Friday 17 March 2023
Wrecked Russian tank and damaged Ukrainian ambulance at Groesbeek’s Freedom Museum
From 17 March, a wrecked Russian tank and a bullet-riddled Ukrainian ambulance will be on display in front of the building of the Freedom Museum in Groesbeek. The 44-ton T-72B tank was captured by the Ukrainian army in March 2022 after it had run on a French-made mine during the Russian assault on Kyiv, sustaining major damage.
In late February 2023, the tank was placed outside the Russian embassy in Berlin in protest of the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Ukraine’s National Military History Museum, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence and the Ukrainian embassy in the Netherlands helped get the tank to Berlin and subsequently to Groesbeek. The plan is for the Russian tank to go on display in Amsterdam from mid-May to the end of June 2023, on the initiative of De Balie Cultural Centre, following which it will be returned to Groesbeek’s Freedom Museum.
The protest in Germany was organised by Enno Lenze, journalist and director of the Berlin Story Bunker Museum. He worked closely with the person behind the initiative in the Netherlands, Gerard Boink (former air force officer and chairman of the Oost Gelre Veterans’ Committee) and Wiel Lenders (Freedom Museum director) to enable this protest and awareness campaign in Germany and the Netherlands respectively.
The heavily damaged Ukrainian ambulance is from the Kharkiv area and on loan from the Sails for Freedom Foundation, which is an aid organisation that has delivered numerous ambulances and medical supplies to Ukraine over the past year. The ambulance in question came under fire during a Russian attack. A deliberate attack on a hospital, ambulance and healthcare staff constitutes a war crime and a violation of international humanitarian law.
The Freedom Museum’s mission is to tell the visiting public the Story of War and Freedom without Borders and to have them experience that story. It is a story that places World War II in an international perspective and links it to current developments in the world. The Freedom Museum is a historical educational museum that does not turn its back on the present and the future. Especially not when Russian aggression is undermining a sovereign nation’s freedom, democracy and rule of law.
Putting the tank and ambulance on display is intended as a warning against Putin’s ruthless war that poses an existential threat to the free and democratic countries of Europe. The Freedom Museum shows this to its visitors with these two tangible objects that are each other’s polar opposites: the life-saving Ukrainian ambulance versus the Russian war machine. It is a call to keep supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russian dictatorship and imperialism, which is targeting a people that longs intensely for the freedom and democracy that we often take for granted.