The Second World War came to an end in Berlin on 2 May 1945. Seventy years later, at key spaces throughout the city, we set up several large-scale panorama photos that portrayed a destroyed urban landscape – but also the hopes of its inhabitants.
WWII and the legacy of the Nazi regime left deep marks on the people of Berlin and the entire urban landscape. What remained on 2 May 1945 was an almost entirely destroyed city, and it would be six more days before the German Wehrmacht officially surrendered. At the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in the spring of 2015, we took the opportunity to look back at everyday life in Berlin between war and peace, this time with the help of open-air exhibitions at six key historical sites in the city. Large-scale panorama photos were displayed at the Brandenburg Gate, Lustgarten, Alexanderplatz, Potsdamer Platz, Joachimsthaler Platz and Wittenbergplatz, each featuring an image of that same spot from the spring of 1945. Passersby were given a salient sense of the sheer force of the city’s destruction, but also of the hope and optimism of Berliners and the slow re-emergence of social life. These striking images provide a more intense, on-site experience than would have been possible, for example, at an indoor museum exhibition. We also created an accompanying programme of projects and events, such as guided walking tours of three WWII “rubble mountains” for groups of school children interested in exploring the post-war fate of young people their age. Among our partners for the other programmes and event locations associated with this project were the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst, the underground experts at Berliner Unterwelten e.V. and the Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe).