Using recorded figures and statistics to outline the full extent of the conflict, explaining the horrors of war and how it ever came to take place.
Part 1: Lightning War
Begins by looking at the story of Franz Honiok, a 43-year-old farmer who is often considered the first victim of the Second World War, before going on to show that when Germany invaded Poland in August 1939, no-one was ready for war.
Part 2: Backs to the Wall
A look at the Battle of Britain, examining the limited resources the British military were left with following the retreat from Dunkirk, and the pressure on German forces to conquer England quickly, so attention could be switched to Russia. The second half of the programmes examines the US entry into the war, in defiance of the promise made by President Roosevelt during his re-election campaign.
Part 3: The Road to Stalingrad
A look at how Hitler calculated that to fight on long enough to fulfil his aim of eradicating Europe’s Jews he needed to capture the Caucasus, and to do that he had to take Stalingrad. There is also a look at how the US rebuilt its navy and took itself from the 18th-ranked army in the world to be second only to the Soviet Union, a tale of ingenuity and enterprise that turned the vast resources of America into the numbers that could win a war.
Part 4: Twilight of the Axis
Examines the botched raid on the German-occupied harbour of Dieppe, France in August 1942, which resulted in the loss of around 4,000 Allied men and drove home just how costly an invasion of France would be. The programme also focuses on Hitler’s order in 1945 to destroy any military or industrial facilities that could be useful to the enemy – which would have condemned the German people to utter desolation.