History – Karlsruhe – “Anti-Semitism Carved in Stone”: Process on Gudensau – Wikipedia

Karlsruhe (dpa) – The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) is considering whether an offensive plastic substance called “Gudensau” should be removed from the church of the town of Wittenberg in Saxony-Anhalt. Looking at this relief in private, it is “anti-Semitism in stone,” Judge Stefan Setters said in Karlsruhe on Monday. However, the anti-Jewish sandstone inscription from the thirteenth century is now supplemented by a base plate and easel, which is intended to classify the depiction. The sixth Senate wants to announce its decision on June 14. (Ref. VI ZR 172/20)

The engraving shows a pig suckling its nipples by two supposedly Jewish people through their pointed hats. According to BGH, someone who is considered a rabbi raises a pig’s tail and looks into its anus. In the Jewish faith, pigs are considered unclean. The town’s parish describes Wittenberger Sau as “a difficult legacy, but also a document of contemporary history.”

Prosecutor Dietrich Dollmann, who says he converted to Judaism in 1978 and has called himself Michael since then, wants the statue removed from the church. He sees Gudensau as just one example of the church’s many misconduct in dealing with the Jews and found clear words on the sidelines of the negotiations: “The Church made the German people capable of annihilation.” In particular, Dollman describes the reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546), who once preached in the same church in Wittenberg, as a “ferocious anti-Semite”.

In the 1980s the city’s church community, in consultation with the Jewish community, dealt with the relief and made it part of the memorial, their attorney Brunhild Ackermann argued. The form in which the historical context is indicated is not a matter for the plaintiff nor for the court.

Düllmann’s BGH attorney Christian Rohnke saw it differently. In his view, the data on the explanation board is not enough. He said the church bears no responsibility. It has also been said that the depiction of a boar has been an “induction sculpture” since 1290 – and not just because people think of it differently today.

On the other hand, Ackermann listed a number of examples, such as the depiction of blacks or the treatment of women, which are no longer recent from today’s perspective and may subsequently have to be removed from books and films. She said such relics should not be “sacrificed to the zeitgeist” in the spirit of democracy. How were children supposed to learn about discrimination against Jews in school if there was nothing else to see about it?

The interpretive painting of the church says that abusive statues 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. There is nothing known there from other legal disputes that could be based on the BGH ruling.

The plaintiff Düllmann had previously failed before the Dessau-Roßlau District Court and Naumburg Higher Regional Court (OLG). The 79-year-old said after the BGH hearing that everything else would surprise him now. Then he goes to the Federal Constitutional Court, where it is not about civil law questions about humiliation and neglect, but about basic law and human dignity. Last but not least, he can go to the European Court of Human Rights.

Central Council President Joseph Schuster had requested a plaque after the Supreme Regional Court’s decision that “clearly explains the abusive relief and places it in historical context”. He now explained to the German news agency that the church must express a clear ordination and condemnation. That was not clear yet.

“The Church’s anti-Jewish history cannot be undone,” Schuster said. An explanation board is better than removing the offending plastic and then denying it. 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.

Christian Staffa, Commissioner of Anti-Semitism at the Evangelical Church of Germany, explained that “the long history of Jewish anti-Semitism and Christian anti-Semitism, which has been obscenely intensified in this relief, cannot be explained by legal means”. Instead, “ecclesiastical testimonies of anti-Jewish attitudes and practices” should be appropriate to break away from all forms of anti-Semitism.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220529-99-473076 / 5

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