Film opens showing Adolf Hitler, in World War 2, with Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch, Army Commander-in-Chief, and other top military members, planning for Operation Barbarossa (Attack to the East toward the Soviet Union). As he walks away from the table, he speaks briefly to Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, head of the Kriegsmarine (German Navy). Next Hitler and Marshall Hermann Goering are seen strolling and conversing at the Eastern Front headquarters, "the wolf's lair," (Wolfschanze) near Rastenburg, East Prussia (now Poland). Scene shifts to the Soviet Union, where Joseph Stalin is seen speaking at a podium. A large outdoor audience, including some soldiers, is gathered to listen. Images showing the Soviet people responding to defend against the German Nazi invasion. Closeup of Soviet soldiers with shouldered weapons. The nearest is holding a PPSh-41 submachine gun. Closeups of Soviet women and men in military uniforms. Soviet citizens heading to enlist in the military. Soldiers marching loosely n a city street. Patriotic singing is heard in background. A formation of Soviet women marching. Some carry furled banners. Soviet women carrying simple farm implements, marching in a rural part of Russia and joining others who are working to prepare anti-tank ditches and barriers in the countryside. Views of hundreds of people working on this project. Weapons being provided to rural Soviet guerrillas who will operate behind enemy lines. Anti-aircraft guns being set up overlooking a harbor. Closeup of Soviet soldiers manipulating controls on a camouflaged anti-aircraft gun and others maneuvering a four-barreled anti-aircraft machine gun. Local farm family members on makeshift towers keeping watch over huge fields of wheat. Soviet farmers harvesting the wheat with scythes. An armed farmer shielding his eyes as he searches the skies for German airplanes. Closeup of a man cutting wheat with a scythe as women gather the sheaves behind him. Motorized harvesters at work in a field of wheat. Closeup of a woman operating one. Tractors used in harvesting. Women and children gleaning what remains behind in the harvested fields. Farmers driving their cattle East (away from advancing Germans). Evacuating Soviet people employ a scorched earth policy, burning their homes, barns, and anything that might be of value to advancing German forces. Views of burning houses. Soviet industrial enterprises working around the clock producing war materiel. Seen are petroleum facilities; a large plant expelling coke; coal pouring into a barge; men at work at a steel furnace; ribbons of hot steel moving out of rollers; a huge manufacturing plant in operation. Next, a Soviet Kliment Voroshilov (KV) tank is seen moving across a field. Russian Ploikarpov 1-16 fighter planes in flight. A large formation of German Dornier DO 17 bombers in flight high overhead. Soviet forces retreating. Views of fallen German soldiers, fires burning, and remnants of a downed German bomber. German prisoners of war marching under guard and others surrendering with hands in the air. Closeups of some German prisoners. A Russian Petlyakov Pe-2 aircraft parked in snow with engines running. Fallen German soldiers lying in the snow along a roadway, in Winter of 1941-42. A Russian Kliment Voroshilov (KV) tank maneuvering in the snow. Russian Bt-7 Light Cavalry Tanks proceeding toward the front in Springtime, 1942.
City of Novorossiysk is recaptured by Russians from Germany. Russian heavy artillery fired. Buildings in view. Smoke rises up due to explosions. Russian soldiers observe the area through binoculars. Russian soldiers aboard the ships. Naval and aerial bombardment on the city. Intense street fights. Wrecked and damaged buildings in view. Rubble on street. Russian soldiers cheer as Russians recapture Novorossiysk.
U.S. Vice President Henry A. Wallace on a journey to China through Soviet Union. An animated portion of a globe shows his next destination. The Vice President lands in Novosivirsk. A signal officer in a jeep gives signal. People on streets and the view of buildings in the city. Vice President visits the Yak fighter plane industry. American fliers and others look at the plane. The plane in flight. The biggest opera house in the world. Wallace addresses the people at a public meeting. He addresses them in Russian language. Civilians applaud. Wallace speaks into a microphone. People seated in a hall and listen to his speech.
The Moscow summit between the U.S. and USSR in Moscow, Russia. Pictures depict the tribes and people of America. People pack the pictures in a box for the visit of the Soviet Union people. Some pictures of the Russian art. General Secretary of the Communist Party of Soviet Union Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev visits the United States. People on the street to receive him. The U.S. Secretary of State George Pratt Shultz and his wife visit Russia. People greet them. Gorbachev and the U.S. president Ronald Reagan at a summit in Washington DC. Americans at the summit. Animation depicts the merging of cultures between the two nations and the exchange of magazines. American rock star Billy Joel and his group perform in the Soviet Union on New Year's eve. Cultural exchange between the two countries includes a piano performance of Horowitz in Moscow and a ballet performance in the United States by the Bolshoi Ballet. An exchange program at school level. Soviet children at an American outdoors ropes and climbing activity during an exchange program. The talks held to discuss vital issues in New York. People sit in an amphitheater with officials at a Chautaqua Talk in 1987. The people of the Soviet Union watch an "Information USA" touring exhibit in the Soviet Union that presents American culture. A young Russian boy speaks about his interest in American culture. People watch a science exhibition. Astronauts of the USA and Soviet Union in a spacecraft. Collaboration of the two nations to protect the ozone layer. Officials of the two nations sign an agreement relating to the nuclear power plants. George Shultz, the U.S. secretary of State, inaugurates a system that communicates nuclear dangers. A woman in the communication room. Food grain supplied to the Soviets. Soviet Union tanks and soldiers in Afghanistan. Soldiers walk on a street. American journalist Nicholas Daniel disembarks a plane after his release. The view of the American Embassy. Mikhail Gorbachev with U.S. President Ronald Reaga
Series 'Why We Fight' episode "Prelude to War" depicts the battles during World War II. United States soldiers parade on street lead by a band. Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.December 7, 1941. The London Blitz with buildings destroyed and burning. The Eiffel Tower in Paris with Nazi flag flying atop it. German troops marching into Paris, through the Arch of Triumph. Japanese warplanes bombing shanghai, China, in 1937. Chinese residents running for shelter. Glimpse of German "Schwerer Gustav" 80 cmrailway gun firing during German offensive against Soviet Union in 1941. German forces entering Czechoslovakia in 1938. German mounted troops entering France in 1940. Heavy guns firing. German ships en route to Norway 1940. German Ju-52 aircraft flying low over trees. Montage showing rapid succession of war scenes, including heavy guns firing, smoke rising, explosions, an aircraft shot down and crashing straight down, German armor on the move, German Ju-52 aircraft dropping paratroopers into Holland and one flying over Athens, Greece, with Mount Lykabettus in the background. More of the same with Narrator mentioning Belgium, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Russia (where citizens are seen digging anti-tank trenches and fortifications). Cavalry charging across a field. A German tank rolling forward. A German Dornier Do-17 bomber taking off, and bombs falling.
Soviet Russian civilians meeting with Soviet Army personnel to receive weapons instruction and training in guerrilla warfare. The guerilla fighers and spies include men and women in civilian clothing. The Russian civilians take an oath to defend Russia. Soviet Petlyakov pe-2 dive bomber aircraft take off. Soviet aircraft drop bombs on a German supply depot. View of Soviet Russian pilot in cockpit of PE-2 aircraft, and bombs away view as bombs are released, followed by explosions and smoke on ground targets as seen from the air. Scenes in a Russian village as citizens scramble to ready the village when German Luftwaffe aircraft are spotted over head. Man ringing air raid bell in village to notify citizens. Men, women, and children villagers running. Boys mount horses and lead them to safety of nearby trees. Cattle are herded out of fields toward trees. Citizens on horseback receive rifles and take up camouflaged positions. Camouflaged Soviet anti aircraft artillery manned by Soviet soldiers begin firing at German aircraft in the skies. A German aircraft is hit and explodes when it crashes. Scene of Russian villagers and soldiers surrounding a crashed German Luftwaffe bomber aircraft.