World War II video lectures

Charles S. Maier, PhD, Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History, Harvard University

The course World War and Society in the Twentieth Century: World War II is a thematic exploration of the war and its time through feature films, primary sources, and scholarly interpretations.

It seeks to provide a means for analyzing and evaluating what one reads or sees about World War II in terms of historical accuracy and for gaining a broader understanding of different perspectives. Themes include the impact of war on soldiers and civilians, on the home front, women in war, the Japanese and German viewpoints, and postwar issues. Films include Mrs. Miniver, The Pianist, The Winter War, So Proudly We Hail, Taking Sides, The Hiding Place, and The Cranes Are Flying.

The lecture videos

The recorded lectures are from the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences course Historical Study B-54, which was offered as HIST E-1890, an online course at Harvard Extension School.

Watch the lectures as streaming video or audio. Each lecture is 50 minutes.

Course Introduction: How Should We Think about WWII?

Shadow of WWI: Lessons to be Learned

From the Twenties to the Thirties

Hitler’s Agendas: Allied Appeasement

Hitler vs. Churchill

The Battle for France with Professor Higonnet

Japanese Strategy and Conquest

Roosevelt’s Objectives and Strategies

Stalin’s Strategic Choices

The End of the Beginning: Standoffs and Turning Points

The Search for Decision: U-Boats, Ultra, Bombing

Sinews of War: Labor, Production, Finance

Mobilizing Societies: War and Social Change

The Social Impact of War

America’s War

Occupation, Resistance, Civil War

Occupation, Resistance, Civil War: II

Murdering the Jews of Europe

Strategies for Reconquest; The Deadliest Year

Ending the Japanese War—I

The End of Empires: Japanese and Colonial

The End of Empire; Origins of the Cold War

The End of Empire; Origins of the Cold War (continued)

Final Lecture: War, Memory, and Aftermath

Enroll in Harvard Extension School courses

If you enjoyed this free class, the Harvard Extension School offers a wide variety of courses in numerous fields. Search for classes and enroll for credit during the fall and spring registration periods.