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History

Witness History

Updated 5 days ago

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

569 Ratings
Average Ratings
436
64
30
16
23

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

569 Ratings
Average Ratings
436
64
30
16
23

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
Cover image of Witness History

Witness History

Latest release on Feb 24, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 5 days ago

Rank #1: The man who first published Harry Potter

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In 1996, after many rejections, author JK Rowling at last finds a publisher for her first Harry Potter novel. Louise Hidalgo hears from editor, Barry Cunningham, who spotted the boy wizard's potential and helped create a phenomenon that would revolutionise childrens' book publishing, selling more than 450 million copies.

Picture: author JK Rowling holds the sixth and penultimate Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. (Credit: AP)
Audio recording © J.K. Rowling

Feb 11 2020

10mins

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Rank #2: 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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Rank #3: 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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Rank #4: 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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Rank #5: Diary of life in a favela

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A poor single mother of three, Carolina Maria de Jesus lived in a derelict shack and spent her days scavenging for food for her children, doing odd jobs and collecting paper and bottles. Her diary, written between 1955 and 1960, brought to life the harsh realities faced by thousands of poor Brazilians who arrived in cities like São Paulo and Rio looking for better opportunities. Her daughter, Vera Eunice de Jesus Lima, speaks to Thomas Pappon about how the book changed her family's life.

(Photo: Carolina Maria de Jesus in the Canindé Favela. Credit: Archive Audálio Dantas)

Feb 12 2020

9mins

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Rank #6: Chairman Mao's Little Red Book

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In 1966, the collected thoughts of China's communist leader became an unexpected best-seller around the world. A compendium of pithy advice and political instructions from Mao Zedong, it was soon to be found on student bookshelves everywhere.
(Photo: Front cover of Mao's Little Red Book)

Feb 10 2020

8mins

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Rank #7: 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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Rank #8: 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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Rank #9: The fall of the Berlin Wall

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The border between communist East Germany and the West opened on November 9th 1989. It marked the beginning of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Michaela Graichen spoke to two East Germans who believe they were the first people to cross from East to West on the night of November 9th.

(Photo: East Germans climbing onto the top of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate after the opening of the East German border was announced in Berlin. November 9, 1989. Credit: REUTERS/Staff/Files)

Oct 25 2019

8mins

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Rank #10: 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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Rank #11: Chinese restaurant syndrome

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Diners at Chinese restaurants in America in the 1960's began to report unusual symptoms, including headaches, flushing, numbness at the back of the neck.

It was linked to the man-made flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate or MSG – but it was also part of wider attitudes towards Chinese restaurants at the time.

Lucy Burns speaks to restaurateurs Philip Chiang and Ed Schoenfeld about their memories of what became known as 'Chinese restaurant syndrome'.

Photo credit: Plates of Chinese food (Dean Conger/Corbis via Getty Images)

Apr 12 2019

9mins

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Rank #12: EMDR: the eye-movement therapy

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EMDR is a form of psychotherapy which works for many sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder. The 'eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing' technique was first developed in the USA in the late 1980s by Francine Shapiro. She set up an EMDR Institute and Ashley Byrne has been speaking to psychologist Dr Gerald Puk, one of its senior trainers.
(Picture: a model looking downwards. Credit: Getty Images.)

Apr 01 2019

8mins

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Rank #13: China's One Child policy

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The Chinese Communist Party started ruthlessly enforcing birth control in the early 1980s. People with more than one child faced fines, or lost their jobs, or had children forcibly adopted. Yashan Zhao has been speaking to Zhou Guanghong who experienced the policy first-hand, both as a father and as a birth control official.

Photo: a propaganda poster extolling the virtues of China's "One Child Family" policy. (Credit:Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket/GettyImages)

May 16 2019

8mins

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Rank #14: 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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Rank #15: The Case of Dr Crippen

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How one of the most notorious murderers in Edwardian London was captured as he fled to Canada. Listen to an astonishing BBC archive account of his arrest and hear from Dr Cassie Watson, a historian of forensic medicine and crime, about why the case of Dr Crippen lived so long in the public's memory.
Photo: Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen (Getty Images)

Jan 18 2019

11mins

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Rank #16: The release of Nelson Mandela

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On 11th February 1990 anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela walked free after spending 27 years in a South African jail. It was a day that millions of black South Africans had been waiting for and marked the beginning of the end of white rule. Fellow activist Valli Moosa remembers that day, and the hasty preparations to make it possible and tells Louise Hidalgo how things almost didn't go to plan.

Picture: Nelson Mandela raises his fist in salute as he walks out of Victor Verster prison near Cape Town accompanied by his wife Winnie Mandela (Credit: Reuters/Ulli Michel)

Feb 07 2020

9mins

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Rank #17: 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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Rank #18: CS Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia

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The first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series by the Northern Irish-born writer CS Lewis was published in autumn 1950. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would go on to become one of the great classics of children's literature. CS Lewis's stepson, Douglas Gresham, talks to Louise Hidalgo about the academic and theologian who created Narnia's magical world.

Picture: CS Lewis, the children's and theological author, seated in his Cambridge study in the early 1950s (Credit: Camera Press/Arthur Strong)

Sep 19 2019

9mins

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Rank #19: When Stalin Rounded Up Soviet Doctors

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In the last year of his rule Stalin ordered the imprisonment and execution of hundreds of the best Soviet doctors accusing them of plotting to kill senior Communist officials. Several hundred doctors were imprisoned and tortured, many of them died in detention. Professor Yakov Rapoport was among the few survivors of what was known as the 'Doctors' Plot'. His daughter Natasha remembers her family's ordeal in an interview with Dina Newman.

Photo: Professor Yakov Rapoport, 1990s. Credit: family archive.

Jan 09 2019

8mins

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Rank #20: Broadcasting D-Day

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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)

Jun 06 2019

9mins

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