Saturday, 26 July 2008

The bird memorial

This memorial is known as 'the bird', after which the area it is located in was named. There used to be an eagle sculpture sitting atop it. A few years ago, there was a rather strong storm in the area, and the bird structure, already in a state of decline, finally received the chop. Its remains were scattered on the steps below.

I was upset to hear that this distinctive monument had been destroyed because it had become an important landmark in my town. Areas are usually named after churches. Even though there is a church dedicated to St Sophia in this area, the parish that belongs to it is still known as 'he Bird'. But then I didn't expect it to be restored: the Nazis erected it, and it is unlikely that a Greek will want to restore anything that belonged to them. There is a new welcome sign at the bottom of the steps, but the actual monument has been defaced with a lot of graffiti. Still, I feel lucky to remember the days when an eagle rested on the top of the monument. And I also know how to explain to my children why it is called the bird, even though there's no bird sitting on it.

The memorial, found on the coastal road to Kalamaki Beach and Agious Apostolous, is still called the bird, but what did it look like when there was a bird sitting on it? Click here and find out.


  1. The bird is definitely striking.

  2. This is creative, a brid memorial..

  3. history?! maybe after a few generations history would be rewritten to erase any mention of the Nazis!

  4. Reminds me of the Stukas airplanes which i think did participate in the Battle Of Crete.

    The grafitti at the bottom of the monument saying "Αποζημίωση τώρα!" is probably referring to some obscure financial "fee" that the Germans are supposed to pay because of the damages they caused during the war (!!!!!!!) (Oh pardon us, here is some money that will heal your loss, so long and thanks for all the fish!)

    I agree that monuments...any kind of monument...should be preserved as some kind of local memory that should help us define future actions but i also understand that the preservation of some of these monuments would prove to be extremely controversial.

    Besides...Greece has been tormented by "the bird" as a symbol ;-) :-D :-D

  5. That's pretty amazing a memorial to German/Nazi troops was allowed to stay.
    Well, we have a memorial to fallen Egyptian soldiers, a bit obelisk, in Ashdod for the 1948 war of independence.
    Quite a fierce bird in your original.

  6. Thanks for linking to the old picture. Whilst I don't subscribe to the notion that all monuments &c MUST BE preserved, I do think it is important that they be documented before being allowed to completely decay.

  7. Interesting that there is a such monument in Hania area. One should see it as a part of the history and nothing else. As it wasn't destroyed years ago, it must be preserved and perhaps another memorial stone to be placed next to it explaining what happen at that time.

  8. Crete does not pay homage to the German occupation during WW2, but there are many remnants of the occupation, which is in fact quite a recent one if you think that we are talking about only 60 years ago. Greeks have never had a strong urge to destroy; they are quite happy to leave things in a state of ruin to decline on their own.
    15 kilometres west of Hania town there is a whole cemetery (MALEME) dedicated to the German paratroopers who fell here during the battle of Crete - they died following the orders of their superiors, and so did the allies who also fought here: there is another cemetery dedicated to the NZ and Australian soldiers in the area of Souda bay. The dead of another race are treated humanely.
    The German people are some of our most respectable summer tourists. They show great interest in the history and nature of our town. They had nothing to do with the events of WW2. They are just passive observers in the same way that we have been left to pick up the pieces here.
    I do feel glad to be able to tell my children about a strange monument called the bird, that does not have a bird on it.

  9. Thanks, Kiwi, for this further explanation and insight. A lot to think about.