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(526)

Rank #52 in History category

History

Witness History

Updated 4 days ago

Rank #52 in History category

History
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History as told by the people who were there.

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History as told by the people who were there.

iTunes Ratings

526 Ratings
Average Ratings
406
61
25
13
21

Continuing education

By igneous2x - Sep 14 2018
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Every episode is so informative and enlightening—what a service this is. Thank you, BBC!

So interesting!

By hannahmacxx - May 13 2018
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I learn about things, people, events that I didn’t even know existed. Very captivating and fun

iTunes Ratings

526 Ratings
Average Ratings
406
61
25
13
21

Continuing education

By igneous2x - Sep 14 2018
Read more
Every episode is so informative and enlightening—what a service this is. Thank you, BBC!

So interesting!

By hannahmacxx - May 13 2018
Read more
I learn about things, people, events that I didn’t even know existed. Very captivating and fun

Listen to:

Cover image of Witness History

Witness History

Updated 4 days ago

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History as told by the people who were there.

Apollo 8

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The biggest audience in TV history watched NASA's Apollo 8 mission beam back the first pictures from an orbit around the moon at Christmas 1968. The broadcast captured the world's imagination and put the Americans ahead of the Soviet Union in the Cold War battle to make the first lunar landing. Simon Watts talks to Apollo 8 commander, Frank Borman.

Picture: The Earth as seen from the Moon, photographed by the Apollo 8 crew (NASA)

Dec 12 2018

8mins

Play

Exploring Arabia's Empty Quarter

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In the 1940s, British gentleman explorer Wilfred Thesiger travelled extensively in one of the world's harshest environments - the Empty Quarter of Arabia. Thesiger lived with nomads in order to cross a desert that was then considered a place of mystery and death. He captured a final glimpse of their way-of-life before the arrival of the oil industry, and was inspired to write the classic travel book Arabian Sands. Simon Watts introduces recordings of Wilfred Thesiger in the BBC archive.

PHOTO: Wilfred Thesiger (Pitt Rivers Museum via Bridgeman Images)

Nov 22 2019

9mins

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The man who gave his voice to Stephen Hawking

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American scientist Dennis Klatt pioneered synthesised speech in the 1980s. He used recordings of himself to make the sounds that gave British physicist Stephen Hawking a voice when he lost the ability to speak. Friend and colleague of Dr Klatt, Joseph Perkell, told Rebecca Kesby about the man who gave his voice to Prof Hawking allowing him to educate the world in science.

(Photo: BOMBAY, INDIA: World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking answers questions with the help of a voice synthesiser during a press conference at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Bombay, 06 January 2001. Credit AFP)

Nov 25 2019

10mins

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Strikers In Saris

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In 1976 South Asian women workers who had made Britain their home, led a strike against poor working conditions in a British factory. Lakshmi Patel was one of the South Asian women who picketed the Grunwick film-processing factory in north London for two years, defying the stereotype of submissive South Asian women. They gained the support of tens of thousands of trade unionists along the way. Lakshmi talks to Farhana Haider about how the strike was a defining moment for race relations in the UK in the 1970s.

(Photo: Jayaben Desai, leader of the Grunwick strike committee holding placard 1977 Credit: Getty images)

Jan 16 2019

10mins

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D-Day

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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)

Jun 04 2019

11mins

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Hitler's stolen children

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During the Second World War Nazi officials searched for blonde blue-eyed children in the countries they had occupied. The children were removed from their families as part of a plan to build an Aryan master race. Ingrid Von Oelhafen grew up in Germany and only found out in her 50's that she had been born to Slovenian parents. At nine months old she was taken away and sent to a 'Lebensborn' children's home. She has been speaking to Kate Bissell about what happened during her childhood, and the effect it still has on her life.

Photo: Ingrid Von Oelhafen aged about two. Courtesy of Ingrid Von Oelhafen.

May 17 2019

10mins

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Englandspiel: The Deadly WW2 Spy Game

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In 1942, a Dutch secret agent was captured by German military intelligence in the Netherlands. The agent's name was Haub Lauwers and he worked for the Special Operations Executive, a secret organisation set up by the British to wage a guerrilla war against the Nazis in Europe. So began, the Englandspiel, the England Game, a German counter-intelligence operation that led to the capture and deaths of dozens of Dutch agents.
Photo: Haub Lauwers identity card when he joined the Dutch army in exile.

Dec 13 2018

11mins

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The Death of Hitler

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A first-hand account of Hitler from our archives. Traudl Junge worked as a secretary for the German Nazi leader. She was in the bunker in Berlin when he killed himself in 1945 as the Red Army closed in. She spoke to Zina Rohan for the BBC in 1989.

Photo: Hitler and some of his officers. Credit: Getty Images.

Feb 04 2019

10mins

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The Story Behind The Man Who Shot JFK

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What did Lee Harvey Oswald do for two years in the Soviet city of Minsk? And why did the American authorities let him return without any fuss in 1963? A few months later he would be arrested for shooting the US President. Vincent Dowd has been listening to archive accounts of Oswald's time in the USSR and speaking to Anthony Summers who has written about the assassination of President Kennedy.

Photo: Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22,1963, during a press conference after his arrest in Dallas. Credit: AFP/Getty Images.

Nov 21 2018

9mins

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Princess Margaret And The War Hero

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In October 1955, Britain was gripped by a romance between the young Princess Margaret and a glamorous, but divorced, ex-fighter pilot called Captain Peter Townsend. The couple had been in love for years, but after opposition from Buckingham Palace courtiers, the princess eventually announced that she would not go ahead with a marriage. Simon Watts talks to Lady Jane Rayne, a former lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret and one of the first to spot the chemistry between the pair.

PHOTO: Captain Townsend with Princess Margaret in the 1940s (Getty Images)

Oct 31 2018

8mins

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The warnings before 9/11

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Throughout 2001 the US authorities were being given warnings that a terror attack was imminent. A Congressional Commission, FBI officers and the CIA were all worried. There were even specific warnings about planes being flown into buildings. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to former Senator Gary Hart who co-chaired the Congressional Commission that tried to convince the government to take action.

Photo: Smoke pours from the World Trade Centre after it was hit by two passenger planes on September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Credit: Robert Giroux/Getty Images)

Aug 14 2019

10mins

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Vikings in North America

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The discovery that proved Vikings had crossed the Atlantic 1000 years ago. In 1960, a Norwegian couple, Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad arrived in the remote fishing village of L'Anse aux Meadows on the tip of Newfoundland in Canada. They were searching for evidence of the Norse settlement of North America which had been described in ancient Norse sagas. What they found would make headlines around the world, and turn L'Anse aux Meadows into a World Heritage Site. Alex Last spoke to Loretta Decker who grew up in the village and now works as an officer with Parks Canada.

Photo: Replicas of Norse houses from 1000 years ago at L'Anse aux Meadows. (LightRocket/Getty Images)

Jan 04 2019

10mins

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How science ended the search for Josef Mengele

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An international panel of experts gathered in Brazil in 1985 to identify the remains of a man thought to have been the infamous doctor from Auschwitz.
'To see that this man was finally in his grave was important' says Eric Stover, part of the team of American and German experts who examined the body from a cemetery near São Paulo. Mengele's family in Germany claimed that it was his. Thomas Pappon has spoken to Eric Stover about the efforts to prove that one of the most wanted war criminals of the 20th century was dead.
Image: Josef Mengele with his skull superimposed on top. Used by German forensic scientist Richard Helmer. (Credit: Brazilian Institute Medico-Legal)

Feb 22 2019

9mins

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The secret Nazi past of Kurt Waldheim

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Witness History talks to the American lawyer who led the investigation into the secret Nazi past of former United Nations Secretary-General, Kurt Waldheim. Kurt Waldheim was standing for election to the Austrian presidency when the allegations first emerged in the New York Times in March 1986. Lawyer Eli Rosenbaum, on whose information the New York Times story was based, tells Louise Hidalgo how he helped to expose the truth about Waldheim's wartime record and how UN war crimes files naming Kurt Waldheim had lain hidden for decades in the vaults while Waldheim was UN Secretary General.

Picture: Kurt Waldheim talking to voters in Vienna in 1986 during his campaign for the Austrian presidency (credit: Jacques Langevin/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

Mar 28 2019

9mins

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UFO Sightings: The Rendlesham Forest Incident

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At Christmas 1980 strange objects and lights were seen over a US military base in Suffolk, England, for three consecutive nights. Several military service people reported seeing them, including the deputy commander of the base, Lt Colonel Charles Halt. He explains what he saw to Rebecca Kesby, and why the experience changed his opinion on the existence of UFOs.

(Photo: Computer illustration of UFOs - Unidentified Flying Objects)

Dec 25 2018

15mins

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The fall of Singapore

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In 1942, during the Second World War, the British colony of Singapore fell to Japanese forces. Its capture marked the start of Japan's three-and-a-half year occupation of the island state, during which many ethnic Chinese living in Singapore were rounded up and killed. Louise Hidalgo has been listening to the memories of some of those who lived through that time.

Picture: British soldiers surrender to Japanese forces in Singapore in 1942. (Credit: Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Image)

Mar 11 2019

10mins

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Cicely Saunders And The Modern Hospice Movement

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In 1967, Dame Cicely Saunders opened the first modern hospice in South London. St Christopher's inspired the creation of thousands of similar hospices around the world and its scientific research helped establish the modern discipline of palliative medicine. Simon Watts introduces archive interviews with Dame Cicely, who died in 2005.

PHOTO: Dame Cicely Saunders (BBC)

Dec 12 2018

8mins

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The Cuban writer who defied Fidel Castro

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On 7 December 1990 the dissident Cuban novelist and poet Reinaldo Arenas killed himself in New York after years of suffering from AIDS. Before fleeing Cuba, Arenas had been jailed for his homosexuality, sent to re-education camps and prevented from writing. He left behind his autobiography - Before Night Falls - a powerful denunciation of Fidel Castro’s regime which later became a successful film. Simon Watts talks to Arenas’ friend and fellow writer, Jaime Manrique.

The recordings of Reinaldo Arenas in this programme are taken from BBC archive, and the documentaries Conducta Impropria and Seres Extravagantes.

(Photo: Reinaldo Arenas. Credit: Sophie Bassouls/Sygma/Sygma/Getty Images)

Dec 06 2019

10mins

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Jaslyk – Uzbekistan’s infamous prison

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A prison camp called Jaslyk opened in the desert in western Uzbekistan in 1999. Even by the standards of the Uzbek prison system it would become notorious for torture and human rights abuses, including reports of a prisoner being boiled alive. Journalist Muhammad Bekjanov was imprisoned in Jaslyk during the 18 years he spent in Uzbek jails. He speaks to Lucy Burns along with independent human rights observer Acacia Shields.

PHOTO: Muhammad Bekjanov in Istanbul, 1995 (courtesy of Muhammad Bekjanov)

Dec 05 2019

9mins

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The British sculptor who won over the world

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During the 20th century a British coal miner's son changed the world of art. Henry Moore revolutionised sculpture, altering the way we view the human figure and setting his works in natural landscapes. He became internationally renowned and by the 1970s hundreds of his sculptures could be seen outside government buildings, universities and museums around the world. His daughter, Mary Moore, remembers how initially his work shocked his teachers and art critics.

Photo: BBC Henry Moore 1960

With thanks to the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens at Perry Green, Hertfordshire
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019 / www.henry-moore.org

Dec 04 2019

9mins

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Shackleton

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Hear first hand accounts from the doomed Antarctic expedition which became a legendary story of survival. In 1914, polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton led an expedition to become the first to cross the Antarctic continent. But before they could land, their ship, SS Endurance, became trapped in pack ice and sank. Marooned on a floating ice field, Shackleton and his men, embarked on an epic odyssey to reach safety. Alex Last has been listening to BBC archive interviews with the survivors.

Photo: Return of the sun over the 'Endurance' after the long winter darkness during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-17, led by Ernest Shackleton. (Photo by Frank Hurley/Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge/Getty Images)

Dec 03 2019

11mins

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The killing of Pablo Escobar

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The Colombian drug trafficker, once one of the richest men in the world, was shot dead by police on 2nd December 1993. He had been on the run from the authorities for over a year. Jordan Dunbar has been speaking to Elizabeth Zilli who worked for the US Drug Enforcement Agency in Colombia and who helped track down Pablo Escobar.

Photo: Colombian police and military forces storm the rooftop where drug lord Pablo Escobar was shot dead just moments earlier during an exchange of gunfire between security forces and Escobar and his bodyguard on 2nd December 1993. (Credit:Jesus Abad-el Colombiano/AFP/Getty Images)

Dec 02 2019

9mins

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The first confirmed case of HIV in America

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Robert R was a teenager who died of a mysterious illness in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1969. It was only in the 1980s that doctors studying the Aids epidemic realised Robert had died of Aids. Ned Carter Miles has been speaking to Dr Memory Elvin Lewis was one of the doctors who treated Robert R. She was so intrigued by his case that she kept tissue samples after his death, which later proved that he had contracted HIV/Aids.

Photo: HIV particles, computer artwork. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Credit: Science Photo Library

Nov 29 2019

8mins

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Handing back Uluru

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In 1985 Australia's most famous natural landmark, Uluru, the huge ancient red rock formerly known as Ayers Rock, was handed back to its traditional owners, the indigenous people of that part of central Australia, the Anangu. But as one of the government officials involved in the negotiations for the transfer, former private secretary for aboriginal affairs, Kim Wilson, tells Louise Hidalgo, not everyone in Australia was pleased.

Picture: Uluru, formerly Ayers Rock, in Kata Tjuta National Park, the world's largest monolith and an Aboriginal sacred site (Credit: Jeff Overs/BBC)

Nov 28 2019

9mins

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From cakes to computers

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In the early 1950s, the leading British catering firm, J Lyons & Co, pioneered the world's first automated office system. It was baptised LEO - the Lyons Electronic Office - and was used in stock-taking, food ordering and payrolls for the company. Soon it was being hired out to UK government ministries and other British businesses. Mary Coombs worked on the first LEO and was the first woman to become a commercial computer programmer. She tells Mike Lanchin about her memories of those heady days when computers were still in their infancy.

Photo: LEO 2 in operation, 1957 (Thanks to The LEO Computers Society for use of archive)

Nov 27 2019

10mins

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India's economic revolution

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In the 1990s India began to open up its largely state-controlled economy to foreign investment. Subramanian Swamy wrote the blueprint for reform and he's been speaking to Iknoor Kaur about what worked - and what didn't.

Photo: Subramanian Swamy (r) with Manmohan Singh. Credit: Getty Images.

Nov 26 2019

8mins

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The man who gave his voice to Stephen Hawking

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American scientist Dennis Klatt pioneered synthesised speech in the 1980s. He used recordings of himself to make the sounds that gave British physicist Stephen Hawking a voice when he lost the ability to speak. Friend and colleague of Dr Klatt, Joseph Perkell, told Rebecca Kesby about the man who gave his voice to Prof Hawking allowing him to educate the world in science.

(Photo: BOMBAY, INDIA: World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking answers questions with the help of a voice synthesiser during a press conference at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Bombay, 06 January 2001. Credit AFP)

Nov 25 2019

10mins

Play

Exploring Arabia's Empty Quarter

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In the 1940s, British gentleman explorer Wilfred Thesiger travelled extensively in one of the world's harshest environments - the Empty Quarter of Arabia. Thesiger lived with nomads in order to cross a desert that was then considered a place of mystery and death. He captured a final glimpse of their way-of-life before the arrival of the oil industry, and was inspired to write the classic travel book Arabian Sands. Simon Watts introduces recordings of Wilfred Thesiger in the BBC archive.

PHOTO: Wilfred Thesiger (Pitt Rivers Museum via Bridgeman Images)

Nov 22 2019

9mins

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The man who got Delhi on track

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India's capital city built a brand new mass transit system to tackle its traffic jams and air pollution. The first section of the Delhi Metro was opened to the public in 2002. E Sreedharan was managing director of the Metro project and he's been speaking to Prabhat Pandey about the challenges he faced.

Photo: the inside of a Delhi Metro carriage. Credit: Getty Images.

Nov 21 2019

8mins

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I saw the soldiers who killed El Salvador's priests

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In November 1989 Salvadoran government soldiers dragged six Jesuit priests from their beds and murdered them along with their housekeeper and her teenage daughter. The Salvadoran government tried to blame the killings on left-wing rebels, but one woman provided key testimony that contradicted the official version, at great personal danger. Lucia Cerna tells her story to Mike Lanchin

(Photo: a plaque commemorating the murdered priests in San Salvador- courtesy of David Mee)

Nov 20 2019

10mins

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The 'Woman in Gold'

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The 'Woman in Gold' was one of Gustav Klimt's most famous paintings. It was a portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, but it was taken from her family by the Nazis and only returned to them after a long legal battle. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Randol Schoenberg the young lawyer who took on the case.

Picture: Adele Bloch-Bauer I, or 'The Woman in Gold', painted in 1907 by Gustav Klimt, from the collection of the Neue Galerie in New York. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Nov 19 2019

9mins

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The first Tasers

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In the 1970s, an American engineer Jack Cover designed a new experimental stun gun. He called it a Taser. But the device only really became popular when it started to be used by US law enforcement agencies. The Los Angeles Police Department were among the first to use the device. Retired police Captain Greg Meyer was then the young officer given the task of evaluating non-lethal weapons for the LAPD. He tells Alex Last about the origins of the Taser and its dramatic impact on the streets.

Photo: Jack Cover with an early version of his Taser. The gun has a flashlight atop and below are two cartridges each containing two darts which can be fired a distance of 15 feet with a stunning 50,000-volt shock.

Nov 18 2019

10mins

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The first Indian to win Miss World

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Reita Faria was the first Indian to win the Miss World beauty competition in 1966. She was studying medicine in Mumbai when a spur of the moment decision to take part in the contest turned her life upside down. Orna Merchant has been speaking to Reita Faria about her win, and whether she believes there is still a place for beauty contests in the 21st Century.

Photo: Reita Faria wearing the Miss World crown in November 1966. Credit: Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Nov 15 2019

8mins

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The Love Canal disaster

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In the late 1970s toxic chemicals were discovered oozing from the ground in a neighbourhood in upstate New York. The neighbourhood was called Love Canal. Hundreds of houses and a school had been built on top of over 20,000 tonnes of toxic industrial waste. The disaster led to the formation in 1980 of the Superfund program, which helps pay for the clean up of toxic sites. Farhana Haider has been speaking to former Love Canal resident and campaigner Luella Kenny about her fight for relocation.

Photo Pres. Jimmy Carter, Love Canal resident Lois Gibbs, Rep. John LaFalce and Senator Jacob Javits signing the superfund legislation 1980. Credit Center for Health, Environment & Justice.

Nov 14 2019

9mins

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The demolition of the Babri Masjid

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Hindu extremists demolished a 16th century mosque in the Indian city of Ayodhya in December 1992 prompting months of communal violence across India. Photojournalist Praveen Jain witnessed rehearsals for the demolition the day before the activists stormed the mosque. He has been talking to Iknoor Kaur about what he saw. On November 9th this year the Indian Supreme Court ruled that a Hindu temple can be built on the disputed site.

Photo: Hindu extremists rehearsing the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Copyright:Praveen Jain.

Nov 13 2019

8mins

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Cap Anamur: A rescue that led to jail

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In 2004, a German aid agency ship, Cap Anamur, was sailing to the Suez Canal, when it came across 37 Africans on a sinking rubber boat. The captain, Stefan Schmidt, rescued the men and headed for a port in Sicily to drop them off. But for almost 2 weeks, Italy blocked the ship from entering port and when the ship was finally granted permission to dock, Captain Schmidt and two others were arrested and prosecuted by Italian authorities for aiding and abetting illegal immigration. The case made headlines around the world and was a foretaste of an increasingly hostile European policy towards refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. Alex Last has been speaking to Captain Schmidt about his memories of the incident.

(Photo: the German aid agency ship Cap Anamur in 2004. Credit: Antonello NUSCA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Nov 12 2019

10mins

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Memories of Wilfred Owen

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Wilfred Owen died just a few days before the end of World War One but his poetry ensured he would be remembered. Little is known about the man behind the poems but his younger brother Harold spoke to the BBC about him in the 1960s. Vincent Dowd pieces together a picture of the young soldier-poet using the BBC's archive, Owen's letters home, and by speaking to Jean Findlay, biographer of CK Scott Moncrieff, the translator of Proust, who fell in love with Wilfred Owen.

(Photo: Wilfred Owen in 1916. Credit: Getty Images)

Nov 11 2019

8mins

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