Today we spent the day looking round the Seelow Heights battlefield which saw fighting from January through to April 1945 when the position finally fell and the road was open to Berlin for the advancing Soviet forces. Like the Oderfront we visited the other day, this is not an area for the casual visitor as there is little easy interpretation and it takes some reading and research to make the long trek out here worthwhile.
Highlights today were the first T34/85 across the Oder river, which we noticed has been renovated for the 70th Anniversary since we were last here. The Seelow Heights Museum is small, but the only one on the entire battlefield so always worth a look in. Behind it is the impressive Soviet cemetery and Seelow memorial, which is one of my favourite battlefield memorials.
Travelling around the ridge also shows what an important defensive position it was and we also had a look at the so-called ‘Shooting Gallery’ (above) which was where German 88mm guns picked off the Soviet tanks.
One interesting feature of this battlefield are the large number of small German burial plots found in almost every village; instead of a huge, mass commemoration, war cemetery, the Landsers are buried in comrades plots often very close to where they died. In many cases they are buried close to the Soviet troops they were up against.
The Seelow Heights is an amazing battlefield and only an hour from Berlin, so well worth a visit.