Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Berlin Memorial Episode

Two German newspapers today took an unusual step with a public petition of sorts that is being pushed to remove tank memorials in the middle of Berlin, near the Soviet WW II memorial on 17 June Strasse....leading up to the Brandenburg Tor.

If you've been to Berlin, the 17 June Strasse is the main drag running east to west in the center of town.  The Tiergarden area takes up a fair amount of space in town, and the memorial was built in 1945....just six months after Soviet forces took the city.  Impressive?  It's as grand as the WW II Memorial in DC.  What few people realize after visiting the site is that it's really the burial grounds for roughly 2,000 (at least that's what the Russians say) Soviet troops during the Berlin last day's fight.

The memorial has two tanks, one at each front edge.  All of the WW II variety.

The petitions involved?  The memorial itself should stay, but the two tanks represent a problem for the new German mentality of supporting Ukraine.  Bad guys, bad memorial tanks, etc.

The newspapers pushing the agenda?  Bild is the national paper which is generally read by the working class guy.  You can best describe Bild as a paper writing up the top twenty significant items of news....in forty words or less.  It's a paper that a guy can read on the way to work and be done by the end of morning break.

The second paper is the Berlin Zeitung (BZ)....which works along with the same ingredients....working guy's paper.....short on details....etc.

The memorial has faced a number of public episodes over the years.  In 2010....near Victory in Europe Day.....the memorial was vandalized with red paint.  The city was accused by the Russians as doing little to protect the memorial.

The effect of the petitions?  I would imagine that they will get 300,000 signatures within a month, and put the city council in a very difficult position.  Of course, the Berlin city council IS NOT known for making quick or sudden decisions....so even if they were to go with the petition....it could be two years before a final decision is made, and they might only remove the tanks to some WW II museum within the boundary of the city of Berlin.

One possibility?  The German-Russian Museum at Berlin-Karlshorst.  It'd be a natural fit and give defining history to the tanks.

What's this all add up to?  Well....it only brews more hostility and frustrations over the regular Russian guy, the Russian image machine, and Putin.  A thousand Russian thugs show up for some Russia-Germany soccer match....dispatch 2,000 Germans to medical facilities, and it just heats up another notch over the Ukraine business.

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