Episodes 11- 15


Last stand of the 44th at Gandamak, painted by William Barnes Wollen

Last stand of the 44th at Gandamak, painted by William Barnes Wollen

Remnants of an Army by Lady Butler

Remnants of an Army by Lady Butler

Episode 11 - The British Army's Calamitous Retreat from Kabul, 1842

During the "Great Game" with the Russian Empire, the British invaded and took control of Afghanistan as a colonial possession. Within a few years, the Afghan people were in open revolt against their British occupiers. With assurances of safe passage from rebel leader, Akbar Khan, Major General Sir William Elphinstone, evacuated 4,000 soldiers and 12,000 camp followers. The British and their Indian allies were lulled into a trap that along with severely cold weather, a lack of equipment and incompetent leadership led to the deaths of almost the entire force.


The Sinking of the M.S. Wilhelm Gustloff  by Irwin J. Kappes

The Sinking of the M.S. Wilhelm Gustloff  by Irwin J. Kappes

The Amber Room at the Catherine Palace

The Amber Room at the Catherine Palace

Detail from The Amber Room

Detail from The Amber Room

Episode 12 - The Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, 1945

In the last months of World War II, German forces were in full retreat from Eastern Europe. German commanders decided they had no choice but to evacuate Courland in East Prussia. The last remaining route for escape was through the Baltic; and so the Germans launched Operation Hannibal. It would be the largest evacuation by sea in history. On the night of January 30th, the luxury cruiser, Wilhelm Gustloff was loaded down with more than 10,000 civilians and military personnel when it came within firing range of a Soviet submarine. Members will receive the bonus track on the Amber Room Mystery. Click the Donate button to become a member.


Copper engraving of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.

Copper engraving of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.

Gaiola Framework as used in Lisbon, Portugal

Gaiola Framework as used in Lisbon, Portugal

Episode 13 - The Lisbon Earthquake, 1755

On November 1, 1755, All Saints Day, the city of Lisbon, Portugal was hit by a massive earthquake. The shaking lasted more than three-and-a-half minutes. Frightened residents ran out from beneath their crumbling buildings for the open safety of the harbor. But those who lingered too long, were swept out to sea by the tsunami that followed forty minutes later. And then came five days of fire. The earthquake not only shook up the people of Portugal; it had a profound effect on the European Enlightenment.


The Black Death in Italy

The Black Death in Italy

The Plague Doctor

The Plague Doctor

Episode 14 - The Black Death, 14th Century

The Bubonic Plague, a.k.a. The Black Death, first appeared in China, and owing to improved trade routes, quickly moved across the Asian plateau to the Black Sea and eventually all of Europe. Killing at the rate of 1 out of every 3 people, it wiped out whole villages and towns at a time. Panic led to the mass persecutions of Jews, Romani, and lepers. The plague changed world history and European culture; and it continued to strike again and again in the centuries that followed.

A Chinese city has been sealed off and 151 people have been placed in quarantine since last week after a man died of bubonic plague, state media said.

The Bataan Death March, National Archives

The Bataan Death March, National Archives

The Trail of Tears by Robert Lindeux

The Trail of Tears by Robert Lindeux

Episode 15 - A Tale of Two Trails

A comparison of two different forced marches, on two different continents and in two different centuries. In one case, Americans were the victims, in the other case, they were the perpetrators. Thousands died in the Bataan March during World War II, as the Japanese Army forced the defeated American and Filipino troops on an 80-mile march to Camp O’Donnell. The forced relocation of Native Americans out of the American South led to the deaths of thousands of people by exposure, disease and starvation. We will look at how two forced marches changed history.