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War Trophy

A long forgotten Nazi War Trophy is now causing an international kerfuffle.  You may remember the story of the Battle of La Plate River.  Where the British Navy finally cornered the German heavy cruiser ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE into a tight box.

Well, according to El Capitán over at Donde El Viento Nos LLeve, on Feb 10th 2006, an enterprising Uruguayan salvaged its bronze Nazi Eagle Stern Scutcheon (the only known surviving piece of its kind). Period pictures of the said Eagle are HERE and HERE


Eagle as salvaged


Eagle restored and on display
Image Source of the above two pictures are courtesy of El Capitán

It seems that this bronze relic has caught the eye of the German Government.  In an official diplomatic Démarche, the German Ambassador to Uruguay, lodged a protest to the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry.  In it, the German Government claims its ownership and demands that it may not be sold.  Furthermore, it holds The Uruguayan Government as its fiduciary repository until physical transfer to Germany is effected.

In response to this démarche, The Uruguayans seized the eagle and promptly transfered it to the Uruguayan Marine Corps Museum in Montevideo for temporary guardianship and display.

...Which prompted the salvager to lodge a suit alleging that:
(A) The German Government back in 1940 sold the rights to salvage the Graf Spee to an Uruguayan citizen,
(B) That subsequently the ship was considered abandoned, and
(C) That by virtue of lying within Uruguayan waters it is open for salvage by any Uruguayan citizen.

The suit also contents that the salvager has incurred millions of dollars in the enterprise and thus is entitled to any future proceeds.

Details of the Kefuffle are published in the Montevideo Daily El País. (My apologies to the liguistically challenged).

21 Comments

Interesting that the German Gummint would take that stand, because, under existing German law, der adler would have to be removed from its perch in order to be returned to Germany.

No Hakenkreuz allowed. Display on German soil is Verboten -- I know an aircraft modeller who was specifically told that, if he completed his scratch-built, historically-accurate model of Hans Rudel's Ju-87G, it would be confiscated and destroyed, because of the swastika on the tail.
 
I too am scratching my head on why the FRG would be making such a stink on this old relic, unless they want to rattle the cage of The Uruguayan government for some politico-economic reason.

That being said, there seems to be an exeption on the importation and public display of the hakencreuz in Germany.  So as long as there is a historical period item (not modern recreation), and is to be used for the purpose of education (as in teaching today's kids how EVIEEEL were the Nazies), it is O.K. to import the sign (under official import license of course).
 
I can remember buying model kits in Deutschland where the decal swastikas had been removed or blacked out with a magic marker.

But you could find plenty of period stuff, mit hakenkreuz, in the flea markets and antique shops.
 
These undersea salvage controversies always get me.  On the one hand, I understand the cultural significance, and nations wanting to preserve their heritage.  On the other, this stuff would all still be lost if not for the enterprising salvagers.  If you're not going to get anything out of it, why spend all that money to make the attempt in the first place?  There are cheaper hobbies (although I doubt very many as challenging or fun).
 
I blame Bob Ballard.  He and his Navy cronies managed to get the ancient law of the sea changed so that all government property, of any government anywhere and anywhen, is still the property of that government which used to own it, even if it was just tossed overboard as trash and said government no longer exists.   There's  a TBD corroding away on the sea bottom which the USN, as dog in manger, refuses to let its discoverer salvage.

  There are the sunken Spanish treasure ships, too. The current Spanish .gov is claiming ownership of the wrecks. That is just silly, as those ships and their cargo are  and have always been the lawful property of any English (or American, by inheritance) sailors who could take them.
 
No matter where it ends up, I hope it is displayed.  It's a beautiful piece- and a reminder of a horrible time that we should not forget.
 
John, from what I've heard on modeling boards, that's still true today. Most companies won't include the hakenkreuz on the decal sheet these days. There seems to be a healthy after-market for "additional" sheets for WW2 German aircraft. :)


 
There's a new american company (formerlly 21st Century Toys) called All-Go Toys thats recieving acclaim for their courage with a new, and not yet released, 1/18 P-51 for the historical accuracy of having the correct kill markings on it.  Well that and the nose art (Passion Wagon). 

What they can't do is call it a P-51!!  Boeing, the owner of the North American brand, isn't happy.  So it's called "World War II Fighter Plane".  The Soft Commissar's at work even with models.
 
Boeing moved  its headquarters to Chicago, a while back.  Managers wanted to get away from those pesky engineers, I reckon.  Just sayin'.
 
Interesting, I've seen several tons of purported salvage from the Graf Spee adorning various parks and museums around Montevideo, guns, gun turrets, anchors, and portions of the superstructure.  Do they want those back too? 

I seem to recall from, what I read there, that the Graf Spee was scuttled (abandoned?) w/o loss of life, so it's not like the argument in some other cases where salvaging the vessel would, in my opinion, be the same as desecrating a military graveyard. 
 
Nazi Eagle Stern Scutcheon

Errrmmmmm, ain't the stern the backside?  Those pics look to me to be the front-end, and Germany would not, I think, have had the Adler watching where she had been, but where she was going.

 
Yup...it is sitting on the stern in the picture I just found. It took a while to find a picture from that angle as all others were from the bow. And it isn't anywhere near the bow.

And if memory serves, the Captain went down with his ship, also selected unmarried crew.
 
On the stern is korrect. And- not to be pedantic or nuffink- but Boq's second link is of Graf Spree's sister ship, Deutschland. Later re-named Lutzow, as the German Oberkommando des Kriegsmarine couldn't bear the thought of losing a ship named 'Deutschland'...  ironically enough, she was the only one of the three ships built to this spec to survive the war...
 
The stern is surprisingly slender, but if you have any doubt as to which end of the ship you're facing, count the very large gun barrels. 3 is the stern, 6 the bow. :)
 
Aw great. POCKET battleships. Right. Only two main guns, 1 fore, 1 aft. Awesome. I fail ship recognition.
 
The Graf Spee was scuttled, but without any crew remaining aboard.  The captain shot himself three days later in his hotel room, wearing his full dress uniform.  Some say out of shame, others that he wanted to show he was not afraid to die.  He arranged a flag on the floor so that his body fell on it.  I have read two versions - that the flag was the Nazi naval ensign, or the Imperial Naval ensign.
 
Only two main guns, 1 fore, 1 aft. Awesome. I fail ship recognition.

Nup -- two main *turrets*, each with three main *guns*.

Add: "fail component nomenclature"...

 
The picture of the Stern Eagle is shown HERE.  According to the link, it is supposed to be on the Graf Spee, but it might as well be a picture of her sister ship The Deutschland.

Oooo and don't forget to click on HERE, Nice Birdie pictures!

 
Um, given that it says "Deutschland" on the side of the vessel... I'm betting that *is* Deutschland.
 
Ah - Doing some more diggin' on the matter, I found THIS other page.  In the last picture at the bottom it reads:
To deceive prisoners coming aboard, a nameplate announced that Admiral Graf Spee was Deutschland. Notice the quotation marks on the nameplate which makes it look suspicious.

 
*shakes fist*



Fair enough, I yell at enough people per week for magazine/clip infractions.