Nazi references: “Aryan” Jesus: Vienna church covers stained glass windows

A Protestant church in Vienna has covered its stained glass windows because of anti-Semitic motifs and the artist's Nazi past.

Nazi references: “Aryan” Jesus: Vienna church covers stained glass windows

A Protestant church in Vienna has covered its stained glass windows because of anti-Semitic motifs and the artist's Nazi past. On Sunday, the 15 fabric-covered windows were presented to the congregation - the words “faith,” “love,” and “hope” are cut into the fabric. According to Pastor Elke Petri, this is only an interim step. New windows will be installed in the coming years, as she told the German Press Agency.

The windows were designed in the 1960s by the Austrian painter Rudolf Böttger (1887-1973), who also worked in Bavaria. During the Nazi era he was a member of the NSDAP and an official in the “Gaukulturrat” in Vienna. According to Petri, the problematic biblical images on the windows include a girl with blonde braids who looks like a girl from the Hitler Youth and an "Aryan"-looking Jesus. In addition, Jews are portrayed in a stereotypically defamatory manner. “We don’t want that anymore,” said Petri.

There has been an explanatory board about the problematic windows in the church since 2003. It took until now to decide to cover and replace the windows because some community members didn't want any change, Petri said. Böttger's windows should not disappear completely, but rather be converted into a "memorial place" in the church. “We don’t want to erase that at all,” said the pastor.

Böttger lived in Bavaria after the Second World War. According to his biographer Florian Jung, he created, among other things, murals on residential buildings and schools in Deggendorf as well as works for sacred buildings in Hofkirchen and Osterhofen.

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