Like all other German cities, Hannover, West Germany, was in physical and economic ruin when the Second World War came to a close in 1945. Many of the war’s hardships continued for German citizens in the post-war years, and it was exceedingly difficult to get materials enough to live. Everything was considered precious in this extraordinary stretch, and Germans collected, recycled, and reused all that they could, and produced no garbage. This was a population that learned how to make the best of what one has.
Hannover was still in ruin in 1951, and Otto Schmalz, worn down by the bleakness of it all, decided to immigrate to Canada. Out of the Ruins is Schmalz’s frank and intimate story of a teenage boy’s experience of life during the post-World War II era in West Germany.