German archaeologist who ripped perceived anti-Semitic attitudes fighting demotion


BERLIN (JTA) — An archaeologist who said anti-Semitism fueled opposition to the opening of a Jewish museum in Cologne filed an injunction to stop his demotion.

An attorney for Sven Schutte, 60, who was removed from his position as head of the Archeological Zone/Jewish Museum project, told JTA on Friday that he submitted an application to the Cologne Administrative Court for an injunction against the demotion and the reinstatement of Schutte.

The attorney, Hubert Minz, said the decision could take weeks.

Cologne Mayor Jurgen Roters removed Schutte from his post on April 10, days after Schutte told the Israeli daily Haaretz that anti-Semitic attitudes likely played a role in opposition to the city’s future Jewish museum, scheduled to open in 2017. He was assigned to evaluating the results of excavations at a commuter railway station.

The city gave Schutte four weeks to respond to a disciplinary proceeding, but declined to reveal the nature of the complaint against him. However, city officials reportedly were upset by Schutte’s insinuations of anti-Semitism among opponents of the project.

Schutte has declined to comment on the affair but referred JTA to his former deputy, Marianne Gechter, who told JTA that in the six years that Schutte has worked on the excavation project, several sensational discoveries were made, including remnants of a 14th century synagogue and mikvah.

Open opposition to the excavation project reportedly has centered around the use of some $68 million in public funding and the location of the archaeological dig in the center of Cologne.

Schutte told Haaretz that some critics "think it would be more appropriate to build a nice plaza here rather than a Jewish museum,” adding that the opponents “are not neo-Nazis, just foolish people who do not understand history.

Marcus Trier, the head of Cologne’s Romano-German Museum, has taken Schutte’s place.

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