Trümmerfrauen: The Women Who Helped Rebuild Germany After World War 2
After the end of World War 2, one of the main tasks was to clear the urban areas of ruin and start rebuilding Europe—Germany in particular, where the damage was extensive. Allied bombing had laid to waste nearly every German city, town and village, destroying millions of homes, public buildings, schools, factories, as well as centuries-old cathedrals, mediaeval houses and other historic structures.
It is estimated that the war produced over 400 million cubic meters of rubble that needed to be cleared before any reconstruction plan could be undertaken. This herculean task fell upon the German women, because a large percentage of the men were already dead or were prisoners of the war. These women were called Trümmerfrauen, or “rubble women”.
These images of rubble women carrying bricks and wrangled pieces of steel with their bare hands became the symbol of the German people’s unwavering spirit, their courage, and their desire to rebuild their nation.