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Best documentary on the Eastern Front?


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#1 Georgy

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 05:19 AM

If this is the wrong section than I apologize. Looking for an in-depth documentary on the Eastern Front. Also if anyone knows the The Unknown War: WWII and the Epic Battles on the Western Front from the 1970's and hosted by Burt Lancaster is worth getting, let me know. Thanks.

#2 Martin Bull

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 08:15 AM

You may well get different opinions here, but I'll kick off with my absolute favourite, and IMPO one of the best war documentaries ever made : Laurence Rees' 'War Of The Century' made for the BBC in the 1990s. It features the most extraordinary collection of 'talking heads' ( now sadly passed ) from both sides. This was the era of 'glasnost' and many of these people had never spoken openly before - or since - about how it was and the things they did. It is incredibly powerful and changed forever my attitude to the Eastern Front. ( I'd always thought it was bad - but it was even worse than that ). Curiously, it's available on DVD but only in the USA.

I used to have the old series you mention, hosted by Burt Lancaster, on VHS. It was so-so I thought - it didn't really give me any 'feel' for how it was : I found it rather 'this happened and then that happened' which actually I can get from books.
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#3 JeffinMNUSA

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 01:05 PM

"Russia's War; Blood on the Snow"; online. Watch Russia's War Blood Upon The Snow Free Online
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#4 steverodgers801

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 01:51 PM

I just found the DVD on AMazon for $12. make ssure its the DVD not the book

#5 gtblackwell

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 06:49 PM

Martin, Do you have "War of the Century" on DVD ? If not tell me where it is in the US, probably Amazon, and I would be glad to send you a copy.

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#6 Martin Bull

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 06:55 PM

Yes thanks, gtb.....I hunted around all over the place in the UK and simply couldn't find it. Then last year I saw it on US e-bay and it arrived here very quickly. I really don't know why - as a British TV production - it's not available in the UK :confused: . It is highly regarded and I've even seen it listed as a source in one or two academic books about the Eastern Front.
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#7 Tamino

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 08:12 PM

"Russia's War; Blood on the Snow"; online. Watch Russia's War Blood Upon The Snow Free Online

Indeed Jeff, that's an extraordinary documentary!

The series tells the story of the Great Patriotic War in wider context. You will have an opportunity to learn more about the pre-war and the post-war USSR too. Besides good quality of the series in general, I would like to mention an outstanding narrator: Nigel Hawthorne, a brilliant actor; it is great pleassure to listen to his British English.

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#8 Georgy

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 04:37 AM

I do have The World at War, not sure what your guys opinions on that but for 1974 I think it was pretty good. I mean a lot of new things were discovered but things written in the 70s and on have an advantage because a lot of important people as well as the commons who served in the war were alive then so you get more eye-witness accounts. I have William Craig's Enemy at the Gates which was a great English language book on Stalingrad but seemed to be told mostly in the German point of view. I am going to look into Antony Beevor and David Glantz's more up to take research.

I will look for War of the Century, thanks guys!

#9 Martin Bull

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 09:42 AM

The World At War remains excellent ( in fact many consider it the best overall documentary of WWII ). Unfortunately att he time, they didn't have access to any 'talking heads' for the Stalingrad episode. It's no criticism at all to say that Laurence Rees based the format of War Of The Century on the older series.
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#10 Georgy

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 06:58 PM

I imagine at the time, it was a little difficult getting access to key information about the Battle of Stalingrad.

#11 Georgy

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:17 AM

War of the Century was amazing. I loved the talking heads interviews and how they stood their ground when provoked by the interviewers. I was confused how the skipped Kursk and went right to Bagration after Stalingrad but I guess they were pressed for time and decided to focus on the Partisans instead whom I felt deserved an honest story. I feel the documentary removed all the propaganda and portrayed the "Great Patriotic War" for what it was, a brutal and ugly war.

Will check out Russia's War next. Took me awhile to get around to it. Been watching World War I doc's but that is for another place.

#12 Martin Bull

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:36 AM

Glad you liked it !
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#13 Tamino

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:37 PM

I have two versions of "World at War", the older with comentary of the producer of series, Jeremy Isaacs, and new, with re-designed maps. I haven't noticed other differences. The older version is more insightful because Isaacs has revealed the background of stories and how the series was made.

PS: However, the series isn't "the eastern front only" and it divides the World War in parallel stories dealing with thematically related events.

Edited by Tamino, 25 January 2013 - 09:43 PM.

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#14 Georgy

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 05:54 AM

The version I had a segment with Isaacs explaining why he left certain things out and why he included this. I was put off how only seven episodes seem to focus on Japan, but for seven it shed awfully a lot. It seems at the time information on the Eastern Front came pouring in so Westerners were under the impression the war was won by the Allies. Isaacs instead offers a different point. The real winners of the war were Germany, Japan, Soviet Union and the USA. Great Britain was the biggest loser.

#15 Tamino

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 08:37 PM

The version I had a segment with Isaacs explaining why he left certain things out and why he included this. ...

You have the good old version.

... Isaacs instead offers a different point. The real winners of the war were Germany, Japan, Soviet Union and the USA. Great Britain was the biggest loser.

He isn't far from reality. Great Britain entered the war first and was fighting untill the end. Before the war Britain was great empire and has ended exausted alongside two emerging superpowers. Britain gave enormous contribution for the common cause and has ended deprived from leading position in the World. Paradoxically, Britain has won the war but financially exausted and lost the leading position in the world.
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#16 Nordwind511

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 06:52 PM

The World At War remains excellent ( in fact many consider it the best overall documentary of WWII ). Unfortunately att he time, they didn't have access to any 'talking heads' for the Stalingrad episode. It's no criticism at all to say that Laurence Rees based the format of War Of The Century on the older series.

The best book about the Stalingrad episode is by Manfred Kehrig "Stalingrad" Analyse and dokumentation about a battle - sorry, but I think there´s no english version of this book. The book includes many documents about what happened there ...

#17 Martin Bull

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 06:57 PM

I think you're quite right - and believe it or not I actually have a copy. It is VERY frustrating for me that it's never been translated....:o
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#18 Tamino

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 08:24 PM

The best book about the Stalingrad episode is by Manfred Kehrig "Stalingrad" Analyse and dokumentation about a battle - sorry, but I think there´s no english version of this book. The book includes many documents about what happened there ...

The book was published in 1974 and the author had no access to Russian documentation. Therefore the book is incomplete. According to Stein "it could best be described as vastly expanded war diary of 6th Army and Army group Don." (Marcel Stein: Der Januskopf. Feldmarschall von Manstein. Eine Neubewertung. Biblio Verlag, Bissendorf 2004., p. 118)

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#19 Nordwind511

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 07:33 PM

Maybe you´re right if you mention that the book of Kehrig is naturally focused on what happened on the German side - but Kehrig also ued russian studies and books about the battle! But naturally I guess today there would be more Russian documentation available - maybe. Nevertheless for me it´s the best documentation about what happened by 6th army, Heeresgroup Don and OKH/OKW ... I guess there´s no "complete" book about this battle - a book which handles with all available informations - detailed informations about both sides ... for example David J. Glantz and his books about Stalingrad aren´t as good as the one of Kehrig - if you judge about the documentation what happened on the German side ...

#20 Tamino

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 07:59 PM

Maybe you´re right if you mention that the book of Kehrig is naturally focused on what happened on the German side - but Kehrig also ued russian studies and books about the battle! But naturally I guess today there would be more Russian documentation available - maybe. Nevertheless for me it´s the best documentation about what happened by 6th army, Heeresgroup Don and OKH/OKW ... I guess there´s no "complete" book about this battle - a book which handles with all available informations - detailed informations about both sides ... for example David J. Glantz and his books about Stalingrad aren´t as good as the one of Kehrig - if you judge about the documentation what happened on the German side ...

I agree with you because the term "best" is rather subjective. Otherwise, I live at the Austrian border and I understand German language rather good. I have seen many German documentaries on World War. I rate very highly these documentaries because German authors treat the subject in a highly professional, unbiassed way. I haven't read Kherig's book, which is in fact his Ph.D. thesis; I have heard about it from Stein (one of my main interests is Manstein). I might buy that book in future and read it because German language isnt an obstacle to me.

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#21 patryk8820

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 02:38 PM

The first choice for me would be some episodes from the excellent "Battlefield" series:
Series 1 - Ep. 04 - The Battle of Stalingrad;
Series 2 - Ep. 03 - The Battle for Russia;
Series 4 - Ep. 01 - The Battle of Kursk;
Series 4 - Ep. 03 - Manchuria - The Forgotten Victory (not exactly Eastern Front, but an interesting episode);
Series 4 - Ep. 06 - The Siege of Leningrad;
Series 6 - Ep. 01 - The Battle for the Crimea.

#22 brndirt1

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:15 PM

Some of the best I have ever watched were found by accident one day when I was snooping around on Hulu. There are (I think?), about 18 episodes, each one 45 minutes long. The program was/is called Soviet Storm, and while the narration in English is sometimes overpowered by the original audio, it still makes great viewing. Some re-enactment, some computer generations, some historical film footage.

If you open up Hulu, just type in Soviet Storm, and tah-da there they all are.
Happy Trails,
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#23 Tamino

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:46 PM

Some of the best I have ever watched were found by accident one day when I was snooping around on Hulu. There are (I think?), about 18 episodes, each one 45 minutes long. The program was/is called Soviet Storm, and while the narration in English is sometimes overpowered by the original audio, it still makes great viewing. Some re-enactment, some computer generations, some historical film footage.

If you open up Hulu, just type in Soviet Storm, and tah-da there they all are.

This series consists of eight episodes.

  • Barbarossa
  • Moscow
  • Leningrad
  • Stalingrad
  • Kursk
  • Operation Bagration
  • Liberation of Ukraine
  • Berlin
What makes this series different from others is time scope of individual episodes. For example, many other stories on Kursk usually end at the Battle of Prokhorovka which makes impression that otherwise catastrophic defeat looks just like an unpleasant setback. Instead, the Soviet Storm deals with consequences of the clash at the Kursk salient. This provides more insight into results of the battle.

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#24 JeffinMNUSA

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 02:46 PM

This series consists of eight episodes.

  • Barbarossa
  • Moscow
  • Leningrad
  • Stalingrad
  • Kursk
  • Operation Bagration
  • Liberation of Ukraine
  • Berlin
What makes this series different from others is time scope of individual episodes. For example, many other stories on Kursk usually end at the Battle of Prokhorovka which makes impression that otherwise catastrophic defeat looks just like an unpleasant setback. Instead, the Soviet Storm deals with consequences of the clash at the Kursk salient. This provides more insight into results of the battle.


Tamino;
YOu can pick these up on YOUTUBE also: ★ World War 2 Battles ★ Operation Bagration - YouTube I guess you know how I will be spending the rest of this day-THANKS! Later this one was posted yesterday; ​Soviet Storm - The Liberation of Ukraine (7series) - YouTube

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Edited by JeffinMNUSA, 12 February 2013 - 06:40 PM.

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#25 Yaldy

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 06:20 PM

On Netflix (DVD) there was an amazing documentary on Stalingrad with actual survivor interviews from both sides. I'm sorry I can't quote the name of the documentary.




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