Bill Hillman's
AS YOU WERE. . .
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Presents

Frank Capra's
WHY WE FIGHT series of WWII Propaganda films
www.hillmanweb.com/war/1102.html

References: Wikipedia and Archive.org
Why We Fight is a series of seven propaganda films commissioned by the United States government during World War II to demonstrate to American soldiers the reason for U.S. involvement in the war. Later on they were also shown to the general U.S. public to persuade them to support American involvement in the war.

Most of the films were directed by Frank Capra, who was daunted yet also impressed and challenged by Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda film Triumph of the Will and who worked in direct response to it. The series faced a tough challenge: convincing an only recently non-interventionist nation of the need to become involved in the war and ally with the Soviets, among other things. In many of the films, Capra and other directors spliced in Axis powers propaganda footage—recontextualizing it so it promoted the cause of the Allies instead.

Why We Fight was edited primarily by William Hornbeck and is among the best examples of stock-footage montage ever produced, although some parts were re-enacted "under War Department supervision" if there was no relevant footage available. The animated portions of the films were produced by the Disney studios – with the animated maps following a convention of depicting Axis-occupied territory in black.

The films were narrated by Academy Award winning actor Walter Huston. This narration, though factual for the most part, is replete with nationalist and racist rhetoric describing implacably warlike Germans and "blood-crazed Japs." Such rhetoric must be understood in the context of both its era and the global total war of survival the societies in question were engaged in. Conversely, it lionizes the courage and sacrifice of the British, Soviets, and Chinese. Realistic sound effects and soaring symphonic music complement the dramatic scenes.

At the end of each film, the quotation from Army Chief of Staff George Marshall that "...the victory of the democracies can only be complete with the utter defeat of the war machines of Germany and Japan." is shown on screen, followed by a ringing Liberty Bell over which is superimposed a large letter "V" zooming into the screen, accompanied by patriotic or military music on the soundtrack.

Why We Fight also contains many scenes from Triumph of the Will when talking about the Nazis.



Made from 1942 to 1945, the seven films range from 40 to 76 minutes in length.
Intro and Background to the series
1. Prelude to War (1942) (51:35) - examines the difference between democratic and fascist states, and covers the Japanese conquest of Manchuria and the Italian conquest of Ethiopia. 
Watch Pt. I at Archive.org  (Java script required)
Part I describes World War II as a battle between the "slave world" of fascism and the "free world" of American liberty. In the "slave world," the entire populations of Germany, Italy and Japan have been hoodwinked by madmen, opportunists who capitalized on their people's desperation and weakness to rise to power. These demagogues promised revenge for past losses, and in the process convinced their people to give up their rights and accept dictatorship. 

In the "free world," the principles of equality, freedom, and liberty characterize the greatest leaders, embodied in the works and words of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. This freedom is a threat to the fascist dictators of the Axis powers, who claim that democracy is weak and must be eradicated. The film claims that the ultimate goal of the Axis powers is to enslave the nations of the "free world," a desire made manifest in the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and Mussolini's destruction of Ethiopia.

2. The Nazis Strike (1943) (40:20) - covers Nazi geopolitics and the conquest of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland. 
Watch Pt. II at Archive.org 

Chapter II summarizes Adolph Hitler's plan for world conquest and Germany's full scale preparation in pursuit of this end. While the Nazis plead poverty and pacifism, they spend incredible amounts of money to prepare a war machine of unparalleled strength and destructive capability. While Hitler assures the other leaders of the world he has no interest in promoting National Socialism, he begins "softening up" future target nations by sponsoring local Nazi organizations in other countries. 

The film explains that the key to Germany's world conquest is the occupation of central Russia, a heartland rich in natural resources. Hitler begins his march in this direction by annexing Austria and part of Czechoslovakia. With these new territories, he now possesses a massive front against Poland, which he invades and conquers within three weeks.

After the invasion of Poland, Britain and France declare war on Germany, which then signs a non-aggression pact with the Soviets so Hitler can re-focus his energy against his enemies to the west.

3. Divide and Conquer (1943) (56:00) - about the campaign in Benelux and the Fall of France.
Watch Pt. III at Archive.org

Chapter III  begins with Britain and France's declaration of war on Germany after Hitler's invasion of Poland. The film covers the Nazi capture of Denmark and Norway, steps necessary to mount a future attack on Britain, then describes in detail Hitler's strategy as he conquers Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. 

Special attention is paid to Nazi atrocities. Dead and injured children are shown en masse and the film explains how the bombing of Rotterdam leads to "thirty thousand men, women and children killed in ninety minutes." 

The narrator tells how the Luftwaffe bombs small villages so that refugees clog the highways, and how it uses precision machine gun fire to herd the survivors toward the allied armies, who find their progress severely constrained as a result. An American military officer details the Nazi plan for an invasion of France, which Hitler conquers in just over a month. 

The Germans bludgeon the French armies into surrender, then "enslave" much of the local population to service the German military regime.

4. The Battle of Britain (1943) (51:30) - depicts Britain's victory against the Luftwaffe.
Watch Pt. IV at Archive.org

Chapter IV begins after Hitler's conquest of Western Europe. Once firmly in control of the parts of France and Norway closest to Great Britain, the Nazis commence their massive air assault on the British isles.

Outnumbered six to one, the fighters of the Royal Air Force defend their skies against the Luftwaffe for close to four months. Capra embellishes the British successes, for example the film claims the RAF fought 200 dogfights in the first thirty minutes of the battle alone, and that by the end of the first month they had destroyed 900 German planes. (In truth, the number is closer to 260). 

However, the success of the British defenses forced the Germans to change strategies, switching to more frightening night raids that terrorized London. But the British resolve won the day, in grand fashion. 

The film claims total German losses of more than 2,700. The real number is closer to 1,600. The number of downed British planes equaled approximately half that of Germany.

5. The Battle of Russia (1943) (76:07) part 1, part 2 - shows a history of Russian defense and Russia's battle against Germany.
Watch Pt. V - 1 at Archive.org

Chapter V follows the beginning of the end for Adolph Hitler. Part One shows how the Nazi regime, frustrated by the tenacity of British resistance, sets its sights on the Soviet Union instead. 

As it follows the Nazi march into Russian territory, the film provides a brief summary of the attempts of foreign powers to invade Russia over the past seven hundred years. It explains why the country is such a hot prize and why no army in history ever succeeded in conquering it. 

Hitler is portrayed as a fool, his hubris blinding him to the evidence of history. The film illustrates how the Red Army's method of fighting -- a scorched-earth strategy and a reliance on guerilla and urban warfare -- was bound to defeat the Nazis as it had defeated every invader before them. Capra's favorable portrait of the Russians is notable. 

Released two years before the start of the Cold War, the film portrays the Soviets as a diverse and freedom-loving people, in many ways similar to their then-allies, the people of the United States.


Watch Pt. V - 2 at Archive.org
Chapter V - Part Two, the German army falls victim to the Soviet scorched-earth strategy. 

The Russian forces flee from the start, retreating deep into their homeland, drawing the Nazis farther and farther away from the German border. As the Red Army falls back, it destroys infrastructure and natural resources, making it difficult for the Nazi army to live off the land. 

Once the famed Russian winter sets in, Germany is doomed. The film focuses on the stalwart defense of Leningrad. After the Nazis surround the Soviet metropolis in an attempt to starve out its residents, the Russians outsmart them by constructing a fully operational railroad across a frozen lake to get supplies to the beleaguered citizens. The Battle of Russia ends up as a disaster for the Germans, who lose more than 800,000 men.

6. The Battle of China (1944) (62:16) - shows Japanese aggression such as the Nanking Massacre and Chinese efforts such as the construction of the Burma Road and the Battle of Changsha
Watch Pt. VI at Archive.org

Chapter VI explains why the Empire of Japan possessed such a strong interest in ruling the disparate lands of China. In an attempt to break the will of the Chinese people in one massive assault, Japan invades Nanking and massacres forty thousand civilians.

The attack results in an opposite effect, galvanizing the Chinese resistance and unifying the separate lands into a single Chinese identity. 

While the Japanese take control of all Chinese ports, hoping to cut off all resources from its victim, China's allies effectuate an engineering miracle. They construct the seven hundred mile long Burma Road over the mountains of Myanmar, and set up a constant caravan of trucks to ship food and materiel to the Chinese armies, keeping them alive. 

Frustrated by their inability to conquer China, the Japanese turn their attention to the islands of the Pacific, and the United States.

7. War Comes to America (1945) (64:20)  - shows how the pattern of Axis aggression turned the American people against isolationism.

Watch Pt. VII at Archive.org
In this final installment the subject focuses on the United States of America. We learn of its good qualities and the things worth fighting for. 

With that established, we learn of the history of the United States' population shifting opinion towards siding with the Allies against the Axis until the attack on Pearl Harbour which brought America into full scale involvement in the war. 
 

YOUTUBE.COM
Shorter clips of the above are available at YouTube.com . . . for example:
Battle of China I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII

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