One of the curious things about the History Channel is just how little history it often contains. Between shows about UFOs, mountain men, Louisiana alligator wranglers, pawnshops, and Bigfoot, history usually takes a back seat. That is why when the History Channel does tackle an ambitious project such as The World Wars, it is cause for celebration.
All in all, the show is well done, with actors portraying Hitler, Churchill, Patton, MacArthur, Mussolini, and Stalin, among others. The visuals are mostly right as well, although it sometimes looks like even the Germans were equipped with the British Enfield rifle and Hitler’s Bavarian regiment was issued steel helmets at the beginning of the war in 1914, while the rest of the army had to wait until 1916. But these are minor quibbles, and don’t really detract from the overall authenticity of the presentation. All in all, it is a sound effort, fascinating and very well done.
There is one inaccuracy, however, that is more basic and more serious. When talking about the Russian Revolution, The World Wars tells us that the Bolsheviks/Communists went to the Winter Palace and “toppled the Czar”, starting up the Soviet Union. This is such a basic error, you have to wonder who approved the script. In fact, when the Bolsheviks/Communists stormed the Winter Palace in October, the Czar was already toppled. He had abdicated six months earlier, and was under virtual house arrest elsewhere. The Imperial Parliament had set up a Provisional Government to replace him, while the Bolsheviks and other leftist elements had set up the Petrograd Soviet. The so called October Revolution was actually a coup d’etat in which the Bolsheviks./Communists overthrew not the Czar, but the Provisonal government that had already overthrown the Czar. Once in power, the Communists promoted the idea that they alone had gotten rid of the Czar.
Admittedly, it’s a little complicated, but you would think that the History Channel would get it right.