Thursday, October 9, 2014

Berlin 1945. World War II: Photos of the Aftermath

We are proud to announce that Berlin 1945. World War II: Photos of the Aftermath, by Michael Brettin, is now for sale on and, and can be ordered by every bookstore.

Berlin 1945. World War II: Pictures from the Aftermath is a large-size book with harrowing black-and-white photos taken by Soviet soldiers, mostly army photographers such as Mark Redkin and Jewgenij Chaldej, but also by German war photographers in their employ, most notably Otto Donath (who died 1971 in East Berlin after a long career). They walked the bombed-out streets of Berlin and took pictures of shelled rubble, rotting corpses, and lost children, sometimes defying Soviet military censorship, which cracked down on what could be shown.


The Soviets ruled Berlin for two months before being joined in July 1945 by American, British, and French troops. At that point, the corpses had been buried, the fires quenched, and the Red Cross had set up soup kitchens. The Soviet Military Administration (SMAD) licensed Berliner Zeitung, just two weeks after the capitulation of Berlin, followed by the tabloid BZ am Abend on July 15, 1945. The SMAD also had its own army paper, Tägliche Rundschau. All three papers printed these photos. In 1973, Berliner Zeitung and BZ am Abend moved into a new building near Alexanderplatz, taking the photo archive with them. Somehow, the Tägliche Rundschau’s archive ended up there as well, presumably after the paper ceased publication in 1955. 

These photos—many rumpled, stained, scratched, and printed on pulpy, low-quality paper—were stored in drawers on long rows of metal shelving on the second floor. Eventually, they were forgotten. Then the Berlin Wall was torn down, and both newspapers were sold. One day in the late 1990s, Peter Kroh, then photo editor of the BZ am Abend had a look in those drawers. Kroh sifted through thousands of photos, many of them not properly categorized or credited. Nevertheless, Kroh knew that he had found a treasure trove and soon decided to publish them in a book. Berlin nach dem Krieg (Berlin After the War) was published in German in 2005. Below are some pictures.

This new book, Berlin 1945, contains these photos, along with some additional images, shown for the first time in the United States. The author is Dr. Michael Brettin, managing editor of the Sunday issue of Berliner Kurier. Born in 1964, Michael studied history, politics, and Slavic studies, and graduated with a Ph.D. in History from Hamburg University about 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. The preface is written by former New York Times Bureau chief in Berlin in the years when the Wall fell, Stephen Kinzer.

Your publisher, Eva C. Schweitzer

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