114 episodes

More than 50 first-hand accounts of significant moments in WW2. Looking back at almost six years of global conflict, from Hiroshima to the Holocaust.

Witness History: World War 2 Collection BBC

    • History

More than 50 first-hand accounts of significant moments in WW2. Looking back at almost six years of global conflict, from Hiroshima to the Holocaust.

    Britain's secret propaganda war

    Britain's secret propaganda war

    How sex, jazz and 'fake news' were used to undermine the Nazis in World War Two. In 1941, the UK created a top secret propaganda department, the Political Warfare Executive to wage psychological warfare on the German war machine. It was responsible for spreading rumours, generating fake news, leaflet drops and creating fake clandestine German radio stations to spread misinformation and erode enemy morale. We hear archive recordings of those involved and speak to professor Jo Fox of the Institute of Historical Research about the secret history of British "black propaganda".

    (Photo: The actress and singer Agnes Bernelle, who was recruited to be a presenter on a fake German radio station during the war)

    • 13 min
    Broadcasting D-Day

    Broadcasting D-Day

    Hear how the BBC reported the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France on June 6th 1944. The operation was a crucial step in the liberation of western Europe. Using original BBC reports from the time - from Chester Wilmot, Richard Dimbleby, Robin Duff, Ward Smith and Alan Melville - we tell the story of D-Day.
    Photo: D-Day Landings: US troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach in Colleville Sur-Mer, France, on June 6th 1944 (US National Archives)

    • 9 min
    D-Day

    D-Day

    Eyewitness accounts of the Allied landings on the coast of Normandy during World War Two on 6 June 1944. The massive operation was a crucial step in the liberation of western Europe from years of Nazi rule and the defeat of Hitler's Germany. In this episode, we present the accounts of veterans held in the BBC archive.

    Photo: The photo titled "The Jaws of Death" shows a landing craft disembarking US troops on Omaha beach, 6th June 1944 ( Robert Sargent / US COAST GUARD)

    • 11 min
    China and Japan at War

    China and Japan at War

    Japanese troops reached the Chinese city of Nanjing in December 1937. The violence that followed marked one of the darkest moments in a struggle that continued throughout WW2. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to former General Huang Shih Chung, who survived the slaughter in Nanjing as a boy and then fought in China's war of resistance against the Japanese.

    Photo: Huang Shih-Chung as a young soldier.

    • 9 min
    Berlin's Rubble Women

    Berlin's Rubble Women

    At the end of WW2 much of Germany's capital had been destroyed by bombing and artillery. Almost half of all houses and flats had been damaged and a million Berliners were homeless. Caroline Wyatt has been speaking to Helga Cent-Velden, one of the women tasked with helping clear the rubble to make the city habitable again.

    Photo: Women in post-war Berlin pass pails of rubble to clear bombed areas in the Russian sector of the city. (Photo by Fred Ramage/Keystone/Getty Images)

    • 8 min
    The Arnhem Parachute Drop

    The Arnhem Parachute Drop

    Thousands of Allied troops parachuted into the Nazi-occupied Netherlands in September 1944. At that point, it was the most ambitious Allied airborne offensive of World War Two. British, American and Polish troops were dropped behind German lines in an attempt to capture a series of bridges on the Dutch/German border.
    Mike Lanchin has spoken to Hetty Bischoff van Heemskerck who, as a young woman, watched the Allied paratroopers come down close to her home in the city of Arnhem.

    (Photo: Allied planes and parachutists over Arnhem, Getty Images)

    • 8 min

Top Podcasts In History

Listeners Also Subscribed To

More by BBC