The War of the Century: When Hitler Fought Stalin
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- BBC Books
The invasion of the Soviet Union in June 941 was the start of a war on the Eastern Front such as the world had never seen before, a conflict which unleashed the Holocaust against the Jews and left a death toll of over 30 million. Our familiarity with the events of the war fought by the British and American allies, and the veil of secrecy that descended with the decades of Cold War that followed, has tended to push into the background of Hitler's 'war of annihilation' in the USSR. In reality, it played a major part in determining the outcome of World War II and shaped the face of Europe in a Cold War which lasted for the next 45 years.
The fall of Communism has made it possible to find and question many of those who experienced the 'war of century'. With this new evidence, Laurence Rees explores the truth behind the war, its ruthless leaders and its devastating effects on the military and civilian populations of both sides.
By concentrating on key events and policies - such as Hitler's decision to invade the Soviet Union, the legendary and horrific siege of Stalingrad, the German invaders' barbaric treatment of Soviet civilians and Red Army prisoners of war, and Stalin's paranoid revenge on real and perceived collaborators - Rees shows how this was a new and different kind of war. He also makes us pose the uncomfortable question: just how much like Hitler, the twentieth century's prince of darkness, was the West's ally, Stalin?