Visitors to Europe 1945-46
#1  Nabeel 01-30-2020, 11:42 AM
Dear All,

I'm writing about UN Aid workers in Europe at the end of the Second World War and shortly afterwards. I'm therefore interested in non-fictional, first-hand accounts of civilian life in that period, whether by Brit's, Americans, French people, whoever. I've read quite a few autobiographical accounts that were written decades afterwards, some of them incredibly interesting, but I'd like to read some either written at the time, or very soon afterwards.

I can read French.

To give some idea of what I'm interested in, here's my current Top Six favourites:

Clifford Barnard, Binding the Wounds of War; a Young Relief Worker’s Letters Home, 1943-47 (2010)
Edward Blishen, A Cackhanded War (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1983 [1972])
George Clare, Berlin Days, 1946—47 (1989)
Kathryn Hulme, The Wild Place (London and New York: Shakespeare Head, 1954)
Marvin Klemme, The Inside Story of UNRRA; An Experience in Internationalism; a First Hand Report on the Displaced People of Europe (1949)
Norman Lewis, Naples ’44: An Intelligence Officer in the Italian Labyrinth (published 1983, but written much earlier)
Susan T. Pettiss and Lynne Taylor, After the Shooting Stopped: the Story of an UNRRA Welfare Worker in Germany 1945-1947 (2004)

I consider Lewis's account to be a magnificent literary achievement. The other five are competent and interesting.

Please note I'm not so interested in accounts of military conflict (unless they address questions of civilian/military relations). I'd certainly also consider lightly fictionalised autobiographical accounts.

all advice and recommendations welcome!


#2  piperclassique 02-01-2020, 12:37 AM
You might be interested by

#3  John K 02-01-2020, 09:53 AM
Savage Continent by Keith Lowe

"Savage Continent is the story of post WWII Europe in all its ugly detail. Based on primary sources from a dozen countries."

Included in the long list of sources:

International Committee of the Red Cross, Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its activities during the Second World War (September 1, 1939—June 30, 1947), vol. I: General Activities (Geneva: ICRC, 1948)

United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) archives, New York

#4  mitford13 02-09-2020, 11:41 PM
This has become an area of interest for me over the last couple of years and I’ve been cataloguing a list on Goodreads as I work my way through bibliographies and discoveries. So far I’ve only made it through the Lewis, Hulme and Clare books you mention, plus the Low posted by John K., and Spender’s memoir listed below. The rest remain to be tackled/TBR!

Hope you find something of interest here:

European Witness - Stephen Spender
Aftermath - Francesca M. Wilson (UNRRA worker)
Strangers in the Wild Place: Refugees, Americans, and a German Town, 1945-1952 - Adam R. Seipp
German Autumn - Stig Dagerman
The Bitter Taste of Victory: In the Ruins of the Reich - Lara Feigel
The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War - Ben Shephard
Otherwise Occupied: Letters Home from the Ruins of Nazi Germany - Michael Howard
The Soviet Occupation of Germany: Hunger, Mass Violence and the Struggle for Peace, 1945-1947 - Filip Slaveski
The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949 - Norman M. Naimark
The Allied Occupation of Germany: The Refugee Crisis, Denazification and the Path to Reconstruction - Francis Graham Dixon
The Hidden Damage - James Stern
A Strange Enemy People: Germans Under The British, 1945 1950 - Patricia Meehan
Armies of Peace: Canada and the UNRRA Years by Susan E. Armstrong Reid
Rebuilding Europe: Western Europe, America, and Postwar Reconstruction by David W. Ellwood
Uprooted: How Breslau Became Wroclaw During the Century of Expulsions - Gregor Thum
Return to Vienna - Hilde Spiel

The Smoking Mountain: Stories of Postwar Germany by Kay Boyle
A House on the Rhine by Frances Faviell
The Dancing Bear - Frances Faviell

#5  drofgnal 02-11-2020, 05:16 AM
For a fictional account of post WWII Germany, I like the Leon Uris book "Armageddon".

#6  Nabeel 02-11-2020, 05:43 AM
Hi Mitford 13. Thank you for your list - some I'd heard of, some I should have heard of, and some I'd never heard of. Very useful.

I'd like to suggest one more history book for you:

Sharif Gemie, Fiona Reid and Laure Humbert, Outcast Europe: Relief Workers and Refugees in an Age of Total War (1936-48), published in 2010.

And honesty compels me to admit that it is - ahem - by me.

#7  Pulpmeister 02-11-2020, 05:46 AM
Also fiction:

M M Kaye: Death in Berlin (1956)

Newly married to an officer, the author was in Berlin immediately after the war, and this crime novel emerged from it. It is part of a series set in exotic locales, where her husband was posted: Kashmir, Andamans, Kenya, Cyprus...

#8  Nabeel 02-11-2020, 10:39 AM
Hi Pulpmeister. That sounds interesting! Thank you.

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