Sunday 31 December 2017

Berlin to the Baltic Part 2. WW2.

Back in summer we cycled from Berlin to the Baltic along the Oder via Poland. Germany is of course littered with WW2 stuff, a few highlights here.

Many of the surviving buildings in Berlin are still riddled with bullet holes and shell splashes. This shot up pillar is abut half a mile from the Reichstag.

Part of our cycle route took us through what was described as an 'industrial area'. I was a bit surprised to discover that this was actually a satellite concentration camp from Sachsenhausen. First signs that things were amiss was this information board about the SS Bakery, part of Himmlers economic empire.

The main camp was a brick works, and the 'industrial area' referred to is still a brick works albeit no longer functioning as a death camp, just a rather rundown bit of ex DDR industry.

The main memorial to the camp.

The terrain east of Berlin was fascinating, the plateau dropped about 36m down to the Oder valley, and the ridge in the distance is a extension of the Kustrin Heights, which run for a considerable distance.  This was taken from the top of the Oder canal ship transporter bridge, which was built in 1904(!) to carry barge traffic up and down the drop, instead of a series of locks.

The Oder valley itself was a huge expanse of waterways and marshland. I really can't imagine getting tanks across it unless it was frozen solid. Now it is a massive nature reserve, and full of very hungry biting insects.

Our travels eventually took us to Peenemunde, and I was very pleased to find this old V1 launch rail base in the woods. A genuine secret Nazi rocket base! The woods were also full of biting insects.

Some bits of the site were a bit less easy to ramble as they are still full of unexploded ordanance. There were some fairly impressive craters, but the photos didn't come out very well of those. This particular sign is on the site of another concentration camp, used to house the factory workers (the old concrete perimeter posts are still there.

At the main museum are some rather grand exhibits.

I just couldn't resist...

The only surviving major installation is the base power station, which is now the museum. There is something very Germanic about the whole structure. It functioned as a power station until reunification, but the Russians helped themselves to some of the original generators.

This sail training ship was moored in Stralsund. It was used by the Kriegsmarine, sunk, then raised by the Russians and taken as reparations. It eventually ,made its way back to Germany after the breakup of the USSR.

The holocaust memorial in Berlin. Very fittingly, this is built on the site of Goebbels house.

This dodgy car park is the site of Hitlers bunker. Just down the road from Goebbels house and  around the corner from the Luftwaffe and Gestapo HQs. 

The top of the Reichstag, with the Brandenburg gate in the background. No Russian sergeants up there today.

The Soviet war memorial in the Tiergarten.

One of the gate guards. I was rather taken with this 1943 model T34 as it has mixed road wheels, although my wife failed share my excitement. Over on its twin, someone was demonstrating why trying to climb the glacis of a tank in flip flops is a very, very bad idea.

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