Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

SECRETS OF THE DEAD: Deadliest Battle

Airs Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Soviet soldiers move through city trenches, Stalingrad, autumn 1942.

Credit: National Archives in College Park, Maryland

Above: Soviet soldiers move through city trenches, Stalingrad, autumn 1942.

Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was the largest troop offensive in military history. And the Battle of Stalingrad is arguably the deadliest single battle the world has ever seen. The eventual Russian victory has long been lauded as a shining example of Stalin’s military genius.

He is said to have baited the much more powerful and technologically advanced German army with a carefully executed withdrawal, then caught the Nazis unprepared in vicious city-block-by-city-block fighting that decimated the German forces.

By the time the battle was over, more than one million lives had been lost and the course of the war permanently altered. But 70 years after the battle was fought, newly uncovered documents, survivor accounts and stunning archival footage are revealing a different picture.

“Deadliest Battle” uncovers evidence that describes a forced retreat by the Russians, not a tactical one, in addition to much fiercer fighting in the countryside than previously thought. The battle not only changed the course of World War II, but established the Soviet Union as a superpower to be reckoned with in the long Cold War that lay ahead. More than a half-century later, the full impact of this horrific battle is revealed. Watch a preview.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Every weekday afternoon, we’ll send you our top TV picks so you can hear about upcoming programs and never miss your favorite shows.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.