The Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide is rather unknown, but I find it no less impressive than the memorials in Treptow and at the Brandenburg Gate.
A tip brought the memorial to my attention, so we went to Pankow to discover it.
Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide
Schönholzer Heide was a popular excursion destination for Berliners in the 19th century. During the Second World War, a large forced labour camp was established there.
After the war, the Soviet military leadership decided to build a memorial and a military cemetery in the north-western park area for 13,200 soldiers who had died in the Battle of Berlin. The memorial, planned by a group of Soviet architects, was built on an area of over 27,000 m² between May 1947 and November 1949.
Tour of the memorial site
From Germanenstraße, a tree-lined avenue leads to the entrance gate of the complex. At the beginning of the avenue are two columns, each with a large wreath and an eternal flame. The complex is surrounded by a high wall and there is only this one entrance.
To the right and left of the entrance are two granite pillars with symbolic wreaths and bronze bowls with an eternally burning flame. The gate buildings on either side have small corner towers of red granite. Large reliefs depicting the fighting and mourning people can be seen from the outside.
Peering into the tower buildings, we discovered a large bronze urn standing under an impressive skylight. It must be composed of hundreds of colourful individual parts and the light shines through the coloured glass onto the urn. There are quotes from Stalin on the wall. Somewhat surprised, I noticed that on one side of the gate everything is in Russian and on the other side of the gate everything is in German.
We first walk along the main axis of the complex in Schönholzer Heide. At the end is an obelisk made of syenite (a type of rock) that is over 33 metres high. In front of it is the monument to the Russian “Mother Homeland”. She mourns her fallen son, who is covered with the flag of victory.
There is a tomb under the obelisk. Two Soviet colonels are buried here. The base of the obelisk has 42 bronze plaques with the names of fallen officers.
If you walk around the obelisk, you will discover a memorial stone. This commemorates Soviet victims in concentration camps. They were mostly housed there as prisoners of war. It is somewhat unusual that these victims are commemorated here. Under Stalin, every prisoner of war was automatically a collaborator. Normally, a collaborator is not commemorated.
The Soviet Memorial in Schönholzer Heide is a large cemetery. There are eight burial chambers to the right and left of the main axis. There are 1182 Red Army soldiers buried in each one.
If you walk directly along the wall, you will discover 100 bronze plaques with the names, rank and year of birth of some of the victims. Everything is written in Cyrillic, but fortunately you can read up on it and so I learned that only a fraction of the dead could be identified and are noted on the plaques. Stylised wall torches hang between the plaques, but of course they don’t really burn.
During our walk around the grounds, we only met 2 other people. Here, in contrast to the better-known memorials in Berlin, it is very quiet and for me it is just the right atmosphere to pay homage to the dead.
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