From the series: Europe is Hot, Berlin is on Fire
Cemetery to 5000 Soviet Soldiers, monstrous war memorial, commemorating 80,000 dead soldiers, in the middle of a park in Berlin; this daunting remembrance masterpiece is known as the Soviet War Memorial.“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” Winston Churchill
Basically, I stumbled upon this monstrous commemoration, the Soviet War Memorial, while out walking in the beautiful Treptower Park. Across the way I spotted a massive archway with a wide stone path begging to be passed through. High above on the arch it reads: “Ewiger Ruhm den Helden, die für Freiheit und Unabhängigkeit der sozialistischen Heimat gefallen sind” which translated says “Eternal glory to the heroes who have fallen for freedom and independence of the socialist homeland”. What opened before my eyes as I passed through the entrance I never expected.
At approximately 25 acres, the sheer size of this monstrous memorial is both amazing and intimidating at the same time. It was built in 1949, 4 years after the end of the Second World War, to rejoice the liberation from National Socialism. It was designed not only as a dedication to the 80,000 dead Soviet Soldiers who served in the WW2 Battle of Berlin, but also as a final resting place to 5000 of those red army fighters.
Not a random number, 16 Sarcophagi line the central area of the monumental masterpiece. The number 16 signified the 16 Soviet Republics of the time. Russian military scenes are carved on the tombs along with quotes from Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, in both Russian and German. Like history is, the scenes are a mixture of horrifying, peaceful and victorious mixed with a generous helping of misleading depictions. One of the quotes reads: “Now all recognize that the Soviet people with their selfless fight saved the civilization of Europe from fascist thugs. This was a great achievement of the Soviet people to the history of mankind.”
A beautiful plaza like area appropriately lined by weeping willows starts with a statue of a mourning mother before leading to two huge soviet flags carved from red granite stone each with a kneeling soldier at the base. The view from here is magnificent; it opens up to a large, airy space centred with brass wreaths in grass areas, which are symbolic mass graves, surrounded by a framing carpet of intricate mosaic tile stones; flagstone walkways push out to the aforementioned Sarcophagi and their pictorial story.
On a 18 meter high hill at the far end stands the glorious 12 meter Soldier. Representing the might and power of the Soviet Union, he holds a rescued German child in one arm and a mighty sword in the other hand, while standing over a broken swastika. The base of the statue opens to a room with mosaic depictions of Soviet representatives honouring the dead. The hill itself is a crypt which houses the 5000 dead red army soldiers. Stairs leading up the hillside can be climbed and provide a wonderful view of the commemorative Soviet War Memorial.
As part of the famous Two Plus Four Agreement of 1990, Germany is responsible for all maintenance and repairs as well as the costs involved therein. Whether you are a history fan or not, this part of the Treptower Park should not be missed. Come be amazed and intimidated by the massive Soviet war memorial and remember, Europe is Hot, Berlin is on Fire!
“Lest history rear its ugly head and repeat itself, we must remember this bloody time.” Diane Misol
“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” Winston Churchill