1945. People of Berlin suffer.WW2: After Germany lost

There was no shortage of bones in Berlin on 2 May 1945 when General Weidling signed the ceasefire in that city. The Russians had finished the business a day late: they had hoped to have defeated the Germans by – if not on – May Day;1 but still, the enemy was soundly thrashed. Of the 150,000 homes in the centre of the city, only 18,000 were undamaged, and 32,000 were completely destroyed. After Goebbels had incited Berliners to fight to the last, his deputy Fritzsche told them to stop: 134,000 soldiers laid down their arms.
Text Ecerpts From After The Reich 
Berliners hurry past the Nazi eagle. That is what had remained of Hitler's dream.

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.

In a frightful twist in the gallows humour of the time, Berlin children used to play the ‘Frau komm mit!’ game, with the boys taking the part of the soldiers and the girls their victims. In normal times the children had mimicked ‘Zurücktreten, Zug f ährt ab!’ (Stand back! The train is leaving!), a line they heard every time they took the U- or S-Bahn, Berlin’s metro system. During the war it had been ‘Achtung! Achtung! Schwacher Kampfverband über Perleberg in Richtung auf die Reichshauptstadt’ (Warning! Warning! A light enemy squadron is over Perleberg, flying in the direction of the Imperial Capital).

The Russians were ‘horribly normal’ and the Woman could think of no instance of ‘Man come!’ There was a lesbian living in her block who dressed as a man, and who was never molested. Men didn’t help much. In some instances they told the women to go quietly so as not to put their own lives in jeopardy. Some gallantly but bootlessly tried to come between the rapists and their women, like an Aryan man who had protected his Jewish wife throughout the war, and who bled to death while his wife was raped.
Men receive a bad press in contemporary accounts, but it must have been an emasculating experience for a man to see or hear his loved one violently raped and be unable to stop it. One man, who had witnessed his wife laughing and drinking and sleeping with the Russians, killed her before shooting himself. Others tortured themselves with reproaches about their passivity at the crucial time. The women complained that their men spurned them after the experience, but conversely many women became frigid after being raped and rejected their husbands and lovers. The fact that the victims discussed their experiences with other women within their husbands’ earshot cannot have made it easier.

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.
Food was an obsession for all Berliners. Ruth Friedrich and her friends had been thrown out of the billet where they had spent the last weeks of the war. They moved into a deserted house hoping to find food. Onions was chaos 110 all there was. Later they located a cache of sherbet powder, sweet chews and stock cubes. Their Mongol friend was not impressed when he came to call. With Russian help, however, they killed a cow. As they hacked the beast into manageable pieces they were astonished to see people creep out of holes in the ground with buckets in their hands and beg for a slice of bloody meat. ‘Give me the liver . . . Give me the tongue!’ they cried.
It could only get worse. Shortage of milk drove mothers in Neukölln to the local Russian command, or Kommandatura. They said their children would die without milk. The Soviets replied that it made no difference if they died now or in a year’s time.
By mid-June the prices of food on the ‘free’ market were astronomical: strawberries (then in season) were 7.50 Reichsmarks a pound; a kohlrabi, 50 Pfennigs, but you had to queue for four hours to get one and the chances were that the shop would be sold out. On the black market a pound of meat fetched 100 Reichsmarks, and by July the price of a kilo tin of dripping had risen to RM500. Watches and jewellery could be exchanged for food from the Russians in the Keithstrasse.

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.
After the blights of murder, rape and starvation came disease: by mid-June (1945) a hundred Berliners a day were dying of typhus and paratyphus carried by human lice, and Berliners were forbidden from entering premises commandeered by the Western Allies.
Howley relates that the Americans were much taken up with the abuse of Berlin women by the Russians, conveniently forgetting the widespread incidence of rape by American soldiers.
The refusal to look kindly on the starving Berliners was part of the same policy (American policy) that forbade ‘frat’ or socialising with the enemy. Initially frat was punishable by six months’ imprisonment. Soldiers were forbidden to shake German hands or give presents and were to treat them as a conquered race. Very soon the Americans in particular were out in pursuit of ‘Fräuleins’, and there were a few curiosities to see. The wife of a former foreign minister, Frau Solf, for example, who had been condemned to death by the Nazis for having operated an oppositional salon and spent over a year in Ravensbrück, began to receive visits from the British and the Americans; but, although she was no more than skin and bone, they brought her nothing to eat. The Anglo-American policy on frat stood in sharp contrast with the Russian one, whereby contact with the civilian population was informally permitted as a reward for the one and a punishment for the other. Some Berliners believed that the Russian policy was kinder than the ostracism decreed by the Anglo-Americans. Some even went so far as to say that the Berlin women had been relieved by by their attentions – they had been so long deprived of their own menfolk.
Wherever, the grabbing of houses by the Allies led to acute misery on the part of the stricken population. Not even Jews who had returned from the camps were immune and were thrown out at pistol-point. The victims were given a few hours to pack up their things. The result was that they had to find some space in a friend’s flat until that too was grabbed by another officer of the garrison. Meanwhile, women who had once led a privileged life in Germany struggled to find a place as a servant or cleaner to the invaders. One Berliner who had been kicked out of his house commented bitterly that first the women had been raped by the Russians, now they had to wait on the Americans’ whores. Despite their superior airs the Americans wanted to be greeted as liberators and resented the fact that they were not. Their cold-blooded approach contrasted strongly with that of the Russians.

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.
 AUTUMN 1945

The two guardhouses flanking the Brandenburg Gate were piles of chaos rubble. Soldiers from the four powers walked around adding a living aspect to the landscape of ruin. Around the Reichstag building a black market had grown up. There were Russian graves on the Ranke Platz and abandoned tanks on the pavements. The latter served as kiosks, announcing dance schools, new theatres and newspapers and toys for urchins reminiscent of the pictures by Heinrich Zille. The Franziskus Hospital was the only undamaged building, and the nuns looked timeless in their habits, as if they had emerged from somewhere on the Castilian Meseta. Near by, the Tiergarten was a blackened shambles, looking more like a battlefield than a landscaped garden.

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

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Quotes about war....

"War grows out of the desire of the individual to gain advantage at the expense of his fellow man."
--Napoleon Hill

"We have failed to grasp the fact that mankind is becoming a single unit, and that for a unit to fight against itself is suicide."
--Havelock Ellis

'Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed."
--Mao Tse-Tung (1893 - 1976)

"I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in."
--George McGovern

"The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."
--Joseph Stalin

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
--Voltaire, War

In war, truth is the first casualty.
-- Aeschylus

"The ability and inclination to use physical strength is no indication of bravery or tenacity to life. The greatest cowards are often the greatest bullies. Nothing is cheaper and more common than physical bravery."
--Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."
--Adolf Hitler

"To walk through the ruined cities of Germany is to feel an actual doubt about the continuity of civilization."
--George Orwell

"Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country."
--Bertrand Russell

Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.
--Francis Meehan

Snippets From History

German Soldiers in Russia: Part 1

Hubert Menzel was a major in the General Operations Department of the OKH (the Oberkommando des Heers, the German Army headquarters), and for him the idea of invading the Soviet Union in 1941 had the smack of cold, clear logic to it: 'We knew that in two years' time, that is by the end of 1942, beginning of 1943, the English would be ready, the Americans would be ready, the Russians would be ready too, and then we would have to deal with all three of them at the same time.... We had to try to remove the greatest threat from the East.... At the time it seemed possible.'

Battle for Berlin, 1945

'We started to fire at the masses,' says one former German machine gunner. 'They weren't human beings for us. It was a wall of attacking beasts who were trying to kill us. You yourself were no longer human.'


Berlin after it fell to the Russians, 1945

"Vladlen Anchishkin, a Soviet battery commander on the 1st Ukrainian Front, sums up the horror of the whole event, when he tells how he took personal revenge on German soldiers: 'I can admit it now, I was in such a state, I was in such a frenzy. I said, 'Bring them here for an interrogation' and I had a knife, and I cut him. I cut a lot of them. I thought, 'You wanted to kill me, now it's your turn.'
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Dramatic Pictures: Battle For Stalingrad
"...Effective command no longer possible... further defense senseless. Collapse inevitable. Army requests immediate permission to surrender in order to save lives of remaining troops."
General Paulus' radio message to Hitler on January 24, 1943

"...Capitulation is impossible. The 6th Army will do its historic duty at Stalingrad until the last man, the last bullet..."

Hitler's response to General Friedrich Paulus' request to withdraw from the city


Points To Ponder....

The fall of France was shocking. It reduced France to virtually a non-player in the Second World War. The efforts of Charles de Gualle were more symbolic than material. But the martial instincts of the French must never be doubted. Under Napoleon they were a formidable military power. The French definitely have more iron in their blood then say, the Italians [I do not mean it in a derogatory sense. War never makes sense]


Bias Of Western Historians

Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France, and ensured the final Allied victory over Germany.

It can hardly be called mere 'resistance'! If it hadn't been for the Russians, Hitler would have made mincemeat of British forces in Africa and landed on British shores in no time. Hitler attacked Russia first because it had more land and resources than Britain. It is as simple as that.

Eastern Front: Bias Of Western Historians