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May 13-May 19: The Bloodshed Continues 

As the last remnants of the Nazi regime are dismantled, the "Big 3" nations set about the daunting task of rebuilding a continent shattered by nearly six years of war. In the Pacific, while... See full summary »

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Greg Stebner ...
Narrator
Kerry Smith ...
Himself - Professor, Brown University
Gregory J.W. Urwin ...
Himself - Professor, Temple University
Michael Moroz ...
Himself - WWII Veteran, Pacific
William Atwater ...
Himself - Curator, US Army Ordnance Museum
Donald Dencker ...
Himself - WWII Veteran, Pacific
James Spence ...
Himself - WWII Veteran, Pacific
Iva Toguri ...
Herself - Tokyo Rose (archive footage)
Omer Bartov ...
Himself - Professor, Brown University
Max Hastings ...
Himself - Author, 'Armageddon'
Mark Almond ...
Himself - Lecturer, Oxford University
Paul Hennessey ...
Himself - WWII Veteran, Europe
Alex Kershaw ...
Himself - Author, 'The Longest Winter'
Ted Zetlin ...
Himself - WWII Veteran, Europe
Allen Striffler ...
Himself - WWII Veteran, Pacific
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Storyline

As the last remnants of the Nazi regime are dismantled, the "Big 3" nations set about the daunting task of rebuilding a continent shattered by nearly six years of war. In the Pacific, while the battle for the Philippines is turning in their favor, U.S. troops have come to a brutal stalemate in Okinawa. And a remarkable discovery on the New Hampshire coast proves pivotal in America's efforts to develop an atomic bomb. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

13 May 2005 (USA)  »

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Ruination.
24 February 2017 | by See all my reviews

This impartial, balanced series continues with a description of a ruined Germany on the verge of starvation and Europe descending into bitter sectional disputes in places like Jugoslavia. Roughly three million German soldiers are killed or missing, while civilian casualties are double that.

In Eastern Europe, Stalin proves Winston Churchill to have been right in his suspicions and Roosevelt wrong in his optimism about the designs of the USSR. Stalin sets up provisional governments in countries like Poland and Romania, then arrests and disposes of all anti-communists. Germany itself is divided into four zones, each under the control of one of the major Allied powers. Berlin is similarly dissected.

The program diverges at times from a straightforward history of the war into political matters and sometimes deals with what might be called social history or even "important trivia." Who was Tokyo Rose? What was in K rations? You can find out here. The conquered people of Germany got along quite well with their conquerors.

I'm reminded of some observations made by Steven Ambrose. The GI's developed very clear pictures of their allies and enemies. In North Africa, the Arabs were filthy, lying thieves. The Italians were boastful and crooked and couldn't be trusted. The French were lazy, condescending snobs. But the Germans were first rate. They were hard working, followed all the rules, did exactly what they were told, and they used toilet paper.

On the other side of the world, the Marines and soldiers had taken the Philipines and were slogging their way through the maze of rocky traps on Iwo Jima. There was no talk of surrender but Japan itself had nothing left. An island nation, it had no resources of its own, and US submarines had isolated it from outside sources. All metal tools and utensils had been confiscated for military use. There was no food. The survivors of the burned out cities traveled to rural areas to pick grass and make soup. Truman had been told of the atomic bombs and at this point the US political and military elite were deep in discussions of which cities to bomb. To them, absent a crystal ball, it was just another weapon, like a faster airplane or a bigger aircraft carrier.

Of course that turned out not to be the case at all.


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