First World War - War in the Air

THE DEFEAT OF THE GERMANS NEAR MOSCOW [Main Title]

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Catalogue number
  • CVN 309
Production date
1942
Place made
USSR
Subject period
Creator
Category
film

Object description

Soviet propaganda documentary film using battlefield footage taken by 15 combat cameramen, the narration of which is directly translated into English to discuss and encourage the defeat of the Germans within the Soviet Union.

Content description

The film uses a map to illustrate German expansion before the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22nd June 1941 and then moves ahead to point at which the German Army directly threatened Moscow in December 1941. Stalin's declaration of a state of siege is followed by preparations for the city's defence; soldiers and civilians camouflage buildings, erect barriers and dig tank traps. Stalin makes a speech to the Soviet people encouraging them to fight and defeat the invaders and workers in the factories continue to produce weapons and ammunition. Red Army tank, cavalry and ski infantry reinforcements move up and civilians are recruited into the Workers' Extermination Battalion, equivalent to the British Home Guard. As 80 German divisions attack, General Zhukov prepares his counter offensive. Soviet tanks, infantry, cavalry and aircraft are shown advancing to attack to the north and south of Moscow; paratroops land to the north as part of the offensive, and General Vlasov, who was later taken prisoner and fought for the Germans, also appears. The Red Army continues to advance, and a quote from Churchill's radio speech of 10th May 1942 is played as German soldiers are taken prisoner 'He [Hitler] forgot about the Winter'. A series of scenes show jubilant Russian civilians greeting the Red Army as more towns are liberated. The death and destruction left by the retreating German Army is shown in detail, including the remains of captured Russian soldiers burnt or blown up alive. The damage to the New Jerusalem Monastery at Istra, and to the homes of Chekov, Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy is shown, and the bodies of executed civilians, still hanging from the gallows, are used to illustrate German brutality. German losses are listed as scenes of destroyed and abandoned equipment appear, from the gornud and from an aerial camera. Meetings of workers in Moscow advocate further efforts to defeat the Germans, an armoured train moves out of a shed and into action, and Russian soldiers pass the monument to Napoleon's defeat at Borodino in 1812. The film ends with the message that Hitler's armies, once thought unbeatable, can be beaten.

Physical description

16mm

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