The story of our times told by the people who were there. We take listeners back in time to key events in history - featuring a witness to the event, archive material and hear from historians.

The story of our times told by the people who were there. We take listeners back in time to key events in history - featuring a witness to the event, archive material and hear from historians.
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The story of our times told by the people who were there. We take listeners back in time to key events in history - featuring a witness to the event, archive material and hear from historians.




BBC World Service Bush House Strand London WC2B 4PH


Botswana's Diamonds

Manfred Marx was the man who discovered the diamonds which transformed Botswana's economy. As a young geologist in 1967 his find in the Kalahari desert completely changed the country's fortunes after independence. Photo: Uncut diamonds. (Credit Getty Images)

Duration: 00:08:53

The 'Disappeared' of Lebanon

Thousands of people went missing during Lebanon's long and brutal civil war. But in 1982 a group of women started an organisation to try to track down their family members. Nidale Abou Mrad has been speaking to Wadad Halawani whose husband was taken from their home by two gunmen and never came back. Photo: West Beirut under shellfire in 1982.(Credit:Domnique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

Duration: 00:08:54

The Windmill Theatre

A British national institution closed in October 1964. The Windmill Theatre had been one of the few places where it was possible to see naked women on stage, due to a loophole in the censorship laws. Lucy Burns speaks to former Windmill Girl Jill Millard Shapiro about her memories of performing at the theatre. Picture:

Duration: 00:08:57

The British Love Affair with Curry

Curry first became popular in the UK in the 1950s with the arrival of immigrants from South Asia. They introduced spicy food to the British diet. Nina Robinson has been speaking to Nurjuman Khan, an early pioneer of the Indian restaurant business in the English Midlands. Photo: A youthful Nurjuman Khan (Credit: Nurjuman Khan)

Duration: 00:09:31

The Exploding Whale

A dead sperm whale washed up on a beach in Florence, Oregon in November 1970. It was so big that the authorities decided to blow it up - with disastrous consequences. Years later, a local news report about the story resurfaced in the early days of the internet, and became one of the most famous viral videos ever. Lucy Burns speaks to Paul Linnman, the reporter behind the story. Picture: a sperm whale washed ashore in Skegness, England in January 2016 (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Duration: 00:08:55

World War One: Ordinary Lives

Remarkable recordings from the BBC archive of two people who felt the cost of war first-hand. Their experiences were tragically common, but for many years, were rarely recorded or voiced in public You'll hear from a German soldier, Stefan Westmann, who tried to come to terms with the act of killing. And the story of Katie Morter, a British civilian from Manchester, and the man she loved, Percy. Photo: Katie Morter (BBC)

Duration: 00:09:24

Laika the Space Dog

The Russian street dog was the first living creature to orbit the Earth. She was sent into space in November 1957. She died after orbiting the Earth four times. Professor Victor Yazdovsky was nine years old when his father brought Laika back from the laboratory to play with him. He has been speaking to Olga Smirnova for Witness. Photo: Laika the dog. Credit: Keystone/Hulton/Getty Images.

Duration: 00:08:57

The Russian Revolution

On the 7th of November 1917, Bolshevik revolutionaries overthrew the provisional government set up in Russia after the fall of the Tsar earlier that year, and created the world's first communist state - a state that would become the Soviet Union. Louise Hidalgo has been listening back to eye-witness accounts of that tumultuous time. Picture: Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin addressing crowds in the capital Petrograd during the Russian Revolution of 1917 (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Duration: 00:09:03

Osama Bin Laden's Last Interview

Days before Kabul fell to anti-Taliban forces in November 2001, Osama bin Laden met Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir in a secret location before going into hiding. It would be 10 years before he was discovered and killed in Pakistan. Hamid Mir tells Rebecca Kesby about their last conversation and how they were both nearly killed in an airstrike. (PHOTO: Osama bin Laden (left) with Pakistani Journalist Hamid Mir (right) and an undisclosed location. Credit Getty Images)

Duration: 00:09:31

The Case That Saved Sex on the Internet

In 1997 the US Supreme Court ruled against censoring sex on the internet. It overturned a law, signed the previous year which had been designed to protect children from sexual content on the internet. Claire Bowes has been speaking to an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who fought the case for freedom of speech. Photo: A computer. Credit: Anilakkus/iStock

Duration: 00:09:31

Oscar Niemeyer's Forgotten Masterpiece

In the Lebanese city of Tripoli there is an exceptional architectural site which has never been used. The great modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer designed all the buildings for an international fair which was about to open when civil war broke out in the 1970s. Architect Wassim Naghi has been speaking to Nidale Abou Mrad about the fair. Photo: The Tripoli international fair from above. Credit: BBC.

Duration: 00:09:25

Martin Luther's 95 Theses

When German monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saint's Church in Wittenberg on October 31st 1517, he started a religious revolution. The document was about the church's practice of selling indulgences - but Luther's protest would grow into the Protestant Reformation. Witness hears primary sources from the time, and speaks to historian Lyndal Roper. Photo: A portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder on display at the German Historical Museum in Berlin,...

Duration: 00:09:22

The Murder of Brazil's Leading Journalist

In October 1975 the prominent Brazilian journalist Vladimir Herzog was killed by the secret police. His murder became a symbol of the brutality of the military regime. Mike Lanchin speaks to his son, Ivo, who was just nine years old at the time. Photo: Vladimir Herzog with Ivo as a baby (courtesy of the Herzog family).

Duration: 00:09:21

A Literary Love Affair

In October 1929 Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir began their fifty-year love affair after meeting in Paris. Louise Hidalgo speaks to the writer and leading French feminist, Claudine Monteil, who knew Sartre and de Beauvoir, about their legendary status and their famously open relationship. Photo: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre sitting in a cafe in Paris, 1970. (STF/AFP/Getty Images)

Duration: 00:09:39

The Death of Dele Giwa

An eyewitness to the assassination of the campaigning Nigerian journalist Dele Giwa. He was murdered in Lagos in 1986 while the country was under military rule.In October 1986, Dele Giwa was the founder of the investigative magazine Newswatch. In 2014, Alex Last spoke to his friend and colleague, Kayode Soyinka, who was with him when he died. Photo: Dele Giwa

Duration: 00:09:39

The Fake IDs That Saved Jewish Lives

Soon after Hitler ordered the invasion of Hungary in March 1944, the Nazis began rounding up hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews. Most were immediately sent to their deaths in the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. David Gur was a member of the Jewish Hungarian underground, who helped produce tens of thousands of forged identification documents. These allowed Jews to hide their true identities and escape deportation to the death camps. Now 91 years old, David has been telling...

Duration: 00:10:53

Private Eye

On October 25th 1961 a new satirical magazine called Private Eye was published for the first time in London. It was part of a new era of comedy, poking fun at the powerful and politicians, and helping Britain to laugh at itself after the austerity of the post-war years. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to one of Private Eye's founders, Richard Ingrams. Picture: the Private Eye office in 1963. From left to right, editor Richard Ingrams, Christopher Booker and actor, cartoonist and broadcaster...

Duration: 00:09:49

Romania's Abortion Ban

Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu made abortion illegal in October 1966 - but many women still tried to end their pregnancies, by sometimes desperate means. Sorina Voiculescu was one of the millions of Romanian women who had an illegal abortion under the ban.

Duration: 00:08:58

The 43 Group: Battling British Fascism

How British Jewish ex-servicemen and volunteers came together to form "The 43 Group" to fight a resurgent British fascist movement on the streets of post-war Britain. Fascist leaders, like Sir Oswald Mosley, had been released from detention at the end of the Second World War. Soon they were holding meetings in London and around the country, often espousing the same violently anti-Semitic rhetoric used before the war. In response the 43 Group was formed in the late 1940s to gain...

Duration: 00:11:46

The Mysterious Death of Samora Machel

When the socialist leader of Mozambique and many of his senior advisers were killed in a plane crash on the border with South Africa, many were suspicious. It was October 19th 1986 and the two countries were divided over Apartheid. The plane made a sudden direct turn straight into a range of mountains, and one of the air crash investigators at the scene, Dr Alan Diehl, told Rebecca Kesby there are reasons to suspect the plane was deliberately diverted off course. (PHOTO: The socialist...

Duration: 00:09:35

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