World War II: From the Frontlines (2023) s01e05 Episode Script

Episode 5

[tank engine humming]
[man] I hated the Nazis,
and I did want to do
as much damage to them as I could,
and that meant killing them,
and that's all right with me.
You get a good feeling
when you kill the enemy.
I always did.
And that may not
sound Christian-like, or whatever,
but I think men do enjoy killing
under certain circumstances.
I hate to sound hardened,
but it's either them or me.
[announcer] This is the year 1944.
Great battles lie ahead.
[narrator] As the conflict enters
its fifth year,
the Allied leaders know
that to win the war
they will have to invade
Nazi-occupied Europe.
[Franklin Roosevelt]
We will not stop short of our final goal,
into the frontiers of Germany itself.
But Hitler has built a formidable line
of defenses along the French coast.
[Adolf Hitler in German]
Let the war last as long as it wants to.
[pounding lectern]
Germany will never capitulate!
[crowd applauding]
Churchill and Roosevelt fear an invasion
could lead to a catastrophic loss of life.
But now they can wait no longer.
A massive invasion force
secretly gathers in southern England.
Almighty God, our sons this day
have set upon a mighty endeavor.
Lead them straight and true.
They will need thy blessings,
for the enemy is strong.
[intense music playing]
[indistinct radio chatter]
[Dan] We were flying out
right over the invasion fleet.
And I was standing in the door.
And that was the most
magnificent sight I think I've ever seen.
It looked like
the whole channel was moving.
I didn't think there was
that many ships in the world.
One hundred thousand Allied soldiers
are crossing the English Channel.
Up ahead, Nazi-occupied France.
[Harold] When we got close
to the French coast,
then we started getting off the ship.
The minute the boats hit the water
we're thrown around like matchsticks.
And I'm Jewish.
I drew a large Star of David
on the back of my field jacket
with "The Bronx, New York."
And that gave me a certain bravado.
Most of the guys expected to die.
[Hans in German]
I looked through my binoculars.
I thought I was seeing things.
There were thousands of ships
that were sailing towards us.
I thought that the whole world
had lined up against us.
[Frank] We started to take
the troops close to shore.
They gave me the job of dropping
the ramp in the front of the boat.
[missile screeches past]
[missile explodes]
When we got close enough to the beach,
my captain says to me, "Drop the ramp."
And I froze for a few seconds.
[bullets pinging ramp]
I didn't want to die.
I pulled the handle.
[machine guns firing]
[soldiers shouting]
These poor guys, they had no chance.
[soldier] Go, go, go, go!
[missile screeches past]
[Harold] The water was full of blood.
Some of the guys,
they were yelling, "Help me, Jesus!"
I looked over to my right.
This guy just yelling, "I'm hit! I'm hit!"
The machine gun cut him in half.
[missile screeches past]
And then a shell went off in front of me.
It blew off my cheek,
and I was losing a lot of blood.
[wind buffeting]
[gunfire ceases]
[soldier] Medic! Medic!
Now there are only
two of us alive from my boat team.
[distant shouting and gunfire]
The Germans didn't give up.
They were pounding the beach.
So, we were left with options:
stay there and die or fight wounded.
We decided to fight wounded.
[narrator] By the end of D-Day,
the Allies' gamble has paid off.
Harold's unit has helped
to secure the beachhead,
and the Allies are starting
to fight their way inland.
[Harold] We weren't gonna give up.
[newscaster] The Allied armies have made
successful landings in North France
in history's greatest invasion.
Light airborne troops and parachutists
rained down from the sky early today,
while a vast armada of 4,000 ships
disgorged ground troops
on Hitler's fortified shore.
[narrator] The Allies now have
a foothold in Nazi-occupied Europe.
But they know they will have to fight
all the way to the German capital, Berlin.
[Winston Churchill]
There's no moment now to slack,
hard as it may seem
after five long years of war,
to bring this slaughter to an end.
[narrator] Meanwhile, in the Pacific,
the US Navy is forcing the Japanese
back towards their homeland,
island by island.
[Roosevelt] We are
on the offensive all over the world,
bringing the attack to our enemy.
[narrator] In a series of battles,
much of Japan's fleet is destroyed.
[newscaster] Our pilots scored
the greatest aerial victory
in the history of naval warfare:
402 planes to our 26.
And back in Europe, Stalin's Red Army
launches a huge attack on Hitler's forces.
[newscaster] Tanks and fighter bombers
on a scale never seen before.
[newscaster 2] Soviet units
are reported nearly a hundred miles
beyond the Polish frontier.
The Soviets now approach Warsaw,
which has been occupied by Hitler's troops
since the start of the war.
Encouraged by the Red Army's advance,
the Polish Resistance rises up,
liberating central Warsaw from the Nazis.
The Poles construct makeshift barricades
to keep the Germans out.
They hope they can hold on
until the Red Army arrives.
[contemplative music playing]
[voices inaudible]
[Witold in Polish]
We were all young, poorly armed.
It was a very dangerous situation
but we were fighting for freedom.
[scattered gunfire]
In a bid to fight back, Witold's unit
mounts a raid on a German command post.
[Witold] We were to seize the post office.
We go up the staircase.
And I can hear German voices.
I see a door
so I open it.
"Hands up! Everyone, hands up!"
The hands went up.
[soldiers jeering]
We grabbed all of their weapons.
[newscaster in Polish] Home Army units
freed 50 civilian prisoners.
Thirty German soldiers were killed.
[Witold] We got a great haul.
It was our first victory!
[engines screeching]
[masonry clattering]
[narrator] But the Germans
still control most of Warsaw.
[rapid gunfire]
[glass shatters]
[debris clattering]
[machine gun firing]
Polish Resistance fighter Bolesław Biega
is one of the wounded.
[Bolesław in Polish]
I was taken to a small hospital
and my fiancée, Lili,
would come and check on me.
Then my commander says,
"Why don't you get married?"
I said, "In these circumstances?"
I said, "We can get
killed tomorrow, so why not?"
A messenger was sent to tell Lili,
"Your wedding is tomorrow
at eleven o'clock."
"Please show up!"
[voice muted
under dramatic orchestral music]
[narrator] By chance, a passing film crew
captures Bolesław
and Lili's wedding ceremony.
We used curtain rings as wedding rings.
We threw a reception at the post office.
We had French sardines,
cigarettes and French wine,
all captured from the Germans.
Believing Soviet help is on the way,
the newlyweds celebrate.
But the Red Army isn't coming.
[soldier] Fire!
[narrator] Stalin has decided
he would rather the Nazis and the Poles
fight it out between themselves.
[newscaster] For developments
on the Western Front,
Admiral takes you to Paris.
[soldiers cheering]
[scattered gunfire]
[newscaster] The call is this: "All to the barricades, all to the fight!"
"Parisians, forward."
Having been underground for years,
the French Resistance rise up
to retake the streets of Paris.
[newscaster] The French Resistance
carrying on open warfare
with the Germans,
risking their lives for an ideal.
[George] When we landed,
my regiment turned right
and went down through northern France.
The Germans pulled back,
and we went straight on towards Paris.
[church bells ringing]
[Evelyn] Suddenly, they started
to ring all the bells of the city.
I said, "Ah! What are those tanks?"
"I think they're the Allies."
[bystander] Whoo!
[narrator] Eleven weeks after D-Day,
Allied troops roll into the French capital
to help the Resistance.
[Evelyn] Oh! Everybody came out
and we waved.
We had waited four years.
It was so long.
And we spent our day with the troops.
I'd landed a few days after D-Day
and ended up in Paris.
Oh, that was great.
You know,
I sort of felt just like Queen Elizabeth.
You know,
I'd ride down waving to the crowd.
Women were kissing and hugging
and giving you wine
and all this kind of stuff.
And I was just a kid.
[Charles de Gaulle] We are here
in Paris, which stood strong
and rose to free itself
of its own determination.
France, the great eternal!
[narrator] For France and the Allies,
it's a day of joy,
but for some, it's a day of reckoning.
[Evelyn] The afternoon of Liberation Day,
we had also prepared some lists
of all the collaborators we knew
all the girls who had been out
with the Germans, we had all the names.
And we handed them over
to the Resistance immediately.
[Elise in French]
I had a friend who ran a café.
She said, "I'll introduce you to someone."
He was handsome and single.
[voice muted]
He was very decent and helped me
survive the loneliness I had.
He was arrested.
The next day they came to find me.
[crowd jeering]
The crowd was screaming at us.
They asked me, "How many Krauts?"
He said, "Get up or I'll shoot you."
"We will cut your hair. We'll shave you."
I didn't flinch. I let it happen.
I just glared back at them.
[narrator] After Paris,
the Allies sweep into Belgium,
pushing closer to Germany every day.
[Roosevelt] We shall have to fight
our way across the Rhine.
We may have to fight
every inch of the way to Berlin.
But we will not
stop short of our final goal.
But in the Polish capital, Warsaw,
the Resistance forces are under pressure.
The Red Army has stopped
on the outskirts of the city.
And the Nazis have vowed
to wipe Warsaw from the map.
[radio operator] This is Warsaw calling.
This is Warsaw calling.
Warsaw calling.
Warsaw calling all the free nations.
[narrator] Newlyweds Bolesław
and Lili are in the line of fire.
[Bolesław] Me and my wife, Lili,
we were exhausted and hungry.
Our street was under siege.
There was no escape.
The Russians were
on the other side of the river
but they didn't come to help.
[newscaster in German] Our fight is with
the bandits who have not yet noticed
that they are being
abandoned by all sides.
After two months of resistance
the Poles are forced to surrender.
[Mathias in German]
Masses of prisoners went past.
They asked, "What will become of us?"
We couldn't answer them.
The SS came.
Indescribable, cruel gang.
And we heard the shots.
[guns firing]
[narrator] One hundred and 80 thousand
men, women and children
are massacred in the uprising.
Bolesław and Lili
are among the survivors.
They're herded onto a train to Germany.
They will spend
the rest of the war in a prison camp.
In the Pacific, the Americans have been
continuing their island-hopping campaign,
with the invasion of Saipan and Peleliu.
If they can take these islands,
they will be within bombing range
of the end goal: Japan itself.
[soldier] Fire!
[narrator] Battle begins with an intense
bombardment from the U.S. ships.
[dramatic music swelling]
[muted shouting]
[distant gunfire and explosions]
[Chiyoko in Japanese] I always knew
the war would come to Saipan.
You could hear the sound
of the bullets whizzing past.
It was frantic,
with everybody trying to take cover.
[missile screams past, explodes]
My elder brother was killed instantly.
My younger brother
was injured in the head.
It is about 10:23 now, Saturday morning.
Marines have been pushing forward.
[Chiyoko] We were told that the Americans
would take women as prisoners
and would use us for their pleasure.
[soldiers shouting]
We had to avoid
being captured at all costs.
[machine-gun fire]
[narrator] The Americans
sweep across the island,
flushing out resistance.
[gunfire continues]
[Steve] Going in on Saipan,
we just didn't have time to waste.
We had to get up and go.
We moved up to the tip of the island,
towards the cliff.
We were told that there was
women and children holed up there.
Interpreters were
speaking with loudspeakers
and trying to get them
to give up, you know,
and saying,
"We'll give you food and water
and take care of your sick and everybody."
[voice muted
under somber orchestral music]
Then, all of a sudden,
we looked up there and they're jumping.
It was unreal.
There was nothing we could do.
We watched.
[Chiyoko] Those who remained
loyal to the country
would kill themselves
if they were discovered.
That was their mentality.
[Steve] I think
most of us felt that, "Well
you can't get them
to give up, let them jump."
"Let's get this thing over with, already.
Enough is enough."
[narrator] December 1944.
Back in Europe,
Germany is facing the prospect of defeat.
But Hitler is planning
one last throw of the dice.
[Hitler] The world must know
that Germany will never surrender.
I ask you to trust in my leadership
to fight fanatically
through this difficult battle
for the future of our people.
He gambles everything
on a last-ditch attempt
to split the Allied advance
and drive them back to the coast.
[soldier shouts]
[missile screams past, explodes]
[machine guns firing]
[missile screams past, explodes]
[Georg in German]
The Americans got their asses kicked.
They weren't ready for us at all.
[soldiers shouting]
They ran away back into Belgium.
The Americans left everything behind them.
They even left us their breakfast.
[newscaster] German tanks,
some of them backed up by infantry,
are striking deeper into Belgium today.
The German offensive still is mounting
and has not yet reached its climax.
[narrator] The Germans advance
50 miles into Belgium.
[newscaster] This morning,
the German attack continues
in undiminished strength.
The situation is still grave.
[narrator] The Americans
rush troops to cut them off.
One of them is
20-year-old New Yorker William McBurney.
[William] At the time,
I knew I wanted to join the Air Force,
and they told me they didn't
have Blacks in the Air Force,
but they did have a tank outfit.
I said, "Okay, that's good by me."
So that was it.
Then the white soldiers cursed us out
and called us all kinds of names,
saying, "You don't belong up here."
I tried to block it out of my mind.
I was just proud that I was part
of one of the first Black tank outfits.
[Leonard] It was a tight bond. Very close.
It was family.
We wanted to prove we were
the best tank outfit over there.
We wanted to show them how good we were.
The weather was pretty bad today.
The ground forces need
all the help they can get now,
because this is
a very tough fight they are in.
[wind whistling]
[William] It was snowing.
Tanks sliding all over the road.
But we wasn't gonna chicken and run out.
We were rolling through this open field.
And this German tank came out of nowhere.
[thunderous explosion]
[Leonard] We got hit.
And so we had to
get out of the tank and run.
It was a suicide mission.
[machine guns firing]
[soldier in German] Fire!
And them Germans shot everything
they could throw at us, trying to kill us.
We crawled 5,000 yards in the snow.
[William] There was Germans everywhere.
And I said,
"Well, this is it. I've had it."
And Smitty said, "Man, you can't stop now.
You've gotta keep going."
"You gotta get back home."
[missile whistles past]
[machine guns firing]
And because of him, I kept going.
[soldier] Run! Run! Run!
[narrator] Suddenly, the weather clears.
And Allied bombers
can strike enemy positions at will.
The Germans are forced to retreat.
[William] I saw this SS soldier.
Stuck my pistol up under his chin.
And I said, "Surrender."
Well, he said,
"I don't surrender to you niggers."
Yeah, now, see, if he said, "I don't
surrender to you American soldiers,"
it'd have been fine with me,
I'd have taken his gun.
But when he said,
"I don't surrender to you niggers"
and spoke perfect English,
that's when I slapped him in the mouth.
[newscaster] And the huge roundup
of beaten Nazis left behind continues.
The prisoner count
for Friday alone was almost 20,000.
[narrator] As 1944 comes to a close,
Hitler's armies
are falling back in disarray.
[missile whistling past]
Our enemies still fight fanatically,
but they themselves know that
they and their evil works are doomed.
[newscaster] American troops
are moving in from north, west and south.
[narrator] The road to Berlin is now open.
Everybody is a little afraid of Berlin,
but everybody wants to go there.
[subdued theme song playing]
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