An expert advisory board has recommended that the parish church council of the Wittenberg town church “promptly accept” the anti-Jewish relief “Judensau”. A spokesman for the committee said on Tuesday. It is necessary to “bring about a clear change in the previous situation, which removes the sculpture with the title from the current visibility”.
The best way to do this is “by accepting the sculpture and bringing it into a context that adequately contextualises it,” says the statement at the final meeting of the expert panel convened in 2020.
According to the current status, the parish church council wants to meet at the end of August to discuss the recommendations. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled in June that the sandstone relief from the 13th century known as “Judensau” on the Wittenberg town church does not have to be removed.
The highest civil judges in Germany in Karlsruhe decided that the church community had converted the “shame” into a “memorial” by means of a floor plate and a display with explanatory text (Az. VI ZR 172/20). The decision was met with criticism and incomprehension.
The relief from the Middle Ages shows a sow whose teats are being suckled by two people who are supposed to be identified as Jews by their pointed hats. According to the BGH, a figure considered to be a rabbi lifts the animal’s tail and looks into the anus. In the Jewish faith, pigs are considered unclean.
The nine-member Wittenberg committee recommended to the evangelical city church community that the abusive sculpture should be in a protected area in the immediate vicinity of the church instead of on the church and thus visible to everyone, the spokesman explained. The expert council spoke out against placing the anti-Jewish relief in a museum.
Instead, it should be a place of learning in a protected place, where anti-Semitism is explained. The spokesman for the panel of experts explained that hatred of Jews goes far back into history, including to the time of Martin Luther (1483-1546).
The theologian once preached in the town church, which is considered the original church of the Reformation. The church is a listed building and, like all Luther memorials in Saxony-Anhalt, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reformer had come under criticism for anti-Semitic statements.