Thousand-year-old German church’s ‘Hitler bell’ will remain in place

An infamous bell dedicated to Adolf Hitler could ring again after the town council in a small German village voted not to dismantle it.

The local council in Herxheim am Berg, a town of about 700 people north of Heidelberg, in southwest Germany, voted 10-3 Monday night to reject requests to remove the massive 83-year-old bronze bell at Kirche St. Jakobus, or the Church of St. Jacob, the regional newspaper Die Rheinpfalz reported.

The bell bears a swastika and the inscription "Alles fuer's Vaterland — Adolf Hitler," or "Everything for the Fatherland — Adolf Hitler."

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Village grapples with controversy over 'Hitler bell' at church
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Village grapples with controversy over 'Hitler bell' at church
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' in the Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell, cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' , cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' , cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' in the Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell, cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' , cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' , cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' , cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: Mayor Ronald Becker stands next to the church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' in the Jakobskirche village church on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell, cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' in the Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell, cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' in the Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell, cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' , cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' , cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
Picture taken on May 19, 2017 shows a Nazi-era church bell that bears a swastika and the words 'All for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' ('Alles fuer's Vaterland - Adolf Hitler') hanging in the steeple of the St Jakob church in Herxheim am Berg, western Germany. The parish council of Herxheim voted 10-3 on Monday evening (February 26, 2018) that the bronze bell from 1934 should remain as 'an impetus for reconciliation and a memorial against violence and injustice'. The village of just 700 people has repeatedly caught national attention for the controversial so-called 'Hitler bell' that hangs in the tower of its Protestant Jakobskirche church. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Uwe Anspach / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read UWE ANSPACH/AFP/Getty Images)
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, GERMANY - JUNE 13: The Jakobskirche village church pictured on June 13, 2017 in Herxheim, Germany. For 82 years the 1930s-era church bell embossed with a swastika and the text: 'Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler' , cast when Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler, hung in the 1,000-year-old church tower without attracting much notice until a local newspaper reported on its existence. Now the village residents are struggling to figure out what to do with it. Some, including the mayor, claim replacing it would be too expensive and removing the text and swastika would distort the bell's ring, while others, including the church organist, are appalled and are demanding something be done. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
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After having hung in the church tower with little notice for decades, the bell has been the object of intense debate for almost a year after the church's organist complained about it. The town's mayor, Roland Becker, resigned in Septemberafter he gave a TV interview in which he quoted a local woman as saying Hitler should be remembered for "the things he achieved." (Becker said he'd been taken out of context, but the damage was done.)

The new mayor, Georg Welker, supported keeping the bell in place — and even ringing it again — telling the public broadcasting program Kontraste last month that it could sound "the suffering of the victims," both Jewish and non-Jewish. Before the vote Monday night, Welker submitted a report from a historian who said the bell is an official monument, meaning it can't be altered, Die Rheinpfalz reported.

"If the bell, which was hung in honor of Hitler, should again sound the call to worship, then — plaque or not — this to me would be a conscious renewed glorification of the Third Reich and the person of Hitler," the council's president, Josef Schuster, told Südwestrundfunk local radio on Tuesday.

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