World War Two

At an event this evening to celebrate the BBC’s factual content, Alison Kirkham, BBC Controller Factual Commissioning, gave an impassioned speech outlining her plans for the years ahead.

Published: 31 January 2019

My Family, The Holocaust And Me combines powerful family stories with big picture history to give a powerful insight into this seismic event. In the two-part series, Robert Rinder (main picture) will help the families of those who experienced the Holocaust to retrace their parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps. In cases where Holocaust survivors and victims are no longer alive, Robert will help their living relatives unpick the full truth about what happened to their families.

Six million Jews died in the Holocaust. Five million others were also killed, including gay people, travellers, people with disabilities and twins. But as this uniquely horrific chapter of history moves further away in time, the number of those who survived is dwindling, and the exact detail of what happened becomes obscured by the passage of time.

Our cast will learn fresh detail about their extraordinary family stories before setting off to explore what their relatives confronted decades before. They’ll travel to their ancestral homelands, visit the camps they inhabited and meet some of those who survived.

Moved by his own recent investigation in Who Do You Think You Are?, Robert will join each family on their journey to help them explore the stories they uncover and examine what it means to be the children and grandchildren of Holocaust victims and survivors - tapping into the legacy of suffering and guilt often experienced by subsequent generations.

Robert will also be embarking on a new journey of his own. Whilst tracing how his grandfather Morris survived the Holocaust in Who Do You Think You Are?, Robert was shown a document in which Morris had recorded the deaths of his own parents and siblings. Now Robert will travel to Treblinka to discover how his great-grandparents, great-aunts and great-uncle came to meet their ends in the concentration camp there.

My Family, The Holocaust And Me, a 2x60' for BBC One, is made by Wall To Wall. The Executive Producer is Colette Flight. It was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director, BBC Content and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Simon Young.

Belsen Remembered (w/t)

Belsen Remembered (w/t) uses harrowing first-person testimony from some of the last survivors, to tell the extraordinary untold story of the infamous Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where over 50,000 people, mostly Jews, died primarily from starvation and disease in the last phase of World War Two.

Unlike many concentration camps, all that remains of Belsen today is peaceful, grassy meadows lined with scattered birch and pine trees. The camp has all but disappeared because the British soldiers who liberated the camp in 1944 stumbled into a scene of such horror, with piles of unburied bodies and epidemics of disease, that they felt they had no choice but to burn Bergen-Belsen to the ground - inadvertently reducing much of the evidence of Nazi crimes to ashes.

It is this loss which Belsen Remembered seeks to rectify. British liberators and survivors share their recollections of the camp for the first time, building a unique and irreplaceable historical record of the camp, to ensure that Belsen can never be forgotten.

As Allied troops advanced into Germany through the winter of 1944, thousands of Jewish prisoners were evacuated from camps nearer the Eastern front mostly through brutal forced marches. Bergen-Belsen’s population increased eight-fold to nearly 60,000. But unlike the infamous extermination camps of Auschwitz or Treblinka, Belsen wasn’t devised as a place of killing. It had no gas chambers. Instead, the prisoners were slaughtered by systematic neglect - many starved to death, others succumbed to typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever or dysentery, diseases fostered by a lack of clean drinking water and minimal sanitation. In one of the bitter ironies of the Holocaust, it was precisely because Belsen was not designed for death, that it created such horror for the living.

Now - 75 years later - this film creates a lasting memorial to those who died at Belsen, before this dark chapter in our history fades from living memory. Belsen Remembered is their story.

Belsen Remembered (w/t), a 1x60’ for BBC Two, is made by Atlantic Productions. The Executive Producer is Anthony Geffen. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two, and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Simon Young.

D-Day Commemoration

D-Day was the battle that the Allies could not afford to lose. The attack, by 156,000 Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944, was the beginning of the end of World War Two. Two years in the planning, D-Day remains one of the greatest, most complex military operations ever undertaken. It paved the way for the liberation of Europe, and was the turning point that put the Allies on the road to victory after almost five years of fighting.

Seventy five years on, the BBC will be at the heart of the commemorations to honour the success and also the sacrifice of the two million servicemen and women who took part in planning and executing this daring campaign.

D-Day Commemoration will be made by BBC Studios Events team for the BBC, led by Creative Director Claire Popplewell. It was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director, BBC Content and Alison Kirkham, Controller Factual Commissioning.

The Rise Of The Nazis (w/t)

This gripping and dramatic series uncovers how the Nazis took control of Germany.

How did 20th Century Europe’s most liberal democracy fall into the hands of fascists? From Hitler’s political scheming that turned Germany’s parliament into a House of Cards, his War on Truth leading to book burning, and his scapegoating of minorities, this series explores in extraordinary detail the events leading up to the outbreak of World War Two.

The series will be made in the style of the RTS award-winning Elizabeth I’s Secret Agents. Leading historians will study the motivations of Hitler’s contemporaries - to get into the minds of the people most responsible for the machinations of the Nazi regime - as well as those who sacrificed their status, their jobs and in some cases their lives to try to stop the Nazis. Interweaving their different psychological perspectives will allow us to experience their different ambitions and agendas.

This series will show that history is not inevitable. As our historians take us through the biggest events of the period, from the Wall Street Crash to the backstairs dealings of the 1930 election, from the brutal Night of the Long Knives to Hitler becoming the all-powerful Führer of Germany - we highlight the incremental decisions and missed warning signs that could have prevented the rise of the Nazis.

The Rise Of The Nazis (w/t), a 3x60’ for BBC Two, is made by 72 Films. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Simon Young.

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