Tag Archives: Soviet War 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.

Snow at The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park

Archway at the entrance to the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

Berlin was lying under a blanket of snow all of last week and the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park seemed like the perfect wintry scene.

A statue of Mother Russia at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

A snow covered Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

Kneeling Soldier Statue at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

Nicht Vergessen at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

Soldier Statue (Sergeant of Guards Nikolai Masalov) at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

Someone had made some miniature snowmen who stood guard over the memorial.

A snowman at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

Snowmen at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

A snowman at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

The snow seemed to add an extra dimension to the usual stillness and quiet.

The entrance to a snow covered Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

If you’d like to know more about the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park and see how it looks in summer click here.

Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park

The statue of a Soviet soldier carrying a German child and crushing a Swastika beneath his boot with the sun behind it at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in BerlinOne thing I learned from visiting the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin’s Treptower Park is that the Soviets knew how to remember their dead.

After a recent visit to the Soviet War Memorial on Strasse des 17 Juni, I was determined to see this grander version, which I had read about in my guidebooks before my first trip to Berlin but had still not seen until last week.  And now I’ve already been twice.

When I got my first glimpse of the manicured lawns, the symmetrical beauty of the landscaping and marvellous sculptures, my immediate thought was ‘this is now one of my favourite places in Berlin’.

The mass graves and the statue at the Soviet War Memorial in Teptower Park in Berlin

My first visit was on Monday morning, with the sun behind the monumental statue of the Soviet soldier carrying a rescued German child as he crushes a Swastika beneath his boot.  It was difficult to capture the features of this statue facing into such strong sunlight so I returned on Wednesday evening when the sun had swung round so that it was behind the statue of Mother Russia at the other end of the memorial.

The statue of Mother Russia at the Soviet War Memorial in Teptower Park in Berlin

I entered the memorial from the north so it was only after I had reached this statue and turned to my left that I was able to see the scale of what had been built here.

The red granite and a statue of a kneeling soldier at the Soviet War Memorial in Teptower Park in Berlin

A close up from below of a statue of a kneeling soldier at the Soviet War Memorial in Teptower Park in Berlin

I then walked along the paved slope up to the two red granite blocks and kneeling soldiers that seem to form a gateway to the next section leading to the statue, which is said to represent Sergeant of the Guards Nikolai Masalov.

I walked past the five lawns with their bronze wreaths, marking the mass graves of Soviet soldiers and flanked by sixteen stone sarcophagi and climbed the steps to the mausoleum crowned by the impressive statue.

The statue of a Soviet soldier carrying a German child and crushing a Swastika beneath his boot at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

The statue of a Soviet soldier carrying a German child and crushing a Swastika beneath his boot from the steps at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

A close up of the statue of a Soviet soldier carrying a German child and crushing a Swastika beneath his boot at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

It was after admiring the mosaic tiling of the mausoleum and as I rounded the statue that I felt what I thought was a scratch on my calf and looked down to see a wasp stinging me as the pain intensified slightly.  I managed to strangle the swear word threatening to escape my lips as I remembered where I was just in time.  In the end what I mumbled was something like ‘You bssst’.

The view from the statue at the Soviet War Memorial in Teptower Park in Berlin back towards the red granite gateway

And being stung was probably the only thing that meant this wasn’t a perfect morning in Berlin, enjoying the sunshine and experiencing the awe of a first visit to the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park.

The detail on the base of the statue at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

A tourist takes a photo of the statue of a Soviet soldier carrying a German child and crushing a Swastika beneath his boot at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

The view from the statue at the Soviet War Memorial in Teptower Park in Berlin over the mass graves towards the red granite gateway

The red granite gateway and statues of kneeling soldiers at the Soviet War Memorial in Teptower Park in Berlin

A close up from below of a statue of a kneeling soldier at the Soviet War Memorial in Teptower Park in Berlin

Soviet War Memorial on Strasse des 17 Juni

The Soviet War Memorial was erected in 1945 in the British Sector of West Berlin to commemorate the Soviet soldiers who fell during the war.

The Soviet War Memorial on Strasse des 17 Juni in the Tiergarten in Berlin

The soldier on the Soviet War Memorial on Strasse des 17 Juni in the Tiergarten in Berlin

In the background on the right hand side of the next photo you can The Reichstag, the German parliament building.

The Soviet War Memorial on Strasse des 17 Juni in the Tiergarten in Berlin and in the background the Reichstag

A cannon and tank seemingly guard the monument, presumably from the hordes of tourists, the traffic on Strasse des 17 Juni and picnickers and nudists in the Tiergarten.

A cannon at the Soviet War Memorial on Strasse des 17 Juni in the Tiergarten in Berlin

A tank at the Soviet War Memorial on Strasse des 17 Juni in the Tiergarten in Berlin