Published: 01st June 2021
#ThrowbackToday: The 'rubble women' who helped rebuild Germany after World War II
In today's #TBT, we ask, if you think rubble rousers are cool, what about those who had to clear the rubble left behind after a war and build back a nation? Meet Trümmerfrau, the women who did this!
Fighting a war leaves devastation behind, whether you win or lose. After World War II, when Germany was confronted with a similar situation, namely over 3.6 million homes razed to the ground and another four million damaged, it was the women between 15 to 50 who were called upon for the great clean-up. And when have women backed down from a challenge? The challenge was clearing an estimated 400 million cubic meters of rubble left behind because of the war and helping rebuild the country!
The ordeal began on June 1, 1945 when the first group of women, or Trümmerfrau (can be literally translated as rubble woman) as they were called, descended on the streets to start cleaning with simple tools like sledge-hammers, picks, buckets and hand-winches. Private companies were allowed to hire women who began with tearing down what is precarious and clearing away all the debris. Oh, and they worked so hard. Nine hours a day on very little food!
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Praises were sung and statues were erected to thank these hard-working women, who, even if it wasn't purely for altruistic reasons, helped not just clear the path, but also rebuilding a nation from the ground up. After being through a gruelling war at that.