Swastika removed from church bell in Germany

April 3, 2018

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s Lutheran church said Tuesday that a swastika has been removed from a church bell in a small northwestern town, following a local controversy over the Nazi symbol.

The pastor for the church in Schweringen informed officials on Thursday he had discovered that the symbol engraved on the bell was removed along with part of a Nazi-era inscription, the church’s branch in Hannover said. The church said a note claiming responsibility was found on the church door, but didn’t provide details.

Local newspaper Die Harke published a picture of the note, headed: “Spring cleaning 2018.” It said “it was time for spring cleaning to bring fresh air to the village.”

The church suspended the use of the bell last year after the swastika was found, but local church officials decided in mid-March to put it back in use. That move, and a decision not to replace the bell, was contested by the pastor and his objections were still under consideration.

The church said it will now consider how to proceed and whether to take any legal action.

Bells with swastikas were widespread during the Nazi era but most were removed after World War II. In a separate case in February, a small town in southwestern Germany decided to keep a bell dedicated to Adolf Hitler ringing as a memorial to spark dialogue about violence and injustice.

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