Flying over Moosehead Lake & Lobster Lake, Maine

Probably not so famous for bush-flying activity as other locations on the West Coast, especially British Columbia and Alaska, the easternmost state of the US – Maine – has still much to offer in this sense. Besides the beautiful coast going from Portland to the famous Acadia National Park and the border with New Brunswick, the central and northern part of the state are totally wild areas, with few roads and many lakes, forests, wildlife and breathtaking panoramas you can appreciate from the air.

Similarly to the Rockies in the West, the Appalachians constitute an ideal backbone of all states in the North-East of the US. Of course, being far elder than their western counterparts, the Appalachians seem less massive and their peaks are not so high, yet the almost isolated domes of the last mountains of this range in Maine make for very unusual sights.

The wild features of this land, as in other parts of the US and Canada, make it a perfect place for bush flying and related photo opportunities. Determined to explore this part of the country from the air, in a party of three we found a nice company to fly with, with a base in the nice town of Greenville, ME.

The following photographs were taken during our stay there in 2011.

Getting there

We booked with Currier’s Flying Service – website curriersflyingservice.com. The planes of this company are all beautiful floatplanes, and in summer they can be spotted resting on water in a protected cove – named ‘West Cove’ – on the western border of the town of Greenville, the largest town on the shores of Moosehead Lake.

The small nice wooden terminal of the company is clearly indicated and can be found besides the main road (West Street), just before passing a railway bridge leaving from downtown Greenville heading for N.15 and Quebec City.

Sights

We had booked in advance via phone, and we were greeted by Sue, the wife of the owner, Mr. Roger Currier, who is also the pilot. We profited of a short time waiting for Mr. Currier to have a look at his incredible mechanics shop and hangar, which looked like it had come out of a National Geographic’s documentary or a book on open range explorations!

Besides an array of radial engines, including one with a fully assembled two-bladed propeller, we could see a hangared Cessna 195 on floats – Mr. Currier owns two of these, we flew on the other white and blue painted one -, a canoe, a historic small truck, and tons of engine parts, propellers, deer antlers, tools and cabinets. Going to the nearby pier, we could see the other aircraft belonging to the company, the Cessna 195 we were to fly on – I had expressly asked for this, due to the extreme rarity of this model on a world scale -, a modern Cessna 180 Skywagon, and a larger and nice De Havilland Beaver, a more common site in the Northwest, as Kenmore Air operates some on a regular timetable even from downtown Seattle.

After meeting with Mr. Currier we boarded the 195, with me in the front right seat – I am a pilot, so I’m often offered the first officer’s seat on similar occasions, just in case! This aircraft has only one yoke, which can be shifted to the left or to the right, leaving the not-in-command seat with much room. This and the fact that 195 has a high wing with no struts, similarly to the Centurion and Cardinal models, make this airplane a perfect choice for observation and photography missions. Those in the front seats enjoy a great lateral visibility, but the huge radial engine limits the view to the front, at least on water – things improve a bit in flight.

Furthermore, the two seats in the back are arranged in a saloon configuration, with much legroom and very good, unobstructed visibility to the sides – optimal for photography.

We taxied on water to the north for a while and took off to the south, making a left U-turn over Greenville and setting course again to the north. Another seaplane hangar, larger than that of Courier, can be spotted close to the center of Greenville. It used to be the home base of another flying service company, named Folsom, once famous for operating one of the few Douglas DC-3 on floats ever manufactured. Also the hangar of Jack’s Air Services can be spotted nearby.

Following the eastern shoreline of Moosehead Lake stationing at a 1600 ft above sea level, hence at a convenient zoom-lens distance to the ground, I could take pictures of the many coves and bays, including Sandy Bay, Lily Bay and Spencer Bay. From the photographs, it is clear that soon after leaving Greenville you really get into the wild. Looking east you can see in the distance mount Katahdin, the easternmost peak of the Appalachians.

Approaching Spencer Bay you get a beautiful close view of the Spencer Mountains and Spencer Pond.

Further north we reached Lobster Lake, again a wild area.

Turning west and then south we moved along the western shore of Moosehead Lake. I faced the sun in this part of the flight, and the plexiglass canopy didn’t help with the light, so the pictures are a bit blue-filtered. The most prominent feature of this second part of the flight was Mount Kineo, with the distinctive knife-cut shape, and Kineo Cove nearby.

Getting closer to Greenville we could spot some beautiful homes with direct access to the water, some with a floatplane moored nearby.

Touching down on water is not softer than landing on a runway – this was my first time – but the aircraft stops quite more rapidly than on a runway.

After landing Mr. Currier set off for another trip with two couples from Florida on the Beaver, taking off to the north.

Before leaving Greenville we had a stop by the Folsom hangar and by the local general aviation airport, where we found Folsom’s famous DC-3. The plane has been converted to the usual wheeled configuration. Furthermore, it looks damaged, resting in a marked right-banked attitude.

The flight took about an hour, a very enjoyable experience I would surely recommend if you are visiting this part of the country!

Flying over Mt. Rainier and Mt. St.Helens

Among the most famous sights in Washington State, these two mountains are aligned along an ideal north-south line developing from Seattle down towards the Oregon border. Similarly to most of the West Coast, the area is a section of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Actually, Mt. St.Helens did explode with a spectacular eruption in 1980, revealing its real deadly nature. What may be worrying is the similarity between the isolated peak of Mt. St.Helens and some other mountains in the area, like Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and the highest and most prominent of all, Mt. Rainier. It is likely these – and other – formations around the areas of Seattle and Vancouver may turn out to be ‘privileged points’ for an eruption some day…

In the meanwhile, they are very characteristic spots in the beautiful, uncontaminated landscape surrounding the nice area of greater Seattle.

Being fascinated with the natural beauties of this area, and also with aviation – as you might guess from this website of mine! – we set off in a party of three with the idea of exploring Mt. Rainier and Mt. St.Helens from above.

Surfing the web I noticed there are several companies offering tours of the area in front of Seattle. Actually, the region is a small ‘angle of paradise’ for those with a thing for general aviation and small-scale air transport, especially seaplanes. Kenmore Air is one of the few remaining commercial companies offering regular services from downtown Seattle to the islands around with some good old De Havilland one-engined, propeller-driven seaplanes!

Being interested not just in taking off and making a couple of circles around downtown Seattle, I had to dig something more, making sure to avoid some always-present tourist traps – being a pilot myself, I knew a bit of the likely cost of the flight I was looking for, so I could easily spot traps. I finally found a very good solution with Fly Seattle Scenic (website here).

I contacted Rick Dominy, a certified commercial pilot and a nice guy operating his beautiful Cessna 210 Turbo Centurion for that company, and we met directly at Renton airport – the quarters of this small company are to the west of the airfield, besides the general aviation apron. We agreed on the flight plan, which would go to Mt. Rainier eastern side, Mt. St.Helens, with multiple circles over the crater, and back to Renton passing to the western side of Mt. Rainier.

We paid and boarded the aircraft. Turbo 210 is a 310 hp beast of a Cessna, not the usual 150 or 172 training aircraft, despite some basic similarities with the latter in the layout. Rick’s exemplar is in perfect shape. The cabin is very roomy and clean, we were all given intercom headphones, I was seated in the co-pilot seat – just in case… – and having a high wing with no lift strut below and a retractable landing gear, unlike more basic Cessnas the view to the side and downwards is absolutely unobstructed – perfect for enjoying the view and taking photographs!

Here follow some photos of this flight (August 2012).

Sights

First a look to the aircraft and around Renton, just a few miles south of downtown Seattle, close to Tacoma Airport. Renton is where another branch of Boeing has its hangars. You can see many brand new 737s, still unfinished. This branch is pretty large. The airport at Renton is also a base for general aviation activity, like Fly Seattle Scenic.

Following takeoff we turned south towards Mt. Rainier, which could be already seen in the distance, about 35 miles South. While climbing we could enjoy the beautiful landscape of Washington State, with an embarrassing high number of small airports around.

Mt. Rainier is about 14400 ft, and the top part of it is surrounded by several distinct glaciers. We approached from north and we passed by the eastern side of the mountain. The bottom part is very nice with woods and small mountain lakes.

Among the ice rifts on the eastern side of the peak we could spot two huts, with ‘ant-people’ moving along trails on the icy surface. We flew over the large parking by the trailhead for some of the trails climbing to the top of Mt. Rainier.

Leaving Mt. Rainier towards the south we could already spot Mt. St.Helens, some 50 miles away. Between these two isolated peaks, again a nice wild landscape, mostly pine woods. The crater of Mt. St.Helens is not symmetrical, cause the volcano exploded towards the northern side of the mountain. Approaching from north, we could see inside the crater very well. The scenery is very different from around Mt. Rainier, with almost no vegetation even at lower altitudes were the eruption hit more violently. All trees were wiped out and the soil became too acid for regrowth.

Still today, many of the trunks of the trees pushed away by the eruption are floating on a lake at the bottom of the peak. Approaching the southern rim of the crater we spotted more ‘ant-people’, taking a rest after reaching the top of the volcano.

The rocky dome in the middle of the crater is still exuding some worrying vapors… The summit is about 8300 ft, so there are snow and small glaciers also here.

After some circles over the lake and crater, we set our course again for Mt. Rainier, first overflying the valley of Hoffstadt Creek, where the snow which was melted by the volcano generated a flood at the time of the eruption, which somewhat reshaped parts of the valley. Today some dams regulate the flow of the creek.

The western side of Mt. Rainier appears to be the steepest, again with various glaciers perfectly visible. They are much larger than they might seem in the photographs!

Past Mt. Rainier we descended rapidly towards sea level, heading for our home base. The landing was perfect. Just before it, we had a glance at SeaTac and downtown Seattle from the distance.

This was an unforgettable experience I recommend for everybody in the area. The flight takes about 2 hours. We were definitely very lucky with the weather – Rick told us we had selected for our visit one of the two weeks of good weather people from the area are allowed per year! If you are similarly lucky, don’t miss this wonderful attraction!

Peenemünde Army Research Facility

Peenemünde is broadly known for having hosted the first ever large-scale research center and test ground for military rockets, missiles, flying bombs and innovative ordnance and weaponry in the world. The small town of Peenemünde is located on the island of Usedom, a nice, almost flat island on the shore of the Baltic sea, on the border between today’s Germany and Poland – ‘Peene’ is a river having its mouth (‘münde’ in German, from which the name of the place) where Usedom island is.

History – in brief

The Peenemünde site was a creäture of the administration of the Nazi regime in the late Thirties. It grew rapidly to a considerable size especially for the time. The site included an electric power plant, later used after the closure of the research center for supplying energy to the East German power grid, an airport, later converted into an air base and operated by the Air Force of East Germany, a sea port, a series of technical facilities for testing and producing all that was needed to assemble rockets, their systems and engines, as well as for preparing propellants.

There were also several launch pads for missiles and flying bombs, and last but not least, scattered over a broad area, housing for thousands of people, which included high-ranking technicians and people from academia – there was also an advanced wind tunnel -, military/SS personnel, as well as factory workers, including many prisoners of the regime.

The site was so large that a dedicated local railway was built and operated to allow people commuting, modeled on the urban railway of Berlin. The railway network was the third in size in Germany, following Berlin and Hamburg.

This enormous installation was directed by Wehrner von Braun, later to become a technical leader in the US research efforts in the field of rocketry, and a central character in the race for space opposite the Soviets.

Peenemünde was never an operative launch site – it was far too distant from potential targets in Britain for the limited range of flying weapons of those days – but due to its primary relevance as a testing and production site of the v1 flying bombs and later of the v2 missiles, the site became a designated target of very intense bombing raids.

The Peenemünde complex was severely hit in a series of air attacks launched by the Allied British and US air forces in the summer of 1943. After that, production was moved in forced labor camps in central Germany – Mittelbau/Dora being probably the most in-famous – whereas only research and testing was still conducted in Peenemünde, with plans to move progressively more and more equipment to other destinations scattered over the territory of the Third Reich, for which construction was started in the last years of WWII.

The Soviets captured what remained of the complex in Peenemünde at the very end of WWII in May 1945. By common agreement, the Allied put an end to rocket research in Germany, the Soviets materially blowing up every technical building still standing in the area, with the exception of the power plant, the airport and a few others. Parts of the machinery in the powerplant as well as almost all railway tracks were reportedly transferred to the Soviet Union.

Since then, the air base of the East German Air Force has been developed in more instances, adding aircraft shelters, a tower and other technical buildings that are still standing – the airport is today open to general aviation. The power plant was updated over the years by the Communist regime, becoming one of the most polluting plants in Germany, whereas the former launch pads and the area once occupied by technical buildings were rapidly reclaimed by nature.

The following photos were taken during a visit to the site in April 2016.

Sights

Museum

After 1989 and the German reunification, the power plant was soon closed, and a museum (Historical Technical Museum, website here) on the history of the Peenemünde site, recognized worldwide as the cradle of modern rocketry, was opened in it.

Among the few buildings of the Nazi era still standing today, the building of the ticket and book shop of this museum used to be a bunker for governing the power plant also in case of an air raid.

There are three main exhibitions in the museum. The open air exhibition, on the ground of the power plant, is composed of an original v1 launching ramp moved here from France, with a v1 flying bomb assembled from original pieces, a reconstructed v2 rocket, and a local train from the original local railway system.

In the photos it is possible to see the launch system of the v1, which was pushed to its take-off speed by a piston moving in a pipe underneath the bomb, in the body of the ramp. Mostly similar to modern acceleration systems on aircraft carriers, except for the piston was moved as an effect of a chemical reaction involving hydrogen peroxide, and not water steam as it’s most typical for aircraft carriers.

The second and third exhibitions are hosted in the building of the power plant – itself a significant example of industrial architecture from the days of the Nazi regime – and describe the history of the army research center and of the powerplant. The first of these two is the ‘central piece’ of the complex, no visit of Peenemünde is complete without a look at this exhibition.

In the photographs it is possible to see some of the artifacts in the exhibition about rocketry in Peenemünde. It is possible to appreciate the advanced technologies tested here already in those early years, including high pressure mixing of liquid propellants, graphite deflectors for thrust vectoring, inertial navigation systems, turbopumps for pumping the propellant into the combustion chamber at the correct rate. There are also original signs from the area.

Scaled mockups of all items tested in Peenemünde, much more numerous than the v1 and v2, add to the show, together with models of the former launch pads. Especially launch pad ‘VII’, used for the v2 rocket, was so well designed that it was adopted also in the US after the war as a blueprint for their own designs.

A visit to the complex of the power plant may easily take 2 h 30 min for an interested subject.

Former test grounds and launch pads

The launch pads were placed closer to the airport, very close to the northeastern shore of the island, to the north of the village of Peenemünde. Today, this broad ‘ghost area’ is partly fenced, surely not accessible with private vehicles, possibly accessible by foot. It is a kind of natural preserve, with much wildlife around.

The best way to explore this area, without getting lost in the trees and with a chance to spot what is still in place, is going with a society offering guided tours of the site, named ‘Historische Rundfahrt Peenemünde’ (website here). As of 2016 there are tours offered in German three times a day on a regular basis, but it is possible to arrange tours in English upon request at your preferred time – this was my only option as I don’t know much German. In my case, it turned out I was the only visitor on that tour, so I had the guide – a gentleman speaking a very good English, and with an incredible knowledge of many technical matters – all for me for the duration of the whole 3 h 15 min tour. You move mostly with a minivan, so apart from the bumpy road the visit is very comfortable.

The tour starts by the airport of Peenemünde, and you are soon driven into the site. With the help of a digital map, the guide will show where you are standing with respect to the buildings and installations that were originally there. You can see from the photos that Soviets took their job very seriously, so that very little remains of the original structures. You can recognize the original plan of the site mainly by the asphalted roads still in place today – albeit covered in dust.

The most prominent sight in the complex is surely launch pad ‘VII’, once used for the v2. It is possible to spot the containment banks all around the launch site. The concrete flame deflector is still in place, filled with rainwater. The walls of the deflector were water-cooled to resist the extreme heat of the rocket exhaust at takeoff. The water pump occupied a part of the lateral banks, together with measuring equipment and a sheltered observation deck. Still standing is a water nozzle used by firefighters in the – likely – event of fires due to malfunctions in the launching process.

A stone celebrates the launching of the first v2 missile from this site.

The rocket used to be moved to the launching position – above the flame deflector – with a special trolley. Multiple silos were placed around a common track made of concrete, built outside the perimeter of the containment banks. The trolley, loaded on a sliding platform, could move along the concrete track. The missile was collected from the assembly silo, the platform moved along the concrete track to reach the head of a short metal railway track where the trolley could be pushed to reach the flame deflector, in the middle of the containment banks – see the photo of the model above. Like the flame deflector, the concrete guide is still standing today, filled with rain water.

Other interesting sights of the visit are the experimental launch ramps of the v1, placed to the northernmost part of the island, right behind the beach. A first experimental ramp (type 1) was totally made of concrete, and was clearly not adopted for operational use, being too difficult to build and manage. Other two ramps, not so different from one another, were the first examples of types 2 and 3.

Type 3 was adopted operationally and deployed to the coasts of France and Belgium. Inert concrete warheads used in test flights can be seen in the photos, left from the age of testing.

You can see here that all ramps pointed directly to the Baltic sea. Telemetry towers were installed on the neighbor islands of Oie and Ruegen for tracking the experimental flights and taking measurements. Two such towers that are still standing today can be spotted from here in the distance, you can see them in the photos.

Before leaving, having shown a great interest for the topic of aeronautics, I was given the opportunity to tour an incredible exhibition of weapons, systems and artifacts from the area they are putting together in a small farm surviving from the days of WWII – where rabbits were bred for feeding the staff and for making fur for airmen. As of May 2016 this was not yet open to the public.

Among the artifacts you can see in the pictures from this exhibition, TV-guided bombs, experimental solid propellant rockets, a piloted v1 and tons of other incredible items. This shows once more that many technologies later become widespread had been tested here much before they started to be massively used. Also preserved are some parts of aircraft downed during the raids of 1943.

Maybe after finishing with the tour it is interesting to have a brief look to the airport, where the control tower possibly from the Nazi era and some aircraft shelters are still standing. The place can’t be walked freely for it’s still an active GA airport, but part of the former base is being used as a testing track for sport cars and can be approached safely.

My tour lasted more than 3 hours, but at the time of booking my English tour I was offered also shorter options.

K-24 Juliett-class Soviet submarine
Heading to Berlin or the former GDR? Looking for traces of the Cold War open for a visit?

A Travel Guide to COLD WAR SITES in EAST GERMANY

DON'T LEAVE IT AT HOME! AVAILABLE in PAPERBACK or KINDLE from your national Amazon store!
amazon.com | amazon.de | amazon.co.uk
amazon.it | amazon.fr | amazon.co.jp

This submarine is moored in the port of Peenemünde, a five minutes walk from the entrance to the power plant. This is reportedly the only Juliett class submarine existing today, so visiting is an absolute ‘must-do’ for the committed tourist (website here).

Furthermore, the condition of this unit is still very good, making for an interesting and unusual visit – a unusal fact is that all is written in Cyrillic alphabet, with many ‘CCCP’ factory signs on the labels of the gauges and of the technical stuff. Juliett submarines were designed in the Fifties and operated till the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early Nineties, with a capability for launching cruise missiles with tactical nuclear warheads directed to target ships or coastal targets, from a distance of some hundred miles. They were conventionally powered with large diesel electric-units.

Having been designed after WWII, they are much roomier than German U-Boots from the Nazi era, hence the visit is ok also for claustrophobic people. You can see two launch tubes in a deployed position to the back of the ship.

Visiting may take between five minutes and 1 hour depending on the level of your interest.

Note

A visit of these three items at a reasonable pace but without running may easily fill a day schedule. I know there is much to explore and see on your own in the area of the former complex, but I could only dedicate one day to this site during my trip. I would recommend doing at least the same for an interested person.

In any case, the island with its Baltic shores and light is nice and relaxing, so I would recommend planning a day for Usedom also in case you are not interested only in military history.

Getting there and moving around

The island of Usedom is much larger than the area of the former research complex, which once occupied the northernmost extremity. The island can be approached by car with two bridges in Anklam and Wolgast from mainland Germany, or from Poland. It is very easy to get there by car.

Once in the village of Peenemünde, it’s easy to spot the massive building of the power plant. K-24 can be reached with a five minutes walk from the entrance of the power plant. The place is very popular, so there is a large parking just besides these two attractions.

The pick-up point for the guided tour of the former research center is by the small airport, which is located north of the village, a 1.5 miles drive from Peenemünde. Free parking besides the small office building.

I couldn’t imagine a more convenient way than having a car for moving around, but the island is reportedly very crowded in summer. A train can be used to reach some of the villages on Usedom, so you may consider also this alternative.

Soviet War Memorials in Berlin

Heading to Berlin or the former GDR? Looking for traces of the Cold War open for a visit?

A Travel Guide to COLD WAR SITES in EAST GERMANY

DON'T LEAVE IT AT HOME! AVAILABLE in PAPERBACK or KINDLE from your national Amazon store!
amazon.com | amazon.de | amazon.co.uk
amazon.it | amazon.fr | amazon.co.jp

After WWII the Red Army erected monuments in many places reached during its westwards march, well into the heart of defeated Nazi Germany.

A part of these monuments, small and with no particular architectural significance, were erected in villages and small towns, as well as in less visited locations in capital cities. However, the latter received much more attention, with grand monuments and memorials, much bigger in size and pomp than their more basic counterparts, and sometimes designed with an eye for architectural value. Among the most notable, those in Budapest, Vienna and, obviously, Berlin.

The former capital city of the Third Reich was the arena of a fierce battle, which took place around and in town for the last two months before the final capitulation of Nazi Germany in May 1945. Soviet soldiers died by the thousands in the last act of WWII in Europe. This fact, and the significance of the conquest – which also gained the Soviet Union a first level role on the world stage it had never enjoyed since its origin with the October Revolution in 1917 – were two elements that had to be remembered and celebrated properly.

For this reason, three areas were selected for the construction of as many monuments, with slightly different functions, in the urban region of Berlin. From the viewpoint of art, all of them are interesting examples of late Stalinist architecture, and they are still in place and accessible to visitors.

As said, more monuments indeed exist, scattered in more intimate locations in Berlin. An example can be found in Berlin Hohenschönhausen, not distant from the former STASI prison (see here).

The following photographs were taken on several occasions between 2015 and 2021.

Navigate this post – Click on links to scroll

Treptower Park

Getting there and moving around

Being located in one of the many green areas of Berlin, this place is popular among the locals, so it is also easy to reach and sometimes even crowded. There is a S-Bahn stop on the northern side of the park (‘Treptower Park’), and several bus lines have a stop along ‘Am Treptower Park’, an alley on the western side of the area.

Free parking for cars can be found on the same road, even in front of the lateral arches giving access to the monument – you can immediately spot one about halfway along the western side of the park, an imposing grey arch with writings in Cyrillic alphabet.

Access is from the lateral arches. Once on the centerline of the perspective, the approximate distance to the other end of the memorial is .35 miles.

Sights

The design of the monument is based on a simple perspective, beginning on one end with a sculpture representing Mother Russia, whose sons have been sacrified for the liberation of Europe from the Nazi invasion. An intermediate viewpoint is constituted by a couple of stylized gigantic Soviet flags, made of the marble from Hitler’s Chancellery of the Reich.

Then a long basin with twelve sarcophagi aligned along the sides, representing the twelfe republics of the Soviet Union at the time of WWII, extends up to the focal point of the monumental complex, a colossal statue of a Soviet soldier, with a child representing Europe in his arms, fiercely standing over a destroyed swastika.

The monument was built before 1949, and some 5000 Soviet soldiers are buried here. Due to the time of construction, quotations from Joseph Stalin – later to be condemned as a tyrant by the Soviet governments of the Fifties – can still be found on the sarcophagi.

The design of the site is not very elaborated, similarly to many other Soviet monuments of the time, but the effect of the grand perspective at a first look is undeniable.

A crypt with a mosaic can be found beneath the statue of the Soviet soldier. A nice view of the whole complex can be obtained while standing on top of the stairs by the entrance of the crypt.

The condition of the monument and of the garden makes this a pleasant detour from more central and touristic areas of Berlin. A walk around in the monumental complex may take 20 to 45 minutes. The place is not fenced, hence is open h24.

Tiergarten

Getting there and moving around

This is the oldest and most modest of the three Soviet memorials in Berlin, except for the position, which is very close to the Brandenburg Gate. Leaving towards the Tiergarten park from the Gate pointing west in the direction of the Monument to Victory – the boulevard is named ‘Strasse des 17 Juni’ -, you reach the Soviet memorial about .2 miles on your right.

If you are moving by car, you can park on ‘Strasse des 17 Juni’ not more than .2 miles from the monument.

Sights

Differently from the other two sites on this page, this monument, built soon after the war in 1945, is mostly a celebration of the conquest, and not a burial site.

The monument is very simple, and designed to be observed from the street, so walking around, albeit possible, doesn’t add much to the perception of the place.

The focal points of the perspective are a tall marble column with a golden seal of the Soviet Union on the front, and a tall statue of a Soviet soldier on top of it. To the sides of the monumental court, two tanks and two cannons are placed on balconies.

Curiously, the monument would turn out to be placed in a zone attributed to the Western Allies, later to become West Berlin. Moreover, the Wall was to be erected in front of the Brandenburg Gate, just about .25 miles from this site – which remained the only monument to the Soviets in West Berlin, and was a neighbor to one of their most brutal emblems…

This is probably the most banal of the three monuments. It is also the most seen, due to its position in the heart of town. Visiting can be completed in 10 minutes. Similarly to the monument in Treptower Park, this place is unfenced and open h24.

Schönholzer Heide

Getting there and moving around

The place is in the northern part of Berlin, in the nice district of Pankow. When moving with the public transport system, the easiest way is going to the S-Bahn railway stop ‘Schoenzholz’ or ‘S Schoenzolz’. From there, take to the north on ‘Provinz-Strasse’, and at the end of it after about .15 miles go left on ‘Strasse von Schoenholz’, which later changes its name and takes slightly to the right into ‘Germanenstrasse’, entering the park where the monument is located. You reach the gate to your left after about .1 miles after entering the green area of the park. The total distance from the S-Bahn to the site is about .65 miles.

Going by car, you can reach to the entrance on ‘Germanenstrasse’ and park close to the gate.

Sights

This burial site was built on the site of a Nazi urban forced labor camp, and more than 12’000 Soviet soldiers, including prisoners of war and high-ranking officers, are buried here. The memorial was built about at the same time as the monument in Treptower Park, before 1949.

Compared to the monument in Treptower Park, this site is more modest in size, and the theme is more that of a war cemetery than a celebration of the liberation from Nazi dictatorship. Proportions are more moderate, and the elements make for a less bombastic ensemble than the other monumental sites listed on this page.

Before entering the main basin with several placards with the names of the identified soldiers buried here, two low and bulky marble constructions force you on the axis of the perspective. The small chambers in these low constructions are covered with stained glass ceilings with hammer and sickle emblems. The focal point is on a sculpture of Mother Russia with a dead son, and behind it a tall obelisk.

The sculpture of the dead son is resting on a Soviet flag. Many particulars add to the picture, like the small stained glass windows in the crypt beneath the obelisk and the lamps and handles with hammer and sickle marks. Quotations from Joseph Stalin can be found on the walls of some elements in the complex.

All in all, this monument is more proportionate and interesting than the others of the kind in Berlin. The monument is more dramatic and in some sense more serious and more like a temple than the other two. Furthermore, being not primarily a touristic attraction, it is less likely you will find any crowds. Please note that this place is fenced and has opening times (see this website in German, to the bottom of the page opening times are indicated), plus there are guards around probably to avoid vandalism. The size is not large, so visiting may take 15 to 30 minutes at most.

Hohenschönhausen

Getting there and moving around

The location is on the crossing between Küstriner Str. and Strausberger Str., in the nice residential neighborhood of Lichtenberg, in the eastern part of Berlin. The area is well served by public transport. Free parking is available on Strausberger Str. or elsewhere around. Nicely located in a park, not fenced and unguarded – however close to a children’s playground and a frequented park, so totally safe. Very compact in size, a visit may take 15 minutes at most.

Sights

The monument in Hohenschönhausen is an example of the many small-scale Soviet memorials in Berlin. Actually, the history behind this one is made of two stages. A monument was originally erected around the same years of the bigger ones, between 1945 and 1950, in Stalin’s era. It also served as a cemetery.

About two decades later, in the mid-1970s, a new monument was designed and erected, and that is basically what is seen today. The centerpiece is made of a mural with a Soviet soldiers, united by a banner with smaller figures on it.

To the sides of the mural, today somewhat hidden by in the overgrown vegetation, are two inscriptions celebrating Soviet heroes – in German and Russian respectively on the two sides.