Returning to Auschwitz is the story about Kitty Hart-Moxon, a Polish English girl who was sent to Auschwitz. She survived in the camp for two years. After liberation, she made her way to England. After 34 years she returned to Auschwitz. She grew up in Southern Poland with a mother and father and a brother. They managed to escape the Nazis several times. Unfortunately, the Nazis caught up with them and it would change her life.
She was a child when the Nazis invaded Lublin, where they were living. It quickly dawned on her that the Nazis were out to kill people like her. Her brother fled to Russia. He attempted to reach England. Her grandmother was seized and killed. Her father arranged new Aryan identities for his daughter and wife. He put them on the train to the west. They were part of a forced labor group.
The Gestapo were tipped off about potential Jews in the work party. Kitty remembers the day when the Gestapo came. The leader looked like an ordinary man but the way he spoke, she knew she had to prepare to die. The Gestapo were scared them. Kitty felt relieved that she was not to die. Kitty and her mother were sent to Dresden to another prisoner. Then she was transported back to Poland and Auschwitz. Kitty was 16 when she was sent to Auschwitz. Her family had been on the run for 12 years.
Kitty admits to being ready for Auschwitz the first time. She was detached from everything at that point in the war. Now visiting the site again, she was unsure that she will be ready. Kitty goes back to Auschwitz to show her son and feels that it is her duty to go back. When she is gone, her son will be able to tell Kitty’s story.
Kitty and her son arrive in Auschwitz. She is already nervous about return and struggles to get her bearings. She encourages her son to bring his children to the site. This is a duty that she does not take lightly. Eventually, she starts telling her story to her son. There was a particular glow to the night sky when she arrived at the camp. She recalls the scent of roasted meat as well. She helped build the railroads that lead to Auschwitz. She carried the cement for the railroad. She was bitten by the dogs. She begins with the arrival and the selection process. Kitty recalls being given uniforms, just one layer.
Kitty was interned in Camp B1. She wants to look for a way into the camp. They arrive at the camp and Kitty describes the selections. One way was the way to live and the other way was to die, and it was where the crematoriums were at. It was night when Kitty entered the camp. Everything was taken from her and she was shaved. She was smeared with green fluid and she was given Russian prisoner of war uniforms. There were Russians that were shot before she arrived.
She looked for block 25 because it was significant. It was her block and she was there for months and months. She hid there for months and months. Everything time she went into the block she was beaten and got her bread ration. You have to admire Kitty’s determination to tell her story to her son.
This is an older documentary about one survivor’s return to Auschwitz. This would be a good documentary to show at the end of the Holocaust Unit because it is about the return of a survivor to Auschwitz. It is the raw story of a woman’s survival in the Holocaust.
Today, we will explore Holocaust survivor stories from Ukraine in this blog.
This film was created by Sergey Bukosky and several Ukrainian students record Ukrainian Holocaust survivors’ testimonies. These survivors escaped execution. Others rescued friends and neighbors. These students recorded the survivors’ stories for the documentaries. These testimonials were recorded from 1994-1998. It was started after the filmmaker’s encounter with a book on the Baba Yar massacre.
The survivors begin their stories from the beginnings of the Soviet occupation. There were no idlers in Ukraine. Everyone had a job. However, the Soviets offended the Jewish population. They called them the word for Russian Jews and not the correct Ukrainian term. One family celebrated Stalin’s accession. They put a picture of Stalin in their stationery store.
These were people who lived where the individual did not exist, the country came first. They were members of a big family. There were no different characteristics between the people. However, in reality, there was the fifth line on peoples’ files, and this indicated ethnicity.
The survivors told stories of their childhood. Some played typical pranks on the families. One family had their uncle took for forced labor and they lost the family story. One little girl was punished for using a bad word when she saw a Jewish little boy. Even today, the Ukrainians do not understand what made the Jews different. A student working on transcribing the interviews said she did not want to be Jewish.
In 1942, the war came to Ukraine. One survivor recalls being unable to tell the difference between artillery fire and a storm. Motorcycles sped down the streets. These motorcycles carried Germans and they had guns. Papers were flying from the motorcycles and were carried on the wind. Everyone was rushing when war was declared. One child was up in a tree picking cherries. Something exploded above them and threw them from the trees. He was with his friend and his friend was killed as a result of the explosion. That child grew up that day.
When the war came to Ukraine, they immediately began executing Jews. One child remembered seeing the trucks where Jews were being carried. A child was crying in the truck. They stopped the truck and took the baby out and killed the baby. The Germans went marching from door to door looking for Jews. One survivor recalls three ditches being dug and nobody knew how they were dug or who dug them. It all went fast.
One mother managed to get her family to the back of the line. The Germans were hitting people in the back of the head and then the machine gun fire went off. They were using tracer bullets to kill people. One survivor tried to get as low to the ground as she could. She was determined to crawl away. She had her sister by the hand and they managed to escape from the fire. This survivor recalls a woman singing a Yiddish song and she thought this woman lost her mind. Then she remembers a man in black shouting “God, where are you?” This survivor crawled to the edge of the cliff and a German was coming in her direction. She must have blended in because of her light hair and played dead. He never found her and it was then she was able to get away.
As a student, the focus was always on Poland, Germany, and Anne Frank. I have never heard about how Ukrainian Jews suffered. This is a different documentary. I would stay strange because it blended both the Holocaust and the Soviet times. It was survivors telling their stories. It would serve as a good backup if you cannot find any additional documentaries on the Holocaust. This documentary is told in Ukrainian with English subtitles.
Prisoner Number A26188 Henia Bryer is a documentary about a Holocaust survivor. Her niece, Lisa Bryer made the documentary. Henia Bryer came from a well-to-do middle-class family from Poland. She lost her father, sister, and brother in the Holocaust. She survived four concentration camps and the Death March. She tells her story in this documentary.
Bryer remembers when the German Army invaded Poland. The people were in a panic and within 14 days the Nazis occupied Poland. The propaganda machine immediately began. They put up speakers around town and the campaign was started. Henia remembers the blue and white armbands they had to wear. Bryer did not look like a Jewish girl. Even the German soldiers questioned her as to why she was wearing the star.
In 1941 she and her family were sent to the Randon Ghetto. It was referred to as “the large ghetto,” but it was a small place. Ten people were confined to one room. The Nazis would randomly knock on doors and pull people out. The Nazis would shoot those people. Henia’s younger brother was taken away to a munitions factory. She never saw him again until after the war. He never talked about his experiences.
In 1942, 20,000 people were taken out of the ghetto. A majority of the people went straight to the death camps the others were shot. Henia immediately went to work. She had an abscess on her tooth that she had to get taken care of. The abscess burst because of the pressure was on it. That same day the Nazis shot everyone in the hospital. Her older brother was shot as well because he was physically disabled.
Her remaining family members were taken to a concentration camp. They were herded unto cattle trucks and were taken to Majdanek Concentration Camp outside of Lubin, Poland. They had one suitcase. They had to strip naked into the snow and were taken to the showers. They were given barely shoes and uniforms. It was cold.
They got a glimpse of the women SS. These women were cruel and full of hatred. Henia wondered where they found these women. There were four camps for the prisoners and then a fifth camp for the crematorium. Henia was then moved to Plazow after six weeks. Her mother was sent to another camp. In the Plazow camp, people were from Krakow. It was an enormous camp. This was the camp featured in Schindler’s List. The camp commander was portrayed exactly how he was in real life. If he did not like someone he would shoot them.
The women were divided into teams of ten and they had to pushcarts along the track to the quarry. It was a nearly impossible job. Elsa, the chief of the SS Women, came to the camp. She had the most steely eyes Henia recalled. She was worse than the men. She took particular delight in hurting children and “was not normal.” She was looking for domestic help and Henia was picked to be a domestic help. Henia thought she was picked because she did not look Jewish.
Henia talks about the escapes she made and how she survived each camp. She was sent to Auschwitz after Plazow. Her father was beaten to death. Her younger sister was sent to the gas chambers because she was young. Someone who worked for her father managed to get her clothing. This is a survivor’s tale of the Holocaust. It incorporates pictures and her survival tale.
This documentary would be an excellent addition to a Holocaust curriculum. I hope a teacher would consider showing this documentary in the classroom.
Good morning and good afternoon my readers, we will continue to explore stories from the Holocaust. In 1947, a Nazi officer was put on trial in Vilnius for his part in the Holocaust. Several survivors came forward to share their extraordinary stories. Historians have descended on Vilnius to scan the buildings that survived the labor camp this Nazi officer ran. Historians, survivors, and scientists come together to examine and scan the buildings to help determine where people were buried and how the people survived.
Karl Plagge was a Nazi officer who tried to save his Jewish workers. When World War II ended, he was put on trial for his part in the Holocaust. Surprisingly, several Jewish workers came forward to support him during the trial. The people were survived at the lengths Plagge went through to save his Jewish workers. They told their story about how Plagge helped them survive. Plagge employed 1,240 Jews and managed to keep them safe while the Nazis exterminated Lithuanian Jews.
Michael Good, an American doctor, discovered that his mother was saved by Plagge’s actions. He decided to investigate the story further. It was through his investigation that Plagge’s story was brought back to life. It was a surprising story. Plagge ran the labor camp in Vilnius. He created workshops and employed Jewish workers to save them. These workshops repaired vehicles. To help ensure quality, Plagge argued that families should be kept together. The workers would be more enthusiastic if they had their families.
The workers in his workshops were ordinary people. They were shopkeepers. They had no mechanical skills. Plagge certified them all as mechanics. Plagge eventually employed the women as clothing makers. He was the middle man between the Jewish workers and the SS. Sometimes his plan worked, sometimes it did not work.
Historians try to find out where a massacre of Jews took place in Vilnius. The historians drone the whole area to determine where the mass grave was. This is called non-invasive archelogy. It gives historians an idea of what the area looks like currently to determine differences in the surrounding area. Then they use ground-penetrating radar. What will the results show about the area the labor camp is in?
Karl Plagge was born in Darmstadt, Germany. He joined up with the military because it was a family tradition. Plagge fought during World War I and was a prisoner of war. During the 1920s, he suffered from ordinary German families through the deprivations. He wanted to be a doctor and heal people. However, in 1931 he joined up with the Nazi party. He believed that Hitler could change things and get the people employed. His membership in the Nazi party would lead him to Vilnius.
It was in Vilnius where Plagge’s eyes were opened to Nazi atrocities. It was here he decided to work against the Nazis. He was ashamed and saw unbelievable things. He came up with a plan to save Jewish families. A survivor of Plagge’s plan joins Good as they explore the former labor camp. Sidney Handler, was 9 when he moved into the labor camp. There were other children in the camp, however, he was not aware of any other child who survived. Good and Handler explore the buildings of the camp.
The Good Nazi is a surprising story to come out of the Holocaust. To learn about Plagge’s fate, continue to watch the documentary.
This is an excellent documentary to show in a history classroom during the World War II and Holocaust section of history class. This would be a good documentary to show in a science class too. There are several applications of science in this documentary.
January 27, is Holocaust Remembrance Day. So I will feature blogs about the Holocaust during January. I hope that these blogs will give teachers plenty of options for documentaries to show about the Holocaust.
Anne Frank’s Diary is the most famous in the world. Her parents had given her the diary for her birthday. She started to write in it. When her family went into hiding, she took the diary with her. This diary was discovered after the war. When it was published it became a worldwide sensation. It revealed the persecution of the Jews. It also revealed the lengths one family took to hide. Anne became a symbol for all the children that were killed in the Holocaust. When Anne started the diary could not have imagined the legacy she left behind.
The Frank Family lived in Germany. They lived quietly and raised their two daughters Margo and Anne. When Hitler came to power, life for German-Jewish families became hard. Jewish books were burned. They were attacked in the streets. The Jews were forced to wear the yellow star. Eventually, Jewish families were arrested. Once arrested they vanished. Nobody knew where they went. Families fled from Germany and the Frank family chose to move to Holland. Anne and her sister Margot adapted well to life in Holland. She was raised as a Dutch girl. She loved reading. She always got into trouble with her teachers.
Eva Schloss and her family lived in Austria when Hitler took over. Her family fled to Holland too when the Nazis took over. They were lucky to escape. Eva enjoyed Amsterdam. They could be a normal family. It was here that Anne and Eva would meet. Eva was a tomboy while Anne was interested in boys and movie stars. Anne helped Eva learn Dutch. Eva met Anne’s family too.
Many Jewish families thought they found a haven from the Nazis. During World War I, Holland was a neutral country. This meant that the Germans did not invade Holland during the war. World War II was different and Hitler invaded Holland. They were afraid about what was to come. The cycle of persecution began again. They could no longer attend Dutch schools. They had to wear the yellow star. They had yellow benches in the park. Young men were arrested in the streets and started to disappear. There were rumors of the Germans gassing the Jews. Life became hard for the Jewish families. In July 1942, Jewish families received a call-up notice. This call-up notice was a deportation notice for young people. They were going to be sent to Germany to work in the factories.
Margot Frank was one of the young people called up. After the Franks received the call-up notice they went into hiding. The Franks hid together in the annex with a second family. Eva and her family went into hiding as well. However, the Schloss family split up because nobody wanted to take in a whole family. Life in hiding was difficult for both families. Eventually, they would be betrayed.
To find out more about Anne and Eva continue to watch the documentary on YouTube.
This is a fantastic documentary to show in a history class dealing with the Holocaust. It is appropriate for a middle and high school classroom. The story’s pace is well done. Eva Schloss shares her memories of Anne, hiding, Otto Frank, and the aftermath of World War II. She also talks about the diary. She witnessed the rise of the diary as a piece of literature. This documentary would be a good addition to your classroom documentary arsenal.
You can access the YouTube video here.
Our journey through World War I and World War II continues with Secrets of Hitler’s Island Fortress. The Islands of Guernsey were the only part of the British Isles that was invaded by Hitler. In this documentary, historian Dan Snow talks with the residents of the Channel Islands to discover their unique wartime experience. Snow also visits sites that the Nazis build to protect their prize. This documentary is a fascinating tale about World War II.
The Guernsey Islands may be small, but they played a big part in history as well as in World War II. They may be subjects to the British Crown, but they are run by independent governments. Hitler built a fortress on the islands to keep an eye on potential invasions. Dan Snow visits a castle that was a key to controlling Guernsey. The castle changed hands plenty of times during history. The German occupation of Guernsey left a lasting mark on the island.
The Germans quickly realized that it was a strategic point and set to fortifying the island. It was the only piece of British territory that the Nazis occupied. Hitler was proud of that fact. When the Nazis arrived, they quickly realized that the fortification was built to last for the ages. So, the Nazis reinforced what was available. Dan Snow puts it that it is one of the few places where you can spot something built by King Henry VIII alongside World War II fortifications.
Now, a group of local enthusiasts is working to preserve what remains of the Island Fortress. They plan on making them available to the public. Shaun Marsh is head of the Festung Guernsey group and takes Dan Snow on a tour of the remaining fortifications. As a child, he played in the tunnels, now as an adult, he is working to preserve those same structures. Snow asks Marsh if the group will find additional archeology from World War II, and Marsh believes they will continue to make finds. Marsh says that the group will not stop digging.
Snow then interviews Molly Bihet, who survived the German occupation. She was almost 9 when the Germans came through. Bihet remembers feeling panicky and crushed by the German occupation. The people cried when the Germans came on the Island. Her mother was afraid for the future. The family stayed to look after Molly’s grandfather, so they stayed together. Roy Domaille was only six years old when the Germans came. He thought it was a big adventure for him, but a terrible time for their parents. The youngster did not care. Diana Chesney was on holiday at the time and she picked up apprehension from her mother. The Germans were nice to the children. The interviews with residents were fascinating.
Richard Heamue shows Dan Snow the museum of the German Occupation. He shares with Snow a sketchbook that very few have seen. A German officer was having an affair with a local girl. They eventually got married and settled in Guernsey after the war. This was a surprising look at how some of the Germans interacted with the locals. It gives a different look at how the Germans behaved during World War II. The Germans felt like they were on holiday when they occupied Guernsey. After the war, they came back to Guernsey and married local girls.
This would be an excellent documentary for a substitute teacher to show when the class is studying World War II. Even if there is not a substitute teacher in the classroom, you can show this in a world history class. You can also share this with an independent study student as well. You could also show clips from this documentary in an English class to learn about the interview process. Teachers, you are only limited by your imagination as to how to use these documentaries in the classroom.
We will continue our World War I and World War II theme for November with Battle 360. This episode is about the Battle of Leyte Gulf. My great-granduncle took part in this battle.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the last great naval battle. The USS Enterprise took part in this battle. It also took place in the air and under the sea. There was nowhere to run nor nowhere to hide. The aircraft carrier’s mission was to scout the Philippine Sea for the Japanese Navy. Both the Musashi and Yamato battleships were going to take part in this battle.
To get ahead of the ships, the pilots went to search for these super battleships. They were also looking for the last aircraft carrier to partake in Pearl Harbor. The pilots search carefully for enemy vessels. The American ships also search for the navy. The American Ships find a Japanese task force. The super battleships were not among them.
The Enterprise pilots start their formation to target the Japanese ships. Additional pilots join them to strafe the ships. The Japanese ships are firing with different flak charges. The sky is colored with a rainbow from the flak. This is to help determine what ships are what in the Japanese Navy. The American pilots pull up quickly after dropping their loads. Three bombs make direct hits. This will slow down the Japanese fleets.
However, there is a larger Japanese force making their way to Leyte. They are making their way to kill more American troops and to get rid of the American carriers. The Japanese Navy plans a bit of trickery to gain victory over the Americans. For three years the American and Japanese Navies have been slugging it out in the Pacific. The battle for the Pacific continues. At the battle of the Leyte Gulf, the Japanese Navy has lost over 400 planes. There were only 100 plans left. However, they still have several heavy gun warships including the Musashi and Yamato.
Musashi and Yamato were the biggest battleships built. They were 863 feet long, 172 feet wide, and weighed 72,000 tons. They had nine 18-inch guns. They were heavily armored, but they were fast. The level of punishment these battleships could take was unbelievable. Now the Admirals had to rely on these two battleships to defeat the Americans. They wanted to go after the landing crews and landing areas in the Pacific. They wanted to stop the invasions. To secure the victory, they will use their carriers to distract the American aircraft carriers to pull them out of action in the Leyte Gulf.
The Americans are still holding their own against the Japanese. There are plenty of battleships and cruisers at the American’s disposal. They are ready to target the Philippines and Musashi and Yamato. Cutting off the Philippines would cut off the supplies the Japanese war machine needed to fuel the war. Leyte needs to be captured first. Two fleets will be used to accomplish this.
To learn more about what happened at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, then continue to watch this documentary.
This is a good series to show in both a World and American history class or for an independent study student who wants to learn about specific battles. If you have a substitute teacher in the classroom, and you are studying World War II, then you can have a substitute teacher show them an episode from Battle 360. Over the years I have known a few students who enjoyed military history, whether or not they were allowed to do an independent study on war history, I do not know. However, if you have a student that has a strong interest in military history then you can share these documentaries with them.
To continue with our World War I and World War II theme for November, I will feature a documentary about the Japanese battleship Musashi. Unsinkable! Japan’s Lost Battleship is about the biggest battleship that was built in the world. She was over 800 feet long and was over 70,000 tons. She had 18-inch guns. Her builders boasted that, much like the Titanic, she was unsinkable. Unfortunately, she did sink in her first battle. Her wreck was missing ever since. This documentary is about the search for her wreck.
David Mearns, who found the Hood, leads an expedition to search for the wreck. He spent years gleaning clues from the US and Japanese military records to determine the location of the wreck. Mearns’ team has three weeks to look for the wreck. The late Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, inspired the search for the Musashi.
The Musashi was the pride of Japan. The Japanese government did not inform the people that the Musashi went down.
At the start of the expedition, the team has no luck in locating the Musashi. They used the coordinates used by the Japanese Navy. Mearns concludes that they have to expand their search. So they use the records from the American Pilots that sunk the Musashi. Mearns has a series of photographs that he uses for clues.
In the 1930s, Japan is attempting to expand its influence in the Pacific. However, the Washington Naval Treaty attempted to put a stop to them. Japan could only have 60 battleships in comparison to the 100 the United States was allowed. As a result, they decided to with quality over quantity. The idea behind that was if they could produce high-quality battleships, they could counteract the high numbers of the enemy navy. The Yamamato class was born from this idea.
The Japanese started building these “super battleships.” The large cranes that were used to build these battleships are still used today. They hid the building progress behind curtains that way nobody could see what they were building. Locals were advised to not even look at the shipyards. In 1941, the Musashi started undergoing secret sea trials. The men who served aboard the Musashi believed that the ship was unsinkable. They believed that she was the King Kong of the Seas.
The expedition thinks they may have found something. They do further scans and then conclude that it was a natural formation. At the end of the three weeks, they find nothing. However, the team had mapped 1,400 square feet of the ocean floor. This mapping will be valuable for others in the future.
Pearl Harbor was a lesson to both Japan and the United States. While the Japanese focused on building battleships the United States embraced ariel warfare. The Japanese believed in a decisive battle at sea with battleships. The United States developed new weapons and planes for this type of warfare. As the United States battled in the Pacific they started gathering intelligence on Japan’s big battleships. Naval intelligence badly underestimated what Japan had produced.
The following year Mearns and his team go back to the search area with a more sophisticated radar. They get a hit and send down an ROV, a robot that will be able to take photographs of the site.
To learn more about the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the search for the Musashi continue to watch this YouTube Video.
If I had an independent study student with an interest in World War II or battleships I would share this documentary with them. It would also be a great filler when your students study World War II.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
November will feature documentaries from World War I and World War II. On November 11, at the 11th Hour World War I ended with an Allied Victory. It is the month when the veterans bring out the poppies and sell them. You also noticed that the British Royal family brings out their poppy brooches for the month as well. I will follow that trend and write about World War I and World War II.
Today’s documentary will feature the sinking of the Hood. Why did it sink so fast? Why did only three men survive? Who was to blame for the Hood’s sinking? Two boards of inquiry could not solve what happened to the Hood. An expedition in 2012 went out to the wreck to try to solve the mystery. This expedition will use the latest technology to try to solve the mystery. Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft allowed the expedition to use his yacht to survey the Hood’s wreck site. It is a yacht equipped for a deep-sea expedition.
Paul Mearns, who found the Hood wreck site, was shocked when he found the site in 2002. The Hood was lying obliterated on the seafloor. He has returned to the site with the latest in technology to map the wreck site and discover why the Hood sunk so quickly. When the Hood was sunk in 1941 it was a devastating blow to the British public. A nephew of one of the sailors on the Hood also joined the expedition.
The Hood was the latest and greatest battleship of the British Navy. The Hood was launched in 1918. She had a sleek hull. She was over 860 feet long. She was a symbol of Britain’s might. There was no warship like the Hood until the 1930s. She was a symbol of what was great about Great Britain. She went on a world tour and had over 7,000 visitors. She was an iconic symbol of the British Navy. Nothing could compare to her.
Germany had something to say about that. In the run-up to war, the Germans started building the Bismarck. At the start of the war, she was nearly complete. Bismarck was more modern and built with the latest in technology. She was a rival for the Hood.
71 years ago, the Hood and Bismarck met in the Denmark Straits. It would be one of the greatest naval battles in history. 71 years later, the expedition arrived at the site to determine what happened during that battle. In 1941 the British were determined to finish off the Bismarck because if they did not they could be starved out of the war. It was in the Denmark Strait where the Hood would meet her fate. The Hood shot first and the Bismarck returned fire. Bismarck’s escort ship recorded the battle. Salvo after salvo rained down on the Hood. Then the Bismarck scored a direct hit. The Hood exploded. Ted Briggs, a Hood survivor, was on the bridge when the explosion happened. In three minutes the Hood was gone.
The Mearns Expedition will have their work cut out for them when they map out the wreck site. The explosion that sunk the Hood was something that never occurred before on a ship of that size. What made the explosion so deadly? The currents in the Denmark Strait are proving to be a challenge for the expedition. Solving the mystery of what happened to the Hood won’t be easy.
Please, continue watching to see if the Mearns expedition solves the mystery of why the Hood sunk so fast.
The documentary was narrated by Jim Carter from Downton Abbey. This would be a second good documentary to show in class.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
November will feature documentaries from World War I and World War II. On November 11, at the 11th Hour World War I ended. It is the month when the veterans bring out the poppies and sell them. You also noticed that the British Royal family brings out their poppy brooches for the month as well.
Today’s documentary will feature the sinking of the Battleship Tirpitz. It was sunk by the dam-busting pilots who destroyed Nazi Dams to stop Hitler from gaining a nuclear weapon. This is the story of the 617 bombing force. The ones who sunk the Tirpitz. This documentary brings together the men who were part of that squadron that bombed Tirpitz. These men were inspired by the glamor of flying and when the war started they signed up to be pilots. It also brings together the crew of the Tirpitz who survived the sinking.
The Tirpitz was the fastest battleship on the horizon. It could sink you before you could see it. It was so heavily armored that bombs bounced off it. It was the greatest nightmare of the Allies while it inspired the Nazis.
In 1943, the Dam Buster squadron came together to blow up Nazi Dams. The bomb that was created was innovative by the standards of the day and could bounce like a skipping rock across the water. By the time of the Tirpitz, many veterans of the initial bombing raids were gone. Now it was time for a new generation to take control and destroy the world’s most dangerous battleship.
The second generation of the Dam Buster Squadron had their reason for joining. They liked the glamour of flying. Navy or Army life did not suit them. By the time they were trained, they were ready to be sent to the Norwegian fjords. The Tirpitz was sent to hid in the fjords to prevent the allies from sending supplies through the Arctic to Russia. It was a lifeline for the Russian war effort. One of the biggest convoys in the war was sent this way. They were escorted by 43 warships. It scared the British. The convoy was to scatter and the merchant ships were left on their own. Only 11 ships made their way to Russia. The rest were sunk by submarines.
It made Churchill furious. He demanded that the Tirpitz be sunk. They threw everything they could at the Tirpitz. There were 31 attempts to sink the ship. These ranged from manned torpedoes to sabotage. Finally, the Dam Busters was ordered to sink the ship before winter set in. The men trained in the Soviet Union to prepare for the bombing. They were trained to use their rubber rafts in case they had to land in the water. No matter what the Dam Busters needed to sink the Tirpitz.
Each of the bombers was armed with a tallboy. The bomb had such propaganda value that the Dam Busters were allowed to take a camera with them on their raids. Unfortunately, this attempt failed. The Tirpitz on alert made a fatal mistake.
In the meantime in Norway, the crew lived on the ship. It was a large ship. New crew members got lost on it. It was good eating for the crew as well. Red wine flowed freely at lunchtime. They enjoyed themselves on board. Eventually, discipline broke down on board the ship.
To continue to learn more about the sinking of the Tirpitz watch the documentary. It is one of the last times that the crews could get together and tell their stories. I would recommend showing this documentary to break up the discussion on World War II. It is a good documentary to have in your teaching arsenal.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
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