Turning Point Episodes
The future of young Stalin, Hitler, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Churchill appeared set – then fate brought them to a turning point, sent them down a different path and changed the world forever.
Episode 1 – Josef Stalin
He seemed fated to a life as a priest and a romantic poet. But his life took a turn and he would be the murderous dictator of millions of his own people.
The man who will become known as Josef Stalin is born in poverty in a provincial backwater town in central Georgia. His father is a violent alcoholic. His mother Keke makes big sacrifices to give her son the best education she can. She sees “Soso” (her nickname for him) as a future bishop of the Orthodox Church. With those dreams in mind Keke scrapes together the money, and uses her contacts to get Soso into a church school. But Soso also has a difficult childhood. Serious accidents mar his childhood and he is caught in violent gang life. Soso though is also an excellent student, and in his teenage years at an Orthodox Seminary, is a choirboy heading towards the priesthood with a growing reputation as a romantic poet. But then he reaches a Turning Point courtesy of a Karl Marx and a zealous priest nicknamed Black Spot. He will later change his name and become Josef Stalin, dictator of Russia.
Episode 2 – Winston Churchill
The British Lion who owes it all to tabloid journalism – his own!
Winston is born in 1874 in Blenheim Palace. The heir to a rich and famous family seems destined for a golden childhood and a glittering career. In fact, young Winston’s life is an emotional, educational and career disaster. His parents are distant and aloof. Young Winston is bottom of the class in every school he attends and constantly in trouble. In a further disappointment to his father he fails to make the grade in the infantry and joins the lesser option, the cavalry. His disappointed father dies at a young age. Desperate to follow his late father into politics, young Winston runs for a seat in Parliament – and loses. That “glittering career” is an apparent non-starter as Winston sails for South Africa to report on the Boer War as a newspaper correspondent. But he is promptly captured by the Boers and sent to a POW camp. But this low point in the young man’s life proves to be the Turning Point. Churchill makes a daring escape, writes a dashing and vivid account of it – and becomes world famous. His political career is resurrected from the ashes…
Episode 3 – Kaiser Wilhelm II
He suffered a physically and psychologically traumatic childhood. But his parents hoped he would be the peacemaker to unite all Europe. Instead he would lead Germany into WW1
Wilhelm’s birth, on 24th January 1859, is acclaimed throughout Europe and the world as a harbinger of peace, prosperity and progress. But the problems start right at Day One: Wilhelm is a breech baby and a forceps operation permanently damages the infant’s arm and neck. The physical results of this traumatic birth are disastrous. The emotional consequences also start immediately. Wilhelm’s mother, the English- born Princess Vicky experiences a revulsion against her damaged firstborn from which she never really recovers and leads to a tormented love-hate relationship between mother and child. Every barbarity that a primitive and ignorant medical profession can contrive is inflicted on the growing boy. He is prescribed “animal baths”: twice a week his left arm is inserted into the body of a freshly slaughtered hare for half an hour, the idea being that the “warmth and vigor of the wild animal” will be transferred to the arm. When, at the age of four, his head starts to tilt, an iron “head- stretching machine” is clamped to his body. Wilhelm is trapped in this grotesque instrument day and night. The psychological damage is immense. His parents groom their son to be the peaceful uniter of all Europe and a supporter of the British Empire. But Wilhelm’s complex relationship with his mother leads to his rejection of everything they value. Time spent at a Prussian officer training academy is the final turning point for Wilhelm. When he takes the German throne its war not peace in Europe that Kaiser Wilhelm II has in mind.
Episode 4 – Adolf Hitler
Beware crushing the hopes and dreams of a young, aspiring artist. What happened for Adolf Hitler to embrace a far darker vision and lead the world into war?
It could all have turned out so differently. Yes, Hitler’s childhood and youth is troubled, even bizarre. His paternal ancestry is obscure, involving illegitimacy and hereditary mental illnesses. His father, a retired Customs official, is a brute and beats him regularly. And his beloved mother dies painfully of cancer when he is only eighteen. And yet … when the young Adolf leaves his Austrian hometown of Linz for Vienna, with money in the bank and a gentleman’s wardrobe in his suitcase, his dream is to become a great artist. He submits his portfolio to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts – and is rejected. His money runs out. His dreams have been dashed. He ends up in a shelter for homeless men. WWI will become his turning point. As a soldier he fervently believes in a German victory. Hitler is lying blinded in a hospital when Germany does surrender, and he feels betrayed by the politicians. His mind is now wide open to, and embraces virulent racist anti-Semitic ideas. And this is when Adolf Hitler finds his voice, and people who believe in what he has to say…