Soviet War Memorials Southeast of Berlin

The final battle for the conquer of Berlin was a massive operation carried out by the Soviet Red Army, who had come on the line of Oder river, marking today’s border between Germany and Poland, at the conclusion of the westward march on the territories of Eastern Europe previously taken over by the Third Reich.

Witnessing the dramatic lack of men and supplies on the German side, the final Soviet attack from that position was launched on April 16th, 1945, to end just less thank two weeks later with the death of Hitler, the conquer of Berlin, and soon after with the German capitulation in early May. In this short time, the Soviets penetrated and gained control of a significant part of what was to become the territory of East Germany, including the capital city of the Reich.

It is estimated that the troops amassed in the spring of 1945 for this operation exceeded 2.2 millions on the Soviet side, whereas the contingent available for the defense of the region on the German side was below 300 thousand men, including almost improvised corps of elders or extremely young people, lacking any military training and experience. As a matter of fact, the original German war machine had been drained of resources also due to the eastward advance of the Western Allies in Western Europe and Germany, where some millions German soldiers were taken prisoners. Actually, by April 1945 the line of the Western front had reached East to the towns of Leipzig, Dessau, Magdeburg and Wismar, very close to Berlin, and all later ceded to the Soviets according to the Jalta and Potsdam agreements.

The defense of Berlin from the Soviet attackers was strenuous though, and heavy losses were recorded on both sides.

One of the most visible remains of these war operations today is a a number of memorials and war cemeteries, of larger and smaller size, scattered over the territory around Berlin. The most conspicuous such memorials are those erected by the winning Soviet forces. Besides their primary role of remembrance, they were in most cases erected soon after the end of the war, then making for an interesting historical trace from that age, when Stalin was the undisputed ruler in the Soviet Union. Their style often reflects the mix of pomp and simplicity typical to the communist art from the time.

Memorials related to these events can be found in Berlin (see here and here) and around. Some to the north of the town have been described in this post. In the present one, three memorials related to the battle around Berlin and located east and south of the German capital are covered – Seelow, Lebus and Baruth.

Photographs were taken in 2021 and 2023.



The memorial in Seelow was designed and installed in 1945, soon after the end of the war in Europe, and was therefore one of the first of the kind. The location is that of the Battle of the Seelower Heights.

The small town of Seelow is located about 8 miles west of the Oder river, marking a natural border with Poland. The hills around the town dominate the flat country reaching to the river. Therefore, for the defending Wehrmacht, this was a natural obstacle between the Soviet invaders and Berlin. The hills were fortified heavily with guns and mortars, and the villages in the area were evacuated in anticipation of a major confrontation.

Fighting was started on the fateful April 16th, 1945, when a Soviet attack was triggered all along the line of the Oder, with a major focal point in the region of Küstrin and Seelow.

The battle went on for four days despite the clear imbalance of resources in favor of the Soviets, due to the advantageous geographical position of the heights around Seelow and the effectiveness of the German defense.

The memorial was erected around a simple statue of a Soviet soldier, put on top of a pinnacle, and portrayed beside the turret of a tank.

To the base of the pinnacle is a small Soviet cemetery, with some marked graves and some gravestones with multiple names, or dedicated to unknown soldiers perished in the battle.

From the cemetery, a good view of the plains extending to the east, where this fierce battle was fought in April 1945, can be observed from a vantage point. Purpose-designed maps allow to retrace the positions of the attackers and to pinpoint relevant locations.

To the base of the monument is a memorial museum. The exhibition is compact but very interesting. Two thematic areas are presented, one related to the historical reconstruction of the battle, the other to the history of the monument and the archaeology of the battlefield around Seelow.

Among the artifacts on display related to the history of the battle are German and Soviet uniforms, machine guns and rifles.

Interestingly, also mortar shells carrying leaflets are on display: these were employed by the Soviets, who launched propaganda leaflets inviting Germans to surrender, and even passes for the German military who wished to defect to the Soviets side. An armband of the ‘Deutscher Volkssturm Wehrmacht’, the non-professional corps recruited by the Third Reich in a desperate move to gather fresh units for the final defense of the German territory from invasion during the last stages of the war, is also on display.

The history of the monument is interesting as well, and shows how it evolved from being primarily a Soviet monument – like others in the area – to a public gathering place for official ceremonies in the German Democratic Republic – a place for the celebration of friendship between the USSR and the GDR. Historical pictures, and the addition of a poetic commemoration stone written in German only to the base of the monument, witness this evolution.

Outside the museum, a courtyard is framed by two original small obelisks with inscriptions in Russian and Soviet iconography. On the courtyard, some heavy armored vehicles – including a Katyusha rocket launcher – are on display.

Getting there and visiting

The monument has a special relevance in the history of the liberation of Germany, and has been modernized and updated over the years. It is still a rather relevant destination for visitors. A ticket is required for the museum only. A visit to the monument may take 20-30 minutes. A complete visit including the museum may require 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Access is very easy, since the location is immediately to the side of the road leaving Seelow for Küstrin (now Kostrzyn, Poland). The name of the site in German is ‘Gedenkstätte Seelower Höhen’, and the address is Küstriner Straße 28a, 15306 Seelow. A small parking can be found right ahead of the access, further parking options cross the street and near the railway station, 1 minute away by walk. A new modern building to the side of the monument hosts the ticket office and a small shop. Website with full information here.


The cemetery in Lebus, located on the German bank of the Oder river, about 10 miles southeast of Seelow (see above) was activated already in April 1945 for burying Soviet soldiers perished in the final war actions against Germany. Starting 1946, the status of Soviet cemeteries and monuments established on the territory of the Third Reich was officially defined. The Lebus site received Soviet staff perished in Germany after the war, or unrecognized fallen Soviet soldiers whose remains were found in the years soon after WWII on the East German territory.

Following an agreement between Russia and reunified Germany, extending the relationship formerly existing between the USSR and the GDR on the management of war memorials, the Lebus site became a Russian cemetery. It was refurbished in 2014-16, and at the time of writing it is still an active cemetery, often receiving the remains of Soviet soldiers moved from elsewhere, or still found in the area.

It is estimated that more than 5.000 from the USSR/Russia are buried in Lebus.

The memorial is not much visited by the general public, and is an authentic place of remembrance, sober and silent.

The architecture is rather simple, with a central perspective leading to an obelisk with a red star on top, a hammer and sickle emblem to the front, and inscriptions in Russian.

To the sides are two lateral wings, where the names of many fallen soldiers are inscribed on memorial stones.

To the sides of the perspective are an anti-tank cannon, and some more fields, marked with marble red stars as places of interment of unknown soldiers.

Also two further memorial walls with many names in Cyrillic alphabet are symmetrically placed to the sides of the perspective.

Getting there and visiting

The location of the Soviet cemetery in Lebus, now called officially ‘Russische Kriegsgräberstätte in Lebus’, is on Lindenstrasse, immediately after leaving Strasse d. Freiheit, Lebus. It is clearly marked by an indication sign, and recognizable by the external fence. Parking can be found 200 ft further north on Lindenstrasse, on the side of a local school.

The site is not mainly a touristic destination, but a real, well maintained (war) cemetery. It is apparently open 24/7 and not actively guarded. Visiting may take 20 minutes, or more for specifically interested subjects.


The Soviet war cemetery of Baruth was erected between 1946 and 1947 for the fallen soldiers of the Battle of Halbe. The battle was a last confrontation between the Soviet Red Army and the Wehrmacht, taking between April 24th to the first days of May 1945 – the very last battle out of Berlin.

The battle was fought around the village of Halbe, south of Berlin, between what remained of the German defense retreating from the bank of the Oder, and two large columns of the invading Soviet Army. The German forces got mostly surrounded in a salient. Losses were very heavy on both sides, of the order of the tens of thousands.

The war cemetery for Soviet soldiers, the final resting place for some thousands of fallen troops, is clearly visible when passing by, thanks to the two T-34 tanks put as gate guardians.

The architecture of the place is rather simple, and composed of a rectangular yard crossed by an alley, leading to a very tall obelisk. The obelisk features a big metal star on top, and a hammer and sickle metal emblem in the middle.

To the base of the obelisk are two bas-reliefs with war scenes.

A number of marked gravestones can be found on the greens around the obelisk. More recent – yet pretty old – additions, somewhat altering the original neat appearance of the ensemble, include a wall with applied gravestones and names inscribed on it.

Getting there and visiting

The Baruth war cemetery, named ‘Sowjetischer Ehrenfriedhof Baruth/Mark’ in German, can be found along the road 96 (Bundestrasse 96), about 1 mile north of the homonym town of Baruth. The monument can be clearly spotted on the eastern side of the road. A small parking can be found ahead of the entrance.

Due to the secluded and isolated location, the place is not a highly popular tourist destination, yet it is frequented by relatives and descendants of those interred on site. It is well cared for and perfectly maintained. It is apparently open 24/7.

A prototypical Soviet war cemetery from Stalin’s years, likely the largest in the region south Berlin, it is definitely worth a stop when visiting the area. A visit may take 20 minutes.

Notably, the place is located about 7 miles south of Wünsdorf (see this post), the former Soviet headquarters in the German Democratic Republic, which is crossed by the same road 96.

War Museums in Western Poland

Similar to other Countries around the Baltic Sea, Poland has a positive attitude towards its military past. Beside castles, barracks and traces of war from older ages, remarkably also some war material from the 20th century, and especially from WWII and the Cold War, has been in the focus of conservation activities.

The mystery bunkers in the southwest of the Country dating from the years of the Third Reich (see here), or the Soviet Monolith-type bunker in Podborsko (see here) and the impressive fallout monitoring center in Kalisz (see here), stand out as major remains from WWII and the Cold War for everybody to check out – and they are just examples.

Along those sites with a history of their own, Poland has many war museums, thematic collections and exhibitions to offer, retracing the evolution of its rich and extremely complex military history.

Looking at the 20th century, it is apparent that Poland has been swept violently and insistently by the winds of war. At the start of WWII, it was surrounded by the Third Reich on two sides, something that contributed to its quick invasion and defeat at the beginning of the conflict. A special relationship with the British meant some from the Polish military ended up directly in the British ranks in exile, whereas others were incorporated in a pro-German Army. However, in the closing stage of the war, when the unfriendly Soviets invaded from the East on their run to Berlin, some from Poland entered the ranks of a pro-Soviet, anti-German army.

Following WWII, Poland was re-founded with new borders, basically those we know today, and due to the presence of the Soviet Army on their territory, they quickly fell under communist control. The relationship between the USSR and Poland military was strong during the Cold War, and the military assets of the Polish Army were massive. The Red Army was also physically stationed in the Western part of the Country, in preparation to a much planned full-scale ‘atomic-supported blitz’ to the Atlantic coast, which luckily never materialized.

The many collections to check out in Poland these days are especially rich in Cold War era supply, and therefore they are tremendous resources for finding many examples of Soviet technology from the Cold War era. However, in most cases also highly valuable material from WWII and from the fierce battles fought on Polish territory mainly between the Germans and the Soviets can be checked out.

This post presents a quick, mainly pictorial description with excerpts from several collections open for a visit in Western Poland. Photographs were taken in the summer of 2020.

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The sites presented in this chapter are all in the Western part of Poland, i.e. west of Gdynia and Poznan. They are listed here below, basically from south to north on a map.


Museum of Military History, Jelenia Gora

The collection of the Museum of Military History in Jelenia Gora is arranged on an open-air apron. Here you can find several items mainly from the Soviet inventory – albeit in several instances physically manufactured in Poland – and once adopted by the Polish Armed Forces.

In the area closer to the ticket office, possibly the most exotic – or harder to find – items include transportable radar antennas. Items like these are still today the backbone of anti-aircraft defense, and are employed to either detect enemy aircraft or to guide surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) against this type of target. Differences among antennas reflect their actual purpose, as well as different range, intended target level (close to the ground, higher layers of the atmosphere, …) and ease of deployment. The latter is clearly inversely proportional to the bulkiness and weight of the antenna.

Truck-mounted antennas on display include an RW-31 and JAWOR-M2, both from the 1970s, respectively with a vertically- and horizontally-mounted antenna on top.

Exemplars of more modern RT-17 (on top of a taller tower) and PRW-17 models from the 1980s, the latter manufactured in the USSR, feature a somewhat larger size. Despite movable, these antennas are mounted on more articulated trailers.

Many more trailers and trucks are on display as well.

Further on, a few tanks and armored vehicles can be found. These include a well preserved Soviet T34-85, a modernized version from the early 1950s of the original homonym design, which gained fame with the Red Army in the closing stages of WWII against Hitler’s Wehrmacht.

Similarly interesting are a BTR-152, a troop transportation armored truck of Soviet make, and a launcher for a triplet of SA-6 Gainful SAM. The latter, namely a 2K12M, is an interesting and pretty widespread Soviet-made item from the early 1970s, with very good tactical deployment capability granted by its tracks. Also on display is a classical BM-13 Katyuscha rocket launcher, again a workhorse of the Red Army in Stalin’s era.

The latter part of the museum hosts a number of artillery pieces of various size, ranging from ship-mounted anti-aircraft machine guns, to field cannons, anti-tank cannons, etc. These are mostly from WWII, but reaching to the early Cold War period, and invariably share a Soviet design.

An especially interesting design is a recoilless B-11 cannon, designed against light armored vehicles. Of lighter design with respect to other guns of the same bore, it was pretty widespread as a tactical weapon in the early Cold War stage in countries of the Warsaw Pact.

A Mil helicopter, warship guns and some water mines complete this compact yet rich and well-maintained collection.

Getting there & Visiting

The museum is called ‘Muzeum Historii i Militariów’ in Polish. It can be found less than 1 mile southeast of the city center, to the east of the road 367 going south to the border with the Czech Republic. It can be reached easily with a walk from the city center, or by car. Free parking on site (limited capacity, but properly sized for the place). The exact address is Sudecka 83, 58-500 Jelenia Góra.

The museum is made of an open-air exhibition only (no inside display), where all artifacts can be checked out on a self-guided basis once past the ticket office. Plates with basic data and information in double language Polish-English are available ahead of most of the items on display.

The site is rich in material, yet not too big or extensive in size, hence easily digestible even for those without a special interest in military technology. Very convenient to reach and walk. Most artifacts are in a good to very good general condition. A visit taking many good pictures may take up to 1 hour for an interested subject, 15 minutes may be enough for a quick walk. Website with many detailed information, including an inventory of the weapons on display (also in English) here.

Lubuskie Museum of Military History, Zielona Gora

The prominent collection of the Lubuskie Museum of Military History is composed of an inside exhibition, hosted in a converted villa from the 19th century, and a major open-air display in the garden, where some of the items are protected under light structures.

Inside the museum building, a few rooms witness the involvement of Poland in several wars over the centuries. Beautifully crafted weapons from the 17th century, including both firearms and edged weapons, can be found in a number.

Several display cases are related to the involvement of Poland in WWII. The articulated history of the Polish Armed Forces in WWII is witnessed by the number of uniforms, medals and papers resulting from actions of Polish corps within the ranks of foreign Armed Forces – especially British.

Light weapons and technical gear from the time is abundant, including genuine material from the Armed Forces of the Third Reich, which occupied substantial parts of the Polish territory for almost the entire duration of WWII.

A historically interesting item is the headdress of a Polish officer killed in the Soviet town of Katyn, in the homonym massacre ordered by Stalin against the the ranks of the the Polish Armed Forces, soon after portions of the Country had been taken over by the Soviets upon agreement with Hitler. This was an unprecedented move to devitalize the Polish military structure by killing all key-figures in it. A pistol employed for executions and a few more memorabilia items from this awful chapter of Polish history are similarly on display.

Other rooms cover the technological evolution of military gear during the Cold War. Here, items on display range from air-to-air missiles – partly dismounted to allow looking at the electronics inside – tactical weapons, aircraft-mounted guns (always with impressively sized cartridges!), as well as anti-radiation suits with protection masks, flight suits, helmets, visors, and much more. Most of the material from those years obviously comes from the Soviet inventory.

In the outside exhibition a few thematic areas can be found. Possibly the richest among them is that of armored vehicles and artillery pieces. A major highlight is a couple of exemplars of the Soviet SU-152 self-propelled gun from WWII, made of an impressive 152 mm gun on a tracked vehicle. One of the exemplars has been recently refurbished and looks mint.

More Soviet tanks include some versions of the T-34 – a classic combatant of WWII – a T-55, and a more recent fully-working T-72, an icon of the Cold War in the 1970s. This is sometimes moved around in the apron.

A long array of guns, mostly field cannons, can be found on the border of the museum garden.

An impressive sight is the gigantic 2S7, a 207 mm self-propelled cannon manufactured in the Soviet Union from the 1970s, and still employed today by both Russia and Ukraine. Side by side with its ‘little cousins’, the monster size of this asset from the Eastern Bloc is readily apparent.

A second thematic area is centered around SAM missiles and their launchers, as well as theater missiles. Also radar antennas for aerial target tracking or missile guidance are on display.

Some major SAM Soviet systems are on the list, including the SA-2 Guideline, the SA-3 Goa and the SA-4 Ganef. The latter is present with the corresponding deployable radar (model code SNR 1S32M1), together composing the 2K11M1 SAM system, codenamed ‘Krug’ in Russian.

Theater missiles include the so-called Luna-M system (model code 9K52), composed of a wheeled transport truck and a missile (9M21), as well as an original transport trailer with a Scud missile! (See this and this chapter for dedicated information on Soviet-designed theater missiles)

Aircraft on display range from the early Cold War period – end of the 1940s – to the more hi-tech stage of the 1980s. Early jets include MiG-15 and MiG-17, and a pretty rare Jak-23, all in the colors of the Polish Air Force. Propeller aircraft include an Il-14 transport and a license-built Douglas C-47, aka. Lisunov Li-2 in the USSR.

Notably, the first defection to the West of a pilot from the Eastern Bloc on a Soviet-made jet fighter happened from Poland. A Polish pilot flew a MiG-15 to the Danish island of Bornholm, having departed from the Baltic coast of Poland. This was immediately after the death of Stalin, in March 1953. The controversial diplomatic case that ensued from this action was settled returning the aircraft to Poland, obviously after a secret and thorough inspection. The pilot moved to Britain and the US. His flight suit is in the Smithsonian collection in Washington, DC.

More recent aircraft include two MiG-21, a Su-20 and a Su-22. The latter is still operated by the Polish Air Force, and is presented in the museum with an underwing cannon pod for strafing. Also on display is a larger Il-28 light bomber.

Massive technical trucks, like movable pontoons, amphibious vehicles, etc. can be found in yet another thematic area, together with a small WWII diorama. The latter features a possibly original Third Reich emblem.

Finally, a small hangar to the far end of the exhibition area has on display a range of restored items of special interest. A didactically disassembled SA-4 Ganef missile allows to see the inner structure of this modern machine, still in use today.

Several field rocket launchers, including a Katyuscha, as well as field cannons and shells, make for a comparative display.

Interestingly, also a full array of air-to-air missiles, and aircraft components including almost complete engines can be checked out in this display.

Getting there & Visiting

The Polish name of the museum is Lubuskie Muzeum Wojskowe. It is located southeast of the small village of Drzonow, just west of Zielona Gora. The exact address is  Drzonów 54, 66-008 Świdnica. Easy parking possible along the little-trafficked road ahead of the entrance.

Rather unapparent until you get very close to it, the museum hosts a very rich collection, with a long list of artifacts to check out in an open-air exhibition, as well as really interesting and well-presented thematic rooms in the classical building – once a private residence – employed as ticket office and museum.

Despite the understated appearance, the museum is really worth visiting for everybody with an interest in weapons, especially field artillery and air defense. The physical extension of the site is relatively small especially for the content, hence the display is very dense and easy to tour. A complete visit may easily take 2 hours or more for an interested subject, and when visiting with kids or uninterested subjects the site offers plenty of intriguing sights as well, so it may take at least 1 hour.

The organization is really active, with a very rich website and many temporary war-themed exhibitions and events. Unfortunately, all plates and descriptions are in Polish only. Yet the collection is in a generally very good state of conservation (with the exception of some of the aircraft exposed to the elements in the courtyard), and offers a very rich insight in the past assets of the Polish Armed Forces, including literally tons of Soviet-made gear.

Armored Weaponry Museum, Poznan

For those visiting Europe with a specific interest to armored vehicles and tanks, the Armored Weaponry Museum of Poznan is a must-see. Besides an extensive collection with some tens of tanks and vehicles mainly from WWII onward, all preserved in mint condition (many of them still running!), the museum has been carefully and modernly designed, making for a very enjoyable visiting experience.

The exhibition is hosted in a few adjoining hangars, where vehicles are grouped based on technology, provenience, intended role, etc. The following pictures provide only an excerpt from this great collection. Tanks from different Countries are well represented. Starting from WWII, a British Centaur tank and an Achilles anti-tank self-propelled gun are displayed side by side with lighter vehicles.

A very rare Sturmgeschütz-IV, a self-propelled assault cannon from the Third Reich Wehrmacht, has been carefully restored and colored in an impressive camouflage. A SU-76 and ISU-152 self-propelled cannons of Soviet make are also on display.