BERLIN (AP) — A German appeals court on Tuesday rejected a Jewish man’s bid to force the removal of a 700-year-old anti-Semitic statue from a church where Martin Luther once preached.
The “Judensau,” or “Jew pig,” sculpture on the Town Church in Wittenberg is one of more than 20 such relics from the Middle Ages that still adorn churches across Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
Located about 13 feet above ground, it depicts people identifiable as Jews suckling on the teats of a sow, while a rabbi lifts the animal’s tail. In 1570, after the Protestant Reformation, an inscription referring to an anti-Jewish tract by Luther was added.
In 1988, a memorial was set into the ground underneath it, referring to the persecution of Jews and the killing of 6 million people in the Nazi Holocaust.
In addition, a sign gives information on the sculpture in German and English.
Plaintiff Michael Duellmann has argued that the sculpture is “a defamation of and insult to the Jewish people” and that it has “a terrible effect up to this day.”
A court in Dessau rejected his case in May. Duellmann took the case to a higher state court in Naumburg, which ruled Tuesday that he has no right to have the sculpture taken down because “in its current context” it is not of “slanderous character” and doesn’t violate the plaintiff’s rights.
It found that the statue is now “part of an ensemble which speaks for another objective” on the part of the parish, a reference to the memorial and the information sign.
Duellmann plans to take the case to Germany’s Federal Court of Justice.