After seizing the Reichstag in May 1945 and raising their flag on its roof, Soviet soldiers left their marks in other ways, writing their names, feelings, thoughts, and hometowns on the walls of the famous building.
Written in Cyrillic script, they include such slogans as “Hitler kaputt” and names of individual soldiers. Most of the writings are just “From [Russian City] to Berlin” or just “[Russian City] – Berlin” with a name or “Kilroyski was here”
. On the base of the pillar on the right, directly above the statue’s head it says “From Moscow to Berlin, Major Yakovlev”. On the left pillar in the circle with the star, it says “From Leningrad to Berlin” with a name after.
After the war, the Reichstag remained empty while the West German parliament set up in Bonn and the East German parliament was based in East Berlin. In the 1960s, the building was renovated during which much of the original architecture was destroyed. After reunification in 1990, the German parliament voted to move back to Berlin from Bonn.
During the final reconstruction, the building was first almost completely gutted, taking out everything except the outer walls, including all changes made by Baumgarten in the 1960s.
Respect for the historic aspects of the building was one of the conditions stipulated to the architects, so traces of historical events were to be retained in a visible state.
Among them were graffiti left by Soviet soldiers after the final battle for Berlin in April–May 1945. However, graffiti with racist or sexist themes were removed, in agreement with Russian diplomats at the time.
Today, visitors to the building can still see Soviet graffiti on smoky walls inside as well as on part of the roof, which was preserved during the reconstructions after reunification.
(Photo credit: Life Magazine).