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Join us for a trip through June 1940 and June 1950. Get to know the Norwegian whose treachery added his name to the dictionary in at least five European languages. Find out why Mussolini waited until June to join in the war and why that delay helped my Polish grandmother to escape. Join us – and my gran – in Paris when it is declared an ‘open city’ in June 1940.

In June 1940 Japan appeared to have its hands full fighting China, so why did it choose now to add to its enemies in Asia? And why did the US decide in June 1940 to move most of its fleet to Pearl Harbor? The answer to both of these questions lies in Amsterdam as much as Paris.

Also, this month: what made North Korea think it could get away with invading the South in June 1950? The story involves British communist spies and the loose words of an American Secretary of State.

And listen out for the Donald Duck/Alcoholics Anonymous connection…

This episode was first broadcast on 10 June 2015 on Noreen Mir’s 1-2-3 Show, RTHK Radio 3. Click ‘Subscribe’ to receive future podcasts automatically (or see the This Month in History website). Each month, Paul Letters examines events from this month in history. Recorded at Radio Television Hong Kong Studios, Broadcast Drive, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Paul Letters is a historian, journalist, educator and novelist. See paulletters.com for more history, including a daily ‘On-This-Day-75-Years-Ago’ Twitter feed and photographs. Plus the novel that combines: the real history of the Allies’ first strike against Nazi Germany; Paul’s granny’s escape (as a teenager) from 1939 Poland to 1940 Paris to wartime London; the ‘Double-Cross System’, the Special Operations Executive and assassination in Prague (aChanceKill.com).

Podcast cover work by Gill Bertram.