Text Ecerpts From After The Reich
Later they (Russian soldiers) came looking for all stocks of food the Berliners had so carefully amassed. They liberated any alcohol they could lay their hands on. Drunk, they were even less easy to control. Then they amused themselves by setting fire to buildings. Anything they did not steal they destroyed: valuable antiques and musical instruments, elegant clothes and works of art. Flats were requisitioned for the use of officers, the occupants chased away with knives and pistols.
Reason to live? A young Berlin woman with her baby.
A Viennese Jew in British army uniform, George Clare found another Jewess who had survived the war because her Aryan husband had refused to divorce her. He had been the headmaster of a Berlin Gymnasium or grammar school. The Nazis forced him out of his job and he had to work as a commercial traveller. Then the Russians came and he refused to hand over his bicycle, so they shot him.
These old German women are taking it well.
Berliners felt totally cut off from the outside world. There was no transport (all bicycles and cars were liable to requisition) and there was no telephone. Meanwhile the Russians were pulling up one set of railway lines on every track and taking these away with them. Anyone who had illegally retained their wireless set had to reckon with highly irregular power. The effect in the long term was to alter the nature of Berlin, from being the industrial powerhouse that it had been since the nineteenth century to being a city devoid of industry in the late twentieth.
This woman committed suicide. Despair or had she been harassed by the Soviet troops?
Preaching in Dahlem in July the anti-Nazi theologian Otto Dibelius drew attention to the mortality figures for Berlin. In normal times, the daily rate was around 200; in the war it had risen to nearer 250 as a result of the bombing; now the figure was around 1,000, and this in a far smaller city. The famine was becoming acute. People, chiefly men, were falling like flies. The final killing spree and the high mortality rate after the cessation of hostilities meant that there were lots of dead to bury. There was nowhere to put them and no coffins, and the Allies would not help. Families had interred their loved ones in the ruins or laid them out in mortuary chapels. Berliners resorted to using large wooden cupboards or simply wrapping the body in a horse blanket tied up with cord.
Death and despair lay everywhere
Berlin in the spring of 1946. It had been a perishing winter with poor shelter. As it got progressively colder the lack of amenities had begun to pinch. Berliners collected wood from the ruins and bought candles on the black market. They scavenged for coal. Infant mortality stood at 80 to 90 per cent. As there was no glass in the windows, the cold wind came howling through the damaged buildings.
Only old men and young women remained in Berlin
One can but admire the grit and determination of the German people who rose from the ruins and humiliation to build a powerful and prosperous nation again.
Trying to rebuild their lives
1945. People of Berlin suffer.WW2: After Germany lost the war
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. 1945
Berlin, after it fell to the Russians in 1945: WW2
Last days of Nazis in Berlin
When Berlin fell in 1945: Second World War
Berlin in 1945: First hand account: Notes from the diary of Charles Deutmann
The making of the Berlin Wall in 1961
A broken Berlin. 1945. After Germany lost WW2