Above is a short and very somber video from the great Romano Archives, a treasure trove of little-known color footage of the World War II era. This particular footage depicts Leipzig, Germany immediately following the surrender on May 8, 1945, 70 years ago this week. In addition to the rubble of buildings and other eerily silent views of the terrible destruction, this footage brings out some of its human cost, as there are also bodies visible. (Warning: the footage contains images of dead people that many may find disturbing).
I’m posting this video here as sort of a follow-up to my article from last week about the wave of suicides that occurred in Germany in the closing days of the war. In fact Romano calls this footage “suicide party.” One of the persons depicted here, in fact, is one of the victims pictured in that article–the soldier found next to a defaced portrait of Hitler. The reasons for people committing suicide as a result of the German surrender are complex, and a reminder that war is far more than just two armies shooting at each other. It’s in fact a very complicated psychological experience that exerts trauma in many more ways than it might seem at first.
As we remember the end of World War II in Europe this week, let’s keep foremost in our minds an appreciation of the immense human cost that this war took on every society on the planet. Hopefully we will never see destruction on this scale ever again.