For Whom the Bell Tolls: German Town Votes to Keep Nazi Church Bell

For Whom the Bell Tolls: German Town Votes to Keep Nazi Church Bell
AP Photo/ Uwe Anspach/dpaEurope16:25 27.02.2018Get short URL

It looks like to some people in Germany, a swastika is a sign of reconciliation and a memorial against violence and injustice, not the ultimate symbol of terror and repression.

On Monday, local councilors in Herxheim am Berg, a small village in southwestern Germany, voted that a Nazi-era bell with Adolf Hitler’s words inscribed on its side, along with a swastika, should continue to hang in the local church, DW reported.

The councilors argued that the continued presence of the bell with the inscription “Everything for the Fatherland — Adolf Hitler” would be “reminder about reconciliation and a monument against violence and injustice.”

The bell, which dates back to 1934, has split the town in two, with one side arguing that keeping the bell in place is offensive to the memory of the victims of Nazism and would ruin the church’s reputation; while others argued that it makes no sense trying to ignore the town’s history.

The controversy was sparked last year when former church organist, Sigrid Peters, complained about the “Hitler” inscription.

“It can’t happen that a baby is baptized and a bell with the words ‘Everything for the Fatherland’ is chiming,” she told news agency DPA last summer.

The dispute heated up even further after the town’s then-mayor argued that there were good things about the Nazi era too. The comments caused an uproar; forcing the mayor to resign.

Speaking ahead of Monday’s vote, the town’s new mayor said that the bell’s toll was an important way of remembering the victims of Nazism.

READ MORE: Berlin Orders Massive Army Probe After Discovery of Nazi Memorabilia at Barracks