The monument boasts a giant statue of a Red Army soldier and two Russian T-34 tanks – vehicles, which many historians argue, did more than any other piece of military hardware to help Stalin inflict humiliating defeat on Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
Berlin’s Soviet War Memorial was built after the Russian victory in 1945. A stone’s throw from the Brandenburg Gate, it is dedicated to the 80,000 Red Army troops killed in the Battle for Berlin. But the Ukraine crisis has prompted unprecedented calls for parts of it to be removed. The Bild newspaper and its Berlin tabloid rival BZ are campaigning to have the memorial stripped of its T-34 tanks in protest against Russia’s actions in the Ukraine. Both have asked readers to sign a petition calling for the symbols of “military aggression” to be taken down.
It won’t be the first time that Germans have risen up against T-34 tank monuments. In former communist East Germany, almost every small town had a compulsory T-34 memorial. They served as powerful reminders of Soviet domination. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, most were removed. Berlin has said it will abide by a treaty signed with Russia in 1990 which pledges to continue commemorating the fall of Red Army soldiers.