Civilian living conditions, Germany post war.

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by saladin, Sep 30, 2009.

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  1. Yesterday I heard Shirley Williams describing a visit to Germany in May 1948. ( 1948, just "listened again...").

    She was saying that the only usable currency was cigarettes, that she saw girls trading sex for chocolate and a train-load of Czechs being handed back to "the East".

    Was this still happening in 1948 ?? I'd have thought that 3 years after the war ended life would have been rough but not "chocolate for sex" rough ?
  2. Before my time, mate. (born in 1951) I would tend to take her word about conditions post war in Germany if she was actually there.
  3. Quite a while later, I know, but cigarettes would still smooth the way for lots of deals even as late as 1957.

    Funny thing that struck me on arrival in Germany, was how much further ahead the bomb damage clearance was compared with London.
  4. I have a German friend who turned 16 back in 1945. I see him twice a week on average when we have lunch and a chin wag.
    Cigarettes where the Currency of his youth.
    Matters of a sexual nature don't come up often but some of the most embarrassing/painful conversations I have had with him where over The Rape of German women, by the Russian Armed forces at end of war.
    He was in Berlin at war end and when the Yanks took over the sector in which he lived.
    You may find this hard to believe, but he has more 'Tolerance' for Ivan at Private soldier level then for GI Joe.
    He will tell how Ivan would stop women with babies and Beg to be allow to hold them. Then cry their hearts out. Young children where almost 'Sacred' to Ivan and he says the ordinary Russian soldier would often share their rations with Kids.
    I have been present when he and other German friends have discussed this era and wars end and for years after where not pleasant times.
    GI Joe and Tom become well spoken of during the Berlin Airlift.
  5. Double post
  6. Try and get a copy of "To the Victor the Spoils" by Sean Longdon its about the behaviour of the British troops with the local population Sex,burglary, and looting
  7. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    I read somewhere (I'll try and find it) that after the British Army occupied Hamburg a delegation approached about a year later to complian that the amount of rations and conditions had got worse under the British than the Nazis

    When the British pointed out that the ration they were issuing was the same as Britain survived on (remember sweets and other goods here were still rationed until the mid '50's) the Germans looked at them as if they were daft and strongly protested for an increase

    It reminded me of similer compliants from Iraq in 2003/4
  8. It's a little reported fact that running a Sector in Germany, placed a massive strain upon Britain's limited resources post-war. It was the principal reason why Britain and America merged their Sectors for admin purposes. France eventually agreed to join-in and that was the birth of West Germany (the concept of which was not planned).

    I was born in post-war Germany. My father was a corporal but conditions were such that we had German household 'staff' that he could pay from his wages.
  9. Am not sure where I read it (might have been in a book written by an ex-Them who participated in covert int.gathering missions in East Germany during 1970's-'80's ('BRIXMIS'?) that a great many of the buildings in East Berlin still bore the battle damage from 1945. I assume that the buildings were still lived in, which can't have been much fun, especially in winter.
  10. Same here and for what my parents told me the main currency was coffee as the Germans were still drinking the 'Ersatz' acorn stuff. They (my parents) too had staff and they bought a pedigree Dachshund using of course coffee. My dad also told me the Germans would do anything to get their hands on some coffee, something he never experienced but he knew of plenty who did.

    I think to see what conditions were like you only have to look at films of the period. There was a thread on here waxing lyrical about the old films that showed post war London. Emil and the Detectives was released in 1964 so probably filmed (approx.) 1963 and that was filmed in and around Berlin (from Templehof studios). They still managed to find bomb damaged housing as late as that. And when I say around, they couldn't go too far as the Berlin Wall was already up.

    A friend of mine was in that film, as for extras, the studio raided the nearest childrens home. For a three nanosecond shot of him getting off a tram, he was paid in chocolate.
  11. Theres some good books on the subject, such as "Ruins of the Reich" and "Endgame"... however for a "military" history of the immediate post war period in the British sector try "A strange and Enemy people" where you will discover British troops torturing suspects to death and an airmarshall being investigated for whole sale looting of art.

    Interestingly a german interviewee says that in the west the French were vindictive and the Americans plainly out of their depth whilst the Brits walked in like running someone elses country was the most natural thing in the world... which to them it was.

  12. French troops plundered and burnt Freudenstadt for days, google for full story.(April 45)
  13. Same here, that makes 3 of us. Ciggies were still a form of currency as far as I remember.
  14. I arrived in Germany in 1968 where cigarettes would get you almost everything, While on exercise I would make a collection of cigarettes coffee and the odd ´box of Compo drive to one of the farms in the area and barter for fresh food even managed to get half a pig for 200 embassy once, and I managed to have a Sh+g for a bottle of Johny Walker.
    cigarettes, Whisky, coffee, Vodka and condensed milk carnation tins of could get you ANYTHING.!.

    War damage in Berlin
    I was in Berlin in 2004 and could still see where fighting had taken place , IE buildings with bullet holes, most of the older bridges had some sort of war damage, I even stayed at a rather cheap hotel near American Embassy where the Hotel was built from "War rubble" doors and fittings did not match and walls made from rubble picket up from the area after ww2.

    I own a block of flats that still have railway rails stolen from an ammunition dump near Hanover in 1946,used as a door lentil, The door lentil should be about 1.5 meter long but as the steal rail is over five meter long and they had no way to cut it up, It was just built in using whole length.

  15. There was still plent of war damage in the 80's if you looked around. Anyone remember that tower (it may have been a windmill once) in the middle of the autobahn junction near Duisburg. It was still peppered with rounds and splash damage in 88!