Remarkable Footage of Jewish Life in Europe Just Weeks Before WWII

by Phil Schneider

The Jewish world of Europe numbered nearly 10 million people on the eve of World War II. It is hard to believe today, but Poland was one of the best places for Jews to live for many centuries, despite the occasional anti-semitic outbreak. It all changed when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939.

But there were Jews in other countries too. Austria, Rumania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and even Germany, all had sizeable Jewish populations. Life was good for so many of these people for so many generations. But the uniqueness of this video is that it affords so much more than a glimpse of what life was like in Europe.

The 9.5 mm films, sometimes even in color, are way beyond eye-opening. It puts on a face to the overwhelming idea of 6 million Jews being killed by the German people and their collaborators. It is so easy to forget how much life was snuffed out when the German war machine destroyed everything.

The Spielberg archive is a truly a treasure. This footage is amazing to see. It is also heartbreaking though because you can see how vibrant Jewish life was before Hitler and the German people destroyed it. But Hitler did not succeed in destroying the Jewish people, and we will continue to grow and thrive.

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