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Soviet war memorials are 'reminder of need to cherish peace' - Berlin mayor

Soviet war memorials in Germany's capital, Berlin, make up an important part of Germany's and Russia's shared history, Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit told ITAR-TASS on the occasion of Victory Day, celebrated in Russia and former Soviet republics on May 9 to commemorate the victory in the 1941-45 Great Patriotic War, as the four-year-long life-or-death battle between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany is known in Russia.

"Soviet memorials in the German capital remind us of our shared history," Wowereit said. "They treasure the memory of thousands of Soviet soldiers who fell fighting against Germany's Nazism. These memorials remind all of us that we should cherish peace and that we are responsible to future generations."

The mayor recollected that Germany was obliged by international law, namely by a number of agreements the federal republic signed with the Soviet Union and Russia, to preserve memorial complexes in Germany and in Berlin.

At the end of World War II, three Soviet war memorials were built in the city of Berlin to commemorate Soviet deaths in the war, especially the 80,000 Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle of Berlin in April-May 1945. These are the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin's Treptower Park, the Tiergarten memorial, built in 1945 in the Tiergarten district not far from the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag, and the Soviet War Memorial Schoenholzer Heide in Berlin's Pankow district.

All three memorials in Berlin are on the list of nationally and internationally significant monuments and are maintained on funds from the German budget. Millions of euros have been allocated for this purpose since 1991, the government told ITAR-TASS. Ten million euros was spent on the restoration of the Pankow memorial in 2010-13.

In Germany, there are more than 3,300 Soviet war cemeteries, where 760,000 Soviet people rest in peace.

"According to the treaty on Good Neighborliness, Partnership and Cooperation between West Germany and the Soviet Union, signed in Bonn on November 9, 1990, the German side is obliged to look after Soviet memorials," the government said. "Besides, there is a treaty binding Germany to preserve war graves, signed on December 16, 1992. We adhere to international agreements today."

Germany commemorates its liberation from Nazism and the end of World War Two on May 8. This day is, however, not a national holiday there.

[Source: Itar Tass, Berlin, 09May14]

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