Watch Footage of the Allies Rolling Through a Defeated German Town in April, 1945: Restored & Colorized with AI

Ear­ly April, 1945. The Sovi­ets are clos­ing in on Ger­many, lib­er­at­ing War­saw, Krakow, and Budapest. Amer­i­can troops have crossed the Rhine. Adolf Hitler won’t live to see May. World War II is com­ing to an end. This footage, tak­en from film by Amer­i­can troops in and around Nord­hausen, Ger­many, shows the wreck­age of a defeat­ed nation. Enhanced by AI into 60fps, with col­or and atmos­pher­ic sound added, it’s anoth­er of YouTube’s increas­ing library of old footage that looks like it was shot yes­ter­day. (Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the video has changed the film’s ratio, widen­ing all the humans in it.)

The orig­i­nal film—you can watch it here at the Unit­ed States Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Muse­um—has an inter­est­ing his­to­ry itself. Shot by a mem­ber of the US Army Sig­nal Corps, the film was kept in the Nation­al Archives and Records Admin­is­tra­tion until being unearthed by Dou­glas Hack­ney while research­ing his grand­fa­ther who served in the war. (Appar­ent­ly he is seen in one of the oth­er films in the orig­i­nal col­lec­tion.) The dig­i­ti­za­tion was then gift­ed to the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Muse­um.

The 60fps ver­sion is assem­bled from sev­er­al reels. We see fight­ing in a for­est out­side Nord­hausen, then a gath­er­ing of cap­tured Nazi sol­diers, then troops cel­e­brat­ing with freed pris­on­ers with some shots of liquor, a bit of morn­ing down­time, and the effects of allied bomb­ing.

Nord­hausen was the sight of the Dora-Mit­tel­bau con­cen­tra­tion camp, built in August of 1943 so Nazis could use its pris­on­ers as slave labor, dig­ging tun­nels into the near­by hill­side for Ger­man fac­to­ries relat­ed to the V‑2 rock­et pro­gram.

Accord­ing to the Holo­caust his­to­ry web­site,

On April 11th, the 104th Infantry Divi­sion entered the Dora camp and the 3rd Armored Divi­sion entered the Boel­cke-Kaserne sub­camp. Although mem­bers of the VII Corps had been fore­warned there was a prison camp, they cer­tain­ly could not have expect­ed the inhu­mane atroc­i­ties they were about to wit­ness. The dead and near-dead were every­where, piled upon one anoth­er, and imme­di­ate med­ical atten­tion was giv­en to the few sur­vivors. There were 3000 corpses and 750 ema­ci­at­ed sur­vivors that were aban­doned by the SS.

Of the 60,000 pris­on­ers to enter the Dora-Mit­tel­bau camps, it is esti­mat­ed that 13,000–18,000 died in the camp. Com­mon caus­es of death includ­ed tuber­cu­lo­sis, pneu­mo­nia, star­va­tion, dysen­tery, and trau­ma.

One can hope these 60fps enhanced videos con­tin­ue to be uploaded to YouTube. Per­son­al­ly, the col­oriza­tion adds lit­tle, but as a win­dow into time real­ly not that long ago (and with neo-Nazis still kick­ing around) we need reminders of where it can all lead with­out our vig­i­lance.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Real D‑Day Land­ing Footage, Enhanced & Col­orized with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (June 6, 1944)

Dra­mat­ic Footage of San Fran­cis­co Right Before & After the Mas­sive­ly Dev­as­tat­ing Earth­quake of 1906

Watch the Only Known Footage of Anne Frank

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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Comments (3)
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  • Adam says:

    For any­one inter­est­ed, hdarchives on youtube is an excel­lent chan­nel I’ve stum­bled across for dig­i­tized WW2 West­ern Front footage. Almost all B&W and of vary­ing qual­i­ty, but some rather remark­able action and post-action footage can be seen.

  • José Roberto Almeida says:

    It is a very footage. It needs only some expli­ca­tions, like, the mean­ing of the let­ter P in the women dress­es. And a map of Ger­many show­ing where the small town is .

  • Douglas P Walmer says:

    Excel­lent com­pi­la­tion, very well done. Hope­ful­ly not indica­tive of times to come!

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