Thursday, May 29, 2014

Open Letter: These Are Facts People

Dear History Channel:

No one was more excited to find out that you were doing a documentary entitled "The World Wars." I guarantee you no one ran to their Tivo's faster than I did. World War I is kind of my wheelhouse. I only spent 6 years of college studying it. I wrote my Master Thesis on the diplomacy and events that led up to WWI (if you would like to torture yourself reading it, send me an email and I'll send you the link). That thesis took 2 years and over 100 hours of research mostly on documents from 1890-1914 some in French or German.

So let me say that no one was more upset and disappointed in the choices you made in this "documentary". You spent the first 10 minutes talking about Hitler before WWI even started. You completely glossed over all the causes of WWI. Hell, you didn't even explain why Franz Ferdinand getting shot caused the war. It was like Archduke was shot and the war started.

Then instead of talking about the war itself: the battles, the diplomacy, the motivations of these countries; you instead focus on Hitler as a messenger in the German Army, Patton and his tanks, and Churchill. You don't even talk about Verdun and the Somme, two of the biggest (and most deadly) battles of the war.  You don't even talk about the French Army sending troops in taxicabs to Paris as the German army was literally about to take the city. That's at least an entertaining story.

But then you go onto say that Germany surrendered in WWI. I nearly choked on my soda when that was said. There is a very BIG difference between an armistice and a surrender. You might as well say North Korea surrendered in the Korean war if you are going to equate those two words.


My list of other grievances includes:
  • Not giving any mention to the long-standing anti-semitism in Germany that existed long before Hitler came about.
  • Not mention of Hitler coming to power through democratic methods
  • The one sad mention of Lenin and how you made it seem like he single-highhandedly overthrew the Tsar (who had abdicated the throne months earlier).
  • Failing to note that half of Czechoslovakia and all of Austria wanted Germany to annex them.  It's was hardly a hostile takeover.
  • Glossing over both the Pacific Theater and the African theater of WWII, with no mention of the Japanese atrocities during the war.
  • Covering WWII with no mention of Eisenhower. Eisenhower was far and away 100xs more important in WWII than Patton or MacArthur.

My list actually goes on and on but I doubt anyone reading this cares. I'm just very disappointed in you, History Channel, you had the chance to make a really great documentary that could have been both entertaining and informative. Yet, you choose to gloss over or completely neglect the complex and nuanced causes for the war, ignore major battles and got basic facts wrong. You choose to focus on 6 big personalities from the wars instead of the actual events. I'm sorry, no one needs another Hitler or Patton documentary.

It almost feels like you choose to dumb down the history of the two world wars because you felt like the American public couldn't handle the complex reasons and nuances of the wars. It's like you felt there had to be a black and white good guy vs bad guy story for Americans to understand it or even watch. That's just not fair to the American people or the facts of the wars. Plus it's shitty history at best.

Sincerely (and please do better next time),
Historians
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