There is an unobtrusive grey building in Karlshorst, and only the T34 tank in the front garden is an indication that something extraordinary might have happened here. This former pioneer school actually is the location where the final surrender of the Wehrmacht took place on the 8th of May 1945, and has subsequently been turned into a museum to commemorate the act of surrender and the horrendous war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that preceded it.
Today the museum is run by German and Russian authorities as a bilateral institution and is the only museum in Germany with a permanent exhibition recalling this part of World War II. It houses both the main surrender hall filled with commemorative plaques and Allied flags, as well as the sober and excellently curated main exhibition which covers German-Soviet relations from 1917 on and the war itself. It provides an overview of the course of the war, but mostly covers the fighting experience of single soldiers, displaying their war diaries or following their way through battles with the help of photos and maps.
The exhibition provides insight into a war of total annihilation advanced by two ideologies and paid for dearly by individuals. Life expectancy of a Red Army soldier during the battle of Stalingrad 1942 was three days, and a German tank crew could expect to survive three weeks on the front during the tank battles of 1943. The knowledge of these horrors is today more important than ever.