German Village Church Bell Is Embossed With A SWASTIKA And Praise For Hitler

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Standing proudly at the center of a tiny village deep in German wine country is the church of St. Jacob and locked away inside its 1,000-year-old tower is a bell emblazoned with a Swastika and the inscription: ‘Everything for the fatherland. Adolf Hitler.’

While the  heirloom has gone largely unnoticed for the last 82 years, a recent report in a local newspaper has brought controversy to the 700-person town of Herxheim am Berg.

Since discovering the tribute, 73-year-old Sigrid Peters, the church organist, is demanding it be removed, saying it is not right that christenings and marriages are marked by ringing a bell celebrating the Nazis(((oy Vey!))).

But pastor Helmut Meinhardt believes the church should keep using the bell, while mayor Ronald Becker told The Local that trying to remove the inscription could alter the sound, and would cost upward of £40,000.

Some, including bell expert Birgit Müller, are even arguing that it should be protected under historic conservation laws – saying there are no other known examples.

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The bell may hang in the church tower, but it actually belongs to the local government – and it will be up to them to decide its fate. Mayor Becker is firmly in favour of it staying in place, saying he has the ‘backing’ of the town.

Published in: on June 18, 2017 at 6:08 pm  Comments (3)  

Bernd Rosemeyer

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On the Frankfurt-Darmstadt autobahn, just beyond the Langen-Morfelden crossing and set back amongst the trees stands a monument to the great Rosemeyer.

This son of a garage owner began racing motorcycles from 1930 on grass tracks at first before switching to circuits two years later. A works NSU rider in 1933, he joined DKW for the following season. That company was part of Auto Union and Rosemeyer was invited to test for its GP team in October 1934. Despite no previous experience of racing cars, he impressed sufficiently at the Nürburgring to be offered a contract as a junior driver for 1935.

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He gained a reputation for quickness as well as becoming a crowd favorite for his happy ebullient personality.

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That he was a GP winner in his very first season racing cars is a feat all-but unmatched in the history of the sport. 1936 did not start well for he crashed his Auto Union C-type during the wet Monaco GP and it then caught fire at Tripoli.

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However, it was Rosemeyer’s year thereafter – the charismatic German scoring four victories and twice finishing second. His wins at the Nürburgring were legendary – winning the Eifelrennen in the fog to earn the nickname Nebelmeister (“the fog master”). Up to 40 seconds a lap quicker than anyone else in those conditions, Rosemeyer then won the German GP by four minutes. He was crowned as 1936 European Champion in only his second season as a GP driver.

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With his remarkable ascent, Rosemeyer’s story took on a fairytale quality. When combined with relentless hype from the NSDAP propaganda , his fearlessness and charm made him a media sensation. When he married the famous German aviatrix Elly Beinhorn in 1936, the country went nuts, and the happy couple took a belated honeymoon while Rosemeyer raced in South Africa at the start of 1937. His wife flew them to Johannesburg via Cairo and Nairobi before Rosemeyer starred in two races in the country.

In a duel with the greatest of them all, Tazio Nuvolari. At Pescara in Italy, he attempted to pass the Mantuan on the second lap but skidded off-course and burst both rear tires. He limped back to the pit but rather than being humbled by this he returned to the race to continue the attack. On the eighth lap his brakes sized before entering a corner and the car slid of the road, jumped a ditch and passed between a telegraph pole and the parapet of a bridge before re-emerging onto the circuit and back into the race.

After the race, Dr. Porsche went to the scene of Rosemeyer’s drive through the woods and being the engineer measured the gap between the pole and the bridge. He found it to be only 2 1/2 cm. or 1 inch wider than the Auto Union at its widest point. Silently the mercurial Porsche shook hands with the young driver and patted his shoulder.

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It was Ferdinand Porsche who made Rosemeyer’s Auto Union so effective. The car’s 545-horsepower V-16 was his design, as was the limited-slip differential that helped transfer the engine’s massive torque to the ground. Both car and engine were an outgrowth of the Mercedes-Benz/Auto Union Grand Prix wars, where the German state sponsored the period’s equivalent of Formula 1 racing.

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Soundly beaten by Rosemeyer and Auto Union in 1936, Mercedes-Benz responded by introducing its all-powerful W125 for the following season. The Sturrgart concern was once more the team to beat and Caracciola regained the European title. However, Rosemeyer also starred by winning the Eifelrennen, George Vanderbilt Cup on New York’s Long Island and the season finale at Donington Park.

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As well as dominating GP racing, both German teams were involved in speed record attempts as they sought further prestige for marque and state. Auto Union and Mercedes were on the motorway south of Frankfurt on January 28 1938 for a series of record attempts.

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Rosemeyer in describing driving over 240 mph, “the joints in the concrete road surface are felt like blows, setting up a corresponding resonance through the car, but this disappears at a greater speed. Passing under bridges the driver receives a terrific blow to the chest, because the car is pushing air aside, which is trapped by the bridge. When you go under a bridge, for a split second the engine noise completely disappears and then returns like a thunderclap when you are through.”

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Caracciola soon beat Rosemeyer’s existing record by averaging 268.7mph over a flying mile. Rosemeyer was one of the first to congratulate Caracciola and said, “My turn now.” Caracciola, aware of the prediction for strong winds sought to warn his young rival but was assured by Rosemeyer that he was one of the “lucky ones.” Just before noon Rosemeyer entered the closed cockpit special and rocketed down the Autobahn. Traveling at over 270 mph a crosswind caught his car and caused the Auto Union to somersault flinging Rosemeyer to his death. Neubauer, Caracciola and von Brauchitsch, his Mercedes rivals, sat silently for a long time, “unmoving like statues,” in Caracciola’s words. Record breaking was over for now.

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One of the few to truly master the difficult rear-engine Auto Unions, he was a true star whose popularity spread to England and America thanks to his success there. He was a humorous and charming man who enlivened the sport for three brief seasons.

 

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Published in: on June 18, 2017 at 8:40 am  Leave a Comment