WWII from Space (2012) - full transcript

This spectacular two-hour special delivers the tipping points of World War II as you've never seen them before. The key editorial feature of the program is an all-seeing CGI eye; bringing a new visual approach to the biggest conflict of all time.

December 7, 1941...

the turmoil of World War ll
enters its 27th month.

Japanese troops storm Shanghai.

German armies stand
at the gates of Moscow,

leaving 6½ million casualties
in their wake.

Nazi Germany has mainland Europe
in its grip.

Under siege,

Britain hangs on by a thread.

Three-thousand miles away,

the United States
remains at peace.

Seventy-six percent
of her citizens

support neutrality.

At 7:55 a.m.,
the peace is shattered.

Three hundred sixty
Japanese warplanes

descend on Pearl Harbor.

World War ll
has come to America.

This is America's war
as never seen before...

from the unique vantage point
of space.

Witness the key battles

and the military strategies
behind them,

in stunning detail.

Revealed are the political

the global battle for resources,

and the astounding awakening

of American military
and manufacturing might

that will determine the outcome

of the greatest conflict
ever fought.

The unprovoked
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

will send shock waves
across the globe,

but America has feared a strike
for months.

Since 1931,
Japan's imperial ambitions

have grown bolder and bolder.

First, Manchuria is invaded,

then China itself.

When France falls
to Nazi Germany in 1940,

Japan seizes control
of French Indochina.

The US response is rapid.

Japan's financial assets
are frozen

and an oil embargo is imposed.

The message is clear--

withdraw from Indochina
or be economically crushed.

After the embargo,

Japan was faced
with two choices--

stop territorial expansion--

give into the demands
of the Allies--

or go to war.

Japan chooses War.

In the words
of Prime Minister Tojo,

"it is either glory or decline."

it is imperative that they make

the first, decisive strike.

The Japanese knew
they were never gonna go

with the United States

in a long Naval war
in the Pacific.

They knew they didn't have
the economic might--

the military might--
but it was a calculation

that they could administer
a knock-out blow

to the capital ships
of the US Pacific Fleet.

If you could destroy
the Pacific Fleet,

the ability of the Americans
to respond to anything

for many months
would be taken away.

So the strike at Pearl Harbor

was not just a strike
at a symbol of American power.

It was American power
in the Pacific.

What American
intelligence cannot see

is revealed from space.

Admiral Yamamoto's fleet
departs Japan

on the longest assault
in history.

Avoiding shipping lanes
and landmass,

they arrive unseen,

275 miles from their target.

It's the perfect vantage point--

beyond the range
of America's defensive radar,

but at the optimum
strike distance

for its force of 414
cutting-edge aircraft,

the jewel in the crown...

the Mitsubishi Zero.

it's faster than anything

that they've used before.

It's incredibly maneuverable
and it has extreme range.

But while the technology
was pretty good,

what mattered at Pearl Harbor
was the man behind it.

It was the pilot.

The Japanese pilots have already
been at war for years,

so they're well-trained crews.

You add on top of that,

they'd been planning that attack
for a long period of time.

So they'd been running war
games, simulating it,

going through the action
again and again,

so that, basically,
many of them talked

about how they could have
done it going in blind.

At 7:55 a.m.,
the first wave of bombers

swoop from the sky.

On the deck of USS Arizona

is Don Stratton.

We knew right away that
there were Japanese planes,

and we knew that they were
bombing Ford island,

and something
was radically wrong.

Planes were strafing
and dive-bombing,

and it was just
a horrible experience

and a horrible sight.

it was a high-altitude bomber,

dropped like a 2,000-lb bomb.

I mean, it just devastated
everything in its path,

and the concussion

and the smoke and the fire

was horrendous.

It just was like...

you'd lost your home.

Of eight battleships
at anchor,

the Arizona, Oklahoma,

West Virginia,
and California are sunk--

the rest severely damaged.

In 68 minutes,

Japan has crippled the heart
of America's Pacific Fleet.

From a Japanese perspective,

the attack on Pearl Harbor

beyond the most optimistic

When you consider the losses

that the Japanese suffered
in this attack,

it was essentially nothing.

The Japanese
lose 64 men

to 3,649 US casualties--

a human damage ratio of 57 to 1.

But Japan's margin of victory

hides two major flaws
in the attack.

The Japanese failed
to systemically attack

the oil fields--

the oil storage tanks
at Pearl Harbor.

If they'd spent one more sortie

taking out those oil tanks,

they would have crippled
the whole Pacific Fleet,

which wouldn't have had the fuel
supplies to keep going.

More significant are the ships

the Japanese fail to target.

The American aircraft carriers

were absent from Pearl Harbor

at the time
of the Japanese attack.

And as things evolved
very quickly,

it became clear
that the aircraft carrier

was destined to become
the most significant naval asset

for either side
in the Pacific war,

and the American carriers
were untouched.

Oil supplies
and air domination--

two factors that will dictate
the fate of World War ll,

and Japan fails to damage

instead, it has awoken
the full wrath

of the sleeping American giant.

Pearl Harbor
infuriated the American people.

It also infuriated
the American military--

massive casualties, destruction
of most of the Pacific Fleet.

If you wanted to do one thing
to unite a country

that before this
had been rather divided

about what to do about the war,
Pearl Harbor was it.

This was like a lightning rod

throughout the American

No longer was President

limited in his options.

He had a United States

that was angry and unified

and desired revenge
against Japan.

Her era
of isolationism is over.

America is at war

and begins its rise to become

the most powerful nation
on the planet.

Washington calculates victory

will cost $300 billion--

$4.4 trillion in today's money--

over 1½ times
the total US federal budget.

The government can raise half
through increased taxes.

For the rest,
it must turn to the public.

To raise $300 billion

was then viewed as
an insurmountable challenge,

because basically we had to get

half of the population
of the United States

to buy bonds.

And what we were saying
is we're in World War ll,

we're in this to win,

it's a fight of good
versus evil,

and you on an individual level

are gonna make a difference.

To guarantee success,

the ad men of New York recruit

America's most potent
propaganda asset.

We had the Hollywood machine.

America had
mass-marketed movies.

They knew the power
of Hollywood.

They knew the power
of celebrities.

Over 300 movie icons

join the "Stars
Over America" campaign

crisscrossing the nation.

Chicago... two huge
celebrity rallies

sell over $15 million in bonds.

New York...
a 3-way baseball game

generates $56 million.

By the end of the war,

bonds campaigns raise
$187.5 billion.

To get everybody aligned
behind one goal

and make the transaction
is--is huge.

and its beleaguered Allies

are going to need every cent.

Four days after Pearl Harbor,

Nazi Germany declares war
on the United States.

She now faces two vast
and battle-hardened powers

on two fronts.

When America entered the war,

it looked as if the military
aggressors were going to win.

Seen from space,
America's peril is clear.

Her fleet is in disarray,

and her Pacific assets
at the mercy of a rampant Japan.

On the other side of the planet,

her strongest military ally,

Great Britain,

is buckling under siege
from Nazi Germany.

America is at the epicenter

of the greatest conflict
in history.

Roosevelt must make the biggest
call of any US presidency--

which enemy to engage first.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt decided

that Germany was the one
that could take down

our closest friends
around the world.

They had to make sure
that Britain survived.

Keeping Britain afloat
was essential

to the long-term prospects
of victory.

It stood as a large
aircraft carrier

that would enable an invasion
onto the continent.

If Britain fell
under Nazi domination,

the challenge would be
almost insurmountable.

For Roosevelt,

the future of Great Britain
is the future of the war.

But after 17 months
of fighting alone,

its survival rests
on a knife edge.

Britain's only hope

is to keep
her supply routes open--

a fragile lifeline
German Admiral Doenitz

seeks to destroy.

Britain depended on the import

of 5 million tons of stuff
every month.

German Admiral Doenitz argued
very persuasively

that if we can subtract
a million tons a month,

we will bring Britain
to its knees.

Doenitz' lethal
weapon is the U-boat.

Capable of traveling
thousands of miles submerged

and armed with a deadly cocktail

of deck guns, mines
and torpedoes,

it is the perfect weapon

to starve Britain
into submission.

When they attack,
they're sending

over 9,000 tons of supplies

to the bottom of the ocean

with 1 munition--1 torpedo.

And when it detonates,
it creates

this void
underneath the vessel

that creates the vessel
to collapse

it's the difference
between being stabbed

and someone breaking your back.

It's a killer.

introduces naval convoys

to protect the merchant fleets.

Doenitz' response
is devastating.

Admiral Doenitz introduced this thing

called "rudel" tactic--
wolf pack tactic.

A rudel is a pack of animals,

and instead of approaching

as submarines had done
in the past,

the Germans would have
their U-boats

strung out in these
long patrol lines

and then they would use radio
signals to congregate in a pack

and overwhelm the defenses
of the convoy.

The results are devastating.

When you get caught
by a pack of these,

you might lose
half or more of the convoy.

In 12 months,

900 ships are sunk.

Only 29 U-boats are destroyed.

It's a war of attrition
Britain is losing fast.

Winston Churchill knows
one big thing in 1940--

that for Britain to be able
to fight this war,

it needs American help--
it can't do it alone.

Churchill tirelessly
lobbies Roosevelt

for American support.

Though officially neutral,
Roosevelt cuts a deal.

The US give
50 destroyers to Britain

to keep it in the fight,
but at a price.

In return, Britain hands over

eight of its overseas bases
to America and dismantles

its preferential trading system
with its colonies.

it was a very mixed deal for Britain,

because on the one hand,
it helps Britain fight the war.

They couldn't have done it
without American support--


On the other hand,
it accelerates

the collapse
of the British Empire--

makes the Empire more
and more unaffordable.

For Winston Churchill,
that's a very painful deal,

but one that probably
has to be made.

December 1941...

America enters the war.

Its first act of aggression
is to join Britain

in the Battle of the Atlantic...

a strategy that meets
with disaster.

When America enters the war,

the Battle of the Atlantic
actually takes a turn--

worse for the Allies.

The amount of Allied shipping
that's sunk

goes up by these
astronomical amounts.

By mid-1942,

2,703 Allied ships are sunk--

a U-boat kill ratio of 36 to 1.

It's an unsustainable
rate of loss.

Even with America fighting

the liberty of Britain
and the freedom of Europe

hang by a thread.


Britain remains
in the stranglehold

of the German U-boat menace.

American ships coming to its aid

are being destroyed
at alarming rates.

To reverse their fortunes,

the Allies must gain
the upper hand

in the intelligence war.

The most
critical factor

in the Battle of the Atlantic
was the exchange of information

between the Americans
and the British.

It maximized
both the technological

and the intellectual
capabilities of both sides.

The precedent
for this vital collaboration

is the "Tizard Mission,"

15 months before
the Pearl Harbor attack.

With Nazi invasion
seemingly inevitable,

Henry Tizard,

Head of the British
Aeronautical Committee,

persuades Churchill
to gift America

every scientific innovation
Britain holds,

in exchange for access
to US production lines.

The blueprints are packed
into a single trunk.

Embarking from Britain,
it reaches Washington DC

in September 1940.

That box was described

by one American official

as the most important cargo
that ever reached its shores.

The trunk
contains the memorandum

on the feasibility
of the atomic bomb,

designs for jet engines,
rockets, superchargers,

gyroscopic gun sights,
submarine detection devices,

self-sealing fuel tanks,
plastic explosives,

and perhaps the most important
invention of World War ll...

a working Magnetron Number 12,

an advancement
in radar technology

a thousand times more effective

than the best American

This was revolutionary.

You can put it into an aircraft,
you can put it on a ship,

then you can take
that technology

and take it anywhere
on the battle space.

assembly lines

begin mass-producing the device

that will change
the course of the war.

Its first challenge...

to close the deadly
Mid-Atlantic gap.

From space, the boneyard
of Allied shipping

is startlingly revealed.

You can fly
missions from the United States,

you can fly missions
from Britain,

but you can't quite close

and you've got the mid-Atlantic
gap in the middle.

And the U-Boats realize that
and concentrate in that area.

By April 1943,

3,450 Allied ships
have been lost.

But new carriers are launched,

loaded with long-range aircraft,

fitted with the Magnetron
Number 12,

and the gap begins to close.

It turns the Atlantic
from this wide mass

in which the U-boat can hide in

to "No I can find you
out there."

As British
code breakers

crack the German Enigma code,

the final piece
of the Allied resurgence

falls into place.

And the tactical
and technological advantage

is exploited in the convoy
battle known as ONS 5.

Among all the convoy battles,

one of the most important
was ONS 5 in April '43,

and it's important, really,
because it demonstrated

clearly, I think,
how far the Allies had gone.

Forty-two ships
of the slow-bound ONS 5 convoy

leave Liverpool for Canada.

For Doenitz,

it is a perfect target.

Doenitz is feeling
this great sense of urgency,

like he needs to sink
more and more tons of shipping.

And he actually presses
his luck in this battle.

The first wave
of U-boats

sink 13 Allied ships.

But as thick fog falls,
the advantage switches.

Armed with the German codes
and advanced radar,

the Allies strike back
with impunity.

Doenitz fights longer than he should,

brings in more U-boats
than he should,

which are then, in fact,
chewed up by the convoy.

After the battle, Doenitz says,

"The Battle of the Atlantic
is over,"

because he sees how expert

the British and Americans
have become

at detecting U-boats,

chasing them down,
and killing them.

With ONS 5,

the Battle of the Atlantic
is all but won.

And the astonishing

of American industry

can start to dictate
the fortunes of war.

With the money and the might
to out-produce the Axis,

America embarks

on an unprecedented industrial
and social revolution.

you had a war industrial board.

They looked around
the United States and said,

"This particular place
is gonna be

where we're gonna build tanks--
we're gonna build planes here."

And so the population
went there.

- It's as if in World War ll,
somebody had picked up

the North American continent
at the Eastern seaboard

and raised it and tipped it,

and everything--people,
money, machines--

everything just slid
westward across the continent.

The population
of California swells by 53%,

Oregon by 40%,

and Washington by 37%.

Nineteen million women

become the core of the American
labor force,

working in war factories,

transportation, and agriculture
across the nation.

Manufacturers of all sizes

become a critical part
of the war effort.


canned goods manufacturers--
they're all converted.

They're all mobilized, if you
will, to support the war effort.

Car factories are
turned into making bombers

and refrigerator factories are
turned into making armored cars.

- Not for nothing, it's called
"the production miracle."

industry produces

87,000 ships and landing craft,

100,000 tanks
and armored vehicles,

300,000 aircraft,

2 million trucks,

20 million rifles
and small arms,

and 41 billion rounds
of ammunition--

enough to kill
the population of the world

17 times over.

Yet America's decision
to engage Germany first

comes at a price.

The Japanese
centrifugal offensive

was a shock to everybody.

They seemed unstoppable.

Japan advances
through the Pacific unchecked,

capturing American, British
and Dutch territories

in a string
of decisive victories.

Within six months,

they have near complete control

of the Pacific theatre.

They captured territories
for two main reasons.

The first one was for resources.

The Dutch East indies
provide oil and rubber,

which they're going to need
to keep their war machine going.

They also knew America
would eventually respond,

and so a lot of the territories

were going to be barriers
to set up against the Americans

when they came back across.

April 1942...
America strikes back.

Launching from the US Hornet,

16 B-25's kick-start
the next phase of war...

by bombing Tokyo.

For the Americans,
the raid

is a chance to strike back,

even though it didn't do
very much material damage.

But it had a major impact
on Japanese leadership.

The military was embarrassed
they'd allowed their--

the emperor to be threatened
like that.

The Japanese
respond, setting their sights

on America's
most westerly Pacific base.

From space,
their strategy is clear--

seizing the island of Midway

will extend
their defensive perimeter

deep into American waters.

And their plan is, "We are
going to surprise the Americans.

"We're gonna seize Midway,
and they are going to be forced

to come out and fight us
on our terms."

The problem for the Japanese is

the Americans already know
they're coming.

The story of the American
code breakers

is one of these lesser-known

but perhaps one of the most
important parts of the story

of why America wins
in the Pacific.

From June 1939,

the US Navy Combat
intelligence Unit

under the command
of Joseph Rochefort

has been attempting
to decipher JN-25,

the Japanese naval code.

Using punch card technology
and mathematical analysis,

they work around the clock.

In the lead-up to Midway,

the decisive breakthrough
is made.

They break the code.

They knew the Japanese
were coming.

They knew where they
were coming to Midway.

They even knew
when they were coming.

US intelligence
finally grasps

the full scale
of the Japanese attack.

The situation
is highly precarious.

With a weakened fleet

and up against
a battle-hardened enemy force,

Midway is the moment of truth.

The only way the Midway battle

would work for America

was to have their carriers
in the right place

and be able to strike
the Japanese

at just the right time.

The Americans have gotta
get in the first major shot.

At 4:00 a.m.,

Japanese bombing of Midway

What Admiral Nagumo can't see
is 275 miles away,

safely outside the range
of Japanese radar,

4 US carriers

are poised for a counterattack.

Only at 7:40 a.m.

Does a Japanese
reconnaissance plane

spot the US fleet.

Battles are often
decided by minutes and seconds,

and Midway is filled with
important minutes and seconds.

When the late
spotter plane

finally finds
the American fleet,

Admiral Nagumo is hit
with this dilemma about,

"Do I outfit my aircraft
for bombs to bomb Midway,

"as they already are,
or do I stop,

"take those bombs off
and put on torpedoes

so they can go after
the American fleet?"

And whatever decision
he comes upon

is gonna have a major impact
on the rest of the battle.

While they were
doing all of this, of course,

there was a long,
critical waiting point,

with aircraft on the decks,

huge quantities
of explosives around.

For the Japanese
this was the riskiest moment.

it is the moment
America has been waiting for--

41 Douglas torpedo bombers
descend for the attack.

But the American
torpedo bombers show up

completely vulnerable.

They're shot down
like fish in a barrel.

They just don't survive.

out of 41 planes are lost.

Not a single bomb
hits the Japanese fleet.

It seems that Japan has struck
the decisive blow.

And then all of a sudden,
the dive bombers come in,

and the whole world changes.

A second wave

of American dive-bombers

the Japanese fleet

with no air cover
and the decks covered

with airplanes
and torpedoes and bombs.

They're just torches to be lit,

and the dive-bombers
will come in,

and three Japanese
aircraft carriers

are destroyed in minutes.

As the final
Japanese carrier is destroyed,

along with 250
elite Japanese pilots,

the balance of power

has dramatically swung
in America's favor.

We had seven new
carriers under construction.

They had one carrier
under construction.

So they were never gonna be able
to replace these carriers.

And what it meant
was they would be

thrown back on the defensive
for the duration of the war.

In a global
theatre of war,

control of the air
is proving to be

one of the determining factors
for victory.

On the other side of the planet,

America's first strikes
on Nazi Germany

are coming from the sky.

The major cities in Europe

are the new front lines of war.

Six months on
from Pearl Harbor

and the battlefronts
of World War ll

are at a tipping point.

America and her allies
have stalled

the momentum of German

in the Battle of the Atlantic

and halted Japanese
territorial expansion

in the decisive victory
at Midway.

And in June 1942,

the first American bombers
arrive in Great Britain.

They join a brutal
battle for air supremacy

that has raged over Europe
since the outbreak of war.

Germany's Luftwaffe squadrons
draw first blood,

bringing Poland,

then the Low Countries
and France

to their knees.

The fall
of France in 1940

really seemed to vindicate

the superiority
of the Blitzkrieg.

There's big concerns that
the Germans may be unstoppable.

With Nazi domination
almost complete,

Hitler turns the Luftwaffe

against his last remaining

Great Britain.

It is imperative that
its Royal Air Force holds.

The stakes in the Battle
of Britain, for the British,

are survival.

July 10, 1940...

the Battle of Britain begins.

The Luftwaffe pounds British
defenses and its major cities.

The RAF adapts very quickly

and begins to shoot down more
German bombers and fighters

than the Germans can replace.

German aircraft

are destroyed in 113 days.

It is an unsustainable rate
of attrition.

So Hitler's forced to cancel
the battle of Britain and begin

massing forces for an invasion
of the Soviet Union.

The Battle
of Britain

is Hitler's first major defeat
of World War ll.

Air power is the new orthodoxy
of modern warfare.

Roosevelt orders vast squadrons
of aircraft to be manufactured.

At Ford's Willow Run plant
in Michigan,

an astounding 8,500 bombers
are produced.

Over 127,000 bombers are made...

13,600 are transported
to British airfields.

The assault on Germany

can now enter a new phase
of intensity.

The arrival of
the 8th Air Force in Britain

had a number of impacts--
number one,

it guaranteed that the Germans
wouldn't be able to launch

another major attack against
Britain the way they had

in the Battle of Britain.

There was just too many
Allied airplanes there.

It also was a boost
to British morale

that the Americans
were finally coming en masse.

But the American
airmen are entering

a new kind of warfare--

where sheer weight of numbers
is no guarantee of success.

The amount of weapons
that are being thrown up

to stop the bombers is having
an enormous toll.

The survivability rate is going
11 to 1 to the infantry.

It's actually safer to be
an infantryman

on the ground in Europe
in a foxhole

than it is to be in this, uh,

advanced machine
flying high above.

After losing
1,135 bombers,

the RAF switches
to nighttime raids.

But in the dark,

only 1 .5% of all bombs

fall within 3 miles
of the target.

The Americans decide
that it's too inefficient,

that you had to do it
in daylight

where you could see the target.

They thought, "We've got more
heavily defended bombers.

"We think this will work."

American confidence
is based on the B-17,

the most sophisticated war
machine of its time.

The B-17
is an amazing aircraft.

They call it the flying
fortress--well, why?

It has 13
50-caliber machine guns

arrayed all around it
to give it a bubble of fire.

You have fire coming
out the front,

you have fire coming
out the flanks,

below, above, and in the rear.

it was believed that it could fly

in broad daylight, unescorted
by fighter aircraft,

deep into the heart of enemy

and unleash an amazing amount
of ordnance

on enemy targets.

With unswerving
faith in the B-17,

the American 8th Air Force
plan a dual raid

to destroy the heart
of German aviation production.

The Schweinfurt-
Regensburg Mission

was seen as the way
to really prove

that this precision bombing
idea would work.

They seemed to have picked out

the key industries
they could knock out

that would cripple
the German economy.

They had the battle plan,
they thought,

that would get them
to the target.

Two squadrons
of B-17's

commanded by Colonel LeMay
and Brigadier General Williams

prepare to attack

splitting German defenses.

Almost immediately,
the plan begins to unravel.

It was a foggy day in England.
LeMay got his guys up.

The other bomber division
couldn't get up.

The decision was made that they
couldn't land LeMay's guys.

They sent them on.

When the Regensburg mission
goes in on its own,

the bombers were sitting ducks,
not only for flak,

but for the Germans
that were gathering

from all over the whole
defense zone.

The Schweinfurt leg
then comes in

enough time
after the Regensburg leg

so the Germans
can refit and rearm,

and it goes through
the same mauling.

Sixty US bombers
are destroyed,

double the losses ever suffered
in a single raid.

The problem for
the Allies was we took

the marketing of the flying
fortress seriously.

We took the idea that it
could protect itself

with its own machine guns

and not have to worry
about escorted seriously,

And that didn't work.

The flaw is
startlingly clear from above--

the lack of fighter escort

The fighters have limited range

and can only protect the bombers
partway to their targets,

leaving them dangerously

Then we get
the real game changer.

We get the P-51.

The P-51 was
an amazing fighter

on so many
different levels,

but the real key
is it had amazing range.

It went
with the American bombers

all the way in,
all the way out.

That meant that we could now
take down the German defenses.

We could create
true air dominance,

and that's when you see
the Luftwaffe

essentially swept
from the skies.

the Luftwaffe's destroyed,

and we have pretty much free
rein over the German skies,

we really start to take down
the oil industry.

Oil... the single
most essential commodity

of World War ll.

of large supplies of oil

was the only way to victory.

Without oil, mechanized armies
could not fight.

From space,

the battle for the world's
oil reserves is revealed.

America is self-sufficient.

Its oil fields
are the cornerstone

of Allied military strength.

In contrast,

Germany's stockpile
of 20 million barrels

is rapidly running out.

of the weaknesses

in the German war effort

was they couldn't get access
to unlimited quantities of oil.

They then decided to use
synthetic oil,

and synthetic oil
was really critical

for making up that difference.

Synthetic oil,

produced from coal
and natural gas,

is the lifeblood of Hitler's
mechanized forces.

As Allied air raids

cripple Germany's
synthetic fuel production,

Hitler's best hope is to seize
the Caucasus oil fields.

Deep inside Russia,
the two sides clash

in the bloodiest fighting
history has ever seen.

At stake is the outcome
of World War ll.

September 1940...

while America remains neutral,

Hitler has Mainland Europe
in his grip.

But in the skies over Britain,

the Nazis' relentless
westward advance is halted.

It is a defeat
that forces Hitler

to turn to his attention
towards his ultimate goal--

the conquest and annihilation
of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union

the nexus of everything
that Hitler hated.

He saw it as a bastion
of communism and Judaism.

And if it were not defeated,

ultimately the Soviet Union

would destroy Germany
and destroy the Aryan race.

There was also just
sheer pragmatism here.

The Soviet Union was
the "gross raum wirtschaft,"

the great economic space.

They needed the raw materials,

the oil, the food,

and by annexing
the Soviet Union,

they'd be able to sustain
a long war

and fend off any British-
American attacks.

June 22, 1941...

Hitler launches
"Operation Barbarossa,"

the invasion
of the Soviet Union.

Across a 1,800-mile front,

Hitler's army of over
4 million Wehrmacht troops

surges forward,

destroying everything
in its path.

This was
the largest army

that had been assembled
in the history of world.

And the Germans demonstrated

an operational and tactical

that the Soviets simply
could not match.

The barbarity is almost

Following the front-line troops,

there were the special
action squads.

Their purpose was
to identify and murder

political leaders

and ultimately Jews
in the occupied areas.

The slaughter
of a million Soviets

is the merciless testing ground
for the Holocaust.

The SS accelerate
the genocide of Jews

and others seen as undesirable.

Over 9 million are slaughtered.

This was
industrialized mass murder.

This was something that--

that hadn't even appeared
in the middle ages.

By the winter
of 1941,

their brutal advance
has brought them

to the brink of victory.

Leningrad is under siege,

and German panzer divisions
are at the gates of Moscow.

Seeking a devastating
tactical and ideological blow,

Hitler turns his attentions
towards Stalingrad.

Stalingrad was
an important target for Hitler

because he knew by taking it,
he would insult Stalin.

He also knew he would force
Stalin to try to take it back,

and he would be able
to wear down the Red Army.

But also it was an important
city because it would permit him

to pivot south into the Caucasus

and take all these
oil-producing regions

and make Germany
self-sufficient in petroleum.

For both sides,

the stakes for the Battle
for Stalingrad are immense.

For Hitler
to fail at Stalingrad

would be an enormous blow
to the Nazi myth.

It would be an enormous blow
to the war itself.

Similarly, Josef Stalin
was unrelenting.

He would not tolerate defeat.

He would not tolerate
pulling back.

To surrender or to give ground

would be met
by the utmost sanction.

The Luftwaffe
drop 1,000 tons of bombs

on Stalingrad

before 2½ million
troops clash.

The ferocity
of the Battle of Stalingrad

was something
straight out of hell.

It was not uncommon
for battles to be raging

not over parts of the city
or city blocks,

but literally
for different floors

within one building.

In some cases,
Soviet reinforcements

came forward without weapons,

facing certain death.

And yet again and again
and again they came.

As the battle rages,

the Red Army launch
"Operation Uranus."

What Hitler's high command
cannot see

is revealed from space.

Over 1 million Soviet soldiers

outflank the German positions,

before cutting
through the enemy's rear.

Operation Uranus
was a complete shock,

and suddenly Stalingrad
was encircled.

Cut off from supply,

the Germans are plunged

into the harshest
of Russian winters.

In sub-human conditions,
they begin to disintegrate.

it was
freezing cold.

Food supplies began to decline.

Guns jammed.

It was a nightmare.

It's difficult to convey
in simple words

what that experience was like.

After five months
under siege,

Hitler's once-mighty
6th Army capitulates--

the first German
field army to do so.

Nearly 2 million have fallen,

but for the Soviets,
the tide is turning.

The boost
to Soviet morale

can scarcely be overstated.

German prisoners were marched
through Moscow.

And this proved
that the Nazi soldiers

were not supermen.

Instead, they saw
German soldiers who quit,

who surrendered,
who could not match

the determination
of the Soviet soldier.

For Hitler,
the defeat is devastating.

Instinctively, he strikes back.

Adolf Hitler

to regain
the strategic initiative,

to close a gap--
a bulge if you will--

centered around Kursk.

Seen from above,
Hitler's objective is clear--

eliminate the bulge,
concentrate his forces,

and regain the initiative.

For the Allies,
it is critical

that its newest military
partner holds.

The eastern front
is vital to the Allies

because it absorbs the bulk
of Germany's fighting power.

To put it very brutally,
the Soviets

did most of the fighting and
most of the dying on land.

President Roosevelt
commits over $11 billion

of lend lease supplies
to Stalin.

Yet traditional trade routes
through Europe are blocked.

Getting US aid
into the Soviet Union

is one of the greatest
Allied logistical challenges

of the war.

There were three routes
that we could use.

One was the North Atlantic route

into the northern Arctic ports
of Archangel and Murmansk--

stormy seas, iced in,
hard to get to.

And then there was one across
to the Pacific to Vladivostok,

but everything had to be
unloaded in Siberia

and then trucked into Russia

on the Trans-Siberian Railway,

which is slow
and time-consuming.

And then there was the one
around the Cape of Good Hope,

up into Iran and into Southern
Russia that way.

The Persian Gulf

is crucial to Russian success,

but making it viable
is a monumental task.

We had to build
a supply chain from scratch.

There was no infrastructure.

The harbors are not there--
we have to construct those.

Allied engineers
build wharfs,

jetties, and piers.

Simultaneously, 450 miles
of roads are constructed

and 2000 miles of railway

With all routes
now open,

the US pumps 16 million tons
of lend lease

into Russia.

Included are gasoline,


an entire military
telecommunication system,

14 million pairs of boots,

and enough food to offer
every Soviet soldier

one square meal a day
for over a year.

But most significant

are the half million
Studebaker trucks

supplied by the factories
of Detroit.

The Studebaker truck
was a real game changer,

because it gives
the Soviet Army

the ability to operate
on a massive scale

with far-flung logistics.

The other thing that
these trucks give them

is an advantage literally
within the battle itself.

The Russians had
a lot of artillery.

You match that artillery
with the truck,

and suddenly they've got

these flying anti-tank
batteries literally zipping

across different parts
of the battlefield.

To give the Soviets
the tactical advantage at Kursk,

the Allies supply
one final thing--

intelligence of the German
offensive plans.

The Soviets knew
they were coming.

And so they create defenses
of a scale

that really hadn't been seen
before in the war.

I mean people talk about
the Maginot Line in France.

This thing was the Maginot Line
put on steroids.

From space,

the full enormity
of the Soviet defenses

becomes clear.

Three defensive lines contain

a vast interconnected web
of thousands of anti-tank guns,

pre-sighted artillery zones,

and over 400,000 mines.

It is the largest defense
network ever constructed--

over 50 miles deep.

July 5, 1943...

over 2,000 tanks
and 2 million troops engage.

The level of
intensity at the Battle of Kursk

was extraordinary.

Large numbers of tanks
and soldiers

were fighting
to the most brutal degree

at very close quarters.

There was brutal
hand-to-hand combat,


thousands of tanks,

coupled with artillery
raining down.

All of this would have combined

to create a scene
that would have resembled

hell on earth.

After 11 days,

the German offensive collapses,

only a third of the way
to their objective.

Hitler's attempt to crush
the Soviet Union

has failed.

worst nightmare

had come to pass.

Germany would now be faced
with a war on two fronts

and a war of attrition.

Stalin gains

the initiative
on the Eastern Front

at a huge cost--

over 9 million
Soviet casualties.

In contrast,

America has yet to put
a single soldier

on the battlefields of Europe.

Stalin was deeply frustrated
with Allied dawdling

about opening a second front.

He assumed that it was
a conspiracy,

that Churchill and Roosevelt

were going to fight
to the last Russian.

Then the British and Americans
would cross the Channel

and harvest
all the spoils of war,

the Russians having won it

with their own blood
and treasure.

Prior to
a full-scale invasion of Europe,

Roosevelt elects
to blood his troops

in North Africa.

The North
African campaign

was a testing ground
for the American army,

which had yet to face
the German military

in a significant way.

and inexperienced,

the US Military is about
to receive a baptism of fire--

--that will shake it to its core.

The disaster at Kasserine Pass
was a seminal event.

As the American
Pacific drive

towards Japan accelerates,

and as Stalin in the East

and the Allied bombing campaign
in the west

continue to weaken
the Third Reich,

America prepares
to test its troops

in North Africa.

They will join a desert campaign

that has been raging
for over two years.

June 10, 1940...

Italy, under Benito Mussolini,

joins the Axis

and, with Germany,
plans to force Britain

from North Africa.

North Africa
was a vital front

for the British in World War ll

because it was the vital hinge
of the British Empire.

A German
and Italian victory

will open up the untapped
oil reserves

of the Middle East

and seize the Suez Canal

that connects Britain
to its empire.

The Suez Canal you
needed to protect at all costs.

The bottom line,
if you are moving

large quantities of equipment,
you gotta use the sea lanes.

And that's as true today
as it was then.

September 1940...

the Axis invades.

For two years,
they drive the British back.

But the advance is halted

as German Field Marshall Rommel

is defeated at El Alamein.

To capitalize on this victory,

Churchill lobbies Roosevelt
for support.

But the majority of presidential
advisors have their doubts.


most American
senior military personnel,

saw the campaign in North Africa

as a diversion
from the main effort,

essentially a waste of time.

Roosevelt overrides his council.

FDR's decision
to send American forces

to North Africa was probably

the most important strategic
decision of World War ll.

it really gave
us a place where we could

land the US army,
bring it into the battle

against secondary German units,

not the units we'd encounter
in Europe.

And so it was--
it was a brilliant move.

Since the Pearl
Harbor attack,

a vast American army
has been amassing,

hungry for their
first taste of war.

People were lined up
at the recruiting stations.

All the boys were up in arms.

I graduated in February,

and I was in uniform in March.

The country had been violated,
is what we thought.

And everybody
just wanted to get busy

and do something about it.

and inductees from the draft

swell the ranks
as America rises to become

the largest military power
in the world.

Before the war,

the total strength
of the US Army,

including its Air Corps,

was well below 200,000.

There would be
over a 40-fold increase

in the space of 6 years.

During the war, the armed forces

encompassed 16 million men
under arms.

That's 13%
of the entire population.

With this vast
army assembled,

America is primed
for "Operation Torch,"

then the largest
amphibious invasion

in history.

Torch actually was
a very important rehearsal

for D-Day--
it was a huge operation.

It was logistically
extremely complex.

Torch was a monumental
challenge for the US,

because we hadn't won
the Battle of Atlantic yet.

We have to escort troops,
ammunition, supplies

from the United States
direct to North Africa,

escort troops from Great Britain
down to North Africa,

through waters patrolled
by German submarines.

Then we have to land them
on a hostile shore.

November 8, 1942...

73,000 Allied troops

disgorge onto the beaches,

and immediately
the problems begin.

What we saw in the
landings of North Africa

is a great study in everything
that can go wrong

in an amphibious landing.

And virtually everything that
could go wrong, did go wrong.

The landing craft--
you didn't run out the front,

right onto the beach.

Instead you had to jump
over the side.

That, of course, is not the most
efficient way to get in there.

It's the most dangerous--
it's the slowest.

A number of our craft
get stuck on sandbars.

When they drive them out,
the electronics get fried.

Fortunately, they're fighting
the Vichy French,

who fight half-heartedly.

And had they been attacking
the Germans in 1944,

the Japanese in 1944,

the experience
would have been a lot, uh--

a lot worse.

As French Vichy
troops loyal to Hitler


US forces head for Tunisia

and their first clash

with the full-strength
German war machine.

They're really
blissfully ignorant

of the realities of modern war.

I mean they've got their trucks,
they've got their tanks,

they've got their rifles,

they've got their very
complicated chain of command

from army to corps, division,

brigade, regiment, battalion.

They think that they'll do fine.

US forces
engage Rommel

outside the town of Faid.

Making an initial breakthrough,

they pursue retreating
panzer divisions.

From space, Rommel's master
tactic is revealed--

the panzers are decoys,

luring US forces into a trap.

They fall prey
to the techniques

of double envelopment
by the Germans,

with some very good weapons
like the German 88.

The 88mm gun was literally

a world-class anti-tank weapon.

Not only could it shoot
at a further distance,

but it had an incredible
kill rate.

It's basically just lethal.

This thing is diabolic.

In many cases,
Americans either surrendered

or dropped their weapons
and ran.

The American performance,
to put it charitably,

was--was abysmal.

US forces are pushed
back in to Kasserine Pass,

where under constant attack,

the untested units fall apart.

To raise an armed force

of 16 million people
in a hurry means

that in the initial stages
of armed conflict,

you're going to have troops
in the front line

who have no taste of battle
before this moment.

Dwight Eisenhower,
for example,

becomes the supreme
Allied commander.

Before World War ll, before
his North African campaign,

he had never heard a bullet
fired in anger

in his entire life.

He had no actual
combat experience.

Further disaster
is averted when reinforcements

from the British 1st Army

And with Field Marshall

approaching from the East,

Rommel retreats.

Frank Gervasi witnesses
the aftermath.

We got to Kasserine Pass,
and we had patrols going out,

and you could still smell
the flesh,

from, you know,
the burnt-out tanks

and human beings,
and uh, it was bad.

We took an awful beating.

Don't forget, though,
we were against

Germany's best--Rommel's.

We had the equipment but we
didn't have the experience.

suffers 6,500 casualties.

Its first land battle
in World War ll

is a disaster.

Kasserine was a tremendous
defeat for the United States.

There's just no way
to sugar-coat that.

On the other hand, Kasserine
is the best thing

that ever happened
to the US Army.

Better to get your butt
kicked there

than get your butt kicked
in Normandy.

There are some changes
made in policies,

in how we're going to operate,

but there are also
some key leadership changes.

You've got Eisenhower
earning his spurs.

You've got George Patton.

And the lessons learned
in North Africa

are gonna be applied
for the rest of World War ll.

The new
US Army doctrines

ensure a dramatic turnaround.

First, Tunisia falls,
followed by Sicily,

preparing the way for the Allied
invasion of Italy.

And on the other side
of the world,

the Pacific war enters
a new phase of ferocity.

The carnage was phenomenal.

From the ashes of Pearl Harbor,

the American war machine

is approaching full potential,

engaging her enemies
on three continents.

In the Pacific,

troop numbers grow by 457%.

Its fleet trebles in size.

With this vast force assembled,

America's final drive
towards Japan begins.

The American strategy
is a dual-pronged approach,

with Admiral Nimitz,

with the Navy Marines going
through the central Pacific,

General MacArthur with most
of the army forces

coming through
the Southwest Pacific--

both approaching Japan
from different axes.

Admiral Nimitz'

is the largest in history--

the perfect weapon to destroy

Japan's defensive strongholds.

this massive fleet

of aircraft carriers,

fast battleships,

backed by this long
logistics train

of supply ships, oilers,

hospital ships--
you name it.

This thing was lethality

and industrialization

The flotilla
targets Saipan,

one of the Mariana islands.

Its airfields can become
the launchpad

for a sustained aerial
bombardment of Japan.

Emperor Hirohito demands

his 32,000 troops
stationed there

to defend at all costs.

For the Japanese,

defeat was not an option--
retreat was not an option.

If it meant losing
everything and everyone,

they would do it
in pursuit of victory.

June 1944...

8,000 US marines
hit the beaches

under intense Japanese fire.

For the marines,
it was a nightmare.

At the end of the day,
the Japanese have one job,

which is to inflict
heavy casualties

on the people attacking them.

If you're in the front line,

you're going to be
one of those casualties.

fanatical resistance,

a further 80,000 troops land,

all dependent on naval support.

But what US Commander Admiral

cannot see...

are 55 Japanese ships
rapidly approaching.

For the Japanese,
this really was gonna be

their last shot.

They had to have success
here in this particular battle,

or they were not gonna
be ever able to field

this kind of force again.

to danger,

Spruance splits his force,

dispatching one half to engage
the Japanese fleet.

As the two forces clash,

US technological superiority

most notably 480 newly
developed Hellcats.

The Hellcat's just
an incredible weapon.

It's fast.

It can take hits
and still keep going on.

It's well armored.

And on top of that,
it's now flown

by elite pilots.

The Japanese lost most of
their well-trained pilots

in other battles--
they couldn't replace them.

They didn't have the fuel
to train.

Their aircraft weren't as good.

And that's what really creates
the turkey shoot

of the Battle
of the Philippines Sea.

the next 8 hours,

429 Japanese planes
are destroyed,

compared to 29 American--

a kill ratio of 15 to 1.

The scale
of the slaughter

between the American pilots
and the Japanese

is significant enough where,
after the battle of Marianas,

the Japanese aircraft
carrier force

is no longer a factor
in the war in the Pacific.

On land,
American troops

continue to face
ferocious resistance.

The Pacific war was

a bitter
and cruel war,

but at Saipan, it became
more and more evident

how deep was the Japanese

or the ferociousness

of the Japanese capacity
to resist.

There are these hair-raising
stories about how the Americans

had to lower drums of gasoline
and explode them

in the caves in which
the Japanese were hiding,

because they could
not induce people

to come out and surrender.

The suicidal fervor
is not confined to soldiers.

Eight thousand Japanese

leap to their deaths.

The American

could not believe their eyes
that they were seeing

this mass suicide
of Japanese civilians,

including women and children--

mothers killing
their own babies--

rather than surrender
to the Americans.

When Saipan falls,

over 3,400 Americans lie dead,

alongside 46,000 Japanese,

half of whom
are civilian suicides.

It is a mere taste
of what's to come.

January 1945,

American Air Force General
Curtis LeMay

arrives at the conquered airfields

of the Marianas.

The war in the Pacific...

...is about to ruthlessly escalate.

Curtis LeMay believed

there should be no hesitation
and no moderation

in bringing destruction
to the enemy,

and the surest,
most effective way to do that

would be through massive,
unrestrained strategic bombing.

He was going out to destroy

the industrial power of Japan.

And the kindling for all those
fires he was lighting

to burn down the factories

happened to be houses
with people in them.

March 9...

over 300 B-29's reach Tokyo.

They systematically lay down

1,665 tons
of M-69 incendiary clusters

over the wooden city.

It remains
the most destructive air raid

in the history of mankind.

The Japanese later called
the early fire raids

the "night of the black snow,"

because of the debris
and the impact

of these particular raids
on their lives.

The master bomber
who was watching the raids

said you could see the fires
150 miles away.

You had asphalt melting
in the streets.

You had glass melting
out of buildings.

A lot the air crews were really
shaken up by the results.

Tail gunners reported watching
people burning to death

and burning rivers
covered with napalm.

Japanese doctors wrote
about watching the debris

floating in rivers afterwards,

and they couldn't tell if it
was bodies or sticks of wood.

Sixteen square miles
are razed to the ground.

The inferno claims
90,000 civilian lives

and leaves
over 1 million homeless.

On the other side
of the Atlantic,

Allied forces converge

to prepare for an equally
decisive breakthrough

in the liberation of Europe.

For the Allies,
the D-day landings

the success or failure

of the entire war.

But the outcome really
rested on a knife edge.

November, 1943...

Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill

meet in Tehran to plan
"Operation Overlord,"

the invasion
of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Churchill warns of
the challenges that await them.

The British had learned

how capable, how effective
a fighting force

the Wehrmacht was.

Britain's experience
is chastening--

evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940,

driven from Norway and Greece.

Yet despite the dangers,

the Allies determine
to risk everything

on a full-scale
cross-Channel invasion

into the teeth
of the Nazi defenses.

In order
for D-Day to succeed,

it required four distinct
events to happen.

First, the Allies
needed the momentum

of manpower
and equipment

to make it to the beach

and continue to reinforce
the beachhead

once the landings were secure.

Secondly was air supremacy.

The Allies had to prevent
the Germans

from reinforcing their positions
on the beachhead.

Also, the Allies needed
a major Soviet offensive

so that Germany
would be sandwiched

between two invading armies.

And finally,
the element of surprise.

If the Germans had been aware
that the invasion was coming,

it would have certainly failed.

To win
the intelligence war,

the Allies launch
"Operation Fortitude."

Operation Fortitude
stands to the present day

as arguably the greatest
deception plan

in modern warfare.

In an audacious
act of misdirection,

a decoy army
of 11 ghost divisions

figureheaded by General Patton

assembles opposite Calais.

They had to really trick
the German high command

into thinking that Calais,

the shortest route
across the Channel,

was the way that the invasion
was going to be mounted.

It had dummy tanks,

dummy airstrips,
dummy hangers.

And they let the German
reconnaissance aircraft

fly over these areas and say,
"Oh, here's a huge army.

This is clearly where they're
going to put their main effort."

With Fortitude
blinding the Axis,

the real invasion force
secretly assembles...

9½ million tons of supplies,

4,000 amphibious vessels,

and over 1½ million troops.

The man charged

with the immense logistical
challenge of the landings

is British Naval mastermind,
Sir Bertram Ramsey.

Sir Bertram Ramsey's plan
was meticulous,

it was complex,
it was rehearsed,

and it was thorough
in every way.

The plan
is astonishing.

Almost 7,000 vessels

will be loaded with men
and supplies

and moved in secret
to the assembly points.

At a pre-determined time,

they will navigate
through narrow channels

cleared of mines,

towards enemy shores
through unpredictable seas.

naval screens will be mounted

to protect against
Axis counterattacks.

The scope and depth of it--

it's just off the scale.

Me personally, I've been
involved in planning

for things like
Desert Storm,

uh, Operation
Iraqi Freedom--

the early pieces of it--
and even that,

with big computers and lots
of smart guys working it,

it was daunting then.

Getting the Allied
forces to the beachheads

is just the start.

Awaiting them
is Hitler's Atlantic wall,

a defensive network
1,600 miles long

and considered by the Führer
as unbreachable.

it's this combination
of everything

from millions of mines,

specific defenses

designed to rip the bottom
of a landing craft.

Then you get
to machine gun bunkers

with interlocking fires,

6-inch cannons--you name it.

It's just a nasty,
nasty piece of work.

You know,
there are trained troops

who've been there for years

every avenue of approach
off the beach.

And you know there are gonna be
massive counterattacks--

the Germans are masters at that.

So there's just
so much uncertainty.

The window
of opportunity

is desperately narrow.

Supreme Allied Commander

sets the date...

June 5, 1944.

Once Eisenhower

made the decision,

it was irrevocable--

there was no plan B.

This was it--go for broke.

Either the invasion
would succeed

or the invasion attempt

would have to be put off

Dwight Eisenhower sat down
and wrote a little note

taking blame for the failure
of the landings

that he was prepared to deliver
if it did fail.

No one on the Allied side
saw this as a sure thing.

As the Allies bomb
the French infrastructure

connecting Normandy to the east,

3 million servicemen

are locked away
from the population.

Coastal towns are locked down.

The fate of the world
hangs in the balance.

After an agonizing 24-hour delay
due to bad weather,

"Overlord," the most
important Allied operation

of World War ll

is set in motion.

Before the armada embarks
for Normandy,

the Allies launch

one final master class
of deception.

To convince the Germans

that Calais is the invasion

British bombers circle
at low altitude,

dropping tons of metallic chaff
into the air.

This created a huge
radar registry for the Germans,

and this phantom army that has
been constructed in their minds

through documents
and fake bases--

now it starts to come alive.

Totally threw
the German defensive planning.

It threw it into disarray.

the misdirection campaign


the invasion force
heads towards its targets--

five beachheads

and a cliff-top gun emplacement
at Pointe Du Hoc.

Ahead of the transports,

an aerial and naval barrage
pounds the coastal defenses.

Despite the assault,
the men on the landing craft

come under ferocious
German fire.

it was confusing.

The German Planes
were going right over us.

There was these bombs and guns
going off and everything else.

Some of the boats,
they got hit by bombs already,

and all you could see was
you don't know who they were--

see guys laying in the water,

some with limbs off and arms.

There was more than being
frightened on the boats.

Some guys were crying
a little bit.

Some guys was even urinating.

We were all nervous--
everybody was--

but there was nothing
you could do about it.

You knew what had to do
and it had to be done.

Charles Barley
and Michael Vernillo

are amongst the first
to hit Omaha,

the most heavily defended
German position.

A lot of guys were in a bunch
getting off the boat,

and they were killed instantly,

you might as well say.

We got into the water.

The water was up to my stomach,

and I said to myself, I said,
"Goodbye, Charlie--you're gone."

And then it was really
a terrible feeling in the water.

You can see there's bodies
laying around,

and you couldn't identify

it was really nasty--
really bloody.

fortunate enough

to make it off the boats--

the scene
they would have confronted,

it's almost unimaginable.

They would have been suffering
still from seasickness.

They would have heard
the whirring of bullets

above their heads.

They would have seen
in front of them

dead and dying
American soldiers.

But it was more than chaos.

It was deadly chaos.

As the Allies
continue to land

against merciless German fire,

the casualty rate soars.

But after 15 hours
of fighting,

all beachheads are taken

with Pointe Du Hoc
falling the following day.

The Allies suffer
10,000 casualties,

but it is blood shed achieving
the almost-impossible.

They have a foothold
in Nazi-occupied Europe.

For Hitler, this was

the nightmare come to pass.

We basically, you know,

signed the death certificate
of Nazi Germany

on June 6, 1944.

weeks and weeks

of being bottled up
in the Normandy beachhead,

the breakout that occurred
exceeded expectations.

The success is down
to the network of supply lines

chasing the front-line soldiers.

Connecting France
with the war depot of Britain

are artificial Mulberry harbors,

landing 2½ million men,

4 million tons of supplies,

and 500,000 vehicles
within the first 10 months.

Fueling the offensive
is "Operation Pluto"...

70 miles of undersea pipeline

pumping up to a million gallons
of fuel per day into France.

Those tons and
those millions of gallons

of fuel were on a scale

that probably won't be
replicated in the future,

so what they accomplished
might be unique

in human history, really.

From space,
the speed of advance

is astounding.

August 19...
Paris is liberated,

followed by Rouen, Verdun,

Antwerp and Brussels.

By September, the Allies
reach the Siegfried Line

on the cusp
of the German Fatherland.

Hitler launches his final,
desperate counterattack--

the Battle of the Bulge.

Despite heavy losses,
the Allies prevail

and Nazi Germany
stands on the abyss.

Hitler's gamble
in the Ardennes

basically ensures
the end of the Reich.

This is his last operational
force he had

where he could try to influence

the pace of either front,
East or West.

Once he threw that force away,

the American-Soviet conquering

of the Reich in the next year
was inevitable.

The War in Europe
nears its climax.

On the other side of the planet,
the drive towards Japan

is also approaching
its bloody conclusion.

But every island invaded

is coming at increasingly
higher cost.

At every stage, the ferocity

and intensity of Japanese
defense increases.

What they thought were suicidal
defense tactics in Saipan

are redoubled at Iwo Jima.

February 19, 1945...

60,000 US Marines

storm the island of Iwo Jima,

where a battle of unrivaled
brutality begins.

The fighting on Iwo Jima

stands as arguably
the fiercest fighting

that US military personnel

have ever experienced.

There was no amount
of punishment

could be inflicted
on the Japanese

that would cause them
to lose their will.

they've decided

that they are going
to die there.

And when you have
that kind of suicidal fervor,

it means that
the sort of tactics

that you might have used

don't work.

And so we start using

napalm, tanks up close--

a style of battle

that raises the level
of violence,

even past what we've seen

in earlier parts
of World War ll,

which is hard to imagine.

When Iwo Jima falls,

Japan suffers 20,000 casualties

compared to 23,000 American,

the first time US casualties

exceed that of their enemy.

As Allied forces
prepare to invade Okinawa,

the proposed launch pad
for the invasion of Japan,

the stakes for both sides
are vast.

The Japanese
defenders of Okinawa knew

that they were not going
to survive--they could not win.

But they hoped that,
by causing enough casualties,

creating enough horror,
that it might either

make the Americans
decide not to invade Japan,

or at least maybe
get the Japanese

a better peace offer
of some kind.

April 1, 1945...

the America armada
approaches its target.

Its scale is unmatched
in the Pacific War.

Okinawa was
a military undertaking

on a scale that rivaled D-Day--

the size of the invasion force,

the size of the invasion fleet.

One thousand-
two hundred warships

support 3 mass amphibious
attack forces

hitting the beaches.

More than 170,000 troops land
eerily unopposed.

But unseen by American troops

are 97,000 Japanese defenders,

ready to strike
with unprecedented savagery.

They are taking
the Japanese soldier

and using just his body
as a weapon.

Japanese soldiers
with 22-lb satchel bombs

run under tanks.

Six thousand defenders
banzai-charge marines

armed only with bamboo spears
and sidearms.

In our own
time, we make the comparison

with suicide bombers,
but if you can imagine

where entire Japanese units had

that depth of commitment
that would actually suffer

mass, essentially suicidal death

rather than surrender
their position--

that's a very formidable
military obstacle.

At sea, wave after
wave of Kamikazes

crash into US ships.

The Kamikazes
were especially terrifying

to the Americans trying
to shoot them down

because how do you deter

who is willing to die
for something.

Their goal is to die.

And 18% of Kamikazes
hit ships.

Four hundred-four
US ships are struck.

When Okinawa finally falls,

nearly 100,000 Japanese soldiers

and 150,000 civilians lie dead.

The US suffers
76,000 casualties,

a third of the entire
invasion force.

The escalation
is just horrifying here.

And these are little islands,

and now we're talking
about invading

the whole Japanese homeland,

where there are millions
of defenders

and even more millions
of civilians?

The US War
Department estimates

that the invasion of Japan
will result

in 10 million Japanese

along with at least
1 .7 million American.

Another solution must be sought.

As the Allies celebrate
victory in Europe...

as Hitler and his Reich
go up in flames...

America swears in
a new president.

And Harry Truman
is destined to unleash

a weapon so fearsome

it will herald in
a new dawn of warfare

across the globe.

War has ravaged
the world for nearly six years.

Germany and Italy are defeated.

Only Japan fights on
in defiance of the Allies.

But a new weapon
is about to make World War ll

reach its climax...

December 1938...

German scientists
split the atom,

releasing 200 million volts
of electricity.

After Albert Einstein warns
US President Roosevelt

that Hitler plans
an atomic program,

the race for the Bomb is on.

America, in collaboration
with Britain and Canada,

launches the Manhattan Project.

Entire towns
and industrial complexes

are constructed
across the nation.

Employing 600,000 people

and costing $2 billion--

$25.8 billion
in today's money--

it is engineering
on an unprecedented scale.

No other nation
in the world could have done

the Manhattan project
like the United States did.

You get all these theorists
together, and they say

there are two ways in which
we can build this weapon.

There's a plutonium bomb
and a uranium bomb.

They're different processes.

They're both
immensely expensive.

Anybody else would have said,

"Which one do I want
to focus on?"

And the US said, "We're
gonna make sure this works.

"We're going to do both."

July 1945...

the project bears fruit--

a uranium bomb code-named
"Little Boy"

and a plutonium bomb
code-named "Fat Man."

The atomic bomb
is a technology

that historically
is on the scale

of the introduction
of gunpowder.

They've taken
the kind of lethality

that's been honed
throughout World War ll

and multiplied it by
a whole new aura of magnitude.

For the first time,

with a single event,

an entire city
could be destroyed.

This represented
a new era in warfare.


from the Potsdam Conference,

US President Harry S. Truman

must decide whether to unleash

the atomic bomb on Japan.

if it
had come out a year later

that the president
of the United States

had a weapon he could have used,

that might have ended
the war earlier,

and instead he did not,

and we suffered 100,000
extra casualties,

he would have been run out of--

at best, run out of town
on a rail.

There was no way
an American president,

responsible to his constituents,

could have not used this weapon.

Truman, hostile to
Stalin and his communist ethos,

can see the significance
of a nuclear strike

for the postwar world.

In 1945,
America faced a real paradox.

For a long time, of course,
Roosevelt and Truman

had been saying to Stalin,
you know,

"Please help us
with the war against Japan.

"Please invade Manchuria.

Please defeat
the Japanese army."

But when it was realized
that the Soviet Union

might defeat the Japanese
and then move on

and occupy part
of the Japanese islands,

that's not what the Americans
wanted at all.

They wanted the task
of rebuilding Japan.

And I think this was one
of the most important factors

in influencing
the American decision

to drop the Atomic bomb.

After a successful
test in the New Mexico desert,

Truman gives the order
to drop the bomb

as soon as possible.

A number
of cities were chosen

as potential targets.

They were left untouched
by the incendiary bombing,

because if you bombed a city,
you couldn't tell

how much damage had been done
by the atomic attacks.

They were also looking for one
with quite a large population,

because if you could attack
a city with a large population,

you, again, would be able
to see the full impact.

When you look at it, this is
a really cynical decision

for choosing a target

on which you're going to drop
the most dangerous weapon

that has ever been developed.

On August 6, 1945,

the Enola Gay launches
from the Mariana islands.

At 8:15 a.m. local time,

"Little Boy," loaded
with 60 kg of Uranium,

is released over Hiroshima.

Forty-three seconds later,

the world changes forever.

The blast creates
a circle of devastation

1 mile wide,

with fires over another
4½-mile radius.

are killed instantly,

with a further 100,000 dying

from burns and radiation.

Three days later,

"Fat Man" is exploded
over Nagasaki,

killing 80,000 civilians.

the first bomb in Japan,

there was a certain amount
of disbelief.

After Nagasaki, though,
it was kind of hard to deny

that the Americans had
some kind of new weapon here,

and this is just the start
of what could be

a long pattern of destruction.

September 2, 1945...

Japan capitulates.

World War ll is over.

The nuclear age has begun.

A lot
of people think

that the moral, ethical line
of destruction in World War ll

is crossed
by the atomic bomb.

I disagree.

I think that if there's
any moral lines left,

they're all crossed
with the fire raids

against Japanese cities.

The whole question
of the atomic bomb is,

"Will we continue to do
what our weapons make possible?"

And that is the ultimate
dilemma we've hit

with atomic and nuclear weapons.

if you ask

who won World War ll,

and if by that you mean,

what society, what nation,

contributed the most

in blood and treasure

to the eventual victory,

it's not the United States.

It's the Soviet Union.

Soviet losses in the war...
over 25 million people.

American losses
are 405,399 military dead

and a handful of civilians.

But if you ask the question
who won World War ll,

and you mean who ended up

in the most advantageous
position at the end of the war--

reaped the greatest fruits
of victory--

then the answer is clearly
the United States.

the 6 years of war,

America grows from the 17th
world military power

to number 1.

Her overseas bases
expand from 14

to over 30,000
spread across the globe.

Her GNP doubles,

and she becomes the biggest
creditor in the world,

commanding half of the planet's
manufacturing capacity

and owning 2/3
of the world's gold stocks.

it dominates
the world economy.

It controls the formation
of the UN.

It launches the world
on a path towards globalization

that it wants.

But it can no longer go back
to being isolationist.

The isolationist America
is gone forever.

I'm not sure if it has actually
sunk in even today

how much we have to be involved.

But as a result of World War ll,
we're drawn in the world's ways.

We cannot escape...
whether we realize it or not.