Thursday, March 01, 2007

Saddam 'Hands of Victory' Monument Being Destroyed

Hands of Victory

Anyone who knows anyone who has served in Baghdad will have seen two iconic pictures sent home by the troops - a picture taken at the Hands of Victory monument and a photo taken on the throne in the Al Faw Palace. The pictures at the Hands of Victory monument are of troops standing under the arch or climbing up into one of the hands.

The Hands of Victory monument consists of two triumphal arches, marking the parade ground in Central Baghdad. Built to celebrate the 'victory' over Iran, though started long before that war was concluded, the duplicate arches consist of a pair of crossed swords, said to be made from the guns of dead Iraqi soldiers that were melted and recast as the 24-ton blades of the swords. The fists that hold the swords aloft are replicas of Saddam Hussein's own hands. A net holds captured Iranian helmets. At the base more helmets of Iranians are placed. The arches soar over 140 feet above the parade ground.

At the dedication of the monument, Saddam rode under the arch on a white horse. The day before the first bombing run on Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi TV showed a mass of Iraqi soldiers marching beneath the Victory Arch to the theme music from 'Star Wars.'

Soon, the arches will be no more. The Iraqi government, Committee for Removing Symbols of the Saddam Era, has begun the process to dismantle the Hands of Victory arches. Large chunks of the hands have already been cut away.

Newsweek calls the arches "a symbol of Saddam Hussein's out sized ego and his iron grip." This most visible reminder of the Hussein regime has dominated the skyline for almost 20 years.

Not all are pleased. Mustafa Khadimi, director of the Iraq Memory Foundation, which documents the atrocities of Saddam's regime, is quite unhappy to have it removed. He feels it is a reminder to all of the oppression of Saddam. His organization had hoped to build a museum of the reign and atrocities of Saddam near the arches.

While it is easy to understand the desire to remove the symbols of the regime, it should concern everyone when they are destroyed. They represent a part of the history of the country. Destroying symbols does not erase the history, but it makes it easier to be forgotten.

Some are concerned that this will increase the sectarian tension in Iraq. What do you think?


FreeCyprus said...

You make some valid points but I feel that more people are reminded of the brutality of the regime when they look at it and want it destroyed than there are people who want it to remain.

So I say destroy the fucker.

Rogue said...

I wish someone would have purchased them as a museum piece. They were quite impressive.

chrys said...

No Hands!? A very worthy endeavor! Al Qaeda destroyed the statues in the desert. Yet through so many wars - statues and monuments have been left?! Could there have be a way to successfully transfer the Saddam relationship to the Hands? As Freecyprus states the brutality of the regime - to having the monument ONLY reflect Iraq?! Roque states it would have been a museum piece - BUT - anywhere they are - they would commemorate Saddam. Goes with the Saddam statue, reminding one of the Nazi items torn down after WWII

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I think it's an impressive monument; and as for it symbolizing Saddam's regime, I think it should stand as a reminder of his brutality; I also think it could evolve to represent something new and noble. It is a sign of true healing when you can take ownership of something like this, and make it symbolize something better. The choice should belong to the Iraqis.

It'd be a shame to destroy all art and artifacts, simply because they were created by evil empires. I suppose it is easier for later generations to think that way, as they have had time to heal. Not so of those who lived in the era of Saddam, himself.

yankeemom said...

My initial, and emotional 'Mom', response to this is to get rid of it. If I were an Iraqi who had lost her children to Saddam or his sons, I'd be the first one out there with a sledge hammer.
As it is a piece of their history, maybe leave the rubble and build something even more impressive portraying the new Iraq on top of it.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we can next go into Tibet and remove a large statue of the Buddha. Perhaps we can traverse into the former USSR and remove a relice there. There is no limit to the amount of books we can burn, especially if they are not in our language. Who needs to remember history and learn from it when we can instead destroy and forget and repeat it?

Flag Gazer said...

Thank you for a very IGNORANT response motivated by your hatred for your country and spewed without reading the post or thinking about your response.

The Iraqis are destroying the Hands of Victory. So, unless you are an Iraqi, your drivel is more than thoughtless. Also, I don't think that they should - READ THE POST.

Normally, I delete unsigned anonymous comments, because if you don't sign it, it is not of any value, and you are not proud of it either - a hit and run mentality. I thought I would leave this one so that we can ridicule you for your ignorance based on hatred.

You might be happier at a hate-America site - this is not it.

chrys said...

Like your comment to Anon! WELL WRITTEN!! I KNEW you had more determination and cared more than most! You GO Gazer!!

linda said...

Since the hands are copies of Saddam's hands it seems they need to be removed. Maybe something relating to the new Iraq would be more appropriate.

De'on Miller said...

I don't like the idea of destroying art or history. It says something about a period. We need to study those things.

I am a GSM and I wanted rubble from where my son was killed, but not from some historic part of their culture and PAST.

Let them keep what's theirs, right or wrong, and I guess that includes the right to tear it down if sadly, that's what they want to do.

Good post.

Frank Staheli said...

Interesting comments on both sides of the issue...

Just like I was dismayed to see Saddam hung before all of the truth came out, I think tearing down the Hands of Victory 'sanitizes' another portion of Iraq's history that needs to be remembered--so that it never happens again.

Flag Gazer said...

Thank you all (except anony) for an interesting discussion.

I guess I am on the side of preserving art and history. That is why the concentration camps remain today. Some ugly things need to be remembered, lest we are seduced into their false promises once again.