May 8th, 1945: The Day that was coming; The Day that everyone was waiting for; The Day when Tyranny in Germany came to an end; The Day when Life starts Now. After 12 years of dictatorship that resulted in over 50 million lives lost, through war, the Holocaust and through the persecution of the country’s own people, Germany signed the decree, surrendering unconditionally to the Allied Troops of the US, Soviet Union, Great Britain and France, thus ending the European portion of World War II. This day marked the beginning of a new era in Germany, starting over from ground zero.
There have been many films and documentaries that have come out, depicting Germany before, during and at the end of the Third Reich. Much of them have come to light recently, as the country looks back 70 years to the time when much of it was in ruins. Many (colored) films of the cities of Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Nuremberg and even Cologne have come to light, looking at the cities in ruins, and the people struggling to start over with what little the had.
This includes the moderator Armin Maiwald, one of the hosts of the children’s TV series, Die Sendung mit der Maus (Stories to Learn from the Orange Mouse), produced by German Public TV Network WDR from Cologne. Maiwald, who just turned 75 earlier this year, was five years old when World War II ended on 8 May, 1945. Like millions of children at that time, Maiwald recalls the memories of a childhood that started at ground zero after the war, despite growing up in the southern state of Bavaria. In 1985, he produced a documentary for the TV show, showing viewers how difficult life was during that time, which included making makeshift clothing, carrying wood to school for the stove to keep warm, and even rationing the food. In connection with the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Germany, the Sendung mit der Maus presented this documentary in full, to show the viewers of this generation the consequences of war, based on Maiwald’s experiences in 1945. This is important to have oral accounts of history, especially in this time period, for it serves as a reminder of what a war does to one’s life and his/her family. And as the War Generation is rapidly leaving the scene, it is even more important than ever to keep these stories alive for future generations to learn about, no matter when or how. And therefore, the Files’ profile, in connection with this anniversary, will look at Armin’s experiences in 1945:
As a bonus, here are some videos of the cities of Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Nuremberg at the End of World War II, serving as a reminder of how gruelsome war can be, and important it is that we as the current generation of intellects, teachers, politicians and the common people should try and keep the peace, make love and not war, and be open to the unknown that might make our lives better for everyone.