The Summer of Liberation Germans Reflect on the Allies’ Arrival in Europe in 1945

After the Allies defeated Germany and ended World War II in Europe in summer 1945, peace finally prevailed on the Continent. The Germans were beaten, desperate and ashamed, but also ready to get back to normal life following the trauma. By DER SPIEGEL Staff
Pedestrians on Berlin's Potsdamer Straße in July 1945 (with a destroyed department store in the background)

Pedestrians on Berlin's Potsdamer Straße in July 1945 (with a destroyed department store in the background)

BETTMANN / GETTY IMAGES

Nikolai Pudow, born in 1921: As a captain in the Red Army, he was one of the occupiers. There's one German word he hasn't forgotten: "Untermensch".

Nikolai Pudow, born in 1921: As a captain in the Red Army, he was one of the occupiers. There's one German word he hasn't forgotten: "Untermensch".

Jakob Schnetz und Janek Stroisch / DER SPIEGEL

Hans Modrow, born in 1928: As a enlistee with the Volksturn, as the Nazi army was called in the final days of the war, he wound up in Soviet captivity at the age of 17. He would later become a communist in Moscow.

Hans Modrow, born in 1928: As a enlistee with the Volksturn, as the Nazi army was called in the final days of the war, he wound up in Soviet captivity at the age of 17. He would later become a communist in Moscow.

Jakob Schnetz und Janek Stroisch / DER SPIEGEL
Georg Stefan Troller, born in 1921: As a Jew, he fled from the Nazis to the United States, where he joined the U.S. Army and returned to Europe as a soldier and at one point stood in Hitler's apartment in Munich.

Georg Stefan Troller, born in 1921: As a Jew, he fled from the Nazis to the United States, where he joined the U.S. Army and returned to Europe as a soldier and at one point stood in Hitler's apartment in Munich.

Jakob Schnetz und Janek Stroisch / DER SPIEGEL

Friedrich Nowottny, Born in 1929: As a 16-year-old, he found his way to Braunau am Inn.

Friedrich Nowottny, Born in 1929: As a 16-year-old, he found his way to Braunau am Inn.

Jakob Schnetz und Janek Stroisch / DER SPIEGEL
Marianne von Weizsäcker, Born in 1932: Because there was a shortage of paper, she did her school work in the margins of the newspaper.

Marianne von Weizsäcker, Born in 1932: Because there was a shortage of paper, she did her school work in the margins of the newspaper.

Jakob Schnetz und Janek Stroisch / DER SPIEGEL
Esther Bejarano, born in1924: She survived Auschwitz as a young women because she played the accordion. She later emigrated to Palestine.

Esther Bejarano, born in1924: She survived Auschwitz as a young women because she played the accordion. She later emigrated to Palestine.

Jakob Schnetz und Janek Stroisch / DER SPIEGEL
The German actor Armin Mueller-Stahl, born in 1930: On the way to Prenzlau he ate nettle soup. He watched each evening as his mother would apply soot to her face to make herself look older.

The German actor Armin Mueller-Stahl, born in 1930: On the way to Prenzlau he ate nettle soup. He watched each evening as his mother would apply soot to her face to make herself look older.

Jakob Schnetz und Janek Stroisch / DER SPIEGEL
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