The picture above was taken on April 5, 1935, exactly 83 years ago today. One look at this picture and one can already surmise the difficulties Germany may have had after the fall of the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler — just because the military and political infrastructure were defeated did not mean that all was suddenly well. In fact, many, many innocent people would still die after the end of the war. The difficulties were practical ones, sure, but they were also ideological. How do you change the entire ethical code that a child has grown up under? How do you begin to reform those within Germany that either supported the Nazi party or were radicalized by them? The Nuremberg Trials come to mind, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

“Denazification” was a push from Allied forces to wipe out all remnants of Nazism from any active facet of German culture (not to be confused with wiping it from the history books). This meant altering the existing class structure, educational systems, news and media outlets, literature, architecture — it was no small task. Many were willing and ready to rid themselves of all traces of the Nazi party, but it was still quite integrated into the fabric of German society for a while.

At the time, the French, British, Soviets and Americans were all occupying Germany in a body known as the Allied Control Council, and they each went about denazification in their own way. The incredibly complex dance of politics, attempts at rebuilding, rivalries and other contributing factors all led to what would become East and West Germany.

The British were fairly concerned with rebuilding their own country at the time, so they put a limited amount of resources into managing Germany and its denazification. They realized that, at certain levels, former Nazi sympathizers were so integrated into society that it wasn’t realistic to suddenly remove them all, provided they had not committed any war crimes themselves. They began to install trade unions and tried to let businesses thrive as long as they weren’t run by hard-core Nazis.