The secret removal of Nazi inscriptions on a church bell in a town in Germany’s Lowe-Saxony has caused a stir as the church is now investigating whether to bring charges.
A German pastor discovered last Thursday that a swastika and Nazi inscription had been sawed off from the bell in the Protestant parish of Schweringen.
The inscription on the bell read: "This cross brought success, helped to overcome discord."
Pastor Axel Hellwege, who made the discovery, also found a ‘confession’ letter on the chapel door, saying the removal of the Nazi symbol was part of a local “spring clean”.
"Schweringen has had a dirty, muddy, wet — in short — an extremely ugly half year behind it. It was time for a spring clean,” the letter read.
"We [the community] will now concentrate again on village life and ensure that we can build a peaceful community. The citizens of the town are decent, intellectual and cosmopolitan.
"We did spring cleaning. Not only the village was cleaned, but also the bell. Of pigeon droppings, of the filth of the Nazis, who after 80 years still threatened to divide the village population, and hopefully also of the filth that might almost have been thrown over Schweringen. Schweringen is a village with clear, decent, intellectual, cosmopolitan citizens, and they won't just stand by and watch the villagers run towards division.”
The superintendent for the Evangelical Church in Lower Saxony, Dr. Petra Bahr, said in a statement that the members of the congregation would carefully examine whether any legal action was required.
The bell — known as the ‘Hitler bell' — had been a controversial topic for some time. In September of last year, news broke that the bell at the Kreuz-Church in Schweringen bore a swastika and Nazi inscription inside. The parish decided to remove the bell, kicking off a debate about the future of the artifact.
Last month, the parish council decided to restore the bell but a formal complaint by Hellwege, prevented it from being put back into operation.