War & Conflict: Second World War
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1939-1945: A Soldier's War
From 1939 to 1945 Canadian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel lived and died in lands far from home. CBC Radio was one of the few links friends and family in Canada had to their loved ones abroad. Through reports from the front, dramatizations and direct greetings from soldiers, CBC revealed what life on the battlefront was like.
Countdown to Victory: The Last Days of War in Europe
Day by day, the news got better as the Second World War wound down in Europe. Sixty years ago, CBC Radio brought home reports of retreating Germans, freed prisoners of war, captured spies and surrender in Italy. But with the end of hostilities came dark news of hellish concentration camps, starving civilians and a rocky future for U.S.-Soviet relations. CBC Archives counts down the days to victory in Europe.
D-Day: Canadians Target Juno Beach
They sailed in under cover of darkness to smash down the walls of "Fortress Europe." On June 6, 1944, the Allied forces invaded the Normandy coast of Nazi-occupied France. The Canadians' entry point was a stretch of sand code-named Juno Beach. Many would die there but, for the Canadian forces, D-Day was a triumph that is still honoured at home and on the beach they called Juno.
Life after Auschwitz
Six decades after Auschwitz was liberated, the biggest and most brutal Nazi death camp remains a potent symbol of terror and genocide. More than a million Jews were murdered there, as well as tens of thousands of Poles, Gypsies and Soviet prisoners of war. When Allied soldiers liberated the complex in Poland in January 1945, they found skeletal prisoners, mounds of corpses, gas chambers and cooling crematoria. Survivors scattered, many to Canada, to rebuild their lives. But the Nazi atrocities they witnessed have echoed through the years along with the cry "Never again."
Love and War: Canadian War Brides
Surrounded by falling bombs, strict rationing and nightly blackouts, a generation of young women found love. They were the war brides: British and European women who married Canadian servicemen in the Second World War. After tearful goodbyes to their families, they embarked on a grueling journey by ship and train to join their husbands and in-laws in a new country. Once they arrived, many war brides had to confront culture shock and desperate homesickness before embracing their new lives in Canada.
On Every Front: Canadian Women in the Second World War
Canadian women were not allowed to fight during the Second World War but they did just about everything else. Tens of thousands joined the women's divisions of the Armed Forces. Hundreds of thousands stepped into jobs in wartime industry. At home and abroad they were welders and pilots, nurses and clerks, the homemakers that kept families together, protecting the home front and the Canadian way of life. These are some of their stories.
Propaganda and the Second World War
"Buy Victory Bonds!" Spread war-related rumours and you risk becoming "one of Hitler's Little Helpers." Ladies, join the army and you'll be "the proudest girl in the world!" Persuasive messages like these were everywhere during the Second World War, including on CBC Radio and Canadian movie screens. Indeed, wartime propaganda wasn't just the domain of Nazi Germany — Canada too created films, radio dramas and posters aimed at convincing citizens to join the military or help out on the home front.
Relocation to Redress: The Internment of the Japanese Canadians
As Canadian soldiers were fighting overseas in the name of democracy, at home the federal government was staging the largest mass exodus in Canadian history. During the Second World War, roughly 22,000 Japanese Canadians were forcibly evacuated from the west coast and resettled in other parts of the country. Their struggle continued after the war as they fought for an apology and redress for their loss. CBC Television and Radio covered the crucial issues in their journey from relocation to redress.
Reports from Abroad: Matthew Halton
"This is Matthew Halton of the CBC." So began Halton's war broadcasts. His reports were at times tender and sad and other times shocking and explosive. Halton was an unabashed sentimentalist who covered the war as a crusade, for which he was sometimes criticized but more often loved. Covering the major milestones of his generation – from the war trenches to the coronation of the Queen, Halton became Canada's most famous foreign correspondent. A thoughtful philosopher and determined idealist, Matthew Halton was an everyman poet who wore his heart boldly on his sleeve.
Second World War General
Shadows of Hiroshima
With a blinding flash and a sky-high fireball, the world's first atomic bomb exploded over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. The American bomb killed about 70,000 Japanese instantly, and an equal number would soon die of radiation poisoning. The weapon saved American soldiers' lives and ended the Second World War, but it ushered in a new era of nuclear arms. CBC Archives looks at the atomic bomb, its impact on Hiroshima and its legacy.
The Coming of the Second World War
"Germany has invaded Poland." With those words spoken on Sept. 1, 1939 on CBC Radio, listeners knew the Second World War had begun. While this was distressing news for worried Canadians, it wasn't a surprise. For more than a year, it had become increasingly clear that war was on the horizon. CBC Digital Archives presents several radio broadcasts chronicling the coming of the Second World War, from Neville Chamberlain's hopes for peace in 1938 to Canadian troops departing for Europe in December 1939.
The Contentious Legacy of Dieppe
It has been called the most controversial battle Canadians have ever fought. On Aug. 19, 1942, after nearly three years of waiting in England for a chance to fight, Canadian troops were sent to raid the French coast at Dieppe. But the Germans were ready for them, and the attack became a massacre. Of nearly 5,000 Canadians sent to Dieppe, only 2,000 returned. More than 60 years later, the operation remains divisive: was Dieppe an essential trial run for D-Day, or a shocking waste of lives?
The Italian Campaign
A full year before the D-Day landings in Normandy, there were the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy. Canada played a major role in the Allies' first breach of Hitler's "Fortress Europe" in 1943 and 1944. Canadian soldiers defeated entrenched German forces but paid a terrible price. Seaside towns and mountain passes became places of horror: Ortona, Cassino, Rimini. But with the events of D-Day and the Allied push across Europe, the Italian Campaign became a forgotten front, a deadly sideshow that cost nearly 6,000 Canadian lives. Sixty years later, their bravery is remembered.
Victory! The End of the War in Europe
May 8, 1945, was a day to celebrate. It was VE-Day, the long-awaited moment when the Allied forces triumphed over Nazi Germany to claim victory in Europe. But the joy brought by news of peace was dampened by the memory of fallen comrades and the ongoing war in the Pacific. From the liberation of Holland through the German surrender, celebrations in Canada and the servicemen's return, CBC Archives follows Canadians as the war ends in Europe.