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History

Witness History

Updated 7 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

619 Ratings
Average Ratings
476
70
30
18
25

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

619 Ratings
Average Ratings
476
70
30
18
25

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 Sep 24, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 7 days ago

Rank #1: The 'Spanish' flu

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In 1918, more than fifty million people died in an outbreak of flu, which spread all over the world in the wake of the first World War. We hear eye-witness accounts of the worst pandemic of the twentieth century.

(Photo: An American policeman wearing a mask to protect himself from the outbreak of Spanish flu. Credit:Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Mar 09 2020

9mins

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Rank #2: 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 #3: How meditation changes your brain

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In 2002, scientists in the US began performing a landmark series of experiments on Buddhist monks from around the world. The studies showed that the brains of experienced meditators alter, allowing them to focus better and manage their emotions. Alejandra Martins talks to Professor Richard Davidson of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

PHOTO: A monk taking part in the experiment (Center for Healthy Minds).

Feb 18 2020

12mins

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Rank #4: Sequencing the 1918 influenza virus

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Over 50 million people died from influenza during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Scientists trying to understand why that particular strain of flu was so virulent, dug into Alaska's permafrost to find traces of it to study. Kate Lamble has been speaking to Dr Jeffery Taubenberger who sequenced the genome of the so-called "Spanish" flu virus.

Photo: an influenza ward in 1918. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Mar 24 2020

8mins

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Rank #5: 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 #6: The battle for Fallujah

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A US Marine's account of the massive US-led assault on the Iraqi city in November 2004. Amid post-invasion chaos in Iraq, the city was seen as a stronghold of insurgents. It was hoped the battle would be a turning point in the fight against the Iraqi insurgency. Alex Last spoke to Colonel Andrew Milburn, author of When The Tempest Gathers, who served as a US military advisor to a frontline Iraqi army unit during the battle.

Photo: US Marines of the 1st Battalion 3rd Marines, clear a houses held by insurgents during the battle for Fallujah November 23, 2004,(Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images)

Jan 10 2020

14mins

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Rank #7: 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 #8: Battling Soviet psychiatric punishment

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The story of Dr. Semen Gluzman, a Ukrainian psychiatrist, who took a stand against the psychiatric abuse of political dissidents in the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, Soviet authorities had many dissidents declared mentally ill and confined them to special psychiatric hospitals for 'treatment'. In the 1970s, a young Ukrainian psychiatrist, decided to write a counter-diagnosis of one of the most famous of these incarcerated dissidents. For this, he would pay a high price. Alex Last speaks to Dr Semen Gluzman about his struggle to oppose Soviet punitive psychiatry.

Photo: Semen Gluzman in 1989.(Gluzman)

Mar 05 2020

12mins

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Rank #9: The secret history of Monopoly

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In 1904, a left-wing American feminist called Lizzy Magie patented a board game that evolved into what we now know as Monopoly. But 30 years later, when Monopoly was first marketed in the United States during the Great Depression, it was an out-of-work salesman from Pennsylvania who was credited with inventing it. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to American journalist Mary Pilon about the hidden history of one of the world's most popular board games, and to the economics professor Ralph Anspach who unearthed the story.

Picture: A family playing a game of Monopoly in the 1930s (Credit: SSPL/Getty Images)

Dec 25 2019

9mins

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Rank #10: 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 #11: An Antarctic mystery

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In 1985, human remains were found by chance on a remote island in Antarctica by Chilean biologist Dr Daniel Torres. But whose were they? It would take years to determine their remarkable origin. We speak to Dr Torres about his discovery and how it revealed an unknown chapter of indigenous South American history.

Photo: Skull discovered on LIvingstone Island, Antarctica in 1985 (D.Torres/INACH)

Feb 24 2020

9mins

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Rank #12: Britain's secret propaganda war

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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)

Nov 06 2019

13mins

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Rank #13: The outbreak of World War Two

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On September 1st 1939 German forces invaded Poland. Douglas Slocombe, a British cameraman, was there at the time and filmed the build-up to the war. In 2014 he spoke to Vincent Dowd about what he saw in Gdansk and Warsaw, before escaping from the country.

This programme is a rebroadcast

(Image: German citizens in Gdansk (also known as Danzig) welcoming German troops during the invasion of Poland on September 3rd 1939 . Credit:EPA/National Digital Archive Poland.)

Sep 02 2019

8mins

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Rank #14: Britain's World War Two 'Brown Babies'

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The US first began sending troops to the UK in 1942 to help in the war effort. It is estimated that at least two million American servicemen passed through the UK during World War Two and tens of thousands of them were black. The African-American GIs stationed in Britain were forced by the American military to abide by the racial segregation laws that applied in the deep south of the US. But that didn't stop relationships developing between British women and the black soldiers, some of whom went on to have children. Babs Gibson-Ward was one those children. She has been speaking to Farhana Haider about the stigma of growing up as mixed raced child in post-war Britain.

(Photo: Hoinicote House children, c.1948. Boys and girls whose parents of mixed ancestry met during WWII. Credit: Lesley York)

Oct 11 2019

10mins

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Rank #15: German atrocities in Poland during WW2

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Towards the end of World War Two in Europe, Polish civilians suffered terribly at the hands of retreating German troops. But many never received any reparations for what they’d been through. Kevin Connolly has been speaking to one survivor who was a child in those final brutal days of the war in Europe.

Photo: Undated image of Nazi soldiers travelling by motorcycle and car stop to watch a Polish village burn to the ground. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)

Jan 06 2020

8mins

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Rank #16: The Leipzig demonstrations

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Mass demonstrations in the East German city of Leipzig in October 1989 shook the communist authorities to their core. The protests are seen as paving the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall just a month later. Lucy Burs spoke to Martin Jankowski who was one of the protesters.

(Photo:A young East German protesting against the communist government flashes the peace sign. Credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Oct 24 2019

8mins

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Rank #17: The Wehrmacht exhibition that shocked Germany

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An exhibition about the role of the German army the Wehrmacht during the Second World War caused a scandal when it launched in Hamburg in March 1995. “War of Annihilation: Crimes of the Wehrmacht 1941-1944” was a key moment in Germany’s reassessment of its Nazi past – but it was highly controversial. Lucy Burns speaks to curator Hannes Heer.

Picture: Jewish forced labourers serving the Wehrmacht in Mogilev, Belarus, taken from the exhibition “War of Annihilation: Crimes of the Wehrmacht 1941 – 1944”

May 04 2020

9mins

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Rank #18: 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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Rank #19: 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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Rank #20: Marburg virus

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A deadly new form of haemorrhagic fever was discovered in the small town of Marburg in West Germany in the summer of 1967. The first patients all worked at a factory in the town which made vaccines. In the course of their work they had all come into contact with blood or tissue from monkeys from East Africa who were infected with a disease similar to Ebola. Lucy Burns speaks to virologist Werner Slenczka and former laboratory worker Frederike Moos about their experiences of the outbreak.

Photo: A Grivet monkey looks out from an enclosure at Egypt's Giza Zoo in Cairo on August 1, 2017 (Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images)

Mar 13 2020

10mins

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