Pastor Finds 500-Year-Old Church Bell Taken by Nazis

BBC reports it will be returned to its former home in Poland
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2020 4:06 PM CST
Pastor Finds 500-Year-Old Church Bell Taken by Nazis
An image of the soon-to-be-returned bell.   (Munster (Germany) diocese)

A 500-year-old church bell will be returned to its former home in Poland some 77 years after it was stolen by the Nazis. Nazis made off with an estimated 80,000 bells, most of which were melted down for their metal and used to make weapons and ammunition during World War II, reports the BBC. By the end of war, about 1,300 bells remained intact. But they weren't returned to the churches. Instead, they landed in a "bell cemetery" in Hamburg, at least initially, per the BBC. More than a half-century later, Marian Bednarek, the pastor of St Catherine's church in Slawiecice, Poland, set out to find out what became of his church's old bell.

From a mention in a book, he learned the bell, dated to 1555, had been sitting in plain sight in the courtyard of a Catholic Church in Munster, Germany, alongside two other bells. The German diocese claims the bells were loaned out to parishes across former West Germany after World War II as the British military blocked the return of the bells to eastern territories. Now the property of the German government, the bell of St Catherine's church will be returned on a permanent loan once the coronavirus pandemic settles down. "After 77 years, waiting another month or so doesn't really matter," a former Slawiecice resident says, per the BBC. (More Poland stories.)

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