Sometimes I go on Youtube and search for movies related to Berlin in any way. This is how I discovered some of the youtube videos I have written about here, and this is how I found out about Background to Berlin, a NATO Information Service movie that explains, in a little less than 30 minutes, the history of the German capital from 1945 to 1961.
The movie starts with a brief introduction that shows how Berlin used to look like in the 1930s and some of the footage even looks similar to the video we mentioned in an article a while ago. From there, it shows how the city changed after the Second World War and the destruction that set the town in debris.
Between the rubble, you can learn how Germany was divided after the war and how it changed Berlin as well. There are armies on the streets of a divided Berlin, and it looks like a completely different city than the one we live in now. There is a lot of footage of a destroyed city being rebuilt. Woman removing debris and soldiers trying to reconstruct could be done. There are scenes of an election where the Allied Forces start to split, and some friction begins happening between Soviet forces and the other ones.
Since this is a NATO video, there are wrong comparisons between the Soviet Forces and their communist ways and the ones from Nazi Germany. But this is a propaganda video, and everybody expects something like this, right?
It’s interesting to see how Background to Berlin shows the Berlin Blockade and the Berlin airlift that followed it between 1948 and 1949. I had never seen the footage shown from airplanes at Tempelhof and the lakes around the city and the queues that were caused by the Soviet blockade. There are even some accidents that I only saw before in pictures!
Also, Background to Berlin shows West Germany changed the Berlin town hall to Schöneberg, the East German uprising of 1953, the formation of NATO and the economic and political reforms that created the Federal Republic of Germany.
But the highlights of the movie is the construction of the Berlin Wall and how it changed the divided German capital completely. Even before the wall, the city was already split since both sides had different currencies and also the tram drivers were different!
This film tells the story of the city of Berlin from the end of World War II to the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961. It traces the origin of the Allied rights in Berlin, shows how the city came to be divided, and relates the problem of Berlin in the lager context of German reunification. It also explains why the fifteen NATO nations supported the defense of West Berlin’s freedom in front of Soviet pressure.
If you are a history nerd like me, you will love Background to Berlin since it shows an interesting perspective on the history of Berlin between 1945 and 1961.