Soviet war graves, Stolzenhagen, eastern Germany

August 9th, 2011

The colossal number of Soviet soldiers and citizens killed in World War II is almost beyond imagining. The deaths, variously estimated at somewhere between twenty and twenty-six million people, continue to cast an enormous shadow over Russia and the former Eastern Bloc. Anyone hoping to understand the history and politics of Europe has to attempt to understand this vast sacrifice. The Soviet (predominantly Russian) war dead are, in a sense, the real ghosts who are haunting Europe.

One of the legacies of this terrifying history is the presence of Soviet war graves throughout Eastern Europe. The largest ones, such as the Treptower Park war memorial, were built as triumphalist assertions of Soviet dominance. But many more exist in hidden and semi-forgotten places. One such place is the woods outside Stolzenhagen, Brandenburg — a small and quiet village near the German-Polish border. On a hilltop clearing, there are ten graves, enclosed by a low fence.

Soviet war grave, Stolzenhagen

The graves.

Soviet war grave, Stolzenhagen

Boulder with plaque.

Soviet war grave, Stolzenhagen

The plaque beside the entrance. In Russian, the text reads:

Вечная слава Советским воинам павшим в боях за свободу и независимость нашей Родины
Живущие бесконечно
благодарны Вам

Approximate English translation:

Undying glory to the Soviet soldiers who fell in the struggle for the freedom and independence of our homeland
Living eternally
Thank you

Soviet war grave, Stolzenhagen

View of one side.

Soviet war grave, Stolzenhagen

Two graves, with the forest beyond.

Soviet war grave, Stolzenhagen

Inside the enclosure.

Soviet war grave, Stolzenhagen

The site is maintained as an official memorial (denkmal) and marked as such.

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