The Model ?IS 2? tank is not only a part of the exhibition of the Artillery Museum in Nowa Huta, it?s also one of the symbols of Nowa Huta itself.
The tank has become a point of orientation, a part of the district?s landscape and an attraction for kids.
Previously standing in front of the museum at 23 Gorali Estate, it has now been taken away and is waiting for its fate to be decided.
The problem arose after taking the machine for restoration, when its removal went over all too well with the Krakow Veteran?s Organization. They stated that, according to a new bill aimed at removing communist symbols from Poland, the tank must be removed as it is a monument to communism, and propagates communist symbols.
?IS, referring to Iosif Stalin, is just a model name and has nothing to do with glorifying communism,? said Mr. Franciszek Baryla, a leader of a local department of the Worldwide Organization of National Army (AK) Soldiers in Nowa Huta. ?This tank served Polish soldiers in one of the most tragic Polish battles near Budziszyn, and besides, it?s an exhibit item — a big one. It is a part of the museum; it wouldn?t be the same without it.?
Generally speaking, there is no legal objection for the tank being restored to the pedestal in front of the museum; even if the de-communization law should take effect. The tank will simply have its label ?IS? removed and that?s all. There is, however, one major problem ? money.
?Our museum is maintained only from our own veteran subscriptions and free donations from our visitors. We just don?t have enough money to finish the restoration of the tank,? said Mr. Baryla.
Experts estimate that the museum will need about 25,000zl more to restore the former glory of the machine.
Nowa Huta tank lovers have appealed to the Ministry of Defense for donations to due the repairs.
What?s more, they?ve started collecting money themselves.
?As a boy, I used to play soldiers with my friends by the tank. I associate it with my happy childhood and not communist oppression,? Marcin Moszczynski writes in www.forum.gazeta.pl. Marcin is an owner of the Cool Tour Company, which donated the first 1,000zl for the restoration of the tank. ?It helps to pinpoint what communism was and how much bravery it takes to stand in front of that machine to defend your rights. You can?t remove everything that gives you unpleasant memories,? he says.
Obviously, the last word has not yet been said and the tank has its big chance now. If you want to support the restoration, send money to:
PKO BP S.A. II Oddzial Krakow, os. Kosciuszkowskie 1, nr 88 1020 2906 0000 1202 0100 8762 with a note ?Czolg.?