Allied

NOVA
Secret Tunnel Warfare

 

During World War I, the Allies and Germans repeatedly struggled to break the hideous stalemate of trench warfare. In the winter of 1916, Allied engineers devised a massive surprise attack on the German army. Their weapon of choice: 600 tons of explosives, hidden in secret tunnels dug under German lines.

 

Building the tunnels was desperate work, with tunnelers at constant risk from flooding, cave-ins and enemy digging teams; German sappers would listen for telltale sounds and explode counter-mines, or sometimes break through into Allied tunnels and grapple in primitive, face-to-face combat in the dark.

 

At 3:10 AM on June 7th, 25 mines at Messines were simultaneously triggered in what was probably the single biggest non-nuclear explosion of all time, heard clearly in London 150 miles away. 10,000 German troops were killed instantly – but the stunning success was just the beginning of another wartime nightmare.

 

Now, archaeologists are revealing the extraordinary scale and risks of the Allied tunneling operations in the biggest excavation ever undertaken on the Western Front.

 

FRONTLINE
Memory of the Camps

 

A landmark historical film discovered by FRONTLINE in a museum vault decades ago has been called “Hitchcock’s lost Holocaust film.” First broadcast by FRONTLINE in 1985, the documentary shows the first horrifying footage shot as Allied troops entered the Nazi death camps. Drawing on initial editing done by famed director Alfred Hitchcock before the film was shelved 70 years ago, FRONTLINE reconstituted the forgotten reels and script and showed them in public for the first time 30 years ago.