In May, I attended an open house at Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (the local public broadcasting service). They’re located just a hop, skip and jump from the convention center in Berlin in a beautiful brick segmented semi-circular complex. In a quiet side alley, away from the hustle and bustle of studio tours, concerts and other entertainment available that day, I discovered this section of preserved Russian graffiti.
The inscription (my translation from German) tells the story:
House of Radio (HdR) under Soviet control, 1945-1956
On May 2, 1945, Major Popov and a company of Soviet army troops took control of the House of Radio (HdR). As a radio technician who had himself worked here as an engineering intern from 1931 to 1933, Popov knew the building well.
Starting May 4, the first calls and news programs were broadcast under Soviet leadership; on May 13, 1945, they reinstituted a regular broadcasting schedule.
After the city was divided into four sectors, the English, French and Americans began broadcasting their own radio programs from their respective sectors. The Soviets secretly removed the technical equipment from the HdR and transported it to the Soviet sector (Nalepa St.). In 1950 the HdR ceased broadcasting.
Until the building was returned to the Berlin Senate on July 5, 1956, the Soviets maintained a 10-15 man watch commando in the empty building in 14-day rotation. It is assumed that during this time the cyrillic grafitti was scratched into the facade.
This writing was discovered during renovations to the facade in 1998-1999 and was retained and preserved to document the mutable history of the HdR.
It is not uncommon to find Russian graffiti in buildings of historical significance in Berlin, though most (like that most notably found in the Reichstag) was left during the siege in 1945.
If you’d like to learn more about broadcasting in Germany’s capital, you can take an online tour of the RBB facilities here (German only).