Stories Of Conflict: Hitler & Secret Recordings

Jan 20, 2014

On Tuesday nights, WLRN presents stories of conflict, three hours of documentaries about warriors, weapons and warfare.

On January 21, starting at 8:00 p.m., watch how the Allies confronted German General Erwin Rommel in the North African desert at a pivotal moment that altered the course of World War II; learn how inventions and innovations, not soldiers and strategies, often determine battlefield outcomes; and listen to the secretly recorded conversations with German POWs that revealed decisive information to British intelligence.

World War II: Desert Wars (8:00 p.m.)

During the long struggle against Rommel's Afrika Corps, British and Australian troops were besieged in Tobruk as the outcome of the Second World War hung in the balance. This is the second of two programs that tell the gripping story of one of the greatest episodes of World War II.

Made to coincide with the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein, the film contains startling revelations about an enormous Allied intelligence blunder.

How To Go To War: Bullets, Boots And Bandages (9:00 p.m.)

WLRN presents the second episode of a three-part series on the logistics of war hosted by British radio and television personality Saul David who gives us a fresh perspective on how wars were won and lost around the world and across the ages.

Filmed at the sites of famous battlefronts near and far, David demonstrates that victory or defeat often come, not so much from battlefield heroics and brilliant tactics, but as a result of the complex logistics that support large armies, especially far from home.

In this week’s episode, David illustrates how simple inventions and innovations often shaped the outcome of wars.

The charismatic host of this riveting new show explains, vividly and dramatically, that when it comes to waging war the devil is in the details as he takes us on a spellbinding tour of famous conflicts from ancient times to modern. He demonstrates how successful wars are waged, not only with weapons but with hygiene, food, medicine, housing and transportation.

A professor of War Studies at the University of Buckingham in England, David conveys history as an addictive narrative. Battlefront surgeons demonstrate how an early amputation might have been performed in the field, how the Jeep replaced the horse and revolutionized the speed with which war could be conducted, and how conditions in the trenches led to some of the great innovations in medicine, sanitation and ultimately class structure.

At times irreverent, at other times profoundly serious, “How to go to War” is a first rate addition from the BBC to WLRN’s on-going exploration of war, warriors and weapons.

Secrets Of The Dead: Bugging Hitler's Soldiers (10:00 p.m.)

In an unprecedented bugging operation by British intelligence, 4,000 German commanders and prisoners of war revealed their inner thoughts about Hitler and the Third Reich and let slip military secrets that helped the Allies tip the scales during World War II.

Based on groundbreaking research conducted by a German historian, this film tells the story of how those conversations were recorded and how they reveal, in shocking detail, the heart and mind of the German fighter. In total, more than 100,000 hours of secret recordings were made. They represent a startling new body of evidence with which to revisit the events of the war, exposing political divisions at the top between generals who supported the Nazi ideology and those who did not. They also demonstrate the complicity of rank-and-file soldiers in Nazi war crimes.

The documentary includes intense dramatic reconstructions that use verbatim transcripts of these bugged conversations to reveal the dark psyche of Hitler’s Germany.