The Treaty of Versailles, imposed on defeated Germany following 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 became a central feature of Adolf Hitler's foreign policy. This footage shows pro-German forces besieging a Polish garrison in Danzig's main post office. Germany annexed Danzig after the defeat of Poland in September 1939.
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. 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.
Benito Mussolini, leader of the Italian Fascist movement, was prime minister of Italy from 1922 until he was dismissed in July 1943. After the Italian armistice with the Allies in September 1943, German forces occupied northern Italy and installed Mussolini as head of a new pro-German government. In April 1945, as Allied forces advanced into northern Italy, Mussolini attempted to escape to neutral Switzerland. However, Italian partisans caught and executed him before he could reach the border. This footage is a brief survey of Mussolini's rise to power and rule.
As Allied forces approached Germany in late 1944 and early 1945, Bergen-Belsen became a collection camp for tens of thousands of prisoners evacuated from camps near the front. Thousands of these prisoners died due to overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions, and lack of adequate food and shelter. On April 15, 1945, British soldiers entered Bergen-Belsen. They found 60,000 prisoners in the camp, most in a critical condition. This footage shows Allied cameramen filming the condition of the prisoners and the filthy conditions found in Bergen-Belsen after liberation.
In Berlin, Germany, officials from Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan sign the ten-year Tripartite Pact (the Three-Power Agreement), a military alliance. The pact sealed cooperation among the three nations (Axis powers) in waging World War II. This footage comes from "The Nazi Plan," a film produced and used by the United States in the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials.
Exterior of house of study. Book peddler negotiates a sale with a young customer.
In their drive to rid the country of all that they deemed "un-German," the Nazis publically burned books in cities across Germany. Here in front of the Opera House in Berlin, a chanting crowd burns books written by Jews and leftist intellectuals. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda and public information, speaks of the intended "reeducation" of Germany.
British troops liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in April 1945. They filmed statements from members of their own forces. In this British military footage, British army chaplain T.J. Stretch recounts his impressions of the camp.
British Chief Prosecutor Sir Hartley Shawcross makes a final plea to the International Military Tribunal.
In July 1947 in France, 4,500 Jewish refugees from displaced persons camps in Germany boarded the "Exodus 1947" and attempted to sail (without permission to land) to Palestine, which was under British mandate. The British intercepted the ship off the coast and forced it to anchor in Haifa, where British soldiers removed the Jewish refugees. After British authorities failed to force France to accept the refugees, the refugees were returned to DP camps in Germany. The plight of the "Exodus" passengers became a symbol of the struggle for open immigration into Palestine.
Clip from George Stevens' "The Nazi Concentration Camps." This German film footage was compiled as evidence and used by the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials.
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