Femen activist fined for topless church stunt

A 22-year-old woman has been fined €600 after she jumped naked onto the altar of Cologne Cathedral during Christmas midnight mass in 2013.

Femen activist fined for topless church stunt
Photo: DPA

Josephine Witt was sentenced on Tuesday on a charge of disruption of religious practise. In December 21014 the court had ordered her to pay a €1,200 fine, but she fought back with an appeal.

Witt’s action was part of a protest by the feminist group Femen, which attracts attention to its cause by writing messages across the bare chests of its activists and having them appear in public places.

As she jumped into the altar, the dentistry student from Hamburg was dressed only in underwear and had the words ‘I am God’ written across her chest.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung she shouted ‘Equality’ before being pulled from the altar by a couple of nearby churchgoers.

In a video of the incident one man can be seen approaching her and cuffing her around the ear.

In front of the court, Witte said that she had not come to show remorse, explaining that her protest was against the treatment of women in the Catholic church and the attitude of the Cardinal of Cologne cathedral towards abortion.

She stated that she no longer protests topless but added “I am not ashamed of what I did.”

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Ancient Jewish settlement to be brought back to life in Cologne

No city north of the Alps has been home to Jews for as long as the Roman settlement of Cologne. A recently discovered Jewish quarter is now being brought back to life.

Ancient Jewish settlement to be brought back to life in Cologne
The site of the construction in Cologne. Photo: DPA

If you are a tourist walking through the centre of Cologne, sooner rather than later, you'll come across a construction site located in the very best position, in the middle of the town hall square.

At the beginning of this millennium, the people of Cologne dug into the earth directly in front of their historic city hall and found a treasure from another millennium: the Jewish quarter.

Complete with a dance hall, a hospital, a bakery and a synagogue, the quarter contains the ruins of a settlement from the Middle Ages. It is a city within a city, a miniature world of houses huddled together. 

Of course, all that is left is ruins – one needs a bit of imagination to picture how the whole thing once looked. But experts from Germany and abroad agree: there's nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

Ancient tradition

No other German city has been associated with Jewish history for so long as Cologne. 

The first documented Jewish community dates back to the year 321, making it the oldest north of the Alps. 

But in 1349, the neighbourhood was destroyed and its inhabitants were murdered or expelled. Local Christians blamed Jews for the outbreak of the plague.

Currently, a museum is being built over the site on the town hall square. It will be a parallel world underground: visitors will be able to relive life in the Jewish quarter in the era of knights and minstrels on a 600-meter-long trail. The trail also visits the governor's palace from Roman times, which was rediscovered in the 1950s. 

The museum is called MiQua after the name for the Jewish ritual bath, Mikveh.

Exhibits will include artifacts found during the excavations; among them is a crescent-shaped, gem-set gold earring from the 11th century. 

The researchers also discovered a tablet dating back to the Middle Ages with the inscription “yt in ys neyt anders.” This could be translated as “Et is wie et is” (It is as it is) – a classic Cologne saying. 

The museum is scheduled to open in 2024, but through the panorama windows on the third floor of the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, also located on Rathausplatz, one can already follow the progress of construction work.

This year Jewish life will be celebrated across the country – the anniversary year '1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany' will be celebrated nationwide. 

Hamburg is organising a themed week entitled 'More than Little Jerusalem'; in Nuremberg the photo exhibition 'Germany's Emigrants' will be opened; and in Herxheim in Rhineland-Palatinate the play Judas by Lot Vekemans will be staged.

READ MORE: 9 hilarious gifts Judaism gave the German language