How It Happened

Armstrong’s photographs show one consequence of the war—the amazing amount of debris and rubble and the enormous task of cleaning up. Yet, the end of the war left many unanswered questions including how the world was going to prevent such an event from happening again. Americans pondered this question on the streets, on radio shows, and in pamphlets which asked questions like, “Can the Germans be Re-Educated?” <sup>11</sup>

The division of Europe after the war also put in motion the Cold War which would dominant the world political system throughout the next forty-five years, and still haunts us today. Gerhard Schade wrote in 1931 on the Meaning of Fascism and in 1950s wrote a fictional essay exploring what could happen if the Cold War turned into a hot war. His account is a hopeful one wishing for a revival of old 19th century European divisions and a resurgence of religion throughout the world. <sup>12</sup>

We now know that Schade’s vision did not come to pass. Nineteenth century European political division have not been easily realigned and conflicts that are hundreds of years old have yet to be extinguished completely. Even though Germany was re-united, the effects of this war are still with us today. Much can be learned about this time from the words and images left by German-Americans and the uneasy shades of gray in which they experienced the war.

A War Department pamphlet prepared by the American Historical Association in 1945 to answer questions about the history of Germany and its people.

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Schade’s fictional essay on the end of the Cold War, circa 1950s.