World War II Movies for Students (Non-Holocaust)

Valkyrie

There were over 42 assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler’s lifeValkyrie shines a light on one close attempt by German army officer Claus von Stauffenberg. In July 1944, von Stauffenberg was part of a group that was planning to assassinate Hitler with a bomb, and immediately surrender to the Allies after his death.

Unfortunately, the plan failed. Hitler committed suicide nine months later, doing what so many others had attempted to do. Despite having a tragic, predictable ending, the movie is fast-paced without relying on drama to get it through. Image credit: Valkyrie

Red Tails

The Tuskegee Airmen, also known as the brave Red Tails, were a group of African American men who signed up willingly to join a troop of military pilots in WWII. These fighter pilots faced hardship from the Nazis in the skies while also contending with intense racism on the ground in the very country they strove to protect. The Red Tails were assigned routes between Italy and North Africa and also aided in operations against German planes. Even without the backing of their country, a lack of resources, and inferior equipment, the Red Tail’s contributions to the war effort were enormous and invaluable. 

The Book Thief

German teenager Liesel finds her world turned upside down when she tragically loses her younger brother and is forced to move into a new home in quick succession. As she tries to catch her balance, she steals a book that becomes her lifeline – the last link to her dead brother. Reading it with her Papa helps stir something in Liesel, and she continues to steal books. She takes them from the book burnings organized by the Nazis, the mayor’s wife’s library, even bookstores, and each time she does, she shares them with others and finds a bit of healing for herself. 

Operation Mincemeat

Rewind to 1943, where Allied forces are hard at work to put a stop to the world’s menace: Hitler. They create a plan that sounds promising – an all-out assault on Sicily, Italy. However, the plan’s major flaw is that most of the invading troops will be essentially sacrificed for the cause. Intelligence officers Ewen Montagu and Charles Cholmondeley are tasked with throwing the Axis powers off the scent, and they do so in the most unlikely way: with false information spread through a dead man. 

The Monuments Men

An Allied-force platoon is tasked with infiltrating war-torn Germany and stealing back valuable art pieces from right under the Nazi’s noses. In a heart-pounding race against time, the group saves over 1,000 masterpieces from being erased from history forever. 

Valkyrie (Two-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy) [DVD]The Book ThiefUNBROKEN - MOVIE [DVD] [2014]

 

 

Operation Finale

In 1960, after the end of WWII and the death of Adolf Hitler, Peter Malkin is charged with traveling to Argentina to capture Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi officer. Malkin knows that Eichmann, the mastermind behind the plans that captured and killed millions of Jews, is hiding in South America, and he is determined to track him down at any cost. 

Empire of the Sun

English lad Jamie Graham is residing in Shanghai when Japanese forces invade, capturing all foreigners and ushering them to a prison camp. Basie, an American soldier captured alongside Jamie, takes it upon himself to look out for the boy. Despite the separation from his parents, Jamie maintains a spirit of youthful optimism that provides a blessed relief to the other prisoners around him. 

Sophie Scholl

German college student Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans are members of the anti-war movement White Rose. When Sophie, her brother, and a friend are arrested for distributing anti-war leaflets, the three are tried under old judicial laws that sentence all of them to death and test the strength of their convictions. 

Dunkirk

In the spring of 1940, soldiers from the British and French armies find themselves cornered in a small French port town called Dunkirk. The wide open sea is before them and seems an obvious escape route, but German forces control the airspace above and will annihilate anyone who tries to sail out through the port. In a last-ditch effort to save as many lives as possible, a weary British Navy fleet and a few civilian boats give their best to evacuate whoever they can – at immense risk and cost. 

DunkirkThe King's SpeechEmpire of the Sun [DVD] [1987]

 

 

Greyhound

United States Navy Commander George Krause is put in charge of a fleet of 37 ships from America to England across the Atlantic Ocean. He knows the journey will be perilous, as the ships containing necessary supplies must travel through a minefield of German submarines that lurk below the waves. For 48 hours of sea-journey, Commander Krause expertly navigates the ships through the dangerous, icy waters, protecting $50 million in supplies and the lives of 3,000 men. 

Unbroken

The incredible story of Louis Zamperini’s survival as a prisoner of war. When Louis’ military plane went down over the water, he managed to stay alive on a raft for almost 50 days before being captured by the Japanese. This is an incredible story of survival, resilience, redemption, and forgiveness.

King’s Speech

As a royal and now the crowned king, George VI can no longer hide his prominent stammer from the public eye. His regular appearances and speeches in front of thousands of people and cameras galore are embarrassing and painful for him, so he begins working closely with a speech therapist. Together the two work to help him gain the confidence needed to step up in front of a crowd and deliver a message with the poise his country needs to see from their leader. 











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