It's said that journalists write the first draft of history. To mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, John Simpson, the BBC's world affairs editor and longest-serving correspondent, goes back to his reports on what he believes is the most important story he ever covered – the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
Hitler personally arranges for a euthanasia program, underestimating the resistance of the Church. The killing of the mentally ill has to be slowed down, but the extinction of Jews is expanded to an industrial scale. Russian prisoners of war are murdered directly, abused, or left to starve. Most Germans know of these crimes even if they refuse to acknowledge them.
On June 6, 1944, D-Day, 1.5 million Allied troops take part in the greatest invasion in history, but then bog down in the Norman hedgerows for weeks. Saipan proves the costliest Pacific battle to date, while back home dreaded telegrams from the War Department begin arriving at an inconceivable rate.
Alastair unpicks the reasons behind the dazzling revolution that gave birth to classical Greek art, asking how the Greeks got so good so quickly. He travels to the beautiful Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, and to the island of Mozia to see the astonishing charioteer found there in 1979, and marvels at the athletic bodies of the warriors dragged from the seabed - the Riace Bronzes. It was a creative explosion that covered architecture, sculpting in marble, casting in bronze, even painting on vases. Perhaps the most powerful factor was also its greatest legacy - a fascination with the naked human body.
Hitler's power has become unrestricted and unlimited. He is Chancellor and President. He makes the law. Cabinet and parliament just have alibi functions. Hitler is admired by the people. Germany feels strong again, and people accept the merciless dictatorship and the persecution of others as necessary evil. The 'Nuremberg Race Laws' pass unanimously by the Reichstag parliament. A referendum in then-French Saarland shows 91 percent of the population voting to return to the German Reich. Now the world looks anxiously whether Hitler will make further territorial claims. His gaze turns to Austria, his homeland.