As part of the Forum on European Culture, De Balie will exhibit a wrecked Russian tank on Leidseplein in Amsterdam, as a symbol of the fragility and resilience of democracy in Europe.
On March 31st, 2022 this tank was destroyed by Ukrainian soldiers during the Battle of Kyiv in the village of Dmytrivka, near Bucha. In this region, as in many other places in Ukraine, innocent civilians were massacred in acts that have been classified as war crimes by Amnesty International, and are currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court. The tank, weighing 44 tons, was used by a Russian unit from Ulan-Ude, a city close to the border of Mongolia, 6.300 kilometers from Kyiv.
On May 25, 2023, Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema opened this exhibition, with the words:
‘Let this tank also be a warning.
That peace, humanity, democratic values and freedom cannot be taken for granted.
Placing this tank is not a gesture of triumph.
On the contrary, it is a gesture of pain, sorrow and broken democracy.
The tank reminds us that we must defend democracy every day.’
This tank was exposed in Berlin on Unter den Linden and at the Freedom Museum in Groesbeek, NL.
Many thanks to Andrii Ilenko (director National Museum of Military History of Ukraine), Enno Lenze, journalist and director of Berlin Story Bunker Museum, Gerard Boink (former air force officer and chairman of the Veterans Committee of East Gelre) en Wiel Lenders (director of Freedom Museum) to make this awareness campaign possible in Germany and the Netherlands respectively. Freedom Museum Groesbeek has lent the Russian tank to De Balie for a period of 11 days.