What happens if human beings can’t handle the power of their own weaponry? This show examines the dangerous early years of the Nuclear Age and humankind’s efforts to avoid self-destruction at the hands of its own creation.
Tagged with “war” (39)
The Zimmermann Telegram tells the story of how the US became embroiled in World War One. The threat from Germany came home to the United States 100 years ago this month, courtesy of an intercepted telegram sent by the German Foreign Secretary, Arthur Zimmermann. The tricky thing was, British intelligence didn’t want the US finding out they were reading what was coming over those cables. That made it rather difficult to warn the US, without giving the game away and thereby doing enormous diplomatic damage.
We hear from the grandsons of two key figures in this story; Nigel de Grey played his part in decrypting this all-important message in Room 40, and went on to be crucial to codebreaking during World War Two. The other, Thomas Hohler, was our man in Mexico at the time. Last summer their grandsons met up at Bletchley Park, reflecting on the significance of the telegram and their ancestors’ involvement in bringing it to light.
Also in this episode, you really never do know who you might meet at Bletchley Park. Eagle-eyed listeners may have spotted the TV historian, Dan Snow, waxing lyrical on social media recently, about the wonders of the Home of the Codebreakers. He came to visit and - like most people when they first see how brilliantly the story is now told - was moved and amazed. He stopped for a chat with Bletchley Park’s very own broadcast-friendly historian, Dr David Kenyon.
Throughout this year, we’ll bring you more never-heard-before interviews with veterans of Bletchley Park and its outstations, celebrating the ongoing Oral History project, as well as freshly researched stories about what the Codebreakers achieved and the difference it made to the outcome of the war, in the Bletchley Park Podcast’s exclusive It Happened Here series.
It’s been a war of gambling for the Germans, but by 1918 they find themselves with a window of opportunity. They have knocked Serbia, Romania and Russia out of the war in successive years. They (and their Austro-Hungarian allies) bloody the lip of the Italians in late 1917. In 1918 they are able to turn nearly their full might against the Allied-Entente forces on the Western Front.
If they can smash their opponents in France before American numbers become overwhelming they can perhaps force a pro-German peace on Britain, France, the U.S. and the rest of the allies.
The “Multi-Punch combination” thrown by the Germans starting on March 21st 1918 is known by a variety of names, perhaps most commonly “The 1918 Spring Offensive”. But there’s nothing “common” about it. It will include some of the most nasty battles in history and will give the Allies several “soil your underpants” moments right from the very start.
In 1983, Soviet satellites reported that the United States had launched a nuclear missile toward Moscow, and one officer had only minutes to decide whether to initiate a counterstrike. In today’s show we’ll learn about some nuclear near misses from the Cold War that came to light only decades after they occurred.
We’ll also hear listeners’ input about crescent moons and newcomers to India, and puzzle over the fatal consequences of a man’s departure from his job.
Sources for our feature on Stanislav Petrov and Vasili Arkhipov:
Pavel Aksenov, “Stanislav Petrov: The Man Who May Have Saved the World,” BBC, Sept. 26, 2013.
Lynn Berry, “Russian Who ‘Saved the World’ Recalls His Decision as 50/50,” Associated Press, Sept. 17, 2015.
“Soviet Officer Honored for Averting Nuclear War,” Toledo Blade, May 22, 2004.
Mark McDonald, “Cold War, Cool Head,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dec. 26, 2004.
Ben Hoyle, “The Russian Who Saved the World,” Southland Times, May 22, 2015, 7.
Glen Pedersen, “Stanislav Petrov, World Hero,” Fellowship, July/August 2005, 9.
“JFK Tried to Drive Wedge Between Cubans, Soviets,” Toledo Blade, Oct. 13, 2002.
“Papers: Annihilation Narrowly Averted,” Lawrence [Kan.] Journal-World, Oct. 12, 2002.
“Revealed: Soviet Sub Almost Attacked in ’62,” Peace Magazine, January-March 2003, 31.
The Museum of London’s exhibition The Crime Museum Uncovered runs through April 10, 2016.
Wordnik defines griffinism as “In India and the East, the state or character of a griffin or new-comer.”
This week’s lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Andrew H., who sent these corroborating links (warning — these spoil the puzzle).
Learning from Britain’s secret decryption centre, Bletchley Park - Ockham’s Razor - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Bletchley Park was Britain’s main decryption establishment during the Second World War, and the home of genius Alan Turing. Professor Mark Dodgson believes it has much to teach us about innovative organisations and the importance of diversity in skills.
During WWII, the U.S. Army formed a top-secret military unit with one goal: Use artistic and theatrical skills to confuse the enemy. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops turned their creativity into incredible strategic trickery.
The ocean liner’s sinking by a German U-boat led to the U.S. entering World War I. Erik Larson, author of Dead Wake, says British intelligence knew the ship was in danger and didn’t tell anyone.
Machine guns, barbed wire and millions upon millions of artillery shells create industrialized meat grinders at Verdun and the Somme. There’s never been a human experience like it…and it changes a generation.
The war of maneuver that was supposed to be over quickly instead turns into a lingering bloody stalemate. Trench warfare begins, and with it, all the murderous efforts on both sides to overcome the static defenses.
The Great Powers all come out swinging in the first round of the worst war the planet has ever seen. Millions of men in dozens of armies vie in the most deadly and complex opening moves of any conflict in world history.
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