US forces liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 11, 1945. This footage records examples of Nazi atrocities (shrunken head, pieces of tattooed human skin, preserved skull and organs) discovered by the liberating troops.
Hitler congratulates industrialist Gustav Krupp after presenting him with a Nazi party honor. After the ceremony, they toured a Krupp factory. This footage comes from the film "The Nazi Plan," produced and used by the United States in the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials.
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.
This German newsreel footage shows Vidkun Quisling, leader of the fascist Norwegian Nasjonal Samling party, reviewing his troops. Quisling headed a pro-Nazi puppet regime in Norway during the war.
Hermann Göring recites the preamble to the Nuremberg Laws at the seventh Nazi Party Congress. The laws would define German citizenship by blood and forbade marriages between Germans and Jews. A special session of the Reichstag (German parliament) enacted the laws, marking an intensification of Nazi measures against Jews.
Hermann Göring was head of the German air force. He was one of 22 major war criminals tried by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Here, Göring testifies about his order of July 31, 1941, authorizing Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Security Main Office, to plan a so-called "solution to the Jewish question in Europe." The Tribunal found Göring guilty on all counts and sentenced him to death. Göring committed suicide shortly before his execution was to take place.
The 1936 Summer Olympic Games were held in Berlin. For two weeks, Adolf Hitler camouflaged his antisemitic and expansionist agenda while hosting the games. Hoping to impress the many foreign visitors who were in Germany for the games, Hitler authorized a brief relaxation in anti-Jewish activities (including the removal of signs barring Jews from public places). The games were a resounding propaganda success for the Nazis. They presented foreign spectators with the image of a peaceful and tolerant Germany. The 1936 Games also saw the introduction of the Olympic torch relay, in which a lighted torch is carried from Olympia to the site hosting the Olympic Games. This footage shows the inauguration of this new ritual, as a torch bearer brings the Olympic torch to the stadium. Hundreds of athletes in opening day regalia marched into the stadium, team by team in alphabetical order. Adolf Hitler presided over the opening of the games.
In 1933, Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and quickly turned the nation's fragile democracy into a one-party dictatorship. Police rounded up thousands of political opponents, detaining them without trial in concentration camps. The Nazi regime also put into practice racial policies that aimed to "purify" and strengthen the Germanic "Aryan" population. A relentless campaign began to exclude Germany's one-half million Jews from all aspects of German life. For two weeks in August 1936, Adolf Hitler camouflaged his antisemitic and expansionist agenda while Berlin hosted the Summer Olympic Games. Hoping to impress the many foreign visitors who were in Germany for the games, Hitler authorized a brief relaxation in anti-Jewish activities (including even the removal of signs barring Jews from public places). The games were a resounding propaganda success for the Nazis. They presented foreign spectators with the image of a peaceful and tolerant Germany. Here, Hitler formally opens the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. Inaugurating a new Olympic ritual, a lone runner arrived bearing a torch carried by relay from the site of the ancient Games in Olympia, Greece.
The Storm Troopers (SA) established the Oranienburg camp near Berlin in March 1933. The first prisoners were German political prisoners, primarily Communists and Social Democrats. Oranienburg became known for the maltreatment of inmates. Here, the Nazis attempt to undermine the charges of brutality by showing the "normal" prisoner routine. Oranienburg was gradually deactivated, closing by 1935. Most of the other early camps were also closed, to be replaced with larger camps run by the SS.
The Soviet Union occupied Lvov in September 1939, according to secret provisions of the German-Soviet Pact. Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, occupying Lvov within a week. The Germans claimed that the city's Jewish population had supported the Soviets. Ukrainian mobs went on a rampage against Jews. They stripped and beat Jewish women and men in the streets of Lvov. Ukrainian partisans supported by German authorities killed about 4,000 Jews in Lvov during this pogrom. US forces discovered this 8mm footage in SS barracks in Augsberg, Germany, after the war.
After the sudden death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in April 1945, Vice President Harry S. Truman became president of the United States. Here, President Truman meets with the heads of state of the Soviet Union and Great Britain (Joseph Stalin, Winston S. Churchill, and later Clement Attlee) in Potsdam, near Berlin, to discuss the future of defeated Germany. The leaders agreed to the partition of Germany and Berlin, Germany's capital city, into four zones of occupation: British, French, American, and Soviet. They also demanded the unconditional surrender of Japan, the only Axis power remaining at war.
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.
In July 1947, 4,500 Jewish refugees left displaced persons camps in Germany and boarded the "Exodus 1947" in France. They attempted to sail to Palestine without, however, having British permission to land. The British intercepted the ship and forcibly returned the refugees to Germany. This footage shows a protest in the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp in the British occupation zone of Germany. The protesters denounced British treatment of the "Exodus 1947" passengers. The plight of the "Exodus" passengers became a symbol of the struggle for unrestricted Jewish immigration to Palestine.
The film "Nazi Concentration Camps" was presented in the courtroom on November 29, 1945, and entered as evidence in the trial. It was filmed as Allied troops liberated the concentration camps. This clip shows the reactions of defendants and others in the courtroom following the screening of the film.
In July 1947, 4,500 Jewish refugees left displaced persons camps in Germany and boarded the "Exodus 1947" in France. They attempted to sail to Palestine although they did not have permission from British authorities to land. The British intercepted the ship and forcibly returned the Jewish refugees to Germany. Here, Jews from the "Exodus 1947" are confined in Poppendorf, Germany. The plight of the "Exodus" passengers became a symbol of the struggle for open Jewish emigration to Palestine.
This footage shows the Reichstag (German parliament) building on the day after it was set on fire. While the origins of the fire on February 27 are still unclear, Hitler blamed Communists for the incident. The Reichstag Fire Decree of February 28, 1933, suspended constitutional guarantees. Communist and Socialist deputies were expelled from the parliament. Shortly after the decree was issued, the Nazis established concentration camps for the internment of political opponents.
On the night of February 27, 1933, an unemployed Dutch construction worker named Marinus van der Lubbe set fire to the Reichstag (German parliament) building, causing serious damage. The Nazis blamed the Communists for the fire and claimed emergency powers to crush all opposition. Bolstering Nazi claims, the police also arrested three Bulgarian members of the Communist International, who were in Germany at the time, and a leading German Communist. Despite Nazi claims, however, responsibility for the fire is unclear. The German Supreme Court found only van der Lubbe guilty. The Court acquitted the other defendants because there was insufficient evidence of their involvement. This footage shows scenes during the trial and some of the damage to the Reichstag building in Berlin.
German forces launched Operation "Barbarossa," the invasion of the Soviet Union, on June 22, 1941. The German army made rapid initial progress in the campaign into Soviet territory. In this German military footage, German soldiers separate women and children from men in a Soviet village.
Provisions of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany (defeated in World War I) to station armed forces in a demilitarized zone in the Rhineland—a region in western Germany bordering France, Belgium, and part of the Netherlands. The treaty stipulated that Allied forces—including US troops—would occupy the region. In a blatant violation of the treaty, on March 7, 1936, Hitler ordered German troops to reoccupy the zone. Hitler gambled that the western powers would not intervene. His action brought condemnation from Great Britain and France, but neither nation intervened to enforce the treaty. This footage shows German forces entering the Rhineland.
About a million Roma (Gypsies) lived in Europe before World War II. The largest Romani community—of about 300,000—was in Romania. This film shows a Romani (Gypsy) community in Moreni, a small town northwest of Bucharest. Many Roma led a nomadic lifestyle and often worked as small traders, craftsmen, merchants, laborers, and muscians.
Germany and its Axis allies invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941. The Germans probably shot this film after they occupied southern Slovenia following the Italian armistice in 1943. The film was found in the Ustasa (Croatian fascist) archives after World War II and shows the dismal living conditions that Roma (Gypsies) endured in occupied northern Yugoslavia.
This film excerpt from Groß-Stadt Zigeuner (1932) by filmmaker László Moholy-Nagy shows a Romani (Gypsy) campsite near Berlin, Germany, in the last year of the Weimar Republic. Although Roma (Gypsies) had faced persecution in Germany even before the Nazi rise to power in 1933, the Nazis regarded them as racial enemies to be identified and killed. Tens of thousands of Roma were killed by the Einsatzgruppen in eastern Europe or were deported to killing centers in occupied Poland.
Eva Justin was an assistant to Dr. Robert Ritter, the Third Reich's "expert" on Roma (Gypsies). She studied these Romani (Gypsy) children as part of her dissertation on the racial characteristics of Roma. The children stayed at St. Josefspflege, a Catholic children's home in Mulfingen, Germany. Justin completed her study shortly after this film was taken. The children were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where most were killed.
Although constrained by powerful isolationist sentiment in the United States, President Roosevelt was determined to help democratic Great Britain continue the war against Nazi Germany. Even as he promised to keep the United States neutral in the European war, Roosevelt ordered the expansion of military construction and pledged--as shown in this footage--that the United States would serve as the "great arsenal of democracy." In March 1941, Congress approved Lend-Lease aid for Britain. Britain ultimately received over 31 billion dollars in military aid from the United states. The United States finally entered World War II after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Habor on December 7, 1941.
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