Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Cambridge
Unit of AssessmentHistory
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Political Science
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Summary of the impact
As a result of Professor David Reynolds' research on Stalin, Churchill
and the war on the Eastern
Front, 1941-2, he was invited by the BBC to write and present a 90-minute
This was first shown on BBC4 (13 June 2011) and repeated on four
subsequent occasions, in
addition to several late-night repeats. Total audience figure was in
excess of two million.
This work led to Reynolds receiving a judges' nomination (2012) for the
Grierson Prize, awarded
for the best historical documentary screened in 2011-12. Nominations are
for the four finalists.
Reynolds was invited to write articles about the film for the Daily
Telegraph, 13 June 2011 and
BBC History Magazine, June 2011, and the film has subsequently been
sold to and screened in
seven foreign countries.
The research was carried out by Professor David Reynolds (Professor of
University of Cambridge, 2002 to present).
Reynolds' research on Churchill and Stalin was embodied in his book In
Command of History:
Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War (London:
Penguin, 2004), which was
awarded the Wolfson History Prize, and in related essays such as
`Churchill, Roosevelt and the
Stalin Enigma' published in his book From World War to Cold War
(Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2006), pp. 235-48.
It also drew on an ongoing collaborative research project headed by
Reynolds and Prof. Vladimir
Pechatnov (Director of European and American Studies, Moscow State
Institute of International
Relations — MGIMO) to publish a complete critical edition of Stalin's
correspondence with Churchill
and Roosevelt. Pechatnov and his team have accumulated a digitized
database from the Stalin
correspondence in the Russian State Archives and related material from the
Archives. Reynolds' collaboration has enabled the Russian team to
integrate this with material
from the National Archives at Kew, the Churchill Archives Centre in
Cambridge and the Franklin D.
Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, New York. Reynolds also secured a British
Academy grant of
£7,500 (SG 100185) to assist with the costs of travel, research and
translation. The work will be
published in Russian in 2014 and subsequently in an English translation.
- Reynolds has conducted a detailed examination of the historiography of
accounts of WW2 centre on `our finest hour' in 1940 and other
such as Alamein and D-Day. The magnitude of the struggle on the Eastern
Front is still
little known in Britain — 27-28 million Soviet war dead compared with
Between June 1941 and June 1944 90% of the German army's battle casualties
wounded, prisoners or missing) were inflicted by the Red Army. Reynolds'
intended to open up the Eastern Front to a general British audience and to
importance of Soviet survival in 1941-2 in distracting Hitler away from
- Reynolds' research has shown that, if the Soviet war effort is noted in
the West, it is usually
because of Stalingrad (end 1942). Reynolds' work emphasizes the magnitude
of the crisis
facing the USSR in both 1941 and 1942 and demonstrates the profound impact
initially disastrous war leadership.
- Churchill has usually been seen in Britain as an ardent Cold Warrior,
discerning the threat from the Soviet Union. Reynolds' research has
Churchill's attitude to the USSR oscillated during the war. In particular,
enormous (and unwarranted) faith in Stalin personally, an attitudinal
pattern established by
his visit to Moscow in August 1942.
- The Anglo-American failure to mount a Second Front in France in 1942
and 1943 meant
that the land war against Germany would be decided on the Eastern Front.
guaranteed him a position in the heart of Europe. Reynolds' research
examines the moral
complexities of how overcoming one evil helped build up another.
References to the research
David Reynolds, In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing
the Second World War
(London: Penguin, 2004), pp. xxvi + 646, which was awarded the Wolfson
History Prize in 2005.
David Reynolds, From World War to Cold War; Churchill, Roosevelt and
the International History of
the 1940s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), especially
• `Churchill the Appeaser? Between Hitler, Roosevelt and Stalin,
1940-1944' (pp. 99-120),
• `Churchill, Roosevelt and the Stalin Enigma' (pp. 235-48)
• `Churchill, Stalin and the "Iron Curtain"' (pp. 249-66).
`Stalin's Correspondence with Churchill and Roosevelt in World War Two:
An Annotated Edition'.
British Academy grant of £7,490 (SG 100185) awarded June 2010: duration 1
Sept. 2010 to 31
Details of the impact
Reynolds wrote and presented a 90-minute historical documentary `1941 and
the Man of Steel',
about Stalin, Churchill and the war on the Eastern Front, 1941-2, which
was first shown on BBC4
on 13 June 2011 (5a). The audience figure of 557,000 was
exceptional for BBC4, being one-third
of the number watching `Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die' at the same time
on BBC 2. Reynolds'
film was repeated at prime time (9pm or 10pm) on four more occasions (22
Sept. and 13 Nov.
2011, 10 April 2012 and 9 Jan. 2013), in the last two cases still
attracting 447,000 viewers (1.9%
audience share) and 286,000 (2.4%). On these five primetime showings
alone, the film reached
nearly two million viewers (5c).
There are no recorded figures for those who watched the film in
late-night viewings, on i-player or
via pirated downloaded versions on youtube, e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRlOt-wqFHY
But that site alone had received 161,763 hits up to 23 Sept. 2013.
The film set out for a wider audience leading themes of Reynolds'
research, such as the
importance of Soviet resistance in 1941-2 for Britain's eventual victory
in WW2 and also the
excessive faith that Churchill placed in building a personal relationship
The film earned a judges' nomination (25 Sept. 2012) for the Grierson
Prize, awarded for the best
historical documentary screened in 2011-12. Nominations are for four
finalists in the competition
Reynolds wrote spin-off articles published in the Daily Telegraph,
13 June 2011, p. 30, and BBC
History Magazine, June 2011, pp. 50-4 (5e, 5f).
As a result of this film's impact, Reynolds was commissioned by the BBC
to write and present a
follow-up film also based on his research about World War Two (`1942 and
which was first shown in October 2012.
The production company (Clearstory) sold the film to SBS (Special
Broadcasting System) —
Australia's leading public broadcasting network — who aired it in April
subsequently arranged deals in Poland (TVN 24), New Zealand (Foxtel),
Turkey, Hungary, Georgia
and Estonia (BBC Worldwide) (5d).
Sources to corroborate the impact
a. BBC4 website links to WW2: 1941 and the Man of Steel
b. Grierson Prize, 2012, website http://www.griersontrust.org/grierson-awards-the-british-documentary-awards/nominations.html
c. Viewing figures supplied in a statement from person 1 (director of the
d. Clearstory Ltd — contracts report 262, 2 July 2013
e. Daily Telegraph, 13 June 2011, p. 30:
f. BBC History Magazine, June 2011, pp. 50-4 (pdf)