Best Historical Documentaries on Netflix

I have a strange affinity for historical documentaries, while most people will spend their time on Netflix marathoning through episodes of New Girl and Bob’s Burgers (don’t get me wrong I do that too), I like to spend my evenings learning about the Nazi’s, CIA, and Henry Kissinger. While most of the docs won’t turn you into a history professor they are a good way to learn a little bit about our past.

Here are the best historical documentaries on Netflix.

Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State


This fascinating 6-part series examines the rise and fall of the infamous Nazi death camp. Unlike other documentaries detailing the concentration camp, Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi Camp focuses more on the history of the events than the horrific acts that occurred at Polish torture center. Auschwitz was first constructed to hold political prisoners but was later converted into the epicenter of Hitler’s “final solution”.

Featuring interviews from survivors and inmates alike this documentary is one of the least sensational views into life under Nazi control.

The Man Nobody Knew

Part history lesson and part personal journey. The Man Nobody Knew tells the tale of former CIA Director William Colby and his son’s search to discover who he actually is. This documentary is directed by Carl Colby as he investigates his father’s personality and his mysterious death. William Colby began his life as an operative in World War II, before acting as a spy to subvert communism in Italy. Later Colby was involved in a 1963 coup in Vietnam and became Director of the CIA.

An accomplished sailor, Colby died during a kayaking trip near his home; foul play is suspected.

Ken Burns: The War


Literally any of Ken Burns’ documentaries can be placed on this list. The man literally can’t do wrong. Over the years he has profiled everything from baseball and prohibition to the Civil War and Jazz. Burn’s unique style of storytelling blends still images, historical interviews and re creations.

This particular documentary series follows the beginnings and aftermath of World War II.

Sacco and Vanzetti


This documentary covers the controversial trial of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian-American anarchists falsely accused of murder in the 1920’s. The duo were eventually executed for their “crimes”. Sacco and Vanzetti outlines the flaws in the American justice system and American issues of xenophobia in 1920’s.