The Battle of Russia
|Why We Fight: The Battle of Russia|
|Directed by||Frank Capra; Anatole Litvak|
|Produced by||Office of War Information|
|Written by||Julius Epstein; Philip Epstein|
|Narrated by||Walter Huston|
|Editing by||William Hornbeck|
|Distributed by||War Activities Committee of the Motion Pictures Industry|
|Release dates||November 11, 1943|
|Running time||83 minutes|
The film begins with an overview of previous failed attempts to conquer Russia: by the Teutonic Knights in 1242 (footage from Sergei Eisenstein's film Alexander Nevsky is used here), by Charles XII of Sweden in 1704 (footage from Vladimir Petrov's film Peter the First), by Napoleon I in 1812, and by Germany in World War II.
The vast natural resources of the Soviet Union are then described, showing why the land is such a hot prize for conquerors. To give a positive impression of the Soviet Union to the American audience, the country's ethnic diversity is covered in detail. Later on, elements of Russian culture familiar to Americans, including the musical compositions of Tchaikovsky and Leo Tolstoy's book War and Peace are also mentioned. Communism is never mentioned at any point in the film. The start of the film also includes a quote from U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who commended the Russian people's defense of their nation as one of the most courageous feats in military history.
The film then covers the Nazi conquests in the Balkans, described as a preliminary to close off possible Allied counter-invasion routes, before the war against Russia was launched on June 22, 1941. The narration describes the German "keil und kessel" tactics for offensive warfare, and the Soviet "defense in depth" used to counter this. The scorched earth Soviet tactics, the room-to-room urban warfare in Soviet cities, and the guerilla warfare behind enemy lines are also used to underline the Soviet resolve for victory against the Germans.
One powerful scene shows Russians swearing their oath:
- For the burned cities and villages
- For the deaths of our children and our mothers
- For the torture and humiliation of our people
- I swear revenge upon the enemy
- I swear that I would rather die in battle with the enemy
- Than surrender myself my people and my country to the Fascist invaders
- Blood for Blood!
- Death for Death!
In order to justify the Western Allies alliance with the Soviet Union, the episode, like the entire Why We Fight series, misportrayed or simply omitted many facts, which could have cast doubts on the "good guy" status of the Soviets, such as the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, Soviet invasion of Poland; Soviet occupation of the Baltic States, Winter War and others. Virtually in line with the Soviet propaganda, the series was not only screened but widely acclaimed in the Soviet Union. To exonerate the Soviets, the series casts even cast less important Allies, like the Poles, in the bad light. The episode has been described as "a blatant pro-Soviet propaganda posing as factual analysis."
- Mieczysław B. Biskupski (January 2010). Hollywood's war with Poland, 1939-1945. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 148–150. ISBN 978-0-8131-2559-6. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
- Mieczysław B. Biskupski (January 2010). Hollywood's war with Poland, 1939-1945. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 151–152. ISBN 978-0-8131-2559-6. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Battle of Russia.|
- The Battle of Russia (Part I) is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- The Battle of Russia (Part II) is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- The Battle of Russia at the Internet Movie Database