BERLIN — A German village has decided to keep a contentious Nazi-era church bell that bears a swastika and the words “All for the Fatherland — Adolf Hitler,” arguing it serves as a reminder of the country’s dark past.
The parish council of Herxheim voted 10-3 on Monday that the bronze bell from 1934 should remain as “an impetus for reconciliation and a memorial against violence and injustice.”
The council rejected an offer by the regional Protestant Church to pay for taking down the 240 kilogram (530 pound) bell and replacing it.
A memorial pointing to the bell’s history will now be fixed on the heritage-listed church, the Jakobskirche.
The village of just 700 people has repeatedly caught national attention for the controversial “Hitler bell” since a former church organist complained about the inscription.
Some church-goers were dismayed to find out that they had got married, baptized their children or joined other religious ceremonies and events under the Hitler bell.
Last year the former town mayor, Roland Becker, resigned over comments that appeared to defend not just the bell but the Nazi era.
Amid the controversy, the bell was silenced last September and a second one used, pending the municipal decision in the southwestern village near the university city of Heidelberg.
At Monday evening’s meeting, village mayor Georg Welker said that “the community needs clarity which way we should go,” national news agency DPA reported.
He presented an expert’s opinion that judged the bell had heritage value and should either stay in place or be taken to a museum.
Disposing of it would represent “an evasion of a reasonable and enlightened culture of remembrance,” the expert’s opinion found.
The decision by the council to keep the bell was greeted with applause from many community members, DPA reported.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.