The next morning I walked via the Hackescher Markt to Alexanderplatz, then along Unter Den Linden to the Brandenburg Gate. Beyond the gate, I walked along Straße des 17 Juni to a Soviet war memorial. This was what used to be West Berlin, but throughout the cold war Soviet soldiers stood guard at the memorial. Two tanks either side of the entrance were supposedly the first two Russian tanks to enter the city in April 1945.
I walked on from the memorial up to the Spree, and then along by the river banks as far as Bellevue station. From there I decided to head back east, to Treptow and another war memorial.
This one was far bigger than the one in the Tiergarten. The huge site was almost deserted. Berlin today is so exciting and dynamic that it seems impossible to believe what happened here less than a human lifetime ago. Eight million Red Army soldiers were killed in the war, and the Soviets built memorials to them all across the Eastern Bloc. I walked around the site, up to the giant statue of a Red Army soldier stamping on a swastika, and felt unable to comprehend what Europe at war must have been like.
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