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  • Legacy of War

  • A BBC World War II History
  • Written by: Sean Bean
  • Narrated by: Sean Bean
  • Length: 2 hrs and 16 mins

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Legacy of War

Written by: Sean Bean
Narrated by: Sean Bean
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Publisher's Summary

The Second World War ended over 75 years ago, and the number of men and women who lived through it is rapidly dwindling. But its legacy casts a long shadow, and the memories of those who experienced the conflict left both powerful stories and often a complex inheritance behind for their children and grandchildren.

In this series, Sean Bean investigates how the trauma of profound wartime experiences - whether spoken or unspoken - can be transferred down through subsequent generations. For although physical wounds may heal, emotional wounds can remain to inform family dynamics for good or ill.

From prisoners of war and hero soldiers to infamous traitors and long-lost relatives, Sean meets 10 families who have been forever changed by World War II. He talks to Gethin Jones, whose father was a conscientious objector; Anne Godden and Barbara Sherman, daughters of returning soldiers whose marriages broke down; Tom Boden, who lived through the bombing of Liverpool and was evacuated twice; Ingrid Von Oelhafen, who discovered she was the victim of the Nazi's 'Lebensborn' programme in which children were stolen from their parents; and Stella Collis, daughter of a German POW who was interred at Wormwood Scrubs.

We also hear the moving story of Barclay Patoir, who came to Britain from Guyana and survived war and prejudice to marry and raise a family; the extraordinary experiences of Kurt Marx, a Kindertransport refugee, and his wife Ingrid, who lived through Auschwitz; and the children of Nazi sympathiser John Beckett talk about their complicated, conflicted legacy. Shafquat Towheed reflects on the ways that his father's experience of the Bengal Famine stayed with him throughout his life - and the ways in which it is remembered. And in a fascinating voyage of discovery, Niki MacCarthy journeys to Nagasaki to find out about her father Aidan's life-saving medical work and uncover the truth behind a very special family heirloom.

Presented by Sean Bean

Produced by Martin Williams, Kate Bissell and Mark Rickards

Featuring: Gethin and Adam Russell-Jones; Betty and Max Paschal; Kurt, Michael and Johanna Marx; Anne Godden and Barbara Sherman; Clare Beckett-Wrighton and Francis Beckett; Juliet Weller; Shafquat Towheed, Niki and Adrienne MacCarthy; Tom Boden, Dawn Hann, Evie Thame and Michael Thame; Ingrid Von Oelhafen.

With thanks to: Michael Newman of the Association of Jewish Refugees, Diya Gupta and Brian Hann.

For more information about Kurt Marx's wartime experiences, please see Refugee Voices, a project of the AJR:

And for more information about the legacy of such experiences, please visit the Second Generation Network and the Holocaust Memorial Trust: and

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 13th May - 10th August 2020

©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd
  • Radio/TV Program
  • Categories: History

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