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Defeated People, A (1946)


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Immediately after the end of World War II, Germany lies in ruins, not least thanks to the Allies' decision to focus on destroying communications (including bridges) in the last phase of the war.

In their ruined towns, Germans scour notice boards for news about their relatives. Homelessness is rife, with people cooking in the open. This indicates a basic will to survive which should be tapped and channelled away from the ideas that led to war in the first place. German councillors meet British officers in efforts to resolve the impending issue of starvation and disease. German civilians clear away debris and build shelters in cellars.

At 'Coal Control', the organising centre for German coal mines in the British sector, lorries and trains carry coal to the liberated countries. Centres for tracing relatives are set up, and impromptu travel mechanisms: people are tolerated riding on coal trucks, but are warned not to ride on the bumpers.

The military government has established courts, though it is still important to change the attitude of the police. Indeed, training is all-important, with teachers encouraged to turn children away from Nazi ideas. The Krupp factories have been completely destroyed, as punishment for their contribution towards arming Germany.

The onset of night brings a curfew: those not at home or homeless must go to old air-raid shelters. New German judges are sworn in. Children start getting taught 'wholesome ideas'.