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This is a massive and extremely well integrated series of documentaries that exhaustively depicts, explains, and examines the nature of the Soviet society at the time of the great patriotic struggle (as they called it) against the Nazi forces that invaded Russia during World War Two.
|S01E01||The Darkness Descends||09/11/1997||The first episode covers the rise of Josef Stalin, who gained power despite cautionary statements by Lenin before he died. It discusses the violence Stalin dealt to his own people, including the downtrodden peasants, political foes, officers of the Red Army, and anyone else he considered to be an enemy. Henry Kissinger provides narration for the series.|
|S01E02||The Hour Before Midnight||09/11/1997||As the series continues, Stalin is wielding his tyrannical power by ruthlessly eliminating the leaders of his Red Army. In Germany, Hitler is planning to enlarge his territory. Henry Kissinger appears as the host for these programs, which make use of accounts from survivors, photographs not seen outside of Russia, and material once kept secret. Stalin makes a decision to align his forces with those of Hitler, resulting in the swift defeat of Poland.|
|S01E03||The Goths Ride East||09/11/1997||Under Stalin's regime, many Russians have been killed, from common peasants to high-ranking officers in the Soviet Army. When Hitler's troops march into Russia in a blitzkrieg attack, the surprised Russians fall back. Despite Stalin's decree that no cities surrender, Kiev, Minsk, and Smolensk give in. Stalin denounces the captured Russians as traitors, and sends their wives to labor camps. It follows the progress of the Germans as they advance to the gates of Moscow.|
|S01E04||Between Life and Death||09/11/1997||Hitler's forces arrive at Moscow without taking into account the severity of Russian winters. It is October, and the first snows have begun to fall. The inhabitants of Leningrad were under siege, and many were to die from lack of food. The Red Army mounts a counteroffensive, as both Hitler and Stalin display brutality toward their own armies. Stalin orders all deserters shot, in order to keep enough troops at the front to protect Moscow. Seldom-seen footage of events enhances the narrative in this series of programs.|
|S01E05||The Fight From Within||09/11/1997||In the Nazi-captured regions of Russia, the life of villagers went from bad to worse. In this fifth episode of the series, first shown on PBS, the initial optimism of peasants quickly dissipated when Hitler's forces began to display their utter disdain of Soviet citizens. It reveals the role of the Partisan resistance movement, whose first efforts were not sanctioned by Stalin. As their numbers grew, Stalin gave them support, and increased their power, ordering them to kill anyone suspected of disloyalty.|
|S01E06||The Cauldron Boils||09/11/1997||At this point in the war, Hitler is badly in need of supplies, and realizes that the vast oil stores of the Caucasus Mountains would solve some of his fuel problems. He pushes a large faction of his exhausted troops toward this goal, while another heads to Stalingrad for another offensive. Meanwhile, Stalin has told his Red Army that anyone caught retreating will be executed. The use of suicidal Penal Battalions, formed in part from Russia's political prisoners, began, and by the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, over one million Russian soldiers had lost their lives.|
|S01E07||The Citadel||09/11/1997||As the Russians began to make gains against the German army, both sides began to see the importance of the region of Kursk. After the harsh Russian winter, both sides had time to regroup during the spring. Russian factories churned out fresh supplies of war machinery, and Hitler unveiled his new plan, known as the Citadel. The July 5, 1943, meeting of the two opposing forces at Kursk became the biggest tank battle ever fought, utilizing six thousand tanks, four thousand aircraft, and two million soldiers.|
|S01E08||False Dawn||09/11/1997||The siege against Hitlers forces at Leningrad is finally lifted, and the Red Army is finding success against Hitler's forces.|
|S01E09||The Fall of the Swastikas||09/11/1997||In 1944, the end is approaching for Hitler, who is forced to retreat as Russian troops advance on Berlin. Outnumbered by now, having suffered enormous losses during Operation Bagration in Belorussia, Hitler orders his men to stand fast, and not surrender Berlin, but it is too late. The fall of Berlin occurs shortly after Hitler commits suicide. Henry Kissinger is the narrator for this series of programs, which includes guest appearances by scholars of Russian history.|
|S01E10||The Cult of Personality||09/11/1997||After World War II, those who hoped for a softening of the Stalin regime policies were disappointed. Instead of easing up on his tyrannical wielding of power, Stalin continued his persecution of Soviet citizens, and imposed his system on other communist nations in Eastern Europe. This episode examines his attitudes toward his own people and his ambition to expand Russian territories. The beginnings of resistance to his policies can be discerned, and, in 1953, Stalin died of a brain hemorrhage.|