Who do you think you are?
Rory Bremner

Rory Bremner - How we did it

Post-War Germany

Father: Donald Bremner

Step 1

Donald's service record told us that after 's-Hertogenbosch, he and his men endured four months of fierce fighting through Germany until they crossed the Rhine. Soon afterwards, the war in Europe was finally over. Like all British soldiers in Germany, Donald suddenly had to adjust to the task of peacemaking. Rather than a fighting force, they had become an army of occupation in a country on its knees.

Step 2

Donald with colleague and dog
Donald with colleague and dog

Donald's service record showed that he had been posted in various German towns immediately after the war had ended. From other documents, including Donald's personal letters to his parents, we discovered that at a time when many of his colleagues were returning home, Donald applied for a post in the new military government in Germany. In his new job Donald wrote that he was based at a Schloss (castle) in Wesel, a city on the Rhine.

Step 3

Rory was keen to find out what his father's life in postwar Germany was like. Before travelling to Germany, we contacted Wesel's tourist Information office with the sketchy description of the Schloss found in Donald's letters. The tourist information office put us in touch with local people who were able to identify the castle and show us the grim reality of life in Wesel at the time.

Step 4

The local archives in Wesel were a source of compelling information about the region where Donald was based after the war. Most German cities were at least half destroyed during the Second World War. But by 1945, only 3% of Wesel was left standing. Fuel and food was scarce, and war-weary civilians and prisoners were crammed into the few remaining buildings. In the midst of such chaos, British officials like Donald were responsible for re-establishing some form of infrastructure.

Step 5

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Eva recounts working with Donald

Rory visited the rural Schloss to see where his father had lived and worked. Local Wesel contacts put us in touch with a German woman, Eva Becher, who had worked as an interpreter at the Schloss whilst Donald Bremner was the Kreis (district) resident officer there. Eva met Rory at the Schloss, and gave him an eyewitness account of her time working with Donald.

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