In the five years that separated the end of the Second World War from the start of the Cold War, the world had hoped for a lasting peace, but instead found itself on the brink of apocalypse.
Five years of chaos and hope for the people of a shattered Europe, who became pawns in the games of the major powers. May 8th, 1945 : A terrible war finally ended in the smoking ruins of the Reich. The civilian populations celebrated the victory. It was a time for jubilation. But the celebration lasted little more than a few days. The defeat of Nazi Germany did not mean a rosy future lay around the corner. A shattered Europe had to rebuild, heal its wounds, and deal with the fall-out from an interminable and barbarous conflict, whilst sketching the outlines of its future.
In 1945, Europe was a continent of refugees. Millions of men and women who had been deported, interned, or subjected to forced labour, waited for weeks, sometimes months, to return to their homelands. For many civilians, the aftermath of the war was even more brutal than the conflict itself.
Five years marked by founding events: the liberation, the founding of the United Nations, the Nuremberg Trials, the Marshall Plan, the Czech coup, Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech, the expulsion of German minorities, changes in borders, the Berlin blockade, the division of Germany, and so on. Five years of confusion tinged with optimism, before finding themselves one side or the other of the Iron Curtain.
This special is based entirely on remastered and recoloured archives, After Hitler will immerse the viewer into the searing reality of these post war years with compiled unseen Russian, British, German, French, Canadian and American archives.