If David Olusoga's first film in Civilisations is about the art that followed and reflected early encounters between different cultures, his second explores the artistic reaction to imperialism in the 19th century. David shows the growing ambivalence with which artists reacted to the idea of progress, both intellectual and scientific, that underpinned the imperial mission and followed the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.
2018 • History
From Roman marbles and Egyptian mummies to Renaissance masterpieces and African sculptures, in this special accompanying programme to Civilisations, Mary Beard goes in search of extraordinary works of art from all over the world that can be seen here in Britain.
2018 • History
It's known as the Miracle of Dunkirk: in May 1940, approximately 340,000 Allied troops were trapped with their backs to the sea. Sitting ducks, the troops were subjected to an endless barrage of bombs and bullets as the Luftwaffe apparently bombed at will. The situation seemed hopeless. Then a fleet of ships appeared on the horizon, mostly sent by the Royal Navy but joined by smaller craft captained by plucky civilians. The soldiers were rescued from the beaches and taken safely back to Britain. They would later return to win the war. But behind the Miracle of Dunkirk there's another, hidden story. Soldiers and mariners, angry that they'd apparently been left undefended against the Luftwaffe, blamed the RAF. Historians have long viewed Dunkirk as the RAF's poorest hour. But now, recently released MoD files reveal that, far from being absent, the RAF were suffering massive losses supporting the evacuation.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was designed to kill. Four gas chambers murdered thousands at a time, belching out smoke and human ashes. Starvation, thirst, disease, and hard labor reduced the average lifespan to less than three months. More than 1-million people perished in the largest German Nazi concentration and extermination camp. Seventy years after her liberation, Kitty Hart-Moxon makes a final return to Auschwitz-Birkenau to walk among the crumbling memorial with students Natalia and Lydia, who, at 16, are the same age now as she was then.
2015 • History
The German Democratic Republic was created out of the Soviet Zone of occupied Germany in 1949 to build a democratic, anti-fascist Germany. One of the East Germany's greatest achievements was the creation of a more egalitarian society, but he other side of the coin was that there was also the Stalinist bureaucracy and East Germany is mostly remembered as "Stasiland". In the first episode we examine how the collapse of communism affected people in the 'socialist paradise' of East Germany.
Continuing his fascinating journey to rediscover the central role played by the Ottoman empire in Europe and the Middle East, Rageh Omaar explores the huge contrasts in the times of two very different Ottoman sultans. The most famous Suleiman the Magnificent in the golden age of the 16th century and the troubled reign of Abdul Hamid II in the 19th century when the Ottomans were dubbed 'the Sick Man of Europe'. Rageh examines the cultural legacy as well as the physical, religious and political architecture of Ottoman rule to find out what a Muslim world run from Europe was really like. It reveals the backdrop to the relationship between Islam and Europe today, how the Ottomans became central in the power politics of Europe and what could have happened had they succeeded in their successive bids to seize Vienna, then a key European capital.