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Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, beginning World War II. Quickly overrunning Polish border defenses, German forces advanced towards Warsaw, the Polish capital city. This footage from German newsreels shows German forces in action during the invasion of Poland. Warsaw surrendered on September 28, 1939.
German troops reached parts of Warsaw on September 8 and 9, 1939. During the German siege of Warsaw, the city sustained heavy damage from air attacks and artillery shelling. Warsaw surrendered on September 28. Here, German troops occupy Warsaw. This footage comes from "Tale of a City," a film made by a Polish underground film unit.
A bridge connected areas of the Warsaw ghetto to prevent Jews from entering the streets that were not part of the ghetto. Before the ghetto was sealed, the few entrances and exits had checkpoints. In the early months of the ghetto, life had the appearance of normalcy, but very soon the lack of food and adequate housing began to take its toll.
After the Germans established the Warsaw ghetto in October 1940, conditions deteriorated rapidly. The Germans strictly controlled the movement of goods into and out of the ghetto. There was not enough food to feed the ghetto residents. At great personal risk, many Jews attempted to smuggle in food. The German food ration for Warsaw ghetto inhabitants amounted to less than 10 percent of the ration for a German citizen. Thousands of Jew died in Warsaw each month because of starvation or disease.
The Nazis sealed the Warsaw ghetto in mid-November 1940. German-induced overcrowding and food shortages led to an extremely high mortality rate in the ghetto. Almost 30 percent of the population of Warsaw was packed into 2.4 percent of the city's area. The Germans set a food ration for Jews at just 181 calories a day. By August 1941, more than 5,000 people a month succumbed to starvation and disease.
After the Germans established the Warsaw ghetto in 1940, the Jewish council in Warsaw became responsible for the full range of city services inside the ghetto area. In this German footage, prisoners from the ghetto's "Jewish prison" run into the courtyard and walk in circles during inspection.
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German forces entered Warsaw in September 1939. The next month, they ordered the establishment of a Jewish council (Judenrat) in the city. They chose Adam Czerniakow, a member of Warsaw's old Jewish Community Council, to lead it. Here, for German newsreels, a German propaganda company stages a meeting between Czerniakow and petitioners from the ghetto. The Germans expected Czerniakow to implement German orders, including demands for forced labor and confiscations of Jewish-owned property. Czerniakow himself sought to ease the brutality of German measures, establishing food kitchens, workshops, and vocational schools. He constantly pleaded for better conditions. He committed suicide in July 1942 rather than comply with German demands that he help in the roundup of Jews destined for deportation.
Beginning in 1941, the Germans deported Jews in Germany to the occupied eastern territories. At first, they deported thousands of Jews to ghettos in Poland and the Baltic states. Those deported would share the fate of local Jews. Later, many deportation transports from Germany went directly to the killing centers in occupied Poland. In this footage, a German propaganda unit films recent arrivals from Magdeburg, Germany, in a collection center run by the Jewish council in the Warsaw ghetto. In July 1942, the Nazis began mass deportations of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the nearby Treblinka killing center.
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