Polish town removes Soviet tank despite protests by residents
dpa, Hamburg, Germany
Wolomin, Poland (dpa) – Authorities in the central Polish town of Wolomin removed a Soviet-era tank monument on Sunday despite protests from some residents who said it had sentimental value.
“I understand those who want it to stay,” town hall official Leszek Czarzasty told dpa. “But most people don't know the history of this tank and that it was placed here to humiliate residents and to show them who was in charge.”
The Soviet T-34 tank was moved Sunday morning to be placed in a military museum in the nearby village of Urle, where Czarzasty said it could be more appropriately displayed.
Residents protested last week to let the tank stay, saying it had become part of the town's landscape and that they had fond memories of playing around it as children.
The debate came as the northern town of Lebork grapples with the same issue, with officials there wanting a Soviet tank monument to stay, while one citizen has launched a campaign to remove it.
Officials in Wolomin said the tank, which was recently vandalised and painted pink, was not a good “postcard” for the town. They want to build a family-friendly park in its place.
Communist authorities had placed the tank in Wolomin in 1985 as a tribute to the Red Army, who invaded Poland in World War II and later installed a Communist regime that ruled the country until 1989.
The Communists had put up the monument as a “pro-Soviet” gesture, Czarzasty said, in a time when the labour union Solidarity was gaining momentum in its fight against the regime.
Despite its history, town residents said the tank is a historic object that has become a part of local life.
Some 25 residents had protested against the tank's removal on September 15, holding up signs saying, “Leave us the tank.”
“We understand that it's Soviet, but despite everything it has a sentimental value,” said a 29-year-old Wolomin resident Szyman. “As kids we climbed around in it, and we could play and move the barrel or climb inside ... It's not just a Soviet tank – it's a Wolomin tank.” dpa dam sdl bve Author: Dominika Maslikowski
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