A German government official has requested the removal of an antisemitic sculpture from a church, the Jewish Chronicle (JC) reported on Monday.
The sculpture, a Judensau (Jew sow), adorns the facade of the town church in Wittenberg, also known as the Stadtkirche. It has been there for over 700 years, remaining despite multiple attempts to remove it.
Most recently, the German government commissioner for Jewish Life and the Fight against Antisemitism, Felix Klein, has made such a request.
The Stadtkirche Judensau depicts a pig with its hind leg and tail being held aloft by a rabbi so that other Jews, portrayed as small and hook-nosed, can drink milk from the pig’s teats.
Although Judensau’s have appeared elsewhere, it is primarily a German motif. They also vary from depiction to depiction, but they all feature Jews suckling on a pig’s teat.
The request to remove the statue comes while Wittenberg, among other German cities, is being considered as the possible location for a new German Israeli youth organization.
The JC reported that Klein has described the statue as making Wittenberg unwelcoming for Jews.
“A city in which hostility to Jews is so openly displayed with the Judensau on the church cannot be a place of welcome for Jewish Israelis,” he said. “For Wittenberg to become the base of the German-Israeli Youth Exchange, the antisemitic Jew-sow must be removed.”
In an effort to further advance Israeli-German relations, the governments planned the creation of the organization with the aim of preserving the memory of the Holocaust as well as focusing on topics of joint concern such as climate change and renewable energy.
The preservation of the Judensau is an enduring barrier
German courts have repeatedly dismissed cases brought up to take the statue down. The body responsible for the church, the Evangelical Academy of Saxony-Anhalt in Wittenberg, has fought hard against any such attempt.
The director of the organization, Christoph Maier, has cited that efforts to remove the statue further stagnate bilateral negotiation between the two governments which are, as is, already slow.
The Stadtkirche lies at the very heart of Protestantism itself and served as a location of the first Protestant services where Martin Luther himself would preach.
Like the church, Martin Luther has a history deeply stained by antisemitism. The church reformer wrote a text entitled “The Jews and their Lies” and repeatedly espoused ideas such as that the Jews are “the devil,” “deceivers,” and “blasphemers,” among others.