Germany invaded Norway on April 9, 1940, simultaneously attacking Norway's coastal cities from Narvik in the far north to Oslo in the south. Narvik was the scene of fierce battles between German forces and the Allies, who landed troops by sea in support of the Norwegians. Narvik changed hands several times. However, British, French, and Polish forces were finally withdrawn in June 1940 due to the success of the German campaign in western Europe. German victory in Norway secured access to the North Atlantic for the German navy, especially the submarine fleet, and safeguarded transports of Swedish iron ore for Germany's war industry. Narvik was the only all-weather outlet for Swedish iron ore.
France signed an armistice with Germany on June 22, 1940, recognizing the right of German authorities to oversee the French administration. Further, German military authorities held jurisdiction over matters of internal security. In this footage, a German military court in Paris tries French citizens charged with resisting measures of the military occupation. Despite harsh military justice, the Germans could not quell opposition in France, and resistance activities would reach a peak during the Allied invasion of France in June 1944.
Germany launched its western offensive on May 10, 1940. German paratroopers landed in the Netherlands on the first day of the German attack on that country. They seized key bridges and fortifications, compromising Dutch defensive positions. This footage shows the German air force (Luftwaffe) dropping paratroopers near Rotterdam. Within days, the Netherlands was defeated. The country surrendered to Germany on May 14. The Dutch government and Queen Wilhelmina fled to exile in Great Britain.
Denmark signed a nonaggression pact with Germany in 1939, hoping to maintain neutrality as it had in World War I. Germany, however, broke the agreement on April 9, 1940, when it occupied Denmark. King Christian X remained on the throne, and the Danish police and government reluctantly accepted the German occupation. This footage shows the German presence in the occupied Danish capital, Copenhagen. In 1943, as German policies towards Denmark toughened, the Danes would form one of the most active and successful resistance campaigns against the German occupation.
Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The Blitzkrieg ("lightning war") campaign in Poland was short and decisive. Warsaw, the capital of Poland, surrendered on September 27. In early October, Adolf Hitler visited Warsaw to review his forces. This footage shows victorious German army units parading before Hitler in the streets of the devastated city.
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.
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.
Adolf Hitler's foreign policy aimed at establishing a European empire for Germany through war. This policy required the rapid expansion of Germany's military capabilities. The Geneva Disarmament Conference, beginning in 1932, sought to avoid another European war by negotiating a reduction in armaments. Hitler repudiated this effort by withdrawing Germany from the conference in October 1933. At the same time, he rejected collective security in international affairs by withdrawing from the League of Nations. Instead, Nazi Germany embarked on a vast military construction program.
This footage shows Joseph Goebbels, Nazi minister for propaganda and public education, speaking at the September 1935 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg. In the speech, Goebbels--a fanatic antisemite--linked Bolshevism with international Jewry and warned Nazi party members of an alleged international Jewish conspiracy to destroy western civilization. Goebbels led the purge of Jewish and other so-called "un-German" influences from the cultural institutions of Nazi Germany.
In this German propaganda newsreel, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, an Arab nationalist and prominent Muslim religious leader, meets Hitler for the first time. During the meeting, held in in the Reich chancellery, Hitler declined to grant al-Husayni’s request for a public statement--or a secret but formal treaty--in which Germany would: 1) pledge not to occupy Arab land, 2) recognize Arab striving for independence, and 3) support the “removal” of the proposed Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Führer confirmed that the “struggle against a Jewish homeland in Palestine” would be part of the struggle against the Jews. Hitler stated that: he would “continue the struggle until the complete destruction of Jewish-Communist European empire”; and when the German army was in proximity to the Arab world, Germany would issue “an assurance to the Arab world” that “the hour of liberation was at hand.” It would then be al-Husayni’s “responsibility to unleash the Arab action that he has secretly prepared.” The Führer stated that Germany would not intervene in internal Arab matters and that the only German “goal at that time would be the annihilation of Jewry living in Arab space under the protection of British power.”
This film clip shows the use of headphones at the International Military Tribunal. English, French, Russian, and German were the official languages of the Nuremberg trials. Translators provided simultaneous translations of the proceedings. Each participant in the trial had a set of headphones.
Nazi supporters parade at a campaign rally in Waldenburg, Germany. In a speech, Hitler attacks the Weimar Republic and pledges to dissolve the parliamentary system soon after he gains power.
Hitler speaks before the Reichstag (German parliament). Amid rising international tensions, he tells the German public and the world that the outbreak of war would mean the end of European Jewry.
In this German newsreel footage, Hitler addresses members of the SA and the SS in the Sportpalast, a sports arena in Berlin, Germany. He thanks them for their support and sacrifice during the Nazi struggle for power.
One day after France signed an armistice with Germany in June 1940, Adolf Hitler celebrated the German victory over France with a tour of Paris. Here, Hitler's train arrives in Paris. Hitler's tour included the Paris opera, the Champs-Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. After visiting Napoleon's tomb and the Sacre Coeur, Hitler left Paris. In all, Hitler spent about three hours in the city. In July, Hitler returned in triumph to Berlin, Germany.
The German army (Wehrmacht) regarded the war in the east as a crusade against communism and not subject to the "normal rules" of war. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Soviet soldiers followed a "scorched earth" policy to hinder the German advance. In this German newsreel footage, German soldiers approach a burning village, one of many destroyed during the invasion of the Soviet Union.
Marshal Ion Antonescu was ruler of Romania from 1940 to 1944. Following the defeat of German forces at Stalingrad, Hitler suspected that some of the countries allied with Germany intended to negotiate a separate peace. In this German newsreel footage, Antonescu meets with Hitler in Berchtesgaden, Germany, primarily to reassure Hitler that Romania remained committed to the German war effort. In the year following this meeting, King Michael of Romania arrested Antonescu and signed an armistice with the Soviet Union in August 1944.
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.
World War II in the Pacific theater ended with the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945. The surrender was signed in Tokyo Bay aboard the American battleship USS "Missouri." Foreign Minister Shigemitsu headed the Japanese delegation. General Douglas MacArthur accepted the surrender on behalf of the Allies. Admiral Nimitz signed for the US and Admiral Fraser for Britain. Representatives of all the Allied nations attended the signing.
In the 1930s, famous Tennessee jazz musician Valaida Snow was known as “Little Louis” because her talent with a trumpet rivaled the legendary Louis Armstrong. She performed around the world, but it was a tour of Europe that would haunt her for the rest of her life.
While in German-occupied Denmark, Snow is said to have been arrested and imprisoned in Copenhagen. It is still unclear why she was arrested or what was done to her while she was held, but after her release in a May 1942 prisoner exchange, Snow never recovered emotionally. She continued to perform in the United States, but never regained her former success. She died in 1956 at the age of 51.
Soldiers of the Jewish Brigade, British Eighth Army, in the Faenza area of Italy. The Jewish Brigade took part in the final stages of the Allied offensive in Italy.
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.
The ship "Henrietta Szold," carrying more than 500 Jewish illegal immigrants from Greece to Palestine, arrived in Haifa on August 14, 1946. British authorities immediately interned the immigrants and deported them to British internment camps on the island of Cyprus.
The postwar movement of about 250,000 mainly eastern European Jewish survivors to displaced persons camps and to the West, with the goal of reaching Palestine, was known as the "Brihah" ("flight"). Here, Jewish refugees cross illegally into Italy, probably to charter a ship to sail to Palestine. The British restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine and deported "illegal" immigrants to detention camps in Cyprus.
After the Munich agreement and the Czech surrender of the Sudetenland to Germany, German authorities expelled these Jewish residents of Pohorelice from the Sudetenland to Czechoslovakia. The Czech government, fearing a flood of refugees, refused to admit them. The Jewish refugees were then forced to camp in the no-man's-land between Bruno and Bratislava on the Czech frontier with Germany.
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