New Chambers of Sanssouci / 1945

“Победа - хорошое слово”, “Victory is a fine word”

Two sets of Cyrillic graffiti, “Victory is a fine word” and the year “1945”, which Soviet soldiers scratched onto the walls of the Blue Gallery, are among the few surviving reminders of the Red Army’s occupation at the end of the Second World War still preserved in the Prussian palaces today.

During the final days of the war, the New Chambers was turned into one of many storage sites for works of art. Nearly all 2,400 porcelain objects from Charlottenburg Palace and many paintings from Berlin and Potsdam were stored there. As a by-product of the joyous frenzy brought on by the defeat of the National Socialist Third Reich, the permanent interior design of the richly gilded festival halls offered the victors a convenient platform to immortalize themselves for posterity. The art objects stored in the prestigious halls ultimately found their way to the Soviet Union in September 1945 as spoils of war. When the New Chambers underwent a major renovation from 1982 to 1986, it was decided that the Soviet graffiti would be left untouched.

Following the liberation of Potsdam by troops of the 1st Ukrainian and the 1st White Russian Front, Soviet occupation established itself in Potsdam at the beginning of May 1945. It included a Red Army trophy brigade, which was tasked with bringing tens of thousands of works of art from the Prussian palaces to the Soviet Union. During the war (since 1941), German occupying forces in the USSR had looted innumerable art and cultural assets.

Victory celebrations by Soviet troops at the New Chambers cannot be ruled out. An impression of such an impromptu celebratory gathering is portrayed in director Konrad Wolf’s DEFA production ‘Ich war neunzehn’, filmed at the New Chambers in 1967. Graffiti in the stucco marble can also be seen in this film.

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