Persecution of Jewish People
This is the story of the greatest war of world history, of men and encounters that cast huge shadows across time. In this 13-part series we examine the events and personalities that drove World War II. In part one of this series we look at the legacy of Versailles and the League of Nations and their impact on events to come. The Versailles Conference and Treaty supposedly ended World War I; the guarantee of peace was the punishment and weakening of Germany. This humiliation would fuel the fire of one man's ambition to exact revenge - Adolf Hitler. When Hitler came to power in 1933 he did so on a wave of anti-Versailles feeling, assuring the German people that he would destroy the slave treaty of Versailles and once again make Germany a great power. With the impotence of the League of Nations further illustrated by their failure to act against Italy's invasion of Ethiopia and Japan's subsequent war on China, Hitler realised there was nothing to stop his plans for German rearmament and expansion. In 1938 he announced his plans to annexe Austria. With this country now in his pocket the way was clear for Hitler to move on to his next target - Czechoslovakia. As 1938 drew to a close Britain's Prime Minister was talking of appeasement, whilst a lone voice in Parliament, Winston Churchill, was warning the world about the coming dangers of Nazism.
In this episode, we examine the might of the Japanese as they win victory after victory in the Pacific. In this phase of the conflict the Allies endured some of their most significant losses.
Even after the triumph of VE Day, there still remained a war to be fought. The final act of this war was played out in the skies above Japan. A new US President, Harry Truman, took the devastating decision to deploy a new weapon against the forces of Japan. The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the dreams of Imperial Japan were ended at a stroke.
Everywhere is now part of our story as we enter a period in history which, like no other, is dominated by the acts and personalities of a small group of powerful leaders - Titans. This is the time for Churchill and Roosevelt, Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini, for Tojo to dominate both public and daily life. Peripheral figures to the main game are still part of the story - Eisenhower, of course, supreme commander in Europe and president-to-be and independence leaders Gandhi in India and De Valera in Ireland.
Stalin, who was highly praised at the 17th congress of the Communist Party in 1934, launched the construction of the Moscow canal and a new Trans-Siberian route. The NKVD, which took over from the GPU, increased the number of camps and transformed the Gulag into a veritable prison industry. In 1935, the number of prisoners in the Gulag exceeded one million. The trials held by Moscow, which were the showcase of the Great Purge, hid the repression that was hitting Soviet society and the anonymous. Mass executions and arbitrary arrests rapidly increased in number. In January 1939, 2 million prisoners were working in the Gulag, but on 22 June 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. As a consequence, in 1942, detention conditions in the gulag degenerated. Famine and disease caused the death of many prisoners. In 1945, in spite of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, the Gulag archipelago, supplier of essential raw materials, continued expanding.
Life in Edwardian Britain wasn't all fun and games. The Siege of Sydney Street, in East London in 1911, is the perhaps the first terrorist attack ever caught on film. Remarkably, a young Winston Churchill then home secretary can be seen controversially directing operations just yards away from the gunfire.