May 7, 2018

27 Amazing Color Snapshots Capture Street Scenes of Berlin in the Mid-1950s

Ten years after the end of World War II, Germany was rebuilding. Cities like Berlin, which had been severely damaged during the war were emerging from the rubble as the 'Wirtschaftswunder' or 'economic miracle' transformed West Germany.

In the immediate post-war period hundreds of thousands of allied troops were stationed in the divided country, many of them with cameras. Found recently at a flea market, these images were taken by a US Serviceman in Berlin from 1956-57.

Ten years after the end of the war, large swathes of Berlin still lay in ruins.

The scene during the winter of 1956 was bleak.

The Berlin Wall was still some years away from being erected in the winter of 1956 but even without it, Berlin was a divided city. Here, a sign in English, Russian and French marks the border of the American Sector.

The 'hunger rake' memorial at Templehof Airport. The memorial commemorates the Berlin Airlift of 1948/9 when allied aircraft kept West Berlin supplied by air, to break a Soviet blockade.

A snowy Berlin street scene in the winter of 1956. Translated, the sign reads 'Start of the Democratic Sector of Greater Berlin', marking the boundary of the Soviet sector.

Strausberger Platz in Berlin, in the winter of 1956.

The brutalist post-war Soviet buildings and near-deserted streets make some of the photographs almost surreal. This is another view of Strausberger Platz.

Walking the dog in one of post-war Berlin's many areas of waste ground.

Berlin, winter 1956. Many of these images (like this one) were shot from inside moving vehicles, but while sharpness and composition leave something to be desired, the spontaneous snapshot approach reveals unusual details, creating an atmospheric effect.

Berlin in ruins.

Camera shake has rendered this snapshot of Berlin's U-Bahn rather impressionistic.

This is the Haus des Sports, on Stalinallee (now Karl-Marxallee) built for the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1951 and demolished in 1971.

One of Berlin's many wide boulevards, with wartime ruins still clearly visible. The structure in the middle distance is the Brandenburg Gate, before the construction of the Berlin wall.

Shot from inside a car, this photograph shows the Kurfürstendamm - one of West Berlin's busiest commercial streets in 1956 (and today).

Berlin in spring/summer of 1957.

A view of Berlin in the spring of 1957 (presumably from the top of the Berliner Funkturm), looking east along Neue Kantraße. The water in the middle of the picture is the northern part of the Lietzensee.

A shot of one of the many new Interbau buildings, constructed as part of the 1957 International Building Exhibition. This shot was taken from a cable car that was installed as part of the exhibition.

Another shot from the cable car.

'Interbau' was a housing development in West Berlin, constructed as part of the 1957 International Building Exhibition.

A snapshot from inside our photographer's convertible VW Beetle, taken in Berlin in spring/summer of 1957.

Two little girls add a splash of color to this shot of what seems to be the Bismarck monument in Hamburg.

Berliner Sparkasse (savings bank) - the current headquarters of Landesbank Berlin, in Alexanderplatz.

The 'Abteibrücke' bridge, leading to the 'Insel der Jugend' (island of youth) in Treptower Park. The factory in the background is the Kraftwerk Klingenberg.

This shot shows the same bridge from farther away, with Berliners enjoying a drink in the foreground.

Jumping back in time, this picture was taken the previous winter, at the Soviet War Memorial at Treptower Park, in Berlin.

A shop in Berlin - probably in the East (VEB stands for 'Volkseigener Betrieb' or 'People's Enterprise').

An evocative, possibly intoxicated handheld shot of Berlin's Kurfürstendamm, a busy retail street in West Berlin.

(via Digital Photography Review)




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