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In this two-part program broadcast this evening on Arte, Michaël Prazan deciphers the seventy years of the USSR’s existence in the light of one of its flagships. Illuminating.

After Gulag (s), broadcast in 2019 on France 2, documentary maker Michaël Prazan returns to Russian soil with a two-part documentary series retracing the history of the Soviet Union through that of the Red Army. Stirring up numerous archive images and illuminating written testimonies, the two shutters methodically pierce the propaganda and recreate the whirlwind of an insane century.

Why did you choose the Red Army as a subject of study? It is almost personal: my father, an orphan of the Holocaust, grew up in communism, brought up in a house of the Central Childhood Commission (CCE). This experience left a deep mark on him. He had a passion for the Red Army Choirs. Later he became acutely aware of the reality of Stalinism, of the very nature of the USSR, but he retained a cultural, sentimental attachment and a deep admiration for the Red Army. “We wouldn’t exist without them,” he kept telling me. And he was right. I have always considered that there was an injustice to be rectified: in Western Europe, and particularly in France, we knew next to nothing about Operation Barbarossa and the inhuman conflict that the Red Army had to face.

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