Out of all places in the world, I would not expect nazism to occur in Germany, another country I consider home. Afterall, Germany has outlawed the glorification of nazism.
This leads me to question: is the engraved swastika on a church bell in Herxheim Am berg, Germany a matter of glorification? In other words, should the swastika be taken down? Many native Germans had various positions in regard to my question.
The swastika on the bell was put up in 1934 by a Nazi mayor in Herxheim am Berg, a village composed of 750 people in the wine country. The swastika reads, “everything for the Fatherland- Adolf Hitler.”
Herxheim native and former organ player for the church, Sigrid Peters, refused to continue playing her organ during church services after finding out about the bell.
“People have been getting married under the swastika and they didn’t even know it,” Peters said.
When Peters spoke up, this “Nazi bell” became popular among German news. The local church ordered the ringing to stop, the church body offered to pay for a replacement and Jewish organizations insisted it be taken down.
Despite the Herxheim village deemed a “Nazi village,” mayor Georg Welker will not take down the bell.
“We will not allow the rest of the world to dictate what we do with our bell,” Welker said.
Welker also mentioned the pertience of the bell’s history.
“It’s a monument of history,” he said. “We shouldn’t forget that history or pretend it didn’t happen. That is why the bell should stay.”
Despite the importance of history, Germany, a country I call home and adore; it is scarred. The country was dictated by a man motivated by hate — responsible for the mass killing of six million Jews and other groups such as homosexuals, those with mental or physical challenges and other races.
Germany has moved forward as a country and should not allow to have what happened in the past occur again.
Markus Krass, a metal worker and Herxheim native, shares my view — agreeing that the bell must go and does more harm than good.
“We’re talking about a bell that was hung during National Socialism and is dedicated to a mass murderer,” he said. “Our whole postwar identity in Germany is built on a break from that history.”
The bell must go, there is no doubt. Neo Nazis already organized a march in the village since the bell became of popular German news. One native villager noted her experience.
“It was scary. They were very professional,” she said, who saw the march with her 2-year-old son and 90-year-old father.
Moreover, I understand the emotional ties the bell has for some individuals, much like Dora Jetter, who has lived in the village her entire life. She was 12 when she wrote a school essay about the 1934 bell arrival ceremony. She described it as “splendid.”
I also understand this perspective. I understand the nostalgia, but I believe it should be taken down as it spews hate, it is seen as living in the past and it leaves a huge scar from what happened in the past.
Having the swastika remain on the bell will demonstrate a practice of hate to younger generations. What kind of example would that be if their parents and grandparents supported a belief of hate?
The village should not have to worry about marches coming to town. Most importantly, history should not repeat itself.
Although, I do not live in Herexim, the situation still has an affect on me. I was heartbroken to find out this issue still occured today, in my other country. I do not condone this behavior. Our world has enough suffering and problems, this bell shoudn’t add to the fire.
No one is born with hate, it’s something that evolves overtime. If Germany were to get rid of this bell, it would be a step to assuaging hate. History should not be repeated, especially if it had a terrible outcome.