A museum in the building where Nazi Germany signed its surrender tells the story of World War II from the Soviet perspective.
Deep in the former East Berlin, the German-Russian Museum (also known as the Karlshorst Museum) is like a little piece of the Soviet Union that has been frozen in time. It can be easy to forget here that you’re not actually in Moscow.
Old-school Soviet patriotism is on full display. Visitors are greeted at the door by a Soviet T-34 tank inscribed with the phrase “за родину”—”For the Motherland.” Marble monuments from the era adorn the halls, praising the heroes of the Soviet Union who gave their lives to stop the spread of the “fascist plague.”
The unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany was signed in this building in May of 1945, and this museum certainly wants you to know it. The “capitulation room” has been recreated for visitors, where an original video of the German high command signing its surrender plays on elevated TV screens in an infinite loop.
The exhibition rooms tell the story of World War II (or the “Great Patriotic War”) from the Soviet perspective, making it a must-see for any history buffs who can’t make it all the way to Moscow. The focus is often on the heroism of the Red Army and the suffering of the Soviet civilian population, including a very moving exhibition on the Siege of Leningrad.
Highlights of the collection include a map of Berlin snatched from the desk in Hitler’s bunker, on which Hitler and his inner circle marked the Soviet advance on the city in the last days of the war. The museum building itself also served as the headquarters of the Soviet occupation forces throughout the Cold War, and many of these rooms have been preserved for visitors.
Know Before You Go
Entrance is free. The museum is accessible from public transit using the S3 from central Berlin. From the S-Bahn station Berlin-Karlshorst, take the bus 296 and get off at the "Museum Karlshorst" stop.
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