The Soviets Out-Monument The Germans

Brian Ladd’s book has a nice description of the difficulty the West Berlin government had finding heroes after World War II. Most of the legitimate resistance to the Nazis was undertaken by communists, and the French, British and US weren’t exactly keen on building a bunch of statues to fallen Stalinists in the 1950s. 

The only other option was the dudes who tried to kill Hitler in 1944. They were good guys, right? Standing up to power and shit. 

It turns out the dudes who tried to assassinate Hitler were basically pissed off because he wasn’t a good enough Nazi. They were as into Aryan purity and national conquest as Hitler was, they just thought he was doing it wrong. 

The Soviets, on the other hand, had no such challenges. East Berlin is full of monuments to communist resisters. A lot of these were cleared, and streets renamed, after 1989, but surprisingly much remains. Stalin Allee has been renamed, but to Karl Marx Allee. 

The photo above is the statue commemorating the Soviet defeat of Nazism. It depicts a Russian soldier, holding a sword, cradling a toddler, stomping on a swastika. You can blame the Soviets for many things, but muddled symbolism isn’t among them. 

There’s a whole site, near the Spree, with a bunch of monuments. It’s actually quite moving, and when I visited there was a tour group of Russian World War II veterans. 

The US has a great reverence for its World War II veterans, and our guys went through a lot between Normandy and Berlin. But maaaaan, the way from Stalingrad to Berlin was a lot worse.

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