In April 1944, two Jewish prisoners miraculously escaped from Auschwitz. When they recounted what they had left behind, their harrowing testimony revealed the true horror of the Holocaust to the outside world for the first time. They described in forensic detail the gas chambers and the full extent of the extermination programme. The news they brought presented the Allies with one of the greatest moral questions of the 20th century: Should we bomb Auschwitz? While the Allies deliberated in London and Washington, the killing machine ground on in southern Poland. One month after the men’s escape, almost 800,000 Hungarian Jews had been rounded up awaiting transport to Auschwitz. By early July 1944, the majority had been transported. Most of them were murdered on arrival. As the killing at Auschwitz reached its frenzied climax, the outcome of the Second World War hung in the balance. Millions of troops were fighting on both fronts and battling for supremacy in the air. Should the Allies use their resources to push on and win the war or to stop the industrial slaughter at Auschwitz? The request to bomb the camp, with 30,000 captive prisoners, was remarkable and came from a place of utter desperation. But it was a direct response to the destruction of an entire people. There were operational challenges - was it possible to reach the camp to bomb it? How many heavy bombers would it take? What would the Nazi propaganda machine say about such an attack? - as well as complex moral ones. How many prisoners would likely die in such a raid? Can you kill friendly civilians in order to save the lives of those being transported towards the death camp? These were the hard questions faced by Churchill, Allied Air Command and the Jewish Agency.
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September 1950. On the banks at Incheon, 30 miles from Seoul, General MacArthur is victorious. The landing he planned, to rescue his men stuck in Pusan, was a success. But the war isn't over. In the North, the Americans will have to face an unexpected enemy. On the other side of the frozen Yalu river, Mao, covert as always, has stationed 300,000 of his men. On Thanksgiving Day, the Chinese and North Koreans attack the US army, whose only choice is to fall back. Faced with his army's defeat and Chinese intervention, Truman considers the atomic bomb... Further south, in Indochina, the French are also suffering setbacks. An ambush set by the Vietminh on the road Route Coloniale 4 annihilates them. To relieve the situation, the French government sent as a last resort one of its most famous generals: Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. French win a victory in Vinh Yen , but suffer heavy losses too. The parallel between Korea and Indochina is striking: the same hidden operators, frightened civilians, bomb blasted regions, columns of emaciated prisoners... For De Lattre, it is indeed one and the same war: the war for freedom, against communism. And the real enemy is Stalin, who sends North Koreans weapons and MIG-15 planes, and struts in front of his people with a super bomber capable of carrying his brand new atomic bomb. Will Stalin conquer the world?
In the first programme, he asks how such a small country got such a big head, and how a tiny island in the North Atlantic came to rule over a quarter of the world's population. He travels to India, where local soldiers and local maharajahs helped a handful of British traders to take over vast areas of land. Spectacular displays of imperial power dazzled subject peoples and developed a cult of Queen Victoria as Empress, mother and virtual God. In Egypt, Jeremy explores the bit of Empire that never was, as Britain's temporary peace-keeping visit turned into a seventy year occupation. He travels to the desert where Lawrence of Arabia brought a touch of romance to the grim struggle of the First World War. As Britain came to believe it could solve the world's problems, he tells the story of the triumphant conquest of Palestine by Imperial troops - and Britain's role in a conflict that haunts the Middle East to this day.
On the morning of June 6, 1944, thousands of ships reached the French coast of Normandy as part of an Allied operation to take back France from the Germans. For the next 85 days, U.S., British, and Canadian soldiers engaged in conflicts of unimaginable violence, conquering and liberating the region's cities, but at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. From the D-Day invasion to the final Nazi surrender in Argentan, this is the definitive story of the three-month Battle of Normandy as it's never been seen before.
2018 • History
The dramatic story of the D-Day landings and of the liberation of Paris. In the east the Soviets liberate Auschwitz and fight their way to the heart of Berlin. Germany finally surrenders, but Japan fights on until the atom bombs are dropped.