There are three Soviet War Memorials in Berlin; this review focuses on the memorial located in Treptower Park.
Anytime I visit a burial ground where the dead enshrined are those who fought for their country, I cannot help but feel small, humbled and awed at the cost of their sacrifice for the ideals they believed in. This hallowed ground is no different.
In this particular memorial, the numbers are not certain, but anywhere between 7,000-10,000 soldiers are buried under the shade of Sycamore trees that line the edges of this mall.
Entrance to the memorial, defined by two massive arches may be made from either Puschkinallee or Am Treptower Park.
At the entrance to the mall, a stone statue of "Mother Homeland" sits weeping for her sons.
From this statue flows a promenade flanked by weeping birches that then leads past two huge stylized flags sculpted of red granite into the main section of the grounds, the actual war cemetery.
Eight sarcophagi made of limestone blocks stand on each side of this central area and symbolize the 16 republics the Soviet Union consisted of at the time of the "Great Patriotic War" waged from 1941 to 1945.
At the far end of the memorial grounds is a conical hill, enshrining a tomb that also serves as the pedestal for the memorial's central figure, a Red Army soldier. The bronze sculpture of the Soviet soldier, holding a rescued child in his arm and a lowered sword over a shattered swastika, symbolizes the overthrow of National Socialism and the prospect of a peaceful future.
Treptower Park is admittedly not a place I frequent so often, especially considering how close I live to it. However, it is a place that I am fond of and enjoy every time I am there.
In particular, its location on the water is a major positive. There is almost always a cool breeze and plenty of things to see, such as people on boat cruises. The wide expanse of green lawns means that there are plenty of people picnicking, studying, or playing frisbee, but it never tends to be overcrowded - another plus point in my book.
The park is also home to a beer garden (Das Zenner), a former amusement park (Spreepark), the Soviet War Memorial, rose gardens and fountains, and it leads over to the Insel der Jugend, another interesting place to check out.
All in all, a great place to relax and take it easy without worrying about the crowds.
A ridiculously huge park with several different areas (almost like sub-parks) within it. What interested most people is the abandoned amusement park, which has gained some noteriety since it was used for the climax of the movie Hanna.
In a completely separate area is a monument to the Soviet defeat of National Socialism constructed in the 50s under Stalin. I was somewhat surprised to see that even today it is well maintained and people leave flowers to honor the fallen soldiers.
There were also tons of great areas for hiking, walking, running, and dogs.
First: A little data - a web search tells me that this estimated 220 acres was once home to an exhibition grounds.
On the south end (actually in Planterwald below Bulgarische Strasse) is an abandoned amusement park - the kind of place that industrial decay photographers love. There is an island in the Spree that has concerts when the weather is good and in the southwest is a rather large and lovely lake.
At the NE corner, right near the Sbahn stop (how many parks have their own Sbahn stop?) is a debarkation point for cruises on the Spree and various food establishments.
Also on the south is The Archenhold Observatory, where Einstein gave his first lecture on relativity and where you can take the kids for an astronomy lesson. I have not yet been inside, next time for sure.
So - how do I say 'not much here' without sounding snarky?
220 acres is a huge space - and in that huge space are precious few useful things like, oh, park benches, trash cans and pavilions. I'm certain that the size and waterfront location is the draw here, but I'm the kind of guy who likes to sit and observe whats happening, and its hard to do if there is nowhere TO sit.
Plus, running through the middle of the place is a racetrack of a road called Pushkin Allee. Really? Bisect a giant park with what is really a highway? Yeah, um, bad design work there. The slice between that slab of asphalt and the river is a pretty nice place overall - mostly because of the river view. OK. Totally due to the river view.
OK: Now the centerpiece of the western section is a gigantic Soviet era monument to the 7000 (5000? conflicting details in what I read) Red Army soldiers who died taking Berlin. Its an interesting piece of work, part propaganda and part memorial. I'm a huge fan of the excesses of Social Realism, and this one is actually restrained compared to many of that era. Perhaps as it serves as grave marker for so many fighting men.
BUT: be warned, there are only two entrances, and the gate on the south was locked up tight when I got there. And its a damed long trudge through the mud to get to the other end. I lost 20 minutes of light because of that. Idiots. Plan to go to the North end, there are two ceremonial arch entries facing east and west near that end.
The giant socialist statue features a sword wielding soldier standing on the crushed remains of a swastika, holding a child. Not subtle at all, but effective for sure. Inside is a mosaic that you can only see a small part of that is quite beautiful and symbolic. Its the least over the top part of this space, and the one thing you simply cannot really see all of. Pity.
EDIT TO ADD: I later found out that many Berliners call this guy "The Tomb of the Unknown Rapist". The Soviet army was not kind to the population of Berlin when they took it down.
This park has everything. Its nice to walk along the river bank but also nice to get a curried Wurst! Curried sausage in other words!
The flora is diverse and it has the complusory fountains and little planted areas. It was nice to sit on a bench and comtemplate the world here.
The most interesting part of this park is the Russion memorial. I have reviewed this separately.
Its a huge area to walk. Its split by a road that seems dagerous to cross. Lots of people with huge dogs and annoying cyclist too!
Quite a lovely setting built around an abandoned amusement park! Very cool to peek through the fence to see the old, decrepit rides simply wasting away. We would have tried sneaking in, but there were too many people around. I LOVE abandoned amusement parks, so this was really exciting to see.
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