The World At War – Thames Video Collection – Volumes 1-12 – 12 VHS Collection


The World At War – Thames Video Collection – Volumes 1-12

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The World at War: The definitive story of the Second World War in 12 volumes narrated by Laurence Olivier


A New Germany 1933-39 — Germany, a nation stricken by humiliating defeat and deep economic depression begins to respond to the hopes and promises of regained pride and prosperity under National Socialism. Adolf Hitler comes to power with the whole-hearted support of millions of ordinary Germans.

As Europe looks on apprehensively, Germany threatens to attack Poland.

Writer – Neal-Ascherson

Director – Hugh Raggett

Distant War 1939-40 — Germany invades Poland and bombs Warsaw into submission. Prime Minister Chamberlain is forced to bring Britain into the war but, the nation is totally unprepared for a war which still seems far away.

Following the failure of the British expeditionary force to Norway, Chamberlain falls to be replaced by Churchill as the Nazi war machine rolls into the Low Countries and France.

Writer – Laurence Thompson

Producer & Director – David Elstein

104 mins

1980 Thames Television (5014549099246)


France Falls-May-June 1940 — France had the largest of the pre-war European armies and the protection of the heavily fortified Maginot Line. Incredibly, though, the Line did not stretch to the Channel and the German invaders simply skirt the defences and forge south. The French Army is humiliated, Paris is captured and France falls. The British Expeditionary Force is pushed back and Hitler stands poised ready to invade Britain.

Writer & Producer – Peter Batty

Alone-Britain-May 1940-June1941 — Under the leadership of Winston Churchill, Britain fights on alone. Nearly 350,000 Allied troops have to be rescued from Dunkirk and British morale is never lower. On the brink of defeat, despite the heroism of the RAF in the defeat of the Luftwaffe, Britain is saved only by the decision of Hitler to switch his offensive to Russia.

Writer – Laurence Thompson

Producer & Director – David Elstein

104 mins

1980 Thames Television (5014549099253)


Barbarossa-June-December 1941 — Germany, master now of all Europe, including the Balkans, turns against Russia. The early stages are composed of devastating German victories as the Panzers sweep with appalling speed deep into Russia. But the German High Command delays, fatally, and the advance is held a few kilometres from Moscow when the mud and then the fierce cold takes a grip.

Writer & Producer – Peter Batty

Banzai-Japan Strikes — December 1941. Japan seeking unrestricted access to raw materials she needs for expansion tires of negotiations and strikes at Pearl Harbour inflicting a severe blow to American naval power. In a few months, Japan demonstrates how ill-prepared the Allies are, sweeping forward to capture Hong Kong, Burma, Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies and the Philipines.

104 mins

1980 Thames Television (5014549099260)


On Our Way-America Enters The War — The conflicts in Europe and the Pacific are two separate wars. many Americans are content to forget about Hitler and Europe and concentrate their war efforts on the Japanese. President Roosevelt is committed to the fight against Hitler but congress is not. Inexplicably, Hitler declares war on America, thus relieving Roosevelt of a difficult decision and, ultimately, altering the course of the war.

Desert-The War in North Africa — The war in North Africa takes the best part of three years to resolve and is fought and refought over the same 600 miles of desert between Alexandria in Egypt and Benghazi in Cyrenaica (Libya) before Montgomery’s “Desert Rats” defeat Rommel’s Africa Korps at El Alamein.

The Germans are driven from North Africa and the way seems clear to the underbelly of Europe, Italy.

Writer & Producer – Peter Batty

104 mins

1981 Thames Television (5014549099277)


Stalingrad — The encirclement and defeat of the German army at Stalingrad holds more importance than the numbers of men lost – large though these were. For the first time, the Germans are beaten in the field.

The legend Germany mastery on land is dispelled as the people Hitler once called ‘sub-human’ prove themselves cleverer than he is.

Wolfpack — The German attempts to starve Britain by attacking ships bringing supplies from North America are very nearly successful. Many tons of shipping are sunk and many lives lost to the U-boat attacks (Wolfpacks) of Gross Admiral Carl Doenitz. The allied merchant ships, despite convoy techniques, Navy escorts and elementary underwater detection devices, are extremely vulnerable.

Admiral Doenitz and some of his U-boat commanders as well as British Officers, ratings and merchant seamen who survived being sunk in the Atlantic, are among those who appear on this cassette.

104 mins

1981 Thames Television (5014549099284)


Red Star — The story of Russia’s massive, lonely war with its 20,000,000 military and civilian casualties.

A Leningrad housewife who survived the 890 days seige from September 1941 until January 1944 appears in this programme. She agrees she was lucky to survive. In her city of three million inhabitants 200,000 people were killed by Russians not only survived but went on to rout the Germans.

Writer – Neal Ascherson

Producer & Director – Martin Smith

Whirlwind — The blitz on Britain brings strident public demand for revenge bombing but by the end of 1941 Britain’s force of 700 aircraft is being eaten into by the demands of the North Africa and Atlantic battles.

The arrival of Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris to take charge of Bomber Command heralds a new attitude. Harris is very much in favour of revenge – ‘They have sowed the wind and now shall reap the whirlwind,’ he proclaims publicly. More important, he believes taht bombing can, on its own, defeat Germany.

Writer & Producer – Ted Childs

104 mins

1981 Thames Television (5014549099291)


Tough Old Gut — Winston Churchill describes Italy to Stalin as the ‘the soft underbelly of the crocodile.’ It is his arguments that persuade the Americans to join the Allies – reluctantly on the road to home and in November 1942, 11 months after Pearl Harbour, they meet the Wehrmacht for the first time. And in Tunisia they suffer what is to be their worst defeat of the war at the hands of the better equipped more experienced Afrika Korps.

Writer – David Wheeler

Producer – Ben Shepherd

It’s A Lovely Day Tomorrow — Monsoon conditions for five months of every year with the attendant problems of disease, make the lot of the Burma Army ‘just a nightmare.’ Europeans find jungle conditions alien and the Japanese ability not only to endure but to thrive in the same circumstances helps build a ‘superman’ myth among the Allied soldiers.

Writer – John Williams

Producer & Director – John Pett

104 mins

1982 Thames Television (5014549099307)


Home Fires — After the defeat in the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe changes the direction of their bombing raids from London to the provincial cities – Portsmouth, Sheffield, Glasgow and Bristol all suffer heavy casualties and damage, but Coventry and Plymouth are the worst hit. In Coventry, the heart is torn from the city and the situation is desperate.

Writer – Angus Calder

Producer – Philip Whitehead

Inside The Reich-Germany 1940-1944 — In the Summer of 1940 the German forces are the conquerors of Western Europe, and at home the feeling is that the war is over. German cities are untouched and there is thankfulness that the courage of the First World War has not been repeated. There are no plans for a long struggle and the Nazi Regime, looking for populating ensures that most peacetime goods are still in the shops. It is for the Germans a happy time and many babies are conceived.

Writer – Neal Ascherson

Producer – Phillip Whitehead

104 mins

1982 Thames Television (5014549099314)


Morning — In the early morning 5 June, 1944, the largest amphibian invasion force ever gathered reaches the beaches of Normandy. Americans, British and Canadians attack on five separate beaches – and although beach-heads are made on all, the Americans meet strong opposition and have many casualties.

Producer & Director – John Pett

Writer – John Williams

Occupation — The Netherlands, a neutral country is attacked without warning in 1940, and to stop more bloodshed capitulate quickly after Rotterdam is badly bombed.

So subtly do the German occupiers proceed – with assurances of ‘no animosity’ – that most find it easy to carry on their normal lives.

Writers – Charles Bloomberg & Michael Darlow

104 mins

1982 Thames Television (5014549099321)


Pincers — With the liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944, the war seems to some to be as good as over. The Russians from the East and the Allies from the South and West are ready for the advance on the Fatherland. At this point, the disparity of views between Montgomery and Eisenhower reaches a critical point. The American plans advance on a broad front; Montgomery wants a narrow strike to burst through to the Ruhr and thus plans the Arnhem raid.

Writer & Producer – Peter Batty

Genocide — When the Nazis came to power in 1933 Heinrich Himmler was already Reichsfuehrer of the SS. The new eminence of the National Socialist Party allowed him to set about realising his dream of awakening the Germanic race within the German people. He had already refined the philosophy of Nazism, its ideas on politics and on race. His aims in recreating an older ‘Aryan’ Germany.

Writer – Charles Bloomberg

Producer – Michael Darlow

104 mins

1982 Thame Television (5014549099338)


Nemesis — As the front lines shrink around Germany, the death toll mounts, many thousands died as the RAF and the USAF attack by night and by day. Allied prisoners of war, are released by their advancing comrades, while German soldiers are captured by the thousands.

In the bunker, Hitler and those around him face the end of the Reich. Goering and Himmler betray their Fuehrer, and he decides on self-destruction, but not before marrying the faithful Eva Braun.

Writer – Stuart Hood

Produced – Martin Smith

Japan 1941-1945 — Many Japanese were stunned and fearful when war was declared against the west in 1941. But after the victories of Hong Kong, Malaya and Singapore their earlier fears were lost in exultation.

By 1944 the scales had tipped fully against Japan. But still they defended their homeland – unaware of the terrible weapon yet to be used against them, and which would end the war.

Writer – Courtney Browne

Produced – Hugh Raggett

Pacific-The Island To Island War — The Allied Pacific offensive came under the command of two rivals: General MacArthur to sweep upwards from the Solomons and New Guinea to the Philippines – Admiral Nimitz in leaps from island to island, starting in November 1943 in the Gilberts at Tarawa.

The Americans thought it would be easy. The casualties proved them wrong.

Writer – David Wheeler

Produced – John Pett

156 mins

1982 Thames Television (5014549099345)


The Bomb — On August 6, 1945, an American B-29 bomber, the “Enola Gay,” named after the mother of the pilot, Paul Tibbetts, dropped the world’s first uranium bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Four days later a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

Reckoning — The end of the war in Central Europe is a time without pity. It is also untidy and messy. The intervention of outsiders from Russia and America means that no European nation can win.

Writer & Producer – Jerome Kuehl

Remember — In the Second World War twenty million Russians died – in action, in captivity, fighting men and women, and ordinary civilians; Britain and the Commonwealth lost four hundred and eighty thousand – sixty thousand of them civilians killed in bombing raids. Germany, in the war she started, lost nearly five million dead; two and a half million Japanese were killed; America – not invaded or bombed – lost nearly three hundred thousand men.

Those who lost people close to them can remember, vividly, the moment they heard the news. And many still remember, each year, at reunions, at the Cenotaph, and at gravesides.

‘Remember’ the 26th and final programme in ‘The World at War’

Writer & Producer – Jeremy Isaacs

156 mins

1982 Thames Television (5014549099352)

1986 Packaging Design by Thames Video

Additional information

Weight4500 g

Time Period

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Film Certificate


Thames TV


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