Karlsruhe (dpa) – The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe will hear today about an offensive plastic substance called “Godensau” in the church of the town of Wittenberg in Saxony-Anhalt. The plaintiff wants the anti-Jewish sandstone inscription from the 13th century removed.
A pig feeding two Jews with their pointed hats is shown feeding their nipples. According to BGH, someone who is considered a rabbi raises a pig’s tail and looks into its anus. The town’s parish describes Wittenberger Sau as “a difficult legacy, but also a document of contemporary history.”
Plaintiff: “Exhausting the entire legal process”
The plaintiff failed before the Dessau-Roslau County Court and the Numburg Regional High Court. Dietrich Dollmann, who says he converted to Judaism in 1978 and calls himself Michael since then, is determined not to give up even if he suffers another defeat. Press Agency Advance. If in doubt, he wants to go to the Federal Constitutional Court and finally to the European Court of Human Rights. It is unclear if BGH will issue a ruling on Monday.
According to him, the fact that the man from Bonn complained through the authorities was due to chance: Dolman reported that he had read an article on “Gudensau” a few years ago. At that time there were demonstrations in Wittenberg in which he also participated. There he was asked if he wanted to take legal action against pig relief.
Düllmann has no legal background, he says. He once studied Protestant theology, politics, and history – but never completed any of it. Most recently he worked as a nurse for the elderly. Dolman describes himself as a liberal leftist and was active in the peace movement. This is how he explains his leadership.
The case is explosive because the inscriptions do not appear on any church: Martin Luther (1483-1546) once preached in the church of the town of Wittenberg. The Church is considered the mother of the Reformation. The theologian was criticized for his anti-Jewish statements. His concern, Doleman said, was also “pushing Luther away from his base”. “It should be clearly labeled an anti-Semite.”
In 2020, the Supreme Regional Court decided that looking at the statue in isolation was an insult, and at the time of its creation its aim was to make Jews despised. In the Jewish faith, pigs are considered unclean. However, according to the court, the statue has been part of a memorial since 1988 and is no longer offensive. An explanatory panel near the figure provides context.
“About fifty more photos like this.”
It says that offensive sculptures of this type were especially prevalent in the Middle Ages. “There are still about fifty such sculptures.” The Central Council of Jews has no reliable information on the total number of such fees. According to a spokeswoman, nothing is known about other legal disputes that could be based on a BGH ruling.
The head of the Central Council, Joseph Schuster, declared after the Supreme Regional Court’s decision that “more reason should be made of a plaque that clearly explains the arbitrary relief and places it in historical context”. When asked, he answered that the church should express clear ordination and condemnation. According to his understanding, this is not clear from the current interpretation.
Schuster admitted that “the Church’s anti-Jewish history cannot be undone.” “Therefore, attaching an explanatory board is better than simply removing such offensive plastic and then denying it.” Explanatory explanations are absolutely necessary. “They must provide basic information and categorically condemn the allegations of the photos.” According to the Central Council, there are successful examples in Regensburg Cathedral and the Collegiate Church of the Knights of St. Peter in Bad Wimpfen near Heilbronn.
A reason to reverse all anti-Semitism
The Commissioner of Anti-Semitism in the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD), Christian Staffa, explained that Kirchenko’s “Wittenberg” is “undoubtedly an insult and cannot remain so. It is scandalously reflected in this intense remedy, and cannot be explained by legal means.” Rather, it is about taking the church’s testimonies of anti-Jewish attitudes and practices as an opportunity to break away from all forms of anti-Semitism. “Confronting anti-Jewish history and bringing to light this process is a long journey that begins now, but is not yet over.”
Dealing with anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism, but also from today’s perspective racist relics from the past is not only an issue for churches. Museums, for example, are increasingly asking questions and supplementing exhibits with explanatory paintings, for example, or deliberately turning artworks upside down. In biology, on the other hand, animal names have already been changed in order to remove parts of the names from the colonial era, for example.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220530-99-476732 / 2