A Nazi relic from a German World War II warship will soon be up for auction in Uruguay with an estimated price tag of US$26 million (£21 million). However, the US Holocaust Research Center strongly urges the Uruguayan government to donate the artefact to a museum or an educational institute.

The 400 kg emblem of a large bronze eagle with a swastika under its talons was recovered by a private salvage company in 2006 off the waters of Uruguay. It was part of the stern of a German cruiser called the Admiral Graf Spee. The armoured ship was a Deutschland-class "Panzerschiff" that served the naval fleet of Nazi Germany also known as the Kriegsmarine. It was named after Admiral Maximillian von Spee, commander of the East Asia Squadron during WWI.

The vessel sank a total of nine ships between September and December of 1939 until it was intercepted by three British cruisers on December 13 during the Battle of River Plate. Although the Admiral Graf Spee caused heavy damage to the British ships, she sustained just as many damaging blows and was forced to dock at Montevideo. Its commander ordered the vessel to be scuttled upon receiving reports that stronger British forces were fast approaching.

The Admiral Graf Spee was partially broken up but remains on site to this day. Part of the ship is visible and peeks above the surface of the water.

Because of what the ship represents, the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles emphasised how the emblem should never be allowed to fall into the ownership of white supremacists but should serve "as a warning to future generations." In a previous decision of the Supreme Court, in the event the Nazi eagle is sold, profits are to be divided between the salvage company and the state of Uruguay.

However, in 2019 a court ruling placed the eagle up for auction instead. There were reports of inquiries which mentioned an enthusiastic investor looking to use the eagle as a centrepiece for the 2020 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar.

The bronze Nazi eagle still sits in a warehouse today awaiting the decision on who wins the battle for its ownership. The Wiesenthal Center warns potential buyers that such Nazi symbols representative of ethnic cleansing cannot be publicly displayed. Likewise, the German Embassy has asked the government of Uruguay to stop exhibiting Nazi paraphernalia.

thomas mair
A bookshelf at Thomas Mair's home was filled with books on the Third Reich and had a golden Nazi eagle on top West Yorkshire Police