Explaining History

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Fifteen minutes of 20th Century History for students and enthusiasts.

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Fifteen minutes of 20th Century History for students and enthusiasts.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-09-17 06:45
last episode published
2019-09-15 23:00
publication frequency
5.31 days
Nick Shepley author   owner  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Society & Culture History



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Czechoslovakia's anti German ethnic cleansing 1945

At the end of the Second World War, Czech prime minister in exile Eduard Benes petitioned both western allies and the USSR to expel all ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia. This permission was granted and the result was the ethnic cleansing of the Sudet...

Special Update: Report on the Coup: Part Two

The second in my reports on the current political crisis here in Great Britain. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy

Truman's Domestic Failures 1945-52

By 1945 the political landscape in America was changing in ways that would be far less favourable to Truman than the previous years had been to Roosevelt. An impressive and far reaching domestic agenda for reform was sabotaged by conservative and busin...

Special Update: Report from the coup August 2019

This is an unprecedented podcast for Explaining History, but in 2019 here in Britain we're in uncharted constitutional territory. I try not to engage too much in political podcasting because I wanted the podcast to connect with a broad audience but I f...

The Origins of Fascism: Part Three

Continuing the study of the background to European fascist thinking, this episode focuses on the impact of the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche on fascist thinking and ideas. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy

Stalinist social cleansing 1929-37

The Stalinist regime, in the mid 1930s brutally purged towns and cities of those they considered to be socially deviant. Beggars, gypsies, prostitutes and thieves were exiled and sent to labour colonies and camps in a bid to change them into 'productiv...

Maoist social cleansing 1949

In the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War, the beginnings of dramatic and brutal social change in China were evident in Mao's attitudes towards the urban poor. Those deemed socially unproductive, beggars, rickshaw pullers, hawkers and prostitutes were ...

The Aftermath of Pearl Harbour 1941

Following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7th 1941, the strategic decision making of America, Japan, Germany and Britain shaped the eventual outcome of the war itself. Japanese military planners realised they had begun a war they had n...

British Society on the eve of World War Two (Part Two)

This podcast continues the examination of Britain's social, economic and political circumstances on the eve of the First World War. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy

Eastern Europe's 'little Stalins' - Ulbricht, Beirut, Rakosi

The origins of Stalin's imitators, admirers and henchmen in Eastern Europe is explored in this podcast. Walter Ulbricht of East Germany, Boleslaw Beirut of Poland and Matyas Rakosi of Hungary respectively were the first generation of post war Stalinist...

Talking History: The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

A new feature on the Explaining History Podcast, Talking History is our opportunity to hear from teachers, researchers, writers and academics about the history books they value and how they have engaged with them. Today's guest is history teacher Siobh...

British society during the 1930s

By the eve of the Second World War, Great Britain had been economically eclipsed by the USA, but it was still the most industrialised and urbanised nation in the world and experienced a transition away from heavy to light industry. In the fields of avi...

The Nazi Cultural Revolution 1933-39

Seizing political power was just the beginning of the Nazi programme, creating a profound and lasting cultural change among Germans to undo the perceived corruption of Germanic culture by the Weimar Republic was the longer struggle. Hitler's war on lib...

German and Austro-Hungarian military planning 1906-1914

Germany and Austria were outnumbered in terms of troops and cavalry by nearly 2:1 in 1914 and desperately needed to win a rapid war on the western front if they stood any chance of victory. For both powers a long drawn out conflict would result in soci...

The Origins of Fascism: Part Two

This is the second in a series on the development of fascism in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. In this podcast we examine the legacy of racial thinking, imperialism and the interaction of romantic nationalism and racial thought. For informati...

Spain's state of emergency and the Falange Party - 1934

In 1934 a new interior minister in the right wing government that took power in late 1933, Salazar Alonzo, declared a state of emergency and the right wing CEDA movement that supported the government demanded extreme action against striking peasants an...

Britain, America and Palestine 1939-42

During the Second World War, the fate of British and French mandates in the Middle East was a constant pressure on war time diplomacy and on American domestic policy. The legacies of the Anglo-French carve up of the Middle East after the war and the pr...

Exile and deportation in Stalinist Russia 1928-41

Administrative exile had been used by the Tsarist regime against political dissidents and the revolutionary intelligentsia, however the mass deportation of entire ethnic and social groups was a new phenomenon under the Stalinist regime. This podcast ex...

The Nazi Quarry Camps 1938-40

Hitler's vision of a new Germany, built in vast neoclassical grandeur, required stone to be quarried and bricks to be manufactured in vast quantities. Three camps, Flossenburg, Mauthausen and Orianenburg were created to supply these materials. They wer...

The origins of fascism: part one

In the late 19th Century a series of intellectual and ideological movements coalesced into the beginnings of fascist thought. Romanticism, nationalism and racial thinking created the intellectual climate for authoritarian creeds based around race, iden...

Forced labour and the Nazi camp system

During the 1930s the Nazi regime attempted to exploit prisoners for their labour but there were few examples of successful profiteering and as the decade wore on prisoners were mainly forced to build the infrastructure of the Nazi camp system itself. ...

Building Mao's police state 1949

Initially, Mao proceeded with caution against the social enemies of the Communist Party, using the tools of state repression left behind by Chiang Kai Shek's Kuomintang. Assigning a new legal social class status to all Chinese citizens saw many later c...

Truman and Congress 1945-46

In 1945 Truman inherited from Roosevelt a more prosperous America, but one which had moved politically to the right. Rising living standards and the Republican Party's successful capture of anti communist sentiment made for a difficult environment for ...

Intelligence gathering and the First World War 07:07:2019 21.20Untitled Episode

During the four years of the First World War, intelligence gathering from informants, captured soldiers, aerial reconnaissance and signals traffic developed in sophistication. In addition, the methods used to keep secrets secure kept up as an intellige...

Expulsion, disenfranchisement and class war in Stalinist Russia

By the late1920 Stalinist fears of subversion by enemy social classes saw the disenfranchisement and expulsion from jobs and homes of members of the former bourgeoisie. This policy had both supporters and opponents in local and national government. Fo...

The RAF, empire and strategic bombing 1918-39

In the inter war years as air policy developed in Britain, 'air policing' of the British Empire was a strategy adopted by the RAF in order to wage aerial warfare against colonised peoples in Africa and Asia. The same principals were applied later to Ge...

The advance of the fascist right in Spain 1933-4

In November 1933 the reactionary movement CEDA became the a key part of a new right wing government. CEDA actively proposed a violent fascist coup and began to prepare a militia to achieve this. The socialist party the PSOE threatened revolution in res...

Class persecution and former people in Stalinist Russia 1928-39

In the USSR during the Stalinist era, class origins defined all aspects of an individual and by the end of the decade were a matter of life and death. This podcast explores how 'former people' from enemy classes were treated and excluded from society. ...

American air doctrine and the B-17a bomber

The development of air power in the USA from 1938 onwards in the shape of the B-17a four engine bomber was not matched by an official air doctrine, but a belief in the importance of mass bombing of industrial areas was emerging from planners, air force...

The Marshall Plan 1947-2

The Marshall Plan was the most successful use of American soft power in the country's history. By offering $13 billion in economic aid to rebuild western Europe, America stabilised half the continent and created new markets for American corporations. ...

The militarisation of the SS 1933-39

By 1939 the Camp SS, normally responsible for controlling prisons such as Dachau was equipped and trained to fight at the front line. This podcast explores the evolution of its role.

Mao's Famine and Szechuan Province 1958-62

In four years between 1958-62 a catastrophic famine in China killed 40 million people and a quarter of those died in Szechuan, a food rich province. This podcast explores the wilful blindness of Mao and the corruption of the communist party that cost s...

Indian soldiers and the defence of Egypt in 1914-15

At the start of the First World War, Egypt and the Suez Canal were vital to the functioning of the British Empire and were under huge pressure from an Ottoman offensive. However, it was Muslim, Seikh and Hindu Indian soldiers from a British India riven...

Social conflict in Spain 1933

After two short years of social reform under the socialist PSOE party in Spain a new right wing government came to power led by the conservative party CEDA. In the following two years poverty, hunger and violence tore apart the modest gains made by Spa...

The escalation of the French Vietnamese War 1946-9

By the end of 1946 a guerrilla war was being waged by the new Democratic Republic of Vietnam against the colonial French in the south, but developments over the next three years would radically expand the scope of the conflict to make it the 'first tot...

Creating a new podcast for Explaining History - an appeal to listeners

Hi everyone, I'm sending out this podcast today to invite you all to collaborate in the creation of a new podcast focusing on contemporary political, social, environmental and other crises, challenges and debates. Please get in touch if you'd like to b...

The Truman Doctrine 1947

In 1947 US President Harry Truman was forced to commit to the defence of Greece and Turkey against the possibility of communist victories in the Greek civil war and the threat of Soviet pressure on Turkey. The British had been forced to end their commi...

The Fall of Singapore 1942

The island fortress of Singapore was meant to be an unassailable bastion of British imperial power in Asia. Its fall in February 1942 was the biggest humiliation for the British of the entire war and doomed the British empire in Asia.

Nazi Propaganda and the camp system 1933-39

By the end of the 1930s the Nazi regime had successfully directed public opinion in favour of the concentration camp system. As the decade wore on gradual apathy and disinterest in the camp system was a defining feature of public attitudes towards mass...

Ernest Bevin and Britain's World Role 1945-48

In 1945 a Labour Government swept to power at the end of the Second World War, it had an agenda of domestic social reform but considerable foreign policy commitments. Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin was an advocate of National Service to meet Britain's ...

Britain, France and Vietnam 1945-7

In the aftermath of the Second World War the British gave assistance and support to the French in their attempts to recolonise Vietnam. French colonialists deliberately sabotaged negotiations with Ho Chi Minh and led to the outbreak of war in December ...

The Fall of Malaya 1941

In December 1941, hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, a naval invasion of Malaya began. Poor planning and a collective denial on the part of British colonialists that the Japanese were a serious threat led to the rapid collapse of Britai...

Mao and 'Red Star over China' 1936

One book more than any other propelled Mao to global significance, 13 years before he seized power in China. It was called Red Star Over China and was written by an ambitious and often naive American journalist, Edgar Snow.

Austria, Germany and popular attitudes in the July Crisis 1914

What did ordinary Austrians and Germans think, feel and believe during the July Crisis of 1914? This podcast explores how the murder of a widely disliked archduke who was assassinated in 1914 presents largely apathetic populations in both countries wit...

Churchill's government and the Nazi invasion of the USSR 1941

In 1941, despite believing that thee USSR could not last against a Nazi invasion for more than a month, Churchill and his cabinet rejoiced at the news that they were no longer fighting the war alone and planned to offer the USSR whatever assistance the...

Soviet Occupation and Liberation 1945

How did everyone from German citizens to concentration camp survivors, war ravaged citizens of Poland and partisans across eastern Europe encounter the Red Army in 1945? In some cases violent conquerors and in others as liberators.

Lenin, Stalin and the Soviet Peasants 1918-27

By 1927 the situation of the Soviet peasantry had just about stabilised from the famine years of the Russian Civil War. However, both Lenin and Stalin looked upon the peasantry and especially the wealthier peasants with barely concealed disgust and sus...

The Nazi Camps and the 'workshy'

For those unable or unwilling to offer manual labour in service of the Nazi volksgemeinschaft, mass arrests and imprisonment in the growing camp system was an ever present threat. The Nazi camps by 1938 were full of 'asocial' prisoners who were arreste...

The Maoist takeover of China 1949

Following the end of a bloody civil war in China, the communist party began to rapidly seize the levers of power and create class categorisations for the population. Control of the police and a network of communist spies and informers began a wave of r...

British decision making and the Dardanelles Campaign 1915

A complete absence of intelligence about new German guns along the Dardanelles led Britain into a disastrous campaign against the Ottoman Empire in 1915, in the hope that naval power alone could defeat Germany's ally and lead to a break through away fr...