Kontroverser om kalkmalerier i Burkal kirke i 1945
Controversies concerning restoration work in Burkal Church in 1945
In February 1945, when Denmark had been occupied by Nazi-Germany for nearly five years, the medieval church in Burkal, located some five kilometres north of the Danish-German border, was undergoing renovation. The parish was split evenly between Danes and Germans, with both a Danish and a German priest serving the church community. Tensions between the two sides had been simmering for years and all eyes now turned to the 17th century wall paintings in the chancel, which depicted angels carrying inscriptions written in German. The Germans wanted the decoration restored, while the Danes wanted it destroyed. They sought the advice of Egmont Lind, a conservator from the National Museum, but he arrived late and dishevelled due to an arduous journey triggering a lack of confidence and complaint to the National Museum. The subsequent crisis was averted with the decision to remove the 17th century wall paintings so that the German texts would not insult the Danish population. Contributing to the crisis was the fact that the church had already engaged a notoriously unreliable painter who had been fired from the National Museum twenty years earlier due to indecent behaviour. Luckily, it turned out that there was a fine Gothic ornamental decoration underneath, and this decoration can be seen in the church today. Thus, a decoration that evoked common historical roots emerged from beneath the nationally contentious painting, and this can be viewed as symbolic for the subsequent successful cultivation of regional culture in the border area between Denmark and Germany.