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This color footage of Berlin after World War II is absolutely stunning

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

Exactly 70 years ago today, Germany surrendered to the Allied powers. But while the war may have been over, the continent was still devastated by its effects — as this rare color footage of Berlin at the time, from Chronos Media, shows.

Taken in July 1945, two months after the surrender, the footage depicts a Berlin still devastated from the doomed Nazi effort to hold back the Soviet advance. Bullet holes pockmark the walls, destroyed cars litter the street, and entire blocks lie in ruin. Major landmarks like the Reichstag look utterly gutted. In the footage, people seem to be going about their day.

It's a scene that shows just how catastrophic the war was for European society. In 1945, the United States made up about 50 percent of the world's GDP — a staggering number possible only because most of the world's economies were so devastated by the kind of war damage you see in the video. Though the millions killed in action or murdered by the Nazis could never be brought back, the continent's economy could and needed to be rebuilt. Hence the massive American investment in Europe known as the Marshall Plan.

About a minute into the video, you get a nice shot of a portrait of Stalin — a reminder that just two months after World War II ended in Europe, the Cold War was already getting started.

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