Soviet War Memorial at Treptower Park

by Sara · 18.09.2012 · Places · 9 comments

It took me about four years of living in Berlin to finally see the stunning Soviet War Memorial at Treptower Park. Many people have been telling me about it – most of them being absolutely astonished by the massive impression of the memorial and by the fact that I hadn’t been there yet – and still it took another friend with an inclination to discover the city to do the trip. I live about five minutes a bike ride away from it – never bothered.

Not only is the War Memorial a crucial part Berlins history, it’s also quite a landmark. Next time you wonder what to show your visiting friends and family, skip the tiresome Brandenburger Tor adventure and head over to the Treptower Park. Get some bikes and prepare a picknick on a sunny afternoon, you will not be disappointed. That in mind, I’m always surprised at how much the city has to offer. How endlessly exciting it is to visit even the so-called “sight-seeing” places. I keep thinking this blog will soon hit its last article, and yet – so much more that keeps piling up on the list of things we should probably cover at one point or another.

The Soviet War Memorial was built to commemorate 50.000 soldiers who fell in the Battle of Berlin during the war in 1945. Although it was opened already four years after the war, it was only finished in the 90s. The memorial is huge, amidst it a very graphic statue. The architecture is somehow very soothing for its elaborate space. Walking through the pathway up to the statue left me feeling like a tiny insect in comparison. What I didn’t know before: the memorial also served as a military cemetery. There are more Soviet War Memorials spread throughout Berlin (there’s a very distinct one in Tiergarten and I believe one in Pankow, but I’m not sure and frankly too lazy to look it up), but I’m sure this one is the most impressive.

7 comments
  1. There is one particular detail I tell everyone about when the conversation turns to the Soviet War Memorial: There is a long avenue of weeping willows climaxing to the actual memorial. Starting from the beginning one does not notice what is lying ahead, but sees two pylons flanking a platform about fifty meters away. However, curiosity arouses since this seems to be a panorama terrace. If one decides to go there and discover what can be seen there, one will be led by the avenue which is actually a ramp, a small ascent of about two or three degrees. Walking this ramp isn’t actually tiresome but sensible. It takes a certain endeavour to reach the terrace and this is where the propagandistic architecture prevails over the curious visitor: It makes him feel small, subdued and insignificant. The curiosity rises until the terrace is reached, but then, the big statue on the other side of the stretched memorial emerges from the horizon. Now, the visitor knows for what target his endeavour and his being subdued was worth for.

    The rest is typical socialist realistic statuary, nothing much to tell about.

  2. Matthias, I should have probably let you write the text. It’s exactly what I was experiencing without being able to put it into words. When we arrived, we made our ways by bike, which is why everything went by so fast. When we finally “overlooked” the memorial it had simply felt like an adventure up to that point. Maybe I’ll just work your comment into the post.

  3. Another interesting fact about pylons: They have been widely used in ancient Egypt and Greek as gate buildings leading into sacred temple complexes. In European history, pylons had seen a prevalent usage in magnificent buildings from baroque and classicistic times.

  4. Seriously, you’re stealing my thunder.

  5. Sara, I had a pretty similar story to tell about the Soviet War Memorial. Like you it took me ages to get around to going there but it definitely made a huge impression on me. It’s now on my list to show my next visitors, though I will still take them to the Brandenburger Tor. I heard that the memorial in Pankow is closed for renovations but will go there when it is open again.

  6. but dont use your bikes there, its a cemetery, pay some respect.

    senor_dingdong
  7. I was also very impressed. Could someone tell me about the statue of a seated woman at the memorial?

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