Schönholzer Heide Soviet Cemetery, Berlin, Germany

The least accessible and least known of the three major Soviet memorials in Berlin can be found in the Pankow district, in the north of the citSchonholzer Heidey.

The cemetery was designed by a team including the architects Konstantin A. Solovyev, M. Belarnzev and W.D. Korolyev and the sculptor Ivan G. Pershutchev and was constructed between 1947 and 1949. It covers and area of almost 30,000 m² (around 7 acres) and holds the remains of around 13,000 of the 80,000 Red Army soldiers who were killed in the fighting for Berlin in April and May 1945. On either side of the main entrance is an inscription, in German on one side and Russian on the other, which reads “Uncover your head. Here in eternal sleep rest Soviet soldiers – heroes of the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945. They gave their lives for your happiness.”

Main Gate Pankow

The paths through the main area of the cemetery are flanked on either side by 8 sarcophagi, holding a total of 1,182 bodies, and a further 2,647 bodies are buried in graves along the outer walls. A 33-metre obelisk stands at the far end of the cemetery, with a fairly typical representation of the motherland mourning her lost sons at its base. A number of officers and highly decorated soldiers are buried in  base of the obelisk.

Pankow ObeliskMural




The entire complex underwent extensive renovations between 2011 and 2013. To get to the cemetery, take the S1 to Wilhelmsruh station. At the bottom of the stairs down from the platform, take the exit on the left onto Kopenhagener Straße. After about 300 m, turn right onto Niederstraße. At the end of this short residential street, there is a playing field. Walk around it on the right-hand side and you’ll soon see the wall of the cemetery on your left. The main entrance is at the far end.

Mother Russia PankowPankow GravePankow WreathsPankow Graves

Also in and around Berlin:


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Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad, Paris, France

Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad is a small and fairly nondescript junction in the 19th Arondissement in the northeastern part of Paris. Part of Boulevard de la Villette was renamed Place de Stalingrad in 1945, and the name was changed to Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad in 1993. In 1946, the Metro station Aubervilliers – Boulevard de la Villette was renamed Stalingrad. The square is located at one end of Bassin de la Villette, the largest artificial lake in the city.

Stalingrad_Stone Stalingrad Metro Plaque

There is a small memorial to the battle in the square, but one has to look hard to find it. It’s a small stone that stands (along with similar stones dedicated to the Battles of Verdun and Bir Hakeim) beside a tree between the Rotunda restaurant and the street. There is also a small plaque about the battle on the wall on the platform of the metro station. The Stalingrad metro station is on lines 2, 5 and 7. A few businesses around the square, ranging from a medical biology laboratory to a tattoo and piercing shop, have taken the Stalingrad name.

Stalingrad Piercing Medical Biology Lab Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad Stalingrad Metro Sign

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Perekop, Crimea, Ukraine

Crimea has hit the headlines in the last few weeks, so I thought I’d post a few pictures that I took on on the Perekop Isthmus, the narrow neck of land that joins the Crimean Peninsula to the mainland of Ukraine, during a brief stop on a bus trip from Odessa to Feodosia in 2008:

Command Post Plaque, PerekopISU-152The text on the plaque in the photo above left reads “Command point of Marshal of the Soviet Union V. M. Vasilevskii and General of the Army F. I. Tolbukhin during the period of the storming of Perekop, 8 April 1944”.  The ISU-152 assault gun and M30 howitzer in the second photo are situated beside the railway line by a monument at the Tatar Ditch, a trench line across one of the narrowest parts of the isthmus that was originally dug in the 17th century and was reinforced in 1941 against the German attack.

The two monuments below are located along the ditch, and commemorate events during both the Russian Civil War and the Great Patriotic War. The text on the monument in the photo on the right reads “Ai Monai Position. Here in 1919, parts of the Red Army fought with the White Guards and the Interventionists. From December 1941 – May 1942, forces of the 51st, 44th, and 47th armies heroically fought against the German-fascist invaders.”

Perekop Memorial (I)Perekop memorial (II)

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T-34 Restoration Documentary, the Belarussian company behind the hugely popular online game World of Tanks, has produced a nice video about the restoration of a T-34/76 by a team at the Stalin Line museum complex outside Minsk:

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“Glory” Memorial, Tiraspol, Transdniester

Tiraspol’s main war memorial commemorates the dead of the Great Patriotic War, the Afghanistan War and the Transdniestran War of 1990-2. Not unusually, the centrepiece of the memorial is a T-34/85.

T-34, TiraspolThere are also a number of individual and mass graves, and a Grave of the Unknown Soldier (below). The inscription reads: “Имя твое неизвестно, подвиг твои бессмертен. Неизвестному солдату.” This means “Your name is unknown, your deed is immortal. Unknown soldier.”

Grave of the Unknown Soldier, TiraspolThe memorial is located opposite the government building on 25th October Street (ул. 25 Октября), one of the main routes through the centre of Tiraspol.

Also in Tiraspol:

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“Sapun Ridge” Diorama Museum, Sevastopol, Ukraine

Sapun Ridge (Сапун-Гора) is a 240-m-tall ridge that provides a strong defensive position to the southeast of Sevastopol city centre. During the assault on Sevastopol in May 1944, it was defended by the German 5th Korps, but the 51st Army broke the defences on May 7, leaving the route into the city clear. The last German resistance in the Crimea ended on the Khersonneses peninsula to the west of the city centre on May 12.

Photo from Wikipedia Commons, by Cmapm

Photo from Wikipedia Commons, by Cmapm

The 25-by-5-metre diorama painting was created by a team from the Grekov War Artists’ Studio in Moscow, led by P.T.Maltseva, and the museum first opened on November 4, 1959.

Diorama EntranceDiorama Painting

In 1970, a 28-metre-tall memorial obelisk commemorating the liberation of Sevastopol was constructed and an eternal flame was lit.

Sapun MemorialSapun ObeliskSapun Flame

The area around the museum contains a large collection of military hardware, including tanks, artillery, a torpedo boat and some reconstructions of the German defensive trenches.

Sapun Ridge ArtillerySapun Torpedo BoatSapun Naval GunsSapun Ridge Tanks

The museum opens from 9:00 to 5:00 every day except Monday (last admission at 4:30). In July and August, it opens every day from 9:00 to 5:30 (last admission at 5:00). The admission price is 50 UAH (about €5.00). By public transport, the museum can be reached by taking trolleybus 1, 7 or 17 to the Malakhov Kurgan (Малахов Курган) stop and then taking bus no. 20 or marshrutka no. 107.

Also in Sevastopol:

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Stalingrad Guidebook

My good friend Svetlana has written a great English-language guidebook that covers the Stalingrad battlefield and many other sites and activities in Volgograd and the surrounding region. The book has full coverage of all the main memorials and locations that are associated with the battle, practical advice on where to stay and eat, ideas for trips outside the city and a little bit of the wider history of Tsaritsyn-Stalingrad-Volgograd.

Check out the website at

It is also available on ebay:

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