This series reveals how and why the central alliance between Great Britain, the United States and The Soviet Union was formed leading into World War II.
08 May 1945. Celebrations erupt across the world as the war ends in Europe. It is VE Day: Victory in Europe Day. But it has been a long, hard race to get here…and war is still raging in the Pacific.
In 1938, British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, was determined to keep the peace in Europe. By signing the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler, he believed he would prevent war with Germany and bring “peace in our time”. The peace Chamberlain thought he’d guaranteed, however, was shattered by Hitler’s invasion of Poland on 01 September 1939. Over the next eight months, the Nazi’s continued to sweep across Europe, with Norway, Holland, Belgium and France falling under Hitler’s control.
Chamberlain declared war on Germany on 03 September. His agreement had not saved Europe from the Nazi’s. As Europe fell, country after country, so did Chamberlain’s popularity causing a vote of no confidence and his resignation. At the outbreak of war Chamberlain had invited Winston Churchill to join the war cabinet as the First Lord of the Admiralty. Could this be the man to lead Britain to victory in the Second World War?
In the United States, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced to his largely isolationist electorate: “This nation will remain a neutral nation”. Over the next two years the question would be asked with increasing desperation as to when and whether Roosevelt would listen to Churchill’s entreaties and enter the war.
On 13 May 1940, Churchill made his first speech as Prime Minister before the House of Commons. Prime Minister Churchill famously declared “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat”. Churchill wasted no time in showing his true grit – after just 16 days as Prime Minister he spearheaded the evacuation of Dunkirk and led the country to victory over the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain.
Meanwhile Hitler had entered into a secret peace agreement with Stalin and the Soviet Union. Earlier in 1939, Stalin had attempted to make an alliance with Britain and France, but he distrusted them and felt he would be safer siding with Hitler. This would be a grave mistake.
On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany and its Axis allies began a massive surprise invasion of the Soviet Union – Operation Barbarossa. Three and a half million Nazi troops stormed across the Russian border. Catching the Soviets by surprise, the Germans were initially unstoppable. Fortunately they were slowed by a devastating Russian winter. The battle on the Eastern Front was far from over.
Race to Victory Series
You can find a full index of Race to Victory here.
Production & Filming Details
- Release Date: 08 May 2020.
- Running Time: 60 minutes (with adverts).
- Rating: Unknown.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.