While economically struggling, Russia has a long history of deriving national pride from military parades celebrating past victories. Last Thursday, Russian forces participated in just such an event: a parade commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk.
In 1943, some 1.9 million Soviet soldiers alongside more than 5,000 tanks participated in what would be the German’s final offensive on the Eastern front. The Soviet Union came into the battle with more than twice the manpower, but their attrition style of warfare resulted in the Soviets suffering substantial losses despite emerging the victor. When the smoke cleared, Nazi Germany had absorbed some 200,000 casualties in their defeat, but victory cost the Soviet Union much more: to the tune of approaching 800,000 casualties and losing nearly 2,000 tanks.
Many of the tanks participating in this historic battle for the Soviets was the workhorse T-34, credited by many for not only helping the Soviets succeed in the European theater but by some historians’ estimates, the T-34 played a vital role in securing allied history over the Nazis in general. With its large 76-millimeter gun, advanced armor and a cruising speed of around 35 miles per hour, the T-34 dominated the German Panzers on the battlefield, upending a significant advantage the Nazi’s had maintained over previous forces in Poland or France.
Of course, despite being considered perhaps the most capable tank on the planet at the time, the T-34 was not without its faults. Soviet workmanship, in particular, was likely to blame for many issues the tank ran into during its tenure as the nation’s workhorse armored vehicle, but despite some concerns about the tank’s reliability, its prowess in combat secured it a place in the history books.
The T-34 would go on to become the most heavily produced tank of World War II, with more than 84,000 being built throughout its production run, and T-34s remained in active service around the world through the 1990s. It is even believed that there remain a number of T-34s in storage throughout Africa and Asia, theoretically to be used in some future conflict.
With such an incredible history behind it, it’s little surprise, then, that last Thursday’s parade heavily featured the T-34 as a symbol of Soviet victory, and perhaps Russian longevity — that is, until the parade was over and it was time to transport the Soviet heroes of Kursk back to their storage facilities.
“At about 12:10 on August 23 a T-34 tank rolled off the platform and capsized while being loaded on a trailer. The driver was not hurt,” reads the official statement obtained by Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency. “The repair team promptly put the tank on the trailer. The vehicle was delivered to its permanent location.”
The incident was caught on camera by multiple bystanders, many of whom promptly uploaded the incident to social media.
На Берлин, блядь pic.twitter.com/sSeGRdZTAY
— Уголок циника (@cynicarea) August 23, 2018
T-34 tank overturned after 75 anniversary Kursk battle parade pic.twitter.com/GVmhDT8VOw
— English Russia (@EnglishRussia1) August 23, 2018