Cologne Cathedral and 'The Jews'-The west portal window

Cologne Cathedral's west portal window, which was made between 1865 and 1870, was donated by the Prussian Crown Prince and later German Emperor Frederick III and his wife, Victoria.

This window was designed by the Lübeck painter, drawing master and restorer Julius Milde. During the Second World War, all the panes (with the exception of the glass in the tracery) were removed. The restored and reconstructed window was re-installed in 1993.

The theme of this window is the Last Judgement. The large panels beneath the portrayal of the Holy Trinity in the tracery are reminiscent of an illustrated Bible. The window features nine scenes from both the Old and the New Testament that stand for good and bad deeds that lead either to salvation or to damnation. Milde includes Jesus' betrayal by Judas Iscariot as one of the deeds that leads to damnation. The image features a chief priest counting out the 30 pieces of silver for Judas (Matt. 26: 14–16). At the bottom of the image are the words from the Gospel of Matthew 'What will you give me if I betray him to you?' (Matt. 26: 15). There are a number of anti-Jewish clichés in the image as a whole and in the features of both the chief priests and Judas. Judas, for example, is portrayed with red hair and a beard, a prominent nose, yellow cloak and clutching a large money-bag—a type that emerged in the twelfth century and featured widely in art, Passion plays, and Good Friday processions until well into the twentieth century. In line with medieval dress codes, the yellow garments indicate that this figure is of the Jewish faith. The pieces of silver, the money-bag and the inscription all emphasise that greed was the base motive for the betrayal and, in so doing, perpetuate anti-Semitic prejudices. The portrayal of the chief priest paying for the betrayal also summons up associations with the conspiracy theory of the supposed monetary power of Judaism, which has been widespread since the eighteenth century.
Matthias Deml

KulturstiftungDombau Verein