I love to discover Berlin. Unfortunately, one often takes far too little time for his hometown and in addition Berlin is not exactly small. Since you are often with the public transport, especially from my home district Spandau, quickly times an hour on the road until you reach the desired destination. The Treptower Park is not one of the destinations that are around the corner for me.
In Treptower Park we visited the Soviet Memorial and I was very impressed by the size of the memorial.
The memorial is one of four memorials established by the Red Army in the Berlin urban area after World War II. There is another one in Schönholzer Heide in Pankow, in Tiergarten in Charlottenburg and in Bucher Schlosspark. All these memorials are not only to commemorate the fallen soldiers, they are also military cemeteries.
Construction history of the Soviet Memorial
7000 soldiers of the Red Army who died in the Battle of Berlin have been buried in the grounds of Treptow Park. The Soviet command wanted to erect a monument in their honor. Ideas were collected in a competition and in 1946 a design by a Soviet collective of architects, sculptors, painters and engineers was chosen.
Although there was a shortage of housing in the city and a shortage of labor and materials in post-war Germany, the Soviets made a point of completing their project. It was even more important to them than creating housing. They wanted to erect a sign of victory and provide a dignified resting place for the fallen soldiers. In May 1949, the construction of the facility was completed.
In the years that followed, the GDR government was happy to use the Treptower Park site for mass events. The actual purpose of the Victory Monument and the cemetery was unimportant, only the gigantic backdrop counted.
Within the framework of reunification, the federal government undertook to allow the monuments and graves to continue to exist and to ensure their permanent existence. According to the treaty, changes may only be made in consultation with the Russian Federation.
When the Russian troops left Germany in 1994, the military closing ceremony took place in Treptower Park. To this day, regular events are held at the memorial.
Tour at the memorial in Treptower Park
One enters the area through a kind of triumphal arch. First you pass a statue of a woman. Already this figure I find quite impressive with a good 3 meters in size. In a figurative sense, the woman is supposed to represent “Mother Homeland”, who mourns for her fallen children.
From the figure, the view of the main monument opens up. This is still a little distant, but from here it already seems quite enormous to me.
I continue along the path in the direction of the main complex and come to two more monuments. Made of red granite, two stylized flags stand here to the right and left of the path. Two soldiers kneel at the front side of each.
From here you go down some steps to the center of the complex. Symbolically, grave fields have been laid out here, fenced in by small hedges and marked with stone slabs and laurel wreaths.
I continue on the southern side. Here are large white sarcophagi made of limestone. On them I discover different reliefs on each long side and on the narrow side there are quotes from Stalin translated into German. If you go along the northern side, which I did on the way back, the quotes are in Russian, the reliefs are identical.
Each sarcophagus is dedicated to a particular theme. For example, it starts with the attack of the Germans, shows the destruction and suffering in the Soviet Union and the victory of the army. I’m not much of a fan of war depictions of any kind, and glorifying the army and battle is not really my cup of tea. Nevertheless, I must say that the reliefs have already impressed me. Artistically, these are really excellent works that are very detailed.
The last two sarcophagi in the rows stand by an artificial burial mound, under which some of the soldiers are buried. On this mound is a walk-in pavilion, on top of which is a column and a sculpture 12 meters high. The figure is called “The Liberator” and represents a soldier. He carries a child on one arm and holds a sword with the other hand. Under his boots he crushes a swastika. All elements together have a height of 30 meters. For me as a viewer at the foot of the memorial really towering high and very impressive.