Closing the Ring • 2009 • episode "10/13" World War II In HD Colour

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In 1944 America and Britain in the West and Russia in the East began to close their pincer around Germany. But even now, the outcome was in the balance. The film explores the Allied disaster at Arnhem and the tragedy of the Warsaw uprising, when Polish freedom fighters were abandoned to their fate by Stalin. It tells the shocking story of the Liberation of the death camps, when the full extent of the Holocaust became clear for the first time. The film ends with Hitler's last great gamble, as he threw all his last reserves against the oncoming Allied forces in the Ardennes.

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World War II In HD Colour • 2009 • 13 episodes •

The Gathering Storm

The series starts with that great paradox. How could the settlement at the end of World War One - the 'war to end all wars' - lead to an even greater conflict just a few years later ? The answer is a tale with terrible resonancy today. This film shows how the Great Depression sapped the will of the democracies of the West to face up to a new and disturbing political phenomenon - the rise of militaristic dictators, in Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain. The result was that the major powers ignored all the warning signs and allowed the likes of Mussolini and above all Hitler to begin the course that would lead the world into catastrophe. The programme ends as Hitler plots his attack upon Poland.

2009 • History

Lightning War

This film shows how the Nazis developed a terrifying new military tactic - Blitzkrieg - and how it caught first Poland and then Britain and France utterly unprepared. It charts the fall of Poland and how Hitler then conquered France in just a few weeks, an achievement that had eluded Germany throughout all the four years of World War One. It also reveals how heroic French resistance allowed the British to escape from Dunkirk and live to fight another day.

2009 • History

Britain at Bay

In June 1940, Britain stood alone against the Nazis. Hitler was convinced that it was only a matter of days before it sued for peace. He had more troops, a better air force and the better weapons. This film shows how close Britain came to defeat, as its exhausted air force struggled to fight all the German Luftwaffe. However, because of critical errors by the Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering, Britain was able to regroup. Then using its brilliant team of code crackers and specially trained spies, it began the fightback, working alongside the resistance movements in the occupied territories.

2009 • History

Hitler Strikes East

When Hitler expounded his intention to invade Russia his generals looked at him in horrified silence. The Soviet Union was vast and had matchless resources. Hitler's whole plan depended upon striking a swift and decisive knock-out blow. Get sucked into a long, drawn-out war and Germany would surely lose. Hitler was certain his forces could do it. No one had so far defeated them. But there had never been a military gamble like it... This film takes in Stalingrad and the battle of Kursk, the biggest tank battle in all history.

2009 • History

Red Sun Rampant

December 7th 1941 is "a date that will live in infamy" proclaimed President Franklin Roosevelt. That was the day that Japan entered World War II, with its surprise attack upon the US Fleet in Pearl Harbour. Japan swiftly followed this up with the defeat of a huge British army in Singapore. For a while Japan was rampant in the Pacific. But gradually, America, the sleeping giant, awoke. The war that would follow would be characterised by major innovations. In particular, it saw the battleship consigned to history and the emergence of the aircraft carrier as the decisive weapons of the seas.

2009 • History

The Mediterranean and North Africa

Mussolini's ambition had always been to recreate the old Roman empire. The trouble was, militarily, he was a disaster. After failed attacks in North Africa and Greece, his armies were on the run. Hitler, now faced a difficult choice. Did he divert troops needed at other fronts to support his ally, or did he let Mussolini fall ? Hitler chose to support him - a decision that would spell disaster for both of them. Hitler would lose hundreds of thousands of troops. Mussolini would be assassinated. This film tells the extraordinary story of the war in North Africa and features the heroics of the tiny island of Malta as it withstood wave after wave of Nazi assault. It ends with the Allies fighting their way up Italy and Germany in retreat.

2009 • History

Turning the Tide

Both the Allies and the Nazis were always looking for a single knock-out blow to end the war. Britain's Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris thought the answer might lie in "strategic bombing." The idea was to blow the belt out of Germany's infrastructure and cities. This, he argued, would cripple the Nazis ability to wage a war and the ordinary people would soon lose the will to fight. But it led directly to the tragedy of Dresden, when Allied planes firebombed tens of thousands of ordinary Germans. The Germans believed that the decisive stranglehold would come from their submarines. If they could only cut American supply lines to Britain across the Atlantic, then the Allied effort would collapse. So begun a long game of cat and mouse between U-Boats and British and American convoys.

2009 • History

The Soviet Streamroller

By July 1943, the full extent of Hitler's failed gamble in the East had become clear. After failing to deliver knock-out blows at Stalingrad and Moscow, his army was now at the mercy of the vast Soviet war machine. With its huge resources and seemingly limitless numbers of men, the Red Army slowly pushed the Germans back out of Russia through Ukraine, Poland, the Balkans and Hungary. This was war on a monster scale, pitching armies of millions against each other. But it was also a war fought by small bands of partisans, men like Tito in Yugoslavia, leading guerrilla bands against Nazi forces.

2009 • History

Overlord

Today it is easy to see D-Day as inevitable - a straightforward victory against a German army that was already all but defeated. This film explodes that myth. It charts the careful planning of the campaign, the development of specialised equipment needed for the amphibious landing. It reveals the deception plan that wrong footed Hitler. It shows how the Americans were very nearly driven off Omaha beach. If that had happened, the whole operation might have failed. The film ends with the Liberation of Paris, as the Free French forces led by Charles de Gaulle matched down the streets of the capital.

2009 • History

Closing the Ring

In 1944 America and Britain in the West and Russia in the East began to close their pincer around Germany. But even now, the outcome was in the balance. The film explores the Allied disaster at Arnhem and the tragedy of the Warsaw uprising, when Polish freedom fighters were abandoned to their fate by Stalin. It tells the shocking story of the Liberation of the death camps, when the full extent of the Holocaust became clear for the first time. The film ends with Hitler's last great gamble, as he threw all his last reserves against the oncoming Allied forces in the Ardennes.

2009 • History

The Island War

Since December 1941, a vicious war against Japan was being waged in the Pacific. The Japanese were driven back across the ocean, island by island, in savage hand to hand fighting. American dominance at sea was finally established in "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot", when radar gave the US Navy advance warning of a huge Japanese attack and the last vestiges of Japanese naval air power were destroyed. But this film also looks at the war in the jungles, in places like Burma, where new specialist fighting units - like Orde Wingate's Chindits - slowly pushed back the Japanese despite horrific conditions.

2009 • History

Victory in Europe

The months of the war in Europe were shocking and desperate. This film follows the British and Americans as they cross the Rhine and the Russians as they push through Poland into Germany itself. It covers the horrors of the liberation of Belsen and Buchenwald, and the final terrible street fighting in Berlin. The story culminates in the suicide of Hitler, the carving up of Germany between the Allies, and the Nuremberg trials.

2009 • History

Victory in the Pacific

The end of the War in the Pacific is one of the greatest and most terrible tales of modern history. The Japanese fought to the bitter end and continued to fight island by island, hill by hill. US Air Force command tried bombing Japan into submission, firebombing Tokyo but could not break the Japanese resolve. Over 200,000 people died. In the end, President Truman decided to go nuclear and the fates of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sealed.

2009 • History

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Chapter 1: Politics Takes us into the corridors of power where Germany's top political mastermind sees an opportunity to use the sudden popularity of the Nazis for his own ends. This sets off a chain of miscalculations, backroom deals and power grabs that will propel Hitler from the fringes of political activism into the heart of government. Hitler wants to become absolute leader of a single-party German state - standing in his way is democracy and the rule of law. After leading a failed coup in 1923, Hitler decides on a new strategy for taking power: instead of being revolutionaries, the Nazis will become a legitimate, mainstream political party operating under the veneer of legality. Hitler aims to win power democratically and then destroy democracy from within. To achieve his goal Hitler must overcome Germany's political elite, including Paul von Hindenburg, the president who looks down on him, and, behind the scenes, political mastermind Kurt von Schleicher, who wants to use him. Whilst this political intrigue plays out at the highest level of government, Hitler faces another obstacle at ground level - a Jewish lawyer called Hans Litten, who is out to prove that the Nazis are far from the legal, legitimate party they claim to be. Chapter 2: The First Six Months in Power At the start of 1933, Hitler is the chancellor of Germany but he does not have absolute power - there is still a democratic parliament beneath him, a head of state above him and the rule of law hanging over him. Hitler sets his sights on dismantling the German state. When Hitler calls a general election to increase Nazi representation in the Reichstag, Hermann Goring sees an opportunity to impress by taking out the left-wing opposition. Goring orders a raid on the Communist Party HQ in the hope of finding evidence of a planned uprising. He doesn't find it, but when a fire breaks out in the Reichstag it is an opportunity to pin the blame on the left. Goring then has the green light to use the stormtroopers to brutally round up communists and social democrats - terror reigns in German streets. Thousands of arrests have been made but to make them legal, Hitler calls on president von Hindenburg and a decree is passed giving the Nazis emergency powers to ban free speech, the right to protest and to arrest without charge. When the Reichstag burned the Nazis persuaded the German people and their president that this was the first sign of a left-wing insurrection. The ensuing fear of left-wing violent lawlessness means that Hitler can push through another law that suspends democracy, allowing him to act without the approval of parliament. Soon, the first laws to restrict the freedom of the Jewish population are passed. One Jewish baker is found dead with a swastika carved into his chest. Goring has eradicated the Nazis' parliamentary opposition. He is rewarded with more power and more prestige. Another Nazi wants this type of power and influence but in early 1933 Henrich Himmler is based in Munich, not Berlin. He is the unassuming, uncharismatic head of an elite force of fanatical Nazis known as the SS. Himmler wants to make the SS the central institution in Germany in charge of political repression. Now that Himmler can arrest perceived Nazi opponents indiscriminately, he needs somewhere to put them. He gives a press conference regarding the opening of a camp to re-educate political prisoners. It has a capacity of around 5,000. The camp is near the small town of Dachau. In April 1933 a 39-year-old deputy state prosecutor called Josef Hartinger receives a telephone call. Four detainees have tried to escape from the camp at Dachau, three have been shot dead. Under German law it is Hartinger's job to investigate these unnatural deaths. He visits Dachau and sees the bodies - he realises something is very wrong. The official story just doesn't add up and it is strange that all the dead happen to be Jewish. Hartinger is sure these deaths are murders and that they are not an isolated case. He collates enough evidence to implicate the commandant of Dachau in the murders. This means going up against Himmler, whose power is growing. Himmler is in the process of bringing every state in Germany under SS control. He does not want the wider world to know that Dachau is a place of savage brutality and murder. Hartinger's boss will not go against Himmler's authority and shuts his deputy down but Hartinger will not be silenced and files a report. Himmler is worried - the SS does not have the right under German law to kill political opponents. To placate his critics, Himmler fires the commandant and as far as the German public are concerned the concentration camps are benign and humane. Hartinger's file goes all the way to Berlin and the killings stop at Dachau - it seems like a victory for the law. But Himmler is starting to impress, and he manages to persuade Hitler to block the legal investigations into Dachau. Now Himmler and the SS feel emboldened and the killings continue. Goring realises he has to take Himmler seriously and that his grip on power could be under threat, but he has his own secret weapon. He has created a surveillance organisation that listens in on anyone that could move against him. To act on the information gathered, Goring creates a new branch of the secret police, known as the Gestapo. But Himmler wants Goring's secret police - this is after all his territory. Goring will not relinquish control. These rivalries mean nothing to Hitler - books are being burned, Jewish people, gay people, intellectuals, anyone held to have anti-Nazi beliefs are disappearing. Germany is well on its way to becoming a Nazi dictatorship, but there is a serious obstacle in Hitler's way: the country's elderly president. Chapter 3: Night of the Long Knives Adolf Hitler has been chancellor of Germany for just under a year. It is a challenging balancing act. On the one hand, the Nazis must be mindful of President Paul von Hindenburg and Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen, who are members of Germany's traditional aristocratic ruling elite. On the other, there is the Nazis' own power base- the stormtroopers - millions of angry, disenfranchised men who wreak havoc on German streets. The stormtroopers are led by Ernst Rohm, one of Hitler's oldest and closest friends. Rohm wants Hitler to fulfil his promise to sweep away the traditional ruling class. Hitler owes Rohm: he has paved the way for Hitler's political career, and his stormtroopers have helped to eradicate left-wing opposition to the Nazi Party. Now, though, they're a potential threat - stormtrooper violence is undermining Hitler's credibility as chancellor. In a bid to placate Rohm, Hitler makes him a minister, but Rohm tries to wrestle control of the existing army that reports to President Hindenburg, putting Hitler is in a difficult position, stuck between his president and his old friend. Rohm's actions present Hermann Goring with an opportunity to persuade Hitler that his old comrade is no longer a friend, but a threat. But G?ring will also need the help of his own rival, Heinrich Himmler. Himmler agrees to help destroy Rohm and his stormtroopers and make the SS Germany's only paramilitary force.

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