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Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, begining World War II. Quickly overruning 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.
The German western campaign into the Low Countries and France shattered Allied lines. Within six weeks, Britain evacuated its forces from the Continent and France requested an armistice with Germany. Paris, the French capital, fell to the Germans on June 14, 1940. In this footage, triumphant German forces raise the swastika flag over Versailles and over the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Versailles, the traditional residence of French kings, was deeply symbolic for the Germans: it was the site of both the declaration of the German Empire in 1871 and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919. The Treaty of Versailles had imposed humiliating peace terms on Germany after its defeat in World War I. Germany would occupy Paris for the next four years, until 1944.
On the night of November 14-15, 1940, almost 500 German bombers attacked the British industrial city of Coventry in central England. The bombers dropped 150,000 incendiary bombs and more than 500 tons of high explosives. The air raid destroyed much of the city center, including 12 armament factories and the historic Saint Michael's Cathedral. This footage shows scenes from the aftermath of the attack. The bombing of Coventry came to symbolize, to Britain, the ruthlessness of modern air warfare.
While Japanese diplomats in Washington, DC, negotiated with Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Japanese planes bombed the naval base at Pearl Harbor. American outrage at the surprise attack overcame isolationist sentiment and the United States declared war on Japan the following day.
Portion of the speech in which President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the US Congress to declare war on Japan following the previous day's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
World War II began with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 and ended in Allied victory in Europe with the German surrender in May 1945. May 8 was proclaimed VE (Victory in Europe) Day. In this footage, United States president Harry S. Truman proclaims victory in Europe and promises to continue the war in the pacific until the unconditional surrender of Japan.