To commemorate this year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation, popular German toy maker Playmobil released a 3-inch plastic toy of Martin Luther in 2015, but despite its good intentions, a seemingly minor detail on the figure has Micha Brumlik, a respected Jewish commentator in Germany, calling the toy anti-semitic.
The problem? Brumlik has taken issue with the words laid out on the toy’s bible: “Books of the Old Testament. END.” on the left and “The New Testament, translated by Doctor Martin Luther.” written on the right. In his view, the prominently written “END” implies “that the ‘Old Testament’ and its validity should be seen as ended and superseded.”
Brumlik’s aversion to the toy has not fallen on deaf ears since he made the claim last June. The regional Protestant church in Hesse and Nassau has since put their support around his claim, calling Playmobil’s use of words easy to misunderstand. A group of progressive theologians also wrote an open letter criticizing the choice of words at a time “in which anti-Jewish views are again on the rise.”
Despite the controversy, the Martin Luther toy has seen sales exceed 500,000, making it Playmobil’s most popular item since the company got started in 1974.