19:02 GMT +315 October 2018
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    Church bell with the inscription Everything for the fatherland Adolf Hitler and a swastika is pictured in the town church in Herxheim am Berg, western Germany. (File)

    'Spring Cleaning': Unknown Group Removes Swastika on 'Hitler's Bell' in Germany

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    The move came amid a conflict among residents of the small village Herxheim am Berg, with some of them willing to keep the bell and others demanding its removal.

    A group of unknown individuals entered a cathedral in the Schweringen commune in Lower Saxony and removed the swastika from one of its bells, German media reported on Tuesday.

    The perpetrators left a letter of confession that has been published by the local newspaper Die Harke.

    "It's time for a spring cleaning that will bring a fresh breeze to our village. 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 letter read.

    Pastor of the church, Jan-Axel Hellwage, said that "an unknown person entered the church with a key — there was no sign of a break-in."

    The "Nazi bell" in the church in Herxheim am Berg has been a bone of contention among local residents for a long time.

    READ MORE: For Whom the Bell Tolls: German Town Votes to Keep Nazi Church Bell

    The bell, which dates back to 1934, has split the town in two, with one side arguing that keeping the bell in place is offensive to the memory of the victims of Nazism and would ruin the church's reputation; while others argued that it makes no sense trying to ignore the town's history.

    In February, a local council decided not to remove the bell, saying that it should remain in place to remind people of the "violence and injustice" of the Nazi period.

    Related:

    'Nazi Bells' Ring On: German Town Defies Campaign to Silence 80-Year-Old Chimes
    Nazi Past: When Will 'Hitler's Bell' in German Town Chime for the Last Time?
    Tags:
    swastika, church, bell, Adolf Hitler, Germany
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