March 5, 2024

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Uruguay is in the process of melting a bronze Nazi eagle with a swastika into a dove of peace: ‘a hackneyed plan’

Uruguay is in the process of melting a bronze Nazi eagle with a swastika into a dove of peace: ‘a hackneyed plan’

Uruguay’s President Luis Lacalle Poe commissioned an artist to transform an eagle, which bears a swastika in its talons, into a dove of peace.

The two-meter, 350-kilogram statue adorned the stern of the Admiral Graf Spee, one of the largest and most modern warships of the Third Reich at the time.

Uruguayan artist Pablo Atchugarry has been chosen to create the bronze dove of peace, due for delivery in November. The idea is to turn a symbol of hate, war and cruelty into a symbol of peace. “I feel very proud and feel a lot of responsibility to carry out this mission,” he said.

The artist first sculpts the statue, which is about 1.70 meters tall, out of three blocks of Italian marble. Based on this, a mold will be made into which the bronze Nazi eagle will be cast.

According to President Bo, it is not yet clear where the dove of peace will be placed. One possible location is a spot on the coast near Maldonado County, on the border of the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean.


However, the president’s plan could draw significant criticism in Uruguay. Former Rep. Annibal Glodtowski calls it a “banal scheme” by the president. “As if I turned Auschwitz into a nudist camp,” he wrote on Twitter. “The Nazi Eagle is the legacy of a human tragedy. There is no middle ground: it must either be preserved for posterity or destroyed.”

Writer Claudio Invernese does not like collapse either: “Transformation into a bird does not change humanity, it disguises it. Erasing the symbolism of terror encourages terror. What was an eagle must remain an eagle.”

Graf Spee in the port of Montevideo (December 1939).Photo by BELGA/AFP

Battle of the River Plate

On December 13, 1939, the ship was sighted on the Rio de la Plata, a wide river between Uruguay and Argentina. This was followed by the first real naval battle of World War II.

In the Battle of the Rio de la Plata, the Graf Spee was attacked by three British cruisers and was so badly damaged that the ship had to be repaired. That is why Captain Hans Langsdorf led the ship into the port of Montevideo, the capital of neutral Uruguay.

There the ship was given several days to make repairs. While British diplomats tried to persuade the local authorities to remove the ship from the port as quickly as possible, the British cruisers took up positions off Montevideo.

Surrounded by the British, Captain Langsdorff saw no other way out on December 17 than to sink the warship himself to prevent the high-tech vessel from falling into British hands.

The eagle surfaced in February 2006. AFP photo

The Eagle surfaced in February 2006.AFP photo


For decades, the Graf Spee was outside the busy port of Montevideo, to the chagrin of the port authority. Private investors began salvaging the ship in 2004 with government support. In addition, the controversial Eagle debuted in 2006.

For a short time, the eagle with a swastika was displayed in the capital of Uruguay. But after protests from the German government and the Uruguayan Jewish community, the statue was put away in a crate, much to the dismay of private investors who wanted to sell it.

After years of legal wrangling, a judge ruled a few months ago that the Uruguayan government is the rightful owner of the eagle and therefore can decide the fate of the eagle.

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