The series’ narrative thread is an examination of the power struggle over who will win the peace. The fight takes place between the big three wartime allies: The Soviet Union, Britain and America. Each country and leader is embedded in each programme as central characters; we become familiar with their approach and their particular cocktail of double-dealing.
Tensions between the Allies mount. The British want to strike into the heart of Germany but the Americans are cautious and don’t want to loose men. This allows the Russians to advance deep into Eastern Europe.
The true horror of the Nazi regime is exposed as the Allies fight the Germans in their homeland and liberate survivors of the concentration camps.
Once the War in Europe had been won the fate of the big three powers changed radically. The Russians wanted to control large parts of Europe and the Americans were not prepared to back up the British in their fight to keep Eastern Europe out of Stalin’s grip. By July a new world order began to emerge dominated by two, not three, superpowers.
Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbour was the result of the battle between Japan and America for influence in the East. The Japanese industrialised early in the 20th century and embarked on territorial expansion, while the Americans and British wanted to protect their own colonial interests in the region. The Americans put an embargo on trade with Japan. Japan chose to launch a war against the USA.
The war had made the Americans the richest nation in the world and they were ready to impose their views around the globe. Britain was victorious but bankrupt. By the end of the year America and the Soviet Union were on the brink of the cold war. The forces which were to shape international politics for the next fifty years, had taken root in 1945.