Monument to Soviet tank crews

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The monument in 1979

The Monument to Soviet Tank Crews (Czech: Památník sovětských tankistů) was a World War II memorial located in Prague, CZ.[1] It is also known as the Pink Tank because it was controversially painted pink, first as a prank by installation artist David Černý, and a second time by members of parliament in protest of his arrest.

The original location of the monument was 50°4′43.8″N 14°24′16.6″E / 50.078833°N 14.404611°E / 50.078833; 14.404611.

The monument[edit]

The monument was erected in Štefánik square in the Smíchov district, and was dedicated on July 29, 1945, by Soviet General Ivan Konev and top municipal representatives. The tank rested on a massive five-metre stone pedestal, its barrel pointing menacingly westward. It was built to commemorate the arrival of Konev's First Ukrainian Front, namely the Fourth Tank Brigade led by Lelyushenko, on May 9, 1945, effectively liberating Czechoslovakia from German occupation. It was originally intended to represent Lt I.G. Goncharenko's T-34-85 medium tank of the 63rd Tank Brigade, the very first tank to enter Prague. However, the actual monument was an IS-2m heavy tank instead of a T-34, and its turret was mis-labelled 23; Goncharenko's tank had borne the tactical marking I-24.[2][3]

Following the communist coup of 1948, the monument was elevated to the status of National Cultural Monument, commemorating the liberation of Prague by the Red Army, and the square was renamed Soviet Tank Square.

Controversy and removal[edit]

"Pink" Soviet tank "Joseph Stalin" formerly as No.23 now in Lešany military museum

After the 1989 Velvet Revolution and the end of communist censorship, the legacy of the tank was openly discussed. For many citizens, the tank symbolised the Soviet occupation that ended Prague Spring in 1968 and the subsequent permanent installation of Soviet military units, rather than the events of World War II. Popular local lore noted that the number 23 painted on the tank's turret was indicative of the year of the Soviet invasion (1945 + 23 = 1968). In February 1991, historian Pavel Bělina argued that there were "neither moral nor historical grounds" for preserving the monument. [1]

The Pink Tank by Černý on the Vltava river, 24 June 2011

On the night of April 27, 1991, art student David Černý and friends painted the tank pink and erected a large finger suggesting an obscene gesture on its turret, signing the work "David Černý and the Neostunners". Černý was arrested under an often-abused law concerning "public disturbances", and after an official protest by the Russian government, the tank was re-painted green. However, fifteen members of the newly elected parliament took advantage of their official immunity and painted the tank back to pink in protest against Černý's arrest. The national monument status was abolished, Černý was released, and the tank was eventually removed after being repeatedly being painted green, then pink again, a few more times. The tank is now located at Military Museum Lešany near Týnec nad Sázavou.

Černý finished his studies and became the enfant terrible of Czech visual art, and eventually proposed a new statue: a pink tank buried three-quarters in the ground. After strong vocal objections from Prime Minister Miloš Zeman and Russian Ambassador Vasil Yakovlev, municipal representatives rejected the project. The statue was finally installed at Lázně Bohdaneč, a spa resort where occupying Soviet troops were located until the early 1990s (location: 50°4′9.426″N 15°40′58.42″E / 50.06928500°N 15.6828944°E / 50.06928500; 15.6828944).

On October 17, 2002, a fountain called "Propadliště času" (The Trapdoor of Time) was installed in the spot the tank formerly occupied in Prague.

Pink tank hull with a white invasion stripe on Kinsky Square

On June 20, 2011, the Pink Tank temporarily returned to Prague to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet occupation forces.[4] Its return included the erect middle finger, and the entire piece was placed on a barge on the Vltava river and displayed near the Charles Bridge until July 1, 2012.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Government of the Czech Republic, “Entropa: Stereotypes are Barriers to be Demolished”, 12 January 2009.
  2. ^ Zaloga 1996, pp 42–43, pl A2.
  3. ^ http://forum.virtualfighters.cz/viewtopic.php?t=1521
  4. ^ http://www.rp.pl/artykul/36,676835_Rozowy_czolg_wrocil_do_Pragi.html

http://www.oponaops.eu/opona/en/projects/871/about http://nezapomente.cz/ http://www.vhu.cz/ http://www.mzv.cz/jnp/ http://www.unitedislands.cz/

Bibliography[edit]

  • Wright, Patrick (2001). Tank: The Progress of a Monstrous War Machine, p. 379. Viking Adult. ISBN 0-670-03070-8.
  • Zaloga, Steven J., Jim Kinnear (1996 [2004]). T-34-85 Medium Tank 1944–94, pp. 42–43. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-535-7.
  • Zaloga, Steven J., Jim Kinnear, Andrey Aksenov & Aleksandr Koshchavtsev (1997). Soviet Tanks in Combat 1941-45: The T-28, T-34, T-34-85, and T-44 Medium Tanks, Hong Kong: Concord Publication. ISBN 962-361-615-5.
  • "Pink tank" returns to Prague, floating on river

External links[edit]