Photographs of a devastated post-war Berlin in the summer of 1945.
“When Allied observers came to Germany after the war, most of them expected to find destruction on the same scale as they had witnessed in Britain during the Blitz. Even after British and American newspapers and magazines began to print pictures and descriptions of the devastation it was impossible to prepare for the sight of the real thing. Austin Robinson, for example, was sent to western Germany directly after the war on behalf of the British Ministry of Production. His description of Mainz while he was there displays his sense of shock:
That skeleton, with whole blocks level, huge areas with nothing but walls standing, factories almost completely gutted, was a picture that I know will live with me for life. One had known it intellectually without feeling it emotionally or humanly.
British Lieutenant Philip Dark was equally apallaed by the apocalyptic vision he saw in Hamburg at the end of the war:
[W]e swung in towards the centre and started to enter a city devastated beyond all comprehension. It was more than appallaing. As far as the eye could see, square mile after square mile of empty shells of buildings with twisted girders scarecrowed in the air, radiators of a flat jutting out from a shaft of a still-standing wall, like a crucified pterodactyl skeleton. Horrible, hideous shapes of chimneys sprouting from the frame of a wall. The whole pervaded by an atmosphere of ageless quiet… Such impressions are incomprehensible unless seen.
Berlin was “completely shattered - just piles of rubble and skeleton houses.” Between 18 and 20 million German people were rendered homeless by the destruction of their cities - that is the same as the combined prewar populations of Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. These people lived in cellars, ruins, holes in the ground - anywhere they could find a modicum of shelter. They were entirely deprived of essential servies, such as water, gas, electricity - as were millions of others across Europe.”
(Text via Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Keith Lowe; photographs via)
“Berlin lies strewn about, Dust blows up, then a lull again… the great rubble woman will be canonized…” (Günter Grass)
Berlin, December 1948: With German cities in ruins after World War II and the country’s male population decimated, it fell to the women to clean up the rubble. The so-called “Trümmerfrauen,” or “rubble women,” worked with their bare hands and whatever tools they could find.
The Trümmerfrauen phenomenon was launched by Allied orders requiring women between the ages of 15 and 50 to report for duty. A law passed by the military government allowed local authorities to employ women in clearing rubble. Up to 80 percent of the historic centers of German cities had been destroyed by Allied bombs during the war; Liselotte Kubitza recalls emerging as an 11 year old from her shelter of three weeks to a scene of destruction in Berlin, where “[o]ne whole wall between us and the neighbouring flat had collapsed, parts of the ceiling had come down and all the windows were gone.” Once the violence ceased, unsafe buildings were torn down. Bricks and other materials were carefully sorted so they could be used again.
At one stage, it was estimated that it would take 25 years to clear the city rubble, with 42,000 workers continuously at work. Munich, Kiel and Stuttgart were the fastest; by 1949, Munich had cleared 80 percent of its rubble, and by 1952, Stuttgart had cleared 88 percent.
The post-war blockade of Berlin by the Soviets meant that not as much construction material could get through to the city. As a result, a higher number of workers had to turn to rubble clearance.
“We had to do something,” says Naß. “First and foremost because at the back of the mind you had that thought, ‘When my brother comes home, or when my husband gets home, it can’t be like this.’ And who else would do it? So the women did it together.” Physical hardship was the norm for Naß and her peers and they carried out their exhausting work with bare hands alone. “We had no hammers, no shovels, no buckets, no gloves,” she says.
The work though was a distraction from the bitter disappointment and emotional turmoil Berlin’s survivors felt. As a young woman who had grown up almost exclusively under the Third Reich, Frau Naß admits the end of the war threw all her beliefs into question: “We were totally disillusioned, because as girls we had gone through the Hitler Youth,” she says. “You have to imagine how you would react if the whole system you had been brought up in simply didn’t exist anymore. People just couldn’t grasp it.”
Shaffron of Henry II of France when Dauphin, ca. 1495, Italian.
Shaffron is that piece of armor that goes on horse’s face. Apparently, young Dauphin here wanted to ride a dragon instead.
In the Renaissance, elaborate parade armor of fanciful design was often employed in tournaments, ceremonial entries, and court pageants. This shaffron, shaped as a fierce dragon’s head, is among the earliest surviving examples of parade armor in the “heroic” style, which alluded to the heroes of literature and legend. The shaffron was redecorated in 1539 with gold-damascened motifs including a fleur-de-lis, the letter H, and dolphins, indicating that it was refurbished for use by the French dauphin Henry (1519–1559), who assumed the throne as Henry II in 1547. The shaffron can probably be associated with the ceremonies connected with the tour of France made by Emperor Charles V in 1539, during which the dauphin was in constant attendance. The reuse of an older piece of armor, redecorated for this occasion, suggests that there was considerable haste in assembling the necessary equipment for the ceremonies.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
A Jewish business destroyed during Kristallnacht in Magdeburg, Germany; November 9th, 1938. (via)
Ludwig van Beethoven’s ‘Symphony No 3 in E Flat Major’ was completed in 1804. The piece was originally titled ‘Bonaparte’ but he vehmetly scratched that out once he learned that his hero had proclaimed himself Emporor Napoleon I.
On January 15, 1867 several hundred people were ice skating on the frozen lake in London’s Regent’s Park when the ice broke. Tragically, 40 of the skaters drowned.
The Castle of the Moors was built in the 8th century high in the Sintra mountains of Portugal. Built by Muslims, conquering Christians built a chapel in the fortress, which was later used by Jewish worshipers as well.
A 1755 earthquake damaged both the castle and the chapel considerably, although it had already been abandoned by that time.
It is now a National Monument.
A double amputee of the French army learns to write again with prosthetic arms and the assistance of a Red Cross nurse. (via)
German officers before the church of St. Nicholas, in Brest-Litovsk, Russia; 1915. (via)
‘Beyond reasonable doubt’: King Richard III’s remains found buried beneath England parking lot
He wore the English crown, but he ended up defeated, humiliated and reviled. Now things are looking up for King Richard III. Scientists announced Monday that they had found the monarch’s 500-year-old remains under a parking lot in the city of Leicester — a discovery Richard’s fans say will rewrite the history books.
University of Leicester researchers say tests on a battle-scarred skeleton unearthed last year prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that it is the king, who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, and whose remains have been missing for centuries.
“Richard III, the last Plantaganet King of England, has been found,” said the university’s deputy registrar, Richard Taylor. (AP Photo/ University of Leicester)
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