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Web Video / World War II

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I'm Indy Neidell and THIS is World War 2!

World War Two is a YouTube historical documentary series recapping the events of, well, The Second World War as they happened in real time, week by week, exactly seventy-nine years after the events. It is hosted, written, and produced by the trio of Indy Neidell, Spartacus Olsson, and Astrid Deinhard, who were part of the crew responsible for The Great War, with help from a crew of their own and in collaboration with other historians and youtubers.

     Series produced by the channel 

Main ongoing series

  • World War Two: Week by Week: The main weekly series that covers what happened in World War 2 on that particular week 79 years ago. Hosted by Indy Neidell
  • War Against Humanity: Covers the various war crimes and human rights' abuses committed in the conflict. Hosted by Spartacus Olsson.
  • Spies & Ties: Covers the various espionage efforts and intelligence-related operations of the conflict. Hosted by Astrid Deinhard.
  • On The Homefront: A series devoted to covering the effects of the war on the domestic side. Hosted by Anna Deinhard.
  • WW2 Biography Special: Spotlights certain personalities in the war. Covering their life and actions generally up the point in the timeline where the main Week-by-Week series is.
    • WW2 Portrait Gallery: A spinoff of the above where an individual episode will cover a variety of figures that fall under the same topic of the episode (ex. SS Commandants of Concentration Camps).
  • WW2 Special Episodes Covers a diverse and miscellaneous range of topics, such as noteworthy military units/tactics, technological advancements, the status of particular nations, and social developments.
  • Out of the Foxholes: A Questions and Answers series.
    • Across the Airwaves: A related spinoff of the above where Indy shares and responds to amusing/controversial comments from the audience.
  • Hardware of WW2: A series focusing on the tanks, aircraft, and other vehicles of World War Two.

Mini/Limited Series

The team also runs a sister channel called TimeGhost History where it's Between 2 Wars series, that covers topics in the Interwar years, acts an Interquel to both this and The Great War.

This show contains examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: In a special episode, David Willey of The Tank Museum outlines the weaknesses of the Soviet T-26 tank which were exploited by their Finnish opponents in the Winter War of 1940. In particular, one of the air intakes for the engine on the back of the tank was especially vulnerable to the Molotov Cocktail.
  • Adventurer Outfit: Featured as part of the set dressing, a safari hat and brown coat can be seen draped over the Chair of Infinite Knowledge in the background behind Indy in Episode 42 - "Britain Votes to Leave".
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: As this series is effectively a sequel to The Great War with the same format and host but a different production company TimeGhost has had to rename some of the reused concepts such as "Out of the Trenches", a series about answering viewer questions, becoming "Out of the Foxholes" and Indy's Chair of Wisdom being replaced by the Chair of Infinite Knowledge.
  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: In Episode 22 - "The Enigma of Germany's Wartime Economy" covering the week of January 26, 1940, Indy tells the story of Basil Reay, an Englishman working in the Egyptian Ministry of Education. On the 26th, Basil welcomes a daughter, Joy, into the world. That girl will go on to be Indy's mother.
  • April Fools' Day: On April 1st, 2022, the channel released a video discussing the rise and fall of Hydra during World War II, covering it like they would any real conflict during the war.
  • Author Catchphrase: Episode 40 - "Brexit at Dunkirk" sees the return of the Catchphrase "This is modern war" from The Great War.
    Indy: Until May, 1940, they thought they knew what modern war involved, but this, this is modern war.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Indy does this a few times including in the first episode when he begins by saying that Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939 began... The Polish-German War of 1939 ("What? What did you think I was going to say?"). Later, after months of Hitler planning to invade France, in May of 1940, an invasion happens... to Iceland, by the British.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Allies are not above strategic bombing of civilian targets and other warcrimes, as covered in the "War Against Humanity" series, but their enemies are the Axis powers of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan who each have massive laundry lists of crimes against humanity.
  • Black Comedy: The journey of French general Maxime Weygand in May 1940 to organize a counterattack against the German invasion is described by Indy as descending into the realm of farce. A complicated shuffle around France and Belgium, involving Belgian King Leopold III, a stop at a country inn for an omelet, a perceived snub by a fellow commander, and a major army group left without anyone in charge in this time of major crisis needs a sidebar graphic to be made sense of.
  • Black Shirt: Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists, molded after the Italians following Mussolini. The Right Club was an assembly of fascist sympathizers formed by British Member of Parliment Archibald Ramsay. Some of their members were arrested for spying on the Allies.
  • Blitz Evacuees: Britain, fearing the German Luftwaffe, evacuated some people, particularly children, from some of her cities shortly after declaring war on Germany in 1939, but as the inactivity of the "Phoney War" set in they returned to their regular lives, only for the Blitz and Battle of Britain to take hold starting in 1940.
  • Bombers on the Screen: The primary graphics of the series, along with Stock Footage, are maps overlaid with symbols representing the units involved and shifting colored lines of battle as fronts advance and retreat. Animated (mostly) by Eastory.
  • Bomb Whistle: One of the sound effects laid over (originally silent) Stock Footage, such as when discussing Luftwaffe bombing in Poland.
  • Breeding Cult: The German Lebsenborn program centered around procreation with men of the Nazi SS to forge and propagate their ideological Master Race.
  • Capital Offensive: In their 1939 invasion, the German 14th Army under Wilhelm List was directed to capture the Polish capital of Kracow.
  • Censored Title: Episode 39 - "The Allied Clusterf**k in France" covering the week of May 25, 1940.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Deconstructed as the Real Life situation of the War was much more complex than the "only dropped once" stereotypes and parodies. The Beleaguered Bureaucrat nature of the overlapping Allied command structure, the French doctrine of "methodical battle" contrasted with the German panzer divisions' rapid improvisation, and the French high command preferring hand-delivered orders to telephone or radio communication, are among many of the details the show tackles to illustrate the reasons for the Fall of France and combat post-war misconceptions about the effectiveness of the Maginot Line and French response to the invasion.
  • Cold Ham: Indy's usual style of presenting is reserved, as befits the subject of the war, but sharply and clearly enunciated, almost like a sober, yet enthusiastic news broadcast. The Talking Heads segments are punctuated by flourishes and gesticulation. It might have developed from his background in advertising and performing as a musician.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Continuing on from The Great War series, the channel's various series are marked by a different colored stripe;
    • World War Two: Week by Week - Red
    • War Against Humanity - Brown
    • World War Two Biography Special - Green
    • Hardware of World War Two - Gold
    • Out of the Foxholes - Orange
    • On The Homefront - Blue
    • Spies and Ties - Beige
  • Cool Chair: The Chair of Infinite Knowledge from which Indy answers viewer questions, continuing a tradition from The Great War of giving an impressive name to what is, as far as we know, just a comfortable chair.
  • Crossover:
    • Special episodes featuring the curators of the Tank Museum have been produced. Nicholas "The Chieftain" Moran has done several special episodes on the development of armored warfare doctrine and the tanks of the belligerents, as well as a segment in "Out of the Foxholes" where he answered a viewer question about anti-tank weapons.
    • The "Pearl Harbor: Minute By Minute" series was done in collaboration with World of Warships
  • Day of the Jackboot: Episode 42 - "Britain Votes to Leave" covers the fall of Paris. After being declared an "open city" that will not resist the oncoming German forces in order to avoid destruction, on June 14, 1940, the Nazi swastika flys over the Arc de Triomphe followed by a military parade and a curfew imposed on the remaining citizenry of the city.
  • Death from Above: Air forces deployed against ground targets is a critical aspect of the war. Scores of soldiers and civilians alike will die over the course of the conflict from bombs and strafing runs by aircraft machineguns and cannon.
  • Delaying Action: Fought by the French and British Expeditionary Force to buy time for the evacuation of British and French forces at Dunkirk while surrounded by the German invasion of France.
  • Dr. Feelgood: The special episode "High Hitler! - Nazis on Crystal Meth Part 1" covers the history of Dr. Theodor Morell, Hitler's personal physician, who prescribed him daily cocktails of methamphetamine, cocaine, barbiturates, and more.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Hitler spares Warsaw from a specific request by Luftwaffe Field Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen for a large scale experiment in terror bombing the city into complete annihilation. However, bombing continues and Hitler orders that no civilians be allowed to leave the city in order to speed its capitulation.
  • Every Episode Ending:
    • Every regular episode concludes with Indy thanking their supporters, asking for more support, and pointing at the camera, finishing with "See ya next time."
    • Spartacus ends every War Against Humanity episode with "Never forget."
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a documentary series about World War 2, named World War Two.
  • Exposition Diagram: One is overlaid as a sidebar to illustrate while Indy explains the journey of French general Maxime Weygand in May 1940.
  • Extra-Long Episode:
    • The episode on the simultaneous German invasion of The Netherlands, Belgium, and France was twice as long as a regular episode, slightly over twenty minutes instead of the usual ten.
    • The start of the German invasions of Yugoslavia and Greece was another episode with a doubled-time length.
    • The start of Operation: Barbarossa was a two-parter with each part being longer than the average episode length.
    • The weekend of June 5 took up three episodes, one on the Battle of Midway a second on the aftermath of the battle, and a third dealing with everything else that happened that week.
  • Eyepatch of Power: British Major-General Carton de Wiart, a veteran Old Soldier with incredible exploits sports one of these.
  • False Flag Operation: One is conducted by German SS officers dressed in Polish uniforms on the radio station at Gleiwitz on the German-Polish border as a justification for the invasion of Poland.
    • The Soviet Union shells the Russian village of Mainila near the border with Finland, claiming the artillery fire to have come from across the nearby Finnish border, despite Finland having withdrawn its artillery to preempt such an accusation.
  • Fascists' Bed Time: June, 14, 1940, as German forces occupy Paris, an 8:00 p.m. curfew is imposed on the city.
  • Final Solution: The Holocaust and other atrocities are covered in "War Against Humanity" episodes.
  • Foregone Conclusion: As the series is covering a very well known historical event that occurred more than seventy years ago, most viewers will be familiar with who will ultimately win and lose the war.
  • Government in Exile: These are formed from numerous Allied and neutral nations as they are invaded and occupied by the belligerent powers of the war. The Polish cooperate with their British allies, offering them operational control over the remaining Polish navy. French general Charles de Gaulle declares one of these from Britain, broadcasting as the Voice of the Resistance while Phillipe Petain's government moved to armistice with Germany.
  • The Gloves Come Off: France, Britain, and Germany initially agree in 1939, at the behest of United States President Franklin Roosevelt, to avoid bombing campaigns on civilian targets. After the German bombing of Rotterdam, the Allies rescind this restriction and launch retaliatory raids on German cities and towns.
  • Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: The set is redressed with these for the "Nazis on Crystal Meth" special.
  • Great Escape: In September 1939, the Polish submarine ORP Orzeł was interned after taking port in neutral Estonia. Her crew stealthily sawed through the ropes holding the ship, disabled searchlights, overpowered guards and slipped away into the sea while under artillery fire.
  • Greek Chorus: Whoever is on the other end of the line of the telephone on Indy's desk. It was jokingly said to be the ghost of Conrad von Hötzendorf in a 2018 livestream, continuing a Running Gag from The Great War. They are aware of events that have yet to unfold in the regular episodes such as when in Episode 035 - "Norway is Burning", covering April 1940, the introductory phone call has Indy being foretold about events upcoming in the life of British Major-General Carton de Wiart.
    Indy: Man, the future sounds adventurous.
    • Played by, of all people, the United States Marines during the attack on Pearl Harbor episode. During the aerial attack on the fleet, a group of marines without weapons decided to break into an ice cream truck and spectate the Japanese attack, making commentary of hits, misses, and plane crashes like they were announcers at a baseball game.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: A bit of black humor by Winston Churchill after the Dunkirk evacuation and his famous "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" speech.
    Churchill: And we'll fight them with the butt ends of broken beer bottles because that's bloody well all we've got!
  • Innocent Bystander: The millions of civilians who are caught up in the largest and deadliest global conflict in human history.
  • Jungle Warfare: Once the War in the Pacific starts, various battles taking place in jungle conditions are covered, with the most notable example thus far being the Guadalcanal campaign.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Indy dons one of these for the special series about Nazi drug use.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: The episodes emphasize constantly the massive toll in human lives the war extracts. Spartacus takes time in the "War Against Humanity" to remind the viewer that every single person dead was a full, complex human being who cannot be written off as a statistic and their loss was mourned by someone.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Employed by the Finnish against the Soviet Union, particularly effective against T-26 tanks due to vulnerable air intakes.
  • Mood Whiplash: It's jarring to hear Indy go from describing the horrors of the largest conflict in human history in grave tones to energetically pitching the TimeGhost crowdfunding campaigns that are needed to keep the lights on at the end of episodes.
    • Spartacus uses Indy's nicknames for some of the German officers in his War Against Humanity segments.
  • Newhart Phonecall: The nature of the phone calls that open the episodes, usually foreshadowing the events of the week.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As the Allies continue to struggle in the Italian campaign, Indy points out that the controversial decision to bomb the Monte Casino monastery doesn't just destroy a priceless historical building filled with local refugees, but the Germans now decide that the rubble can be occupied by their forces without breaking their pledge to Italian civilians not to occupy it, since technically the Allied forces turned it into a battleground.
  • No-Sell: As pointed out in a dedicated special, American submarines are able to harass Japanese merchant ships right after the war started, but the Japanese barely notice the attacks because American torpedoes are widely defective- they often fail to explode even after making a direct hit. Bureaucratic bungling and manufacturing defects lead to a special investigation, and the officer in charge demanded that if the Navy refused to fix the manufacturing defects, then they should supply a boat hook that the submariners can use to try and rip holes in the Japanese ships instead. The Navy chose to fix the torpedoes and after 1943, Japan's merchant fleet began to sink with worse loss rates than the Allies' ever suffered in the Battle of the Atlantic.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: At the start of Episode 39 - "The Allied Clusterf**k in France" Indy has to make one of these over the phone, presumably over the Fall of France and the almost farcical shuffle in the Allied command while the Germans keep pushing into France and Belgium.
  • Once per Episode: Every episode except the first one begins with Indy in conversation at the phone on his desk, usually saying a few lines that foreshadow the content of the episode before hanging up.
  • Overnight Conquest: The German 1940 invasion of Denmark is successful, with the Danes capitulating within six hours. The invasion of France in the same year sees German troops parading through the streets of Paris less than two months later, compared to more than four years of conflict with France in the First World War.
  • Phone Call from the Dead: In Episode 68 - "Britain shows Japan how to Attack Pearl Harbor", Indy's introductory phone call is from a Luigi, implied to be Italian Marshal Luigi Cadorna who shared Butt-Monkey General Failure status with Conrad von Hötzendorf during The Great War.
    Indy: Yes, Luigi, it's happening again. No, Luigi, I don't think you could do better. Yes, Luigi, I am aware that you're dead.
  • Please Subscribe to Our Channel: At the end of every episode, Indy asks the viewers to join the TimeGhost Army by subscribing and supporting them on their crowdfunding campaigns.
  • Prank Call: Episodes 48 and 49 form a pair of this type of joke. In the introduction to Episode 48 - "No Deal... Herr Hitler!" Indy does his best Winston Churchill impression and orders a pizza to be delivered to the Prime Minister's residence at 10 Downing Street. In the followup, "The Hippo vs. the Bulldog, Göring’s War" he puts on another accent and feigns he has no idea about any call for pizza.
  • Pretext for War:
    • The German justification for their invasion of Poland stemmed from, among other causes, False Flag Operations by German operatives designed to look like Polish aggression against Germany.
    • Belgian King Leopold III tries to avoid giving Germany a reason to invade by refusing to allow British and French forces to take positions inside neutral Belgium during the "Phoney War".
    • The Soviet-Finnish Winter War begins on the pretext of an artillery attack by Finns against the Russian village of Mainila despite Finland having withdrawn its artillery from the border to prevent such an incident.
  • The Quisling: Vidkun Quisling attempts to establish a fascist government in Norway, only to be brushed aside by Germany dealing with the legitimate government it has overthrown.
  • Ramming Always Works: Episode 33 - "The Invasion of Norway and Denmark" tells the story of HMS Glowworm which rammed the German Admiral Hipper. The Glowworm burst into flames and sank shortly after.
  • Real Time:
    • The format of the show, as with The Great War, reports on the events of the war weekly to give the viewer an appreciation for the scale of six years of global conflict.
    • The special for the attack on Pearl Harbor chronicled the events minute-by-minute with a series of videos premiering over the course of the "Day of Infamy"'s anniversary in 2020.
  • Re-Cut: In June 2020, remade versions of the original 14 episodes of the series with updated production quality were released.
  • Red Scare: Episode 10 - "Molotov's Heel on Finland and Nobody to Fight in the West" mentions Communist members of French Parliament being detained in 1939 over concerns about national security along with thousands of Communist activists.
  • Riddle Me This: The Introduction to Episode 12 - "The Mysterious Threat to the Royal Navy" takes this form, with Indy hamming it up into two phones at once:
    Indy: Riddle me this, mister Chamberlain! Riddle me this, Messieur Daladier! What is it that flies through the skies, dives through the sea, lives in the mud, and needles you mercilessly? Well, whatever it is, it isn't yours. It's all mine!
  • Sea Mine: Britain littered the seas with naval minefields to blockade Germany. British shipping early in the war took heavy casualties from new, mysterious German mines. They were discovered to be magnetic when one of them was recovered and a countermeasure was developed.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Episode 46 - "The Dictator of France" features an introduction joke and a whole segment about the aluminum/aluminium divide and the etymology of the metal's name. Indy, an American living in Stockholm, Sweden, says aluminum, for what it's worth.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Part 2 of the "Nazis On Crystal Meth" series calls Doctor Fritz Hauschild the Walter White, née Walther Weiss of Nazi Germany.
    • Episode 12 - "The Mysterious Threat to the Royal Navy" opens with Indy giving the date, November 17, 1939, in his usual style before a swirling transition cuts to him giving a campy impression of The Riddler directed at the leaders of Britain and France in the style of the Batman (1966) version of the character.
    • Episode 54 - "Burn London, Burn it's the Blitz" begins with Indy saying on the phone, "No, no. Not the ballroom kind."
  • Slain in Their Sleep: Indie notes in part 3 of the Pearl Harbor special that part of the reason Yamamoto wanted the declaration of war presented to the Americans before bombs started falling in Pearl is that it would be akin to killing a man asleep in his bed, which would be against samurai ethos. You wake him up, then kill him in his bed.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Great War following the same weekly Real Time format with the same host and some of the people who founded the series.
  • Stock Footage: Forms the portion of the visuals that isn't comprised of in studio footage of the host at a desk or a map. Usually accompanied by edited in sound effects where appropriate.
  • Talking Heads: The primary style of the show is the host, usually Indy (Spartacus hosts the "War Against Humanity" series, and Astrid the "Spies and Ties" episodes on espionage), sitting at a desk narrating about the events of the week with occasional cuts to Stock Footage and maps and photographs.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: They're not wacky at all and their crimes and motivations are laid out with stark brutality in the series "War Against Humanity".
  • Uranus Is Showing: The episodes covering the Stalingrad encirclement naturally feature quite a few jokes about Operation Uranus' name.
  • Urban Warfare: Numerous battles throughout Europe take place in bombed-out towns and cities, with the most notable example being the Battle of Stalingrad, which sees the Germans obliterating the city and the Soviets fortifying the ruins and denying every inch of ground to the invasion force.
  • Voice of the Resistance: French general Charles de Gaulle broadcasts from London in June 1940 urging the continued resistance of the French despite the successes of the German invasion.
  • Waistcoat of Style: Indy's costume for the series is a dark one of these worn over a white shirt with a red and black tie.
  • War Is Hell: a central theme of the series as millions of people are killed in the war and untold suffering is unleashed on the world.
    • Exaggerated with the War Against Humanity subseries where Spartacus Olsson takes a closer, more personal look at the suffering directly or indirectly caused by the war.
  • War Refugees: Polish Refugees fleeing east from the September 1939 invasion by Germany are caught in a pincer by the simultaneous invasion from the east by the Soviet Union. In 1940 roads are clogged by French and Belgian civilians caught up in the German invasion of their countries. Eight million people are displaced in May 1940 by the war.
  • The War Room: The set is dressed to look like one with Indy's desk littered with telephones and books and a map pinned to the wall.
  • Winter Warfare: The appropriately named Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union was fought in snowdrifts, as was the invasion of Norway in 1940.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Episode 3 of the "War Against Humanity" - "The Strategy of Terror Bombing" discusses the deaths of civilians to strategic bombing campaigns, particularly the German Luftwaffe's destruction of schools and hospitals in Polish villages and towns and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
  • The X of Y: Indy's Chair of Infinite Knowledge.