War of The Century (1999) When Hitler Fought Stalin - BBC

War of The Century (16/20)

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Documentary Description

War of The Century

In June 1941, Hitler broke the golden rule of warfare never to fight on opposite fronts and marched into the Soviet Union. What would drive him to make the most catastrophic mistake of World War II? This acclaimed four-part series investigates what led to the largest military operation in history - and the bloodiest. Assisted by leading historians and granted unique access to Eastern film archives and to both Soviet and German participants, War of the Century is the definitive series on a war that shaped the borders and attitudes of Europe for the second half of the 20th Century.

The War of the Century: When Hitler Fought Stalin, is a BBC documentary film series that examines Adolf Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and the "no holds barred" war on both sides. Not only it examines the war but also the terror inside the Soviet Union at the time due to the paranoia of Joseph Stalin--the revenge atrocities, the purge of the armed forces, the near-lunacy orders, and the paranoia of being upstaged by others, especially Marshal Zhukov. The historical adviser is Prof. Ian Kershaw.

Reviews from Amazon.com:

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful:

By Dave (Tennessee United States) - See all my reviews


I first saw this on the History Channel several years ago and was quite impressed. There aren't enough WW2 documentaries on the eastern front and this one sheds new light on several areas of the conflict. For example, newly-declassified Soviet documents shown in this film prove that secret "peace talks" between Soviet and German officials did in fact take place and furthur more, evidence is shown that Stalin had refused to believe that Hitler would ever invade the Soviet Union after their peace pact was signed in 1939.

There is incredible footage shown of Barbarossa, including rare color scenes which I'd never scene before. Of course, famous battles like Stalingrad and Leningrad are covered, but I wish there'd been more coverage of lesser-known battles. But there's only so much you can show in 200 minutes. There are very interesting interviews with Russian and German soldiers and civilians, each one telling of their experiences in the brutal conflict in which millions lost their lives. Several of the veterans, both Russian and German, admit to killing innocent civilians and executing prisoners (one even says "What else could we do?").

The segment on the fall of Berlin was one of the most compelling in my opinion. One Russian veteran admitted that rival Russian units were competing to see who could take over the capitol first, and they even shot at each other! And of course, German civilians tell of the many rapes and murders committed by the Russian troops as they sought vengeance on the German population. On the other hand, Russian civilians tell of the many executions committed by the Germans, especially the feared SS units. Overall, I'd say that this documentary is one of the better ones on the eastern front and is recommended for both the novice and the historian.

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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful:

By S. M. Nofal "gaturro007" (Madison, WI United States) - See all my reviews


It war of the twentieth century was fought in the Eastern Front. In terms of scale of men involved and in casualities, the Western Front pales in comparison. The man who did the most to defeat Adolph Hitler was not F.D. Roosevelt or Winston Churchill but Joseph Stalin.

This BBC documentary is very valuable because, being developed only a few years ago, it incorporates new, unclassified material. Although his secret agents told Stalin about a massive invasion on June 1941, Stalin did not believe it. So he made no plan for a possible attack from Germany. When operation Barbarrossa was launched, it took the Red Army by surprise. This documentary, unlike any other that I know of, shows that Stalin tried to negociate peace with Hitler --although to no avail.

The interviews in this documentary are also very moving: a general urging his son to take his leave befor the declacle of Stalingrad, a woman from the secret organization of SMERSCH candidly telling she would be considered a mass murderer in the West after carrying out orders to assassinate prisoners of war, a partisan guerrilla leader admitting he and his men did not take prisoners, and so forth. Perhaps, the most shocking detail of the documentary was the revelation that, at Stalingrad, the average life expenctancy of a Soviet soldier was merely 24 hours.

Source: http://www.amazon.com/War-Century-Hitler-Fought-Stalin/dp/B00097DY6G


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