See Berlin Before and After World War II in Startling Color Video

Beau­ti­ful city, shame about all those Nazis.

Yes, this col­or news­reel above shows Berlin in 1936 as it gets ready to wel­come the world for the Olympic Games. It’s a PR film meant to show the upside of the Reich, as Ger­mans looked for­ward to a “bet­ter future”, and indeed the city looks just as gor­geous and excit­ing as oth­er bustling Euro­pean metrop­o­lis­es. There’s new con­struc­tion along­side the clas­si­cal archi­tec­ture. There’s cou­ples danc­ing to the lat­est hit tunes—Malneck and Mercer’s “Goody Goody” (which Ben­ny Good­man had just released in Feb­ru­ary). There’s young men frol­ick­ing in the Wannsee while ladies sun­bathe.

But then there’s those Nazis, ruin­ing everybody’s trav­el plans. The streets are “fes­tive­ly dec­o­rat­ed with flags with the cur­rent pat­tern” (ie. the swasti­ka); we see a group of Hitler youth on a parade for the Führer; and while the “chang­ing of the guard” may put some in mind of Buck­ing­ham Palace, here they’ve got the full goose-step­ping going on. And the film ends very odd­ly: a shot of the guards out­side the Min­istry of Avi­a­tion, home to mor­phine addict and con­cen­tra­tion camp co-cre­ator Her­mann Göer­ing.

Flash for­ward to July 1945, and what a dif­fer­ence sur­ren­der to the Allies makes: Berlin in ruins, large posters of Stal­in, and the signs of the divi­sions that even­tu­al­ly end in the 1961 build­ing of the Berlin Wall. The news­reel con­cludes with a dra­mat­ic aer­i­al shot of the entire city, tak­ing in the amount of destruc­tion.

We’ve fea­tured this 1945 film before, but this before-and-after com­par­i­son speaks to the dev­as­ta­tion of war and the deter­mi­na­tion to rebuild.

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Relat­ed Con­tent

Berlin Street Scenes Beau­ti­ful­ly Caught on Film (1900–1914)

1,000,000 Min­utes of News­reel Footage by AP & British Movi­etone Released on YouTube

Watch World War II Rage Across Europe in a 7 Minute Time-Lapse Film: Every Day From 1939 to 1945

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

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  • Rohit Chaurasiya says:

    KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT SPF RECORD- SENDERS POLICY FRAMEWORK, the neces­si­ty of time. SPF RECORD MEANING SPF is abbre­vi­at­ed as senders pol­i­cy frame­work. It shows infor­ma­tion about the authen­ti­cat­ed and autho­rized hosts or ips

  • Stephanie Kleinman says:

    Sort­ing through my deceased father’s belong­ings I have found a small book­let issued by HQ British Troops Berlin show­ing pho­tos of pre and post War Berlin. Is any­one inter­est­ed?

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