Berlin in the days and months and even years after the fall of the Third Reich is a huge topic. Rather than try to tackle every aspect, here is an overview.
Berlin was functioning right through the ground battle for the city. The subways still ran, the streetcars were still in service. However, the city was completely destroyed.
The thing to remember is that much of the destruction took place in the final weeks. Until 22 November 1943, in fact, Berlin was largely (no, not entirely) untouched by the war. That winter, however, the British resumed the bombing of Berlin that it had suspended in 1941.
|Charlottenburg, Berlin 1945.|
|German women doing their washing at a cold water hydrant in a Berlin street. A knocked-out German scout car stands beside them, 3 July 1945.|
|Pictures of the Reichstag are a tiny bit misleading because it had been burnt down before the war. However, it is representative of what happened to the city as a whole.|
The Soviet troops took over all governmental functions by July 1945. That included female Soviet soldiers directing traffic and so forth. Stalin had agreed to divide Berlin with the United States, Great Britain and France in exchange for concessions elsewhere, a decision he later bitterly regretted and tried to nullify. However, eventually the western powers took over their sections and the division of Berlin into east and west began.
Many Soviet women were highly decorated, including some who became Heroes of the Soviet Union, the top award. Those who received it were granted a lifetime pension, and a bust of them was placed somewhere in their hometown. Usually, a soldier had to risk their life repeatedly or comply with an order to "take this or that place fast" in order to achieve it.
Where there are young men and single women, there will be fraternization. Officially, it was forbidden. Before you say, "How horrible, just let them have some fun," it wasn't always so innocent. One of the American jailers at Spandau Prison later related a story of how he was seduced by a German girl who convinced him to smuggle some "medicine" to Hermann Goering. A few weeks later, nobody could figure out where the condemned Reichsmarschal obtained the poison with which he committed suicide. So, it went on despite the rules and occasional punishment even under the strictest security. Call it "friendly chatting." In the two years following the end of the war, GI applications for marrying German women increased manifold. That's a whole lot of chatting.
|American GIs talk with young German ladies in Berlin's Tiergarten in August 1945. A group of Soviet soldiers is in the background, also with some frauleins.|
|These boys look a little out of place in street clothes.|
|A common scene after the war - "Who Knows Him?" Herr Kruger apparently was last seen in Poland as the Soviets swept around his position.|
|Aerial view of Tempelhof Airport after the fall of the capital. It became the terminus of the Berlin Airlift after the war.|
|Pictures of the aftermath usually don't include shots of the wounded, but this nicely captures the reality of what the war did to those who survived.|
|This boy has good posture - the posture of a former soldier.|
|A street mannequin catches the attention of the MPs.|
If you are curious how Berlin got that way, the video below is a good introduction.