This film is part of Free

Battle for Germany

Was Nazism a good idea poorly carried out? Many Germans still thought so in 1948, according to this portrait of a country threatened by Russia but still trying to escape its own past.

Documentary 1948 18 mins


March of Time's film on post-war Berlin shows that even in 1948 memories of the war were raw. Despite denazification and currency reform, which had introduced stability to the German economy, this film suggests that attachment to the old regime was a lingering problem. The Berlin airlift, masterminded by General Lucius Clay, had been a success, but the film is under no illusions about the longer term economic and political problems facing the country: not least the threat from Communist Russia.

Even after the war The March of Time never lost its interest in international affairs, as this film shows. Shots from the industrial Ruhr show an economy in recovery but the most engaging section of the film looks at the daily life - and attitudes - of the middle-class Buchner family, living a frugal life in Frankfurt. While Frau Buchner seems fairly happy, despite rationing, her husband is portrayed as resenting the US but fearing the Russians more. Son Hugo looks back on his days in the Hitler Youth as the only worthwhile part of his life. Educational reform is vital: the Buchner’s daughter, free from a sense of racial superiority embodies the hopes that a new Germany will embrace the values of Western democracy.