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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.
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The Dachau concentration camp, northwest of Munich, Germany, was the first regular concentration camp the Nazis established in 1933. About twelve years later, on April 29, 1945, US armed forces liberated the camp. There were some 30,000 starving prisoners in the camp at the time. This footage shows an aerial view of the camp and the entrance gate to the prisoner compound.
The Treaty of Versailles, imposed on Germany following its defeat in World War I, declared Danzig to be a free city jointly administered by Poland and the League of Nations. Germany bitterly resented the loss of this largely German city, which was also an important port on the Baltic Sea. The return of Danzig to Germany became a central focus of Adolf Hitler's foreign policy. Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. After the invasion of Poland, Germany unilaterally annexed Danzig. This German newsreel footage shows cheering crowds welcoming German forces into the city.
A pogrom took place in Kielce, Poland, in July 1946. Forty-two Jews were massacred and about 50 more were wounded. The event touched off a mass migration of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Poland and other countries of eastern and central Europe. This clip shows Jewish refugees, survivors of the pogrom, waiting to leave Poland and crossing into Czechoslovakia.
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There were three large forced-labor camps in Hannover, a large industrial city in northern Germany. All three of the camps were part of the Neuengamme concentration camp system. In early April 1945, American forces entered Hannover and freed the surviving prisoners. The American Signal Corps filmed one of the Hannover camps soon after liberation. American forces fed survivors of the camp and required German civilians to help bury the dead.
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An agreement signed at the Munich conference of September 1938 ceded the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. The agreement was reached between Germany, Italy, Britain, and France. Czechoslovakia was not permitted to attend the conference. In March 1939, six months after signing the Munich agreement, Hitler violated the agreement and destroyed the Czech state.
After the defeat of France in June 1940, Germany moved to gain air superiority over Great Britain as a prelude to an invasion of Britain. During almost nightly German air raids (known as "the Blitz") on London, the civilian population of the city sought refuge--as shown in this footage--in air raid shelters and in London's subway system (called the "Underground" or the "Tube"). Despite months of air attacks, Germany was not able to destroy Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF). In the fall of 1940, the invasion was indefinitely postponed. The German bombing campaign against Britain continued until May 1941. The Germans ultimately halted the air attacks primarily because of preparations for the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.
The Junkers (Ju) 87, known as the "Stuka," spearheaded the Blitzkrieg ("lightning war") attacks that were decisive in the western campaign in 1940. Stuka dive-bombers closely supported German forces on the ground. They destroyed enemy strong points, aircraft, and airfields, and spread panic in rear areas. Although slow and easily shot down by Allied fighters, the Stukas proved devastatingly effective in the German invasions of Poland and western Europe, where Germany enjoyed air superiority. Stuka dive-bombers caused terror among Allied ground forces, who came to recognize the telltale shriek of a bomber's dive. This German newsreel footage shows (from both the air and the ground) destruction caused by Stuka attacks during the western campaign in Flanders.
Defendant Albert Speer making his closing statement in the Nuremberg courtroom.
Defendant Albert Speer is sworn in at the International Military Tribunal.
Albert Speer gives testimony at the International Military Tribunal. In 1942 Speer was named Minister of Armaments and Munitions, assuming significant responsibility for the German war economy. In this position, Speer used millions of forced laborers to raise economic production.
Most Allied prisoners of war (POWs) were treated well compared to inmates of concentration camps. But, as former Dutch POW Captain Boullard explains here at Dachau concentration camp, some were subject to severe beatings and forced to work in harsh labor assignments.
The German western campaign in May 1940 decisively defeated the British and French forces arrayed against it. By the end of May, the Allies began the withdrawal of British and French forces from the Continent to prevent their surrender or destruction. The evacuation effort centered on the French coastal town of Dunkirk. As German forces completed their conquest of France, more than 1,000 vessels--including small civilian yachts and fishing boats--ferried Allied forces across the English Channel to Great Britain. While enduring heavy air attacks, this makeshift armada succeeded in rescuing over 200,000 British and 100,000 French troops from the Continent. Britain hailed the evacuation as a victory, despite the decisive German military victory and the French decision to sign an armistice.
German troops entered Austria on March 12, 1938. The annexation of Austria to Germany was proclaimed on March 13, 1938. In this German newsreel footage, Austrians express overwhelming enthusiasm for the Nazi takeover of their country.
In an attempt to prevent the German annexation of Austria, Austrian chancellor Kurt von Schusnigg proposed a plebiscite on Austrian independence. This German newsreel footage shows pro-German residents of Graz expressing their opposition to the plebiscite. On the following day, March 13, 1938, the residents of Graz and other Austrian cities celebrated the resignation of the Austrian government and the proclamation of union with Germany (the Anschluss).
Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Soon thereafter, terror actions against opponents of Nazism began: Jews were a major target in these campaigns. Many Jews were subjected to public humiliation or arrest, and others were forced to quit their posts. Anti-Jewish measures climaxed with the April 1, 1933, boycott of Jewish-owned businesses. This footage depicts a Jewish anti-Nazi march in Chicago.
The American Jewish Congress was among the first groups in the United States to oppose Nazism. It held a mass rally as early as March 1933, soon after Hitler rose to power in Germany, and continued to hold rallies throughout the war years. The American Jewish Congress organized this anti-Nazi march through Lower Manhattan. The event coincided with book burning in Germany.
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