“Why We Fight: The Battle of Britain” was released in 1943 and was produced and directed by Frank Capra.  Capra did seven documentaries that were in the “Why We Fight” series.  Commissioned by the Office of War Information, the films were originally done as orientation films for servicemen who were to be deployed overseas.  They are, in essence, American propaganda.   

Once France fell to the Germans, Britain was vulnerable.  Hitler was determined to bring the island nation under his control and thereby the whole of Western Europe.  To do that he designed a three-phase plan for the invasion of England that he felt would ensure his success.  The first phase was to knock out the royal air force (RAF) and its bases.  The aim was to control the air and sea lanes across the channel.  Phase two required the use of dive bombers to attack the coastline.  Then drop paratroopers to take over the airfields and beach heads.  Phase three would be the actual invasion of Great Britain with boots on the ground by sending barges with troops being ferried across the channel and planes in the air to protect them.

Hitler’s plans didn’t account for the tenacity of the British people.  He bombs England for a year without breaking the British spirit or the British forces.  Having seen what Hitler did while invading other nations, the English are not as vulnerable to a surprise attack.  Although much of Britain is laid to ruin, German troops never set foot on British soil.  This time Hitler gets some of what he gives.  British forces bomb German factories.  In air battles the Germans suffer severe losses at the hands of the RAF and volunteers from other countries.  For a time, the only thing coming between the Nazi’s and world domination is a small island known as England.

This episode has also come under criticism by historians for its depiction of the occupation of Poland incorrectly.  The film references part of Poland as being free.  According to historian Mieczysław B. Biskupski, the “free” part of Poland was actually under Soviet occupation.  He further states that some of the information in the film regarding Poland was actually German propaganda.  Suspicion is that the Soviet’s atrocities were minimized since, at the time, they were considered part of the allied forces.

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