I saw this series (10-parts) back in 2002 on History International. It is, without a doubt, the best series on World War II's "Front of Decision." Not only does it cover all of the major ... See full synopsis »
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I saw this series (10-parts) back in 2002 on History International. It is, without a doubt, the best series on World War II's "Front of Decision." Not only does it cover all of the major battles that punctuated this struggle, it delves into issues that are ignored in more cursory treatments. For example, the NKVD's "blocking forces" are discussed at some length--we're even treated to interviews with NKVD veterans who shot recalcitrant officers; it covers Germany's administration of the occupied territories and the privations visited upon the civilian population--the Holocaust among these "difficulties;" and we learn about the partisan war--not just fighting by pro-Soviet partisans, but Ukrainian and Polish freedom fighters--some of these conflicts persisted until 1947.

If you like the World at War dvd's, you will enjoy this as well. OK, perhaps enjoy isn't the best word to use, as there is nothing enjoyable about the actions of Stalin against his own people. If you think that Hitler ...

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Pro-German tilt is creepy
23 November 2012 | by See all my reviews

There is just something warped about this entire series; I got a strong gut feeling that a German apologist had written it. I found the entire series difficult to watch without wincing. I am not referring to the photography and footage, which were excellent. But it was the interpretation that rang distorted.

First of all, the "godlike" intros by the thoroughly discredited, disingenuous Henry Kissinger were off-putting, but immediately following those, the series' odd and inescapable pro-German slant manifests itself in nearly every scene. It's often masked by all the anti-Stalin screed --- I am certainly no fan of that monster --- but there is way too much sympathy for the "poor" Wehrmacht (regarding which, it is now being revealed that the Wehrmacht was even more deeply involved in the slaughter of Russians, Jews, POWs, etc., than had formerly been believed, and they were not just good boys serving in a bad cause). Kissinger and the narrator never (or very, very seldom) mention the word "Jew" even in regards to the concentration camps, saying rather that "people" were killed. The positive portrayal of various Nazi-welcoming collaborators and collaborating ethnicities made me uncomfortable as well.

I felt that there was definitely an effort to absolve the Russians themselves from Stalin's crimes and portray their victimization; I have no argument with that. But the movie never or seldom focuses on German atrocities wrought upon the Russians. In fact, there is actually a whole scene devoted to "shocked" German soldiers unearthing the bodies of Polish officers that Stalin had supposedly murdered. It may well be true, but the portrayal of the most brutal soldiers the world has ever known solemnly shaking their heads at a mass murder almost turned the scene into farce.

Besides the predictable, relentless hammering on Stalin (I mean, if the guy went to the bathroom, this film would have found a way to portray that as monstrous, murderous and a lie), there is very little about Hitler, who is never shown as a heartless monster, as is Stalin in every scene.


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