300 episodes

History as told by the people who were there.

Witness History BBC

    • History

History as told by the people who were there.

    The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

    The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

    On 7 December 1941, Japan launched a surprise strike on the American naval base, Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. Thousands of American servicemen were killed or injured in the attack, which severely damaged the US Pacific Fleet. The next day, President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan and America entered World War II. Adolph Kuhn was a US Navy mechanic stationed at Pearl Harbor when the bombs began to fall.

    Photo: The USS Arizona sinking at Pearl Harbor. (Credit: Getty Images)

    • 8 min
    The death of Heinrich Himmler

    The death of Heinrich Himmler

    One of Hitler's most important henchmen was caught by British troops in the chaos of post-war Germany just after WW2 had ended in Europe. A British soldier described to the BBC how the leading Nazi bit down on a cyanide capsule and died. Gordon Corera has been listening to the archive account of Himmler's death, and finding out more about the situation in Germany immediately after its surrender to the Allies.

    Photo: Heinrich Himmler in 1939. Credit: Central Press/Getty Images

    • 10 min
    Benidorm and the birth of package tourism

    Benidorm and the birth of package tourism

    The Spanish town of Benidorm is now one of the world's most popular holiday resorts - receiving more than 10 million visitors a year. The hotels and skyscrapers are the vision of Benidorm's mayor in the 1950s and 60s, Pedro Zaragoza. Zaragoza personally convinced Spain's dictator, General Franco, to allow more tourism - and to allow sunbathers to wear the bikini. Simon Watts introduces the memories of Pedro Zaragoza, as recorded by Radio Elche Cadena Ser shortly before his death.

    PHOTO: A busy day in Benidorm (Reuters)

    • 8 min
    Adrift for 76 days

    Adrift for 76 days

    A remarkable story of survival. In 1982, Steven Callahan was sailing alone across the Atlantic when one night his yacht hit something in the water and began to sink. He managed to get into a life raft but no one knew he was in trouble. For the next two months he drifted 2000 miles across the ocean. How did he survive? He told his story to Alex Last.
    Photo: Steve Callahan shows how he hunted fish from his life raft. © Steve Callahan

    • 14 min
    Australia's 'Black Saturday' bushfires

    Australia's 'Black Saturday' bushfires

    The forest fires of 2019-2020 in Australia were the worst the country had ever experienced - but ten years earlier Australia had a foretaste of that disaster when 400 separate bushfires burnt their way across the state of Victoria. At the time they were the worst fires Australia had ever seen. Rachael Gillman has been speaking to one of the firefighters who battled to bring the fires under control.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    • 9 min
    The writer who put Latinos centre stage

    The writer who put Latinos centre stage

    The Cuban-American Dolores Prida wrote with a distinctive voice in her plays, newspaper columns and as an agony aunt in the Latina magazine. She challenged perceptions of how Latin Americans should be viewed in the US. When she died in 2013, President Obama paid tribute to her "conviction, compassion and humour." Mike Lanchin speaks to Prida's close friend, the former editor at New York's Daily News, Maite Junco.

    Photo: Dolores Prida (left) with Maite Junco, Jan 2013 (courtesy of Maite Junco)

    • 9 min

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