It was a place few expected to be fighting in when war broke out in 1939. It was a conflict Hitler never wanted. It was a fight on terrain that at times was as hostile as the enemy. It was a battlefield that relied on chariots of steel and wings of vengeance and one that could only be won through cunning, ruthlessness and above all – an effective supply chain. For many, the battle for control of North Africa is seen as something of a side show to the war in Europe but this conceals the truth that if North Africa had fallen to the Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy then the whole course of the war could have been completely changed. In this episode, we are going to explore the events surrounding the most pivotal battles for control of North Africa – the battles for El Alamein in Egypt – and examine the cost of both success and failure to both sides. Welcome to Wars of the World.
The Battle of Berlin: The Soviet Victory That Ended WWII
It would be too simplified an explanation for the motivation of Adolf Hitler to merely state that he desired conquest and power. Nazi Germany, including the lands to which its power reached, was to be a society unlike any other. Purged of those with attributes deemed undesirable in his new order, the new German people would be pure and united in their goal of achieving their country’s destiny; to become the greatest nation on Earth. Technologically. Militarily. Scientifically. Germany was to be the envy of all, untouchable by the old foreign powers who would squabble for the scraps left in its wake as Hitler’s hand as leader - the Fuhrer - stretched across the globe to every continent. At the heart of this new Germany would be its capital. Berlin, which was to be renamed Germania, would become the most developed and prosperous city not just in the world but in all of history, its magnificence leaving the famed capitals of empires of old such as Rome and Athens a mere shadow in comparison. And dominating this new supercity would be the immense Grand Hall or Hall of the People. Conceived of by Hitler and designed by Albert Speer, this immense, domed structure would dwarf any that was in existence at that time, aptly demonstrating Nazi Germany’s power and capability. Being able to seat 180,000 Nazi German citizens, it would be 16 times larger than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome whose design it aped and would be filled with devoted followers all of whom would come to see the Fuhrer in person and hear him speak of the bright future for the Third Reich, a reich which Hitler promised would last a thousand years. And yet just twelve years after Hitler came to power, that dream of the greatest city in history was smashed under the tracks of Soviet T-34 tanks, the Nazi leadership having to recruit children and the elderly to try and stave off the Red Army that had encircled the city which already had been battered by Allied bombing raids for five years, looking to deliver the death blow to the Nazi tyranny.
The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Pilots of World War II
No war – won or lost – is ever waged without sacrifice. Those sacrifices can be material in the loss of equipment or infrastructure, monetary in the cost to a nation’s economy of waging a war but always it is in blood. Death is at the very nature of war and while armies going back to antiquity have sought to limit their own casualties whenever they could, the threat of death is forever present. However, death is not always a matter of the unfortunate circumstance a combatant may find themselves in during their final moments. Throughout history, there are those who have engaged the enemy knowing that while they will almost certainly die, their sacrifice may have meaning for their comrades for as it is written in the Holy Bible in John Chapter 15 verse 13, “No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” Often the decision to make such sacrifices are made in the heat of battle however as the Second World War entered its final phase, the demand for sacrifice in order to help turn the tide against an increasingly hopeless situation led to an almost industrial scale undertaking to throw Human lives at the enemy in the hope of deflecting the inevitable. This is the story of the Divine Wind, Japan’s Kamikazes. Welcome to Wars of the World.
Britain’s Bloodiest Day: The Battle of the Somme
In 1916, France was a nation cut in two by a string of trenches cut into the Earth running from north to south, separating two vast opposing military forces who fielded weapons that seemed the stuff of science fiction just a generation earlier. So confident in these weapons were both sides that they expected the fighting to be a short and sharp affair, both expecting victory but, in the end, it was nothing more than bloody, senseless stalemate.Britain had gone to war in honour of a treaty it had signed with Belgium which German Kaiser Wilhelm II disregarded when his troops invaded the small neutral country, looking to bypass the main French line. At the time the British Empire was the most powerful in history, but that strength largely lay in its navy. On the continent, professional troops used to putting down uprisings by tribesmen in remote parts of the Empire, struggled to get to grips with the realities of modern warfare. The result was a bloodbath and would eventually lead to the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Welcome to Wars of the World.
The Vietnam War: 1 Nov 1955 – 30 Apr 1975
The Vietnam War would see the realisation of the Vietnamese dream of a single unified, independent country taking its place in the world free of outside oppression and rule. It is the type of story that has been told throughout history and had it occurred at any other point in history then it would have likely been largely forgotten outside of the small South East Asian country as so many wars of independence are. But because of events elsewhere in the world, the battlefields of Vietnam became one of the most important in the world at that time for it was here that two ideological superpowers, the democratic west and the communist east, would throw their weight in. Not being able to fight one another directly because they would destroy themselves in a nuclear fire, they instead fought through the Vietnamese people. This is the story of the Vietnam War.