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Europe — History — 20th Century
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The First World War and the Rise of Facism [electronic resource]

Program 47 traces the fall of old empires during World War I and the rise of right-wing dictatorships in Italy, Spain, and Germany.

The Second World War and the Rise of Facism [electronic resource]

Program 48 discusses the new tactics and strategies employed in World War II. Describes the targeting of civilian populations and the Nazi holocaust.

Russian Revolution in Color: Part 1 Freedom and Hope [electronic resource]

No episode of history illustrates the interplay between violence and radical idealism more clearly than the overthrow of Russia's czar and aristocracy. Using vivid reenactments and colorized archival footage, this program depicts the seizure of power by a political party which, although initially representing a small fraction of the Russian nation, rapidly engulfed it. Viewers learn about the formation of the Red Army and the Cheka, or secret police; the Red Terror Decrees; and Lenin's methods for taking control of the economy. Discussions of the Bolshevik vision of exporting socialism across Europe shed further light on a brand of totalitarianism presaging Hitler's plans for world domination.

Russian Revolution in Color: Part 2 Fear and Paranoia [electronic resource]

Shortly after the establishment of Bolshevik rule in Russia, brewing conflict threatened the party's leadership. This program depicts Lenin's response to those threats through ruthless campaigns against political rivals and foreign forces. Drawing on letters and personal accounts, the film also makes use of dramatic reconstructions and colorized archival footage, portraying the era as those at the vanguard of the revolution would have seen it. Viewers learn about the 1918 assassination attempt against Lenin and the anti-Bolshevik rebellions in Siberia, the Ukraine, Estonia, and the Crimea - as well as the Red Army's methods for crushing those uprisings and imposing a system that would split the world for the next 70 years.

When Propaganda Ruled [electronic resource]: Nicolae Ceausescu, "King of Communism

Life in Romania during the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu was at once tragic and absurd as the nation's head of state erected a cult of personality that literally turned his country into a stage show. Tapping Ceausescu's video archives and drawing on interviews with many of the talented people who made Ceausescu's political theater come to life, this program examines the creation and application of propaganda within the context of Romanian political history during the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. Ceausescu scripted an epic with himself as the star, but others wrote the inevitable denouement that brought down the curtain on him and his wife, Elena, a "scientist of world renown.
2005; 2001

Escaping Franco [electronic resource]: From Danger Into Danger

This program documents the Spanish Civil War from the point of view of the Spaniards who went into exile as a result of it. Firsthand accounts of that brutal conflict and the cruel realities of life as a refugee are movingly described by a broad cross-section of survivors. Graphic newsreel footage accompanies their stories of destruction at home and escape to other countries: tales of separation, imprisonment, forced labor, and frontline action at the start of World War II, as well as-for some, at least-testimonials to the kindness of strangers.
2005; 2002

Holding on, Fighting Back [electronic resource]: Long Road Home to Spain

After the fall of France in World War II, the hardships of the Spanish Civil War refugees grew worse. In this program, survivors from those desperate days openly talk of their ordeals and victories: repression and reprisals in Franco's Spain; suffering in French internment camps; deportation to Nazi concentration camps; meritorious service with the French Resistance and Allied forces; and, after the war, their lives in exile until, after Franco's death, they could finally go home. Graphic newsreel footage places each story in context.
2005; 2002

France-America's Friend? [electronic resource]: The de Gaulle Years

The war in Iraq is not the first time that the U.S. has been at loggerheads with its mercurial ally France. This program presents a vivid account of an earlier troubled phase in Franco-American relations: the critical years from 1961 to 1969. Drawing on recently declassified archival materials as well as on eyewitness accounts from the advisors, colleagues, and ministers of Charles de Gaulle, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, the program depicts JFK's historical visit to France, his discovery of a famously difficult ally in de Gaulle, and the ambiguous relationship that developed between the two countries in the years to come.
2006; 2001

Daniel Kehlmann [electronic resource]

A novel is a "map of contradictions," says German-Austrian writer Daniel Kehlmann-an arena of clashing viewpoints, each with its own persuasive logic. This program presents an interview with Kehlmann in which he discusses his literary goals and his search for fertile soil in the dichotomous history of Western Europe. Specific topics include personal freedom, cultural and religious tolerance, and Kehlmann's fascination with German philosophers and scientists of the past. All are set against a paradoxical backdrop as the program winds through Vienna's Enlightenment-era settings, then enters Mauthausen Concentration Camp, a horrific reminder of Austria's fascist legacy.
2009; 2008

The Nobel Peace Prize Documentary 2008 [electronic resource]: With Dignity for All

Described by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as "the only man I know who's made peace on three continents," Martti Ahtisaari has devoted his life to fostering reconciliation among the nations of the world. Produced by the Nobel Foundation, this program profiles the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, tracing his life and highlighting his achievements in international mediation in Namibia, Aceh, and Kosovo, as well as ongoing work with his organization Crisis Management Initiative. Interviews with Ahtisaari are complemented by commentary from Eileen Babbitt, Professor of International Conflict Management Practice at Tufts University, and Kai Sauer, Director of the Unit for UN and General Global Affairs.
2009; 2008

The Nobel Literature Prize Documentary 2009 [electronic resource]: Writing Against Terror-the Literature of Herta Muller

Her father was an ex-Nazi and alcoholic who clung to his fascist beliefs. For much of her life, she struggled against Nicolae Ceausescu's dehumanizing regime. But no matter how prolonged or alienating her hardships, they never crippled Herta Muller's spirit-and have, in fact, shaped and amplified her astonishing literary output. Commissioned by the Nobel Foundation, this program features revealing interviews with the 2009 Laureate, location footage from her domestic and working life, and readings from her achingly honest work. Excerpts illustrate the poetic resonance and intellectual power of Nadirs, The Land of the Green Plums, Traveling on One Leg, and other works.
2010; 2009

Radio Revolution [electronic resource]: Broadcasting for Freedom in Cold-War Romania

Likened to "a strange religion. with millions of invisible believers," Radio Free Europe gave listeners in Eastern Bloc countries a much-needed alternative to government media. This program examines the impact of RFE broadcasts on Nicolae Ceausescu's Romania and the lengths to which Romanian authorities went to suppress U.S.-backed radio. Viewers learn how the 1977 Vrancea Earthquake enabled RFE to step up its activities in the country; how Ceausescu's operatives in the Romanian Securitate-and, allegedly, even the notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal-committed violent acts against RFE personnel; and how the power and popularity of RFE found full expression in the Romanian Revolution.
2010; 2009

Russia's Last Tsar [electronic resource]

In tsarist Russia, Nicholas II had absolute power over his vast realm, yet he was helpless in the face of his son Alexei's life-threatening hemophilia. Enter Rasputin, a self-styled holy man whose apparent ability to heal the young heir to the throne won him the devotion of Empress Alexandra, to the dismay of practically everyone else. This program presents the wrenching drama of the collapse of the centuries-old Romanov dynasty-a story of abdication, imprisonment, and assassination-against the backdrop of a nation under unendurable stress: military disasters, economic collapse, widespread unrest, and the rampant spread of Bolshevism. The program ends by revealing the location of the tsar's lost grave, a mystery for decades solved at last.
2010; 1996

Great Thinkers [electronic resource]: Human, All Too Human

With its images of violence, war, and radically foreign cultures, the stark realities presented by the new medium of television made an impression on those who studied the mind and behavior, causing them to reexamine the very essence of what it means to be human. This program features archival footage of the 20th century's most influential social scientists as they strive to define human nature: Carl Jung discusses individuation, Stanley Milgram explains his famous obedience experiment, R. D. Laing lectures on mental illness, Margaret Mead questions Western sexual mores, and Richard Dawkins casts "the selfish gene" in a more positive light. Also featured are Sigmund Freud, Benjamin Spock, B. F. Skinner, Desmond Morris, and Jane Goodall.

Winston Churchill [electronic resource]: From the WPA Film Library Speeches Collection

Let us...brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say, 'This was their finest hour.' -Winston Churchill Items in this compilation include, * Churchill's speech given at Guildhall, London, on 2/23/40 at a luncheon held in honor of the crews of the Exeter and the Ajax after their victory during the battle of the River Plate * His "Their Finest Hour" address, given before the House of Commons on 6/18/40 * His "The Few" address, given before the House of Commons on 8/20/40 * A speech to the Allied delegates at St. James's Palace given on 6/12/41 * An address to the U.S. Congress given on 12/26/41 * An address made to the Canadian Parliament on 12/30/41 * A speech delivered in Moscow during 1 [...]

The Furies [electronic resource]: Mussolini in Power

In 1936, Mussolini was on top of the world. In 1945, he was on the business end of Partisan machine guns. By what process did the man who aspired to Roman-style supremacy finally pay the piper? This program looks at the latter period of Italian Fascism, from the height of Mussolini's reign to his fall from power and his death. Using colorized historical footage and reenactments, the film addresses Mussolini's attempts to inculcate Fascism through the Italian school system, the signing of the Lateran Pact with the Vatican, Italy's barbaric colonization efforts and ill-advised entry into the Spanish Civil War, Mussolini's betrayal of his own family members, and the alliance with Germany - which eventually doomed both Italian Fascism and its maniacal leader.

Photographer [electronic resource]: Lodz Ghetto Through the Lens of Walter Genewein

In 1987, in a Viennese shop, hundreds of color slides from World War II were found. It turned out they had been made in the Lodz ghetto by a skilled amateur photographer named Walter Genewein, chief accountant on the ghetto council and a proud member of the Nazi party. In this documentary, filmmaker Dariusz Jablonski combines Genewein's disturbing images of ghetto life with the recollections of Dr. Arnold Mostowicz, the last surviving witness of the events portrayed, to create an important testament to the suffering and subsequent extermination of the ghetto's Jews. "In the midst of atrocity, [Genewein] saw only German success," says The Daily Telegraph (London).

Waves of Liberty [electronic resource]

In this program the author of Sparks of Liberty: An Insider's Memoir of Radio Liberty reviews the origins, struggles, and eventual demise of the American radio station that broadcast directly to the Soviet people starting with the Cold War. Funded by the CIA, Radio Liberty's stated mission was to provide objective information about culture and current events to those without a free press, like its sister stations Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. Former employees discuss working at Radio Liberty's Spanish location - where it was moved to avoid Soviet jamming of transmissions - its content, and the logistics of conveying information in the pre-Internet age.

Kovno Ghetto [electronic resource]: A Buried History

Kovno Ghetto: A Hidden History tells the true story of the German-occupied city in Lithuania, starting in 1941 through the Soviet invasion, as the Jewish population was forced to live in squalid and brutal conditions. Razed to the ground in 1944, with its citizens dispersed to concentration camps as forced labor - or worse - a few buried remnants of Jewish defiance survived as artifacts, letters, and photos, bearing witness to the atrocity.

The Suicide of a Camp Survivor [electronic resource]: Case of Primo Levi

This is the story of an assimilated Italian Jew, a chemist of no particular renown whose efforts to survive in fascist Italy were finally thwarted when he was deported to Auschwitz, where he survived through no effort of his own while tens of thousands around him were slaughtered-people possibly nobler, more valuable than he. He emerged from the experience a superb writer and a scarred man, who in his works sought to remember, bear witness to, and above all understand the human qualities that emerge on the sharp edge of despair. He survived the camp, burning with the need to tell how it was; and when he had done so and said it all, he gave in to depression and ended his life.
2006; 1991