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6 Videos That Help Students Understand World War II

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For history teachers, videos can be a powerful tool to contextualize events that seem intangible, or too far distant in the past. When it comes to World War II, specifically, this collection of videos put together by YouTube Education's Angela Lin, bring a variety of perspectives for students to consider. In the mix, the topics cover the geopolitical significance of the war, as well as personal lives affected in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

For more tips on ideas for using videos, check out the MindShift Teacher's Guide to Using Videos.

This video is one of the many fabulous educational creations John Green creates about all things history. Here, Green explains why World War has made such a lasting impact on the world and what lessons can be learned from its tragedy. It's the war sped up and is about as funny as war can be.

Created by the U.S.Holocaust Memorial Museum, this video is the touching story of Sol Finkelstein, a Polish Jew separated from his father at a concentration camp just days before liberation. Not knowing what became of his father and guilt for not protecting him have plagued Finkelstein until his son and the museum helped find some answers.

This BBC Worldwide video remembers the horror that the atom bomb caused when it was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Often the battles fought in the Pacific during World War II are overshadowed by the horrific stories of Nazi concentration camps. This video brings the people who became collatoral damage to the forefront.

The Library of Congress' video on how the war changed U.S. labor relations is an important part of the World War II narrative. The video takes a look at the iconic Rosie the Riveter image that's become synonomous with women's war work, breaking down the myth. What's left behind is the beginning of a real change in the country's women who were no longer content to be housewives.

Allen Packwood, the Director of the Churchill Archives at the University of Cambridge dissect's the famous speech Churchill gave in 1940 to prepare the British people of the long, hard days of war to come. The audio and photos reveal how much care Churchill took with this speech and its power to move people.

A piece of war time propaganda, this War Stories video reminds Americans why they must ration their food and how important American farming is to the war effort. It features an appearance by the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service who pleads with Americans to eat properly to maintain health, but also be willing to sacrifice. An interesting artifact and great teaching tool for analyzing government messages to citizens during war.


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