WWII Recovery Memories
Here is a narrative by a civilian who lived in Zweibrucken just after WWII. Used with permission.
I vaguely remember that rebuilding was in overdrive by 1954. The big Protestant church was able to be rebuilt due to bombs not damaging the cement slab or something similar on which it stood. I lived at the bottom of the shortcut to the top of the so-called hill, across the street, behind the little park on Hilgard or Hildegard street, starting around 1950 until 1962. The 5 apartment house was not quite finished yet, and we lived with no front door and one portable light. The French had built an apartment house around the corner which promptly sank on one side and had to be propped up. They seemed not to know that most of Zweibruecken was built on marshy soil. Before that we lived in Niederauerbach in an old converted farm house with no running water. Some of the grander buildings like the old castle which is now the justice building were not rebuilt until much later. There was little food to be had right after the war, and it was only thanks to the American GIs that we were able to have one meal a day. They provided school lunches for us in first and second grade and I would "sneak" out leftovers for my mother. I hated Fridays when they brought hot chocolate since it just didn't fill my belly.
But it wasn't all hardship in 1946. The White Kaserne in Niederauerbach which held French soldier was built on the hill to the favorite sledding spot. And us youngsters immediately consorted with the "enemy." These were all young French soldiers who apparently had never seen snow and had very little money. In fact, I remember they had their pennies in little matchboxes. We made bargains. They pulled us up the hill on the sled and we would let them sled down with us. Leave it up to kids. We didn't need translators.
Oh, and the Schwimmbad in Zweibruecken for a long time after the war was a dammed off portion of the Schwarzbach. No chlorine, sometimes it got shut down because of a dead pig or cow being found in it. I'm totally amazed when I go to the Zweibruecken website and see the buildings which have been built since I left town in 1962.
If you are interested in getting a good feel for what it was like in post-war Germany, and you like to read, you may want to pick up some books by Heinrich Boell, particularly his short stories. They are translated into English and give you a good feel for what the folks in Israel, Afghanistan, and Lebanon feel today.