Documentary film history of the Nazi-Soviet conflict in world War II.

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Series cast summary:
...  Himself - Host and Narrator 3 episodes, 1978


Sprawling, 20-part documentary history in film of the World War II conflict between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Companion book, The Unknown War, written by NYT reporter Harrison Salisbury. Each episode is about 52 minutes, similar in format to The World at War. 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 in Berlin in May 1945. Most of these films have never been seen outside this documentary series. Narrated by Burt Lancaster. Chapters: 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-Kursk; 8. War in the Arctic; 9. War in the Air; 10. Partisans: The Guerilla War; 11. Battle of the Seas; 12. Battle of the Caucasus; 13. Liberation of Ukraine; 14. Liberation of Byelorussia; 15. From the Balkans to Vienna; 16. The Liberation of Poland; 17. The ... Written by Eric Novotny

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Release Date:

22 June 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tuntematon sota  »

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Produced with Soviet cooperation after the release of The World at War, which the soviet government felt paid insufficient attention to their part in World War II. Released in 1978, The Unknown War, sympathetic to the Soviet struggle against Nazi Germany, was quickly withdrawn from TV airings after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent Series!!!
16 January 2014 | by See all my reviews

Having just watched this, I thought it was an incredible series. Burt Lancaster did a great job narrating throughout. The Soviet producers could have been a little more forthcoming regarding casualty-statistics I thought - for instance, we are always given a figure of what the German casualties were after each major battle, but hardly ever one for their Soviet counterpart. Understandable, but a little frustrating if you are a bean-counter like me! I thought the musical-score to be merely adequate. What I really liked were the 2 music-tracks that are triggered by the DVD menus, superb!

What struck me though as a 'Westerner' was how little I knew about this titanic struggle to begin with. The pro-western school systems certainly seem to have done a great job marginalizing the Soviet's role in World War II, where in reality, they practically destroyed the entire Nazi war-machine single-handedly - as one commenter mentioned, they were responsible for 88% of all Nazi-casualties during the war - but at an incredible cost! The "World At War" series also seems to just gloss over these facts as well, much to it's shame - which is why I suppose most of the 'great-unwashed' (not just Americans) believe that the USA had a much bigger hand in the European war than they actually did. Another reviewer's comment here about a recent American Poll revealing that a considerable number of Americans though that the US fought WITH the Germans AGAINST the Soviets had me LOL'ing though - if that's true, well, the mind boggles...

I was however amazed and bemused by some of the reviewer's comments here. Most that are critical appear to be using the word "Propaganda" completely out of context - there is almost no evangelizing of Communist Ideals anywhere in the entire series!!! But then the 'anti-propagandists' reveal their hand - the real problem is that it doesn't contain material that THEY almost insist, should have been included - mainly involving Stalin and his purges! This is about the Great Patriotic War, not an overview of Soviet History in the 20th century. Yes, Stalin was a monster, but as the documentary clearly states, Stalin was not a military man so gave his generals free reign in running the war, and as a result is barely seen in the whole series. More to the point, most of the world at the time in question (1941-1945) had no inklings of any of this, so why include it - again, this documentary was about the USSR's GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR!

So overall, very well made and well worth watching.

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