The Great Videos of “The Great War”

Conrad von Hotzendorf Scumbag Hat

Conrad von Hötzendorf was the Austrian general behind the start of the war. Watching the series, I have to say he sounds like a real douchebag.

There was a time in the early 2000s where history documentaries were few and far between. The History Channel, once a haven for history buffs, moved to showing reality shows. For a while, there was no good alternative, but nowadays we have YouTube. Recently I discovered a new YouTube channel to binge watch. It’s called “The Great War”, and it will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about World War I, and then some.

World War I in “Real Time”

“The Great War” has an interesting gimmick. It covers the First World War in “real time”, a hundred years later. So if you tune in on say, March 16, 2017, you can hear the news of Tsar Nicholas II abdicating the throne of Russia on March 15, 1917. It’s almost like watching the news. And just like watching the news, it can be a sobering experience. When you learn about wars in history class, you memorize a few battles and offensives, viewing the experience as a giant chess game. But on a week-to-week basis, you see the futility in all its bloody horror. It really helps you see World War I for what it was: a global tragedy, and not just an elaborate game.

In Depth Coverage

There is a downside to watching World War I play out week by week. Watching the events unfold in real time, you lose perspective of the big picture. Thankfully, “The Great War” has you covered. In addition to the weekly videos, they make topic-based videos: in depth looks about specific battles, countries and people. So if you want to learn more about what J.R.R. Tolkien did in the war, you can find out. They also do a series of Q&A videos. Called “Out of the Trenches”, these videos are much more casual, with the host, Indy Neidell, cracking jokes and being silly. But despite the silliness, “The Great War” never strays from its intellectual roots. There is thankfully no hint of the reality show components you find on cable TV.

Bringing Light to a Forgotten War

It would be disingenuous to say that World War I was forgotten, but it’s often overshadowed by World War II. Even back in the glory days of the History Channel, World War II so dominated the discussion that we often called it “The Hitler Channel”. So it’s really good to see the first conflict get better coverage. In many ways, World War II was the culmination of World War I. To study the Second World War while eschewing the first is a great sin. I’m glad to see “The Great War” bring light to this pivotal moment in history, so that we can avoid ever reliving such horror.

Have you watched “The Great War” on YouTube? If so, what did you think? Do you have any other history-oriented YouTube channels you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comment section.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs regularly at

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4 Responses

  1. March 29, 2017

    […] World War I was a pointless conflict that wasted money and human lives for four long years. By 1917, Russia was at its breaking point. Soon Tsar Nicholas II had no choice but to abdicate. But even without the tsar, the Russian Provisional Government continued to support the war effort. In stepped the Bolsheviks later that year. Led by the charismatic Vladimir Lenin, they promised to end the war and rebuild the nation. The day after taking Petrograd, Lenin started negotiations with the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. They met that winter in the Belarusian city of Brest to discuss and end to hostilities on the Eastern Front. […]

  2. March 29, 2017

    […] Army”. Though it’s closely associated with World War II, it was first created during World War I by an artist named J.M. Flagg. But like “The Office”, “House of Cards’ and […]

  3. March 29, 2017

    […] end, Moresnet/Amikejo was no match for the German Army. The state ceased to function in 1914, when Germany invaded Belgium. After the war, the Treaty of Versailles eliminated Moresnet once and for all, making the entire […]

  4. March 29, 2017

    […] reality shows are popular and profitable doesn’t mean there isn’t any money in more traditional documentaries. There’s still a market for a true History Channel, and I hope that someone out there figures […]

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