Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Best documentary on the Eastern Front?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Georgy, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Georgy

    Georgy Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    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

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,336
    Likes Received:
    1,259
    Location:
    London, England.
    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.
     
    Uplink likes this.
  3. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    98
  4. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    67
    I just found the DVD on AMazon for $12. make ssure its the DVD not the book
     
  5. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2008
    Messages:
    1,849
    Likes Received:
    428
    Location:
    Auburn, Alabama, US
    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.

    Gaines
     
  6. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,336
    Likes Received:
    1,259
    Location:
    London, England.
    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.
     
    Scottiniowa likes this.
  7. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,462
    Likes Received:
    283
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    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.
     
  8. Georgy

    Georgy Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    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

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,336
    Likes Received:
    1,259
    Location:
    London, England.
    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.
     
  10. Georgy

    Georgy Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    I imagine at the time, it was a little difficult getting access to key information about the Battle of Stalingrad.
     
  11. Georgy

    Georgy Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    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

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,336
    Likes Received:
    1,259
    Location:
    London, England.
    Glad you liked it !
     
  13. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,462
    Likes Received:
    283
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    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.
     
  14. Georgy

    Georgy Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    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

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,462
    Likes Received:
    283
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    You have the good old version.
    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.
     
    Alicia likes this.
  16. Nordwind511

    Nordwind511 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    34
    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

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,336
    Likes Received:
    1,259
    Location:
    London, England.
    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....:eek:
     
  18. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,462
    Likes Received:
    283
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    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)
     
    Scottiniowa likes this.
  19. Nordwind511

    Nordwind511 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    34
    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

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,462
    Likes Received:
    283
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    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.

    Mit freundliche Grüße aus Untersteiermark!
     

Share This Page