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The Second World War

The following clips have teachers’ notes related to this topic:

Recollection of childhood

from the documentary Angst (PG)

Three Jewish comedians, Deb Filler from New Zealand, Sandy Gutman (Austen Tayshus) from Melbourne and American Moshe Waldoks, talk about their childhoods as children of Holocaust survivors.

A war of nerves

from the television program Australians at War – The Thin Khaki Line (PG)

Australia’s 'chocolate soldiers’ were all that stood between Australia and the highly trained and jungle-prepared Japanese forces. They were called 'chocos’ or 'chocolate soldiers’ because it was thought they would melt in the heat …

The battle for the Middle East

from the television program Australians at War – The Thin Khaki Line (PG)

One of the great artillery battles of the Second World War was fought in the desert near El Alamein. The extent of the battle was seen from the air by an Australian fighter pilot who …

Hitler’s fifth columnists

from the newsreel Australia Today – Australia's 5th Column (G)

This clip opens with type scrolling over a background screen declaring that Australia is at war and threatened by a ruthless enemy. The enemies, according to the newsreel, are ‘agents of Germany’ or ‘Hitler’s …

‘The enemy within’

from the newsreel Australia Today – Australia's 5th Column (G)

This clip suggests that Nazi agents already reside in Australia and that government officials work day and night to stamp out the ‘enemy within’. The audience is called upon as ‘loyal citizens’ to do their …

Menzies in Cairo

from the home movie Australia to England via Tobruk and Benghazi: Menzies Wartime Tour (PG)

This clip from a Menzies home movie features the Prime Minister inspecting Australian troops stationed in Cairo in 1941. We then see him inspecting Bardia, Tobruk and Benghazi from the air before arriving at an …

Pearl Harbor

from the documentary The Battleships (PG)

Without a declaration of war, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor in Hawaii with 350 aircraft. The unexpected attack destroys 21 US vessels including eight battleships. The USA declares war on Japan.

Belsen remembered

from the documentary Belsen For Example (M)

Max, an Australian survivor of Belsen concentration camp, is shown some photos taken at the camp for the first time. He recognises his brother in a photo and recalls life in the camp.

Concentration camp war trials

from the documentary Belsen For Example (PG)

SS Guards from the Belsen concentration camp are put on trial before a British military court, with sentences ultimately ranging from hanging to release. The narrator wonders why the British Army did not pursue more …


from the documentary Breakout (PG)

Mr Takahara walks around the prison camp. The narration asserts that, to the prisoners, the camp was an alien and unfriendly place and explains Japan’s strong militaristic tradition based on the samurai ethic. In …


from the documentary Breakout (PG)

The Japanese POWs were apprehensive about going home after the war. In interview, Mr Takahara speaks about his return to a family that had already conducted his funeral and called him …

The breakout

from the feature film Broken Sun (PG)

Kamimura (Kuni Hashimoto), the Japanese prisoner leading the outbreak, addresses his fellow prisoners and prepares them for the glory of imminent death. The men then begin their breakout in a brief sequence that quickly segues …

Menzies home movies

from the documentary Canberra Files, The (PG)

This montage of clips from the Menzies Home Movie Collection features footage from Menzies’ wartime tour in 1941, including Tobruk, Palestine, Cairo, Jerusalem, Khartoum and England during the Blitz. It ends with close-ups of the …


from the home movie Christmas Crackers (G)

This clip begins with Mrs Sprod and her daughter Kathleen preparing for the homecoming of their loved ones. Kathleen’s baby daughter Jill gives them a hand. They fix their wooden fence, trim the hedges …

Christmas Day at home, 1945

from the home movie Christmas Crackers (G)

With all three brothers home in time for Christmas, the men relax in the sun for an afternoon drink with their uncle Stan. Mrs Sprod, Kathleen and her aunt Mary also enjoy Christmas day and …

‘Baffled, dismayed and slow to understand’

from the television program Compass – Changi Days, POW Poets (PG)

Many of the soldiers who were now POWs had come out of the Depression and hadn’t had much education. For many of them, Changi became their university.

‘You’re going home’

from the television program Compass – Changi Days, POW Poets (PG)

Jim Connor was one of those POWs who survived the war and wondered whether he could survive the peace. An Anzac nurse helped him with compassion and kindness to find his …

Giving peace a chance

from the television program Compass – Quakers: Seeking the Light Within (PG)

This clip features an interview with Sarah Davies, a Quaker who comes from a family of Quakers. Her grandfather was a conscientious objector during the Second World War. Sarah herself has travelled with the World …

According to the Geneva Conventions

from the television program The Cowra Breakout (PG)

Corporal Stan Davidson (Alan David Lee) is still recovering from his war injury when he’s posted to the prisoner of war (POW) camp at Cowra. He assumes he’ll be guarding Italian prisoners. The …

‘Let’s try to put it all behind us’

from the television program The Dirtwater Dynasty (PG)

Richard Eastwick (Hugo Weaving) has a second son, Richie (Robert Menzies), who has returned from the Second World War a broken man. He was a prisoner of war of the Japanese and seems unable to …

The appeal

from the television program The Dunera Boys – Episode 2 (PG)

Mr Baum (Warren Mitchell) has become unhinged by the injustice of his internment. He’s harmless enough but he has made himself the camp spokesman and has approached the soldiers on duty in the tower …

Bomb shelter

from the home movie Dyer, Frederick Simpson: Milkshakes and Bomb Shelter (G)

This clip from a black-and-white home movie shows two young girls and a boy entering a bomb shelter in their backyard. The boy wears a military cap and waves from the top of the shelter …

Meet the Squander Bug

from the advertisement First Victory Home Loan: Squander Bug (G)

This animated propaganda film from 1945 was used to persuade Australians to invest their savings in the national war chest. The Squander Bug, complete with a large stomach covered in swastikas, is told by Hitler …

The horrors of Hiroshima

from the documentary Green Tea and Cherry Ripe (G)

Masako Clarke describes her memories of leaving Hiroshima on a train in the early hours of 6 August 1945, the morning that the atom bomb was dropped on the city. Clarke recalls hearing a loud …

‘It’s just outside our door’

from the newsreel Kokoda Front Line! (PG)

This clip includes footage filmed by Damien Parer of Papuan stretcher bearers carrying wounded Australian troops from the 39th Battalion along the Kokoda trail through dense jungle terrain and across a river. The voice-over commentary …

The Kokoda Trail

from the home movie Kokoda Trail, Cadets from Scots College (G)

This clip shows students from Scots College on the final leg of their seven day trek through the Owen Stanley Ranges towards Kokoda in Papua New Guinea. They navigate their way across a makeshift log …

Kesselring and Goering

from the documentary Last Plane Out of Berlin (G)

Australian aviator and businessman, Sidney Cotton, conned Field Marshall Albert Kesselring into flying his plane over the Rhine so that Cotton could photograph German war installations for British intelligence. Cotton also photographed the country house …

Into battle

from the television program The Legend of Damien Parer (PG)

Damien Parer’s first taste of battle was with the British infantry in the Middle East. He quickly learned that if he wanted to get the shots that best showed men in action, then he …

London, the Blitz, April 1941

from the home movie Menzies' Wartime Tour – England (PG)

This clip from a home movie taken by Australian Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, captures London during the Blitz. It begins with an intertitle that introduces the subject and records that is ‘London the Blitz …


from the newsreel Movietone Special: Peace: Australia Celebrates (G)

This clip shows joyous celebrations erupting in Sydney streets at the declaration of peace after the Japanese surrender. Footage includes enormous crowds crammed shoulder to shoulder in the city. A tracking shot from a moving …

HMAS Sydney’s Carley float

from the documentary National Treasures – HMAS Sydney's Carley Float (PG)

A tiny, war-ravaged liferaft from the HMAS Sydney is our only physical link to Australia’s worst-ever naval disaster.

Lucky shot

from the documentary No Survivors: The Mysterious Loss of the HMAS Sydney (PG)

The HMAS Sydney was drawn into battle with the German raider HSK Kormoran off the Western Australian coast on 19 November 1941. Early in the engagement the Sydney was fatally hit and both vessels sank …

‘Work or die’

from the documentary Paying For the Past (PG)

Slave labourers were used by German industry during the Second World War. Siemens, BMW and Krupp are named. Survivors Kitia Altman and Abraham Biderman recall the horrors of being slave labourers.

‘We want an apology’

from the documentary Paying For the Past (PG)

The organisation The Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany seeks to compensate the victims of slave and forced labour by German industry during the Second World War. Karen Heilig works for victims and …

‘Victims’ justice is going to prevail’

from the documentary Paying For the Past (PG)

President Rau of Germany publicly apologises to the forced and slave labourers used by German industry during the Second World War. German lawyer Dr Michael Vitti says that getting closure is difficult for the Holocaust …

‘A warning to the world’

from the documentary Public Enemy Number One (PG)

Wilfred Burchett was the first journalist to report from the site of atomic devastation at Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. He labelled the effect on human beings as 'atomic plague’. Archival footage shows victims being treated …

The POW Street Adoption Scheme

from the advertisement Red Cross Cinema Advertisement: The Prisoner of War Street Adoption Scheme (G)

In a direct address to the camera, Governor of Queensland Sir Leslie Wilson appeals to Queenslanders to support the Red Cross Prisoner of War Street Adoption Scheme. He appeals to individuals, communities and businesses to …

War bonds march

from the home movie Roberts, John: Anzac Day march Adelaide, South Australia and other segments (G)

This black-and-white segment shows part of a war bonds march held in Adelaide in 1941. The march includes tanks and floats displaying slogans to buy more war loan bonds; floats covered with Australian flags and …

Nations parade

from the home movie Roberts, John: Anzac Day march Adelaide, South Australia and other segments (G)

This colour segment begins with flags from a range of countries leading a nations parade through the streets of Adelaide. Elaborate floats representing various countries including France, China, Greece, the Netherlands and (the former) Yugoslavia …

Rehabilitation and re-education

from the documentary Searchlight on Japan (PG)

This clip begins with a montage of people on the streets of postwar Japan. The narrator explains that the American Allied occupation forces are transforming Japan from a ‘military dictatorship’ into a democracy. The next …

‘30 million Matsuno-sans’

from the documentary Searchlight on Japan (PG)

This clip begins with scenes of traditional and civilian life in Japan. Matsuno-san, according to the narrator, is an educated civilian of 'good type and a family man’. He reads at home with his family …

‘Our saviours have arrived’

from the documentary Secret Fleets (PG)

As the Battle Hymn of the Republic ('Glory, Glory Hallelujah’) plays on the soundtrack, the American submariners arrive secretly in Fremantle south of Perth, Western Australia. Though deemed 'secret’ everyone knew that the 'Yanks’ were …

‘Working on the home front’

from the sponsored film South-west Pacific (G)

This clip tells the story of a civilian worker who joined the war by helping to make engines and aircraft for the allies. His address to camera – filmed at a workbench against back projection of …

Women join the war effort

from the sponsored film South-west Pacific (G)

Gwennie (Muriel Steinbeck) is just one of the thousands of women who have joined the war effort – she works in a munitions factory putting trinitrotoluene, or TNT, into shells. She explains that in the last …

‘To show mercy where war shows none’

from the sponsored film They Serve (G)

The Red Cross provides assistance for servicemen fighting overseas. Scenes of battle and war contextualise their work. A recovering serviceman becomes a ‘son, brother, father and sweetheart’. By helping the Red Cross, the narration explains …

London, 1945

from the home movie Visit of Deputy PM Forde to UN Conference (G)

This is mute footage shot around London while Deputy Prime Minister Forde was attending the Commonwealth Statesmen’s Meeting held from 4 to 13 April 1945.

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