Unlike the Napoleonic Wars, and the First World War, there was no peace settlement in 1945. The shape of Europe was determined entirely by military force, dividing it into two halves which corresponded to neither geography, culture nor previous history. From the D-Day landings to the collapse of Berlin, military movements were more and more dominated by separate national ambitions. And the Yalta and Potsdam conferences were more recognitions of a fait accompli than agreements on the terms of peace. With Gregor Dallas we re-live the vast events of the end of the war years in the experience of real people. The Birth of the Present opens in Berlin on the day of Hitler's suicide, where life, such as it existed, continued on the roofs, in the attics, in the streets, ruins and cellars of the city. We live too with the armies in the field, their movements determined by the cycle of seasons, and with civilians, particularly in booming wartime Washington, bombed London, liberated Paris, annihilated Warsaw, doomed Berlin, and Moscow gripped by poverty and secret terror.