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"The bells, too, are fighting": the fate of European church bells in the second world war.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Allied governments sent experts to Germany in search of resources, intelligence, scientific data, and personnel. (2) Project Paperclip was the codename for the well-known Ameriean programme that brought foreign scientists to the United States. Canada had its own version of this intelligence-gathering initiative. One of the experts sent to Germany by the Canadian government in 1945 was Percival Price. Price was seconded both to the Inter-Allied Commission on the Wartime Preservation of Artistie and Historic Monuments in War Areas, and to the Joint Committee on Enemy Science and Technology (JCEST). (3) The unlikely objects of Price's investigations were European church bells found in German refineries--the remnants of Nazi efforts to confiscate non-ferrous metal across Europe. (4)

Price's findings paint a vivid picture of the impact on European patrimony of the Nazi thirst for strategic raw materials. A closer look at the fate of European church bells, however, reveals that this one minor episode in the history of wartime Europe can tell us a good deal about the war, its aftermath, and its legacy. The Nazi programme of recovering and smelting church bells throughout Germany, Austria, and Occupied Europe illustrates both the ideological aims of National Socialism and of Nazi occupation policy in Eastern and Western Europe, and the practical constraints that shaped the Nazi war effort. The "Vichy exception" to the Europe-wide confiscation of bells testifies to the degree of autonomy and latitude enjoyed by Marshal Petain's collaborationist regime. Finally, efforts on the part of Allied occupation forces to repatriate surviving bells after the war were shaped by postwar debates over reconstruction and reparations, German victimhood, the relationship between German churches and Hitler's regime, and the postwar politics of memory.

I. Bells Do Battle

In the early 1940s, German occupation authorities had a few small bells cast in the Netherlands to commemorate the confiscation of European church bells to support the Nazi war effort. Bearing the inscription "The bells too are fighting for a new Europe," they were commissioned as mementos for leading Nazis involved in implementing this facet of Germany's economic exploitation of Europe. (5) By the end of the Second World War, almost 150,000 church bells dating from the twelfth to the twentieth centuries, from church towers all over the European continent, had been melted down. (6)

The confiscation and destruction of church bells in wartime is a practice of long standing. It is a tradition in European warfare that an artillery commander has rights over the bells in conquered towns. (7) Napoleon in particular relished claiming this right, and added to his war coffers by requiring vanquished cities to buy back their bells. (8) If communities could not, the commanding general was entitled to dispose of the bells as he saw fit, one half of the revenue was his, the other half went to the central treasury. (9)

There is an equally lengthy tradition of nations looking to their own church bells to support their war efforts. During the eighteenth century, bells routinely fed various military campaigns. (10) During the Franco-prussian War, the bishop of Nancy authorized every parish in his diocese to take down all but one of their bells to make cannons for the defence of France. (11) By the time it was internationally agreed, under the Hague Conventions in 1910, that church bells should be protected and not used for war purposes, there existed a long chain of memories linking the loss of bells to warfare, either through voluntary sacrifice, or through invasion, defeat, and punishment. (12)

In spite of the Hague Conventions, German church bells were "mobilized" once again during the Great War, but it was between 1939 and 1945 that this trend reached its zenith, and the greatest damage to European church bells occurred. (13) The Nazi occupation of Europe saw a volume of confiscation and subsequent destruction of bells that that was unprecedented. This was the result of the nature of the Second World War and the Nazi occupation of Europe, the priorities of the Nazi regime, and the industrial capacity of the Nazi state. All of these considerations have roots in National Socialist ideology.

War was the essence of National Socialism. Nazi ideology saw war as a necessary condition of the health and prosperity of the German Volk and nation. As Hitler reminded the German people in 1939: "We National Socialists have our origins in war, our philosophy results from the experience of war and it will prove itself, if necessary, in war." (14) The political aim of the Nazi regime was the restoration of Germany's great power status after the indignities of the punitive Treaty of Versailles. Everything was to be directed toward this aim, and it was to be achieved through an inculcation of the "will to arms" in the German people, and by granting absolute priority to military spending, the buildup of the armed forces being--in Hitler's mind--the essential precondition of political power. (15) The resources of the German state would therefore be directed almost entirely toward rearmament.

Only three days after being appointed Chancellor, Hitler convened a meeting of high-level military officials and outlined his programme of racial purification and imperial expansion. The precondition of this programme was rapid rearmament. This rearmament would not only enable the restoration of the borders of 1914 and the return of German colonies--territorial losses due to the Treaty of Versailles--but also the German domination of Central Europe, which Hitler saw as essential to the survival and prosperity of the Volk. At a meeting a week later, Hitler again emphasized the absolute priority of rearmament:
 Germany's future depends exclusively and solely on rebuilding
 the armed forces. All other expenditure has to be subordinated
 to the task of rearmament.... [In] any future clash
 between demands of the armed forces and demands for other
 purposes the interest of the armed forces [must], whatever the
 circumstances, take precedence. (16)


The Third Reich made great strides toward realizing Hitler's vision of rearmament between 1935 and the outbreak of the war. By 1938, German military spending had risen to 60 per cent of the national budget, or 21 per cent of Germany's gross national product. (17)

This considerable military expansion was due to the 1936 implementation of Hermann Goring's Four Year Plan,which was designed to force the pace of rearmament and to reaffirm its absolute primacy. (18) Under the Four Year Plan, Germany adopted a policy of autarky, limiting imports and developing synthetic replacements for the materials and resources it lacked domestically. In implementing the plan, however, the Third Reich soon reached the limits of its financial and material resources. One of the primary aims of the Four Year Plan had been to prepare Germany for a major European war by 1940, but, by this time, the structure of the plan also made it necessary for Germany to go to war in order to avoid national bankruptcy. Only heavy reparations, including vital raw materials such as non-ferrous metals, generated by a quick and victorious war could overcome Germany's chronic shortages. Thus the strategy of Blitzkrieg, based on a theory of mobile warfare in which Germany would conduct a series of short but intensive campaigns, was devised.

Although Hitler realized that Germany was unlikely to win another war of attrition, Blitzkrieg was as much an economic doctrine as a military one. It was a method of avoiding the huge economic commitment of total war since "it did not require any extensive building-up of the productive capacity of German industry, except in the two very important areas of synthetic fuel-oil production and synthetic rubber production." (19) The doctrine was also made necessary, however, by the Third Reich's commitment to rapid and extensive rearmament, which was ultimately unsustainable without access to external resources. (20)

Some of the most vital resources to the German war economy were non-ferrous metals. Of these, copper was the most significant and the most difficult to procure for the German economy. German rearmament required copper for everything from munitions casings to navigational equipment, but Germany produced no copper domestically. In the interwar period, Germany's vital supplies of copper came from outside Europe and, significantly, from outside the German trading bloc. Germany imported the majority of its copper supplies from the Belgian Congo, Chile, and the United States. Yearly imports ranged between 150,000 and 200,000 metric tons of raw and refined copper per year from 1929 to 1937. Imports soared, however, to over 300,000 metric tons in 1938. (21) Home consumption of copper reached a peak of 300,000 tons in 1941 and, after stringent economies, fell to 220,000 tons in 1943. From this date on, the civilian allocation of copper was 80,000 tons. The remainder went to the armed forces. Refinery production was also increased during the decade between 1929 and the outbreak of war. This capacity was concentrated almost entirely in the west of the country, and nearly half was located in the port city of Hamburg. These trends show clearly the importance of adequate supplies of copper to the German war economy. They suggest, moreover, the value of a large and technically competent refining industry, upon which such an economy depended. (22)

Also significant to the German economy was tin. (23) Domestic mining provided only a very small portion of Germany's requirements of tin, the bulk of which was imported. In the years immediately prior to the war, the German authorities found it necessary to reduce civil consumption of tin to a minimum and to expand the recovery of domestic scrap. A considerable stock of metal was accumulated so that, at the outbreak of war, consumption was maintained at a rate of about 9,000 tons per year, two-thirds of which was for military requirements, soldering in particular. (24) The consumption of non-ferrous' metals rose in Germany during the rearmament period from 50 to over 100 per cent, while extraordinary efforts were made to increase smelting and refining capacity and to accumulate stocks of metals in various forms. (25) Considering that trade had fallen sharply as a result of the Great Depression and that, since 1936, with the institution of the Four Year Plan under Goring's direction, Germany had been pursuing a policy of autarky, these figures are significant evidence of Nazi Germany's inexorable march to war, and the importance of non-ferrous metals to the accomplishment of Hitler's goals.

II. The Reclamation of Church Bells in the Third Reieh anal Italy

After the outbreak of hostilities, the Reich began broadening its search for easily accessible sources of copper and tin. In an effort to raise additional non-ferrous metal, the German government instituted a metal drive similar to measures undertaken by the Allies. The Reichstelle fur Metalle--the Reich Metals Board--made a public appeal for all sorts of metal objects, and over 18 million kilograms of metal vessels such as pots, pans, plates, trays, and bowls were sent to the Norddeutsche Affinerie in Hamburg. All were photographed and then melted down. (26) This metal drive included not only household goods, but industrial stock as well. Herr Hamm, a bell founder, stated to British officials after the war that the shortage of metal for bells had, in fact, begun in 1934, at which time the confiscation of bells no longer in use had started. (27) Another bell caster, Franz Schilling, lost all his stock to the Metal Board's confiscations; 25,000 kilograms of bells and bell metal were sent from his foundry to depositories in Ilsenburg. The government's promise to pay for the confiscated bronze was never fulfilled. (28)

On 15 March 1940 Hermann Goring decreed in his Four Year Plan ordinance that not only decommissioned bells and metal stocks in bell foundries, but also bells in use in German churches, should be made immediately available for armament reserves. (29) The Reichstelle ordered an inventory, and the classification of all church bells in the Reich proceeded with a view to their removal. (30) Preliminary discussions began in April 1940, though the immediate removal of bells was postponed by a credit of copper and tin from the USSR in late spring. The invasion of the Soviet Union and the military situation on the Eastern Front the following year impelled the Reichstelle to begin confiscations in late 1941.

The inventory, confiscation, and processing of bells fell under the purview of the Wirtschaftsministerium, the Ministry of Economics. Under the ministry's direction, each local Kreishandwerksmeister (the regional chief of the organization of craftsmen) was made responsible for the classification and removal of all bells in his district. (31) The bells were classed in four categories. Category A bells were the least valuable (generally the newest) and were to be melted immediately. Category B bells, more valuable than A bells, were to be melted after all A bells had been processed. Category C bells, more valuable again, were to be melted only after all B bells had been exhausted. The last category--D--was deemed the most valuable and included medieval bells and all carillons. These were to be left in their towers. (32)

One bell, the most valuable, was to be left in each parish church. Apart from this exception, all other bells except those classed as D were to be dismantled. The confiscated bells became property of the Reichstelle fur Metalle and were sent to depositories mainly in Hamburg. (33) The Reichstelle was required to compensate churches for their bells, but no payments were ever made. (34) On the other hand, the refineries, which were privately owned, were obliged to pay the Reichstelle for all of the bells that they received for smelting. The first bells arrived by rail and water at the refineries in Hamburg on 12 December, 1941. The refineries were instructed to melt all A bells at once, and to hold the Band C bells for processing at a later date, as required. By the end of the war, the melting of all A bells--approximately 90,000 in total--had been completed. (35) B and C bells made up the bulk of those found in German refineries at war's end. (36)

The bells were processed primarily at the Norddeutsehe Affinerie, which the British Control Commission characterized in 1945 as "one of the world's largest and most efficient smelters." (37) Of particular importance, the refinery possessed a special scrap recovery section for treating bronze and brass scrap metal. The original refinery engaged in Hamburg by the Reichstelle for the melting of bells had been the Zinnwerke Wilhelmsburg. The Zinnwerke, however, possessed insufficient storage and processing capacity to meet the Reich's war needs. (38) Although the bulk of the metal processing was done by the Norddeutsche Affinerie, the Zinnwerke remained nominally in charge of all bells in the Hamburg area. Processing started in late 1941 and continued until June 1944, when the Zinnwerke was put out of operation by Allied air raids. The last delivery of German bells was in April 1944, though foreign bells continued to arrive until the very end of the war. (39) According to the Reich Ministry of Economic Affairs, approximately 300,000 metric tons of copper, 96,000 metric tons of lead, and 14,000 metric tons of tin derived from church bells had been transferred to the German war economy by 1943, enabling German industry to avoid shortages for some time. (40)

The extent of bell confiscation measures in Germany itself--over 100,000 church bells removed from their towers--testifies to the Nazi regime's increasing willingness to harness all domestic resources to Germany's war needs. Even before Goebbels asked the German population to commit to a policy of total war in February 1943, the mobilization of the home front for the war effort was well underway with the smelting of German bells.

With the expansion of Germany's borders after 1938, bells from Austria, the Sudetenland, and Alsace-Lorraine also became--like the annexed populations in these areas--subject to the policies of the Greater Reich. Thus, bell confiscations were undertaken in Austria as vigorously as they were in Germany, with the Ostmark losing more than 72 per cent of its bells. Similarly, Alsace and Lorraine also saw the confiscation of their church bells. The requisition order for these confiscations came on 29 December, 1941, and the removal of bells from Lorraine began in early 1942. (41) Requisitions in Lorraine were not carried out as extensively as in Germany but more extensively, in proportion to the available number of bells, than in Alsace. Percival Price argued in 1945 that the cultural identity of these provinces played a significant role in the fate of their bells. Thus, confiscations in the predominantly French Lorraine were proportionally heavier than in the more Germanic Alsace. (42) At first glance, it is perhaps surprising that the confiscation campaign in Alsace-Lorraine was more lenient and less damaging than in the Reich itself. It appears, however, that German concerns over the public reception of this campaign and the potential for popular resentment was at the root of this uncharacteristic moderation. (43) The negative effects on public opinion, in this case, outweighed the benefits of bell confiscations for the war economy.

Fascist Italy also confiscated church bells in order to procure non-ferrous metal for its war industry. An agreement between Mussolini's government and the Vatican prior to the war provided for the "mobilization" of Italian bells. The Italian requisition plan was much simpler, however, than the German one. Half of all Italian bells were to be claimed for war industries, though, as in Germany, one bell was to remain in every tower. Local government and church authorities were permitted to decide which of their bells would be removed. The dismantled bells were broken up in Italy, and the bell scrap was sent to Hamburg for processing (Italian smelting plants did not have the capacity for such a volume of metal or for processing scrap quickly). Although the contract between the Ufficio Monopolio Metalli in Rome and the Montangesellschaft in Hamburg stipulated that all component metals from Italian bells--copper, tin, and small amounts of gold and silver--be shipped back to Italy, only copper was returned. Furthermore, a portion of this copper was seized once again by German forces in Italy near the end of the war and transported back to Germany. (44) This treatment of Italian bell metalhighlights some salient features of the relationship between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Prior to 1943 the alliance between Hitler and Mussolini brought together two states that shared kindred philosophies and similar war aims. This alliance, nevertheless, betrayed a power imbalance; Italy was always the junior partner. Following the Allied invasion of Sicily in the summer of 1943 and the king's subsequent ousting of Mussolini, Italian territory held by German forces was treated like any other occupied territory, its resources there for the taking. (45)

III. The Confiscation of Church Bells in Occupied Europe

With the Nazi occupation of Europe, church bells in both the Eastern and Western Occupied territories became fodder for Hitler's war machine as well. Nazi occupation policy involved the expropriation of resources from occupied territories to support the German economy, and the confiscation of church bells was part of this more general process of economic and industrial exploitation. As one German official made clear: "The Reich's priorities are dominated by the imperious necessity of using, as fully as possible, the economic potential of [the occupied territories] toward the ultimate victory of Germany." (46) German occupation policy differed in priority and degree between occupied east and west, however, and the treatment of church bells reflected this difference of approach in the two regions.

In Western Europe, Belgium and the Netherlands lost their church bells; although the German confiscation policy differed slightly in each country. In Belgium, one small bell (under 90 cm in diameter) was allowed to remain in each church, and all carillons were exempt from confiscation provided that they were regularly played. Furthermore, there was a degree of latitude in the way the confiscations were enforced. Sint Pieterskerk in Leuven had a new and poorly toned carillon that the church was permitted to relinquish in lieu of a similar weight in bells. Historic bells were also respected; any bell cast before 1450 was strictly protected, and the occupation authorities consented to allow church officials to bury these bells to protect them against war damage. (47) The remainder of Belgian bells were registered in four categories according to the date of their casting: category A included bells cast after 1850; category B, bells cast between 1790 and 1850; category C, bells dating between 1700 and 1790; and category D, bells made before 1700. (48) The bells in categories A, Band C were removed from towers and shipped to Germany. Bells of the D type remained in place. (49)

In total, some 4,200 bells out of almost 9,000 were reported to have been removed from Belgium to Germany. (50) These removals were performed systematically by province. The first province to face bell confiscations was East Flanders, and consequently none of the confiscated bells from this region survived the war. The Belgian province of Luxembourg (not to be confused with the Grand Duchy, from which no bells were taken) was the last to face confiscations, and was also the region to put up the greatest resistance to the appropriation of bells. (51) Once again, as in the annexed territories of Alsace and Lorraine, concerns over public opinion appear to have shaped the implementation of German bell confiscation measures.

In the Netherlands, German authorities were aided considerably in their efforts at confiscating bells by the Dutch government's own policies formulated prior to the war. Before September 1939, the Dutch government--fearing it might become embroiled in another war--called for an estimate of the total weight of metal in all bells in the Netherlands in case it found itself obliged to seek supplementary sources of copper and tin for its own war production. (52) The final estimate was 3 million kilograms. The Dutch government decided that, if necessary, it would sacrifice up to 90 per cent of this amount. (53) In preparation, a bell expert from Utrecht, Dr. Van der Elst, was appointed to select the most important bells to be exempted. (54) Protected bells were marked with an M for "Monument," and signs in Dutch, French, English, and German were posted in their belfries declaring them inviolable.

After the German invasion of the Netherlands, the occupation authorities declared that they would confiscate 75 per cent of Dutch bell metal. Since this was less than the initial Dutch plan of confiscation (set at 90 per cent) an additional number of bells were added to the protected list and marked M. (55)

In December 1941, the Germans outlined their plan for confiscating Dutch bells. Bells were to be classified according to four categories, as they were in Belgium. These categories were, however, much more vague than their Belgian counterparts. Individual Dutch bells were to be labelled as Modern, Historic, or Very Historic. Carillons were to be considered apart. (56) The announcement of the German plan met with vigorous protest from Dutch clergy as well as from the general population. Petitions eventually resulted in a 5 per cent concession. German officials declared that they would only claim 70 per cent of Dutch bell metal immediately, but if the war continued after the summer of 1943, the Dutch would have to yield the additional 5 per cent. (57) In the meantime, the bells whose confiscation was postponed were to be marked with a P for "Protected."

The removal of Dutch bells began in 1942. As the course of the war worsened for Germany, increasing numbers of bells were transferred from the Netherlands to the Hamburg refineries. By late 1943, German authorities ordered the removal of all bells, regardless of category, from communities along the Dutch coast for fear of losing them as a source of metal in the event of an Allied invasion. (58) In March 1944, the confiscation of P bells began, with 445 bells shipped to Germany. In September 1944, during their retreat, German troops took 66 bells, and in the winter of 1944-45, bells were taken from Dutch depositories at Leerdam and Spijk. (59)

There is no question that the Western occupied territories saw their cultural heritage considerably impoverished as a result of the bell confiscations, but their loss was not that different from Germany's--the age and historical significance of Belgian and Dutch bells was taken into consideration and, as in Germany, each parish church was permitted to retain one bell. (60) Furthermore, Dutch and Belgian clergy were permitted some freedom in the choice of bells to be removed. Ultimately, the loss of bells in the Netherlands under the German occupation was less than the sacrifice planned by the Dutch government itself prior to the outbreak of war. (61)

In the Eastern occupied territories, bell confiscation also represented part of the broader Nazi policy of exploitation, but its implementation testifies to the far greater brutality of German policy in the east. In a speech Hitler delivered on the eve of the invasion of Poland, he entreated his military commanders to: "act brutally ... be harsh and remorseless ... kill without pity or mercy all men, women and children of Polish descent or language." (62) Concerns over public opinion were irrelevant in the east, for what Hitler planned was the extermination of Poland. This war of annihilation had a cultural corollary--the annihilation of any form of cultural or religious expression. Himmler's murderous Special Action Squads, the Einsatzgruppen, were instructed to prepare lists of "Polish government leaders, nobility, clergy, professionals, and intellectuals of all types for a late as yet unclear." (63) That fate, more often than not, was death or internment. Polish churches were a primary target for Hitler's new order in the East. Hundreds of priests were murdered. No services, confessions, or hymns were permitted in Polish. Religious buildings were converted to dance halls, barns, garages, and storerooms. Roadside shrines were desecrated. (64)

Confiscations of church bells in Poland and the other eastern occupied territories must be considered against this background of cultural and religious persecution. Forty railway freight wagons containing an estimated 6,830 bells from Poland were received at the Norddeutsche Affinerie alone, and in total 22,500 bells were confiscated from Poland. (65) This number is even more remarkable when we consider that, in the German records, "Poland" in fact only represents the rump territory of the General Government. Bells from the Wartheland were listed as German and are, therefore, excluded from this calculation. Just as the territorial reorganization of Poland is evident in these bell confiscation statistics, so the willingness to destroy such a volume of bells--without any allowance for negotiation--makes clear the same contempt for Polish culture and religious life that permeated every other facet of the occupation.

In Czechoslovakia, the confiscation of bells also conformed to Nazi occupation policy. Bells in the Sudetenland with Czech inscriptions were the first to be removed from their towers. (66) The first shipment left for Hamburg in 1940. (67) Later that year, German authorities ordered an inventory of all bells in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (but not from Germany's ally Slovakia). These were categorized, and one bell, the smallest, was permitted to remain in each parish church. By 1942, all category A bells had been sent to German refineries. (68) A re-inventory conducted in an effort to obtain more bell metal showed that 16 per cent of Bohemian and Moravian bells remained in their towers. Orders came from Berlin to reduce this to 10 per cent. (69) Only in the last year of the war, however, were bells confiscated in Slovakia. In October 1944, Hitler's forces occupied Germany's former ally following an uprising that left Tiso's collaborationist government unstable and saw German forces increasingly targeted by partisans.

The bell confiscation statistics are a vivid illustration of discrepancy in occupation policy between East and West. Belgium and the Netherlands both lost approximately half their bells. Czechoslovakia and Poland lost considerably more--76 per cent and 63 per cent respectively. In both cases these figures appear artificially low, however, since they represent confiscations not for the entire country but for the General Government in the Polish case, and primarily for the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in the case of Czechoslovakia. In the east, German occupation forces as a rule held little concern for public opinion. With the confiscation of bells in Poland, unlike in Belgium and the Netherlands, there was no need to be solicitous of the mood or religious sensibilities of the local population. In both east and west, however, occupation policy was ultimately tied to the course of the war. 1944, therefore, saw a heightened ruthlessness and disregard for alliances and public opinion in both East and West.

IV. Public Opposition and Resistance

Nazi policies at home and in the occupied territories were met with varying degrees of resistance. In Germany, there appear to have been few instances of overt resistance to the confiscation of church bells. The only recorded official protest was made on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran church by Oberlandeskirchenrat Mahrenholz. Mahrenholz filed complaints to the Reich Government both at the time that bell confiscations were announced and later, during the war, when confiscations actually began. He was threatened with arrest. (70) Other acts of protest were more surreptitious. At the Altes Rathaus in Esslingen, municipal officials were successful in saving their bells by falsely persuading the authorities who came to remove them that their metal content was mostly iron. (71) Josef Feldmann, a bell founder in Hamburg, claimed that he successfully buried some bells to prevent their confiscation. (72) Officials attempting to locate a concealed bell in Schloss Offenstetten --a bell that was, apparently, known to exist, often heard, but never seen--were foiled by the owner of the castle, Frau Schlitter, who feigned illness to avoid showing where it was concealed. After a thorough search, the officials left without finding the bell, and apparently never returned. (73) Two bells of the Dom of Schwerin were saved from confiscation when they were hidden in a pile of lumber. (74)

A number of instances of resistance to bell confiscation measures arose throughout Western Europe. In one shipment of 2,000 tons from the Netherlands, Dutch authorities made up a quarter of the load with bell clappers, which are not only more easily replaced but are made of soft iron and were, therefore, decidedly less useful for German munitions. (75) The bells of St. Savatokerk in Harelbeke in Belgium Were hidden for the duration of the war. (76) A number of other Belgian bells destined for Germany were pushed off moving freight trains by Belgian rail workers. When German officials threatened to remove the carillon from the Saint-Piat church in Seclin, in northern France, a group of locals posing as Germans arrived at the belfry with a truck and loaded it with all the bells they could dismantle. These were then buried under a farm shed for the duration of the war. (77) An even greater degree of cunning is revealed in the story of the false carillon of Ath. The original carillon in the church of Ath was destroyed by fire in 1815. When locals learned of the German order exempting all Belgian carillons from confiscation, they gathered together the swinging bells from surrounding churches into one bell-chamber to give the appearance of a sufficient number of bells for a carillon. An old tourist guide-book was found in which it stated that there was a carillon at Ath. This was produced as evidence. To meet a German demand that it must be played, they obtained a phonograph recording of another carillon, and installed a loud speaker in the church tower. (78)

In Eastern Europe, too, local officials did their best to prevent--or at least postpone--the departure of their bells. Czech officials attempted to delay the confiscation of their bells by claiming the right to do tonal and scientific research on the instruments, which they might never hear or see again, as noted in this report:
 A laboratory was set up on an island in the Moldau at Prague
 and specialists from the National Conservatory and the
 University of Prague worked with the double purpose of
 adding to scientific knowledge and retaining their bells.
 Finally when the pressure to yield them up became too great,
 they loaded them onto a river steamer, piling it so full that the
 ship got only a short way down stream when it became grounded.
 This caused further delay, but eventually all the bells sailed
 north to the great refineries at Ilsenburg and Hamburg. (79)


Alain Corbin describes nineteenth-century efforts to resist the confiscation and destruction of church bells as an assertion of community pride and identity. For centuries, church bells tolled the angelus and vespers that ordered rural lives and marked events in the spiritual and social calendars of the population. The sound of the bells was a deeply embedded element in the auditory landscape. Bells transmitted information about the major events of private life, and solemnized rites of passage. The village bell was an alarm and a voice of authority. It imparted a rhythm to the ordinary functioning of the community, but, above all, bells were symbols of the prestige, reputation, and honour of a community, and their removal often proved to be a galvanizing force. (80)
 "The Germans are coming to take the bells" ran the rumour in the
 town of Seclin ... [I]n the feeling of helplessness that followed
 [the occupation] people were prepared for anything to happen. The
 inhabitants of Seclin, mostly industrial workers and partly
 communist, had not paid a great deal of attention to their bells
 ... Now they rallied around them as around the core and symbol of
 their community and felt that their removal would be like the
 extraction of the soul from the place. (81)


V. The Vichy Exception

The only countries in occupied Europe to be spared the confiscation of their church bells were Denmark, Luxemburg, Norway, and France. (82) The Scandinavian countries and Luxemburg were likely spared the loss of their bells because of German concerns about order and public opinion in these "Nordic" countries. In France, however, the preservation of church bells came as the result of negotiations carried out by the Economic Delegation of the Franco-German Armistice Commission, and a fateful choice on the part of the Vichy government. This choice--to sacrifice bronze statues rather than church bells--reveals a good deal about Vichy's goals and priorities and the degree of autonomy the regime possessed in achieving them.

A March 1941 memo from Jean Bichelonne, Vichy's Minister of Industrial Production, raised the issue of German requests for the mobilization of church bells throughout the country. These bells would undoubtedly yield a significant amount of non-ferrous metal for Germany, he conceded, bur this action would constitute a desecration of French cultural heritage, since a large number of protected historical monuments in France are church bells. (83) Furthermore, Bichelonne insisted, the confiscation of French church bells would be a direct violation of the conditions of the Franco-German armistice, which gave the Vichy government control over domestic affairs in the unoccupied zone. (84) The issue of church bells was raised again on April 29, 1941 at the meeting that instituted the 1941 Metalplan (German yearly requisitions of non-ferrous metal), but, after more negotiation, a decision was once again postponed. It is likely that German authorities consented to spare French bells in exchange for a certain tonnage of copper (14,400 metric tons for 1942 is the figure given by the Commission Consultative des Dommages) some time in the spring or early summer of 1941. (85) In July 1941, Vichy's Council of Ministers, led by Admiral Darlan, Petain's second-in-command, proposed that bronze derived from French public statuary be substituted for the bronze that Germany sought to obtain from bells. (86) The minutes of this meeting of the Council of Ministers unfortunately no longer exist. We are therefore forced to rely on Yvon Bizardel's rather sensational description of the Council of Ministers' deliberation on this question. Bizardel, curator of the Musee Galliera, described the meeting in his 1964 memoirs:
 There was quite a ruckus in the Council of Ministers.
 [Jacques] Barnaud [General Delegate on Franco-German
 Economic Affairs] presented, without the slightest conviction,
 by the way, the German demand. Ali the ministers, except
 Benoist-Mechin, who kept silent, rejected it. (87)


"The ministers were outraged. 'Our statues, all our statues,' cried Caziot and Berthelot, 'but not one bell.'" (88) Vichy's decision to destroy bronze statuary in lieu of church bells--couched though it was in the language of historical and cultural preservation--stems nevertheless from the close political and ideological ties between Petain's government and the French Catholic Church. Although Petain himself was agnostic, he saw the Catholic Church as a tool with which to entrench his propaganda and confirm his power, as a catalyst for mobilizing the population, and as a force for the preservation of order. Vichy propaganda, with its discourses of sacrifice and rebirth, was infused with Catholic imagery, even including representations likening Petain to Christ. (89) The Lord's Prayer was replaced by an oath to the Marechal, and images of Christ on the cross were reintroduced in public buildings, reversing the separation laws of 1905. (90)

Despite his personal beliefs, Petain saw the historical link between the French state and the French church as lending legitimacy to his regime. Philosophers of the French right had accustomed French conservatives, whether or not they were believers, to valuing the church as an instrument of social conservatism. (91) The Vichy regime made the church's teachings about the family, morality, and spirituality its own, and the Church and the regime shared many of the same goals for France's rebirth and renewal. (92) Vichy's National Revolution embodied some long-held aspirations of the French religious right, including the return of a pious and agrarian France that embraced its traditional culture and heritage. The three pillars of the National Revolution--Travail, Famille, Patrie--rested on the solid foundation of the family, guild, village, and parish. The health of these institutions was tied to Christian moral values. An integral Catholic vision of the moral order, therefore, encouraged France to return to the traditional faith of its years of glory, with its acceptance of authority and social hierarchy.

In Vichy, the French Catholic Church found the state sanction and support it had sorely missed under the Third Republic, and even since the French Revolution. Robert Paxton explains that, "as the old godless Third Republic lost its legitimacy, few groups found revenge sweeter than the French clergy and the faithful, nursing long grudges against the results of the French Revolution and against sixty years of official republican anticlericalism." (93) Many French Catholics and conservatives alike yearned for the return of a France that looked inward toward the parish church with its cherished bell.

It is for both political and symbolic reasons, therefore, that French church bells were not melted down. Furthermore, what the "Vichy exception" suggests, in comparison with the bell confiscation measures in other occupied territories, is the degree of latitude and autonomy the French government possessed. Petain's regime was able to negotiate an exemption from the bell confiscation measures--measures undertaken even in Germany itself. Furthermore, this exemption was respected by German authorities following their November 1942 occupation of the Vichy zone and in the desperate final year of the war when exemptions offered to other German Allies, such as Slovakia, were repealed.

VI. The Other Lost Bells

The tragic postscript to the Nazi confiscation and destruction of European church bells is the loss of the remaining bells (those protected due to their historic, artistic, or musical value) in military action. Price estimated in 1947 that between 8 and 10 per cent of all bells in Germany were left hanging in their towers. Of these, 20 per cent were destroyed by Allied military action. (94) The three most ancient German carillons, for example, were classed as "protected," their bells left in place. All were destroyed by Allied bombing. (95) Most often, it was not the bombs themselves, but the fires they started that led to the bells' destruction. The heat from these fires was so intense that bells melted, turned to ash, or were vaporized without trace. (96) This destruction was often accompanied by the macabre noise of organ pipes that sounded due to the heat and air currents caused by fires. (97) During intense Allied raids on Hamburg on 2 February, 1945 (120 bombs were dropped in 15 minutes), the refineries and their storage yards were severely hit. A British official interviewed by Price described the scene:
 We were busy knocking those refineries out of existence, and
 all the area about them was shaken and damaged in raid after
 raid. Imagine the effect on five or ten thousand bells at one
 place, sometimes piled four or five high ... While workers and
 guards scurried to underground shelters ... terrific bell noises
 were going on above. (98)


A ship loaded with 200 of the most valuable bells from the Hamburg refineries was hit in another raid. (99) The freighter sank, and a direct hit on the quay sent bells flying:
 Some bells were hurled as far as 100 meters through the air,
 bells were hurled into the water of the harbour, other bells
 amazingly were hurled out of the water, some landing on the
 quay intact! (100)


A significant number of bells in France were also lost in the conflagrations wrought by bombing. Rouen Cathedral lost its five swinging bells, as well as "Jeanne d'Arc," the largest bell in France, which burned so completely that only a small pile of light ash remained. (101) French carillons also fared poorly. Three were destroyed by military action and one (in Alsace-Lorraine) was confiscated, leaving only one pre-Revolutionary carillon in France. (102) In total, the damage to church bells by military action is estimated at 2 per cent of all bells in Belgium, 10 per cent in the Netherlands, 1 per cent in Austria, 5 per cent in Germany, and 10 per cent in Italy. (103)

This damage--like the targeting of enemy civilian populations for that matter--was largely considered by the Allies to be a necessary consequence of their push for victory. Lord Methuen describes the public perception of the collateral damage associated with the Allied assault on France:
 Our aeroplanes did terrible execution on some of their towns whose
 road and rail communications had to be disrupted and destroyed ...
 The French, generally speaking, recognise that this destruction
 with its consequent loss of French civilian life was necessary ...
 it may be said that the French accepted this necessary loss with
 extraordinary good grace and charity, considering how [much] many
 of them had lost ... (104)


Though neither side shied away from the destruction of monuments if military advantage could be gained--the Allied bombing of the abbey at Monte Cassino in Italy is a prime example both sides nevertheless dedicated resources to the protection and preservation of cultural and artistic treasures from war damage. The valiant efforts of Wolff von Metternich's Kunstschutz notwithstanding, the primary focus of Nazi forces in this regard was looting. (105) The Allies, on the other hand, created the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Division (MFA&A) with the express mandate to protect European patrimony as fully as possible:
 The duties of the Monuments Officers were four. They had, so
 far as military exigencies allowed, to protect from unnecessary
 damage monuments in territory still occupied by the enemy;
 they had to apply first-aid repairs to damaged monuments
 when such passed into our possession; they had to protect
 monuments from wanton damage or misuse on the part of the
 allied troops; and they had to record the thefts of works of art
 by the enemy and collect any evidence available that might
 facilitate their ultimate recovery. (106)


Monuments officers came up against considerable difficulties, however, not least of which was the comportment of their own soldiers. Lynn Nicholas describes the wave of destruction that occurred when Allied troops entered Naples:
 troops soon were to be seen driving about the city in jeeps
 decorated with hundreds of fabulously coloured stuffed toucans,
 parrots, eagles and even ostriches from the [University's]
 zoo-logical collection ... British, French, and American personnel
 were billeted in ... the Royal Palace, where, with the delighted
 help of Neapolitan ladies of the night, they stripped brocades from
 the walls ... (107)


Monuments officers often had difficulty persuading troops and their superiors that artistic treasures--especially in enemy countries--must be respected. These debates continued in the postwar period as Allied occupation forces in Germany struggled to deal with the remnants of Hitler's bell confiscation campaign.

VII. The Postwar Restitution of Church Bells

At the time of the 1945 establishment of Military Government in the British Zone, approximately 14,000 bells were believed to be in the depositories and scrap yards of Hamburg. (108) These represented only a small part of the total number of church bells brought during the course of the war to refineries in the port city--dubbed "the Belsen of Bells" by British occupation authorities. Nevertheless, the restitution of this important stock of metal and large accumulation of cultural property raised a number of highly charged issues for the British Control Commission.

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The military government's first priority was to seize all church bells and bell scrap in the Hamburg depositories, while decisions concerning jurisdiction were made. (109) As metallic resources, bells were technically under the purview of the metals section of the Property Control Branch of the Military Government, but as cultural and religious objects they came to be administered by the British Section of the Monument, Fine Arts and Archives (MFA&A) division of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). The accumulation of so much bronze raised, above all, the vital question of reparations. The bells and scrap in the Hamburg depositories were very valuable indeed, in a postwar Europe hungry for non-ferrous metal, and the use and allocation of this metal became most controversial.

The military government in the British Zone advocated a respect for the Hague Convention clauses concerning bells, and refused to consider claiming for Britain or granting to any other country claim of German bells as part of war reparations. (110) This stance was unpopular, however, with a number of Allied agencies: representatives of British industry, for example, made claims for the bulk of the contents of the Norddeutsche Affinerie in Hamburg for the United Kingdom. (111) French troops took thirty-one bells from a refinery at Regensburg in August 1945. (112) The Red Army transported 700 railcar loads of bells (an estimated 10,000 bells) from depositories at Oranienburg back to the Soviet Union. Only in June 1947, following British insistence that Hague Conventions be strictly respected, did all of the Allies voluntarily renounce claims to church bell fragments which could be clearly identified as of German origin. (113)

The next priority was to ensure the repatriation of bells confiscated from Occupied Europe to their countries of origin. Of the almost 50,000 church bells transported to Germany from the occupied territories, more than 2,000 were discovered intact in Hamburg at the end of the war. (114) The first Allied deputations to arrive in Hamburg were from Belgium and the Netherlands. Belgian and Dutch bell experts sent to Hamburg in 1945 identified 785 Belgian bells and 300 Dutch bells. (115) These, and a number of French bells from Alsace and Lorraine, were the first to be repatriated. (116) Subsequent claims were made by Czechoslovakia, Poland, Austria, and Italy. Of the 9,000 Czech bells brought to Hamburg, only one was recovered. (117) Eighteen Czech bells, discovered at Lunen, were released to the Czech Government in July 1947. Three of these dated from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. (118) Foreign bells were repatriated as soon as they were located and transport could be arranged, and in many cases their return was marked by great festivities. In Belgium, processions escorted recovered bells from the dock yards or railway to the tower from which they were taken. (119) Recovered bells belonging to churches in the departments of Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin in Alsace, and Moselle in Lorraine, were feted with day-long celebrations when they returned. (120)

The notable exception to the relatively quick and straightforward process of repatriating bells confiscated from the occupied territories is the case of church bells from Poland. The question of what to do with close to 800 Polish bells raised two very controversial issues. (121) First, protracted British discussions about repatriating bells to Danzig serve as an illuminating example of the political ramifications--complicated considerably by the emerging Cold War order--of the return of bells to Eastern Europe. Second, the claims of German congregations for Polish bells highlight discourses of victimhood prevalent in postwar Germany.

The initial challenge concerning Polish bells was that Her Majesty's Government had ruled that no restitution to the east of the Oder-Neisse line could be made, since the Foreign Office did not recognize the Soviet occupation of Poland. (122) The second question concerned the ownership of Danzig's bells. Many congregations from Danzig were in exile in western Germany. These expellees, along with POWs in Soviet captivity and civilian victims of the Red Army, became central figures in postwar German consciousness. (123) The Danzig congregations, supported by representatives of the Religious Affairs Branch of the military government, felt strongly that bells belonged to their parishioners and should therefore not be sent "back to the original church buildings [in Danzig] which might have been destroyed [or] might now be used by another creed." (124) The underlying issue, however, was one of nationality rather than one of denomination. The leaders of the Evangelical parishes of Danzig wrote to the MFA&A in January 1949:
 As the leaders of the Evangelical Church of the former Free
 State of Danzig, we beg to ask with all our heart not to give
 back the bells to Danzig. On the contrary we apply for handing
 the bells to us as the proper representatives of the evangelical
 parishes of the Free State Region. The evangelical parishes
 in the Free State of Danzig exclusively consisted of members
 of German nationality. Parish members of Polish nationality
 never belonged to the evangelical churches. These evangelical
 parishes of German nationality have been forced to
 leave their homes.... Nevertheless, they have not ceased to
 exist, but they go on existing as displaced ... [The bells in
 question] for hundreds of years have been in the possession of
 the German Evangelical parishes and ... have been procured
 by the sacrifices of the evangelical parish members. It would
 therefore [be] an injustice to hand these bells to the Polish
 Catholic parishes of Danzig who have taken possession of the
 Evangelical churches. The evangelical parish members hope
 with ardent desire for the day when they will be allowed to
 return to their native country. If this hope will not be fulfilled
 they at least want to keep the church bells which for generations
 have rung for their ancestors. (125)


Of particular concern for the leaders of the Evangelical parishes, as well as for the Religious Affairs Branch of the British Control Commission, were thirty-seven bells from St. Catherine's Church in Danzig. The congregation of St. Catherine's had relocated to Schleswig-Holstein, and hoped to donate their peal to the Marienkirche in Lubeck where they now worshipped. The Marienkirche had lost its bells in the general confiscation. For the MFA&A, however, there was no question of permitting "some particular wave of a displaced minority" to claim thirty-seven bells for a church to which the bells did not belong. (126) After all, the MFA&A argued, the displacement of the Danzig bells and the loss of the Marienkirche bells was a German initiative:
 In our opinion the chime of 37 bells from St. Catherine's
 Danzig should ring out from its original steeple ... In this case
 the disputed bells are now in German territory because
 German forces, occupying the Eastern territories, removed
 them--not for safekeeping, bur for smelting into war
 materiel. (127)


Deaf to the admonishments of the MFA&A, the leaders of the Evangelical Parishes of Danzig were giving voice to a sentiment that was pervasive in postwar Germany: Germans, like their European neighbours, were "victims of a war that Hitler started but everyone lost." (128) The loss of their bells, their expulsion from their eastern homeland, and their displacement within Germany were emblematic of a larger German suffering.

Just as the MFA&A had little sympathy for the Danzig congregations, it was also resistant to the new Cold War-inspired politics of repatriation. After much discussion, it was decided that Polish bells should be returned to their original churches, so long as it could be proven that the buildings were still standing. In a memo to the Foreign Office, the MFA&A stated its case: the military government still had restitutional commitments in Hamburg and, owing to theft and deterioration, it was necessary to return the bells to the places whence they were originally taken. Furthermore, the MFA&A requested that the Foreign Office reconsider its attitude toward the recognition of the Oder-Neisse line and that, with certain safeguards, permission be granted for this cultural property to be immediately transferred. (129)

If the issue of the Danzig bells suggests an antipathy on the part of British MFA&A toward German clergy and their congregations, the question of the return of German church bells to their towers confirms it. During 1946, British officials in Hamburg faced a flurry of appeals from German clergy and faithful for the return of confiscated church bells. The offices of the Military Government, the representatives of the MFA&A division, and officials at the metal depositories themselves were daily confronted with inquiries, petitions, and requests. (130) The standard reply to these requests deserves to be quoted in its entirety:
 Your application for the return of your bells has been received at
 this office. There are many thousands of church bells in Hamburg
 which yet remain to be sorted. A very large number of these bells
 were looted by your fellow countrymen from France, Poland, Belgium,
 etc. Orders have been given that no German bells be restored until
 all these stolen bells have been returned to the Allied countries.
 The great majority of bells pillaged from former German occupied
 territory have been destroyed. 1,554 bells were looted from
 Belgium, and sent to Hamburg. [Only] 785 bells, many broken, now
 remain. 9,229 bells were stolen from Czechoslovakia and sent to
 Hamburg. Only one remains. Every single bell in Holland was
 removed. (131) Today 300 remain in Hamburg. The churches in lands
 formerly overrun by you protested vigorously against these acts of
 sacrilege and robbery, which are among the actions that have made
 the very name of Germany so hated throughout Western Europe. Lives
 were risked and lives were lost in vain efforts to safeguard their
 treasured bells. In Germany itself the Church appears to have shown
 not only complaisance but even zeal in surrendering its bells to
 make weapons of war for devastating the rest of the world. All over
 the rest of Europe, the church towers are now silent as a result of
 your nation's vandalism. Yet in Germany itself, one bell remains in
 every church. To ask for the return of your bells, freely given,
 while so many stolen bells remain yet to be restored, appears to be
 an act of effrontery of which only a German could be capable. In
 your letter you make mention of transport. You may be aware not
 only of the serious lack of food in Germany, but the even more
 serious lack of transport for moving food supplies. Owing to this
 shortage many people especially among the poor will probably die.
 To propose the use of transport for moving such ecclesiastical
 luxuries as church bells appears to be an act of callousness of
 which again only a German could be capable. The partial silence of
 your own church tower may usefully serve as a reminder to the
 parishioners and yourself of your own personal guilt. (132)


Just as the return of German bells to their steeples raised issues of guilt and victimhood, so did decisions concerning bells confiscated from Austria. MFA&A officials in the British Zone followed the policy of withholding the return of German bells until the repatriation of as many foreign bells as possible had been completed, but there was some uncertainty over whether Austrian bells should be considered German--that is, should be treated in the same way as German bells--or treated as loot from an occupied country. This conformed to a larger debate over how Austria's wartime history should be considered. Was Austria the Third Reich's first collaborator or first victim? Austrians in general have chosen to perceive themselves as the latter. The British Control Commission concurred. The final decision regarding Austrian bells, made in August 1946, was that they be treated as "foreign" and repatriated immediately. (133) Shortly after the establishment of Allied Control Austria, facilities were arranged for the return of all dislodged Austrian bells to their towers. Cardinal Innitzer of Vienna negotiated with the Soviet occupation authorities for the return of bells to towers in the Russian zone. (134) One thousand seven hundred fifty bells were released. (135) Since Austrian bells were initially stored with and treated as German bells, however, it became extraordinarily difficult to distinguish them, further complicating restitution efforts. (136)

In the American zone all bells on the ground that belonged to towers in that zone were returned to their churches as soon as they were located. Foreign bells were dealt with concurrently. (137) This approach in the American zone led to some confusion. Thirteen foreign bells (from France, Italy and Yugoslavia) were installed in church towers in a number of Bavarian towns. Whether this was a result of administrative error or the opportunism of parishes whose bells had been destroyed is unclear. These "adopted" bells were allowed to remain in their new towers for Christmas celebrations in 1946, but were then returned to their countries of origin. (138)

Preparations for the return of German bells from the British zone began early in 1946. British authorities called on all German church and municipal leaders with records of removed bells to report to local Military Government offices, from which the information was sent to the Hamburg refineries. The need for a single authority working under the MFA&A, responsible for the bells in the four depositories in Hamburg, and working as a German civilian liaison official, led to the appointment in May 1946 of Friedrich Schilling as custodian of bells in the Hamburg area. In spite of Schilling's efforts, however, five bells were stolen in the period between 8 August 1948 and 8 January 1949. (139) A Foreign Office memo of August 1949 raised the possibility of Allied implication in black-marketeering:
 The bell committee has been endeavoring to trace these
 [stolen bells] and has found several cracked bells. The dealers
 in whose possession they have been found state that these bells
 were bought in all good faith as scrap metal from England.
 This story is very unlikely, but it might be advisable to check
 up with any Metallurgy Branch or agency to find out if, in fact,
 such is a possibility. (140)


Schilling's duties as custodian of bells also included compiling a complete inventory of the remaining bells, including their place of origin, dealing with German requests, and facilitating arrangements for the return of bells. (141) In January 1947, German civilian authorities met with British MFA&A staff in Hamburg to establish the Zweizonen-Ausschuss fur die Ruckfuhrung der deutschen Kirchenglocken, a German civilian body responsible for handling the return of the bells to their towers in the British and American zones. (142) Due to the severe winter and the heavy demands on railway transport, the first shipments were postponed until water transport became available in the spring of 1947. (143) In April, all German bells belonging to the British and American zones were released for repatriation to their church of origin. (144) The release of all bells belonging to the French zone followed in August, after an official French renunciation of reparations claims on German bell metal. (145)

By 1948, all Allied bells, and the majority of German bells that were still intact, had been returned. (146) Now, the question arose of what to do with the bell scrap--broken or damaged bells or fragments of bells--that remained in the Hamburg depositories. In April 1948, the release of bell scrap had been given under the restriction that the metal was to be used only for the purpose of casting new bells. (147) The question of who was entitled to the bell scrap sparked a bitter conflict between the Hamburg refineries and German churches that once again reveals much about postwar German discourses of victimhood. In June 1948, the refineries refused delivery of bell scrap to churches without compensation. (148) A year later, a remnant of 500 tons of bell scrap was still claimed by the refineries and demanded by the churches. Again, British officials were divided. The Religious Affairs Branch of the Military Government not only advocated the return of bell scrap to German churches, but also lamented that churches would not be compensated for the loss of their bells, the destruction of which they saw as an act of religious persecution by a Nazi regime bent on repressing German faithful:
 We learn with surprise and concern that the fragments of
 confiscated Church bells are not considered to fall within General
 order no 10 of the 20th October 1947 [regarding the property of
 persecuted groups] on the ground that "their appropriation by the
 Reich cannot be said to have been prompted by reasons of race,
 nationality, religion or political opinion." We think that the
 contrary is clear from the whole history of the relations between
 the Churches and the NSDAP.... Moreover, the confiscation was
 carried out contrary to the Hague convention and can hardly be
 regarded as only one incident of the collection of metal for war
 purposes. We think it a most exceptional incident and are startled
 to see the whole process described as a proceeding which went on in
 Germany as it did in England.... We are strongly of the opinion ...
 that the fragments of German church bells should be treated in the
 same way as the unbroken bells and all other confiscated church
 property, they should be returned at once to the churches.... It
 would in our view be a very serious matter if the refineries in
 addition to the substantial profits they have made on the
 28,000,000 kilos of bell metal which have been melted down, were to
 be allowed to appropriate these broken fragments. (149)


There is considerable disingenuousness in the claim that "the whole history of the relations between the Churches and the NSDAP" was one of religious persecution. (150) The religious and political beliefs of most German church leaders made their responses to Hitler's regime "ambivalent at best and complicit at worst." (151) Yet German churches experienced enough harassment under Nazism that many Christians came to consider themselves as a kind of opposition group. (152) In the postwar period, therefore, many Church representatives--like other Germans--stressed their own victimhood as a strategy for dealing with the moral, ethical and theological ramifications of the churches' relationship with National Socialism. Some church leaders went further. The theologian Helmut Thielicke, in his Good Friday sermon in 1947, compared the postwar suffering of Germans to Christ on the cross. (153)

The Nazi confiscation of church bells provided an occasion for church leaders to advance a self-exculpatory narrative about the. relationship between National Socialism and the German churches. (154) Among the British MFA&A authorities, however, there was very little sympathy for the churches' case. The same church and municipal authorities who "fell over themselves with enthusiasm" to show their patriotism by donating bells during the war, MFA&A officers argued, "now claim return of the requisitioned scrap material without [making] payment, whereas the refineries who had to compulsorily accept the metal [also] had to pay [for it]."(155) In the conflict between the churches and the refineries, however, legal opinion eventually found in favour of the churches. (156) The bell scrap was ordered to be delivered to German parishes, where it was to be used to make new bells, and the refineries were forced to claim compensation from the government. (157)

VIII. Conclusion

The Foreign Office file on church bells was finally closed in October 1949, bringing an official end to the wartime saga of European bells. (158) The toll of destruction, almost 150,000 instruments, was keenly felt not only by specialists such as Price, or the clergy and faithful of the parishes now deprived of their peals, but much more broadly by the war-torn and traumatized communities of the former Reich and its occupied territories. Also lost in the confiscations were the memories and rituals associated with these bells, and the distinctive auditory landscapes of communities whose cultural heritage was now significantly impoverished. Yet a trace of this lost patrimony remains--not, sadly, of the bells' music but of their inscriptions. The team of German art historians who catalogued the doomed bells during the war also took plaster casts of their ornamentation (see illustration). (159) The majority of these casts were collected by Percival Price and shipped, under the auspices of the Joint Committee on Enemy Science and Technology, to Ottawa, where they are currently in the collection of the Museum of Civilization. Some of these casts were derived from bells that date back to the Renaissance. (160)

This little-known collection of artefacts is our only remaining link to the rich history of Europe's vanished bells. It is also the tangible legacy of the Nazi bell confiscation campaign a metal recovery programme that arose from the aggressive, exploitative, expansionist policies of the Third Reich. The story of Europe's lost bells highlights the impact of those policies within the Reich and in its occupied territories as well as the practical constraints and diplomatic negotiations that shaped them. No less than other legacies of the Nazi period, the aftermath of the bell confiscations proved to be rife with controversy, conflict, and myth-making.

An inscription on the 1486 bell in Schaffhausen Minster was made famous by Schiller in Das Lied von der Glocke. The bell boasts "I call the living, I mourn the dead, I break the lightning." (161) Sadly, thousands of European bells now no longer call their living nor mourn their dead, but were instead broken by the Nazi Blitz.
Appendix
German Wartime Confiscation of Church Bells, 1939-1945

 Prewar (1) Confiscated

Belgium 8,870 5,020
Czechoslovakia (3) 15,000 12,000
France (4) 75000 3,000
Netherlands 9,000 6,500
Poland (5) 32,785 22,500

Austria 7,360 6,675
German 109,000 102500
Italy 25,000 12,000

Total 282,015 170,195
Total excluding France

 Destroyed (2) Destroyed (%)

Belgium 4,220 47.58%
Czechoslovakia (3) 11,440 76.27%
France (4) 1,160 1.55%
Netherlands 4,660 51.78%
Poland (5) 20,800 63.44%

Austria 5,340 72.55%
German 90000 82.57%
Italy 10,435 41.74%

Total 148,055 52.50%
Total excluding France 70.96%

Source: Frank Percival Price, Campanology, Europe 1945-47:
A Report on the Condition of Carillons on the Continent of Europe
as a Result of the Recent War, on the Sequestration and Melting
Down of Bells by the Central Powers, and on Research into the
Tonal Qualities of Bells Made Accessible by War-Time Dislodgement
(Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1948)

(1) Estimated of number of church bells in towers prior to 1939.

(2) This does not include bells destroyed by military action.

(3) These figures primarily represent confiscations in the
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Sudeten bells are excluded.
Confiscations in Slovakia only began in 1944.

(4) These figures represent confiscations in Alsace-Lorraine
which was annexed to the Reich.

(5) These figures represent bell confiscations from the General
Government. Bells from the Warthegau were considered German.


(1) This study was inspired and greatly facilitated by the generosity of Conrad and Nancy Heidenreich. The author would also like to thank two anonymous readers for their feedback on earlier versions of this article.

(2) Under the auspices of the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency, investigators representing sixty different agencies from the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and Norway scrambled to locate German scientific and industrial equipment and expertise for appropriation. See Steven T. Koerner, "Technology transfer from Germany to Canada after 1945: A study in failure?" Comparative Technology Transfer and Society, 2 (2004), pp. 99-124.

(3) JCEST was a branch of the Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee of the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency under the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

(4) Frank Percival Price, a campanologist, carillonneur, and professor of composition at the University of Michigan, was charged by the Inter-Allied Commission on the Wartime Preservation of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas to report on the condition of European bells and to facilitate their repatriation, and by JCEST to conduct scientific experiments on church bells in Hamburg. His report was published: Campanology, Europe 1945-47: A Report on the Condition of Carillons on the Continent of Europe as a Result of the Recent war, on the Sequestration and Melting down of Bells by the Central Powers, and on Research into the Tonal Qualities of Bells made Accessible by War-Time Dislodgment (Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1948).

(5) Price, Campanology, p. 44.

(6) Price, Bells and Man (Oxford, 1983), p. 232. Over 170,000 bells were confiscated. Price, Campanology, p. 143.

(7) Alain Corbin, Village Bells: Sound and Meaning in the Nineteenth Century French Countryside (New York, 1998), p. 8.

(8) Price, Bells and Man, p. 232.

(9) Ibid., p. 119.

(10) Corbin, Village Bells, p. 8.

(11) Ibid., p. 8.

(12) Ibid., p. 9.

(13) The number of bells confiscated in Germany during the First World War is unknown. See Corbin, Village Bells.

(14) Martin Kitchen, Nazi Germany at War (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 1995), p. 39.

(15) Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris (London, 1998), pp. 441-44.

(16) Ibid., p. 444.

(17) Robert O. Paxton, Europe hz the 20th Century (Orlando, Florida, 2002).

(18) Kershaw, Hubris, p. 446.

(19) Alan Milward, The German Economy at War (London, 1965), p. 15.

(20) Milward notes that: "Blitzkrieg was well adjusted to the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of Germany's economy. In any long drawn-out war, especially a war of mass-productive resources, Germany was bound to suffer from her inherent raw material deficiencies. Coal was the only vital raw material essential for war with which Germany was well endowed." Ibid., p. 12.

(21) Report on German Non-Ferrous Metals Industry. PRO, London, United Kingdom. [hereafter cited as PRO], FO 942/346.

(22) PRO, FO 942 346.

(23) According to Price, tin was the principal reason for the removal and smelting of church bells. The alloy used for bell metal is usually approximately 20 per cent tin, and 2 million kilograms of this metal was obtained at the Norddeutsche Affinerie in Hamburg, alone. Percival Price Fonds, National Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa [hereafter cited as PPF], MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32.

(24) PRO, FO 942 346.

(25) PRO, FO 942 346.

(26) Price, Campanology, p. 79. It is likely that these photographs were used for propaganda purposes. Similar photos were taken by the British (See Photo 7314, Imperial War Museum, London)

and the French (See 17 W 21, Archives Departementales de Puy-de-Dome). The Reichstelle would also devote considerable effort to the cataloguing of bells and the casting of bell impressions. See fn 36 below.

(27) Price, Campanology, 124.

(28) Ibid., p. 81.

(29) Memo, Property Control Section, 12 July 1948, PRO, FO 1050 1481. Following this appeal a number of municipal authorities also donated bronze statues to the Reich Metals Board.

(30) Price, Campanology, p. 73.

(31) PRO, FO 1057 152.

(32) The list of D category bells amounted to about 8,300 bells in Germany and Austria. Of these, a number were destroyed by Allied military action; see Price, Campanology, p. 73.

(33) Other depositories were located at Hettstedt, Ilsenberg, Kall, Lunen, Oranienburg, and Wansleben.

(34) Only receipts were given. Price, Campanology, p. 75. It is likely that compensation was derailed by the German defeat.

(35) Custodian for Church Bells and Statues to MFA&A section Hamburg, 6 January 1949, PRO, FO 1057 152. See also Price, Campanology, p. 142.

(36) Upon their arrival at the Hamburg depor, category B and C bells were subject to art historical research. Six art historians affiliated with the Denkmalpflege, the Reich's Department for the Protection of Monuments, were dispatched to inventory and photograph the bells, as well as to take plaster impressions of any inscriptions or ornamentation. The Chief Custodian of Monuments for Germany had an album of photographs documenting class D bells prepared for Goring as a souvenir. A complete inventory of the bells was then compiled. As part of this inventory, each bell was assigned an identification number. From these numbers we know that the largest quantity of Band C bells in Hamburg refineries came from Bavaria; see Price, Campanology, pp. 74, 100.

(37) The Norddeutsche Affinerie had a wartime capacity of 7,500 metric tons of electrolytic cop-. per per month, PRO, FO 943/146.

(38) In Hamburg, bells were stored with Getreidelager Michael and Reinhersteig Holzlager; see Price, Campanology, p. 106.

(39) Ibid., p. 106.

(40) P-D. Muller, H. Umbreit, D. Cook-Radmore and B.R. Broener, (ed. Militargeschichtliches Forshungsamt), Germany and the Second World War: Organization and Mobilization in the German Sphere of Power, Wartime Administration, Economy, and Manpower Resources 1942-1944/5, volume V, number 2 (Oxford, 2003), p. 200.

(41) "1) ... the bronze contained in bells and the copper in buildings [shall] be requisitioned and made immediately available to German armament stocks. 2) All bronze bells are to be declared and relinquished.... 3) Demolition and transportation are to be paid by the Reich. The value of the metal will be reimbursed after the war." "La Requisition des cloches en Lorraine. Verordnungsblatt fur Lothringen, von 29 Dez. 1941." Reproduced in Combat, May 1942. Archives Nationales de France, Paris [hereafter cited as ANF], 78 AJ 2.

(42) 932 bells were removed from Lorraine, 121 were recovered after the war. Approximately 2,000 Alsatian bells were confiscated, with the bulk of removals taking place in Strasbourg and Colmar. Of these 2,000 bells, 1,200 were discovered intact at the end of the war; see Price, Campanology, p. 23. PPF, MUS 133 1.981-31 Box 32.

(43) Price, Campanology, pp. 31-32. The same argument has been made for the lack of any confiscations in Luxemburg and Denmark. The available bell metal was not worth the disruption and discontent confiscations would cause, according to Price, see ibid.

(44) Of 2,096,178 kg of Italian bell metal processed in Germany, 1,245,044 kg of copper was returned to the Ufficio Monopolio Metalli. Of this amount 105,949 kg was sent back to Germany by German forces in Italy; see Price, Campanology, pp. 130-32.

(45) For an investigation of German looting in Italy see Lynn H. Nicholas, The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War (New York, 1994).

(46) Hans Hemmen, Report no. 6 cited in Commission Consultative des Dommages et des Reparations, Dommages subis par la France et l'Union Francaise du fait de la Guerre et de l'Occupation, volume 1 (Paris, 1950).

(47) After the war, some 800 bells were reported still to be concealed on Belgian soil. Lord Methuen, Normandy Diary: being a record of survivals and losses of historical monuments in northwestern France, together with those in the Island of Walcheren and in that part of Belgium traversed by the 21st Army Group in 1944-45 (London, 1952), p. 148.

(48) The dates ascribed to each category of bells in Belgium are quite different than those in Germany. We know from the inventory numbers given to German B and C bells that many of these dated from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, PPF, MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32.

(49) It is possible that the German authorities moved some D bells from tower to tower in order to free up more category A and B bells. In some cases, steel bells were substituted in certain towers to release bronze bells; see Price, Campanology, p. 5.

(50) Price, Campanology, p. 142. Lord Methuen, in his analysis for the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Division of SHAEF, estimates that there were 12,000 bells in Belgium prior to the War. Methuen, Normandy Diary, p. 148.

(51) Price, Campanology, p. 5.

(52) Ibid., p. 39.

(53) Ibid.

(54) Ibid.

(55) Ibid.

(56) The Dutch succeeded in saving their carillons by arguing that they represented the highest expression of Niederdeutsch culture. In May 1942, carillon bells were exempted from confiscation; see ibid., p. 40.

(57) Ibid.

(58) Ibid.

(59) Ibid.

(60) In fact, the percentage of bells destroyed in Belgium and the Netherlands (48 per cent and 52 per cent respectively) is less than in Germany (83 per cent), see Appendix.

(61) After the war, conflict over Dutch church bells continued. Bell founders and historians clashed over the question of melting and refabricating bells in the Netherlands. A number of surviving Dutch bells were broken up and recast to improve their tone. In opposition, Dutch authorities claimed that bells of historic or iconographic value should not be destroyed simply because their tone was poor. Similarly, there was consternation in Belgium when carillon were broken up after the war, their individual bells sent to churches to replace lost ones; see Price, Campanology, p. 45.

(62) Nicholas, Rape of Europe, p. 61.

(63) Ibid.

(64) Ibid., p. 64.

(65) Price, Campanology, p. 98.

(66) Ibid., p. 17. The number of bells removed from the Sudetenland is estimated at 4,600, PRO, FO 1057 79.

(67) In contrast, the first shipments from the Netherlands left in 1942.

(68) Price, Campanology, p. 18.

(69) Ibid. The total number of bells removed from Bohemia and Moravia is estimated at approximately 9,802 bells, PRO, FO 1057 79.

(70) Price, Campanology, p. 109.

(71) Ibid., p. 84.

(72) Ibid.

(73) Ibid., p. 122.

(74) Ibid., p. 119.

(75) PPF, Ottawa, MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32 folder 7.

(76) Price, Campanology, p. 4.

(77) Ibid., p. 30. Seclin is in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, which fell under the jurisdiction of the German Military Administration in Brussels.

(78) Ibid., p. 8

(79) PPF, Ottawa, MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32.

(80) Corbin, Village Bells, p. xi.

(81) Percival Price, "The Bells Came Down: The Story of the Tragic Wartime Fate of Many of the Bells of Europe" The Quarterly Review (Autumn 1948), PPF, MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32.

(82) An inventory of Danish bells was compiled in 1942, but none were removed.

(83) Many date from the-fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, but some are even older. The bell in the parish church of La Selle-en-Cogles (Ille-et-Vilaine) dates from 1439, one in Cintegabelle (Haute-Garonne) from 1432, and a bell in Fougeres (Ille-et-Vilaine) from 1387. Liste d'Objets Classes, Departmental Archives Ille-et-Vilaine, 85 W 12. In Cote-d'Or, a 1943 inventory led to the classification of 85 bells dating from before 1800, bringing to 139 the number of bells in that department protected as historical monuments; see Pierre Quarre, Les Monuments de bronze a Dijon et en Cote-d'Or pendant l 'occupation allemande (1945), p. 6. Archives Departementales de Coted'Or, 1189 W 596.

(84) La Delegation Francaise aupres de la Commission Allemande d'Armistice (Paris, 1959), p. 278.

(85) The Militargeschichtliches Forshungsamt claims that the price of exemption was 14,000 tons of copper and 2,500 tons of tin; see Muller et al., Germany and the Second World War, p. 200.

(86) La Delegation Francaise, p. 278. For more on Vichy's "Bronze Mobilization Campaign" see Kirrily Freeman, "The Battle for Bronzes: The Destruction of French Public Statuary, 1941-1944" (PhD Dissertation, University of Waterloo, 2004); Kirrily Freeman, "Incident in Arles: Regionalism, Resistance and the Case of the Statue of Frederic Mistral," Contemporary European History, 16 (February, 2007); and Elizabeth Karlsgodt, "Recycling French Heroes: The Destruction of Bronze Statues under the Vichy Regime," French Historical Studies, 29 (Winter 2006).

(87) Yvon Bizardel, Sous l'Occupation, Souvenirs d'un conservateur de musee (Paris, 1964), p. 103. Bizardel was not present at this meeting.

(88) Bizardel quoted in Le Monde, January 18, 1964, 7. ANF, 68 AJ 165. Jerome Carcopino, who was present at the meeting, describes it in the vaguest terms in his 1953 memoirs: "to be spared the removal of bells from our churches, the government was forced to accept the toppling of bronze statues and busts in our public squares, though many of these works were deplorable examples of a thoroughly inferior art." Carcopino, Souvenirs de Sept Ans 1937-1944 (Paris, 1953), p. 461.

(89) See Christian Faure, Le Projet Culturel de Vichy (Paris, 1989).

(90) "Our Father, who art our leader, Hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, On earth, so we may live. Give us each day our daily bread. Give France back her life. Let us not fall back into vain dreams and falsehoods, but deliver us from all evil, O Marshal!" Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order (New York, 1972), p. 148.

(91) Ibid., p. 149.

(92) Ibid., p. 153.

(93) Ibid., p. 149.

(94) Price, Campanology, p. 119.

(95) Ibid., p. 72.

(96) Ibid., p. 77.

(97) PPF, MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32 folder 5.

(98) Price, "The Bells Carne Down," PPF, MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32.

(99) In this instance, the payload was dropped by a Canadian plane, PPF, MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32 folder 5.

(100) Price, Campanology, p. 104. In March 1946, a diver retrieved some fragments. Most of the bells on the ship were from Bavaria. Newspaper clipping, nd. PPF, MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32.

(101) Price, Campanology, p. 28.

(102) PPF, MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32 folder 10.

(103) PPF, MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32 folder 5.

(104) Methuen, Normandy Diary, p. 73. For German responses to Allied bombing see section 7 below.

(105) The Kunstschutz was a Wehrmacht unit dedicated to the safeguarding of artwork in Germany and the German occupied territories. An OSS report on Metternich states that he was "universally regarded as having acted at all times with complete integrity and having shown the greatest sense of responsibility for the preservation of works." British Committee on the Preservation and Restitution of Works of Art, Archives, and other Material in Enemy Hands; Works of Art: Losses and Survivals in the War (1946). On Nazi looting see Nicholas, The Rape of Europa; Jonathan Petropoulos, Art as Politics in the Third Reich (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1996).

(106) Methuen, Normandy Diary, p. xvi.

(107) Nicholas, Rape of Europe, p. 233.

(108) Price, Campanology, p. 91. The bells were distributed as follows: Getreidelager Michael-3,890 bells; Norddeutsche Affinerie--1,060 bells; Reihersteig Holzlager--6,000 bells; Zinnwerke Wilhelmsburg--2,050 bells. Additional bells, both German and foreign, were also found in the refinery in Lunen, PRO, FO 1057 169, and depositories in Austria; see Price, Campanology, p. 70.

(109) Survey of the instructions given for the return of the German church bells and bell scrap to the German churches, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(110) Bell scrap and bells damaged by air raids were initially eligible to be melted down and used against reparation claims, PRO, FO 1057 152. See also Price, Campanology, p. 92. This was later repealed in April 1948.

(111) PRO, FO 942 346.

(112) Price, Campanology, p. 27.

(113) Survey of the instructions given for the return of the German church bells and bellscrap to the German churches, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(114) Muller et al., Germany and the Second World War, p. 200. This included 150 Austrian bells, Czechoslovakian, French, Hungarian, and Italian bells, as well as a large quantity of bell scrap. There were also over 1,000 bells confiscated from Poland. About 800 of these bore Polish inscriptions, the rest had Cyrillic, Ukrainian, or Slavonic inscriptions.

(115) PRO, FO 942 263.

(116) PRO, FO 1057 152.

(117) Ibid.

(118) PRO, FO 1057 82.

(119) Price, Campanology, p. 3.

(120) Ibid., p. 45.

(121) PRO, FO 1057 152.

(122) Notes of meeting concerning restitution of church bells and archives, 29 August 1949, Religious affairs branch, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(123) See Robert G. Moeller, "'Germans as Victims? Thoughts on a Post-Cold War History of World War II's Legacies," History & Memory, 17 (2005), p. 147-94, Robert G. Moeller, "Remembering the War in a Nation of Victims: West German Pasts in the 1950s" in Hanna Schissler (ed.), The Miracle Years: A Cultural History of West Germany 1949-1968 (Princeton, 2001) and Ronald Smelser, "The Holocaust in Popular Culture: Master-Narrative and Counter-Narratives in the Gray Zone," in Petropoulos and Roth (eds.) Gray Zones: Ambiguity and Compromise in the Holocaust and its Aftermath (Oxford, 2005), pp. 270-85.

(124) Mr. Kingdon, Evangelical Section. Notes of meeting concerning restitution of church bells and archives, 29 August 1949, Religious Affairs Branch, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(125) Evangelical Consistory-Court to MFA&A Hamburg Re: Return of Church bells from the former Free State of Danzig, January 17 1949, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(126) E.C. Norris, Head of Section, MFA&A, Control Commission for Germany, British Element to Religious Affairs Re: Bells from Danzig, PRO, FO 1050 1481

(127) Ibid.

(128) Moeller, "Remembering the War in a Nation of Victims," p. 86.

(129) These safeguards included the provision that the bells should go back to the church whence they came or to a reconstructed church. If this were not possible then they should be held in custody of the Polish Government pending reconstruction of the church, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(130) Price, Campanology, p. 93. Some of these letters are quite touching many begin by inquiring if their bell is well, PPF, MUS 133 1981-31 Box 32 folder 7.

(131) This is not correct. Like in Germany, each parish church in the Netherlands was permitted to keep one bell in its tower.

(132) Price, Campanology, pp. 93-94. The tone of this form letter elicited a great deal of protest from German clergy.

(133) PRO, FO 942 4353.

(134) Price, Campanology, p. 70.

(135) PPF, Library and Archives Canada MUS 133 1981-31 box 32 Folder 18.

(136) PRO, FO 1057 152.

(137) Price, Campanology, p. 121.

(138) Ibid., p. 121.

(139) PRO, FO 1057 152.

(140) Memo, August 1949, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(141) Price, Campanology, p. 90.

(142) Ibid., p. 110.

(143) Ibid., p. 95.

(144) These were held in four depositories in Hamburg and one in Lunen. The total was about 8,450 bells. The cost of transportation of the bells was borne by the churches to which they were being returned. Survey of the instructions given for the return of the German church bells and bell scrap to the German churches, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(145) Survey of the instructions given for the return of the German church bells and bell scrap to the German churches, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(146) Price, Campanology, p. 94.

(147) The release was to be cancelled if the metal were to be used for any other purpose. Survey of the instructions given for the return of the German church bells and bell scrap to the German churches, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(148) Survey of the instructions given for the return of the German church bells and bell scrap to the German churches. PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(149) Memo, Religious Affairs Branch, 7 May 1949, ibid.

(150) See, for example, Richard Steigmann-Gall The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945 (Cambridge, 2003).

(151) Victoria J. Barnett, "The Creation of Ethical 'Gray Zones' in the German Protestant Church," in Petropoulos and Roth (eds.), Gray Zones, p. 363.

(152) Ibid., p. 364.

(153) Ibid., p. 364.

(154) For other examples of this postwar tendency see Dagmar Herzog, "Pleasure and Evil: Christianity and the Sexualization of Holocaust Memory," in Petropoulos and Roth (eds.) Gray Zones, pp. 147-64.

(155) Memo, Property Control Section, 12 July 1948, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(156) Legal opinion on fragments of church bells, 1 June 1949, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(157) Scrap was apportioned to parishes according to the general confiscations lists of 1942; see Price, Campanology, p. 110. Survey of the instructions given for the return of the German church bells and bell scrap to the German churches, PRO, FO 1050 1481. Legal Advisor, Control Commission for Germany to Religious Affairs Branch, September 1949, PRO, FO 1050 1481.

(158) Ibid.

(159) Each bell cast is marked with an inventory number that records the bell's province and district of origin and its classification (A. B. C or D). Thus, a small has relief of the Madonna and Child in Byzantine style, bearing the inventory number 11/2/84/C (see illustration) reveals that the bell from which the cast was made was the 84th bell taken from the second administrative district in Thuringia (11). The Byzantine style of the ornamentation and the bell's category (C) reveal that this bell was likely cast in the seventeenth century, or before.

(160) PPF, MUS 133 1981-31 box 22.

(161) Price, Bells and Man, p. 128.

Kirrily Freeman is Assistant Professor of History at Saint Mary's University, Halifax. She is the author of Bronzes to Bullets: Vichy and the Destruction of French Public Statuary, 1941-1944 (Stanford University Press, 2009).
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