Footage of everyday life was shot by a Chicago pediatrician touring Europe in 1939.
Children and adults wave and smile, obviously fascinated by the movie camera. A group of three older religious men hide their faces. People go about their business in the Jewish quarter of Warsaw only weeks before the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939.
Two months later 400,000 Jews would be rounded up and imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto, and later deported to Nazi camps where an estimated 300,000 of these were killed by bullet and gas. And additional 92,000 died of hunger and were victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
This color film was taken by Chicago-based pediatrican, Dr. Benjamin Gasul, who was raised in Latvia, and returned to Europe in 1939 to reconnect with his Jewish heritage. More film from Dr. Gasul’s trip to Europe can be seen online at the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive of the United States Holocaust Museum.