This Church bell in Austria is embossed with a swastika and praises to Adolf Hitler.
Like many others in Austria’s countryside, a tower bell above the red-tiled rooftops of Wolfpassing village marks the passing of each hour with an unspectacular “bong.” But this bell is unique: It is embossed with a swastika and praise to Adolf Hitler.
And unlike more visible remnants of the Nazi era, the bell was apparently overlooked by official Austria up to now.
Local historian Johannes Kammerstaetter says most villagers would have known about it. But village mayor Josef Sonnleitner asserts even the villagers had no clue until the first media reports last month on the “Fuehrerglocke,” or “Fuehrer Bell”.
Propagating Nazi values or praising the era is illegal in Austria. Kammerstaetter, the historian, has formally asked state prosecutors to examine whether the government’s sale of the bell is a criminal offence. He says the change of ownership could constitute a case of “spreading National Socialist ideology” on the part of the government agency in charge of state-owned property
Raimund Fastenbauer, a senior official of Vienna’s Jewish community, invokes other concerns, noting that other Hitler-era relics like the dictator’s house of birth in the western town of Braunau have become a magnet for neo-Nazis.
“I think the best thing would be if the bell disappeared and was buried somewhere,” he says.
For its part, the government says that the sale was legal, along with the decision to keep the bell in the belfry as an integral component of the castle.
Economics Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner says the agency overseeing the sale was not aware of the inscription
Ernst Eichinger, a spokesman for the agency responsible for government real-estate, says that with a portfolio of more than 28,000 buildings — many of them huge — “we cannot search every centimeter” before a sale.
Concerns are heightened by the lack of clarity about what the new owner, Tobias Hufnagl, plans to do with the relict. Two web domains linked to him or his holding company, hufnagl.cc and thinvestments.com, did not open.
Sonnleitner, the Wolfpassing mayor, says has not been able to directly contact Hufnagl, despite weeks of trying.
In a terse email this week responding to numerous Associated Press queries seeking permission to film the bell and asking about its fate, Hufnagl said he had “no interest” in exchanges with the AP.
There is an old saying. Once a dog, always a dog. Once a Nazi, always a Nazi.
During the Church reformation in Germany, idols in the form of wood was carried out of Reformed churches and bunt. All of it. No idols of saints and madonnas of the Roman Catholic religion, would again creep into the places of worship, and keep people in bondage to damnable idolatry.
Likewise: When Norway was liberate from Nazi-occupation in 1945, all symbols of the evil regime were removed and destroyed. Never again to appear on liberated Norwegian soil.
A small numbers of Nazi-artifacts were kept. Not to be honored and glorified, but to be exhibited inside museums.
If the Austrians would like to repent form their Nazi past, they need to keep Nazi-Church bells inside museums. And warn the young children never again to be deceived to follow the calling of such bells.
The Church in Europe has a horrible past of antisemitism and support of fascist ideology. Today, few Church goers seems to have understood anything. The hate of Jews in Europe has shifted towards the Jews inside the state of Israel.
Written by Ivar