Fascist statue removed from Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam
A statue of an athlete with his right arm raised has been removed fro its pedestal at the entrance of the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam. While the athlete is not doing the infamous Hitler salute, the gesture is linked to fascism, the management of the stadium concluded after a year-long investigation, Trouw reports.
The bronze statue has stood at the stadium since the stadium was built for the 1928 Olympic Games, several years before the Nazis came to power in Germany. For a long time, the story was told that the gesture was an ancient Roman salute, as depicted in the Asterix and Obelix stories. The municipality of Amsterdam even placed a sign next to the statue, giving that explanation.
But after consulting with various historians and other experts, the Olympic Stadium Foundation concluded that there is no convincing historical evidence for this explanation. "That Roman greeting is a myth," director Ellen van Haaren said to the newspaper. The story of the Roman salute likely comes from famous 1784 painting "The Oath of the Horatii" by French Artist Jacque-Louis David. The painting shows a fictional group of Roman soldiers, swearing allegiance with their straight right arms raised.
The Foundation concluded in its investigation that Baron de Coubertin, a founding member of the International Olympic Committee who spearheaded the the launch of the modern Olympic Games, introduced the right armed raised gesture in 1924 at the Paris Games. That was at the same time as the rise of fascism in Italy under Mussolini, the Foundation determined. The Italian fascist movement adopted the gesture as a salute. Later, the Nazis in Germany did the same.
Van Haarem stressed that artist Gerarda Rueb did not have bad intentions when creating the sculpture. "You have to keep the two lines well separated from each other. You have the historical fact that the salute dates from a fascist era, and you also have the intention of the maker of the statue to express the so-called sporty greeting from 1924," she said to Trouw, but added: "Once you have established that the salute itself can be traced back directly to fascism, you have to take action."
The statue, which officially paid tribute to Baron Tuyll van Serooskerken who brought the Olympic Games to Amsterdam, was therefore removed from its spot at the entrance to the stadium and placed inside the stadium. "You can see it during guided tours, then we can explain it," Van Haarem said.