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The History Hour

The History Hour

An hour of historical reporting told by the people who were there.


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The division of Kashmir

The origins of the crisis in Kashmir, the warnings ignored about 9/11 and the arrest of the notorious terror suspect Carlos the Jackal. Plus the invention in a British back garden of the daily disposable contact lens and how Dr Seuss taught America to read. Photo: Indian troops arriving in Kashmir in October 1947 (Getty Images)
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The mass exodus of Algeria's 'Pieds Noirs'

The French colonialists who returned to France after decades in Algeria, the Catholic welcome when the British army was first deployed to Northern Ireland, plus the US nuclear submarine that went under the north pole, Britain's last battle in China in WW2 and the introduction of Community Service to help relieve overcrowded prisons. (Photo: French repatriates leaving Algeria May 1962. (Photo by REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
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The anti-nuclear protesters who won

The eight year protest campaign which stopped the construction of a nuclear reprocessing plant at Wackersdorf in Germany, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and from more than a decade later, the death of British weapons expert David Kelly, who got caught up in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. Also, the Warsaw uprising of 1944 and from one of the most significant discoveries of Anglo-Saxon treasure in 1939. Picture: demonstrators fight against police during a protest at the Wackersdorf construction site (Istvan Bajzat/DPA/PA Images)
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When Tunisia led on women's rights

Liberation for Tunisia's women in the 1950s; gay and lesbian fake marriages in China; the Chappaquiddick incident in the US; the birth of Mamma Mia! the musical, and the discovery of the fossilised remains of humanity's oldest ancestor. Photo: courtesy of Saida El Gueyed
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Exploring space

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing in July 1969, five personal accounts of landmarks in space exploration. We hear from an Apollo flight controller about the moment Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface, and from one of the astronauts who survived the Apollo 13 near disaster. Plus how Laika the dog became the first living creature in space, the pioneering woman cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, and Britain's attempt to put the Beagle 2 lander on Mars. PHOTO: Buzz Aldrin on the Moon in July 1969 (Getty Images)
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Kenya's ivory inferno

Twelve tonnes of ivory was set alight by President Daniel Arap Moi in Nairobi National Park in July 1989, to highlight the threat from poaching. The ivory burn was organised by conservationists who wanted to save the world's elephants. Plus, the closure of Britain's ground-breaking Common Cold Unit; Cuba executes top military officers, the Chinese allow sales of tampons and the first modern lesbian. (Photo: Ivory tusks arranged in a pile and set alight. Credit: Andrew Holbrooke/Corbis/Getty Images)
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Surviving Cambodia's 'Killing Fields'

Life under the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, the Germans kidnapped by the Contras in Nicaragua in the 80s, plus how Aboriginal women took on the Australian government against nuclear waste, Anita Hill's stand against the promotion of Judge Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court and the birth of the Sony Walkman. (PHOTO: CHOEUNG EK, CAMBODIA - 1993/02/01: Skulls are piled up at a monument situated outside Phnom Penh to serve as a constant reminder of the genocide under the Khmer Rouge during the Pol Pot years.. (Photo by Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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The Stonewall riot

The riot that inspired the modern gay rights movement; Saddam Hussein's 1980s genocidal campaign against Iraq's Kurds; notorious British serial killers, Fred and Rose West; 50 years of fighting for fat people in America; and Joseph Heller on his seminal work, Catch-22. Picture: the Stonewall Inn today (Getty Images)
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The assassination of Medgar Evers

An African-American civil rights hero, a Chinese online star, the tragic icon of Iran's reform movement and archive recordings of the psychoanalyst CG Jung. Plus the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin's love of yoga. Photo:Roy Wilkins and Medgar Evers Being Arrested on 1st June 1963 in Jackson, Mississippi. Credit: Getty Images
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The first anti-psychotic drug

How a 1950s drug helped revolutionise the treatment of mental illness. Also, how hundreds of thousands of Kosovans fled when NATO bombed former Yugoslavia. Plus, a monumental public artwork in post-Cold War Berlin, Chinese-American relations after WW2, and a trailblazing same sex wedding in the 1970s. Photo: Nurses prepare a patient for electric shock treatment in a psychiatric hospital. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Getty Images)
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Eyewitness accounts of the Allied invasion of Nazi occupied Europe on D-day, 6th June 1944. We also hear how the BBC reported events on that momentous day. Plus Vikings in England, the Gurkhas fight for justice and discovering the fate of 'The Little Prince' Photo: The photo titled 'The Jaws of Death' shows a landing craft disembarking US troops on Omaha beach, 6th June 1944 ( Robert Sargent / US COAST GUARD)
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Tiananmen Square

A student protester's perspective on the Tiananmen Square massacre, the first social network on the internet, the surprisingly controversial early years of Sesame Street, the overthrow of Emperor Bokassa in the CAR, and the death of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Picture: Dan Wang speaking in Tiananmen Square (credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis/Getty Images)
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Fighting Uganda's anti-gay laws

In 2009 Ugandan MPs tried to introduce new laws against homosexuality that would include life imprisonment and even the death penalty. We speak to Victor Mukasa about his story of fighting for LGBT rights in Uganda, first as a lesbian woman and then as a trans man. Also, the early days of the environmental organisation Greenpeace, walking the Great Wall of China and fighting acid attacks on women in Bangladesh. (Photo: Ugandan LGBT Activist Victor Mukasa May 2019. BBC)
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The final days of Sri Lanka's civil war

In May 2009 the Sri Lankan army defeated the Tamil Tigers, ending a brutal 25-year civil war; also, the economists who predicted the 2008 global economic crash, plus the Nazis' stolen children, a victim of China's One Child policy, and the building of the great Karakoram Highway. Photo: Tamil civilians standing on the roadside after crossing to a government-controlled area 2kms from the front-line, 2009 (Getty Images)
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The war on drugs

US President Richard Nixon's efforts to deal with illegal drugs in 1971, the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam plus the rise of Jack Ma and his Alibaba empire in China. Also the Bauhaus movement and the global TV hit 'Strictly Come Dancing'. Photo: US President Richard Nixon (BBC)
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The Malayan Emergency

Battling a communist insurgency in 1950s Malaya, the sinking of the Belgrano during the UK Argentine conflict, plus how Ellen DeGeneres came out to millions on US TV, also the African who made the Arctic his home because of his fear of snakes and the life of WW1 poet Rupert Brooke. Photo: A photograph taken by a British sergeant on patrol in the Malayan jungle.. (Copyright: Keystone/Getty Images)
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The al Yamamah arms deals

The huge but controversial Anglo-Saudi deal, the Sri Lankan journalist who predicted his own murder, plus remembering South Africa's historic election 25 years ago, the day NATO bombed Serbian TV, and the origin of modern Veganism. Photo: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and King Fahd in London in 1987. Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images.
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The Columbine school shooting

The memories of the brother of one of the victims of the Columbine mass school shooting; plus the story behind 'A Raisin in the Sun' - the first play on Broadway by a black woman; the world's first space tourist, the origins of organic farming and the auto-destructive art movement of the 1960s. Photo: Students from Columbine High School run under cover from police, following a shooting spree by two masked teenagers. April 20th 1999 (Mark Leffingwell/AFP/Getty Images
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The rise of Hindu nationalism

How an Indian religious rally in 1990 sparked the rise of Hindu nationalism, 100 years since the Amritsar Massacre plus the first wing-suit for base jumping, a US food scare in the 1960s and teaching Marilyn Monroe to dance. (Photo LK Advani during rath yatra 15/10/1990 Credit: Getty Image)
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Abolishing the army

After a brief civil war in March-April 1948, the new president of Costa Rica, Jose Figueres, took the audacious step of dissolving the Armed Forces. The Central American country is now one of just over 20 countries without a standing army - we find out more. Plus, Maya Angelou's ground-breaking memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, and the remarkable story of the raising of the Swedish warship, the Vasa. Photo: Costa Rican soldiers in San Jose after the end of the civil war, April 1948 (Credit: Getty Images)
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Drama in the British parliament

Prime Minister Jim Callaghan's desperate attempts to survive a no-confidence motion in 1979, the record-breaking 20-day balloon flight around the world; plus the Nazi past of Kurt Waldheim, mindfulness and the first home pregnancy test. Picture: James Callaghan outside 10 Downing Street (Fox Photos/Getty)
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Autism and the MMR vaccine

How a British doctor misled the world by linking the MMR vaccine to autism; the early rise of Hungary?s Viktor Orban also what it was like to contest the Soviet Union?s first multi-party elections plus the exposure in the 1970s of a Nazi criminal in Holland and uncovering Mexico?s Aztec past. Photo: Dr Andrew Wakefield arrives at the General Medical Council in London to face a disciplinary panel, July 16th 2007 (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
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China's breakthrough malaria cure

How an ancient Chinese remedy provided a 1970s breakthrough in the fight against malaria; the bombing of Dresden in the Second World War that inspired Kurt Vonnegut's anti-war novel Slaughterhouse Five; the fall of Singapore; plus the town that America built in Afghanistan's south-western desert, and 'was Lenin a mushroom' - a satirical re-writing of Soviet history. Photo: Professor Lang Linfu (Family archives)
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I was abused by a President

How allegations of child abuse engulfed Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the campaign to return the Elgin marbles to Greece, Britain's first black headteacher, the origins of the Barbie doll and how Baroness Warsi made history. Photo: Zoilamerica Narváez announces in a press conference that she is filing a law suit against her stepfather Daniel Ortega, March 1998 (RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images):
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Venezuela's oil bonanza

When Venezuela was rich; surviving a mid-air airline disaster; Japan's Red Army militants of the 1970s, the origin of the swine flu epidemic and Iceland's Beer Day. Photo: Seidel/United Archives/UIG via Getty Images
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The curse of Agent Orange

Millions left dead or deformed because of chemicals used in the Vietnam war, UK cigarette smoking warnings ignored, remains of the Nazi 'Angel of Death' discovered in Brazil, the Columbia Shuttle disaster which led to huge questions about American space safety and the unrest featured in the Oscar-nominated film, Roma, where Mexican students were killed by government-trained paramilitary troops. Photo: Child suffering from spinal deformity in rehabilitation centre in Saigon.
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Iceland jails its bankers

Why Iceland jailed 40 bankers after the 2008 financial crisis, how the Maastricht Treaty gave birth to the EU, plus America's first female airline pilots, Cameroon's historic referendum and homeless, drunk and yet a genius in the USSR. (Photo: Protesters on the streets of Reykjavik demand answers from the government and the banks about the country's financial crisis, Nov. 2008. (Halldor Kolbeins/AFP/Getty Images)
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The last days of Hitler

Hitler's secretary on the last days in the bunker; a CIA operative on the killing of Che Guevara, remembering the US invasion of Iraq, a child of the Soweto Uprising and the tricky task of bringing Disneyland to France. Photo: Getty Images
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The Iranian Revolution

In February 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile to Iran in the defining moment of a revolution that would change his country and the whole Middle East. In a special edition of the programme, Rebecca Kesby hears eye-witness accounts from the protestors who brought down the Shah, one of the Ayatollah's aides and an American embassy official taken hostage by Khomeini supporters. She also talks to the BBC Persian Service's special correspondent, Kasra Naji. PHOTO: Ayatollah Khomeini returning to Iran (Gabriel Duval, AFP/Getty Images.)
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Vatican II: Reforming the Catholic Church

In January 1959 Pope John XXIII announced a council of all the world's Catholic bishops and cardinals in Rome. It led to sweeping reforms. Plus Carmen Callil recalls setting up Virago, the most successful feminist publishing house to date; India gives birth to the call centres and remembering the Carry-on films. (Photo; Pope John XXIII at the Vatican. Credit: Getty Images)
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Strikers in Saris

How South Asian women led thousands of UK workers in an industrial dispute in the late 1970s, plus Dr Crippen's alleged gruesome crime, Judy Garland's emotional last performances, the 'miracle waters' in Mexico and excitement over a whale in London's River Thames. (PHOTO: Jayaben Desai, leader of the Grunwick strike committee holding placard 1977 Credit: Getty images)
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When Stalin Rounded Up Soviet Doctors

Stalin's last terror campaign against the best Soviet doctors, Castro's triumphant entry into Havana, the extraordinary story of how a destitute single mother produced a best selling memoir about her life in a Brazilian favela. Also, the controversy over 'Fat Is a Feminist Issue', and the world's only seed vault. Photo: Yakov Rapoport, one of the few survivors of Stalin's 'Doctors' Plot'. Credit: family archive.
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Vikings in North America

The discovery that proved the Vikings got to North America, a former Marxist rebel describes how his group overran an army base in El Salvador's bitter civil war in the 1980s, the enormous palace built by the Romanian communist dictator, Nicole Ceausescu, how the prolific romantic novelist Barbara Cartland was made a Dame by the Queen and the summer of 1987 when thousands of tins of marijuana washed up on a Brazilian beach. Photo: Replicas of Norse houses from 1000 years ago at L'Anse aux Meadows. (LightRocket/Getty Images)
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UFO Sightings: The Rendlesham Forest Incident

The most striking and well documented UFO "sightings" there have ever been plus the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the theft of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey in 1950 also one of the first electronic instruments and how Britain has long honoured its' military animals. (Photo: Computer illustration of UFOs - Unidentified Flying Objects)
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Stopping The 'Shoe Bomber'

Passenger Kwame James recalls how he helped overcome the British-born Richard Reid on American Airlines flight 63. Reid had hidden explosives in his shoe which failed to go off. Plus, the US apology for the internment of thousands of Japanese Americans in WW2, the first computer password, the woman who wrote Mary Poppins and a British theatrical group tours the Sahara. Photo: One of the shoes worn by Richard Reid on the American Airlines flight to Miami (ABC/Getty Images)
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Apollo 8

At Christmas 1968, the biggest audience in TV history watched NASA's Apollo 8 mission beam back the first pictures from an orbit around the Moon. The broadcast captured the world's imagination and put America ahead of the Soviet Union in the Cold War battle to make the first lunar landing. Plus, the rape of Nanking, WWII spy drama in the Netherlands and the woman who revolutionised the treatment of the dying. Picture: The Earth as seen from the Moon, photographed by the Apollo 8 crew (NASA)
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Adopted By The Man Who Killed My Family

A child survivor of a Guatemalan army massacre during the country's brutal civil war, the women who cleared up post war Berlin, plus Armenia's 1988 earthquake, how Bokassa became Emperor of the Central African Republic, and Angela Merkel's rise to power. Photo: Ramiro as a child in Guatemala (R.Osorio)
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The Man Who Inspired Britain's First Aids Charity

The first man in Britain to die of AIDS, whale hunting in the South Atlantic in the 1950s, how Norway voted not to join the EU, the American adventurer who inspired the Indiana Jones stories, and Saddam Hussein's draining of Iraq's southern marshes in a bid to flush out his opponents. Picture: Terrence Higgins (Courtesy: Dr Rupert Whitaker)
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The 'Braceros' - America's Mexican Guest Workers

From 1942 to 1964 the US actively encouraged American farmers to hire tens of thousands of migrant workers to come to work legally from Mexico - they were known as 'braceros'; also, when Moscow invited thousands of foreign students to attend an International Youth Festival in the former USSR; a witness to the funeral of the Duke of Wellington; plus Arafat's final weeks and why was JKF's killer allowed to defect to the Soviets? Photo: A group of Mexican Braceros picking strawberries in a field in the Salinas Valley, California in June 1963 (Getty Images)
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Japanese Murders in Brazil

How Japanese immigrants in Brazil fell out with each other after the end of the WW2, how Britain helped to get disabled people on the road in the 1940s plus life for Jews under Imperial Russia, the victims of Brazil?s military dictatorship in the 1970s and the American embassy hostage crisis in Tehran.
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The End of World War One

11th November 1918 saw the end of a four year war that had killed an estimated 20 million soldiers and civilians around the world. We hear eyewitness accounts of the conflict which was fought by many nations, on many continents. The historian, Professor Annika Mombauer joins Max Pearson to discuss the devastating war that changed the world. Photo: Crowds in London celebrate the signing of the Armistice on 11th November 1918 (Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
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When Russia's Richest Man Was Jailed

Russia's struggles with big business, when Nigeria struck oil, why Maximilian Kolbe was made a saint, the London arrest of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Desmond Tutu. Photo: former head of Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky leaving the courtroom in Moscow, Russia, September 22, 2005. Credit: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images
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The Nazi Black Book

The Nazi black book, a list of those to be arrested and dealt with if Germany occupied Britain, privation in wartime and Allied-occupied Austria, racial tension in 1940s Sweden, plus how Britain's Labour party moved against hereditary peers in the House of Lords in the 1990s.
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When Belgium Banned Coca Cola

A strange illness strikes Belgian teenagers, Brazil's forgotten Amazon war, diverting Mount Etna's lava, arguments over aid and trade in the UK, and the 1973 oil crisis. (Photo: A poster saying 'out of order' is stuck on a Coca Cola vending machine in Mouscron, Belgium in 1999. Credit: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images).
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The Street Battle That Rocked Brazil

In October 1968, students from two neighbouring universities in the centre of São Paulo clashed in a battle which left one dead and many injured. We hear how the so-called 'Battle of Maria Antônia' drove Brazil deeper into a military dictatorship which is still controversial to this day. Plus, a pioneering race relations case in Britain during World War 2, the invention of artificial skin and fashion in the Soviet Union. Photo: the 'Battle of Maria Antonia', São Paulo, 1968. Credit: Agência Estado/AFP
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The Arnhem Parachute Drop

Operation Market Garden - the failed attempt to end the war against Hitler; plus, a deadly nuclear accident in Brazil, the film of the Battle of Algiers, the last regular steam train to run in Britain and one of the Cuban Five jailed in America for spying for Fidel Castro. (Photo: Allied planes and parachutists over Arnhem, Getty Images)
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How I Survived a Fire on a Plane

A lucky escape from a jet plane fire in the 1970s, Chamberlain's talks with Hitler in 1938 plus the killing of the South African anti-apartheid campaigner, Steve Biko. Also toxic waste being shipped around the world in the 1980s and how Britain became obsessed with the idea that aliens were responsible for crop circles. (Photo: Ricardo Trajano as a young man. Copyright: Ricardo Trajano)
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Living under Gaddafi

Award-winning writer Hisham Matar on life in Gaddafi's Libya, plus how British Bengalis faced the far-right in 1970s east London, the last battles of WW1, the struggle to name St.Petersburg and the first MRI scanner. Photo: Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli on September 27th 1969, shortly after the bloodless coup that brought him to power AFP FILES/AFP/Getty Images)
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Surviving the "Death Railway"

A former prisoner of the Japanese in WW2, plus Hitler's girl guides, how Benidorm became a tourist hotspot, Italian migrant tragedy in post-war Belgium, and the Lake Nyos disaster. Photo: Allied Prisoners of War in a Japanese prison camp 1945 (British Pathé)
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Albert Speer - Hitler's Architect

Hitler's architect and minister of war, Albert Speer, was one of the few top Nazis to live on into old age. In the late 1970s, following his release from Spandau prison, he gave an interview to the British journalist, Roger George Clark. Plus, the Soviet Union's campaign against alcoholism, the hostage drama that gripped West Germany, and a woman's voice from pre-colonial Nigeria. Picture: Albert Speer standing at the gate of his house near Heidelberg in December 1979. (Credit: Roger George Clark)
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En liten tjänst av I'm With Friends. Finns även på engelska.
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