Tank No. 23: a symbol of Russian propaganda

Tank No. 23, 1961

On April 27, 1991, the internationally recognized artist David Černý, a student at the time, painted a monument to Soviet tank crews in Prague pink.

The huge Soviet tank in Prague’s Smíchov district was supposed to symbolize the liberation of Prague by the Red Army in May 1945. However, the tank in question never actually took part in the operation. The tanks that entered Prague on May 9, 1945 were T34 cruisers, but the one standing on the pedestal in the Kinský Square was an IS2 infantry tank.

After the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops, most people regarded the tank as a symbol of occupation. Thirty years ago, sculptor David Černý, a student at Prague’s Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design at the time, decided to paint the tank pink.

He was arrested for disorderly conduct and the authorities had the tank cleaned. However, a group of deputies from the Civic Forum repainted the tank pink in protest against Černý’s arrest. That same year, the tank was taken down and is now on display at a military museum in Lešany.

Tank No. 23 in Lešany Military Museum | Photo: Ľubomír Smatana,  Czech Radio