On 27 May 1970 a strange carriage headed towards the Iron Curtain in Břeclav region. Something between a tank and a moon buggy, but perhaps most of all a little tankette. Vladimír Beneš from Hrušky with his entire family (wife and four children) tried to overcome the Iron Curtain in it. He did not know that the machine would break down and he would have to put it aside under a bridge near Břeclav. He did not even approach the Iron Curtain.

Vladimír Beneš, a qualified locksmith, constructed the tank himself. By the time he decided to set out to the border he was thirty-three years old. He decided to take the action after finding out that it was impossible to get to the West normally. At the same time, his brother who ran away shortly after the communist coup lived there.

The course of the escape of Vladimír Beneš was very dramatic. When the tank broke down, he had to return home. It was clear to him that he would be revealed once the tank is discovered. He wondered what to do: whether to turn himself in or run away. He decided to escape, expecting that the family would later somehow get to him. That was more complicated than he expected in the end. But it all worked out. He overcame the Iron Curtain near Valtice and settled in Seattle, the USA. The family was allowed to join him only after the incredible seven years.

The tank was confiscated by Secret Police and was later put on display in Prague Police Museum, where it is displayed up to nowadays. The camouflage painting, however, is not original.

Photo gallery

Tank - contemporary photo.
Tank - contemporary photoTank - contemporary photoTank - contemporary photoTank - contemporary photoTank - contemporary photoTank - contemporary photo

Tank - period photo of State Security.
Tank - period photo of State Security

Beneš`s house.
Beneš`s house

Vladimír Beneš
Vladimír Beneš

Vladimír Beneš in the USA
Vladimír Beneš in the USAVladimír Beneš in the USA

Walking route suggestion

  1. Hrušky – the house of family Beneš
  2. Railway bridge in Břeclav near station, where the tank remained standing
  3. Břeclav, the place where the tank was removed by the State Security
  4. Úvaly, the place along which Beneš himself was escaping in the end