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Lara Feigel

The Bitter Taste of Victory

FoI at Waterstones/
Tue 13 June 2017

Lara Feigel

The Bitter Taste of Victory

larafeigelcreditjonathanring
Tue 13 June 2017,

As the Second World War neared its conclusion, Germany was a nation reduced to rubble – 3.6 million German homes had been destroyed leaving 7.5 million people homeless, an apocalyptic landscape of flattened cities and desolate wastelands.

In May 1945 Germany surrendered, and Britain, America, Soviet Russia and France set about rebuilding their zones of occupation.  Most urgent for the Allies in this divided, defeated country were food, water and sanitation, but from the start they were anxious to provide for the minds as well as the physical needs of the German people. Reconstruction was to be cultural as well as practical if the mindset of the Third Reich was to be obliterated.

Lara Feigel explores the ways in which the Allies hoped to use culture to rebuild the German psyche immediately after the Second World War, and traces the experiences of the foremost writers and film-makers of their generation, dispatched by Britain and America to help rebuild the country that their governments had spent years bombing.  Amongst them, Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn, Marlene Dietrich, George Orwell, Lee Miller, W H Auden, Stephen Spender, Billy Wilder, Humphrey Jennings and Rebecca West.

This is the story of the cultural rehabilitation of Germany told as never before, offering an entirely fresh view of post-war Europe through the eyes of celebrated figures of art, literature and film.

Image credit: Jonathan Ring

 

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