Apocalypse: The Second World War

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesday 30 September, 8.30pm

Made up entirely of original 35mm, 16mm and 8mm films, this series includes rare footage of the Polish officers’ massacre at Katyn, the inhumane treatment of French soldiers taken prisoner by the Nazis. The films provide viewers with a ground-breaking portrait of the Second World War that depicts not only its complexity, but the perspectives of both its victims and its victors.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesday 23 September, 8.30pm

Made up entirely of original 35mm, 16mm and 8mm films, this series includes rare footage of the Polish officers’ massacre at Katyn, the inhumane treatment of French soldiers taken prisoner by the Nazis. The films provide viewers with a ground-breaking portrait of the Second World War that depicts not only its complexity, but the perspectives of both its victims and its victors.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesday 16 September, 8.30pm

Made up entirely of original 35mm, 16mm and 8mm films, this series includes rare footage of the Polish officers’ massacre at Katyn, the inhumane treatment of French soldiers taken prisoner by the Nazis. The films provide viewers with a ground-breaking portrait of the Second World War that depicts not only its complexity, but the perspectives of both its victims and its victors.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesdays 2 September, 9.30pm

France. 1940. The Allied defensive lines are broken by Hitler’s daring sickle cut through the supposedly impenetrable Ardennes forest. British troops hastily evacuate from the beaches at Dunkirk, France, but are forced to abandon kilometres of precious military vehicles and equipment. The French army, once considered the best in the world, is in a shambles as almost two million soldiers are taken prisoner. Within a matter of days, the Germans march into Paris at daybreak. This episode includes colourised footage taken by Nazi soldiers on the beaches at Dunkirk as they gather around an old record player to celebrate their victory, as well as sound recordings taken by German Secret Service at the signing of the Franco-German Armistice. Heart-rending footage captures the plight of thousands of French civilians as they flee from the Nazis, as well as home movies taken by Londoners as they dig out from daily bombings, sleep in tube stations and carry on despite the death and destruction that surrounds them. In yet another daring gamble, Hitler now turns his attention to his Eastern campaign.

Wednesdays from 2 September, 8.30pm

As the French evacuated Paris in June 1940, amateur filmmakers documented the exodus as thousands lined the roads with their families and most precious possessions. As the British sifted through the rubble, people grabbed cameras to capture what it meant to stand up to Hitler throughout the Blitz. And as the Nazi army slogged through the mud and snow of Soviet Russia on the way to Moscow, soldiers used 8mm cameras to film the hardships of the war as they experienced it. This was not the stock, newsreel or propaganda footage from World War II that authorities approved and audiences became accustomed to seeing. This was provocative and sometimes disturbing footage taken by those who witnessed the war first-hand. This was the footage deemed ‘unfit’ for civilians to see. At the end of the war, this and other “Top Secret” footage of the war’s destruction was stashed away and forgotten.

Thanks to the efforts of a few, private collectors and archivists, these forgotten films have been rediscovered, restored and made available by National Geographic Channel in an extraordinary six-part series: Apocalypse: The Second World War, to start from Wednesday September 2 at 8.30pm in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of World War II. In addition to stunning footage, the series presents WWII in an innovative and provocative way, giving audiences an unprecedented sense of the reality of war not conveyed by black and white footage.

Made up entirely of original 35mm, 16mm and 8mm films, Apocalypse: The Second World War includes rare footage of the Polish officers’ massacre at Katyn, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk, the inhumane treatment of French soldiers taken prisoner by the Nazis and the sacrifice of Soviet soldiers at Stalingrad. By bringing this incredible footage together, Apocalypse: The Second World War provides viewers with a ground-breaking portrait of WWII that depicts not only its complexity, but the perspectives of both its victims and its victors.

EPISODES INCLUDE:

THE AGGRESSION

Germany. 1939. When almost nothing seems to stand in his way, and with the USSR as his ally, Hitler invades Poland. Britain and France declare war while the U.S. maintains its neutrality. “The Phoney War” begins as millions of civilians wait to see if the conflict will resolve itself and Germany builds up its arsenal. The Aggression features fascinating, colourised footage of Hitler as he visits the Austrian village where he grew up (and the children still run barefoot), as well as footage shot by Eva Braun, his mistress, of the Führer relaxing at his Alpine chalet. Witness haunting images of the persecution of the Jews in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland, Stalin’s gulags for political prisoners, and the magnificent city of Strasbourg emptied of its residents. Watch heart-felt good-byes as French soldiers leave loved ones at Gare de l’Est train station in Paris and civilians – young and old – as they prepare for air raids by donning gas masks. As Hitler continues his conquest of Europe, he invades Holland and Belgium and plans to make a surprise “sickle cut” through the dense Ardennes Forest, leaving the Allies with little chance of escape.

THE CRUSHING DEFEAT

France. 1940. The Allied defensive lines are broken by Hitler’s daring sickle cut through the supposedly impenetrable Ardennes forest. British troops hastily evacuate from the beaches at Dunkirk, France, but are forced to abandon kilometres of precious military vehicles and equipment. The French army, once considered the best in the world, is in a shambles as almost two million soldiers are taken prisoner. Within a matter of days, the Germans march into Paris at daybreak. The Crushing Defeat includes colourised footage taken by Nazi soldiers on the beaches at Dunkirk as they gather around an old record player to celebrate their victory, as well as sound recordings taken by German Secret Service at the signing of the Franco-German Armistice. Heart-rending footage captures the plight of thousands of French civilians as they flee from the Nazis, as well as home movies taken by Londoners as they dig out from daily bombings, sleep in tube stations and carry on despite the death and destruction that surrounds them. In yet another daring gamble, Hitler now turns his attention to his Eastern campaign.

SHOCK

Prague. Copenhagen. Paris. 1941. The Germans now occupy several capital cities in Europe. After the Germans defeat France, Nazi soldiers are sent to Paris for rest and recreation while Polish prisoners and Jews are forced into slave labour to complete Nazi building projects. The Italian army is in disarray so Hitler dispatches one of his best generals to Libya. The Afrika Korps fry eggs on the surfaces of their tanks amidst the blistering desert sands of North Africa. Shock includes vivid colourised footage of the battle for the Soviet Union as the Germans struggle toward Moscow in the brutal Russian winter. Russian civilians are forced to burn their homes and fields so as to leave nothing behind for the Germans to salvage. No longer able to wash or to change their clothes and suffering from dysentery and typhus, German troops are just 30 kilometres from Moscow, when they are finally pushed back by the Red Army. Moscow is saved – but the USSR has been ravaged. Two days after Hitler’s first, major defeat, Japan launches a surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbour and the war officially becomes a “World War.”

THE TURNING POINT

Made up entirely of original 35mm, 16mm and 8mm films, this series includes rare footage of the Polish officers’ massacre at Katyn, the inhumane treatment of French soldiers taken prisoner by the Nazis. The films provide viewers with a ground-breaking portrait of the Second World War that depicts not only its complexity, but the perspectives of both its victims and its victors.

THE GREAT LANDING

Made up entirely of original 35mm, 16mm and 8mm films, this series includes rare footage of the Polish officers’ massacre at Katyn, the inhumane treatment of French soldiers taken prisoner by the Nazis. The films provide viewers with a ground-breaking portrait of the Second World War that depicts not only its complexity, but the perspectives of both its victims and its victors.

THE END OF THE NIGHTMARE

Made up entirely of original 35mm, 16mm and 8mm films, this series includes rare footage of the Polish officers’ massacre at Katyn, the inhumane treatment of French soldiers taken prisoner by the Nazis. The films provide viewers with a ground-breaking portrait of the Second World War that depicts not only its complexity, but the perspectives of both its victims and its victors.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesdays from 2 September, 8.30pm

Germany. 1939. When almost nothing seems to stand in his way, and with the USSR as his ally, Hitler invades Poland. Britain and France declare war while the U.S. maintains its neutrality. Millions of civilians wait to see if the conflict will resolve itself, and Germany builds up its arsenal. This episode features fascinating, colourised footage of Hitler as he visits the Austrian village where he grew up, as well as footage shot by Eva Braun, his mistress, of the Führer relaxing at his Alpine chalet. Witness haunting images of the persecution of the Jews in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland, Stalin’s gulags for political prisoners, and the magnificent city of Strasbourg emptied of its residents. Watch heart-felt good-byes as French soldiers leave loved ones at Gare de l’Est train station in Paris and civilians – young and old – as they prepare for air raids by donning gas masks. As Hitler continues his conquest of Europe, he invades Holland and Belgium and plans to make a surprise “sickle cut” through the dense Ardennes Forest, leaving the Allies with little chance of escape.