Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cernăuţi in August 1939

In the late summer of 1939 a film crew arrived to Czernowitz to shoot a newsreel. Earlier that year Czernowitz became the first Romanian city to launch a trolleybus line, and filmmakers were eager to show closely this  new mode of public transportation. That's why we can see all four of the brand new trolleys, with their interiors, and automatic doors, and poles, and wires...  But we also see the life of the city: sellers and buyers in the crowded markets, pedestrian promenade, newspaper peddler, teenager buying flowers for his girlfriend, young mothers pushing strollers in a park. Everything seems to be as carefree as it can be. We know now that the very moment this film was taken, Molotov and Ribbentrop were busy drawing new borders and redividing Europe. In just a few days German army will invade Poland. In two years many of the people we see on the screen will end up in a ghetto in the city or in Transnistria. Including, perhaps, that couple of 16-year-olds with the flowers...

The film is a part of the exhibit "Between powerlessness and irresponsibility" prepared by the Romanian National Archives. It can be watched at

Below are several frames from the newsreel:


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