Berlin 1945 time-travels in cinematic style into the city’s most fateful year through the eyes of those who experienced it: the German population and Allied soldiers.
Berlin 1945 tells the story of liberation, defeat, and reconstruction in a city transformed from a theatre of war into a field of ruins. Through the eyes of the victors and the vanquished, Berlin 1945 reveals a multi-layered transformation of a city and its inhabitants. With surprising, never before seen archival footage, we reconstruct the lives not only from those liberated from concentration camps and occupied countries, but also from Germany’s followers, silent masses, and perpetrators. We create a fast-paced collage of testimonies from this period, giving voice to Soviet, US, UK and French soldiers as well as the German population anxiously awaiting the outcome of the fighting.
Picture No.1: © Nara
At the beginning of 1945, Berlin is under the illusion that they will survive the war. Every day there are bombing attacks, fires to be extinguished, and corpses to be buried. Life goes on as the front lines of the war close in each day. Death comes for men, women, the old, the young, the National Socialists and the forced labourers. In April, the Red Army stands ready outside the city; in a time of uncertainty on the front lines, nobody has a clear view of what will happen. Civilians hiding, SS soldiers shooting deserters, and Red Army soldiers hoping to survive the final days of the war. As the war comes closer and closer to the metropolis, it returns everything to its roots, showing no mercy.
The Battle for Berlin has begun. Step by step, the soon-to-be victorious powers advance. On April 30th, the Red Flag flies over the Reichstag and Adolf Hitler takes his own life. It takes another seven days before the Wehrmacht disassembles. National Socialism is finally defeated; along with Germany, and Berlin. Not only a defeat, but also a liberation for many.
The English, French, and Americans still wait to enter Berlin. In the meantime, the Soviets appoint mayors, organize the food supply, and go on the hunt for war criminals. The Jewish community regroups, among which there are few survivors. The fate of the city is determined at the Potsdam Conference. Life returns to the ruins, the theatres reopen, and orchestras play in the open air. However, the bond that held the Allies together is torn apart – and the Cold War begins.
Festivals & Awards
Grimme Preis 2021* nominated : Competition Information & Culture
Original TitleBerlin 1945 - Tagebuch einer Großstadt
Length3 x 52' (ENG, GER, FRE, SPA), 2 x 90', 180' (GER)
Film byVolker Heise