Federal Court of Justice: Anti-Semitic abusive relief in Wittenberg may remain

WittenbergThe Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has decided that an anti-Semitic abusive relief may remain on the Wittenberg town church. The sculpture is known under the name “Judensau” and has been emblazoned on the outer facade of the church since the 13th century. It shows a sow whose teats are being suckled by two people who, because of their pointy hats, are interpreted as Jews. A third person, who according to the Supreme Court is said to be a rabbi, lifts the sow’s tail.

“No Infringement”

The BGH justified its decision against removing the sculpture on the morning of June 14 with the lack of a violation of the law. The defendant (the town church) successfully distanced itself from the anti-Semitic content of the relief with a base plate and a stand. According to the court, the sculpture is described as a “memorial” on the sloping display that cannot be overlooked. Overall, the infringing condition of the relief is thereby repealed and there is no right to removal. Judges in Naumburg had previously decided that the sculpture did not have to be removed because it had been part of a memorial ensemble since 1988 (as a base plate and stand).

A 79-year-old member of the Jewish community had tried to sue to have the relief removed, which the man saw as defaming himself and Judaism. According to plaintiff Dietrich Düllmann, the sculpture belongs in a museum and not on the outside wall of the church. According to Düllmann, he converted to Judaism in 1979 and is now ready to go before the Federal Constitutional Court. Where possible, the legal dispute is not yet settled.

President of the Central Council of Jews against removal

The President of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, spoke out against removing the relief. Schuster told the German Press Agency it was better to explain the sculpture. The church must clearly define itself and express its condemnation of plastic. So far this has not been apparent. The “anti-Judaist history” of the church cannot be undone. Simply removing the abusive plastic means denying this part of its history. Similar images were widespread in the Middle Ages. According to unsecured information from the Central Council, there are around 50 other similar works of art.

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