Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Wittenberg church to face German Supreme Court over ‘Jew sow’


Germany Martin Luther Lutheranism Nazi anti-semitism holocaust defamation sculpture Judensau history religion

German cultural heritage will face the Federal Supreme Court after the Jewish community in Bonn said it felt "attacked" by the "Jew's sow" on the Wittenberg Church.

The small sculpture in question has traditionally been part of the exterior decoration of churches in the Middle Ages, but the Jewish community has demanded the removal of the sculpture.

The facade of the church has a Judensau, or Jew’s pig, dating from 1305. It portrays a rabbi who looks under the sow’s tail at its anus, and other Jews drinking from its teats. An inscription reads “Rabini Shem hamphoras,” which alludes to “shem ha-meforasch” [a secret name of God, allegedly Shemhamphorasch]. The sculpture is one of the last remaining examples in Germany.

In 1988, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Kristallnacht, debate sprung up about the monument, which resulted in the addition of a sculpture recognizing that during the Holocaust six million Jews were murdered “under the sign of the cross”.

In his text Vom Schem Hamphoras (1543), Luther commented on the Judensau sculpture at Wittenberg, echoing the antisemitism of the image and locating the Talmud in the sow’s bowels:

“Here on our church in Wittenberg a sow is sculpted in stone. Young pigs and Jews lie suckling under her. Behind the sow a rabbi is bent over the sow, lifting up her right leg, holding her tail high and looking intensely under her tail and into her Talmud, as though he were reading something acute or extraordinary, which is certainly where they get their Shemhamphoras.”

The Supreme court must now decide whether the “defamatory sculpture” constitutes an offence.  (more...)

Wittenberg church to face German Supreme Court over ‘Jew sow’

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