In a vote on Monday night, the local council (authority) in a small southwestern German village decided by 10 votes to 3 that a Nazi-era bell — complete with the inscription "Everything for the Fatherland - Adolf Hitler" — should continue to hang in the local church.

The parish council of Herxheim argued that the Nazi-era bronze bell acted as a reminder for the nation's dark past.

The 10-3 vote on Monday rejected an offer to remove and replace the bell by the Protestant Church of St James.

Some parishioners were alarmed to find they had been married or had baptized their children under the "Hitler bell".

The local parish council said the Nazi-era relic, which has hung in the church since 1934, should stay as "an impetus for reconciliation and a memorial against violence and injustice".

However, a study concluded removing it would be akin to “fleeing from an appropriate culture of remembrance” and recommended either leaving it in place with an explanatory plaque or putting it in a museum.

The council rejected calls by some residents for the bell to be dismantled or put in a museum. They also turned down an offer by the local.

A memorial pointing to the controversial 240 kg (530 pounds) bell's history will now be fixed on the 1,000-year-old heritage-listed church, the Jakobskirche.

Herxheim am Berg, in southwest Germany, has repeatedly found itself in the media spotlight since a former church organist complained about the bell's inscription.

Until then its history had been largely unknown, and the bell had rung out every quarter of an hour.

The argument over the bell’s placement has stirred a debate on how the country should handle Nazi monuments and symbols in modern times.

Some village residents were concerned that the reputation of the church could be harmed if the bell is kept.

Other community members applauded Monday after the council ruled to keep the bell.

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