A swastika has been removed from a church bell in a small north-western town in Germany, following a local controversy over the Nazi symbol.
The unknown perpetrators left a note on the door confessing to defacing it, saying they wanted to clean the bell of “the filth of the National Socialists”.
Local newspaper Die Harke (The Rake) published a picture of the note, titled: “Spring cleaning 2018.”
“It was time for spring cleaning to bring fresh air to the village,” the note said.
We have freed this bell from the signs of a time of guilt and abuse.
“We have not only cleaned our village, but also the bell – from pigeon brood and the filth of National Socialism, which, 80 years later, threatened to divide the residents of the village.
The anonymous perpetrators said the action stemmed from “deep concern” and was to “strengthen our village community”.
The local parish council suspended the use of the bell last year after the swastika was found, but recently decided to put it back in use.
Pastor Jann-Axel Hellwege said the controversy had divided the local community and posed an “unprecedented challenge to the people in the local church”.
Bells with swastikas were widespread during the Nazi era but most were removed after World War II.
In a separate case in February, a small town in south-western Germany decided to keep a bell dedicated to Adolf Hitler ringing as a memorial to spark dialogue about violence and injustice.
The Schweringen church said it was considering how to proceed and whether to take legal action over the incident.