Himmler, one of the most evil men in human history, began as a mild-mannered bookish intellectual who loved tradition, country pursuits, and nature. He became one of the most terrifying champions of the Third Reich, a monster even by Nazi standards. Himmler helped define Nazi ideology. His transformation into a Nazi monster is the story of the total collapse of morality and civilisation in Germany.
The Korean War was possibly the most important event since World War II - a war that never really ended, influencing international relations to this day. Despite millions of deaths and refugees, this war has been nearly forgotten. With the recent opening of archives in Russia, the US, China and South Korea, new historical material is now available, including colour films and hundreds of photographs, to rediscover a little-known conflict that shaped our world. Korea: The Never Ending War brings to light a new history of the event, plunging us into a critical turning point in world history. To understand the present situation, we need to revisit the past.
World War II was the sum of battles waged: strategies that succeeded or failed, changing the course of the war. Some were the result of careful planning leading to decisive victory, like the Allied assault on Rommel's forces at El Alamein. Others would defy carefully laid plans. From Pearl Harbor, where Japan's attack on US naval capacity instead galvanised America to join the war, to Okinawa, where the Allied victory came at such a cost they would turn to a new strategy in Japan, the atomic bomb. Each battle another domino tipping, leading the world inexorably towards victory or surrender.
Little more than 20 years after the guns fell silent, they roar back into life. Hitler annexes all of Czechoslovakia, Britain and France respond with promises to Poland and Stalin, and Hitler, with unexpected and pragmatic hypocrisy, signs a pact. Then, Hitler moves on Poland and the fighting starts in Europe. China and Japan are already fighting. The curtain goes up on what will become the world's first truly global and total war.
In what could turn out to be the largest murder case on British soil. Forensic archaeologist, Caroline Sturdy Colls, goes in search of a Nazi SS camp constructed in secrecy on the British Channel island of Alderney during World War II. Years of research and forensic investigation have led Sturdy Colls to examine remnants of concentration and labour camps on the quiet island, and to official SS archives in Germany, where clues emerge that lead Caroline to suspect that Alderney was the scene of Nazi mass murders. However, when local officials attempt to stop the investigation, the search for the final resting place of the victims is imperilled. Sturdy Colls led the forensic team that discovered the gas chambers at Treblinka in 2013, but now they face their toughest challenge to date this time much closer to home. Shrouded in a decades-long conspiracy of silence amid attempts by local authorities to prevent examination and the search for the missing victims of Nazi atrocities, the team must turn to state-of-the-art technology to get the answers they seek. After much discussion, compromise and stonewalling, their final discoveries, made in spite of vigourous protests by the Alderney government, are chilling.
The power in Europe has finally and fatally shifted - the resurgent Germany of the Third Reich is the dominant force. War rips Spain apart as a three-year civil war of terrible brutality starts. But Britain seems too preoccupied with an abdication crisis which sees its lovesick king surrender his crown. Japan steps up its aggression with a full-scale invasion of China. The British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, with his French counterpart, tries to satisfy Hitler at Munich by throwing him the Czech Sudetenland. The best that can be said is that they have bought time.
Weather and terrain could be a soldier's greatest enemies, or their greatest assets. Such was the case for these battles. For the Finnish resisting Soviet invasion, a smaller force using the home advantage to beat a larger, better equipped invading army. In Moscow, where Germany's attempt to take the city floundered in the face of the harsh Soviet winter. The Kokoda track, where Allied and Japanese forces struggled through the steep, muddy terrain to engage each other for control of Port Moresby. These were battles fought over some of the most difficult landscapes, and in the most treacherous conditions possible.
In the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics repression, gulags, collectivisation and Five Year Plans are beginning to tally the terrible human toll that will always be associated with Stalin's rule. Elsewhere, liberal democracy seems imperilled by shaky coalitions, continuing depression and debt. Accelerating armaments programs both in Europe and in Asia increasingly persuade people that they are no longer living in a post-war world. They are living in a pre-war world. Mussolini marches into Ethiopia - then called Abyssinia - and, as it had been by Japan's invasion of China, the fatal weakness of the League of Nations is exposed.
This episode explores battles decided by access to resources and how, whether the battle is won or lost, the outcome can still lead to ultimate defeat. Control over resources and access to supply lines could decide the outcome of a campaign. This is seen in Germany's return to the Ardennes forest, their ability to win the Battle of the Bulge depending on the element of surprise, instead stretching them beyond their capacity to sustain a longer fight. And the Battle of Midway, where Japan's loss of skilled officers marked the beginning of their slow march to surrender.
There were battles fought long and hard, from Guadalcanal in the Pacific to the siege at Leningrad, where more Soviets died than the combined casualties of all western Allies in the war. Others were rife with mistakes: short-lived, ill-conceived campaigns where targets were underestimated, whether it was the Allied forces' failed attempt to secure the defection of the French navy at Dakar or the end of the Japanese naval campaign at Leyte Gulf, where the Japanese first employed their shocking kamikaze tactics. This episode explores the breadth of these campaigns, including some of the more controversial strategies of the war.
Of all the leading Nazis in the series, Von Braun is by far the most fortunate, rewarded with a new life and fame in the US for one simple reason: he knew how to build rockets. Von Braun's story is similar to that of passionate young scientists who will do anything to pursue their vision. His ultimate dream is space travel, but to get there he will cooperate fully and enthusiastically with the Nazis, even becoming an SS officer, and working directly with Heinrich Himmler.
During the first week of September, Hitler decided to move the bombing strategy from the airfields to civilian London. We examine the spirit of the Londoners who defied Hitler, and ended the war.
Joseph Goebbels was the man who 'sold' Hitler and the Nazis to Germany. Joseph Goebbels was a club-footed socialist, university academic, and novelist who earned a doctorate in romance language and literature at Heidelberg University. He was the man who despised 'Jewish' American capitalism, and yet brought American advertising techniques in order to sell national socialism.
Over varying terrains, at sea and in the air, battles were fought and decided by access to resources and strategies tailored to their location. Through the islands of the Asia Pacific theatre, where the American's island hopping tactics and massive carrier fleet took full advantage of their environment. In the skies over Britain, where the fight for air supremacy hinged on proximity to supplies and aircraft factories. Or in the bombed remains of Stalingrad, where German soldiers marched to their captivity or death. These were battles won or lost using tactics that capitalised on the region where they were fought.
The Korean War was possibly the most important event since World War II - a war that never really ended, influencing international relations to this day. Despite millions of deaths and refugees, this war has been nearly forgotten. With the recent opening of archives in Russia, the US, China and South Korea, new historical material is now available, including colour films and hundreds of photographs, to rediscover a little-known conflict that shaped our world. Korea: The Never-Ending War brings to light a new history of the event, plunging us into a critical turning point in world history. To understand the present situation, we need to revisit the past.
Almost two decades after the close of the 20th century, which ten events will stay in our minds and hearts as those that definitively marked history? Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" Speech influenced civil rights laws, apartheid ended in South Africa, a bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, and man landed on the moon. Politics, wars, assassinations and inventions come into our final episode as we count down the top 10 events that changed our century, our world, and our way of life.
Sweeping attacks, first by Axis forces, then by Allies, were capable of shifting the balance of power in the war: whether it was the unstoppable progress of the Nazis through Western Europe, cutting off the English at Dunkirk; or the Soviets returning the favour in 1945, with millions of soldiers descending on Berlin; or the war's most effective blitzkrieg; Japan's series of audacious attacks through the Asia-Pacific region that saw them gain control of one-sixth of the surface of the planet. Often taking their opponents by surprise, these battles used tactics, luck or overwhelming numbers to reach their objective: domination.
From the Wright brothers who launched a plane into flight for the first time, to a country that launched a rocket called Sputnik into space for the first time, the 20th century showed our rapid advance in technological feats. In Episode Seven we countdown from 23 to 11 events that include a new vaccination for the polio epidemic, a leap in human rights with a new Declaration, and the invasion of Poland that started a world war.
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