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Anti-Nazi Resistance in World War II

Europe
Contains mature topics

Even while Hitler controlled most of Europe, courageous resistance fighters fought on. Resistance museums in Amsterdam and Copenhagen tell their story. And in France, the ghost town of Oradour-sur-Glane stands as a memorial to an entire town murdered by the Nazis.

Complete Video Script

As Nazi Germany occupied other countries, all across Europe, people were learning what a fascist society was really like. They realized that freedom was a matter of life or death. Their choices were limited: comply or die, hide or resist.

Peaceful Amsterdam, with its canals and easygoing people, was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1940. For the next five years, life went on, but under the repressive rule of fascist leaders installed by Hitler.

The Dutch Resistance Museum gives a glimpse of life under fascism. Propaganda movie clips tried to make Dutch Nazis look like winners. Many people willingly cooperated with their Nazi overlords, but behind the scenes, some Dutch fought back. Pistols were hidden in books. With this corset, stuffed with ration cards, a woman who looked pregnant helped feed both hidden Jews and resistance fighters. And courageous moms with strollers did their part as well. Printers countered Nazi propaganda with underground newspapers.

All across Europe, from Norway to Greece, there were people who bravely fought Hitler any way they could. At first, there was only rare and symbolic resistance. Like Danes, who got away with wearing red, white and blue pro-Britain caps and Yankee Doodle bow ties.

But eventually, resistance groups rose up and fought the fascists as best they could. Secret homemade radio transmitters connected resistance leadership with democratic governments in exile in London, providing a central intelligence about Nazi forces. Trained operatives parachuted in from Britain to organize a more serious resistance. Train lines were blown up. Resistance ingenuity showed itself in homemade guns and torpedoes. Increasingly, these resistance movements turned to open force with assassinations and street battles with occupying fascist forces. If resistance fighters weren't killed in battle, they faced dire consequences if captured.

As resistance grew in their occupied lands, the Nazis made it clear: if they were hit, they'd hit back much harder. A tragic example of that happened under Nazi rule in France, in the town of Oradour-sur-Glane.

In this small town, deep in the heartland of France, late in World War II, fighters of the local resistance killed a Nazi soldier. To make a point against the French people, the Nazis rounded up everybody in this town, killed them, and then burned their town to the ground. Oradour stands to this day, frozen in time as a memorial to that horrific event and Europe's fascist nightmare. A simple sign at the edge of the ghost village says simply, "Souviens-Toi, Remember."