Scavenging a large wooded area in central Russia, a group of volunteers happen upon corroded gas masks, mangled tanks and artillery fragments. These are remnants from the Battle of Moscow - the largest battle in human history and one of the most significant military campaigns during World War II. Metal scraps uncovered from a distant past might provide a hint of the brutality and mass casualties that resulted from this battle, but "Hitler's Frozen Army" creates a living history that pulsates with tension and you-are-there realism.
This defining battle was part of Operation Typhoon, a plan birthed by Adolf Hitler to overtake Moscow and eventually conquer the Soviet Union. In the end, the Soviets were able to strike a massive blow to German forces by thwarting their attempts to capture their capital city. This victory was hard fought, and led to over a million casualties.
This "war of annihilation" was orchestrated by two of the most infamous dictators against one another: Hitler and Joseph Stalin. The stakes couldn't be higher, and both sides knew it would be a fight to the death under unforgiving circumstances.
Forced to dodge consistent air bombardments, navigate thickly dense brush, and contend with a vastly depleted arsenal, the Soviet soldiers were badly outmaneuvered in the early stages of the battle. Hundreds of thousands were killed or taken hostage by the enemy. By mid-October of 1941, their fortunes had changed considerably. Heavy rains made mud of the heavily forested battle region, slowing the forward progression of Soviet troops. Freezing temperatures further compromise their advancement. In fact, many members of Hitler's army did not perish by rifle fire or cannon blast, but by the unrelenting savagery of the weather.
The filmmakers rely on the testimonies of surviving witnesses, personal stories of soldiers who died in battle, and a series of historians who break down the steps that effectively snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Marked by expertly chosen archived footage and a scattering of convincing reenactments, "Hitler's Frozen Army" is a pulse-pounding portrait of what many consider to be the greatest battle in the history of global military conflict.