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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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United Kingdom




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




Truth And Reconciliation in South Africa

After Apartheid was abolished in the 1990s, South Africa set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to try to confront the legacy of its brutal past. We speak to Justice Sisi Khampepe, who served on the Commission. Plus, the inspiring story of the disabled Irish author, Christoper Nolan; an inside account of two of America's most famous presidential speeches; and the role of British women in World War I. (PHOTO: Pretoria South Africa: President Nelson Mandela (L) with Archbishop Desmond...

Duration: 00:50:12

When France Said 'Non' to Britain Joining Europe

When France stopped Britain joining Europe in the 1960s, the boy who set a record for continuously staying awake, the launch of the first iPhone, hands reaching out in friendship between Britain and Germany after the Second World War, and a notorious massacre during Algeria's bitter internal conflict of the 1990s. Photo: Charles de Gaulle, President of France, at a press conference on 14th January 1963 at which he said Britain was not ready to join the European Economic Community, now the...

Duration: 00:49:59

Boris Yeltsin's Surprise Resignation

Mrs Yeltsin, on the day her husband shocked the world, half a century since the Mafia's grip on America was exposed, the 1999 protests in Iran - the biggest since the revolution - a student tells us how a photograph led to his death sentence and the Brazilian woman hijacker who took her kids along for the ride.

Duration: 00:49:54

Kwanzaa - The African-American Holiday

How Black activists invented a new holiday, flying around the world without refuelling, what not to do if you win a fortune, and the mountaineers who risked their lives climbing the spires of Leningrad during WW2. Then there's the obligatory Christmas board game - Trivial Pursuit. Picture: Children at the first Kwanzaa celebration - courtesy of Terri Bandele.

Duration: 00:49:59

To Kill A Mockingbird

One of the most successful American films of all time was released on Christmas Day 1962. Based on the best-selling book by author Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird starred Gregory Peck as a lawyer who stood against prejudice in the Deep South of the USA. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Gregory Peck's son Carey Peck. Plus, the life of Indian independence leader BR Ambedkar; a short-lived period of peace in Somalia under the Islamic Courts Union; the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution...

Duration: 00:51:01

The Unsung Hero of Heart Surgery

The African-American lab technician, Vivien Thomas, who pioneered surgery that saved millions of babies, Otis Redding remembered 50 years on from his tragic death, the killer smog of the 1950's London, the man brave enough to hypnotise Uday Hussein and the Australian Prime Minister - lost at sea. (Photo: Vivien Thomas, US Surgical Technician, 1940) (Audio: Courtesy of US National Library of Medicine)

Duration: 00:50:42

British Withdrawal from South Yemen

Fifty years since Aden gained independence from Britain, plus an amazing discovery under the oceans, a celebration of Finnish independence, Russian art punished by the Bolsheviks and the building of Mount Rushmore's famous statues. Photo: Aden 1967 Copyright: Alamy.

Duration: 00:50:26

The Poisoning of Litvinenko

In November 2006, the world was shocked by the murder in London of former Russian intelligence officer, Alexander Litvinenko. We hear from his widow Marina about his life and agonising death, and get an analysis of the case from Luke Harding, author of "A Very Expensive Poison". Also in the programme, an astonishing assassination plot during El Salvador's Civil War, a huge oil spill in Spain, and the purpose-built city in Siberia which was home to the Soviet Union's best scientists....

Duration: 00:51:19

The Siege of Mecca

The secret battle for the holiest site in Islam in 1979; the coup that changed the Vietnam war, plus an East German musical icon, prosecuting Charles Manson and Toy Story's digital revolution. Photo: Fighting at the Grand Mosque in Mecca after militants seized control of the shrine, November 1979 (AFP/Getty Images)

Duration: 00:50:08

The 'Disappeared' of Lebanon

The women searching for their loved-ones who went missing during the Lebanese civil war, plus the man who first discovered diamonds in Botswana, a pioneer of the Indian restaurant business in the UK, an exploding whale, and naked dancing in post-war London. Photo: West Beirut under shellfire in 1982.(Credit:Domnique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

Duration: 00:50:06

The Russian Revolution: The Bolsheviks Take Control

Eye-witness accounts from the Russian Revolution of October 1917; the first dog in space; Sabah, one of the biggest 20th-century stars of the Middle East; the last journalist to interview Osama Bin Laden; and horror and heartbreak: memories of the First World War. Picture: Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin addressing crowds in the capital Petrograd during the Russian Revolution of 1917. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Duration: 00:49:59

Martin Luther's 95 Theses

The German monk who began a religious uprising; the book that made us think of humans as animals; how the murder of a Brazilian journalist by the secret police became a symbol of Brazil's military brutality; plus the Lebanese architectural dream that was overtaken by war and the fight that ended sex censorship online. Photo: A portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder on display at the German Historical Museum in Berlin, Germany (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Duration: 00:50:07

The Fake IDs That Saved Jewish Lives

How tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews escaped the Nazis by using false papers; what happened when abortion became illegal overnight in 1960s Romania; the murder of campaigning Nigerian journalist Dele Giwa; the creation of British satire magazine Private Eye; and the love affair between writers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Photo: False Hungarian ID document (BBC)

Duration: 00:50:30

The 43 Group: Battling British Fascists

How Jewish veterans fought fascism in post war Britain; plus investigating the death of Mozambique's president Samora Machel, we hear from a survivor of the Moscow theatre siege, inside the Cuba Missile Crisis and the mystery of Booker prize winner JG Farrell. Photo:British Fascist Sir Oswald Mosley speaking at a rally, Hertford Road, Dalston, London, May 1st 1948. (Getty Images)

Duration: 00:54:01

The Death of Che Guevara

In October 1967 the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara was captured and killed in Bolivia - we hear from the CIA operative who was one of the last people to speak to him. Plus, the plan to rescue Italy's art from the Nazis; remembering a hero of Catalan nationalism; the policeman and friend who testified against OJ Simpson, and Madonna - the early years. (Photo: Felix Rodriguez (left) with the captured Che Guevara, shortly before his execution on 9 October 1967. Courtesy of Felix Rodriguez)

Duration: 00:51:21

The Hate Crime That Changed American Law

Why the brutal killing of a young gay man in Wyoming prompted change, how white people came to terms with their past after segregation in deep south America, living alongside Israeli soldiers in Gaza, plus modern treasures uncovered in Iran and rediscovered Tudor treasures raised from the English seabed. (Photo: Matthew Shepard with his parents, Judy and Dennis, on holiday at Yellowstone National Park. Courtesy of the Matthew Shepard Foundation)

Duration: 00:50:22

Walking the Great Wall of China

Walking the Great Wall of China; the death of Pope John Paul 1 after just a month in the job; turning against a colonial power - how Guinea gained independence from France; the life and times of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, and the British Land Girls of World War Two. (Picture: Yaohui Dong, Wu Deyu and Zhang Yuanhua on the Great Wall of China. Courtesy of Yaohui Dong)

Duration: 00:50:29

When Animals Make History

Five remarkable stories of animals in recent history - from the guide dog who led her owner out of the World Trade Center on 9/11 to a ferocious shark attack to the locust swarm that flew more than 5000 miles across the Atlantic ocean. Photo: a Great White Shark - Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Duration: 00:49:33

The Collapse of Northern Rock

The run on a British bank which signalled the coming global financial crisis, a schoolboy arrested in East Germany for writing a letter, a doctor remembers the Sabra Shatila massacre in Beirut, and a Nigerian archaeological treasure trove. Photo: Northern Rock customers queuing outside the Kingston branch, in order to take their money out on September 17th 2007. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Duration: 00:50:15

The Fairy Photos

The search for a spirit world after WW1 that led people to believe that photographs of fairies were real. Plus Jamaica's worst train crash, France's last execution by guillotine, the man who saved the Proms and life in a giant greenhouse in Arizona - Biosphere 2. Photo: Frances Griffiths and the "Cottingley Fairies" in a photograph made in 1917 by her cousin Elsie Wright with paper cut-outs and hatpins. Credit: Alamy

Duration: 00:50:25

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