WW1 Tanks at the Lustgarten

Berlin 1945

This image from the collection of the Desert Rat who was in Berlin in the summer of 1945 shows a scene in front of the Lustgarten at the far end of the Unter Den Linden. Visible are two MkIV or MkV First World War British Tanks. A book on WW2 published a few years ago carried another image of one of the tanks and suggested that the Volksturm in Berlin was so desperate it was utilising tanks from WW1!

The truth is a little less complicated. After 1940 the Lustgarten area appears to have developed quite a Great War connection as the Armistice Carriage in which the November 1918 Armistice that humiliated Germany and the French surrender in 1940 had been signed. Other WW1 related items seem to have been displayed here, among them the tanks. Where the tanks came from is another thing. Some sources suggested they were captured in Russia; Britain supplied such tanks to the White Russians during the Russian Civil War. However, there were a number of such tanks placed on war memorials in France, and it is possible they were retained by the Nazis as war booty, and that these might be examples of that. A serial number is visible on one of the tanks and some work on that is on-going.

What happened to the tanks after the war also remains a mystery. They may have been cut up for scrap, or taken to the Soviet Union (examples of such tanks are known to exist in Russia). They do not appear to have ended up in any military museum in Germany. If any reader of the blog can help, please get in touch.

~ by sommecourt on 27/11/2011.

2 Responses to “WW1 Tanks at the Lustgarten”

  1. sorry I don’t have any more information about the tanks, but was glad to find this picture of the Altes Museum as my grand-father brought the same picture from his military service time in Berlin (1946-47), yet taken from a slightly different angle

  2. These tanks were British Mk V (Mark 5). They were, indeed, given to the White Russian forces after WWI by Great Britain, then captured and used by the Red Army, possibly into the 1930s. After being retired, they were put on display outside the cathedral in Smolensk, where they were, in turn, captured by invading German troops in 1941. There are numerous photos of the tanks in situ and of German soldiers inspecting and posing with them.

    At some point, the vehicles were transported to Berlin and again put on display, in the Berlin Lustgarten, opposite the cathedral. There they remained until after the fall of the city in 1945. Photographs show that they became severely damaged during their stay in Berlin, but it is not known how. Suggestions that they were operable and took part in the fighting in some way have not been supported by any evidence.

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