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Soviet War Memorial (Treptower Park)

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Photo of the Soviet Memorial at Treptower Park in Berlin

The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park

The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin was built to commemorate the fallen Soviet soldiers who fought in World War II and its design matches. When I first arrived in Berlin back in November 2010 I was jet-lagged and shocked by the winter. Berlin was caught in a Siberian climate that would last until March. Negative temperatures, snowing almost everyday, humidity, and a bitter wind.

I didn't want to leave my bed but on the second day my flatmate - an older East Berlin woman - told me to get out and see the sights. Perhaps aware of my US American background she suggested the Soviet Memorial first and it certainly had an impact!

The memorial consists of a large statue of a Soviet soldier standing triumphantly with a sword in one hand, a shield in the other, carrying (saving) a little girl, while standing on a smash swastika. It is surrounded by a series of bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the war, including the Battle of Stalingrad and the liberation of Berlin. Though they seem like tombs of sorts and the center as a cemetery in fact the soldiers have been buried all around the memorial similar to the memorial in the Tiergarten.

Below the statue is a type of chapel, where visitors can pay their respects to the fallen and they do. You will commonly find flowers and on days like Tag der Befreiung (Day of Liberation) on the 8th of May you may not be able to enter due to the lines. With at a minimum of 25 million dead at the hands of the Nazis even generations later the horror reverberates.

My Thoughts

Undoubtedly it is hard to separate the Stalinist propaganda present at the memorial and perhaps even the contemporary history between Russia and Ukraine. Like I always tell my guests who I bring to this memorial though - and others like it - we cannot blanket our antagonisms on those who had no choice and sacrificed to end one of the worst regimes if not the worst in history.

Adding to this maybe during your visit you will be puzzled due to the casual nature by which Berliners stroll around the space. Don't take it offensively. Treptower Park is one of Berlin's most beautiful parks and even the average Berliner understands and respects such a memorial. Enjoy the walk and check out the park after to come back to the present!


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