look to Germany by Stanley McClatchie. Reprint of a propaganda book (in the narrow sense of the word) focusing on German life during the first four years of the Nazi rule. These were extremely prosperous years for Germany as they emerged rapidly from the depression while Europe and the United States languished. The book contains 300 photographs showing German life in every aspect and showing vividly the amazing economic progress made by the Nazis regime. Contrary to the popular view, the German citizens did well during those first years of the Nazi rule. There is no military discussion in the book. When war broke out, most Americans threw the book away out of fear of being thought unpatriotic and, when the war ended, all copies that could be located in Europe were confiscated by the allies and destroyed. Because of this, the original edition of this book, published in 1937, is now a rare collectors item according to a reviewer and sells for about $300. The author, an American, was forced to flee around the world as the FBI sought him. According to reviewers, the book is a must-read for those wishing to explore all aspects of Nazi rule.
41. The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary Lovell. Six beautiful and gifted daughters of an English aristocrat get involved in the political and social events surrounding World War 2. Of particular interest to this web site are their involvement (particularly the involvement of Unity Mitford) with Adolf Hitler and other Nazis individuals. Unity, much like Monica Lewinsky with Bill Clinton, desperately wanted to meet Hitler and made it her business to finally achieve her goal. She was in love with Hitler and wanted to marry him. She was able to meet Hitler and become one of his close followers and friends but, according to Leni Riefenstahl, Unity never had a chance to become intimate with Hitler much less marry him. Hitler told Riefenstahl he could not be intimate with a foreign girl. As far as marriage goes, Hitler told Riefenstahl that he would only have married Geli Raubal, the great love of his life.
The book chronicles the adventures of the Mitford sisters as they become involved with the celebrities of that era - Hitler, Goebbels, Magda Goebbels, Winston Churchill, Randolph Churchill, Evelyn Waugh, the Kennedy's, etc, etc.
42. Hope of the Wicked by Ted Flynn. Not directly about World War 2 but with many astute observations about the war. Probably no book has ever had more research done by its author than this one. Ted Flynn is very religious but not an ultraconservative wacko nor a leftist. He does not believe that our corrupted political systems can rescue us from the chaos that he thinks America and the world are falling into, a chaos that was exemplified by Nazi Germany. Only a return to true morality and religious principles will do the job. A must read for anyone that still cares about morality. Reviewer's ratings were as good as you can get. I am not an extremely religious person but this book made me think. Ted Flynn may be right.......the United States could be heading down a similar path that Germany followed under Hitler in the years prior to the war.
43. Earth in the Balance by Al Gore. This is not a book directly about World War 2 but former Vice-President Al Gore has included references on the war and many references on the post-war period. Gore's observations on the Marshall Plan are astute. His recommendation that such a Marshall Plan - type approach be used to save the environment is very provocative.
44. The Bubble of American Supremacy By George Soros. Who said all the big boys are Republicans? Multibillionaire George Soros has decided he can't take any more of President Bush and is devoting his money and time to oppose him. This book is a ringing indictment of President Bush and the conservative movement. Soros sees a disaster building in Iraq and does not think we should have ever occupied that country. Soros was born in Hungary and lived through Nazi Germany's occupation during the Second World War and, subsequently, the Soviet Union's occupation of that country during the Cold War. He has seen dictatorships up close and is afraid we are heading in the same direction.
46. Sophie's Choice by William Styron. A Jewish mother enters a German concentration camp in World War 2 and is cruelly forced to choose between her two children - one will live, the other must die. No tale could provide the message about the Holocaust better than this novel.
47. The Winds of War by Herman Wouk. Novel covers pre-war period. If you want the easy way to educate yourself on World War 2, read "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance". The novels are easy to read and all-consuming. All the top German leaders plus Roosevelt and the other Allies' leaders appear frequently in the book. The TV series was the best ever.
1. Cabaret directed by Francis Ford Coppola. No movie or book sets the background better of pre-World War 2 Germany of the early 30's than this movie. The Nazis in 1931 are increasing their power and the background is sinister as the Nazi swastikas began to appear. In two more years, the Nazis would take over Germany and, in eight years, Hitler would launch the world into war. The leading actress is Liza Minnelli who plays a night club entertainer and who won an academy award for the movie. Joel Grey plays the master of ceremonies at the decadent Kit Kat Klub. Grey also won an academy award (supporting actor) for the film. Lisa Minnelli and Joel Grey, what a combination - two of greatest performances in film history! The music is great and each number adds to the sinister background feeling. If you knew nothing of World War 2 and saw this movie you would sense that there was big, big trouble ahead for Germany (and the world).
The movie won a total of eight academy awards and missed the best picture only because it came out the same year (1972) as Godfather. One of the best musicals ever made and, if rated as a drama, it would rank high on that list too. A must-see for World War 2 buffs.
2. Casablanca directed by Michael Curtis. World War 2 has started, France has fallen, and the scene is a night club in unoccupied North Africa. Humphrey Bogart is the club owner and is supposedly not a political person. Ingrid Berman is his former Paris lover who shows up at the club which is crawling with Nazis. The plot then gets complicated as Bogart and Berman try to deal with their feelings toward each other in this environment of intrigue and suspense. The supporting cast has been called one of the best ever and includes Claude Rains, Paul Heinreid, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Conrad Veidt.
A Amazon reviewer pointed out that the movie contains three of the greatest lines in film history: "Round up the usual suspects," "Here's looking at you, kid," and "We'll always have Paris."
3. The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl directed by Ray Muller. Three hour portrait of Leni Riefenstahl, possibly the greatest film director of all time. When Hitler came to power in Germany, Riefenstahl, although opposed by Goebbels, was selected by Hitler to direct important works of propaganda. She denies being a Nazi and denies ever being Hitler's girl friend. (I believe the latter-she was not Hitler's type). Watch this DVD and decide for yourself whether she is guilty. I say Riefenstahl, who recently died at age 101 while she was still going strong, has been punished enough. Give her a break. We ought to be studying her to determine how a person of that age who has been ostracized for decades by polite society over the entire earth could continue to produce such fine work as she did until the end of her long life.
She has to be the one of the great street fighters who ever lived!
4. Triumph of the Will directed by Leni Riefenstahl. Generally thought of as the best propaganda film (for a terrible cause!) of
all time - a record of the Nazi Nuremberg rallies of 1934. Leni Riefenstahl's directing skills in that film have never been equaled according to the critics.
Was she a Nazi? And if so, does it matter seven decades later?
1.. German Generals Of World War 2. The Germans had some great generals who were masters of the Blitzkrieg. Who was the greatest - Guderian or Rommel?
2. American Generals of World War 2. Germany had their great generals in World War 2 but so did America. Top U.S. generals facing the Germans were Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton.
While many of the World War 2 museums, war memorials, libraries and cemeteries can be accessed via the Internet, a visit is necessary to fully appreciate these monuments to World War 2. Many economical professional tours are available for such group visits.
1. D-Day Museum in New Orleans. A great museum that all WW-2 buffs will want to visit. The museum contains historical documentation, photographs, and artifacts on the war. The Higgins assault boats featured in the museum were constructed in New Orleans. Visit the museum and then party in New Orleans!
(Note: The D-Day Museum has just reopened after being put out of action by Hurricane Katrina.)
2. Imperial War Museum in London, England. This museum emphasizes World War 2 as well it might as that was Britain's finest hour. Contains the Churchill museum where visitors can see the War Cabinet Room where Winston Churchill and his War Cabinet met during the German Blitz on London in 1940. A most interesting exhibition - The Children's War - is now underway. It provides a moving insight into the lives of children who were separated from their family during the Blitz and evacuated to the country.
The museum has been developing on-line search services - Collections On-line - and has over 160,000 historical records that can be searched.
Books, movies and other World War 2 information and facts on World War 2.
Last Updated: 11/20/16