The Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park

Yesterday my ramblings took me to the Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park… 

ImageA large memorial and grave site in East Berlin. And I have huge issues with it- some of them probably a little unfair… but we all have our prejudices. 

ImageNow I could take the easy way out and say that I am a child of the cold war ergo all things hammer and sickle offend me… and… There is some truth in that. 

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But it runs a lot deeper for me. Here we have Mother Russia mourning for her dead sons. 

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But I can’t help but look at this tragic figure and see the subjugated women of Berlin. And therein lies the problem. 

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No army has been so actively encouraged to rape and pillage as the Red army in the last months of WWII. I have met these women. I have looked into some of their faces, and I have heard their stories. 

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So when I look at this, I see the tomb of 5000 dead rapists. Which is unfair. 

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Because I am one of the first to say that the dead are apolitcal and dead young men are dead young men… who served the call of their country and paid the ultimate price. They should be remembered. 

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And… they should be remembered… but in this case, my heart is like a stone. Stalin and his generals actively encouraged the rape and plunder of women as his men advanced. 

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Two Million women are estimated to have been raped by the Red Army in East Prussia. Not just German women. Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish, Roma, Sorb- It simply didn’t matter. In fact, young Russian women, brought to German territory as forced labourers would run to the Red Army when they were freed, only to be gang raped by those they believed to be their saviors.ImageIt was horrendous, indiscriminate and without pity. It was policy. Age did not matter. I have read of girls younger than 10 and women older than 80.

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I am a female military historian and generally, I don’t let my gender get in the way of what I study. I am not mawkish about civilian casualties. I have even been accused of being a bit cold hearted about collateral damage. And perhaps I am. 

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But I can’t abide rape- and even more- rape as a matter of policy. It is one thing to kill.  It is another to take everything away from a person before you do it. Killing in combat is impersonal. Rape is very deeply personal- at least to the victim. 

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It is actually one of the reasons why I feel very strongly that women shouldn’t be in front line combat. In the end, no matter how tough a woman thinks she is, there is always one more way that she can be hurt- and while it may not kill her- it may very well destroy her. 

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While I am fully aware that rapes happened on all sides during WWII – hepped up young men can be animals- no group actively encouraged it like the Red Army. Though… I could tell some stories about the French. The French Army are the only other allied force who had rape camps in Germany at the end of the war. And… not such a big fan of them either.  But they aren’t celebrated as the liberators of Berlin.

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It’s a story which isn’t often told. For most, it is a deep shame and something not to be discussed. So maybe that’s why I feel the need to speak out. I have heard their stories. I have seen horrific pictures. I must be a witness to what I know. 

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That said, I am sure there were many perfectly decent young men in the Red Army who merely answered their country’s call and did their duty. Men who were horrified by the actions of their comrades. When I am at places like this memorial, I should remember them. 

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We are all inside us angels and demons. I study war because it is within the crucible of conflict that we are rendered down to our most base elements. Man is capable of such heroism and such monstrosity and it s that which I find fascinating. 

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But I guess I am not quite as objective as I would like to think.  Which is ok…! I am only human. Image

So I will try to look upon this grave- those light patches there in the trees- in a new light. 5000 men who died in the service of their country. They do deserve to be remembered. They didn’t ask to die so far away from home. 

Its a big memorial. I probably had way too much time walking through there to think about all this. It was also rather atmospheric in the gloaming. 

Here is the Wikipedia page, if you would like to know more about the memorial itself. All the facts about it that I thought about saying, but decided to talk about my own thoughts instead.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_War_Memorial_(Treptower_Park)

And none of this is to be any sort of comparison about these war crimes, and those war crimes and who did what, and when and to who. I am addressing why I have issues with this particular memorial. Why it bothers me to come here. 

The crocs de jour…. not my best walking shoes. It was a work day as well as a walk day so I wasnt wearing the best hooves for the length of walk I did. Made my feet a little sore today… but they had tough weekend with the walking and dancing on Friday night that I did. Yes. I walked and I shook my tail feather… but I didnt have my ipad with me so I wasnt logging. Wore the same shoes out on Friday night too. Image

WILD 3D iridescent purple ballet flats! Still available in the Crocs store! 🙂 And given how much I walked in them, awesome for a party and normal shoe!

And now… the LOG!

This is your training. Check it out!

When Sun, 17 Feb 11:20
Where Treptower park
How did it go Man…… Good tunes make all the difference!!!!
Workout Time 01:32:37
Total Time 07:50:01
Total Distance 7.68 km
Feeling Great
Average Pace 12:03 /km
Average Speed 4.98 km/h
Total Calories Burned 810
Average Cadence 55
Ascend 188 m
Descend -259 m
Weight BUT I LOST INCHES!!!!
Shoes crocs,
Track Points 674

Sent by iSmoothRun

 

 

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