Fritz Eschen . Berlin under the Makeshift Roof
When “zero hour” struck for postwar Germany, and the country capitulated, Berlin was left in ruins. The Tiergarten—Berlin’s central park—was deforested, the massive Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the heart of the city bombed and crumbling, the historic Nicolai Quarter a burned-out shell, and Lehrter train station crowded with refugees. Yet, slowly, the routines of everyday life found their way back into the lives of Germans in the wake of the Second World War. The new beginning was marked by unemployment and poverty, underground economies and black market trade, occupying forces and the occupied population. Photographer Fritz Eschen investigated life and survival in the destroyed city of Berlin after 1945, leaving no aspect of public life unexamined. His work documents the clearing away of rubble and the process of reconstruction, showing those disabled by the war and those working to rebuild, but also illuminating the rebirth of Berlin’s cultural life and its artists, flâneurs, lovers, and children at play—who are consistently depicted as the city’s true rulers. His photographs are historic documents of modern history, entirely free of pathos and dogmatism, and unique—for the very reason that their motifs are so unspectacular.