Today we looked at the Battle of Berlin itself visiting a number of locations in and around the city where evidence of the 1945 fighting took place. Inevitably such a journey takes the battlefield visitor to Treptower Park, where the massive Soviet Memorial site is located.
The site commemorates more than 80,000 Soviet soldiers who died in the final battles in April-May 1945, with many of them being buried here. A massive statue of a Soviet soldier holding a child in one hand and a sword in the other held at rest, having cut a Swastika in half, dominates the site.
In addition a whole series of murals depict aspects of the Soviet experience of war from Operation Barbarossa in 1941 to the advance into Berlin in 1945. They show a very ‘rosy’ view of the war, with Soviet citizens rising up, Partisans fighting back, troops defeating the fascists and Russians being welcomed by Germans as they came into Berlin in the final phase of the war. This type of physical propaganda was perhaps persuasive after the war to some, especially as this area of Berlin was part of the DDR, but it presents an image of the war that many would not recognise now. And that is what it makes it fascinating and turns the memorial into an historical document in its own right, making it very much part of our collective historiography of the Second World War.
This is a massive site which takes a good hour or more to walk round, and is easy to reach on public transport from almost anywhere in central Berlin.