University of Leicester
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Some faint hope and courage : the BBC and the final solution, 1942-45

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posted on 2014-09-24, 08:31 authored by Gabriel Milland
This study is of the coverage provided by the BBC Home and European Services of the Final Solution from the beginning of 1942 until VE-Day. In other words, from the beginning of industrialised murder of Jews in western, central and eastern Europe to the German surrender. It does not cover, except in the introductory chapter, the earlier stages of what became known as the Holocaust. Neither does it examine what happened once the war and the Final Solution had ended. Issues related to the impact of Final Solution and the ability of the BBC to react to it, such as antisemitism and the level of third-party influence over the BBC, are also examined. This is a history of both the British response to the Final Solution and the way in which one of the most important institutions of twentieth century Britain, the BBC, coped with the single most important story it has ever covered. It is found that there was a large amount of coverage by both the Home and European services. Taking the Home Service first, coverage was heavy at times when the British and Polish governments found themselves able to confirm the information coming out of Europe. The Home Service insisted throughout that it limit its coverage to news bulletins, for fear of increasing antisemitism within Britain. This, and much of the general reluctance to emphasis news of the specifically anti-Jewish nature of the Final Solution, grew out the belief that it was both wrong and counter-productive to assign any special significance to the plight of the Jews. The European Service was more flexible and broadcast a great deal of coverage. However its main overseers, the Political Warfare Executive, had a substantial say in what emerged. The political context of information about the Final Solution often made them reluctant to sanction broadcasting about it. Not all that could have been broadcast was.


Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Historical Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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