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Nazi-stolen bell to be returned to its home church in Poland

A 16th century bell that was stolen by the Nazis during World War II from a Catholic church in southern Poland will be returned to its home church.

The Nazis melted down more than 80,000 church bells to produce weaponry during World War II.

The Munster Diocese said that parishioners of St Catherine’s parish in the Polish town of Slawiecice have been searching for it for two years.  

The bell weights 400kg and had been sitting alongside two other bells in the courtyard of a church belonging to the Munster Diocese in Germany. It was tracked down by the Polish church’s pastor, Marian Bednarek.

Although the bell will be sent to Poland, it will technically be on permanent loan as it will continue to be owned by the German government.

As many as 1,300 bells that had been stolen in Eastern European territories like Poland were kept in a bell cemetery in Hamburg after the war.

However, St Catherine’s church will have to wait a bit longer as the bell cannot be sent immediately due to the pandemic. Speaking the Catholic Church in Münster, former resident of Slawiecice, Hans Manek said: "After 77 years, waiting another month or so doesn't really matter.”

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