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.
2019 • History
In episode two we explore the Ottoman Empire’s Golden Age and chart the height of its expansion into Europe, climaxing with the 1683 siege of Vienna. The episode opens in Istanbul where Presenter Julian Davison explores the reign of the Empire’s most successful Sultan, Sulieman the Magnificent. A sophisticated ruler, Sulieman not only encouraged artistic and architectural achievement but helped to organise and unify the wide range of cultures and religions across his growing empire.
The British, French and Americans are waiting to enter Berlin. In the meantime, the Soviets appoint mayors, organise the food supply and go on the hunt for war criminals. The Jewish community, among whom there are few survivors, regroup. The fate of the city is determined at the Potsdam Conference. Life returns to the ruins, theatres reopen and orchestras play in the open air. By the end of 1945, the bond that held the Allies together is torn apart - and the Cold War begins.
This first episode covers Hitler's invasion of Poland, when the world stood on the brink of war, and features stunning colourised footage of the catastrophe faced by the Polish army as it was crushed by the Nazi war machine.
Explore the buried clay warriors, chariots, and bronze weapons of China's first emperor. In central China, a vast underground mausoleum conceals a life-size terracotta army of cavalry, infantry, horses, chariots, weapons, administrators, acrobats, and musicians, all built to serve China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di, in the afterlife. Emperor's Ghost Army" explores how the Emperor directed the manufacture of the tens of thousands of bronze weapons carried by the clay soldiers. NOVA tests the power of these weapons with high-action experiments and reports on revolutionary 3D computer modeling techniques that are providing new insights into how the clay figures were made, revealing in the process the secrets of one of archaeology's greatest discoveries.
In the second of this three-part series, Professor Robert Bartlett explores the impact of the Norman conquest of Britain and Ireland. Bartlett shows how William the Conqueror imposed a new aristocracy, savagely cut down opposition and built scores of castles and cathedrals to intimidate and control. He also commissioned the Domesday Book, the greatest national survey of England that had ever been attempted. England adapted to its new masters and both the language and culture were transformed as the Normans and the English intermarried. Bartlett shows how the political and cultural landscape of Scotland, Wales and Ireland were also forged by the Normans and argues that the Normans created the blueprint for colonialism in the modern world.