The first episode of this three-part series on Joseph Stalin looks in detail at how the dictator managed to transform his real self into a legendary hero. Stalin had himself depicted in films, paintings and statues as a kind, dedicated man who doted on small children. The reality was different.
In the summer of 1940 Winston Churchill faced a terrible dilemma. France had just surrendered and only the English Channel stood between the Nazis and Britain. Germany was poised to seize the entire French fleet, one of the biggest in the world. With these ships in his hands, Hitler's threat to invade Britain could become a reality. Churchill had to make a choice. He could either trust the promises of the new French government that they would never hand over their ships to Hitler, or he could make sure that the ships never joined the German navy by destroying them himself.
Joseph Stalin is back. Or is he? Reporter John Sweeney travels more than 5000 miles through the old Soviet Union, from Stalin's birthplace in Georgia to a former labour camp in Russia, to find out if one of the 20th century's most notorious mass-murderers is really being rehabilitated.
March 5, 1953. Stalin is dead. One day later, he is lying in state in an open coffin as more than 1.5 million mourners make their way through the streets of Moscow to pay their last respects. This film recounts the events of the last days of Stalin's life and tells the story of his death. On the morning of March 2, 1953, at his secret summer home in Kuntsevo, on the outskirts of Moscow, neither his bodyguards nor his closest comrades are prepared for what they hear when the officer on duty reports that he has found Stalin unconscious in his study. No-one could say precisely when the stroke had occurred, as the guard had been under strict orders not to disturb him. But Stalin's death is a momentous occasion and soon triggers a murderous battle for power in the Kremlin. To the surprise of many, it is Nikita Khrushchev who ultimately triumphs in the battle to be Stalin's successor. In this film, Stalin's last body double tells his incredible story for the very first time. Secret service officers, military personnel, Khrushchev's son, gulag prisoners, authors and historians are interviewed. Film locations include the summer home in Kuntsevo, where the dictator died. The house is shrouded in mystery and still closed to the public.
The paranoid and murky world of atomic espionage behind one of the most astonishing untold chapters in Australian history; the quest by successive governments to fortify the nation with atomic weapons.