Recovered in 2006 off the Uruguayan coast, the the Swastika-laden crest of the warship Admiral Graf Spee risked becoming a prized collection item in the growing market of Nazi artifacts.
An Argentine businessman has vowed to buy the eagle and swastika crest of a German warship that sank in 1939 in Uruguay, and was recovered in 2006, in order to "blow it to smithereens" and prevent it becoming a fetish for Nazi sympathizers.
The Admiral Graf Spee warship, which been disrupting Allied shipping in the early months of World War II, was damaged in fighting and then scuttled in Montevideo's harbor on the orders of its captain. Its wreck was recovered in 2006, and a Uruguayan court has ordered it sold to repay the two brothers who financed the operation.
But 64-year-old Daniel Sielecky, an Argentine boating aficionado in Punta del Este, a resort near Montevideo, said he would buy the "Nazi symbol," to "immediately blow it into a thousand pieces." Any chunks left, he told the Uruguayan daily Correo de Punta del Este, "will be pulverized. There will be nothing left."
The ship's crest, which two meters high, 2.8 meters wide and weighs 300 kilograms, resurfaced in the operation paid for by brothers Felipe and Alfredo Etchegaray, who took legal action to ensure Uruguay would compensate them.
The crest has since caused unease and was separately offered to a German war museum and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which investigates Holocaust crimes, warned in 2020 that the crest must only be sold for display for "teaching" purposes.