Soviet wartime cameramen accompanied the fighting troops of the Red Army on foot, aboard their tanks, and in their aircraft to film this epochal documentary of the Battle of Moscow that halted the vaunted and – until then, unstoppable – German war machine cold in its tracks. It is a stunning record of the Soviet capital’s epic civilian defense, as well as the major battle that included ski troops and airborne paratroop forces, plus the liberation of Russian villages.
In what became the most widely shown Allied film documentary of the war, it was released to great acclaim in the USSR on Feb. 23, 1942, just a month after the actual battle ended!
‘Defeat of the German Forces Near Moscow’ chronicled a massive Red Army victory in many ways greater than that later at Stalingrad, showing for the first time that the Germans could be beaten. Revealing barbaric Nazi atrocities against both servicemen and civilians – and German dead, too – the film had a terrific propaganda effect at home and worldwide. Released in the United States as ‘Moscow Strikes Back’, it won an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1942, having previously won Russia’s own Stalin Prize.
The film became a powerful weapon in the Allied alliance that began the day after the Moscow battle, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.