World War II: Up Close and Personal

Experience the startling realities of the Second World War through the eyes of the people who lived them.

World War II: Up Close and Personal is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 22.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Social History I love hearing and reading about history through the lives of the people who experienced it. These narrations and photos make the history of Europe in WW 11 come alive.
Date published: 2021-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course very informative and interesting about events and people how made big differences in the war
Date published: 2021-09-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Have not completed the full course, but at 50% of the episodes and very satisfied. Some interesting and new info re the Pacific theatre and Europe. Graphic and at times very emotional…the ugliness of war.
Date published: 2021-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gifted to a ww2 history enthusiast who is weeks f Gifted to a close friend who is a ww2 enthusiast and is also weeks away from passing. He shared with me 'ZULU'. I hope this series is appropriate and not to intense. Frances is a good man and a very decent friend.
Date published: 2021-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from There but for fortune go you or I We live in a world created by WWII. To study this war, to try to find the roots of today in yesterday, one can get caught up in heroic battles, the unfathomable numbers of innocent victims, the huge sweeps of bombed-out landscapes. But ultimately what was shaped were individual lives. In each lecture, Prof. Huxen introduces the thoughts and experiences of a few individuals. The selection is excellent — a diverse group of men and women, people from many countries and cultures, military and civilian. Given world enough and time, I would happily search out all his source material and read each account in full (I'm only familiar with a few of them). Huxen's delivery is clear, measured and compassionate. A very fine series of lectures, and deeply moving.
Date published: 2021-09-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very informational I have read and listened to many personal interviews regarding WWII...something my uncles never talked about after serving. I found these lectures to be informative and gave me insight into their experiences.
Date published: 2021-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course is excellent. What was most interesting to me was its focus on how ordinary citizens experienced the war. So, for example, the decision to drop the atom bomb is not discussed only the devastating effect on the inhabitants of Hiroshima. Not only was it fascinating to learn about regular people's experiences, but also what the narrator picked to mention sometimes led to quirky details. As someone who knows a fair amount about this period of world history, I learned quite a bit from the course. I would agree that the narrator's style was a little dry but he more than made up for it with the amazing primary sources he uses. I would highly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in the subject.
Date published: 2021-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Up Close and Personal tells stories of personal intimate details of people who witnessed or survived historical events. Not to be missed for military history fans.
Date published: 2021-08-29
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Overview

In World War II: Up Close and Personal, Dr. Keith Huxen, a historian and project director at The Henry M. Jackson Foundation, takes you into the story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. From the icy front lines of Soviet Russia to the bombing campaigns against Britain to the fall of the Philippines, these 24 engrossing lectures take you into the shoes of soldiers, sailors, pilots, war correspondents, and citizens struggling to survive a war-torn world.

About

Keith Huxen
Keith Huxen

I’d like to invite you on a journey to examine the experiences of World War II, as seen through the eyes and ears of individuals who were there.

Keith Huxen is the Korean War Oral History Project Director at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation in support of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. His work promotes the agency’s mission to locate, identify, and recover the remains of fallen American service members from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Middle Eastern wars. He received an MPhil in American Diplomatic History and a PhD in American History from George Washington University.

Previously, Keith was the Senior Director of Research and History in the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy at The National WWII Museum. He was responsible for creating historical exhibits and galleries, including the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center; the Road to Berlin and Road to Tokyo galleries in the Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters pavilion; and the Arsenal of Democracy exhibit galleries. He also curated the traveling exhibit Manufacturing Victory, devoted to the industrial effort on the American home front. He has led World War II tours or lectured abroad in England, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, and China.

Keith has taught at Arizona State University, Louisiana State University, and the University of New Orleans. His specialties include American economic and diplomatic history, modern European history, and 20th-century international history. He has published in academic journals ranging from the Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table to Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals and appeared in TIME magazine, USA TODAY, and The Washington Post.

By This Professor

World War II: Up Close and Personal
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World War II: Up Close and Personal

Trailer

Hitler and the Nazi Youth

01: Hitler and the Nazi Youth

The horrors of Nazi Germany are one hallmark of World War II. How did ordinary German citizens find themselves participating in such heinous events? In this first lesson, go inside the propaganda machine of Hitler’s Germany and see how it targeted the youth with messages of strength and pride.

29 min
Japanese Soldiers in Nanjing

02: Japanese Soldiers in Nanjing

The origins of World War II lie in Asia in 1931, when the Japanese army sabotaged a railroad line in northeastern China. From here, trace the invasion of 1937 and the brutal Rape of Nanjing. Witness the events through the eyes of a Chinese soldier and a Japanese journalist, young men who bore witness to the flesh and blood of battle.

28 min
Panzer Leaders Who Changed Warfare

03: Panzer Leaders Who Changed Warfare

In addition to the story of people, World War II is the story of technology—and the innovations that changed the nature of combat. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than the tanks Germany used to barrel across Poland and France in “lightning warfare.” See how new technology defeated the old ways of war.

31 min
Jews inside the Warsaw Ghetto

04: Jews inside the Warsaw Ghetto

Wartime Warsaw offers a gateway to the darkest events of the war. Bear witness as the city’s Jews were rounded up and put in the ghetto—cramped quarters where the specter of disease and starvation always loomed. Hear the wrenching stories from several of the ghetto’s inhabitants.

28 min
The “Small Acts” of the French Resistance

05: The “Small Acts” of the French Resistance

The daily reality of war was complicated for everyday citizens living far from the battle lines. In Nazi-occupied France, informants created an environment of paranoia and fear, yet some people offered resistance in ways big and small. Revisit the legacy of the French Resistance to experience life under the Nazi boot.

30 min
A Child and a Pilot in the London Blitz

06: A Child and a Pilot in the London Blitz

Shift your attention across the English Channel, where Britain now faced the Nazi war machine alone. Trace the war in London through the eyes of a Jewish child in the East End, a bureaucrat performing unglamorous duties, and a young Oxford student who flew against Hitler’s Luftwaffe.

27 min
The Besieged at Leningrad

07: The Besieged at Leningrad

When the Nazis invaded Soviet Russia and set up a siege of Leningrad in 1941, none of the city’s inhabitants could envision what life would be like for the next three years. Find out what daily life was like inside “the Ring” of besieged Leningrad through the eyes and diaries of three unforgettable women.

30 min
The Captured and Pursued in the Philippines

08: The Captured and Pursued in the Philippines

Prior to the war, Americans in the Philippines lived in what one infantryman called a “soldier’s paradise.” That all changed when the Japanese invaded shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. From the Bataan Death March to an internment camp in Manila, see what life was like after the fall of the Philippines.

29 min
The US Home Front as a Secret Weapon

09: The US Home Front as a Secret Weapon

One of the great stories from the Second World War is the American manufacturing dynamo. Although 16 million men and women served in uniform, the nation of 130 million mobilized; garnered an abundance of natural resources; advanced the realm of science; and flooded the world with the production of aircraft, tanks, artillery; and so much more.

29 min
James Michener in the South Pacific

10: James Michener in the South Pacific

The unique nature of combat in the South Pacific during World War II took place against a vast, beautiful, sometimes romantic, often forbidding world, largely unknown to most Americans. Travel with a young naval lieutenant (and future historical novelist) named James Michener to explore the cultural clash within the region.

28 min
Masters of Death in Nazi Concentration Camps

11: Masters of Death in Nazi Concentration Camps

To survey the Nazi death camps is to enter a world of slave labor and genocide. Here, you will focus on two high-level German commandants in the system who abetted the atrocities. First, you will see how a businessman profited from the concentration camp system, and then meet a policeman who became the commandant at Treblinka.

30 min
A “Red Tolstoy’s” Vision at Stalingrad

12: A “Red Tolstoy’s” Vision at Stalingrad

The Russian writer Vasily Grossman had ambitions of cataloging the war on the level of Tolstoy. Follow him through the streets of Stalingrad, where fighting raged from house to house. Then, study his astonishing accounts of the Red Army as it pushed the Germans back to Berlin.

30 min
“The Bomber Will Always Get Through”

13: “The Bomber Will Always Get Through”

What was it like to live through the bombing attacks and campaigns in the war? In this lesson, look at the US bombing war against Japanese aircraft carriers in the Pacific and against the Nazi’s oil refineries in Romania. Then, reflect on civilian life under the bombs at Dresden, Germany.

28 min
The Tuskegee Airmen and “the Experiment”

14: The Tuskegee Airmen and “the Experiment”

Race was a fault line in many aspects of the war, especially in the United States as our nation fought for democratic ideals abroad while discriminating at home. Examine the segregated military before the war and review how World War II began to crack the military’s wall of discrimination. Learn about the Tuskegee Airmen.

31 min
US Submariners: “A Breed Apart”

15: US Submariners: “A Breed Apart”

Not only was the war fought around the globe—it was also fought from high in the skies to the depths of the ocean. Venture beneath the unforgiving waters of the Atlantic and Pacific where American submariners conducted a secret, dangerous war. See what life was like in the cramped quarters of these powerful vessels.

26 min
An American Diplomat in the Vatican

16: An American Diplomat in the Vatican

War may be viewed as a failure of diplomacy, yet diplomats played a critical role that affected the lives of millions. Travel to the Vatican and find out how two popes named Pius negotiated the tricky diplomacy of a war that had Catholics on both sides of it. View life in the Vatican through the eyes of President Roosevelt’s “personal envoy.”

32 min
Americans in Britain: Countdown to D-Day

17: Americans in Britain: Countdown to D-Day

The Allied invasion of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, was perhaps the pivotal event of World War II. The story of Americans in Britain leading up to this event is fascinating. Learn about the encounter between two different yet historically related cultures, and the permanent mark the war left on both sides.

28 min
Commanders at the Battle of the Bulge

18: Commanders at the Battle of the Bulge

Hitler’s last, desperate gamble for victory was to launch a surprise winter attack through Belgium’s Ardennes Forest. Victory for the Allies came at an incredible price at the Battle of the Bulge, but it sealed the fate of the Third Reich. Step into the shoes of an Army infantry company commander during this bloody encounter.

28 min
General Slim and the Forgotten Fight

19: General Slim and the Forgotten Fight

Sometimes political circumstances mean a great commander goes overlooked, or a victory left unremembered. Meet British General William Slim, who, in the face of inferior resources, a hostile environment, and long odds, achieved a complete victory in the China-Burma-India Theater—for decades known as the “Forgotten Theater” by many post-war historians.

30 min
The Kamikazes and the Duty to Die

20: The Kamikazes and the Duty to Die

Japanese suicide pilots struck fear in the hearts of their opponents, but the willingness of kamikazes to take the lives of others through their own deaths raises philosophical questions for all involved. Review the historical debate over the kamikazes and reflect on their legacy that haunts the Pacific War.

30 min
The Eyes and Ears of War Correspondents

21: The Eyes and Ears of War Correspondents

War correspondents ranged from radio broadcasters to newspaper writers to photographers and cartoonists. Determined to serve a public hungry for information during a world of censorship and control, journalists covered all aspects of the war and its social impact. Meet some of these correspondents and consider the issues they wrote about.

29 min
Casualty Stories of the Atomic Age

22: Casualty Stories of the Atomic Age

The Pacific War came to a violent and sudden end with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While scholars continue to debate what finally induced Japanese Emperor Hirohito to surrender, there is no doubt the atomic age opened a new era in history. See these events through the eyes of Japanese citizens.

28 min
A Nuremberg Interpreter, a Tokyo Judge

23: A Nuremberg Interpreter, a Tokyo Judge

How does one account for the crimes of war? What does justice mean when the war is over? Here, review the trials of Nuremberg through the vantage point of an interpreter and observer. Then, shift your attention to a tribunal in Tokyo. Reflect on the legal foundation for international law, going forward.

29 min
Survivor Memories: Reliving the Holocaust

24: Survivor Memories: Reliving the Holocaust

The sheer toll of death alone cannot account for the atrocities of the Holocaust. The writings of survivors such as writer Elie Wiesel and historian Saul Friedländer bore witness to the events. Through their written works and that of other survivors and witnesses, collected memories have been captured and continue to endure.

28 min