Film ID:
YFA 3085

WHILE GERMANY WAITS

1945

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is a film made by the Friends Relief Society, a Quaker organization, which examines the state in which Germany and its people were left at the end of World War II.

Opening title cards:
Friends Relief Society presents While Germany Waits

In many countries in Europe, members of the voluntary relief societies are helping to rebuild shattered lives and minds, the aftermath of war. In Germany the problems are acute, the need for enlightened and resolute action urgent as the people wait for the decisions that will shape their future.

There is a map of Germany divided into different regions and labelled according to which allied country has control.
In the countryside, not much noticeable damage has been done by the way. There are townspeople walking along the roads, some with goats, and others farming and tending to the fields with ploughs.

Juxtaposed to the image of the intact countryside is the damage, destruction, and devastation which the German cities experienced. In Dortmund, 80% of the city is unfit for habitation. Here, the remnants various churches, houses, and other buildings can be seen. There are people walking through the town as well as trams making their way through as the people there make an effort to return to the normalcy of everyday life. The suburbs have been destroyed, but the majority of the worst damage was done to the poorer and more industrial side of town.

Members of the Friends Relief Society start to inspect the damage done to one of the churches in the city. While the majority of the building has been destroyed by the bomb, there are two families living in the cellar of the church. Here, the mother of the family must go out daily into town in search of food. While she has the ration book available to her, the actual food is quite hard to come by. There is also a chart to display the daily caloric intake of those who are on normal rations in Germany compared to those in both the UK and U.S. During the same period, those living in Germany experiencing well below the normal caloric intake needed for a healthy lifestyle.

Once back from town, she then begins to search through the rubble for suitable building supplies as no new supplies will be available to rebuild the houses destroyed in the bombings. Additionally in this portion of the film, documented are other people living in the more unusual means of housing available to them.
Many people from the town will venture to the countryside in order to obtain their food. Here, many people make their way off the train carrying large bundles of food back to their homes. While this was illegal at the time due to rationing, it was reportedly necessary as to stop starvation at the time.
Other cities are experiencing the same thing, and near an American bridge, there are people, both young and old, lined up in a soup line in hopes of obtaining some extra food for the day.

Members of the Friends Relief Service have a sit down meeting with other civic leaders of the town in hopes of finding a way to work together and form new schools for teaching the youth of Germany. Additionally, the volunteers will work with the elderly. At a Home for Old People, the volunteers work with the staff as they work to rebuild and keep adequate quarters for those in need. Also nearby are three bridges which used to go cross the Rhine and now lie in ruin.

In Hamburg, the largest city in the British zone, there are people lying in hospital beds sick from hunger and nutritional needs. A doctor holds a tray full of examples of British products sent in order to aid the patients including Cystine, a human hair extract used as a nutritional supplement.

While the countryside did not experience the same bombings the cities did, they still suffer. Trains, full of people looking to get back to their homes, cross the countryside. Here, there are different camps at which the travellers of all ages, carrying all their possessions with them, are fed and medically checked before being bussed off to other places around the country.

In Barbuke, a village to which many exportees are sent, school masters, shopkeepers, and medical workers all discuss how they will be able to deal with the ever rising numbers of people while lacking the proper facilities.

At this point, the members of the Friends Relief Society have a formal sit down meeting to discuss the future prospects for the German people. At this time, men discuss the differing viewpoints of communism, religion, and general politics in order to try to reach some sort of agreement as to how to best serve the country.

There are different camps scattered around the countryside, - military, old holiday, others according to ethnicity - in which those live who have lost their homes in the war. The Jewish survivors are mostly segregated and look to emigrate in the near future. The volunteers try to soften the relationship between the German and Non German peoples. In one of the camps, and example is given of an Ukrainian home, decorated with ornately embroidered cloth and other traditional symbols and fabrics. In another section of the camp there is a Polish alter made of old jam jars and tin cans. Furthermore, there are scout groups being set up in order to help educate and give a sense of community to the youths of Germany.

At one such event in order to bring people together, Polish and German youths meet for a football match. Later on in the day, different groups of children perform traditional songs and dances, including the Ukrainian sword dance, for many spectators.

The film then closes with different signs of Military Government with the intention that this is only the first step towards reconstruction, and much more needs to be done by not only political leaders, but anyone in the position to help the people in Germany.