Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945-1955
The internationally bestselling history of German life in the fallout of the Third Reich
How does a nation recover from fascism?
Germany, 1945: more than half of the population are neither where they belong nor where they want to be. Nine million Germans have lost their homes or been evacuated; 14 million refugees and displaced persons, 10 million newly released forced labourers and several million prisoners of war return to an uncertain existence in a country that has found itself politically, economically and morally bankrupt. Cities lie in ruins, the old order has been destroyed and although the streets seem eerily empty, the traditional annual street carnivals are soon back in full swing, jazz can be heard among the ruins, intellectuals rekindle a culture of discussion and debate.
Aftermath is the first history of Germany's national mentality in the immediate post-war years. 1945 to 1955 was a raw, wild decade poised between two eras that proved decisive for Germany's future - and one starkly different to how most of us imagine it today. Weaving together life stories of those who lived through this decade against a backdrop of global upheaval, Harald Jähner presents a nuanced panorama of a nation undergoing monumental change. Accompanied by expertly selected black and white photographs - some beautiful, some revelatory, some shocking - Aftermath evokes an immersive portrait of a society corrupted, demoralized and freed - all at the same time.
Praise for Aftermath
Rarely has a non-fiction book so skilfully combined vividness, drama and eloquence.From the Jury's reasoning for the Leipzig Prize Book Fair Prize 2019
“[A] gripping 500-page X-ray-vision tale of an often overlooked and misperceived phase of German history reveals, like all great history books, as much about the first decade after the war as about today.The German Times
Clearly written, full of empathy for everyday life, which is far too seldom taken into consideration… You devour it like a novel.Welt am Sonntag