Soviet and American Soldiers

Near the city of Torgau at the Elbe, Soviet and American soldiers encounter one another at the end of April. The German Empire is defeated.

Photographer: Unknown
Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum)
1945-04-25
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


On May 8, 1945, the Second World War comes to an end in Europe. A symbolic handshake witnessing the friendship between Soviet and American troops. However, the common war against National Socialist Germany could only temporarily conceal the ideological differences between the two systems. Soon afterwards, fighting would start between the two most important of the victorious powers over who had the better social order.
On May 8, 1945, the Second World War comes to an end in Europe. A symbolic handshake witnessing the friendship between Soviet and American troops. However, the common war against National Socialist Germany could only temporarily conceal the ideological differences between the two systems. Soon afterwards, fighting would start between the two most important of the victorious powers over who had the better social order.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

The "Big Three"

The "Big Three" at the Potsdam Conference.

Photographer: Unknown
Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum)
c. 1945
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


During the Potsdam Conference, which took place between July 17 and August 2, 1945, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the President of the United States Harry S. Truman, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin met in order to determine European postwar politics. France was invited as the fourth victorious power, and a common political administration of Germany was agreed to. Through the course of the Potsdam Conference, distrust between the victors became obvious.
During the Potsdam Conference, which took place between July 17 and August 2, 1945, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the President of the United States Harry S. Truman, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin met in order to determine European postwar politics. France was invited as the fourth victorious power, and a common political administration of Germany was agreed to. Through the course of the Potsdam Conference, distrust between the victors became obvious.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

The defendants

The defendants and their representatives at the Nuremberg Trials.

Photographer: Jewgeni Chaldaij
Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum)

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


During the Nuremberg Trials, which lasted from November 14, 1945 to October 16, 1946, twenty-two former Nazis who had held leading positions, were charged by the International Court and sentenced as war criminals.
During the Nuremberg Trials, which lasted from November 14, 1945 to October 16, 1946, twenty-two former Nazis who had held leading positions, were charged by the International Court and sentenced as war criminals.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Wilhelm Pieck and Otto Grotewohl

This photo montage shows Wilhelm Pieck and Otto Grotewohl with the members of their parties uniting.

Photographer: Unknown
Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum)

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


In the Soviet-occupied zone the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), under the leadership of Wilhelm Pieck, and the Socialdemocratic Party of Germany (SPD), under the leadership of Otto Grotewohl, were more or less forced by the Soviets to form a united workers party: the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). In the years to follow, the SED became the dominant force and pursued the communist transformation of the Soviet zone.
In the Soviet-occupied zone the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), under the leadership of Wilhelm Pieck, and the Socialdemocratic Party of Germany (SPD), under the leadership of Otto Grotewohl, were more or less forced by the Soviets to form a united workers party: the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). In the years to follow, the SED became the dominant force and pursued the communist transformation of the Soviet zone.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

CARE

Much needed CARE packages are distributed.

Photographer: Agentur Schirner
Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum)
c. 1948
Schirner: 32242/9
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


To rebuild the country, humanitarian aid was needed urgently. The "Cooperative for American Remittance to Europe" (CARE) sent millions of parcels to people lacking food, shelter and fuel.
To rebuild the country, humanitarian aid was needed urgently. The "Cooperative for American Remittance to Europe" (CARE) sent millions of parcels to people lacking food, shelter and fuel.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe some ways the Second World War affected the people of Germany
  • Describe how the governments of the four victorious powers, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union and France, acted in postwar Germany
  • Relate some key political events in postwar Germany, and their historical impact
  • Gain an appreciation of how politics affected the fate of postwar Germany
  • Appreciate the power of photography to capture historic events and communicate aspects of human existence

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