52:19 | Modern history

WWII: Battle of Crete

Occupation  |  Episode 3  |  The History Channel

The resulting German and Italian occupation of Crete was marred by massacres on both sides of both German soldiers and Greek partisans and civilians. More than 8000 Cretans lost their lives in the resistance. When 20,000 Italians surrendered in 1943 they were made POWs too but almost a third drowned at sea after German merchant ships carrying them to the mainland were torpedoed by British submarines. These forgotten tragedies constituted one of the world's biggest maritime disasters. In all more than 20,000 people from all sides lost their lives in the Cretan conflict. The British intelligence service, known as the SOE, assisted what became one of the most successful resistance movements of the war. It helped rescue Allied soldiers who had been abandoned on the island and involved agents such as archaeologist John Pendulbury, known as 'the Cretan Lawrence' and writer and adventurer Patrick Leigh Fermor who staged the famous kidnap of the German commander of Crete with William Moss. Crete was one of the last places surrendered by the Nazis right at the end of the war. German soldiers had to be escorted off the island by the British for fear of reprisals. Two German commanders on the island were executed by firing squad for war crimes. It took more than 30 years before the 4000 German dead were properly buried on the island. They were stored in a monastery as claims for reparations dragged on. They have still not been settled today.

52:47 | Modern history

The Man Who Cracked the Nazi Code

The History Channel

June 6, 1944. D-Day. The biggest land and sea operation in history: 256,000 men, 20,000 vehicles and 4000 landing craft. On this pivotal moment in history when the outcome of the Second World War was at stake, much has been written, recounted, analysed, examined, filmed and filmed again. And yet, what if I told you the D-Day landings were only possible thanks to a socially awkward, antimilitarist mathematician whose dream was to build an artificial brain? Far-fetched? Let's add that this crazy dream, besides bringing a halt to Hitler's plans, gave rise to modern computer science. The dreamer in question was Alan Turing and his field was the most fundamental branch of mathematics, logic. How could someone who lived in the realm of ideas have had such an impact on history and the world? The answer can be found at the end of a railway line on the outskirts of London, in a quiet little town by the name of Bletchley. It was here, during the World War II, that a huge game of chess was played out, the aim of which was to crack the encoded communications of the German army. In this game which changed the course of history, the key player was an eccentric homosexual, a non-conformist mathematician and keen cross-country runner with a taste for self-mockery: Alan Turing. The unlikely trajectory of this genius, entwined despite himself with world events, will allow us to take a fresh look at a whole section of the history of the World War II, and discover that a close link exists between the Allied victory and the invention of the computer.

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