Last Hero

The tank the Wehrmacht dreaded
The outrigger of the lift crane moves and a tank is placed at an honorary place in a museum in the open air.

Looking at the shiny body, one could not have guessed how long and far the machine travelled.

The military machines museum appeared near Minsk several years ago following an initiative of the Trade Union Federation of Belarus. At the time they planned to make a T-34 the main exhibit. It was the machine which is regarded the symbol of the Victory and a legend of the Great Patriotic War. However, they were not able to find such a tank before the museum was opened. It turned out the only surviving T-34s in Belarus have been already placed as memorials.

“We’ve been looking for the tank in the neighbouring states, asked in Russia”, says TUFB Chairperson Leonid Kozik, “but the Russian Defence Ministry did not have a spare tank either”.

The search for the legend could take years, but sudden news came from Polleski firing range: such a tank has been found.

A rotten body, no tracks or engine… A heap of old metal resembles nothing of the present museum exhibit. It was hard to believe the decrepit “old man” survived the war and 60 years of peace. Do you remember: “a tank is meant to survive 4 minutes of combat”? Only five stars for five defeated enemies said how much this T-34 witnessed. A whole constellation is a real pride.

After the war this T-34 retired. In the mid-1960s it was delivered to the firing range to serve as a target for bombers and attack planes.
“A ten-year-old bomb was found near this T-34: it survived the hit by sheer luck”, recalls firing range chief Sergei Bokhan.

However, the tank required major overhaul. It was assembled like a puzzle using parts of several old machines found in the same firing range. The efforts were justified: according to the Defence Ministry, this T-34 is the last one in Belarus.

Irina Polyukhovich
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