75 Years – 75 Memorials – Stage 6: The Soviet memorials of West Brandenburg
Stage 7 of the photo project “75 years – 75 memorials” is a small bicycle tour from Brandenburg upon Havel, and its tank monument over to Brielow and Rathenow.
Extra proteins on the way to Brielow
There’s a way bigger chance to bump into Soviet memorials in East Brandenburg than in the west of Berlin. That is quite logic, as the large main combat forces of Zhukov and Konev came from the east and first took aim at Berlin, before heading further west.
Resistance and thus fighting was definitely happening to the west of Berlin, in particular around the city of Brandenburg. Though the overall picture of combat was milder than, for example, in Oderbruch region or around Seelow or Halbe. The lower density of gravesites in western Brandenburg reflects that. Means, there is not really much going on in the Havelland region when it comes to Soviet memorials, making the fly I swallowed cycling shortly before Brielow becoming the biggest highlight of the seventh stage of my photo project… But one after the other.
The memorial sites of my photo project’s seventh stage are all facing south. Hence getting up early was necessary to avoid having the sun completely against photography. At least that’s the meteorological theory, which predicted the brightest sunshine, but then was brought down to earth by a thick cloud field with rain. Surrounded by clouds with a little bit of sky blue I find myself in Brandenburg an der Havel.
The Soviet memorial in Brandenburg upon Havel looks like a Roman hippodrome. It is located city canal’s floodgate and near Steintor Tower. Its obelisk reminds very much of the Soviet memorial in Potsdam. And like in Potsdam soldier statues of all branches stand guard of honour. At their feet is the burial ground for 269 fallen Red Army soldiers. The Soviet memorial in Brandenburg upon Havel reflects pretty well how military hierarchy is kept maintained even after death, as officers’ and single graves are in front, while simple soldiers’ and (often) collective graves are located in the rear part.
T-34 tank memorial opposite the prison
Whoever thinks, that only Kienitz has a tank monument, is mistaken. Brandenburg upon Havel has one as well, and its gun pretty much aims at the entrance of the “JVA”, a prison. Evil to him who evil thinks… The tank memorial dates back to the liberation of the prison already used by the Nazis on April 27th, 1945. One week before that, a mass execution yet claimed 100 lives. The green T-34 tank standing on its pedestal reminds of that. However, Red Army loved to put tanks on pedestals, as they did on the premises of former Löwen-Adler Barracks, a place I visited in 2016 together with Victor Boyko and a camera team from MDR TV.
Straight through the forest, the way takes me to Brielow, where I swallow the fat bottlebee… Brielow is home to 1,500 villagers and lies north of Brandenburg upon Havel. At the southern village border a very well-kept war grave site can be found. I wouldn’t consider its peace and quiet as eternal though, due to nearby and very busy L98 road. One car after another buzzes and rushes along. Of course always driven by one person only, and all accelerating like Michael Schumacher en miniature. Well, if I would be one of those 307 lying here, the car noise would piss me off a lot. After Brielow follows the longest part of this bike tour, a 25 kilometres ride through the Pritzerber Laake forest towards Rathenow. I’m all alone for the whole ride. Not even a single person far and wide is seen. The only thing bothering is Komoot again, as once more it confuses right and left directions or announces trails that just do not exist.
The Soviet memorial in Rathenow got redesigned in 1985. It is final resting place for 422 fallen and is located north of the train station. All path on the memorial site are lined with gravestones. Among them are gravestones for Russian nurses and also political officers. Getting up early meant I had no breakfast, hence I’m bloody hungry now. Thus, before the ODEG drives me back to Berlin again, I get a kilo of fresh, aromatic strawberries and a pair of Bockwurst sausages. I dig in, but writing these words later in the evening, I still feel them in my stomach ^^
Here is the route as well as data of this tour on Komoot