Woman revives Red Army ghosts in Reichstag graffiti

Graffitis left over inside the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Berlin has preserved countless traces of its Second World War destruction as chilling reminders of its militaristic past — few are more striking than Red Army graffiti left at the iconic Reichstag.

When the parliament building was restored by British architect Norman Foster after national reunification in 1990, German leaders opted not to sandblast away the taunts, insults and notes for posterity inscribed by the Soviet troops who fought Adolf Hitler’s armies into the heart of the capital.

Still today, deputies heading into the light-flooded Bundestag chamber under Foster’s glass dome pass by hundreds of the often sentimental, sometimes raunchy Cyrillic messages that cover the interior walls.

“You got what was coming to you, you sons of dogs,” reads one. “You reap what you sow,” says another, outside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s parliamentary office. An obscene sexual threat against Hitler remains in a spidery scrawl high on a wall.

Most of the inscriptions, made with charcoal from the Reichstag’s charred rubble and chalk used on military maps, simply feature names, dates and march routes leading soldiers to the decisive Battle of Berlin in 1945. One German woman, 68-year-old Karin Felix, has made it her life’s work to trace the people and stories behind those hasty scribbles. She has systematically documented and translated the graffiti and collected around 30 soldiers’ stories in a book.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 7:43:23 PM |

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