Julien Bryan Collection
In this ten minute film, Julien Bryan, the last neutral reporter remaining in Poland on September 1, 1939, records the horror and confusion of Warsaw during the German attack on Poland. Through actual footage taken during the siege, Bryan poignantly describes the frightening chain of events that finally resulted in the capitulation of Warsaw and Poland. During the early stages of the blitzkrieg, civilians were commandeered to dig ditches, set tank traps and shore up fortifications. Then, as the Polish soldiers retreated, Warsaw was surrounded and besieged. German planes, triumphant in the skies, wreaked destruction on the city with aerial and incendiary bombs, while heavy artillery guns kept up an incessant bombardment. Hospitals and churches were ultimately targets and women were machine gunned from planes while digging potatoes for their hungry families.
Released in 1940 by RKO as a newsreel in the Reelism Series, "Siege" is the first non-Nazi film of the start of World War II to be seen in American theaters. It was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Short, one reel) in 1941 and placed on the 2006 National Film Registry by the Librarian of Congress in December 2006.
After an exhaustive search, the USHMM believes that this 35mm print is the best surviving and most complete film element of "Siege." See FIlm and Video departmental files for more information.
This film was preserved with a 2008 National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) cash grant.
Transferred at 24 FPS
Additional photographs are available in the USHMM Photo Archives.
Biography / History:
Julien Hequembourg Bryan (1899-1974) was an American documentarian and filmmaker. In the 1930s, he conducted extensive lecture tours, during which he showed film footage he shot in the former USSR. Between 1935 and 1938, he captured unique records of ordinary people and life in Nazi Germany and in Poland. He was in Warsaw within days of Germany's invasion of Poland in September 1939 and remained throughout the German siege of the city, filming and photographing what would become America's first cinematic glimpse of the start of WWII.
2003.214 The Julien Bryan Collection of films, photographs, documents, and artifacts was purchased by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum from Sam Bryan and the International Film Foundation, Inc. on February 12, 2003.
LUFTWAFFE (GERMAN AIR FORCE)
Narrated by Julien Bryan
Sam Bryan, JB 9977A
35mm b/w safety composite print
35mm; Uncompressed QT; DigiBeta; ProRes 422; Betacam SP; H264; VHS
01:00:00 - 01:09:48
US Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of Julien Bryan Archive