In this installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda series, we learn about the events on the Russian front of World War II. We learn about Russia's heroic resistance to invasion in the past and how those qualities were called upon in the current war. We also learn about Russian tenacity and their determination to win against the seemingly invincible forces of Nazi Germany in the bloodiest fighting of the war.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This documentary is the fifth film in Frank Capra's seven-film 'Why We Fight' documentary film series. See more »
A version exists where the film is divided into two parts because of its length. There are extra titles to explain this division, and a short recapitulation of Part I is found at the beginning of Part II. See more »
In June 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union . Less than four years later the outcome was 35 million dead human beings , Nazi German defeat and a " cold war " that lasted 45 years with the threat of humanity destroying itself in nuclear conflict . One of the characteristics of the cold war was both the Soviets and Americans trying to paint themselves whiter than whiter and the other side blacker than black . America being a democracy and with a free press found the task slightly more difficult but let us not forget the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s and of popular fiction of the period when every science fiction film with an alien invasion was spearheaded from Mars the red planet because ... well reds are commies are they not ? Bearing this in mind perhaps the most successful propaganda to come out of America was when the Soviets were our friends in the battle against Nazism and this propaganda piece is propaganda at its most enthralling
One massive irritating thing about this documentary is in the use of the word that appears in the title - Russia . It's used euphemistically . Being a Scot someone uses the word " England " or " English " when the word " Britain " or " British " is meant even very mild mannered Celts with no real nationalist instinct get very angry at this lazy mistake and one feels great pity for the 193 million citizens featured in this tribute constantly being referred to as Russians when in fact they're Soviets
Facts are ignored to a large degree because this is a propaganda film though be it a superlative one . The Nazi strategy of Blitzkrieg is referred to as defeating Poland in 18 days . Not inaccurate though it does miss out the important point that after 18 days the Soviet Union then invaded the Polish eastern border and imposed a reign of terror on the Poles living there . When the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union is underway it over states the capacity of the Germans who were reliant upon the horse and cart rather being an entirely motorised and mechanical force as is insinuated here . The Soviet defence in depth is not nearly as effective as painted and the German slowed down due to logistical problems and the onset of the Russian Winter , the Soviet " not one step back " mindset was often down to commissars and NKVD special squads enforcing Stalin's orders in the first six months of the war rather than the average Red Army soldier's fighting spirit and religion was only legalised because of the War . Part one of the film ends with the Russians being described as " Free and united people " which is not the case since communism isn't a democratic ideal centered around freedom and more than a few Soviet citizens most notably in the Baltic states and the Ukraine sided with the Nazis
But where propaganda works best is in emotion combined with an element of truth and the truth is the Nazis butchered millions of Soviets simply because being of Slavonic ethnicity they were considered " untermenschen " by the Nazi regime and this film pulls no punches on the atrocities forced upon the Soviets . We see the bodies of dead children who were burned alive by the Nazis and of young women who have suffered rape at the hands of the Nazis who not only ignored the Geneva convention but ironically their own Nuremberg laws involving race mixing . This film will have you weeping tears for Soviet suffering and have you cheering as they take the fight to the fascist hordes in what is one of the best propaganda pieces you will ever see . So much so that that if it wasn't some of the airbrushing of history as I mentioned earlier such as the Soviets attitude of Poland I would have no hesitation in saying it's one of the greatest documentaries ever made on the Second World War and shows the Soviet blood sacrifice as being the main reason for the defeat of Hitler's regime
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