Monument to Soviet tank crews
Monument to Soviet Tank Crews (Czech: Památník sovětských tankistů) was a World War II memorial located in Prague. It is also known as the Pink Tank, because it was controversially painted pink, first by artist David Černý, and several times thereafter.
The original location of the monument was.
The monument, originally in Štefánik square in the Smíchov district, was dedicated on 29 July 1945. The audience, including Soviet General Ivan Konev and top municipal representatives, admired a tank on a massive five-metre stone pedestal with a barrel pointing menacingly westwards. The monument was built to commemorate the arrival of Konev's First Ukrainian Front, namely the Fourth Tank Brigade led by Lelyushenko on 9 May 1945.
The monument was intended to represent Lt I.G. Goncharenko's T-34-85 medium tank of the 63rd Guards Tank Brigade, 10th Guards Tank Corps, the first Soviet tank to enter Prague in May 1945 and subsequently knocked out in the street fighting. Unfortunately, the actual monument bore an IS-2m heavy tank instead of the famous T-34, with its turret mislabelled 23 (Goncharenko's tank had actually borne the tactical marking I-24).
Following the communist coup in 1948, the monument was raised to the status of National Cultural Monument, commemorating the liberation of Prague by the Red Army, and the square was renamed to Square of Soviet Tank Crews.
Controversy and the artistic response
After the 1989 Velvet revolution and the abolition of censorship, the legacy of the tank was openly discussed. The major force that saved the Prague uprising was the Russian Liberation Army led by Andrey Vlasov. Vlasov's soldiers captured the Ruzyně airport, where German Me 262 jets were deployed, and took the left bank of the Vltava including Smíchov. On May 9, the only aim of Wehrmacht military leaders was to get safely to the American occupation zone. For many citizens, the tank symbolised the Soviet invasion that ended the Prague Spring in 1968 and the following permanent deployment of Soviet military units, rather than the events in World War II—a popular local legend was that the number 23 painted on the tank's turret foresaw the Soviet invasion (1945 + 23 = 1968). In February 1991, historian Pavel Bělina noted that there were "neither moral nor historical grounds" for preserving the monument. 
On the night from 27 to 28 April 1991, art student David Černý with his friends painted the tank pink and erected a huge finger in an obscene gesture on its turret roof, signing their 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 re-painted the tank pink in protest against the arrest. The national monument status was abolished, Černý was released, and the tank removed. The tank is currently located in Military museum Lešany by Týnec nad Sázavou.
Černý, who finished his studies and became an enfant terrible of Czech visual art, later proposed a new statue, a pink tank digging into the ground. Following a fierce opposition from Prime Minister Miloš Zeman and Russian Ambassador Vasil Yakovlev, the municipality representatives abolished the project. The statue was finally installed in the spa resort Lázně Bohdaneč, where the occupying Soviet army was deployed until the early 1990s (located at ).
On 17 October 2002, a fountain "Propadliště času" was installed on the spot. The spurting water should have purified everything and let the people forget. However, the people did not forget. In 2004, a CowParade was held in Prague. One of the fiberglass cows was painted khaki and provided with five-pointed red stars and white numbers 23 on both flanks, with the intention to paint it publicly pink later on. The cow was vandalised, and the happening did not take place.
On 8 May 2005, when the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War was celebrated, Communist party leader Miroslav Grebeníček organised a gathering there. His supporters, mostly pensioners, put lilacs on the spot of the former monument and sang "The Internationale".
On 21 August 2008, the pink hull of a tank by David Černý was illegally installed on the spot. It has a white invasion stripe, the same as Soviet tanks that entered Czechoslovakia in 1968. According to Černý, the statue should draw attention to contemporary politics of Russia.
On 20 June 2011 the pink tank was temporarily returned to Prague to celebrate the 20th anniversary of withdrawal of Soviet occupation forces. It included the erected forefinger and was placed on a barge on the Vltava river. The piece, as modified by Černý, was displayed on a river barge, by Charles Bridge, until 1 July 2012 within the Week of Freedom festival commemorating the departure of Soviet troops from the country.
- Government of the Czech Republic, “Entropa: Stereotypes are Barriers to be Demolished”, 12 January 2009.
- Zaloga 1997, p 67.
- Zaloga 1996, pp 42–43, pl A2.
- Jana Záhorková, “Černý vrátil Praze růžový tank, tentokrát s okupačním pruhem”, iDnes.cz, 21 August 2008.
- 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 ). 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
- The complicated history of Prague's Tank No. 23, article on Radio Prague web site, including photos of the original memorial, the pink tank, and of David Černý
- Actions: Tank 91, Artwork: Sochy: Tank: Lešany – photos at davidcerny.cz