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(469)
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

469 Ratings
Average Ratings
371
51
21
9
17

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

469 Ratings
Average Ratings
371
51
21
9
17

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

Updated 5 days ago

Read more

History as told by the people who were there.

Rank #1: The businessman who defied the Italian Mafia

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In 1991, Palermo businessman Libero Grassi published an open letter in Sicily’s main newspaper denouncing the Mafia for constantly demanding extortion payments. Grassi was hailed as a hero, but his public refusal to pay was intolerable to the Mafia and a few months later he was executed in person by one of Cosa Nostra’s top bosses. Libero Grassi’s defiance is credited with inspiring a new grass-roots movement among businesses in Sicily that stands up to the Mafia. Simon Watts talks to his daughter, Alice Grassi.

PHOTO TO COME
Sep 06 2019
9 mins
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Rank #2: The Holocaust denial trial

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The controversial historian, David Irving, tried to sue Penguin Books and professor Deborah Lipstadt for libel after she called him a Holocaust denier in one of her books. The case drew intense media interest. Deborah Lipstadt told Rebecca Kesby what it was like to have to defend her work and the memories of survivors of the Holocaust at the High Court in London in 2000. History was on trial.

(Photo: American academic Deborah Lipstadt (C) exults 11 April 2000 at the High Court in London after winning a libel case brought against her and Penguin publications by British revisionist historian David Irving. Credit: Martyn Hayhow/AFP/Getty Images)
Sep 05 2019
11 mins
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Rank #3: 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
10 mins
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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
10 mins
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Rank #5: 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
11 mins
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Rank #6: 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
8 mins
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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
10 mins
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Rank #8: Inside lunar astronaut quarantine

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When the crew of Apollo 11 returned to earth after their historic mission to the Moon, they were immediately placed in quarantine for 3 weeks. It was done to protect the Earth from the dangers of possible lunar alien life. Dr William Carpentier was the flight surgeon for the Apollo 11 mission and was placed in quarantine with the crew to monitor their health and check for any signs of alien life. He talks to Alex Last about his memories of working with the Apollo programme and life in quarantine.

Photo: Apollo 11 astronauts (left to right): Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin peer from window of the Mobile Quarantine Facility aboard the U.S.S. Hornet after their July 24th recovery.
Sep 04 2019
12 mins
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Rank #9: The First CIA Coup in Latin America

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In 1954 Guatemala's left-leaning President Jacobo Arbenz was ousted from power by army officers backed by the CIA. In 2016 Mike Lanchin spoke to his son, Juan Jacobo Arbenz, about the events of that time, and the effects on his family.
Photo: Jacobo Arbenz and his wife speaking with a group of French reporters in Paris in 1955. Credit: Getty Images
Aug 03 2018
8 mins
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Rank #10: 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
11 mins
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Rank #11: Hitler's Architect

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Among the leading Nazi inmates in Berlin’s Spandau prison, which was closed in August 1987, was Hitler's architect and minister of war, Albert Speer. He was the only top Nazi who later apologised for the Holocaust, although he claimed he never knew it was happening. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to the journalist Roger George Clark, who interviewed Speer a decade after his release at his home in West Germany.
Picture: Albert Speer standing at the gate of his house near Heidelberg in December 1979. (Credit: Roger George Clark)
Aug 24 2018
10 mins
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Rank #12: The KGB's Whistleblower

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Senior KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin risked his life smuggling thousands of top-secret Soviet intelligence files out of KGB headquarters, and bringing them to the West. His archive was one of the largest hauls of information to leak out of a major intelligence service anywhere in the world. Louise Hidalgo talks to Cambridge historian Professor Christopher Andrew, one of the few people let into Mitrokhin's secret who helped him turn his archive into a book.

Picture: Vasili Mitrokhin, taken in March 1992 when he walked into the British embassy in Latvia and announced he had a big haul of KGB intelligence (Credit: Churchill Archives Centre, University of Cambridge)
Oct 29 2018
9 mins
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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
8 mins
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Rank #14: 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
9 mins
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Rank #15: 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
15 mins
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Rank #16: Life With America's Black Panthers

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Eldridge Cleaver, one of the leaders of the radical African American Black Panther party, spent more than three years in exile in Algeria in the late 1960s. He set up an international office for the Black Panthers, mingling with dozens of left-wing revolutionary activists who had also sought refuge in north Africa. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Elaine Klein Mokhtefi, a left-wing American woman who lived and worked in Algiers, and who became Cleaver's fixer and close confidante.

Photo: Eldridge Cleaver and Elaine Mokhtefi (credit: Pete O'Neal)
Oct 30 2018
8 mins
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Rank #17: 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
10 mins
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Rank #18: 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
8 mins
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Rank #19: The Nazi Black Book

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During World War Two the German secret service compiled a book listing all the people they wanted to arrest in Britain if it fell to the Nazis. The top-secret 'Special Search Index GB' contained details of politicians and intellectuals and people who had fled Germany before the war - but it also included relatively ordinary British citizens. Vincent Dowd has been speaking to someone whose father appeared in the book, and to historian Terry Charman who published a facsimile edition of the so-called 'Black Book'.

Photo: the front of the 'Black Book' with the German word 'Secret' stamped on it. Credit: BBC
Oct 10 2018
9 mins
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Rank #20: 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
8 mins
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