Watch 400+ Documentaries from German Broadcaster Deutsche Welle: Art Forgery, Fashion Photography, the Mona Lisa, and More

You’re cer­tain­ly famil­iar with Nou­velle Vague, the “French new wave” that shook up world cin­e­ma in the mid-2oth cen­tu­ry. You’ve prob­a­bly also heard of Hal­lyu, the “Kore­an wave” of pop music and tele­vi­sion dra­mas (and, increas­ing­ly, films) now crash­ing across not just Asia but the West. As for Deutsche Welle, lit­er­al­ly the “Ger­man wave,” you may know the term bet­ter in its abbre­vi­at­ed form: DW, the brand of Ger­many’s pub­lic inter­na­tion­al broad­cast­er. Here on Open Cul­ture we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured DW’s series Bauhaus World, a cel­e­bra­tion of that influ­en­tial Ger­man school of art, archi­tec­ture, and design, but it’s just one of 415 doc­u­men­taries free to watch on the DW Doc­u­men­tary Youtube chan­nel.

DW’s doc­u­men­tar­i­ans have a thor­ough­ly inter­na­tion­al man­date, as evi­denced by their pop­u­lar exam­i­na­tions of the dic­ta­to­r­i­al regime of North Korea, Bul­gar­i­a’s Roma mar­riage mar­ket, extrav­a­gant wealth in cen­tral Africa, and dire pover­ty in the Unit­ed States. You can also browse the archive through themed playlists rang­ing from pol­i­tics and eco­nom­ics to human nature and soci­ety to cul­ture and arts.

That last sec­tion, no doubt of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to Open Cul­ture read­ers, demon­strates DW’s advan­tage as a long-stand­ing broad­cast­er sit­u­at­ed in the heart of Europe. Where bet­ter to start learn­ing about Goth­ic and Romanesque cathe­drals, top elec­tron­ic dance music DJs, Mar­tin Luther and the Ref­or­ma­tion, or the truth behind the Last Sup­per and the Mona Lisa?

Even more inter­est lies in DW’s explo­rations of less­er-known top­ics like the trea­sures of Turk­menistan, fak­ery in the art world, and Berlin’s Lit­tle Hanoi. There are also pro­files of such Ger­man fig­ures as Peter Lind­bergh, the late fash­ion and adver­tis­ing pho­tog­ra­ph­er count­ed as an inspi­ra­tion by the likes of Wim Wen­ders, and Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, out­go­ing pres­i­dent of the Goethe-Insti­tut, a nat­ur­al sub­ject for DW to cov­er. Found­ed with­in a cou­ple of years of one anoth­er, both DW and the Goethe-Insti­tut take the pro­mo­tion of Ger­man cul­ture abroad as a large part of their mis­sion — and both do so in the knowl­edge that, to get oth­er soci­eties inter­est­ed in your cul­ture, you’ve got to show gen­uine inter­est in all of theirs as well. Explore the com­plete list of DW doc­u­men­taries here. And find more doc­u­men­taries online in our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch 3,000+ Films Free Online from the Nation­al Film Board of Cana­da

Watch Bauhaus World, a Free Doc­u­men­tary That Cel­e­brates the 100th Anniver­sary of Germany’s Leg­endary Art, Archi­tec­ture & Design School

Beat Club, the 1960s TV Show That Brought Rock Music to 70 Mil­lion Kids in Ger­many, Hun­gary, Thai­land, Tan­za­nia & Beyond

285 Free Doc­u­men­taries Online

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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