Abstract: Stunde Null & Empty Space

At the end of the Second World War, Germany entered a sociopolitical “Stunde null,” or “hour zero.” The consequences of the Nazi regime, the physical and mental scarring of Germany and its people, and the empty space and rubble caused by the constant bombing all contributed to this phenomenon. The empty space in politics, in culture, and in cities all had to be addressed. What happens when you are faced with such destruction? Do you rebuild in the style of ‘before’? Do you modernize, move on, and become new and different? Do you memorialize the destruction in an attempt to confront the past head on?
Germans had different answers to this question. In my research, I will explore how the empty space was filled – or left blank- in German life. I will conduct my research through W&M’s study abroad program in Potsdam, Germany. Through exploring the architecture of the postwar period, rebuilding projects, German ‘rubble films’ showcasing and preserving destruction, and nostalgic ‘homeland films’ emphasizing an idyllic past, and other motifs present in German art and culture, I will explore the dominant themes and how they were accepted by the public.