German church removes Nazi symbols from churches


Central Europe


Nazi-era church bell that bears a swastika and the words "All for the Fatherland — Adolf Hitler" Photo: AFP, Uwe Anspach

Some objects in German churches are still decorated with Nazi symbols. The Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz (EKBO) takes action to remove them.

Anti-Semitic symbols can still be found on organ pipes, church bells or altars, and other objects, PRO reports. Many of the images were created after the war and depict Hitler negatively. Yet, they sometimes lead to consternation as they cannot be removed easily or even serve as places of pilgrimage for Neo-Nazis, as CNE reported earlier.

The images and symbols should disappear, leaders of the EKBO agreed. A newly instituted church law excludes representations and objects with anti-Semitic or racist references from liturgical use, for example, in church services, the synod decided last Friday.

Parishes have to remove these objects and present them for educational purposes in a "museum context", clergywoman Christina-Maria Bammel said during the synodal meeting. "We have to face this legacy openly."

Reminder of the Church's complicity in the destruction of Jewish life

Last November, the anti-Semitism officer of the EKBO, Marion Gardei appealed to churches to remove the Nazi symbols. She thinks that the law is an essential step for the Church to confront its anti-Semitic past. However, Gardei also says that the new legislation will not end that process.

During the Synodal meeting, the law was approved. Only one member voted against, and three abstained. The legislation is based on the constitution of the regional Church, EKBO reports on its website. The constitution reads: "The Church has an obligation to empathise with the Jewish people. Therefore, in life and teaching, she attaches particular importance to the relationship with the Jewish people and reminds us of the Church's complicity in the exclusion and destruction of Jewish life."

The EKBO includes Berlin, large regions of Brandenburg and Upper Lusatia in Saxony, PRO writes.



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