A toy tank

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The toy pink tank is a souvenir of a revolt by activists in Prague against a real Soviet tank that since 1945 had sat on a plinth in ?tefánik square in the Smíchov district of the city. It had come to symbolise the anger many felt at the Soviet use of tanks to suppress the Prague Spring of 1968. In 1991, it was painted pink overnight by a local artist who was quickly arrested. The tank was soon returned to its military colour. Then a group of MPs painted it pink again. I was in Prague visiting my daughter at the time and we regularly walked past the tank. One afternoon she stopped dead and said: "It's gone!" The plinth was empty; beneath it were muddy ruts caused by a mighty vehicle that had come to remove the tank to an anonymous yard on the edge of the city. Within hours, small pink wooden tanks celebrating this popular triumph were on sale at stalls across the city. It was the only souvenir I brought back from the trip. But I also brought back memories of my daughter relishing her experience of the ferment in central Europe.

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