The official World War II US Government film statement defining the various enemies of the Allies and why they must be fought.


(uncredited), (uncredited)

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Credited cast:
Victor Bulwer-Lytton ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Lord Lytton)
Kai-Shek Chiang ...
Himself (archive footage) (as General Chaing Kai-Shek)
Walter Darré ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Darré)
Otto Dietrich ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Dietrich)
Hans Frank ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Frank)
Joseph Goebbels ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Doctor Goebbels)
Hermann Göring ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Goring)
Rudolf Hess ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Hess)
Himself (archive footage) (as Hitler)
Saburo Kurusu ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Kurusu)
Robert Ley ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Ley)
Yosuke Matsuoka ...
Himself (archive footage)
Frank McCoy ...
Himself (archive footage)
Benito Mussolini ...
Himself (archive footage)
Henry Pu-yi ...
Himself (archive footage)


This famous propaganda piece, used as a U.S. Army training film in WWII before theatrical release, asks 'why we fight.' The answer compares the 'free' and 'slave' worlds. Included: development of dictatorships in Italy, Germany and Japan, while anti-militarism and isolationism rise in the USA; a look at enemy propaganda; and the first acts of aggression. Walter Huston narrates a combination of archival footage, maps, and other graphics. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

27 May 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Why We Fight, 1  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This documentary is the first film in Frank Capra's seven-film 'Why We Fight' documentary film series. See more »


Followed by The Battle of Britain (1943) See more »


Battle Hymn of the Republic
(ca 1856) (uncredited)
Written by William Steffe
Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe (1862)
Sung by an offscreen chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

Jingoistic and propaganda documentary co-realized by Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak
2 June 2010 | by See all my reviews

¨Why we fight ? ¨ , results to be a series of seven information films Special Service Division Information Film , produced by the War department , SOS , with cooperation of research Council Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences . This film the first of a series has been prepared by the War Department to acquaint members of the Army with factual information as to the causes , the events , leading up to our entry into the War and the principles for which we are fighting.

E. G. Marshall chief of staff tells : ¨A knowledge of these facts in an indispensable part of military training and merits the thoughtful consideration of every American soldier ¨ . ¨We are determined that before the sun set on this terrible struggles , our flags will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand , an overwhelming power on the other ; no compromise is possible and the victory of the democracies can only be complete with the latter defeat of the war machines of Germany and Japan¨. And Vice-President Henry Wallace says : ¨This is a fight between a free world and slave World ¨.

Meanwhile in Germany, Italy and Germany is prohibited the reunion , public assembly of more than five persons is strictly forbidden, violators will be prosecuted ; only the application of brutal force used continuously and ruthlessly can bring about the decision in favor of the side it supports : ¨Mein Kampf¨ . As foes of Putch slain in Munich, the ex-premier crushed Hitler's attempt to seize power in 1923 ; in Italy Giacomo Matteotti socialist leader murdered to silence him and slain by Italian Fascisti ; in Japan General Watanabe and Viscount Saito are assassinated by Tokyo clique and Japanese statesman murdered in bed by rebel force of Army officers, plus Inspector General of Military Education slain by group of young rebels and Inoyuye Minister of Finance is also slain . Furthermore in Germany Roehm assassinated in Nazi purge with hundreds dead . Hitler attempts the Christian cross is to be removed from all churches and cathedrals and is to be replaced by the immortal symbol of Germany, the swastika. Berlin , 1935, 700.000 members of the Protestant youth organizations were forced to disband , Nazis storm cardinal Faulhaber's palace and bricks and clubs are hurled at windows . Pastor Niemoller is sent to prison camp and other Pastors are imprisoned in homes ; Nazis jail priests , friars and nuns , arrest follows search and rampage of convents and monasteries. Nazis vent rage on Jews , riots all over Germany, mobs kill , loot and burn . The fascism , Imperialism and Nazism have their own slogans as Hitler says : ¨I want to see again in the eyes of youth the gleam of the beats of prey ¨ ; as Japanese Army slogan : ¨To die emperor is to live forever ¨; as Mussolini : ¨Three cheers for war , noble and beautiful above all ¨ .

The film terminates with a patriotic words : ¨Victory of the democracies can only be completed with utter defeat of the war machines of Germany , Italy and Japan ¨. The story is interestingly written by Philip and Julius Epstein , Casablanca's writers . This documentary-propaganda is well directed by Frank Capra and by Anatole Litvak , though uncredited .

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