The so-called 'Judensau' or 'Jew pig' sculpture depicting Jews suckling from a pig is pictured on the facade of the Stadtkirche, Town Church, in Wittenberg, Germany. (AP/Jens Meyer, File) (AP/Jens Meyer, File)

The courts never “really took seriously the propaganda effect, the poisoning effect on society,” said plaintiff Michael Dullman.

By Pesach Benson, United with Israel

A 13th century antisemitic bas-relief depicting Jews suckling on a pig will remain on the facade of a German church after an appeals court dismissed on Tuesday a Jewish activist’s petition to have it removed.

The 13th century sculpture, known as the judensau or Jew’s pig, is on the facade of the Town and Parish Church of St. Mary’s, in Wittenberg. It shows a rabbi closely examining a pig’s anus while Jews suck on its teats.

The sculpture also features the words, “Vom Schem Hamphoras,” a derogatory corruption of one of God’s names in Hebrew.

Church officials argued that they installed a bronze plaque under the judensau in 1988 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht and the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust and also installed an information board.

Judge Stephen Seiters agreed that the sculpture was offensive, describing it as “antisemitism carved in stone.”

However, he ruled that the plaque and information board facilitated “clarification and a discussion of the content… in order to counter exclusion, hatred and defamation.”

Plaintiff Michael Dullman, a 77-year-old member of Berlin’s Jewish community, said he would appeal to Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, continuing the four-year legal battle.

The courts, Dullman said, never “really took seriously the propaganda effect, the poisoning effect on society.”

According to media reports, as many as 50 European churches, mostly German, feature similar judensau sculptures.

Wittenberg, in the northeast German state of Saxony-Anhalt, is closely associated with Lutheranism. It was in Wittenberg that Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Reformation that split away from the Catholic Church in 1517.

In Luther’s early years, he was critical of the Catholic Church’s treatment of Jews. But when the Jews didn’t convert to Protestant Christianity, he became a bitter antisemite.

In 1543, he published “The Jews and Their Lies,” which called for the destruction of synagogues and Jewish schools, the confiscation of their money, bans on rabbis preaching, and even sought to strip Jews of legal protection on German highways. He described the Jews as “base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth.”

The ruling comes on the heels of a German government report which spotlighted a nearly 29 percent increase in antisemitic crimes in 2021 over the previous year.