Here is a collection of goodies from the Life archive – the shots of Berlin made by an American photographer William Vandivert in May-July of 1945.
These photos of high quality are especially valuable because they carry minimum of propaganda and simply show the state of the city at the time when the rigid order of the Cold War hadn’t yet been established, and the borders could be freely crossed by everyone…
1. A well-known photograph of the Fuerer made on the 20th of April in 1945 where he gives the Iron Crosses to the young boys from the Hitler Youth. This picture was previously a part of the unique photographic collection of Hugo Yager and Henry Hoffmann. The latter was Hitler’s official photographer. The picture was taken at the back wall of the Reich Chancellery.
2. Karlshorst. The evening of the 8th of May, Field Marshal Keitel (with a rod), Stumpf of the Luftwaffe, and Admiral Friedeburg come into a hall for signing the surrender document.
3. View of the Reichstag from the edge of Tiergarten. The highway leads to the Brandenburg Gate (but it’s on the right and not visible). As you can see, the area is already demined, machinery lie on the edges of the road, and civilians walk along the sidewalks.
4. The Reichstag, one of its outer colonnades.
5. Here the inscriptions are a bit larger and can be easily read. Look, there are many cities – Kiev, Leningrad, Michurinsk, Kharkov, Batumi, Moscow, etc.
6. Inside, the walls of the Reichstag were painted too. Apparently, no free space left for soldiers’ autographs outside caused them to use the inner walls.
7. The Brandenburg Gate, two months after the end of the fighting. The place is already cleared from the rubble, a fence for patrol is organized in the central passage and the other ones (two on the right and two on the left) are used for movement. The speed limit is 5 km/h. It’s also seen that horses at the top are partially damaged and knocked down. The zone border is precisely here, in front of the gate.
8. The dilapidated Kroll Opera House. Berliners collect firewood (wood debris) and put it on a cart. For what they need wood in July is unclear.