01/07/2017 Witness


01/07/2017

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There were celebrations in Auckland after the Rugby union Test match was

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drawn. In the meantime, let's bring you a programme called Witness.

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Hello and welcome to Witness, with me, Rebecca Jones,

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here at the British Library in London.

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We've got another five people who've experienced extraordinary moments

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This month on the programme, a mother who took on Argentina's

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military rulers to find her daughter.

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Paul McCartney's brother who remembers one of the Beatles'

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And an astronaut who survived a collision in space.

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But first, back in 1953, American husband and wife,

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Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by electric chair

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after being convicted of spying for the Soviet Union.

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Our first witness is the Rosenberg's son Robert.

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ARCHIVE: One of the greatest peacetime spy dramas in the nation's

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history reaches its climax as Julius Rosenberg

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and Mrs Ethel Rosenberg, convicted of transmitting secrets

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to Russia entered the federal building in New York

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The last time I saw my parents was in Sing Sing prison,

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just a couple of days before they were executed in June 1953.

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I have this very strong visceral sense of a warm and loving family.

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My father played word games with my brother.

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They were pretending like nothing was wrong,

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that we'd see them, like we'd see them in another few weeks.

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And he wanted them to acknowledge the terrible situation

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And so he started wailing, "one more day to live."

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Both my parents were children of the depression.

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They grew up in poverty on the lower East side of Manhattan.

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My father, Julius, was an electrical engineer.

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He was a member of the American Communist Party.

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My father was arrested in July of 1950, in New York City

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Both were charged with conspiracy to commit espionage.

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The government said Julius Rosenberg was a master spy who led an spiring

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The government said Julius Rosenberg was a master spy who led an spy ring

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that stole the secret of the atomic bomb and gave it to

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Julius was guilty of espionage, but it didn't have anything to do

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It's hard for me to believe that my mother didn't know

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But there is no credible evidence that my mother

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This was the great red scare, the McCarthy period.

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The government was saying there was this international

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Communist conspiracy that was out to destroy our way of life.

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Fear makes powerful people do very dangerous things.

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The trial at which they were convicted was a travesty.

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We now know the judge secretly communicated with the prosecution,

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The chief prosecution witnesses perjured themselves.

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The government of the United States use the death penalty,

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The government of the United States used the death penalty,

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The purpose, as one of the FBI agents put it,

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we didn't want them to die, we wanted them to talk.

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There was a worldwide movement and mass movement,

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even within the United States at the height of the McCarthy

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They were executed on June the 19th, a month after my sixth birthday.

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My brother just kind of hung his head.

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And I came in and I knew something was wrong,

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Even a month after the execution, I was saying, "when are we going

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And he'd have to remind me they were dead.

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My parents should not have been executed and we took

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My brother and I, we are marathoners.

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Robert Meeropol, remembering his parents Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

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Now, back in 1967, the BBC organised a live international television

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They invited The Beatles to play and they came up with a new song

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Paul McCartney's brother Mike was in the studio

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This is Steve Race in The Beatles recording studio in London,

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where the latest Beatles record is at this moment being built up.

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Not just a single performance, but the whole montage of performances.

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None of us knew what the hell was going on, but everyone went

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along with it and it was just a magic thing.

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It was that ridiculous three, two, one...

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In 1967, I was in a comedy group, it was a satirical comedy,

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poetic word imagery group called The Scaffolds.

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And I used to stay with my brother in his house.

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So he said, there's this big thing coming up,

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The Our World broadcast was this extraordinary idea to link

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For the first time we can see right round our world from sunset

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In 43 control rooms all around the world, production teams

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are monitoring and selecting the hundreds of pictures and sounds

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from five continents which will combine to make

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And so, how do you wrap up what was happening in London

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John had written this thing called All You Need Is Love,

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We'd had the Vietnam War, Kennedy had been shot and it seemed

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to sum up the hopes and positive thinking of that era.

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That will do for the vocal backing, very nicely.

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Everyone was rather polite, very quiet because it was such a big

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Here then is final mix track take one of the song

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And then to actually experience the slow and the format of the song,

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you heard all the little bits fitting in and then

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It was getting better, and better and people

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# Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.

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The whole thing built slowly, slow and apprehensive at first.

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And then into it and then John and our kid delivering the harmonies

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and delivering the song and then building up to the crescendo

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All our friends are there, Mick Jagger from the Stones,

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Marianne Faithfull, his girlfriend, all the cream of pop society.

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Everyone is on such a high, the placards are going round,

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the balloons, the confetti is like snow, you are

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And this atmosphere was electric and beautiful.

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And it goes to another country and then this beautiful

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Mike McCartney in the Beatles home town of Liverpool.

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For almost 20 years, the Nobel prize-winning author,

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Ernest Hemingway, had a house on the Caribbean island of Cuba,

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where he wrote some of his bestselling novels.

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As a young boy, Alberto Ramos worked on the estate and he later

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Alberto Ramos, speaking to us from Hemingway's house.

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Remember, you can watch Witness every month on the BBC News channel

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or you can catch up on all of films along with more than 1000 radio

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In the late 1970s, thousands of young men and women were detained

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in Argentina for their opposition to military rule.

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Among those who went missing was Ana Maria Borivali.

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ARCHIVE: They are called the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,

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the square in the centre of Buenos Aires where

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they hold the same sad demonstration every week.

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They've all had at least one relative who's disappeared.

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Merta, in the offices of The Mothers Of The Disappeared.

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And finally, in June 1997, an unmanned supply vessel crashed

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The station quickly began to leak air and the astronauts on board

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He spoke to Witness about surviving a crash in space.

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Mir was a space station built by the Russians.

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The impression you got when you opened up the hatch

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and went into Mir for the first time were two fold.

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It was a smell, a bit like an oily garage.

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Maybe a little bit of must, because we did have mould on the Mir.

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And then the other impression is clutter.

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As you go through, it's basically like going into the oesophagus

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After about six weeks of being on the station,

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I'd been doing my experiments, I'm very happy, I get up on June 25.

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The commander and the flight engineer had been using radio

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control equipment to fly a cargo ship called Progress that

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weighs about seven tonnes into the Mir station using a TV,

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As I look at the TV screen, I can see the orientation

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is all wrong for a proper docking to take place.

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And Sasha, the flight engineer, says to me...

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And he means, the spacecraft which was joined on to the end

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of the station, which was at that point our lifeboat.

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But I understood because of the emergency in which he said it,

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that he meant go there to save your life.

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And as I float through, I feel the whole space station

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I'm pretty sure this may be my last breath,

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because I'm looking at the thin three millimetre thick

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aluminium walls, just waiting for them to pass.

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aluminium walls, just waiting for them to part.

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Klaxons go off when there is a pressure leak.

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Then I felt my ears popping, which meant in this case,

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the air was leaving the space station and there was a whistling

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After 23 minutes, if we did not think we would start

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Sasha comes to me and doesn't say a word.

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He just starts trying to remove cables

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Sasha looked around for a large hatch that could be put in place. As

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it went on, it sucked in. Because the station had been hit by the

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Progress, we were rolling. The batteries had given out, none of the

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carbon dioxide removal was working, no auction regeneration and no

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communication with Moscow. It was a totally dead station. This is not

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something you see in the movies where it gets solved instantly by

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some brainy chap. It probably took about six hours. We use the

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spacecraft fibre jets to stop the space station tumbling and rolling

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wonderfully, somehow after this, all of sudden the fans started to come

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on and the lights came on. And I said, we'd done it. How ever, the

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next month, the station was inoperable in any normal sense. It

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could just sustain our lives and nothing else. When finally the

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shuttle came in October, I was really, quite happy to see them. As

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we backed away from the Mir station, I looked at it and thought, I don't

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really mind if I don't ever see that again. Michael Foale, safely back on

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Earth. That is it from Witness this month. , Lucy will be here at the

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British library to guide you through another five moments in history. But

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from me, Rebecca Jones and the rest of the Witness team, thanks for

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watching and goodbye. The latest live upstate will take

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you to the rest of the weekend, give you a look at the start of next week

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which is looking unsettled, which means if you want rain on the

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garden, there is

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