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Bishop Gebhard Fürst blesses the bell from St Albertus Magnus in Oberesslingen Germany which has been returned to its home in Poland (Rottenburg-Stuttgart Diocese/Arkadius Guzy)

A German bishop and a German state premier last weekend took part in an initiative to bring bells stolen by the Nazis during World War II to their rightful homes in Poland. Source: CNA.

Rottenburg-Stuttgart Bishop Gebhard Fürst and Baden-Württemberg’s premier, Winfried Kretschmann, completed the act of repatriation, which spanned three different locations within Poland. 

The church bells were originally taken from the communities of Straszewo (formerly Dietrichsdorf), Frombork (Frauenburg), and Zegoty (Siegfriedswalde). After the war, they found their way into Catholic churches in Württemberg, Germany. On the weekend of June 24-25, they made their long-awaited return journey, restoring an essential part of these communities’ Catholic heritage.

The repatriation of the church bells is part of a larger initiative, “Bells of Peace for Europe”, initiated by Bishop Fürst. The project was inspired by renovations at the St Martin Cathedral in Rottenburg, which revealed that one of the cathedral’s bells originally hailed from what is modern-day Poland. An investigation of all Catholic churches in Württemberg uncovered 66 additional bells from the same era, with 54 of them still active, according to the diocese.

At a service marking the return of the bells, Bishop Jacek Jezierski of the Polish Diocese of Elbląg reflected on the historic and symbolic significance of the bells: “The bell bore witness to a difficult history but also to peace and hope.”

The Polish prelate also expressed gratitude to his German counterpart for initiating this project. In response, Bishop Fürst said: “The bell has experienced and helped shape the shared history of both nations.”

The bells, once symbols of conflict and dispossession, are now symbols of unity and reconciliation between Germany and Poland, both sides affirmed.


Ringing in a new era: the historic return of Nazi-plundered bells to Poland (By AC Wimmer, CNA)