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.

  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.

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

What others had to say about it

  1. […] here are a couple of more things that I would love to recom­mend at ran­dom: - Visit the Soviet War Memorial by bike on a sunny day. It will take you through the gor­geous Treptower Park and have you gaze […]

  2. […] graf­fiti spray­ers change turns on the hall of fame. If that seems too far out of your way, try Treptower Park or any of the beau­ti­ful sun­set spots that we’ve recom­men­ded should […]