Review: World War II Week by Week

Between 2014 and now, I’ve been regularly watching The Great War series on Youtube, which follows the First World War week-by-week, while also doing mini-biographies and answering viewer questions. Tons of content there, all worth watching. But since last September, the same person who hosted The Great War (they have a new host there as they cover the interwar years who is also great), Indy Neidell, has begun covering World War 2 week-by-week (79 years to the week after it occurred for WW2, as opposed to 100 years for WWI).

While Indy’s The Great War series had outside funding, World War Two is funded exclusively by viewer patrons (full disclosure: I am a patron). Having a lot of viewer carry over from Indy’s The Great War series has helped, but it’s still astounding how good the quality of the content is despite this limitation.

The downside, so far, has been that there just hasn’t been as much content. The Great War quickly added other recurring episodes in addition to their regular weekly coverage of that week’s events from 100 years ago, such as their Out of the Trenches (OOTT), where viewer questions are answered, and their Who Did What in WW1 series of mini-biographies of notable people in WW1, or their Great War Special episodes covering various interesting, sometimes obscure aspects of the war. World War Two has the weekly episodes, but their WW2 Homefront episodes, covering the daily realities off the front lines for people back home, the Q&A Out of the Foxholes (OOTF) episodes, and the War Against Humanity (WAH) episodes covering exactly what the name says, are all very sparse.

I would like to re-iterate that this is a complaint about not having enough content – not a problem with the content itself – and that the problem is understandable given their shoestring budget. The producers (Astrid Deinhard, Indy Neidell, and Spartacus Olsson) have also promised that as more patrons begin donating, more content will be produced. I would also point out that, unlike The Great War, which took many years to have halfway decent map animations for their videos, the map animations for the weekly episodes of World War Two, produced by Eastory, have been absolutely stunning from the start. World War Two, being less than a year old, has also already made a field trip to the Maginot Line to produce several episodes on the historical site, which is something The Great War also took longer to do.

Playlists of All Weekly Episodes and War Against Humanity

WW2 On Location (The Maginot Line)

The content of World War Two is top-notch. The weekly episodes are well-researched, although not using much in the way of primary sources. That’s understandable, though, as poring through personal letters and government documents from the time is extremely time consuming and the historian authors used as sources have already done all the foot work by publishing their books.

The channel, while informative, doesn’t go into historiography, but instead focuses on telling the narrative of WW2. It’s meant for a wide audience, although it seems to attract a lot of people who already have at least a basic knowledge of the events, since the level of detail can sometimes go beyond what someone who doesn’t have a strong interest in the subject wants. This is by no means a criticism of the channel, since documentaries on the overall larger picture abound on TV and the internet. If you want something simpler, without an exquisite focus on lesser known events, people, and hardware during the war, those documentaries are a good place to go (I recommend World War II In Color and the Russian produced Soviet Storm: World War II in the East). But if you’re interest goes deeper, then it doesn’t get much better than Indy Neidell’s World War Two series on Youtube.

I give World War Two an A- rating (subject to improvement once more new content starts to roll out on a regular basis) and $9.00 per month.

EDIT – as of March 5, 2022

Video embeds above have been updated.

The World War 2 channel has only gotten better since I wrote the above review. The quality of content and format has been honed in and perfected. The maps used in the weekly episodes are themselves worth an A+ just by themselves. The War Against Humanity series handles the brutal, difficult to watch content in a way that finds the perfect place between objectivity and sensitivity. The only drawback to the War Against Humanity series is that Youtube keeps dinging them on it because of the content, but that is obviously not the fault of the World War 2 channel.

The World War 2 channel have also done an amazing documentary on Pearl Harbor. It’s 5+ hours long and follows the events of December 7, 1941 minute-by-minute while also giving tons of background information on the planning of the attack and other Japanese assaults occurring in and around the same time. A must watch for anyone interested in the events leading up to and during that day.

In other words, as I said at the end of my original interview, I will subject my rating to an improvement and give it a solid A+ and an unqualified recommendation from me (for whatever that might be worth to you).