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.
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.