28 August 2007

Flygarmonumentet (Aviator Monument)

A gift from the Aeronautical Society in memory of aviation pioneers, I’m a sculpture of a large eagle with outstretched wings about to lift. On my plinth are reliefs of Icarus, balloonists, early warplanes and the like.

The Swedish Aeronautical Society asked Carl Milles to make a monument in memory of fallen Swedish pilots already in 1917. Milles thought that an eagle would be an excellent symbol. I was financed by the Aeronautical Society. After a number of revisions and changes to the initial proposal, I was erected at Karlaplan and handed over to the City of Stockholm in 1931. Inside me is an urn where up until the 1940s a medal designed by Milles was placed for each fallen Swedish pilot.

The idea was to create a monument for aviation pioneers such as Andrée, the female pilot Elsa Andersson and others and for people to remember them and their effort and contribution to the air forces.
Today the meaning has been changed and I am hardly used this way!

I was taken down when they were building the Karlaplan Subway station, and put back again in 1967. Many people pointed out that I’m an expression of Carl Milles’ admiration for Nazism. No doubt that as an eagle with my wide-spread wings and cruel appearance I offer associations with German symbols. As we know I was used in a stylised form as a symbol for the Former German National Party.

Carl Milles’ admiration for Hitler and Mussolini strikes a clear note in his personal letters. Here some lines he wrote to his wife Olga after Austria was annexed by Hitler’s regime in 1938: “I was in raptures over it and had to fight back my tears. May it all last, and may Hitler have time, health and power to continue his wonderful work.”

In the 1930s, young Swedish Nazis used me as a meeting point, and a place for gathering and celebration. The Swedish Air Force used me as a monument for a wreath-laying ceremony. MillesGården where most of my maker’s sculptures are placed today, considers that no ideology has influenced Milles’ artistic practice.

There is no official statement from SAS eather. In fact, SAS - Swedish Aeronautical Society (Svenska Aeronautiska Sällskapet) was founded on December 15, 1900 at restaurant Riche in Stockholm.

Later, a specialized airline company Svenska Lufttrafikaktiebolaget (SLA) was founded in 1919. One of the SLA pilots during the winter months of 1919-1920 was a German by the name of Hermann Göring.

A nephew of Carin Göring (Hermann Göring’s wife), the Swedish pilot Count Carl Gustaf Ericsson von Rosen (1909-1977) displayed a blue swastika on his aircraft as he volunteered for Finnish Air Force service during the Winter War in 1940.


Nowadays, I’m not sure about my practical usage, function or purpose.
Young socialists covered me with graffiti and would like to see even worse things happen to me. Of course they see me as a Nazi symbol and as I am placed in the upper-class part of town they wish this whole area would be set on fire. Young nationalists want me to be officially recognized as a cultural historical landmark, in order to secure my permanent location.
It all seems very scary to me.


My question is: Should that history be sustained in a present public space?
Here in
Sweden the private use of similar symbols and aesthetics is forbidden in a public space, but not me, a very clear and visible symbolic form in a public sculpture.
In a democratic state THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRATIC PLACE!

I have noticed that many people react very differently to my AESTHETICS!
Maybe it has to do with the lack of information in school history books, or the lack of public discussions about Swedish involvement and role in World War II.

There will be no universal understanding of history, one we can all agree on. While we discuss questions about our political and moral obligations to history and memory, nationalists and Holocaust survivors will never reach an agreement on what I actually symbolize.

I think in that sense I will never become a DEMOCRATIC PLACE and therefore I suggest that I be moved to Millesgården, the art museum and sculpture park at Lidingö, which was Carl and Olga Milles’ residence, studio and garden.

I NEED TO BE RELOCATED to follow the example of removed monuments from the Soviet era in Tallinn, Moscow, Budapest and other places. I shouldn’t be destroyed, only gently put in my natural place where I can unite with other sculptures by my maker. Relocation should be done peacefully, so I don’t become an arena of confrontation between police and thousands of looting protesters like it happened in Tallinn.

Nevertheless, my story, the story of my maker and of Swedish involvement in the Second World War should be told again and our history has to be reformulated.

My purpose is to clarify and rewrite history by public discussion – instead of demonstrations, violent acts and clash of opinions - and eventually I hope changes will be made in the school books.

I am taking my right to make it a CITIZEN PROPOSAL as the possibility exists in Swedish democratic society and is called MEDBORGARFÖRSLAG.

// note that my blog is INTERnational, so please write in English.



Bernd Krauß said...

very very specific

Anonymous said...

Ironically, eagle like you is a part of official heraldry, a coat of arms of Austria, and placed in the middle of State Flag. Did Carl Milles know about it when he wrote his letter after Austria was annexed by Hitler in 1938? I think he did!

Anonymous said...

Sweden collaborated with Hitler regime during WW2. As a graphical representation you are forbidden and you wouldn’t be able to survive in Germany today. You’ll be deported, relocated from a public space. I think Sweden should pursue the example of beloved Germany ones again.

Anonymous said...

Our society put up with such symbols up to a certain point, until the political meaning becomes impossible to tolerate. Question is when the eagle like you and the implications which come with it (you) are not accepted anymore on the streets of Stockholm.

Anonymous said...

Your presence as a monument stands for denial of history and of course it will mean the opposites for different political ideologies and social groups.

Anonymous said...

Monuments are difficult issues: In this case you were put there to be a memory of the people killed in an accident. Maybe these victims still have relatives who come to the monument showing their respect?
But when time and political opinions change and when bigger knowledge is brought ahead, the meaning of the art works made to represent certain ideologies might become remembrances of repression. Should we therefore delete them out of the history? No, that would mean denying also the history of mankind's activities and ideas.
But I agree with you powerful eagle, that you should be moved away to the peaceful home of your creator. Than new art works can replace the symbol of the evil ideology that influenced your creator. He was, as many other of the period, also a victim of a repressive era of ideas that infected many people's brains.

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