Germany, 1945: a country in ruins. Cities have been reduced to rubble and more than half of the population are where they do not belong or do not want to be. How can a functioning society ever emerge from this chaos?
In bombed-out Berlin, Ruth Andreas-Friedrich, journalist and member of the Nazi resistance, warms herself by a makeshift stove and records in her diary how a frenzy of expectation and industriousness grips the city. The Americans send Hans Habe, an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist and US army soldier, to the frontline of psychological warfare – tasked with establishing a newspaper empire capable of remoulding the minds of the Germans. The philosopher Hannah Arendt returns to the country she fled to find a population gripped by a manic loquaciousness, but faces a deafening wall of silence at the mention of the Holocaust.
Aftermath is a nuanced panorama of a nation undergoing monumental change. 1945 to 1955 was a raw, wild decade poised between two eras that proved decisive for Germany’s future – and one starkly different to how most of us imagine it today. Featuring black and white photographs and posters from post-war Germany – some beautiful, some revelatory, some shocking – Aftermath evokes an immersive portrait of a society corrupted, demoralised and freed – all at the same time.