Uruguay to melt down Nazi bronze eagle, recast it as peace dove

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — Uruguay will melt down a bronze eagle found on a sunken World War II-era German destroyer off its coast 13 years ago, and recast it as a dove of peace, the South American country’s president said Friday.

The 350-kilogram (770-pound) “symbol of violence and war” will be turned into a “symbol of peace and union,” Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou told journalists in the capital Montevideo.

The two-meter (6.5-foot)-tall bird with a Nazi swastika gripped in its talons adorned the stern of the Admiral Graf Spee, a battleship involved in one of the first naval skirmishes of World War II.

The Graf Spee’s captain, Hans Langsdorff, scuttled the battleship — one of the Third Reich’s largest — on December 17, 1939 following the Battle of the River Plate.

The sculpture was found in 2006 after a 10-year hunt in the River Plate off Montevideo.

In 2019, a court ruled that the sculpture must be sold, with half the proceeds going to the government and half to the salvage team.

This 50-50 split had been stipulated in an agreement the salvagers had signed with the Uruguayan navy in 2004. The treasure hunters later filed suit, claiming the government reneged on that deal.

Last year, Uruguay’s Supreme Court ruled the eagle was the property of the state.

Lacalle Pou said Uruguayan artist Pablo Atchugarry has been chosen to make the peace dove, which is expected to be completed in November.

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