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The History Hour


From World War II to the Arab Spring, history told by the people who were there.

From World War II to the Arab Spring, history told by the people who were there.
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From World War II to the Arab Spring, history told by the people who were there.




Wittenoom: An Australian Tragedy

Asbestos-related deaths in an Australian town of Wittenoom, the doctor who first described child abuse, the first warning about climate change, a revolutionary shoe maker who went global, and gay rights in the Israeli Army. Photo: Wittenoom (BBC)


Korea Divided: A Bitter History

From the 1945 division of the peninsula, to the Korean war and the death of Kim II-sung, we have first-hand accounts from the turbulent recent history of North and South Korea. Plus, expert analysis from Dr Owen Miller of SOAS University of London. Photo: As US infantrymen march into the Naktong River region, they pass a line of fleeing refugees during the Korean War (Getty images)


The 1968 Belgrade Student Revolt

The 1968 student revolt in Communist Yugoslavia, an assassination attempt that sparked Lebanon's war, Adolf Eichmann's execution, plus the sudden death of Nigeria's strong man in less than clear circumstances and 'from couch to 5k' that inspired a global running craze. (Photo: Sonja Licht with her fellow protester and later her husband, Milan Nikolic, at the site of the protests. Credit: Licht-Nikolic family archive)


Free Health Care for All

The birth of the British health service in 1948; the battle for compensation over Thalidomide; the world's first bicycle-sharing scheme; discovering a perfectly-formed frozen baby mammoth in Siberia, and the great science-fiction writer, Isaac Asimov. Photo: Aneurin Bevan, Minister of Health, meeting a patient at Papworth Village Hospital after the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948 (Edward G Malindine/Getty Images)


The Fall of Suharto in Indonesia

In 1998, the Indonesian dictator, President Suharto, resigned after 31 years in power. He stood down in the wake of nationwide demonstrations sparked by the killing of four student protestors. We hear from Bhatara Ibnu Reza, who was with one of the students when he died. Plus, how a Pakistani theatre company took on the dictatorship of General Zia ul-Huq; the landmark Holocaust documentary Shoah; and the day lesbian protestors targeted the BBC news studio. Photo: Students celebrate outside...


May 1968 Paris Riots

A French riot policeman's view of the violence that swept through France in May 1968; plus the man who led a team that made safe two nuclear weapons that had crashed to ground in the US. Also, the origins of Montessori education, one of the airmen on the Dambusters' raid and actor Jane Asher remembers John Osborne's radical 1950s play, Look Back in Anger. Photo: Protesters face police in front of the Joseph Gibert bookstore, Boulevard Saint Michel in May 1968. (Credit: Jacques...


The Last King of Bulgaria

From child king in the Second World War to post-communist prime minister, the story of Bulgaria's King Simeon II; the first ever surgery performed on a foetus in the womb, an American family selling secrets to the Soviets in the 1980s, plus the 1963 attempt to form a United States of Africa, and the earliest diagnosis of autism. Photo: King Simeon II 1943 (credit: Bulgarian Royal Family)


When Margaret Thatcher Came to Power

Working for Britain's first female PM, the rare story of prisoners on the high seas in WW2, plus the Children's Crusade for civil right in 60s Alabama, the origin of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the story behind the Japanese TV hit, Takeshi's Castle. Photo: British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, with husband Denis on May 4th 1979. (Credit: John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images)


The Oslo Peace Talks

The story behind the secret Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Oslo in 1993, the woman who swam from the USA to the Soviet Union, plus remembering Pablo Picasso, how art transformed notorious Scottish prisoners, and one of the most famous figures of World War One, the Red Baron. Photo: Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat at the signing ceremony for the Oslo Accord, September 13,1993. Credit: AFP/Getty Images


Earth Day

The birth of the modern environmental movement, Germany's 1918 Spring Offensive, the discovery of the concentration camp horrors of Bergen-Belsen plus the rebuilding of the World Trade Centre site; and the last occupiers of Europe's most westerly lighthouse. Photo credit: Robert Sabo-Pool/Getty Images


The Zimbabwe Massacres

In this week's episode, Robert Mugabe's brutal crack down on the opposition in the 1980s, a mass expulsion of Soviet spies from Britain in the 1970's and the working class film revolution of the 1960's. Plus the first frozen embryo and the death of a German student leader that sparked huge demonstrations. (Photo: Robert Mugabe. Getty Images)


The Good Friday Agreement

In 1998, the political parties in Northern Ireland reached a peace agreement that ended decades of war. We hear from Paul Murphy, the junior minister for Northern Ireland at the time. Plus, a cross-community choir in Bosnia and women pioneers from the worlds of finance and oceanography. PHOTO: Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (L) and British Prime Minister Tony Blair (R) pose with the mediator


The Battle of the Airwaves in Latin America

Why the BBC started broadcasting to South and Central America, plus the My Lai Massacre, Brazil's careful transition to democracy, and Moscow's show trials in the 1930s. Photo: Members of the BBC's Brazil service rehearsing in a London studio in 1943. Credit: BBC.


Deaf Rights Protest

A landmark protest by deaf students in the US; the early fight for women's reproductive rights; the life and times of political thinker, Hannah Arendt; language and history in Azerbaijan, and Wonder Woman. Picture: Student protestors, courtesy of Gallaudet University in Washington DC


China's Barefoot Doctors

How China's barefoot doctor scheme revolutionised rural healthcare; plus M*A*S*H, the ground-breaking American TV show that taught a generation about war; the assassination of the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme; the German and Russian soldiers who fought on the Eastern Front in the First World War; and the Angel of the North, a huge steel sculpture that has become an icon for the north-east of England. Picture: Gordon Liu


The Boy in the Bubble

How a young boy lived with a rare genetic disorder; plus "Ghana Must Go" - when 1 million Africans were expelled from Nigeria, battling the last major smallpox epidemic in India, reporting the Jimmy Swaggart scandal and the story behind the acclaimed novel "Infinite Jest" (Photo: David Vetter and his mother Carol-Ann Demaret Credit: Carol-Ann Demaret)


Women's Rights In Iran

We hear from Mahnaz Afkhami, Iran's first ever minister for Women's Affairs, appointed in 1975. Plus, the so-called "headscarf revolutionaries" who fought for improvements in Britain's notoriously dangerous fishing industry, a member of the Viet Cong recalls one of the biggest battles of the Vietnam War, finding the lost notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, and the 1970s lesbian separatist movement in America. Photo: Mahnaz Afkhami at the UN in 1975. (Mahnaz Afkhami)


The Munich Air Disaster

The plane crash that killed eight of Manchester United's top players, the courage of the British Suffragettes, uncovering South Africa's nuclear secrets, plus tracking down Nazis in South America and the attack on a South Korean airliner ahead of the Seoul Olympics. (Photo: Plane wreckage at Munich airport - AFP/Getty Images)


The Tet Offensive

In January 1968, North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong guerrillas launched a huge surprise attack on towns, cities and military bases across South Vietnam. The events of the Tet offensive had a profound impact on American public opinion and marked a turning point in the war. Plus the roots of the Rohingya crisis, the birth of gospel music, Ireland's Bloody Sunday, and the end of corporal punishment in Britain. Photo: Julian Pettifer reporting under fire near the Presidential Palace in...


The Capture of the USS Pueblo

When North Korea and the US came close to war in 1968; plus Salvador Dali, re-creating Francis Bacon's studio, the first veggie burger and the origins of Lego Photo: Members of the USS Pueblo's crew being taken into custody. Credit: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service