Berlin 1945. A Documentation

ed. by Reinhard Rürup, Berlin (Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel) 1995, 5th revised Edition 2007, 200 S., ISBN 3-922912-33-8
out of print


When Bertolt Brecht returned to Berlin in 1948 from exile in the United States, he tersely described his impression of the city with reference to the Potsdam Conference, as "Berlin. The rubble heap near Potsdam."

When Germany surrendered in May 1945 Berlin could claim the sad distinction of being the European city hit by the greatest number of bombs and shells. Prospects for the future were highly uncertain; only in a very limited sense could one speak of a mood of new beginnings. For most Berliners, the greatest surprise of 1945 was that life continued at all after capitulation.

The exhibition seeks to recall the history of Berlin in 1945 as concretely and from as many perspectives as possible. It recounts and analyses the history gathered from more than 50 German, Russian and English archives and collections. Alongside the official documents, diaries and autobiographical works from 1945 have been given special role. It is no coincidence that in many cases the written testimonies of women – both well-known and unknown – are in the foreground.

The exhibition has been prepared for the fiftieth anniversary of May 8, 1945. Using the example of Berlin, it recalls the war, National Socialist tyranny and the first tentative efforts at building back life without the double threat of war and terror. It documents experiences during an unusual period of crisis and hardship, and demonstrates not least the arduous beginnings of a post-fascist democratic society, whose success was not yet certain.