Harald Jähner is a cultural journalist and former editor of the Berliner Zeitung. He was also an honorary professor of cultural journalism at the Berlin University of the Arts.
Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945–1955
Germany, 1945: a country in ruins. Cities have been reduced to rubble and more than half of the population are where they do not belong or do not want to be.
How can a functioning society ever emerge from this chaos?
In bombed-out Berlin, Ruth Andreas-Friedrich, journalist and member of the Nazi resistance, warms herself by a makeshift stove and records in her diary how a frenzy of expectation and industriousness grips the 1city. The Americans send Hans Habe, an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist and US army soldier, to the frontline of psychological warfare - tasked with establishing a newspaper empire capable of remoulding the minds of the Germans. The philosopher Hannah Arendt returns to the country she fled to find a population gripped by a manic loquaciousness, but faces a deafening wall of silence at the mention of the Holocaust.
Aftermath is a nuanced panorama of a nation undergoing monumental change. 1945 to 1955 was a raw, wild decade poised between two eras that proved decisive for Germany's future - and one starkly different to how most of us imagine it today. Featuring black and white photographs and posters from postwar Germany - some beautiful, some revelatory, some shocking – Aftermath evokes an immersive portrait of a society corrupted, demoralised and freed – all at the same time.
Aftermath was first published in Germany as Wolfszeit, where it was a Spiegel bestseller and won the Leipzig Book Fair Prize for non-fiction.
Translated by Shaun Whiteside