On this day: Public Executions in Poland

Following the Nazi invasion of Poland on the 1st of September, 1939, German occupation of cities across the region was fast.

Bydgoszcz was occupied on the 9th of September, and roundups and public executions of civilians followed immediately.

These images show people – including a priest – soon to be killed, as well as random civilians the moment before they were executed.

On this day: the Reichstag in Ruins

Ruins_of_the_Reichstag_in_Berlin,_3_June_1945__BU8573Ruins of the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany. 3rd June 1945. Second World War Two.

This photograph shows the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany in ruins on the 3rd of June, 1945. While the building was not used for the German Parliament during Nazi rule, it was used for propaganda meetings, and for military purposes during the Second World War.

The building suffered heavy damage from Allied bombings, and was considered a prize for the Red Army because of its symbolic significance.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museum.

On this day: a train to Auschwitz

This photograph, dated the 14th of June, 1940, is of mainly political prisoners, as well as both Catholics and Jews, being loaded onto a train in Tarnów, Poland. They were being sent to the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz I.

The first extermination of prisoners at that camp took place in September of 1941.

First_transport_to_Auschwitz_(Tarnów_-_14th_June_1940) Prisoners from the first transport to KL Auschwitz at the train station in Tarnów. The transport was composed mostly of Polish po

On this day: Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses

The 24th of April, 1933 is considered to be the day Nazi Germany began their persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as it is the date the Bible Student headquarters in Magdeburg were seized by police. This came only a few months after Adolf Hitler came to power.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Below is a Nazi renouncement document.

If Jehovah's Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Nazi renouncement document.

From 1935 onwards, many people who kept their religion were sent to concentration camps.

The persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues today, with Russia outlawing the religion only days ago.

On this day: the death of a Russian fascist leader

Anastase Andreivich Vonsiatsky, Vozhd of the All-Russian Fascist Party

In 1935

Polish-born Russian Anastasy Vonsyatsky, leader of the US-based All-Russian Fascist Organisation, died on the 5th of February, 1966 at the age of sixty-six.

Born in Warsaw and educated in Moscow, Vonsyatsky travelled to the United States in his twenties. There, he founded his fascist party (also known as the Russian National Revolutionary Labor and Workers Peasant Party of Fascists) in Connecticut.

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Party Logo

After the US joined the Second World War at the midway point, he was arrested by the FBI in 1942 for connections to people in an American-based Nazi organisation.

He served a prison sentence until 1946, and then (ironically) lived in St Petersburg, Florida until his death.

On this day: the premiere of an anti-Nazi film

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You Nazty Spy!, the first Hollywood film made with an anti-Nazi sentiment, premiered on the 19th of January, 1940.

Featuring The Three Stooges, it satirised Nazi Germany at a time when Americans had still not entered the Second World War, and the country remained neutral.

Some American politicians, such as Burton Wheeler and Gerald Nye, were offended by the anti-Nazi sentiment in the production, seeing it as war propaganda.

Of course, their attitudes changed completely twenty-three months later, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Nazism in the United States

American Nazis stand in front of a banner of George Washington at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1939. It is believed 22 000 people attended the event.

Prior to Pearl Harbor there was some support for Hitler in the United States, and even movies imported from Britain had anti-Nazi scenes edited out of them before their US release. Germany and Italy, both fascist countries at the time, made strong attempts to set up their own political branches with German and Italian Americans.

Of course, this changed totally when America was drawn into the Second World War halfway through, and anti-German propaganda movies became all the rage.

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