Affiche Great Battles of War
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S01E01 Operation Barbarossa 31/12/1969 The German invasion of Russia was the biggest, bloodiest and most bitter battle ever fought. It cost the lives of at least twenty million people and ended Europe's dominance of world affairs. It was the head-on clash of the two mightiest armies man has ever known, which no other battle in history can compare with. Although Hitler's opening attack on Russia in 1941 (code named by the German Army "Operation Barbarossa") forms the climax of the narrative, this programme is concerned more with the background and build-up to the assault. Unique archive film from both sides of the Iron Curtain has been incorporated, together with notable contribution from Albert Speer, Hitler's close confidant and Munitions Chief General Warlimont, who planned the campaign and served at Hitler's headquarters throughout the War, General von Manteuffel who helped carry out the scheme and Doctor Paul Schmidt who was Hitler's individual interpreter.
S01E02 Battle of the Bulge 31/12/1969 December 1944 witnessed the last major German offensive of the Second World War. The Battle for the Bulge, as this campaign in the Ardennes forests of Belgium and Luxembourg is now more familiarly known, was the biggest single pitched battle of the Western Front – more than a million troops took part. It was Hitler's most desperate gamble of the War; he in fact planned every move. It was the climax, too, of the Allied invasion in Western Europe. But it was also a time of American humiliation, for it saw the largest mass surrender of US forces of the whole European War -- and a surrender second in size only to that at Bataan in the Pacific in 1942. Because Hitler was banking on a quick victory, which he hoped would split the Allies and provide a respite in the West while he held off the Russian threat from the East, he ordered Germany's remaining film-stock and surviving cameramen to be lavished on covering the campaign. But when the plan failed, much of their efforts lingered unseen in the library vaults and even unprocessed in laboratory cellars until brought to light for this documentary.
S01E03 The Battle for Cassino 31/12/1969 It was the most grueling, the most harrowing and in many ways, the most tragic of all battles fought in Europe in the Second World War. It was also the most international soldiers of sixteen countries fought and died there. It has also become a battle to be mulled over, puzzled out and re-fought, not just by professional soldiers and historians but also by armchair strategists, for it is full of controversy, not least the bombing by the Allies of the historic Benedictine Monastery on the summit of Monte Cassino. But to the men who took part, the battle will mainly be remembered for the mud, cold and hypnotic attraction of the monastery itself an all-seeing eye glowering down from that sheer hill and noticing everyone and everything. Unique archive material of the battle from both sides has been utilized together with newly-filmed sequences of the rebuilt town and monastery as well as dramatic eye-witness accounts from many of the surviving major participants.