Controversial Relic from Third Reich Haunts Uruguay

This Nazi eagle dried its wings in 2006 for the first time in more than 50 years. (Photo by Alfredo Etchegaray)

by Angelo Pacheco

The demise of the Third Reich following World War II led to many former Nazis fleeing into South America.

Many wanted to abandon their native nation and commit themselves to new lives in Latin America.

When the Third Reich faltered, many allied nations were actively involved in the excavation of Nazi Germany, hoping to find artifacts from the infamous regime. Many Nazi documents along with memorabilia were taken, although much was destroyed by the Allies and the new German government.

However, a new, unique Nazi relic has surfaced in Uruguay. According to an NBC News article, the relic is a statue of “a rare surviving example of the ultimate Third Reich symbol of an eagle perched atop a swastika.” The statue was salvaged by local businessman Alfredo Etchegaray from the wreckage of the “Graf Spee, a notorious Nazi battleship that sank numerous Allied merchant vessels.”

The controversy furthers, for the government believes they own 50% of the statue, while “Etchegaray claims to have shelled out $5 million over three decades in retrieving parts of the Graf Spee, and now wants a return on that investment.”

Furthermore, “Montevideo art gallery, ‘Gomensoro,’ is now receiving offers for the businessman’s 50 percent stake in the statue, which it values loosely at up to $15 million.”

One must be mindful of government taxes, fees, and auction fees, causing a solution to this matter to be a drawn out process.

Germany is reserved about the controversy. They are on the sidelines, perhaps because they “don’t want to get involved, although they would definitely be concerned at the possibility of a private sale leading to the statue falling into the hands of neo-Nazis or being used to glorify the Third Reich.”

Germany is skeptical about the piece and does not want this relic to be glorified by Neo-Nazis or attractors of Hitler, for they wish to remain progressive and avoid links to their horrid past.

This piece may end up in a museum setting, but there will be many steps taken before it is resolved.