On Friday, two German activists placed a rusted-out Soviet tank outside the embassy, shocking the visiting Russian diplomats. This act of kindness occurred on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The destroyed T-72 1B tank stands at a crossroads near the embassy on the city’s famous Unter den Linden boulevard. It is the culmination of months of work, including a protracted legal battle, by organizers Enno Lenze and Wieland Giebel.
In June 2022, Lenze asked the Ukrainian authorities for help, which responded almost instantly. He wrote on the website of his museum organization, Berlin Story. He and Giebel then faced the Berlin municipal bureaucracy, which initially raised numerous objections on the grounds of public safety, traffic, and commerce.
For years, russians have been writing «to Berlin» on their cars & tanks. On this grim anniversary, a destroyed russian tank is displayed in front of their Embassy in Berlin – a symbol of their failure.
Thanks to the 🇩🇪 people & to my colleague Boris Pistorius for supporting 🇺🇦! pic.twitter.com/trhLEZNtU8
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) February 24, 2023
But in October last year, a court ruled that the tank could remain there temporarily, as it “falls within the freedom of expression protected by the Constitution,” according to a court order.
The tank is supposed to be a vivid reminder of the much feared – but ultimately disastrous – Russian attempt to take Kyiv in the early days of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
“The broken tank means the fall. Ukraine is going to be Putin’s Stalingrad,” Giebel told Reuters. Lenze and Giebel said an anti-tank mine destroyed it on March 31 near the village of Dmytrivka in Chernihiv Oblast.
According to Lenze’s email, it had to be demilitarized, with parts welded together and all traces of explosives removed before it could be displayed in Germany.
According to Reuters, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry helped organize the project for its part. Getting it to Berlin in time for the sad anniversary of the war became a race against time, as new administrative problems arose at the border, but it finally arrived. In a Twitter post praising Germany for the gesture, the Ukrainian minister of defense, Oleksii Reznikov, termed it a “sign of Russia’s failure.”