Seventy-four years ago, on the 16th of April 1945, the final stage of the war against the Nazi Regime in Europe had begun. It is known as the Battle of Berlin. I think it was more a dangerous mopping up of the remnants of a bad regime that had only spread “blood and tears” across a continent. Why it came to that, will be still discussed in a thousand years. Perhaps this is the only legacy of a regime that called itself “The Thousand Year Empire”. It lasted only twelve years.
Germans are such proficient people that it takes a mighty effort by others to undo or to rectify a situation created by them.
During the next few days, I will write about my own experience during those fateful days when death was stalking us all in Berlin. I was lucky enough not to have experienced a traumatic event. Those accounts will also contain a short diary written by my mother.
In English, there is the word “Downfall” for this period. But the Germans have another word for it, “Untergang“. It is more the sinking of the regime, a “Götterdämmerung” of Wagnerian proportions. It is the total destruction, the submerging and burying of all remnants of the regime. After five-and-a-half years of war, Berlin was not recognisable anymore.
Out of ruins always something new grows. Over time and more historical events, Berlin was reborn because it was and is a resilient city. I had my own personal rebirth on my tenth birthday. More about it in a later post.
At the time, I lived with my mother and a great-aunt. My father was in the army trying to stop the Allies in Italy. And we had no news from him for months. My two sisters were somewhere totally unknown to us. The Red Army was coming and for the second time, I heard the distant rumble of the artillery.
The stage was set for the final assault on Berlin.