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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, Aug. 17, 2015: Soviet War Memorial, Berlin



A quiet place, in a peaceful park in Berlin hardly seems connected at first sight to the horrific fighting that took place all over Berlin in the final days of World War II. But it is a memorial to 80,000 Soviet soldiers killed in that battle to end Nazi rule, and to many more injured. Five thousand of them are buried here, under the green area leading to the monument.





The monument itself is testament has a story to tell about the battle; it shows a Soviet soldier with a sword, standing on a crushed swastika, and holding a young child. It honors Sgt. Nikolai Masalov, who rescued an abandoned 3-year-old German girl from under heavy German machine-gun fire. Some question the story, but the point is made.



In a note that emphasizes the circumstances, the granite blocks and a number of other parts of the memorial, which was dedicated in 1949, came from the ruins of Hitler's Chancellery building. With the end of Berlin's status as a divided and occupied city in 1990, responsibility for permanent maintenance of all Allied war memorials was given to the German government. In consultation with Russia, extensive repair and renovation have been carried out since.




The memorial is a major draw for Russian travelers visiting in Berlin, often including families and descendants of the soldiers. It's also the site of an annual Victory Day celebration, on the anniversary of the war's end, carried out by a local Anti-fascist Coalition of Treptow. The picture below is from their 2010 event.










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