In my novel, Paper Boats, I go into great emotional detail about post war Germany. You’ll hear from civilians and soldiers alike about the dismal last days of Berlin and the surrounding countryside.
I won’t get into the political back and forth about whether Germany and her people deserved such treatment. That’s for the reader and history to decide. I’ll simply describe what was happening during those times.
Hitler ordered his “Scorched earth policy," basically the idea that all of Germany should be destroyed and not fall into Allied hands, as the people of Germany in his eyes were not worthy of greatness. Luckily, most of Hitler’s generals and followers did not obey, sparing much of the country.
Despite that fact, the allies virtually leveled Berlin and many other cities. The Russians took thousands of German soldier prisoners, killed many, and ransacked every civilian village within their grasp. The Americans and British were a bit tamer, depending on the unit and what residual German resistance challenged them.
For most German civilians, there was no food, water, shelter or transportation. Life came to an abrupt halt. Children wandered the streets crying for their mothers, and fathers searched helplessly for their families. Ekkehard, one of my characters in the book, is a perfect example of how life was lived during the final stages of the war and after.
Berlin and all of Germany was broken into occupied territories. The Russians controlled East Berlin and lands to the east. The United States and Britain controlled the west, north and south. If you were German, you worked very hard to get to the west. If you were captured by the Russians, or were stranded in the east, your life was questionable.
As I say in the book, “It’s a bad time to be German.”