Tag Archives: Memorial

Soviet War Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin 001

Honouring the Soviet soldiers who died in the Second World War was obviously of huge importance to Joseph Stalin – in Berlin alone there are 4 memorials, one of which is the Soviet War Memorial in Schönholzer Heide (Das Sowjetische Ehrenmal in der Schönholzer Heide).  It may not be as centrally located as the Soviet War Memorial on Strasse des 17 Juni or as jaw-droppingly vast as the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park but it is an impressive monument to the fallen soldiers nonetheless.

Plans to construct the Soviet war memorials in Berlin were conceived soon after the end of the war and a group of Soviet architects – Konstantin A. Soloviev, M. Belarnzew, WD Koroljew – and the sculptor Ivan G. Perschudtschew were given the task of creating the memorial in Schönholz.

Construction of the memorial and cemetery – 13,200 of the approximately 80,000 Soviet soldiers who died in the Battle of Berlin are buried here – took place between May 1947 and November 1949 over an area of around 27,500 m2.

Names on Plaque at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

Set in the walls flanking the memorial are 100 plaques bearing the name, rank and year of birth of each of the 2647 soldiers it was possible to identify.

When I first made the journey to Schönholz in the North Berlin district of Pankow the memorial was closed for renovations – metal fences barred access to the grounds but I resolved to return.

The memorial was closed between early 2011 and August 2013 during which time 10.35 million Euros was spent cleaning, renovating and installing new security systems.

I returned to the Soviet War Memorial in Schönholzer Heide on a sunny afternoon soon after it reopened on the 13 August 2013.

Pillar at Entrance to Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Entrance to Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin 002

The entrance is flanked by two granite pillars topped with a bronze sculpture of an eternal flame and bearing a wreath.  From here, an avenue of lime trees leads to the memorial grounds.

German Inscription at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Russian Inscription at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Bronze Relief of Soldier and Grieving Parents at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Bronze Relief of Soldier at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Bronze Relief of Female Soldier at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Military Insignia at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

I paused at the red granite gatehouses bearing bronze reliefs depicting victorious soldiers and the soviet people grieving the loss of loved ones, along with the insignia of the Soviet military branches.

Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin 004 Obelisk at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Mausoleum at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Mother Russia at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

Having walked the length of the grounds to the focal points of the memorial, the Statue of Mother Russia and the 33.5m high Obelisk, I sat on the steps to enjoy the peace and quiet.

As I sat there waiting for the moment I could take a photo looking back to the entrance without people in it, I watched as a woman lifted her toddler onto the plinth of the statue of Mother Russia, where the child proceeded to beat the cast bronze.

The same woman then dropped the cigarette she had been smoking and crushed it on the ground under her foot, where she left it.

Whilst I was still shaking my head at her lack of respect, a couple arrived with their dog, off its lead, running around on the grass above the bodies of the Russian soldiers.

Mother Russia and Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

Thankfully, my visit and my faith in human nature were rescued by another visitor and what turned out to be a magic Berlin moment.  As I sat there an elderly gentleman approached me and asked if I speak Russian.

When I explained that I don’t, Wolfgang introduced himself in German and went on to tell me about his personal connection to the memorial.

Wolfgang had fought during the war and spent the 4 years from 1945 to 1949 in a Russian prison in Volta outside Moscow as a Prisoner of War.  He lives 30 minutes walk from the War Memorial and visits often to say thank you to the dead soldiers there who gave their lives to end the war.  He came empty handed on the day I met him but he explained that he often brings flowers from his garden.

Wolfgang then told me a little of his life after the war living in East Berlin with his wife and 2 children.

We discussed the peacefulness of the memorial, the horror and stupidity of war and the uniqueness of Berlin – ‘ich liebe Berlin’, Wolfgang told me often.

Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin 003 Eternal Flame at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin Flowers at Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide in Berlin

I can’t promise you’ll meet Wolfgang if you visit the Soviet War Memorial in Schönholzer Heide but there are plenty of symbolic touches in the monument and grounds that will lead to the contemplation of the human cost of the war and the Soviet army’s losses in the Battle of Berlin in particular.

Stolpersteine 204: Remembering The Eisenstädt Family – Gunter Demnig at work

Stolpersteine Berlin 204: In memory of Kurt Eisenstädt, Käte Eisenstädt and Berl Eisenstädt (Erkelenzdamm 9)

On 28 March I ticked a very important item off my to do list when I saw Gunter Demnig at work laying Stolpersteine in Berlin.  Three Stolpersteine were placed outside Erkelenzdamm 9 in Kreuzberg in memory of Kurt Eisenstädt, Käte Eisenstädt and Berl Eisenstädt.

I got to witness these Stolpersteine being laid because one of the stones, the one for Berl Eisenstädt, was sponsored by NotMs Parker of the wonderful Kreuzberg’d blog.

It was clear to the small group gathered at Erkelenzdamm 9 just how much the laying of these memorials to the Eisenstädt family meant to NotMs Parker.

Gunter Demnig holding a Stolperstein outside Erkelenzdamm 9 in Berlin Kreuzberg

She told us that she had come across Berl Eisenstädt’s name in a list of Jews transported to Auschwitz, where he was murdered shortly after his second birthday.  The proximity of his age to that of her own sons at the time had touched her deeply.  Knowing of Gunter Demnig’s Stolpersteine initiative she was determined that others should know the fate of this little boy.

As explained on Kreuzberg’d in the post Stolperstein For The Little Berlin Eisenstädt, what she was not aware of at the time was that Berl’s parents’ fate had been discovered by two other people, who had also requested Stolpersteine.

Gunter Demnig digging a hole to lay Stolpersteine in memory of the Eisenstädt family outside Erkelenzdamm 9 in Berlin Kreuzberg

Gunter Demnig enlarging a hole to lay Stolpersteine in memory of the Eisenstädt family outside Erkelenzdamm 9 in Berlin Kreuzberg

Gunter Demnig laying Stolpersteine in memory of the Eisenstädt family outside Erkelenzdamm 9 in Berlin Kreuzberg

Gunter Demnig sweeps a newly laid group of Stolpersteine in memory of the Eisenstädt family outside Erkelenzdamm 9 in Berlin Kreuzberg

You can see more about the Stolpersteine at Erkelenzdamm 9 on Kreuzberg’d.

If you’re wondering what Stolpersteine are and would like to know more about the project check out my first Stolpersteine post.

Stolpersteine 198 – 203

Stolpersteine Berlin 203e: In memory of Berthold Goldschmidt (Reichenberger Strasse 181)

I have updated my Stolpersteine Gallery with photos of the Stolpersteine I saw in Berlin over the last week (with the exception of one very special group of stones that I will post about soon).

These Stolpersteine were dedicated to: Heinrich Thieslauk (Warschauer Strasse 60); Robert Becker, Jenny Becker, Erna Becker and Erich Becker (Warschauer Strasse 61); Hans Litten and Martha Litten (Grünberger Strasse 43-45); Wilhelm Selke (Ritterstrasse 109); Willi Otto Büttner (Reichenberger Strasse 184); Morduch Raichlin, Erich Lustig, Frida Raichlin, Ida Lustig, Arthur Itzig, Gertrud Itzig, Amalie Itzig, Gerd Itzig, Cäcilie Lazarus, Tana Stern and Berthold Goldschmidt (Reichenberger Strasse 181).

My first post about Stolpersteine explains the background to these memorials to the victims of National Socialism created by artist Gunter Demnig.

Stolpersteine 195 – 197

Stolpersteine Berlin 195: In memory of Cacilie Nadel (Admiralstrasse 23)

I have updated my Stolpersteine Gallery to include photos of the Stolpersteine I have seen in Berlin in the last couple of weeks.

The Stolpersteine I saw were memorials to: Cacilie Nadel (Admiralstrasse 23); Elsbeth Piltz (Kottbusser Damm 5); Arthur Rosenow, Jenny Bukofzer and Isidor Bukofzer (Graefestrasse 3).

My first post about Stolpersteine gives more background about these memorials to the victims of National Socialism created by artist Gunter Demnig.

Stolpersteine 194

Stolpersteine Berlin 194: In memory of Eliser Ehrenreich and Martha Gerson (Mommsenstrasse 69)

I have added photos of the Stolpersteine I saw in Berlin over the past week to my Stolpersteine Gallery.

The Stolpersteine I saw were memorials to: Eliser Ehrenreich and Martha Gerson (Mommsenstrasse 69)

You can find out more about artist Gunter Demnig his Stolpersteine project, that recognises the individuals who suffered at the hands of National Socialism, in my first post about Stolpersteine.

Famous Berliners: President John F Kennedy (JFK)

John F Kennedy (JFK) Ich Bin Ein Berliner (Associated Press)

Image: Associated Press

He was born in Brookline, Massachusetts and never lived in Berlin but President John F Kennedy is probably the most famous ‘Berliner’.

In a speech on the steps of Rathaus Schöneberg on 26 June 1963 Kennedy declared:

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!”

It was a defining moment at the height of Cold War tensions between the USA and the Soviet Union.  A warning from Kennedy to his Soviet counterpart, Nikita Krushchev, that the Americans would not foresake the West Berliners and a show of solidarity for a people adjusting to life in the shadow of the Berlin Wall.

It is probably one of the most iconic moments of 20th century political history.

A plaque on the facade of Rathaus Schöneberg commemorates this significant event.

John F Kennedy (JFK) Plaque at Rathaus Schöneberg Berlin commemorating his "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" speech

Contrary to popular belief Kennedy didn’t make a linguistic faux pax with the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’.

It is an oft repeated story that in using these words Kennedy said ‘I am a doughnut (or donut for the Americans).

It’s true that in many parts of Germany a jam filled doughnut is known as a Berliner but in Berlin the doughnuts are known as Pfannkuchen and the citizens are Berliners.

Here’s a video of part of John F Kennedy’s ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech for anyone who hasn’t seen it before or those inclined to watch it again.

President John F Kennedy – ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ Speech

Stolpersteine 192 – 193

Stolpersteine Berlin 193: In memory of Klara Jacob (Silbersteinstrasse 97)

I have added photos of the Stolpersteine I saw in Berlin over the past week to my Stolpersteine Gallery.

The Stolpersteine I saw were memorials to: Felix Mechelsohn (Adalbertstrasse 95A); Klara Jacob (Silbersteinstrasse 97).

If you’d like to know more about this very worthy project by artist Gunter Demnig that recognises the individuals who suffered at the hands of National Socialism you should read my first post about Stolpersteine.

Stolpersteine 191

Stolpersteine Berlin 191: In memory of Luise Kautsky (Windscheidstrasse 31)

I have updated my Stolpersteine Gallery to include a photo of the Stolpersteine I saw in Berlin over the last week.

The Stolperstein I saw was laid in memory of Luise Kautsky (Windscheidstrasse 31).

My first post about Stolpersteine gives more background about these memorials to the victims of National Socialism created by artist Gunter Demnig.

Stolpersteine 189 – 190

Stolpersteine Berlin 189 (7): In memory of Alice Schlesinger and Hedi Leonie Schlesinger (Schlüterstrasse 54)

I have updated my Stolpersteine Gallery to include photos of the Stolpersteine I saw in Berlin in the past week.

The Stolpersteine I saw were dedicated to: Rosa Phiebig, Charlotte Heilborn, Erwin Nellhaus, Marie Lion, Else Moser, Emilie Kass, Ida Elsbach, Selma Grünthal, Salomo Goldstein, Paul Rathe, Otto Rathe, Gertrud Friedlaender, Wilhelm Abramczyk, Gertrud Abramczyck, Gertrud Katzenstein, Alice Schlesinger, Hedi Leonie Schlesinger, Ida Wollheim, Julie Sahlmann (Schlüterstrasse 54); Adolf Cohn and Gertrud Stern (Schlüterstrasse 53).

I explained the background to these memorials to the victims of National Socialism and the project created by artist Gunter Demnig in my first post about Stolpersteine.

Stolpersteine 187 – 188

Stolpersteine Berlin 187 (1): In memory of Richard Wilde and Wolfgang Wilde (Wielandstrasse 30)

I have updated my Stolpersteine Gallery to include photos of the Stolpersteine I saw in Berlin in the last week.

The Stolpersteine I saw were dedicated to: Richard Wilde, Wolfgang Wilde, Martha Kiwi, Regina Warszawski, Fanny Elkan, Josef Gross, Margarete Gross, Rudolf Kirchheim (Wielandstrasse 30); Wolf M Ehrenreich, Ernst W Ehrenreich, Rosa Hirschweh, Curt Hirschweh and Gertrud Müller (Wielandstrasse 31).

My first post about Stolpersteine gives more background about these memorials to the victims of National Socialism created by artist Gunter Demnig.