37 Days

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  • This nail-biting political thriller tracks the 37 days leading up to Britain’s WWI declaration of war on Germany.

    This three-part political thriller follows the catastrophic chain of events leading up to World War I from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914 to Britain’s declaration of war on Germany 37 days later. This tense and gripping mini-series set amongst the corridors of power in Whitehall and Berlin tracks the unfolding crisis through the eyes of leading politicians and civil servants struggling to prevent the world’s first global war. 37 Days unlocks the mystery of the war’s origins, overturning assumptions about its inevitability, demonstrating that World War One was neither a chance happening nor was it a foregone conclusion.. One Month in Summer
    Young Foreign Office clerk Alec recounts his delivering a telegram to his German-born boss, assistant under secretary Eyre Crowe, informing that the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife have been murdered in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Black Hand gang who resent Austrian influence in Serbia. In Berlin another young civil servant Jens takes up the story, reflecting on the German Kaiser Wilhelm's friendship with the dead man. Wilhelm hates the Serbians and sees the slaying as an act of aggression by the nation. He sends ambassador Lichnowsky to London to sound out Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey as to what would happen if Britain and Russia championed their ally Serba but Grey is more concerned with problems over Ireland and, of his cabinet, only Winston Churchill foresees any great danger looming. Grey wants to instigate peace talks among the nations involved but in Berlin Wilhelm and his chief of staff Von Moltke are bent on revenge. Europe is now only thirteen days away from war.

    One Week in July
    The Foreign Office is perturbed to learn that Austria wants war in the Balkans with an impossible ultimatum backed by Germany. Grey summons the Austrian ambassador to no avail and his peace proposal to the reasonable Lichnowsky is not immediately acceptable to the unstable Kaiser, particularly when he learns that the Russian army is mobilizing on its Austro-Hungarian border. Grey still holds out for mediation, appealing to Paul Cambon, ambassador to France, Russia's ally, not to let his country be goaded into war but Churchill surmises that Germany is trying to manipulate the French, playing on losses in the Franco- Prussian War forty years earlier. The British cabinet is split over the best course of action though Grey still desires Anglo-French neutrality in any conflict between Germany and Russia. He sends his peace plan to Germany and it appears to be successful but in reality Europe is only four days away from war.

    One Long Weekend
    Learning that Grey had advised Germany of French neutrality without the knowledge of France George V informs Wilhelm that there has been a 'misunderstanding', a statement that fuels the German belief in British duplicity. Hatred of socialism also makes war seem attractive and, to Jens' horror, the parliament vote for war credits. In England at another contentious cabinet meeting Grey and Asquith point out Britain's duty to upholding the Entente Cordiale supporting France in the likelihood of invasion, after which French ambassador Cambon requests a British military presence to intimidate Germany. With the news that the Germans have violated the neutrality of Belgium by using it as a corridor to attach France the British government, following an impassioned speech by Lloyd George, sees itself as having no option but to declare war on Germany. In a coda Alec and Jens, both in battle-dress, recount the terrible cost of the conflict.

    . Starring Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars), Tim Piggott-Smith (MI-5, Quantum of Solace), Sinead Cusack (V for Vendetta, Eastern Promises), Ludger Pistor (Inglorious Bastards, Casino Royale)