The London Blitz II

Lead: In the nine months of the London Blitz, the capital of Great Britain absorbed 20,000 tons of bombs, endured thousands of civilian deaths, and saw one in six Londoners lose their homes. It only made the English tougher.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Their plan was to destroy the Royal Air Force to prepare for a cross-channel invasion, but Hitler and Goering largely failed and turned to bombing civilian and industrial targets in central and southern Great Britain. London was the main object of their fury and for nine months, Germany rained death and destruction on the precincts of the City, particularly the impoverished districts of East London where were located the docks and industrial installations of commercial activity. According to author Peter Stansky, “the Blitz marked an introduction of modern terror on a large scale.” There was no such thing as the Home Front anymore. Everyone was at risk. It was a new type of warfare.

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The London Blitz I

Lead: Frustrated because his bombers and fighters could not destroy the Royal Air Force and its support structure, Adolf Hitler, in Fall 1940, turned all of his fury on the City of London.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Like Napoleon before him, hubris and ambition drew Hitler into consideration of a cross-channel invasion of Britain. To do this he had to eliminate the Royal Air Force and challenge the British Navy. All during the summer of 1940 Luftwaffe squadrons hammered away at the airfields of southern England and the aircraft factories that supplied the RAF with its deadly Spitfire fighters. Yet it seemed that the more the Germans tried, the more heroic and desperate became the efforts of those Churchill praised with the words, “never in the field of conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

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Tragedy at the Munich Olympics I

Lead: The tragic murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics rested on the crossroads of opportunity inhabited by the West German government and Black September, the spin-off of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: It is not that they didn’t try. Though they were morally and ideologically poles apart, the Nazi government of Adolf Hitler and the democratically elected German Republic attempted to use the Olympic Games, 1936 and 1972, to improve their international public relations. In both cases they largely failed.

 

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Fritz Haber and the Double-edged Sword of Synthetic Nitrogen II

Lead: In the early 20th century German chemist Fritz Haber developed the process leading to the creation of synthetic nitrogen. His brilliant innovation, however, is very much a double-edged sword.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After his initial breakthrough for which he received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1918, Haber was made the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry in Berlin. With the outbreak of World War I, he led in the development of poison gas. His motives appear to be mixed, partly emerging out of intense German patriotism, but also in hopes that the use of gas would hasten the end of the bloodletting. He returned home greatly disappointed in the war’s result, but also conflicted over his own role in the use of chemical weapons. Haber’s wife committed suicide shortly thereafter, it is said partly in revulsion over her husband’s complicity in the wartime carnage. After the Nazi takeover in 1933, as an ethnic Jew, he saw that even his long-time loyal service to Germany would not protect him against the coming barbarity and accepted a post in Cambridge, England. He died in obscurity in 1934.

 

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Fritz Haber and the Double-Edged Sword of Synthetic Nitrogen I

Lead: By 1900 world population was beginning to outstrip agricultural capacity. Farmers could not grow enough to feed the people. Then Fritz Haber solved the nitrogen problem.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The three main nutrients required for successfully growing plants are potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Good top soil contains them in sufficient amounts to grow crops, but after long use, soil becomes depleted of these ingredients and must be renewed. Potassium and phosphorus are economically available in sufficient quantities to be put back easily, but nitrogen is not. Nitrogen is in the air. It is a gas that is a large part of the atmosphere. Getting it into the soil for plant synthesis is very difficult. Traditional farmers added plant clippings and animal waste, rotated crops or planted legumes such as beans or lintels, so-called green manure, to restore the soil and increase yields. Traditional agriculture could not keep up with an exploding world population. Farmers were losing the battle.

 

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Berlin Spy Tunnel II

Lead:  In 1954 the Central Intelligence Agency dug a 1400 foot tunnel under the border of East Berlin to spy on Soviet military messages. It was an engineering triumph, but there was one hitch. The Soviets knew it was there.

Tag: "A Moment In Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: George Blake was a member of the British Secret Intelligence Service. During the early days of the Korean War he was captured by the North Koreans and held for three years. Sometime during his prison stay he went over to the other side. In 1954, when the spy tunnel was first discussed by the CIA and its British counterpart, MI6, Blake was in the meeting, took extensive notes, and passed the sketches and drawings to his KGB control officer within two days.

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Berlin Spy Tunnel I

Lead:  In 1954, at the height of the Cold War, the CIA and British MI6 dug a tunnel under divided Berlin to spy on the Russians. They thought it was a secret.

 Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 Content: The city of Berlin during the 1950s was divided east and west and was the focus of much tension between the Soviet Union and the western Allies.  It was also crawling with spies. One of those was the CIA's station chief in Berlin, William King Harvey. He received information that the Soviets had laid three telephone and telegraph cables 18 inches beneath the soil near the road to Shönefeld Airport. Over these lines the Soviet military command in Berlin communicated with Moscow. Building on the experience of the British who had conducted a similar but smaller operation against the Soviets in Vienna, Harvey convinced his bosses to construct a tunnel, intercept the cables and tap them.

 

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The Enigma Machine

Lead: When your enemy is stronger and is about to destroy you, the most important thing you need is the information about how he is about to do it.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: During the early years of World War II, Germany and Japanese forces seemed everywhere to be victorious. It quickly became clear that Britain and France and after them, the United States had to break the enemies’ code. 

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