The Yugoslav People’s Army demonstrated its ”force” on this day in 1991. A red Fiat was overrun by a tank. It is still one of the most impressionable moments of the Homeland War
Footage of the crushing of a small Fiat, popularly called Fićo, on this day in 1991 was shown around the world. The red coloured Fićo soon became a legend and entered into the collective memory of the Croatian people, as 24sata reported on June 27, 2017.
It was a hot June evening. Branko Breškić, then 31, poured a tank of petrol into his red Fiat. He did not fathom this was the last tank of petrol and the last day he would spend with his tin companion. It was then that Branko and all Osijek residents who happened to be there saw a demonstration of force by huge tanks heading through Osijek on Vukovar Street westward. Without thinking about it, Branko followed the tank column form the petrol station. According to eyewitnesses, the fearless 31-year-old Branko and his friend overtook the tank column and at a safe distance left the car and made a road block for the tanks. He thought this may stop them.
When the tank came across the obstacle, he simply crushed the small Fiat. Driving the tank was Josip Ilić, a Croat from a place near Županja Town, in military service in Osijek. The young man was only following orders. His commanding officer pointed a gun in his back and yelled: “Hit the gas!” Ilić had no other choice but to crush the red vehicle.
Branko soon became a Croatian solider, wounded several times, but made it through the war. It is interesting that Branko Breškić and Josip Ilić had a chance to meet later, at the same spot where the tank crushed the small car. They became friends, but the tank driver did not live much longer, deceased in 2010 at the age of 38.
The red Fiat received a monument in 2011 in Osijek, which permanently reminds of the event, symbolising the resolution and resistance of the small man against force and aggression. “Fićo Crushes a Tank” or “Red Fićo” is an art installation in Osijek. It symbolizes the Croatian victory over the Yugoslav Army and Serbian aggressor.
Have a look at the actual footage from 1991: