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Montevideo, July 24th 2024 - 15:31 UTC



WWII: Graf Spee's eagle to be turned into a bronze dove of peace

Saturday, June 17th 2023 - 09:06 UTC
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“The signal from our country to our people and the outside world is that we are a society of peace and union,” Lacalle said “The signal from our country to our people and the outside world is that we are a society of peace and union,” Lacalle said
The bronze eagle was retrieved from the Graf Spee in 2006 The bronze eagle was retrieved from the Graf Spee in 2006

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou Friday announced that the bronze eagle retrieved from the wreckage of the German World War II battleship Admiral Graf Spee in 2006 will be transformed into a dove as a “symbol of peace and union” by local artist Pablo Atchugarry, whose work is expected to be completed by November, it was reported in Montevideo.

This “symbol of violence and war” will be turned into a “symbol of peace and union,” Lacalle said.

The bronze eagle with spread wings and a swastika between its claws, measuring 2.8 meters long by 2.0 meters high and weighing 350 kilos, was recovered in 2006 from the Río de la Plata by private rescuers.

After an exhibition in a Montevideo hotel, the stern mask of the Third Reich's warship was left in the custody of the Uruguayan Navy, pending a legal dispute. In 2022, the Uruguayan Supreme Court ruled that the piece was owned by the Uruguayan State.

Atchugarry explained that after a sketch made in Uruguay, he traveled to Italy, where he made a model in Carrara marble that will serve as the basis for the definitive model of the piece, which will be about 1.70 meters long.

President Lacalle Pou underlined the “importance of symbols in the life of humanity.”

“More than three years ago, before the electoral process, it occurred to us that this symbol of violence or war could undergo a virtuous transformation into a symbol of peace or union as a dove,” he explained.

“In times of division, of violence, of war in the world, the signal from our country to our people and the outside world is that we are a society of peace and union and we try to help with the symbols that are so important in the life of humanity,” the president said.

Atchugarry agreed to the job on the sole condition that it would be an honorary task. He said it was “an exciting moment, a historic moment. I decide to accept this challenge that the president proposes to me and I think that everything that can be done for peace is little.”

“We have to have peace in our hearts, we have to imagine it and propose it. This idea is to transform a symbol of hatred, of war, of atrocity, into a symbol of peace. I feel very honored and with a lot of responsibility to carry out this task,” the artist said. “It is going to be quite complicated and quite long, we are talking about months of work,” he added.

“A piece that represents inhumanity and Nazi barbarism and the extermination of millions of lives, will be transformed into a sign of peace between people and nations. So that from the pain an eternal memory will emerge and never happen again. A thoughtful government decision and the art of Pablo Atchugarry, together, for peace,” Defense Minister Javier García said on Twitter.

“It is a wonderful idea,” Roby Schindler, president of the Central Israeli Committee of Uruguay (CCIU), told local media. “It's music to our ears,” he added.

“I do not come out of my surprise, because this is an issue that we have been monitoring for a few years now, with the understanding that the eagle was eventually going to be auctioned and that the proceeds of that auction would be shared between the State and those who were in charge of the search,” he also pointed out.

“That is what we knew and that issue was kind of dormant. This news is music to our ears; at least personally, from the little I heard from the president, it's wonderful. Because preserving the element could mean that someone could use it tomorrow to generate a space for the cult of Nazism. We know that, regrettably, there are people who still follow these kinds of ideas and ideologies,” he insisted.

The Admiral Graf Spee, together with the British cruisers Exeter, Ajax, and Cumberland, and New Zealand's Achilles took part in the Battle of the River Plate off the Uruguayan coast on Dec. 13, 1939.


Categories: Politics, International, Uruguay.

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