Bicycle Against Tank

Bicycle Against Tank
Wroclaw, Poland, (1989-1999)

Created by Polish students on the Tenth Anniversary

Polish students constructed the first version of this memorial the day after the crackdown on protestors by the People’s Liberation Army.  This second version, seen above, was erected at the tenth anniversary.  The bisected bicycle, blood stained stones and nearby tank track are all evocative of the brutal murder of student protestors on the orders of the Chinese government. 

Polish students had reason to empathize with the Chinese students.  Poland had been gripped during the forty years of Cold War by political oppression.  But in the months in which the heat was rising in Tiananmen Square, flames of political reform were sweeping Poland.  By April 1989 an agreement had been reached for partially open national elections.  On June 4th, candidates from the trade union Solidarity were elected to all of the seats in Poland’s lower house, and 99 of the 100 available seats in the Senate. 

What was a day of cracking down on the Chinese students was in fact the day of liberation for the Poles. Spurned on by Gorbachev’s glasnost, the Berlin Wall began to come down  In the following months the European Eastern Bloc countries followed democratic reform.

Bicycle Against Tank  is certainly a strong accusation by the Poles.  Does it carry the wordless voices of other Eastern European peoples too?



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