As the world commemorates the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe, I have compiled a few selections of past Museum programs that highlight some of the key steps on the Road to Berlin. Admittedly, this is VERY American heavy (as we are America’s National WWII Museum) and there are obvious omissions, but these programs resonate with me for reasons I will explain below.
Andrew Nagorski with Robert Citino, PhD, “1941: The Year Germany Lost the War”
We begin with one of our more recent programs, featuring bestselling author Andrew Nagorski in conversation with our Senior Historian and Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy, Rob Citino, PhD. I selected this program because it has two leading authorities, both of whom have written extensively on the subject and could certainly hold their own in a keynote presentation, but we put them in a conversation format which really makes both Nagorski and Citino come to life as they rap back and forth. The conversation discusses how Hitler began 1941 as the ruler of Central and Western Europe, with Britain isolated politically and militarily as U-Boats strangled their supply chains at sea while the Luftwaffe rained down hell from above. Then it carries on to cover the list of errors Hitler made and disasters his forces faced over the year, culminating in his decision to declare war on the United States following the attack at Pearl Harbor. The conversation lays a great foundation for what lay ahead for America and her allies as they fought against Nazi Germany.The program begins at the 07:20 mark and lasts roughly 60 minutes.
Robert Citino, PhD, “The Road to and Battle of Kasserine Pass”
The Americans’ road to Berlin, as you know, actually began in North Africa. Up next features Dr. Citino again as a stand-alone presenter opening our 2018 Kasserine Symposium, which commemorated the 75th Anniversary of that event. Rob takes the listeners from the landings at Operation TORCH, to the infamous battle that has long been regarding as an American debacle. His talk is great, but the Q&A session is just as rich. It’s worth it, even with a few technical glitches we had during the recording. I hope you enjoy the opening talk of our symposium and decide to watch the four sessions that follow it!The program begins at the 10:40 mark and lasts roughly 50 minutes.
Roger Cirillo, PhD, “Agony, Misery and Heartbreak: The Ground War in Italy, January – June 1944”
Skipping past the Sicilian Campaign and invasion of Salerno, we move to what is considered one of the hardest struggles for America and the Allies on their way to Berlin—the Italian Campaign. Dr. Cirillo, a retired colonel of the US Army, visited the Museum back in 2011 to give a talk on the arduous fighting that took place in the first half of 1944 on the struggle to liberate the eternal city of Rome. Cirillo is one of the bluntest and therefore funniest speakers we have ever had, but it in no way affects his scholarship.The program begins right at the start mark and lasts roughly 70 minutes.
Rick Atkinson, “The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945”
Rick Atkinson combines maniacal scholarship, eloquent writing skills, and immense empathy in his writing. It is what makes him one of the best writers of our time, and his presentation skills are just as marvelous. Rick and his publisher were kind enough to make the Museum the official launch point for the final book in his “Liberation Trilogy” that covers the US Armed Forces fight from North Africa all the way into the heart of the Third Reich. We were honored to host him, on what was the 68th Anniversary of VE Day. If you’ve read any of his works, it’s no wonder that he has won three Pulitzer Prizes.The program begins at the 09:40 mark and lasts roughly 60 minutes
Antony Beevor and Alexandra Richie, DPhil, “The Battle of Berlin”
The final selection switches to the Eastern Front and the concluding battle of Berlin, which led to Hitler’s suicide and the final collapse of major resistance of Nazi German forces. It comes from our 2015 International Conference and features two wonderful authors and historians. First is Antony Beevor, who is the bestselling author of many WWII titles, and then Alexandra Richie, DPhil, who is the author of two major works including a history of Berlin and serves as the convener of the Museum’s Presidential Counselors advisory board. These two heavyweights take on this epic conclusion of combat in the east and the mark of Victory in Europe. The program is divided into two segments, with the presentations on the first link, and the Q&A session on the second link. The total run time is roughly 75 minutes.
This article is part of an ongoing series commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II made possible by Bank of America.
Jeremy Collins joined The National WWII Museum in 2001 as an intern, and now oversees the institution’s public programming initiatives.