Episode 1

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Episode 1 of 6

Duration: 59 minutes

Joseph Stalin was a tyrant responsible for the death of millions, yet he was also a vital ally of Britain and America during the Second World War.

How was it possible for Churchill and Roosevelt to deal with one tyrant, Joseph Stalin, in order to help beat another, Adolf Hitler? That's one of the key questions at the heart of this six-part landmark history series.

The series uses dramatic reconstructions, based on extensive fresh research in Russian and Western archives, and extraordinary testimony from witnesses of the time, including former Soviet secret policemen who have not spoken before on camera, in order to tell a 'behind closed doors' history.

This first episode focuses on the secret history of the non-aggression pact between Hitler and Stalin.

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  • World War II - USSR: From Enemy to Ally Collection

    Watch online our collection of archived programmes and documents
    inspired by World War II: Behind Closed Doors. The collection reveals how the BBC reported on the uneasy alliances made and broken throughout the war.

    Explore the BBC Archive collection
  • Article: World War II: Behind Closed Doors

    To what extent was it possible for the Western Allies to work with one tyrant, Joseph Stalin, in order to defeat another tyrant, Adolf Hitler, and yet still remain untainted themselves? Laurence Rees discusses how the opening of Soviet archives has provided many unpalatable answers.

    Read this article on BBC History
  • Article: Getting Behind the Closed Doors

    Sally Chick looks at the research challenges involved in uncovering what really went on during top secret conversations between the Allied leaders Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin more than 60 years ago.

    Read this article on BBC History


Laurence Rees
Andrew Williams
Laurence Rees


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