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July 10, 2006

The Monument of the Hand

Monumentofthehand Along the sea-front of Hania, just to the west of the Venetian harbour, is a striking piece of modern sculpture erected in 1990, known locally as "The Monument of the Hand". It features a beautifully cast hand reaching up the sky against a background of some angled metal shapes.

In actual fact, it is a memorial to victims of the 1966 SS Heraklion ferry disaster. The ferry sank between Hania and Piraeus on December 8th 1966 with an unknown loss of life - records suggest around 200 people drowned, although the figure could be higher as at that time it was common for people to board ferries and purchase their tickets on board.

Monumentofthehandplaque U.S. navy ship the James C Owens attended the wreck and rescued some of the survivors, and the story made the evening news that day on the BBC back in the UK. You can even find the genealogy of one of the victims, Michael King, online.

And once you know that, it becomes apparent that the angled metal shapes I mentioned actually depict the ship going beneath the waves, and the hand depicts a victim reaching out and struggling for life. Which makes it a pretty grim kind of memorial in my book.


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