Chronicle of war:

Documental movies

The Unknown War

Documentary film-story (20 parts). 1978, joint production of the USSR and the USA: Central Documentary Film Studio to the order of R Time Int.

Series narrator – Burt Lancaster.

On the materials collected during the Great Patriotic War, Roman Karmen in cooperation with the Americans created The Unknown War film, which became a real revelation to Western audience, almost nothing knowning about the heroism of Soviet soldiers and the people who became chief former of victory over Hitler's fascism. In the West, the film was titled The Unknown War in the East.

Roman Karmen was on the front with a movie camera from the first day of the war. He led the front-line film crews of the Central Documentary Film Studio. “In the battle the soldiers were with guns in their hands, and operators – with the cameras”, Karmen said. For his works in 1942, 1947, 1952, and in 1960 he received the Lenin and State Prizes of the USSR. Awarded five orders and plenty of medals. All that his camera lens saw, was not the history, it was a modernity, telling of which it was not always easy to highlight key points, not to sin against the truth ...



The Unknown War 01 — June 22, 1941

This film opens the Russian-American project of the Great Patriotic War titled The Unknown War. For many years it remained unknown for the Americans whose grandparents took part in the hostilities of World War II as members of the Second Front, landed in France in 1944. The events that unfolded on the Eastern Front in 1941, for most Westerners remained a mystery ...

The Unknown War 02 — Battle for Moscow

Suddenly, a powerful Russian resistance the Nazis came upon the outskirts of Moscow, Hitler had called “savage obstinacy of the Russian infantry”. Nevertheless, he decided to take a personal part in activities on the Eastern Front. Hitler planned to encircle Moscow, that no man would have penetrated beyond its limits and to flood it, creating a huge sea, which would have hid the ancient capital of the civilized world. The operation was called Typhoon. On the front, stretching 220 km the operation should have been attended by 77 German divisions, 14 of them – the armored and 8 motorized; a million soldiers; 1,700 tanks, over 14,000 guns and mortars, over 950 aircraft. To counter this the Red Army had only 800, 000 soldiers, 7,600 guns, 990 tanks and 670 aircraft ... Hitler had already announced to mark the victory of the last strike ...

The Unknown War 03 — The Siege of Leningrad

Hitler had predicted, “At the first hit the Russian army will suffer even greater damage than the army of France” Leningrad was to become the first major city captured by the Nazis. “The city should be razed to the ground!” declared the Fuhrer. And on September 6 air raids on Leningrad began. Two days later – on September 8 –more than 600 000 incendiary bombs were dropped. Along with the bombs the Nazis threw leaflets, “Today we are bombing, tomorrow you are burying” ... In 1941, more than 2.5 million people lived in Leningrad. One in three will die from hunger, bombing and artillery shells, from the terrible cold ... – men, women, children ...;

The Unknown War 04 — Eastwards

With the capture of the Ukraine, the state lost nearly all the sources of raw materials for steel production, and in Donets Basin – 60% of coal. In the East – behind the Urals – in Siberia and Central Asia it was necessary to start all over again – completely rebuild the production, re-mount the plants and to develop new fields. Despite the occupation of large parts of the country, they managed not only to increase the production of military equipment and materials, but also to achieve a quantitative and qualitative superiority over the enemy’s equipment. New weapons rolled over production lines, and by the end of the second year of the war the Soviet arms industry had surpassed the German one. Morozov, Koshkin, Kucherenko designed a revolutionary new tank T-34. Yakovlev, Tupolev, Lavochkin, Ilyushin designed the famous Il. The workers and engineers worked heroically shoulder to shoulder for the win. Women were the main working force. They had to acquire an unusual case and overcome bitterness. Not a single Russian woman had worked before on blast furnaces, or in the mines.
But not only plants were the rear. Either were the cinema studios. In the steppes of Kazakhstan Sergey Eisenstein filmed Ivan the Terrible. Actors, artists, poets, scientists – everyone contributed. The Maly Theater Troupe gave enough money to build an entire squadron of air fighters. Russian Orthodox Church donated money to the tank column. But worst of all was the children’s share – many orphaned, many were separated from their parents in the chaos of the evacuation, many were wounded, starved. They had too early to know the fear, pain and loneliness ...

The Unknown War 05 — The defense of Stalingrad

200 days and nights went on the battle for Stalingrad, a city on the Volga. More than two million soldiers took part in a grand battle.

The Unknown War 06 — Stalingrad survived

The plan, drawn up by Zhukov and Vasilevsky with the assistance of Artillery Marshal, Voronov, was named the Uranus. Zhukov secretly from the Germans managed to prepare a retaliatory strike: 10 armies, a million soldiers; 1,500 tanks, 15,000 artillery pieces were to enter the fray with five German armies and their allies and turn the tide of war ...

The Unknown War 07 — The world’s greatest tank battle

July 1943. Hitler planned to destroy the Soviet army at Kursk and to take a final shot to win the war. In this battle, thousands of Soviet and German tanks met. It was a colossal battle of giants – the collision of a man with a machine. By the end of the first day of a fierce battle the Germans lost in the north of the arc 25, 000 soldiers and 200 tanks. And they were all just trying to get through the first line of defense. The second was much stronger ...

The Unknown War 08 — War in the Arctic

In the harbor of Murmansk convoys came with arms and ammunition from the U.S. and the UK. Ships’ path across the Arctic seas was so risky that the sailors called it “a corridor of death”. The convoys were in constant danger of attack by German submarines and aircraft. The Germans based at North Cape in Norway, attacked the ships every day, in particular, a convoy – PQ-17 – suffered huge losses: only 13 ships of the 37 managed to get to Murmansk. The German navy using its new Norwegian bases sailed across the Barents Strait intending to seize Murmansk – the only ice-free Russian northern port. Among the Soviet shore batteries there was one commanded by Oleg Kosmachyov. During the war, his battery was discharged 17, 000 large-caliber ammunition and 7,000 bombs. On the first day the Germans declared their victory. But for Kosmachyov’s battery the war was long and hard ...

The Unknown War 09 — War in the Air

On the first day of the war, the Luftwaffe destroyed more than a thousand Soviet planes; German newspaper announced the triumph. By October 5, 1941 the official figures of the Soviet losses amounted to 5,136 aircraft. But despite the numerical superiority of the Germans, the survivors of the Soviet fighters still got off the ground. With less speed and maneuverability, they rammed the Nazi planes. On the first day of the war they shot down 200 Nazi planes, but on the way of the rest thousand was Moscow... The German intelligence did not take into account three factors: first – the determination and professionalism of the Soviet pilots, the second – the best of the Soviet aircraft were not involved in fighting yet, and the third – they did not appreciate the possibility of the Soviet industry ...
Soviet Air Force Command, headed by Marshal A. Novikov, considered the main task of aircraft to generate support for the Soviet land forces, rather than bombing aimed at the destruction of German cities ... In 1943, after the Battle of Stalingrad, the air domination was turned to the Russians ...

The Unknown War 10 — Partisans

In late 1942 – early 1943’s a large part of European Russia was occupied by the Germans. But hundreds of thousands of partisans fought fiercely against the enemy ... The Soviet High Command created the Central Headquarters of Partisan Movement. It was headed by Panteleimon Ponomarenko. Headquarters coordinated guerrilla strategy and tactics, communicated with the Red Army on the delivery of weapons, medicine, ammunition, explosives, doctors, food, and coordinated the actions of instructors on sabotage. In autumn 1942, the Germans had to hold 15 infantry divisions, 10 divisions of security, 27 police regiments, 144 special battalions to fight the guerrillas, and two years later 10% of the crack troops of the Nazis on the Eastern Front were involved in the war with guerrillas. According to Ponomarenko, by July 1943 the guerrillas had killed 300,000 Germans, including 30 generals, and destroyed more than 3,000 bridges, destroyed more than 1,000 tanks, 500 planes, 400 cannons and 4,000 trucks.

There were a lot of children among partisans. They were often the most intelligent in the collection of information, but if the Nazis caught them, they paid no attention at the age...
... In occupied Polotsk, where the children’s home located, the Germans had other plans. Guerrillas learned of this and immediately took measures. The Germans wanted to send the orphans in an experimental laboratory where they were to be used as a test. The guerrillas managed to evacuate the children away to the rear by plane. When landing, the plane caught fire ... The housemother remembers...

The Unknown War 11 — War at Sea

The Russians fought against Hitler in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland, in the Black Sea, in the Arctic Ocean, in lakes and rivers. The Soviet Baltic Fleet had brought the Soviet troops from Tallinn under fire of Nazi bombs and a torpedo barrage of fire. Those who survived returned to a major naval base at Kronstadt after evacuation. When the ships were sunk, the Soviet sailors continued to fight on shore. They fought with the Germans in Odessa, Novorossiysk, and Murmansk. Within 250 days they kept the defense of the siege Sebastopol fortress. Each of those battles was a bright page in the unknown war ...

The Unknown War 12 — The Battle for the Caucasus

Through the Caucasus, Hitler wanted to open the way to India. He longed for this victory, after which, he said, he would “move the war to the mainland of the United States”. In the summer of 1943, the battle for the Caucasus began. The battle lasted thirty-half months. Only in the battle for the peninsula of Novorossiysk large Russian forces defended Minor Land for seven months. On this territory Nazi aircraft made 2,000 raids every day. German artillery led mass intense fire, after which followed the onset of large-scale infantry. It was a long and fierce battle, during which the Nazis had used a ton of ammunition for each Russian defender ...

The Unknown War 13 — Liberation of the Ukraine

Even after the Battle of Kursk and the loss of 1,500 tanks, half a million people and 3,000 pieces of artillery, the German military machine was still a formidable force: on the front line, stretching 680 km along the western bank of the Dnieper, the Wehrmacht concentrated 37 infantry and 17 tank divisions. 5 Soviet armies had a slight advantage. Erich von Manstein, commander of the German divisions, was strictly forbidden to retreat by Hitler’s order. The Soviet troops began their offensive and on August 23, 1943 entered Kharkov, which became their first victory of the Ukrainian land. After Kharkov the Soviet army moved to the liberation of Kiev and Donetsk basin.

On September 20, advanced Soviet units came to the eastern bank of the Dnieper. Hitler said that the large water obstacle should not be crossed. The Germans threw all their forces to prevent the crossing. At the sight of the Germans entrenched on the west coast, more and more offensive parts of the Soviet army made their way to the river and melted through it under constant enemy fire. For participation in the operation 2,500 soldiers, showing amazing courage became Heroes of the Soviet Union.
... To take Sebastopol in 1941-1942, the Germans took 250 days; in 1944 it took the Red Army 58 hours. On May 9, the Black Sea Fleet returned to its home base. And for the German 17th Army the war was over.

The Unknown War 14 — Liberation of Belarus

In 1944 the Red Army was returning. Having liberated Smolensk and Novgorod, the Soviet forces approached the first villages of Belarus ... It is difficult to imagine the huge losses and cut off lives – three years of horror: Khatyn ... and 9,200 Belarusian villages burned to ashes, more than 2,000000 killed – every 4th. ..
... For Hitler’s army group Center there was no return home. Proceeding beyond the front line, the Soviet gunships destroyed their way of retreat. Six German divisions were encircled in the town of Bobruisk. On June 26, the Red Army took Vitebsk. It was razed to the ground. The Soviet troops were approaching Minsk. Here, in a ring of fire a hundred thousand Nazis were captured. At dawn on July 3, the Soviet tanks penetrated the German defensive lines, and the Soviet infantry stormed into Minsk. By the end of the day the capital of Belarus was liberated. ... In the Baltics, as well as in Belarus, the Red Army was to see one more terrifying scene – the concentration camps ...

The Unknown War 15 — From the Balkans to Vienna

On August 28, three days after the offensive began, the puppet regime of Antonescu was overthrown. On August 31, the Soviet troops entered Bucharest. In the battle for Romania 69,000 Soviet soldiers were killed ... Bulgarian king Boris was known as a great friend of the Nazis. He made a pact with Germany in 1941, declaring war on Britain and the United States. Parts of the Bulgarian resistance sought refuge in the mountains. On September 7, 1944 Boris the King broke relations with Nazi Germany and the next day declared war on it, but it was too late giving the Tsar a formal declaration of war, the Soviet troops on the same day came to Bulgaria. The Red Army was not given any resistance. The next day the Victory Day parade was held in Sofia. The Yugoslav resistance was heroic. Slowly, with great difficulty Yugoslav partisans began to liberate their land. On October 14, Soviet and People's Liberation Army of Broz Tito reached the outskirts in Belgrade. German troops fought fiercely for 6 days.

Under the leadership of land Admiral Miklos Horthy, Hungary was among the first countries that had concluded an alliance with Germany. In the autumn of 1944, Horthy was the only ally of Germany. The German troops occupied the territory of Hungary to stop the offensive of the Red Army. In Hungary, 128,000 Germans were killed, and 138,000 were surrendered. 140 000 Soviet soldiers were killed in the battle for the liberation of Hungary ...
The offensive was carried out in Austria everywhere – in the air, on the Danube and from the land. The Battle of Vienna was intense, though less destructive than of Budapest. Fiercely resisted the Germans during the week, but on April 13, 1945, in the end gave up. A festive mood prevailed in Vienna; cheerful Austrians welcomed the soldiers-liberators. Orchestra of the Red Army played its first waltz in liberated Vienna for the first time within the war ...

The Unknown War 16 — Liberation of Poland

World War II began with the German attack on Poland. Immense suffering fell to the lot of the Polish people: six million people died. Concentration camps in Poland were among the worst: Majdanek – the extermination camp – recycled 2,000 carcasses per day. It took more than half a million lives. Nazi governor of Poland, Gauleiter Hans Frank, was a ruthless maniac. He sent men to the factories of Krupp and Daimler-Benz or to concentration camps. Women 15-25 were sent to brothels for the SS and Wehrmacht. The rest – to war plants of Ruhr or the gas chambers. 310, 000 Jews from the Warsaw ghetto were taken away into oblivion. In spring 1943, the SS had decided to bulldoze the Warsaw ghetto. The Jews rebelled. For the destruction of unarmed the German soldiers were given commemorative albums. In the summer of 1944 the Red Army developed a plan to liberate Poland. 600, 000 Soviet soldiers gave their lives for Warsaw’s release ... When the Red Army entered Warsaw, 9 / 10 of the city did not exist at all ...

The Unknown War 17 — Allies

English aristocrat (staunch anti-communist), an American aristocrat (Democrat) and the son of a shoemaker (leader of the Soviet Communists) - decided the fate of the world. The second front was opened. English Channel is crossed. The liberation of Western Europe. Paris was liberated. Return after long years of exile of Charles de Gaulle. What to do after the defeat of Germany?

The Unknown War 18 — The Battle for Berlin

The Soviet forces steamrolled into the center of Berlin ... Hitler mobilized his last reserves. In the last act of the tragedy the people’s battalions were involved; they formed out of civilians, and even teenagers, who were only 14-15 years old. He forced them to fight against the Red Army soldiers. Hitler, Goebbels, Goering and other members of senior management of the 3rd Reich were hiding in a bunker. ... With perseverance of doomed the Germans were fighting on the wreckage of their past ...

The Unknown War 19 — The last battle of the unknown war

In February 1945, at a conference in Yalta the Big Three has signed a secret document concerning Japan. Among other things, it said that the Soviet Union declared war on Japan after two or three months after the end of hostilities in Europe. That was how the Soviet Union did. During the 27 days between August 6, when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and September 2, when Japan formally surrendered, the Russians were able to destroy a powerful Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria, and get back the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin that were lost during the Russian-Japanese war. These were the last battle of World War II.

The Unknown War 20 — A Soldier of the unknown war

1,418 days of war were ended, each of which was very hard and bitter. For the Soviet Union, this victory was of special significance: it was a war, which killed 20 million of its citizens. In our country there is hardly a family that didn’t lose at least one person during the war. Wherever fighting the Soviet soldiers, people remember them. Together with their friends they are based on squares, in parks, in quiet road forks across Eastern Europe. Tens of thousands of known and unknown, they gave their lives: 120 thousand for the liberation of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Austria; 600 thousand for the liberation of Poland, more than 100 thousand for the three weeks in Berlin.




The Defeat of German Forces at Moscow

The Defeat of German Forces at Moscow is a Soviet documentary film about the Battle of Moscow in the Great Patriotic War. Production of the Central Studio of Newsreels, October 1941 – January 1942.


In November 1941, Stalin decided to start filming a documentary about the Battle of Moscow. Leonid Varlamov and Ilya Kopalin were identified as two directors. Fifteen frontline operators, including R. Karmen and A. Krylov took part in shooting.

On February 23, 1942 the film appeared on the screen.

The film awarded the Stalin Prize.


To be shown in the U.S. the film was adapted for American viewers: it was re-vocalized and reinstalled. The title was changed to Moscow Strikes Back.

The film won the USA National Board of Review award for the best documentary in 1942.

In 1943 — the first in the USSR Oscar in the category Best Documentary.


Watch a movie



Ordinary Fascism

 Ordinary Fascism is a documentary film by Mikhail Romm, released in 1965.

The film uses newsreel captured material from the film archives of the Propaganda Ministry of Nazi Germany and Hitler's personal photo archives, as well as snapshots of SS-men.

“Of the huge amount of material we have selected only those pieces which seemed to us the most amazing, giving us the opportunity to reflect together with you ...”, said the director of the film. Mikhail Romm’s film is divided into some episodes.

  1. Episode One
  2. Mein Kampf, or How to handle cattle hides
  3. A few words about the author
  4. And at this time ...
  5. Culture of the Third Reich
  6. Great National Idea in Action
  7. Ein Volk. Ein Reich. Ein Fuhrer.
  8. About Myself
  9. Art
  10. We belong to you ...
  11. But there was another Germany
  12. With the mass we should handle as with a woman
  13. The Fuehrer ordered — we execute
  14. Ordinary Fascism
  15. End of the Third Reich
  16. The last chapter, unfinished ...
To show depravity of fascist regime Mikhail Romm used German archives, archives of postwar anti-fascist organizations and archive photographs seized from the German soldiers (in the film they are called “amateur photographs found at the SS-men”).

Romm uses tricks “on the brink” — with the help of reverse playback he repeats several times a kiss of party functionary with a breeder Krupp (he emphasizes the servility of party members before the capital), he uses still pictures with the most unattractive facial expressions of Nazi leaders, in general, he creates a truly propaganda (distorting, filtering the facts) style of narration. However, he makes high level generalizations, creates a picture of totalitarian manipulation of consciousness, regardless of the particular political system.


Ordinary Fascism had a significant impact on all post-Soviet generation due to its publicistic and humanist pathos under the guise of impartiality.



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