An anti-Semitic abusive sculpture has “decorated” a church in Wittenberg since the 13th century. After a long debate, an explanatory board is now hanging next to it. But that is not enough for a plaintiff.

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) must clarify whether a defamatory plastic called “Judensau” must be removed from the town church in Wittenberg in Saxony-Anhalt.

The sixth civil senate wants to examine the question thoroughly, said the presiding judge Stephan Seiters on Monday in Karlsruhe. (Ref. VI ZR 172/20)

A Jewish plaintiff wants the anti-Jewish sandstone relief from the 13th century removed. It shows a sow whose teats are being suckled by two people who are identified as Jews by their pointed hats. According to the BGH, a figure considered a rabbi lifts the animal’s tail and looks into its anus. In the Jewish faith, pigs are considered unclean. The plaintiff had failed in the lower courts.

One of the reasons for this was that an explanatory board near the image had been pointing out the context for years. This was preceded by a long journey of forming opinions, also in consultation with the Jewish community, said the lawyer for the town parish, where the reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) once preached.

The opposing party’s lawyer argued that the statements on the board were not sufficient. The church does not assume any responsibility and can expressly name its role in dealing with Jews.