Charlottenburg was a divided city in the spring of 1945: Americans and British on one side of the central canal, Germans on the other side. The Allies wanted to win a victory for the newsreel cameras. The Americans were also on the lookout for regimental trophies to match those won by British regiments over centuries of European wars.
Most of the Germans just wanted get out alive, but the remains of an SS regiment had ambitions to escape with a quantity of loot. They felt that they had a greater right to take over abandoned German property than the invaders.
There were many rumours in circulation about what was to be found in Charlottenburg. When the SS discovered that they were trapped, they revealed that the most terrible of the rumours was true. Deadly enemies suddenly found themselves co-conspirators, having to find ways to work together in the face of a simple ultimatum from the SS commander – follow his wishes or face the consequences.
The will to co-operate was there, but both sides knew that they could expect treachery in many forms – as much from their allies as their enemies.