World War II Presentation Topics
“Divided on D-Day: New Perspectives on the Normandy Invasion”
By focusing on the points of conflicts among the principal Allied commanders, Ed Gordon offers new insights on the Normandy Invasion and the three-month campaign that followed. Drawing on research from his new book, Divided on D-Day, he explores how national and personal rivalries led to poor command decisions and missed opportunities that needlessly prolonged the Allied campaign to defeat Nazi Germany. (Click here to see the major controversies discussed in this presentation.)
“Explaining Hitler and the Third Reich”
The economic and political conditions at the time of Hitler’s rise were key to enabling him to seize the reins of power in Germany. This program will particularly focus on how Hitler, with the help of Joseph Gobbels, masterfully turned a wide variety of mass media into a propaganda machine to first win over the German people and later Nazi-occupied Europe. The monstrous Nazi criminal regime continued its domination using terror, tyranny, and lies.
“The Monuments Men & Their Mission: Recovering Europe’s Art Treasures from the Nazis”
During World War II throughout Europe the Nazi government systematically looted millions of works of art from museums and churches and from Jews and others who were deemed enemies of the Third Reich. This is the story of how the Nazis literally raped Europe of its art masterpieces and other valuables and secreted these treasures in mines, warehouses, barns, and castles across Europe. As the war was winding down, art specialists who were called “Monuments Men” were recruited by the Allies to rescue these treasures and restore them to thier rightful owners. Now 70 year later this story is far from over as artworks that were though lost are discovered and endless litigation between individuals, museums, and nations continues over them.
“The Shadow Army: European Resistance during World War II”
As the tyrannical regime of Nazi Germany spread across Europe, its savage acts of repression, hostage taking, and the persecution of Jews, labor leaders, Communists, Catholics and anyone who dared to oppose the Nazi occupation provided more than enough motivation for hundreds of thousands of people to join secret armies. Resistance forces all over Europe gathered intelligence for the Allies, established hiding places and escape routes for captured Allies and those fleeing Nazi persecution, and fomented acts of sabotage, raids, and uprisings. This program will trace how and why resistance forces grew as the war continued and how underground movements differed from country to country. It will celebrate the heroic deeds of many notable individuals who refused to surrender their countries to Adolf Hitler’s twisted regime.
“Killing Hitler: The Assassination Plots That Failed to Stop a Madman”
Between 1921 and 1945, there were about 50 alleged assassination attempts on Adolph Hitler, all of which failed. This program will review 10 of the better documented incidents, the people behind them, and why they failed including: the 1934 “Night of the Long Knives,” the 1939 Munich beer-hall bomb, and the 1944 Wolf’s Lair bomb. Hitler’s assassination fears led to the growth of the SS Lifeguard detachment from a few men to a division. In April 1945, a remnant of this force was still on duty at the Fuhrer’s Berlin bunker when Hitler finally ended his own life by shooting himself.
“The Invasion that Shook the World: France 1940”
In all the annals of history, Nazi Germany’s six-week blitzkrieg resulting in the lightning defeat of France in 1940 stands as a classic military campaign. How did Germany develop such a powerful strategic war plan and the tactical skills to accomplish in a first weeks what four bloody years had failed to achieve in the First World War — the complete rout of the Western allies? This program provides the intriguing political, economic, and military answers that added up to Germany’s greatest victory in the Second World War.
“Secrets of the Battle of Britain”
(The Air Conflict of 1940)
In June 1940 after the fall of France, the United Kingdom stood alone against Hitler’s formidable armies. Over the following summer the aerial conflict between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe in the skies over England became one of the key air campaigns of World War II. Britain’s great air victory helped prevent a German invasion and ultimately helped sow the seeds of defeat for Nazi Germany.
“U-Boat War: Tragedy & Redemption in the North Atlantic”
During World War II Nazi Germany’s U-boat fleet so effectively blocked fuel and supplies to Britain that the survival of this island nation was threatened. The success of the Allied war effort also heavily depended upon the capacity to ship troops and material across the Atlantic. This is the story of the people, strategy, tactics, and technology that were employed on both sides of the U-boat war. More than 2,700 ships were sunk by U-boats which costs the lives of over 35,000 British and American seamen. But by 1943 the Allies began to turn the tide against the U-boat menace through a combination of advances in convoy tactics, radar, active sonar, codebreaking, and intelligence gathering. By the end of the war, over 700 U-boat were sunk at sea and 28,000 sailors perished, resulting in the highest proportion of combat losses for any branch of the German armed forces.
“Clash of the Titans: The Russo-German Campaign of World War II”
On June 22, 1941, Adolf Hitler unleashed an army of 3 million for a blitzkrieg conquest of the Soviet Union. Over 10 million Germans and Russians would fight for four years over a 1,500 mile front stretching from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea. Both side deployed countless thousands of planes, tanks, and field guns in a seemingly endless conflagration on a truly epic scale. The outcome of this campaign shaped the map of Europe for the next 50 years.
“Wings over Germany”
(Allied Bombing Campaign 1939-1945)
During World War II, British and American strategic bombing of Germany produced controversial results still argued about today and some of the highest casualty rates of the war. In this program Ed Gordon tells the story of the gallant allied airmen who by laying down their lives helped to shorten the war in Europe. They also participated in testing the breakthrough aviation technology that became the foundation of modern aviation.
“From Sicily to Victory: The Italian Campaign”
Winston Churchill once referred to the Mediterranean region as the “soft underbelly of Europe” and influenced the Allies to launch the Italian Peninsular Campaign. The Allies would find to their regret that there was nothing soft about this underbelly. This program explores some of the key figures and prominent battles of this long, costly, grinding front.
“When the Desert Fox Met General Patton: The North African Campaign”
During the Second World War both Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, Germany’s Desert Fox, and Lt. General George S. Patton, Jr., “Old Blood and Guts,” established their military careers on the sands of North Africa. Set on the vast wind-swept stretches of the Sahara Desert, this is also the story of Italian dreams of empire, the British determination to turn the tide of war against Nazi Germany, and the beginning of American participation in the European theater of operations (Operation Torch).
“Empire of the Sun: Japan Triumphant”
From Korea to the shores of Australia, and westward to the central Pacific, Japan’s Rising Sun grew ever larger from the 1930s to mid-1942. This is the story of how a small nation organized for war and swept most of Asia into its “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.” Ed Gordon explores how Japan’s civilian government was thwarted by the military’s quest for the domination of Asia and describes how allied neglect of Asia resulted in early crushing defeats.
“The Rising Sun Sets: The Defeat of the Japanese Empire”
In the summer of 1942, Allied forces under Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and General Douglas MacArthur began campaigns that led to the slow implosion of the Japanese Empire in the vast expanse of the Padific ending with the epic battles on Iwo Jima and Okinawa and the A-Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Meanwhile under the leadership of British Lord Louis Mountbatten, Allied forces liberated Southeast Asia from Japanese occupation. This programs draws upon the heroic stories of individual soldiers, sailors, and airmen about how these battles led to victory.
“Fireball in the Night: The Bombing of Japan”
The April 1942 Doolittle bombing raid on Tokyo using sixteen B-24 bombers was widely publicized, but caused little damage. The key elements in the successful U.S. air campaign against Japan were the development of the B-29s which could fly up to 3,500 miles with up to 4 tons of bombs, the American capture of the Mariana Islands from which air strikes against Japan could be launched, and the air strategy of General Curtis LeMay. This program will explore the reasons for the effectiveness of the fire-bombing of Japanese cities, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the dramatic role of the Japanese Emperor in the surrender to the Allies. Never in the history of warfare would air power play such an important role in the outcome of a war.