Bishop Meiser – wearable as a name giver for a street? – District of Munich

“There is no such thing as a destitute Jew earning his living by manual labor. He becomes a trader, merchant, speculator… The restless zeal of the Jews, their tenacious perseverance in the pursuit of their goals, their virtuosity in grasping the economic situation and their Adaptability to the situation at hand, but also the ruthlessness and unscrupulousness of their business principles, bring them the desired success wherever we look.An ever-increasing part of the national wealth falls into their hands.It is no exaggeration to say that they take the lion’s share secured our national wealth.” What reads like an excerpt from a Nazi publication was published in the Nuremberg Evangelisches Gemeindeblatt in 1926. Author: Hans Meiser, from 1933 to 1945 first regional bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria.

His political stance during the Nazi era has long been the subject of intensive commemorative and academic debates in many towns and communities in the Federal Republic, including Pullach, where the municipal council once again dealt with the question of whether the Bishop Meiser-Strasse is to be renamed locally, as has already happened in Nuremberg, Munich and three weeks ago in Bayreuth. A debate that is as emotional as it is controversial can be expected.

The initiative for renaming the street came from the Pullach History Forum, which submitted a corresponding application to the Pullach municipal council in April 2021. What initially appeared to be a formality subsequently developed into a sometimes fierce debate about the correct form of processing, especially after a vote planned for November had been postponed. The reason for this was a rethinking of the two-member SPD parliamentary group, which pointed out the ambivalence in the life of Hans Meiser and after intensively examining the topic, as Holger Ptacek explained, came to the conclusion that Bishop Meiser was not a racist anti-Semite, which is also shown by the fact that the Nazis described him as a friend of the Jews and defamed him as a traitor.

Dismay at the swing of the SPD

At the time, the chairwoman of the Pullach History Forum, Angelika Bahl-Benker, was appalled by the change of direction in the SPD parliamentary group. What is to be voted on this Tuesday does not make her happy, nor does the point in time when the topic pops up again in the municipal council. In fact, in February, the municipal council postponed the decision on a possible renaming of Bischof-Meiser-Strasse in Pullach to July in order to have time to obtain further information and exchange arguments.

Now, however, the topic is back on the agenda in the May session, and a motion is to be voted on by the second mayor Andreas Most (Pullach plus), who is currently representing the town hall chief Susanna Millennium (Greens), who is on vacation, “suddenly and surprisingly very quickly” on the agenda, as Bahl-Benker says. In addition to Holger Ptacek, the applicants are the Green Councilor Renate Grasse and Andreas Most himself. The content of the application: Not just a street renaming, but first of all a series of measures “to bring the debate about the namesake of Bischof-Meiser-Straße as an ambivalent historical person alive to hold and to establish”.

For example, information boards on Bischof-Meiser-Straße are to provide critical and balanced information about the life and work of the bishop, and the historian Nora Schulze, author of the biography: “Hans Meiser, Lutheraner – Subject – Opponent” should be commissioned to do so. In addition, information events about the life and work of Meiser are to be supported by the administration until the time of the vote. These measures are to be seen independently of a later decision on renaming or retaining the street name. As far as information events are concerned, the history forum is open, Angelika Bahl-Benker already let the three applicants know. However, it would not be expedient if this were limited to “only offering Mrs. Nora Schulze a forum for her (benevolent) view of Hans Meiser and negative attitude towards renaming the street”. There are recognized scientists who have a different view of Hans Meiser.

In the opinion of the history forum, facts should be created with the application initiative. “If this is linked to the hope that the discussion on the ‘main thing’ and thus the public debate could be superfluous, we have to disappoint you,” says a letter from the board members of the history forum to Most, Ptacek and Grasse. In any case, they will not withdraw their application.

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