Soviet War Memorial

The Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park is the largest war memorial not only in Berlin, but all over Germany. The impressive statue on the mausoleum depicts a soldier holding a rescued German child in his arms. The memorial commemorates the approximately 80,000 Soviet soldiers who lost their lives while taking Berlin.

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 1990s. The memorial is huge, amidst it a very graphic statue. The architecture is quite captivating. The memorial also serves a military cemetery.

Not only is this Soviet landmark a crucial part Berlins history, it’s also quite a sight. 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.

The bronze Soviet soldier with a rescued child in his arms and a lowered sword over a shattered swastika symbolizes the smashing of National Socialism and the view into a peaceful future.

I often run from Kreuzberg through Treptower Park only to see the memorial. It’s one of my favorite sights in Berlin and never ceases to take the breath away.

At the end of the complex stands  the main monument of the memorial: the cone-shaped mausoleum hill with a crypt that serves as a base for the main figure, the Red Army soldier. The interior of the crypt is lined with a mosaic frieze depicting representatives of the 16 Soviet Union republics at the commemoration of the dead. The bronze Soviet soldier with a rescued child in his arms and a lowered sword over a shattered swastika symbolizes the smashing of National Socialism and the view into a peaceful future.

9 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. 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.

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

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