Synopses & Reviews
These rare pictures from post-war Berlin have been taken by photographers of the Soviet Army and by Germans in their employ immediately after the surrender and in the months to follow. A city reduced to rubble, and now under martial law, is imposed by the victorious Communists. And now, broken tanks and makeshift barricades are littering the streets, tenements and churches are turned into bombed-out shells, tunnels are flooded and train tracks destroyed. German soldiers have been hauled off to POW-camps in Siberia, while old men are cutting up dead horses for food, women are trading clothing for survival, and children are left to their own devices in the ruins. Published for the first time in the United States, this collection allows a glimpse into an era of destruction and desperation, but also of survival and rebuilding. The preface was written by Stephen Kinzer, the former bureau chief of The New York Times in Berlin.
"Somber and sobering, the images in this black-and-white collection show the extraordinary damage Berlin suffered during WWII. Taken primarily by Soviet photographers after the city fell to the Red Army in May 1945, the photos depict bombed-out buildings, 'shelled rubble, rotting corpses, and lost children.' Pulled from archives by Brettin, managing editor of the Sunday issue of the Berliner Kurier, and photo editor Kroh, they reveal a 'city in ruins.' The book also shows how ordinary citizens coped afterward. In brief explanatory essays with titles like 'The End of Berlin,' 'Bread and Potatoes' and 'Rolling Again,' the authors offer useful historical insight and context. They remind readers, for example, of the heavy casualties. Photos of German POWs at a badly damaged Berlin train station, of wounded soldiers camped along the city's main thoroughfare, of white bed sheets hung in surrender from the windows of damaged apartments these illustrate the magnitude of the loss. Brettin and Kroh also cover the resilience of ordinary Germans, such as the TrÃ¼mmerfrauen (Rubble Women) who dedicated themselves to clearing away debris, in great detail. Their inclusion in the book lends a sense of hope to what was an otherwise thoroughly hopeless situation. 177 b&w illus. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Dr. Michael Brettin, born 1964, studied History, Politics and Slavistics and graduated with a PhD in History from Hamburg University. His dissertation examined the nationality question in the Soviet Union under General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. He is also a graduate of the Hamburg School of Journalism, the Henri-Nannen-Schule. Currently, he works as a managing editor of the Sunday issue of Berliner Kurier. His writings on the history of the Berlin Wall was published in twelve issues and as a magazine. Otto Donath was born in Berlin in 1898. During World War II, he worked as a photographer for the propaganda company of the Wehrmacht company 689. After 1945, he took pictures first for the Soviet army, later for a number of newspapers and magazines in East Berlin, among them Neue Berliner Illustriete and Für Dich. He died in 1971, in Berlin. Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries, mostly for the New York Times. He was chief of the Berlin bureau between 1990 and 1996. Today, he is a visiting fellow at Brown University. His most recent book is The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War.” Peter Kroh, born in 1950, has worked as a photo reporter for a number of East German newspapers, among them Junge Welt in Berlin, and Thüringer Allgemeine. In 1995, after the Berlin Wall had come down, he moved to the German capital to work for Berliner Kurier. Kroh became the photo editor of the paper. Today, he is retired. He lives in a small town near Berlin.