World War II Behind Closed Doors

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A reader of my recent LRC blog on The Soviet Story alerted me regarding the six-part BBC series, World War II Behind Closed Doors. This is not white-washed ‘politically correct’ court history but an exceptional documentary account based on archival information obtained after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The series powerfully shows the true barbaric nature of the conflict and the duplicity of all major leaders, from the time of the Molotov/Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact to the death of Stalin in 1953. The story told here is an incisive narrative with interviews by historical witnesses, coupled with dramatic reenactments of behind the scenes meetings and other key events. It does not pull any punches but could have been a little tougher on FDR and Harry Hopkins. The final episode on post-war events of the early Cold War is a more conventional than revisionist account. However the portrayals of the ruthless Josef Stalin and Janus-faced intriguer Winston Churchill are particularly outstanding. Churchill is not shown as the towering British lion but as the venal betrayer of Polish independence and sovereignty depicted in Norman Davies’s No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939–1945, or Ralph Raico’s magnificent Great Wars & Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal. The principal figure behind the documentary series, British historian Laurence Rees, has also authored World War II Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis, and the West.

12:32 pm on July 29, 2011