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fought a tenacious enemy in real life and the screen. i'm oliver north, good night. . tonight on "war stories" -- from stallen grad to berlin. >> the most intense fighting man kind has ever seen. >> russians trying to withstand stallen and fighting hitler. americans come to help with planes, trucks and spam and even join the front lines. >> all hell breaking loose. and they're chattering in russian. >> old russian boys said -- >> the untold story of the eastern front. that's just ahead on "war stories." >> good evening. i'm oliver north. welcome to "war stories." this is fort wayne wright in fairbanks, alaska.
during world war ii, this base was part of a secret operation. aimed not at tokyo but berlin. in this very hangar hundreds of u.s. military aircraft flown from the lower 48 by americans were delivered to soviet pilots. all part of a global multi-billion dollar effort to that one goal. keeping russia in the war against hitler. the soviet union was an unlikely ally. churchill once described russia as a riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma. in europe, churchill and roosevelt agreed to deal with the brutal soviet dictator joseph stalin. tonight hear from american pilots who flew the treacherous route to this base, meet an american hero who fought with the red army and russians who defended their homeland against one dictator while living under the iron fist of another. it's the untold history of americans and russians in the titanic struggle of world war ii.
berlin, may, 1945. the german capital in ruins. soviet red army soldiers celebrated at the feet of nazi, germany. together allied generals, eisenhower, montgomery and the soviets zukoff toured the vanquished third reich. >> the nazis began the bombing. the allies finished it. >> victory wasn't always certain. five years earlier, hitler was at the height of his power. after the success of its blitzkrieg against poland in 1939, hitler turned against france, holland and belgium. he ruled the european continent. >> what they have done is they have integrated that air power. that luftwafa into a team. the team that characterizes
blitzkrieg. >> the author of numerous books on the front in world war ii. hitler tried to bring britain to its knees but prime minister winston churchill stood tough. >> we shall fight in the fields and streets. we shall never surrender. >> 1500 miles away stallen waited for hitler to invade the country. describe for us the relationship that the soviets had with the fascists in germany. >> stalin understood hitler's ultimate aim. >> published in 1927, hitler wrote when we speak of new territory we must think of russia. destiny itself points the way there. while hitler planned the soviet invasion, stalin was forming a cult around his own penalty. >> stalin was paranoid as most
dictators are and allows no resistance to surface in the nation, real or imagined. >> born to a cobbler in 1879, joseph trained to be an orthodox priest but at age 20 he joined the then illegal communist party and changed his last name to stalin meaning man of steel. when they were slaughtered in the 1917 october revolution, vladimir lenin took control of russia. stalin began a rise to power by means of a reign of terror. in 1933, he forced the starvation of 7 million ukrainians and four years later began a series of ruthless purges. he would kill millions and oversee the creation of gulags, the slave labor camps in the country. >> we didn't know the truth of what was happening in the country. >> she was born in 1920 just
after the revolution and grew up in moscow. >> it was a very quiet city, very seldom you would see cars passing along. mostly they were horses driving a carriage or tram was wonderful city. i loved it. >> her childhood friend -- >> she spoke so many foreign languages. we were all impressed by her. >> i also studied french. i went to an english school. i had three languages. >> the skills put her in the center of history. two other young russians would have their childhoods cut short by war. nickolai and 700 miles south maria lived in the bred basket of the southern step. >> i was 15 years old. my friends and i played hooky and ran around the streets. we had a great time. >> i was studying literature in school. my grandfather lived in moscow
an i planned on going there to become a teacher. >> but josef stalin was destroying lives in russia long before hitler. >> he continues to butcher off the aufrtss in his military. >> a blood letting designed to rid the military of all potential resistance. >> stalin's execution of his own army officers made hitler's plan to extend east easier and stalin tried to negotiate with hitler. >> he signed an agreement with hitler to create a buffer zone, poland, from stalin's standpoint in an attempt to deplay the inevitable. >> it took less than two years for hitler to break the agreement. early in the morning of june 22nd, 1941, the nazi war machine launched operation barbarossa, the invasion of the soviet union.
3 million german soldiers supported by over 800 luftwafa bombers and bombers announced a surprise attack with the blitzkrieg. just 200 miles from the front line, a rude awakening. >> in the morning, all of a sudden people started shouting around in the neighborhood. >> i was in town and suddenly i heard an announcement. >> we heard the radio saying that the germans have invaded the soviet union. there were big loudspeakers throughout the city and people would rush to that place and stand and the news was devastating. >> on day one, the red army lost 1,200 planes. one week, less than a tenth of their tanks remained. >> during the first 30 days of combat somewhere in the neighborhood of a million red army soldiers are fallen and
captured. huge masses. >> in the vast countryside am19 million people he had no shortage of conscripts. >> the husbands and sons and fathers good-bye. there was a good poem put to music and it was called -- which is sacred war. it's became a farewell. ♪ >> i left moscow and was stationed with the troops defending the city. >> it wasn't only men who were called up. >> the army asked for 30 girls from my town to become radio operators. i immediately signed up. >> the first five months of the war, 6 million people were mobilized. >> feeling that music and speaking about the sacred war, we thought at first that they would win very easily. >> but in only three months, the germans encircled and two months later the german generals could
see the spires of the moscow kremlin through their binoculars. across the atlantic, forced to abide by the neutrality act, the u.s. wasn't in the war but we were sending tons of supplies to a beleaguered great britain. joined in the fight by an even more desperate josef stalin. what is churchill's response? >> a realist leading a nation under siege. >> he was always anti-communist. anti-soviet. but he said that i'm prepared to be an ally with the demon as long as we fight the germans. >> we will continue hand in hand like comrades and brothers until every vest and of the nazi regime has been beaten into the ground. >> we had no idea that it would tang us 1,418 days. >> with the soviet union on the brink of defeat, the u.s. joins war and american men and women
when bar bahrossa begins, when's the response in the united states? >> the president was very interested in keeping russia in the war. >> retired major general alison was in war torn london. how did you end up going to russia? >> the president sent mr. hopkins to moscow and took myself with him. >> harry hopkins was president eisenhow eisenhower's closest adviser. he secretly flew to russia to offer aide to the soviets. >> we went to moscow an tried the find out from the russians what they really needed. >> with a nazis ravaging the country, the russians needed everything, food, arms and raw materials. >> finally it was agreed that we
would send to russia. >> shifting crates over the north atlantic to the russian port but this initial aid to keep russia in the war was a gamble for roosevelt. >> vooz velt, the realist, says we must keep the soviet union in the war if we are to hope to defeat hitler. >> he anticipated later on we were going to be involved. >> four days 56 pearl harbor, germany declared war on the united states. the u.s. now faced a common enemy with britain and the soviet union. russia became our new ally. >> a new working agreement between two of the greatest nations in the world. >> but german u-boats made the run deadly. other supply routes were quickly established including ones to iran and iraq. >> supplies for soviet russia. landing at ports of iraq and iran. >> and to alaska. >> washington decided that the way to deliver airplanes was to -- for american pilots to fly
them to alaska. >> it was named alison, the secret alaska siberia route. the plan called for american pilots to ferry planes from factories throughout the u.s. to great falls, montana. from there, the planes headed north across canada to ladd field in fairbanks, alaska. the pilots transferred to the soviets stationed right there at ladd field. >> da da and nyet was about the extent of our communicating. >> steve alison grew up on a ranch in southern california and joined the army right after pearl harbor and found himself in the cockpit. >> you got a taste of it. this is great. >> alaska, steve and other pie lots worked closely with the russians. >> they were fine follows. one thing we had in common, we both regularly take those aircraft up and down. >> also, ferrying planes for the russians were american women pilots. >> i had wanted to fly ever since i was a little girl.
>> betty shay hailed from buffalo, new york, and started flying when he was 19 and loved flying over niagara falls. >> you could see a little bit of heaven, that was it. i loved it. >> betty was one over a thousand women air service pilots that signed up to help the war effort. >> they weren't a bunch of women. kitty cat and they wanted to fly. >> the women pilots ferried planes from factories to air bases across the country. within hours of installing the last rivet, betty and the others took off to deliver the planes. one of the largest airplane manufacturers was bell aircraft located right in betty's hometown of buffalo, new york. >> so i sent around the bell stuff since i began to fly. >> bell was manufacturing a fighter called the p-39.
>> everett long is author of "cobras over the tundra." >> the design was different than anything else that the americans flew. >> machine guns and they were quite maneuverable. russians loved them. ♪ >> so much so that russian officers traveled to the bell factory in buffalo and even visited betty's beloved niagara falls. they requested thousands of the p-39s and at bell the planes were prepared for the long trip to the russian front. >> had a red star identity i. >> the pilots pick up the air cobras. >> alone in the sky, betty headed west for over 1,600 miles on a 2-day trip to montana. >> we were on our own. it was hours until we got to great falls and the men took them to alaska. >> alaska was considered an overseas air base.
women were not allowed to fly overseas. >> pilot steve alison flew the leg north of montana. nearly 2,000 miles over some of the most rugged, desolate terrain in north america. >> weather was the biggest adversa adversary. if you go down in the winter, your life span is very short. >> ladd field in fairbanks, alaska, temperatures reach 40 degrees below 0, built in 1939 to test cold weather equipment. >> it had hangars, big airstrip, of course. we turn the aircraft over and sign them off to the russians. >> from here, the russian pie lots would fly the 2,500 miles to siberia. while hitler wrecked havoc across the soviet union, this back door route to the russian front became a critical link in wartime aid to the soviets. >> never in my wildest dreams did i ever think of flying
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by september of '41 german army completely surrounded the city of leningrad and population of 2.5 million. >> russia's second largest city under long and bitter siege. >> why is leningrad? >> it was a critical position in russian history. therefore, there's prestige attached to it. essentially what hitler decides to do in september is to isolate
the city. >> when the germans began the blockade it was just horrible. i was hoping to get called up to fight. >> at 15, nickolai was too young. >> translator: so instead, i worked in the factories, carried bricks and cut steel. if you worked you got about 250 grams of bread a day instead of 150 everyone else got like my mother and sister. >> the civilian casualties had to be just horrific. >> there's a horrendous orders from hitler's headquarters essentially to starve the city out. >> hitler's evil plan was working. in november of 1941, 10,000 died of starvation. in december, 50,000. and by january of '42, with temperatures falling to 40 degrees below 0, the monthly toll reached a gruesome 120,000 dead. >> translator: my grandfather died of hunger in january 1942. and my mother and sister got really thin so i gave them some
of my bread. >> 1 million civilians perished. >> what's also forgotten is that another million military men were lost in the battles. >> but they wouldn't give in. stalin sent the most capable general, 46-year-old to lead the city's defense. stalin told him before he left, quote, it is almost a hopeless situation. but zukoff inspired them to survive the two and a half-year siege. >> translator: we survived the blockade. we knew we weren't alone in this war. we knew that america and great britain was fighting with us. >> a key city further south. stalin gunshot grad. >> hitler understood the symbolics, the importance and had to take the city from the standpoint of stalin, he had to defend it. battle of wills between two national leaders.
>> on june 28th, 1942, a million german soldiers attacked the red army's southern defenses in a drive to capture the important industrial city on the volga river. to the soviet soldiers and civilians in stalingrad, this is the hour of supreme trial. >> translator: the attack was terrifying. the germans surrounded us. we had to retreat. i got into a truck, a stud baker from the americans. they were helping us with supplies. >> average russian soldier's vocabulary is spam, studebaker. >> the machines are going to go. the germans kept attacking. bombing is brutal. they went after every single person.
and our rockets started firing. and that gave us the ability to hold off the germans. we were trying to retreat become into stalingrad. >> stalingrad was the red army's last chance to dig in and repeal the german's 6th army. >> with the germans right behind us, we finally got out and fled right back into stalingrad. >> the germans call it the war of the rats. soldiers face to face fighting from house to house and door to door in the basements of a ruined city. that's next on "war stories." when i was growing up, i was among the 1 in 6 american kids
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