The Unknown War
March 5, 2015 1:58 AM   Subscribe

The Unknown War: WWII And The Epic Battles Of The Russian Front, the 20-episode documentary of the Nazi-Germany/Soviet Union conflict, first aired in the United States in 1978 but was subsequently pulled after the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. "The footage was edited from over 3.5 million feet of film taken by Soviet camera crews from the first day of the war, 22 June 1941, to the Soviet entry into Berlin in May 1945. Most of these films have never been seen outside this documentary series." It is available in full (1040 minutes).

"The original program was made in reaction to the renowned 1973–74 BBC documentary The World at War (previously). Soviet officials felt that program did not properly represent their country's significant role in World War II, so they made available extensive archival film footage—much of it still rarely seen today—for creating The Unknown War. Creating the program required a level of Soviet–American cooperation unusual during the Cold War. American film crews were given access to shoot within the Soviet Union, and that allows Western viewers to see many of the Soviet monuments to the war. The series' narrator, Burt Lancaster, often introduces episodes while standing by one of these monuments. German films are also interspersed throughout the series." (historynet)

The episodes: 1. June 22, 1941 2. The Battle for Moscow 3. The Siege of Leningrad 4. To the East 5. The Defense of Stalingrad 6. Survival at Stalingrad 7. The World's Greatest Tank Battle 8. War in the Arctic 9. War in the Air 10. The Partisans 11. The Battle of the Seas 12. The Battle of Caucasus 13. Liberation of the Ukraine 14. The Liberation of Belorussia 15. The Balkans to Vienna 16. The Liberation of Poland 17. The Allies 18. The Battle of Berlin 19. The Last Battle of the Unknown War 20. A Soldier of the Unknown War

20 episodes YT. Or 20 episodes YT. Or 20 episodes Hulu. Or DailyMotion. Also available on Amazon Instant Video (first episode is free).

This additional historynet article speaks to the "eye-opening and electrifying" film footage and the propaganda value and the glossing over of certain Soviet actions.

The DVD set is available for purchase on Amazon.
posted by cwest (24 comments total) 124 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow. Flagged as fantastic.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:11 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


...first aired in the United States in 1978 but was subsequently pulled after the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

We have always been at war with Eastasi - - ah, forget it! Who can keep track anymore?
posted by fairmettle at 3:18 AM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oooh, very nice!
posted by Harald74 at 3:39 AM on March 5, 2015


Every time someone crows about America winning the war, they should be tied to a chair and made to watch this in full. I have only ever seen a little of this; I am very much looking forward to seeing the whole thing myself, and nobody will need to tie me down to do it.
posted by briank at 5:06 AM on March 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow, this looks really interesting.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:10 AM on March 5, 2015


Great stuff, thanks for posting.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:18 AM on March 5, 2015


> Wow. Flagged as fantastic.

Seconded on both counts. I'm very much looking forward to watching this. MetaFilter at its best!
posted by languagehat at 6:28 AM on March 5, 2015


I remember watching parts of this when it was broadcast. I was 11, somehow.
And it was extraordinary.
posted by doctornemo at 6:34 AM on March 5, 2015


"poet Rod McKuen adapted the script and composed the score" - that's interesting.
posted by doctornemo at 6:45 AM on March 5, 2015


Every time someone crows about America winning the war, they should be tied to a chair and made to watch this in full.

That reminds me of this graph of a French poll through time: Who Contributed the Most to the Defeat of the Germans in 1945? The switch from overwhelming Soviet to America is startling. Not sure of the context of the original source, but the context where I saw it used it to show how movies affect perception.

This is great, thank you. Definitely worth buying.
posted by barchan at 7:26 AM on March 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Fantastic! I've wanted to watch the series (don't remember when/how I heard about it, unless somehow I remember if from childhood).
Thanks cwest!
posted by pt68 at 8:47 AM on March 5, 2015


As it will clearly show, the Soviets had the Germans beaten by the winter of 42-43. Sadly, the killing went on much longer due to the insanity of the German leadership. The same can be said of the Pacific campaign. The US had the Japanese beaten in the same time bracket. "Beaten" in both cases means that the Axis was fighting a rear guard action from from that point til the respective surrenders.
posted by shnarg at 9:20 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


The best article I've ever read on Wikipedia is the one on The Battle of Stalingrad. I'm not huge on war history but I found the story fascinating. I highly recommend it.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:30 AM on March 5, 2015


Thanks for posting this.
posted by dazed_one at 9:48 AM on March 5, 2015


I remember watching this in 78. I was probably 8 years old but already turning into a history nerd.
posted by smoothvirus at 9:49 AM on March 5, 2015


All of you would probably like this book.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:54 AM on March 5, 2015


Mr. Yuck is recommending Europe Central by William T Vollmann (please, people, don't use blind links, they're annoying even if they haven't gone bad); I'm not crazy about Vollmann's style, and I can think of lots and lots of books I'd recommend before his, starting with Catherine Merridale's Ivan's War and Richard Overy's Russia’s War.
posted by languagehat at 12:18 PM on March 5, 2015


shnarg: "The same can be said of the Pacific campaign. The US had the Japanese beaten in the same time bracket. "Beaten" in both cases means that the Axis was fighting a rear guard action from from that point til the respective surrenders."
The more perceptive minds in the Japanese leadership knew the war in the Pacific was lost the minute they learned the US carriers weren't at Pearl Harbor. The rest of the whole show was trying to convince the US to offer peace terms instead of demanding unconditional surrender.
posted by brokkr at 1:51 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sorry about the blind link. I've only just figured out how to make links work consistently here and am still surprised when they work. I may make a few more blind ones, but they won't infect your computer.

The chapters in Vollmann's book about pushing on and on and on into mother Russia and slowly realizing that it is not possible are precious to me. We've all done that in some way, with some objective other than the Urals and Lebensraum.

All my books are boxed, but there was some UK based journalist named Alexander Werth who covered it well.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:53 PM on March 5, 2015


With the exception of Yamamoto those minds were a very silent and ineffective minority.
posted by shnarg at 2:56 PM on March 5, 2015


> I may make a few more blind ones, but they won't infect your computer.

Sorry if I came off as too harsh, I just wanted to mention that the practice annoyed me (and I'm pretty sure it annoys others). No biggie.

> there was some UK based journalist named Alexander Werth who covered it well.

Yeah, Werth is excellent. I think he wrote a good book on the Siege of Leningrad as well.
posted by languagehat at 3:24 PM on March 5, 2015


No problem. I am incompetent. I always appreciate you around here.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:56 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


You're not incompetent: you lured a book recommendation out of someone, and I am quite interested in tracking it down. So thank you both!
posted by wenestvedt at 5:12 AM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Excellent. We have watched the first two and already convinced a neighbour to buy the set. Thanks for posting!
posted by heatherann at 6:28 PM on March 8, 2015


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