SOVIET MEMORIES IN TREPTOWER PARK

Peaceful, poignant, impressive, the memorial dedicated to Soviet soldiers in Treptower Park in Berlin reminds visitors about the inferno of the Battle of Berlin and the 80,000 dead on Russian side. The Memorial cannot fail to impress while its layout will remind of the emerging Cold War of Post-war Berlin.

2019 will see the 30th anniversary of the disappearance of the Berlin Wall. While memories of Berlin division are fading step by step each passing year, they are still areas in Berlin bearing memories of this dark time in the city’s history.

One of the most striking structures is the Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park. Ride up to Schlesiches Tor Underground Station (U-Bahn) and walk along Schlesische Strasse. You pass a 10 metre high watchtower, which actually used to be the command post for 18 watchtowers along the Berlin Wall. You then of cially enter former East Berlin, with Puschkin Allee taking you to the Park.

Back to 1946, the Council of the Soviet Military Administration of Germany organised a competition to build a grand memorial to the Soviet liberation of Germany from National Socialism. Work started in 1947 for an of cial opening on May 8, 1949, on time for the fourth anniversary of the end of WWII. The layout is majestic. The entrances to the memorial are de ned by massive arches. Wide paths with weeping birch trees take visitors into a three-meter granite statue of “Mother Homeland”, followed by two huge stylized Soviet ags sculpted of red granite. Two kneeling soldiers at the bottom of the ags are mourning the 80,000 dead. Limestone sarcophagi stand on each side of the central area and symbolize the then 16 Soviet Republics. Their reliefs in typical style of Socialist realism illustrate scenes from the “Great Patriotic War” waged from 1941 to 1945.

The heart of the memorial is however a conical hill bearing a crypt that also serves as the pedestal for the memorial’s central gure, a Red Army soldier holding in his arm a rescued child. The statue is 30 meter high while inside the crypt, a mosaic shows the 16 Soviet Republics. At the feet of the soldier, a lowered sword covers a destroyed swastika, symbol of National Socialism defeat…