CITIES FOR LIFE, CITIES OF WAR
Design by Julia Zadorojnaya
What is war? If you ask millions of Ukrainians who were forced to leave their country due to the Russian invasion, this word will not be an abstract concept or feeling that you can read about in books or see in a movie. It’s about the loss of loved ones, a home, a normal life, a chance to walk around your favorite city, drink coffee with friends, go to work, and enjoy simple things.
But most Ukrainians stay in their homes to defend their city and their right to a dignified European life. Ukrainian cities and villages have become different – air raids are heard every day and night, and people see enemy missiles flying over the city. War distorts everything it touches. Or gives the surrounding landscape a menacing appearance.
This is what most Ukrainian cities look like today, “thanks” to Czech hedgehogs – iron structures that protect cities from enemy tanks.
Czech hedgehog is the simplest anti-tank barrier, made of three pieces of rolled steel of the same size (rails or angles) in the form of six-pointed stars. Ideally, the beams are connected with rivets or bolts so that they can withstand the weight of the tank – up to 40–60 tons. But in extreme conditions, when there is no time to prepare professional designs, you can see barriers made of welded metal pipes or other metal that is available.
This means of defense was first used on the Czech-German border in 1938, but it was made of reinforced concrete and had a different shape.
In 1941, the invention was perfected by Mykhailo Gorikker, head of the Kyiv Defense and director of the Kyiv Tank School at the time. That is why it is often named after the inventor – “Gorikker’s star.”
The maximum effective height is up to 1 meter, ideally 80 cm. The structure should be installed on a steady surface so that it does not shift. The goal of the hedgehog is not only to stop the tank, but also to disable it. However, if the hedgehog is not made according to the instructions, you may need additional protection (mines, machine guns, and cannon points).
The ideal arrangement of hedgehogs is in four rows in a checkerboard pattern. The goal is for the hedgehog to go under the tank’s bottom, lift it from the horizontal position, and make it vulnerable to artillery.
Today, Czech hedgehogs are constantly reminding Ukrainians of the threat, changing the looks of the usual streets, roads, and squares. And although Ukrainians do not take photos with them and live in this terrible new reality, just try to imagine such iron hedgehogs in your hometown… Feel all the pain of losing a normal life and the need to protect yourself. But Ukraine is courageously defending its lands to stop the enemy and prevent such a reality in Europe.
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And do not forget to support the courageous and unconquered Ukraine until its full victory. Do it daily. Every day until the day when the country finally gets the spring it missed. And then every Ukrainian will admire completely different hedgehogs.