Survivors in turmoil

May 8, 2020 by Stephen J. Thorne

Six years of war in continental Europe was drawing to a close but for many, if not most, victory was bittersweet—and defeat was devastating. Up to 40 million people in Europe were dead, the vast majority of them non-combatants, and as many as 11 million refugees wandered the wasted landscape. Entire cities were in ruin, infrastructure had been destroyed and governments dissolved. Retribution for the death and suffering imposed by Hitler’s legions and their collaborators was foremost in the minds of some.

A Wehrmacht soldier is taken prisoner during a German counterattack on the Canadian Armoured Division in Sogel, Germany, on April 10, 1945. More than 2.8 million German soldiers surrendered between D-Day and VE-Day.
Alex Stirton/DND/LAC/3207365
A shaven-headed French woman and her German-fathered baby are marched in shame through the streets of Chartres, France. Liberated French took little pity on collaborators of any kind.
Robert Capa/Magnum/PAR10035
A Russian survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp freed by the U.S. 6th Armoured Division on April 11, identifies a guard who brutally beat prisoners. Buchenwald was the first of the camps in German territory to be liberated.
U.S. Army/National Archives/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images/178618
German Admiral Karl Dönitz (in dark coat), followed by Colonel General Alfred Jodl and Albert Speer, the Nazi minister of armaments and war production, are taken captive by British officers on May 23, 1945.
Capt. E.G. Malindine/No. 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit/IWM/36325
American and Soviet soldiers shake hands as their two armies link up in Grabow, Germany, on May 3. The Cold War would soon begin.
Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images/01175935
British women of the Office of War Information dance with American soldiers in the street during VE-Day celebrations in London on May 8.
Photo12/UIG/Getty Images/960_05_DIT01047_082;
A survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp cries out during his liberation by British troops on April 15. Millions died in the Nazi Holocaust. When it was over, hundreds of Nazis were tried, convicted and sentenced to death or life in prison in a series of trials in Nuremburg, Germany, and elsewhere.
Keystone/Getty Images/98n/huty/10822/21
Displaced people and refugees loot the ruins of a German food warehouse during postwar shortages that occured throughout Europe in May 1945.
David E. Scherman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images/00637417
Military personnel and civilians celebrate VE-Day—May 8—on Sparks Street in Ottawa.
Reuters/DND/LAC/PA-PA-114617
American soldiers load a truck with a large painting of Adam and Eve as well as various sculptures, all of which were discovered hidden in a cave belonging to Nazi official Hermann Göring in Winterstein, Germany, in May 1945.
William Vandivert/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images/1225588;
Refugees cross a blown-up bridge on the Elbe River at Tangermunde, Germany, on May 1, attempting to escape the chaos behind German lines caused by the approach of the advancing Russian army.
Fred Ramage/Keystone/Getty Images/97f/04/huch/6104/39

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