The officers’ mess of Pioneer School 1
Berlin-Karlshorst on May 8, 1945
Museum Berlin-Karlshorst, T. Melnik Collection

German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst
Former officers’ mess of Pioneer School 1
Museum Berlin-Karlshorst, 2001

The Historic Location

World War II came to an end in Europe on 8 May 1945 with the surrender of the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in Berlin-Karlshorst. At least 50 million people died in the bloodiest conflict in history up to that date. The Nazi striving for world domination ended in immeasurable destruction, not least also in Germany itself. The conflict between German and Soviet troops was especially brutal, since Nazi ideology mandated the annihilation and enslavement of the Slavic peoples.

The Karlshorst building was erected between 1936 and 1938 as an officers’ mess for the German Armed Forces’ Pioneer School 1. In the Battle of Berlin at the end of April 1945, the 5th Soviet Shock Army under Colonel General Nikolai Bersarin set up its headquarters there.

After the surrender was first signed on 7 May in Rheims at the headquarters of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, it was ratified in Karlshorst in the evening
of 8 to 9 May by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, General Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg and Colonel General Hans-Jürgen Stumpff. Their signatures under the unconditional surrender were accepted by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, Soviet Supreme Commander, and for the Western Headquarters Sir Arthur Tedder, British Air Marshal and Eisenhower’s deputy, with U.S. General Carl Spaatz and French General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny as witnesses. These signatures ended the war in Europe and at the same time marked the boundary between two epochs of 20th century European history.

From 1945 to 1949 the building was the main office of the Soviet Military Administration. At that location on 10 October 1949 General Vasily Chuikov granted legal state authority to the first government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Between 1967 and 1994 a museum of the Soviet Armed Forces (“Museum of the Unconditional Surrender of Fascist Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945”) was established there in remembrance of the Battle of Berlin and the German surrender.