’Truth must be repeated constantly, because error is being repeatedly preached round about all the time, and not just by a few, but by the masses. In the periodicals and encyclopaedias, in schools and universities, everywhere error prevails, being confident and comfortable in the feeling that it has the majority on its side.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. (1)
Despite the devastating corona virus epidemic in recent weeks, one topic regarding the controversial Humboldt Forum retained my attention: the golden Christian cross put on top of the Humboldt Forum building in Berlin, Germany.
As readers may know, this expensive 750million Euros museum has faced many problems in the past and thus has been forced to postpone the official reopening from 2018 to 2021.
Right from the beginning, there were objections to demolishing the Palast der Republik which had been built by the former State of the German Democratic State in the location of the former City Palace of the Hohenzollern Monarchy that had been severely damaged by Allied bombing in the last world war. When the German Democratic Republic fell, a united Germany, mainly under leadership of West Germany, took control of the area that had served previously as the seat of the autocratic Hohernzollern monarchy. The Prussian monarchy obtained wealth from the notorious slave trade of Africans.
Fort Gross Friedrichsburg,Ghana (previously Gold Coast), used by the Prussian Hohenzollern monarchy to transport thousands of African slaves across the Atlantic.
As soon as it was decided to install at that location a museum which would receive looted African and Asian artefacts from the Ethnological Museum, Dahlem, Berlin, massive criticism came from the German public, especially the German youth united in the protest NGO No Humboldt 21. They objected to transferring looted artefacts of others to the new museum. A leading member of the International Expert Advisory Board of the Humboldt, Prof.Bénédicte Savoy, professor at Collège de France, Paris and at the Technical University of Berlin, resigned from the board on the ground there was insufficient provenance research on the acquisition of the looted artefacts. (2)
Surviving Herero returning from Omaheke Desert where they had been driven by German troops after the Battle at Waterberg; two women in front were unable to stand.
The Humboldt Foundation has been plagued with faulty installations, fire and now with the Corona pandemic, activities on site have been delayed. It has not been an auspicious period for the expensive new museum. Superstitious minds might be tempted to think that the museum has been accursed. They may even assume that the gods are against the idea of the museum but which gods, powerful African, Asian gods represented by some of the looted artefacts or home-grown Teutonic deities? But why only the Humboldt Forum and not the British Museum or the Musée de Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac? It should be noted though that the other museums were built in a period in which European public opinion was not wholly against the holding of looted colonial artefacts. In our times however, it has been generally accepted by all, including officials of the Humboldt Foundation, that it is morally wrong to hold on to looted colonial artefacts. The recent German Guidelines for handling looted colonial artefacts said so much. The French report on restitution, the Sarr-Savoy report, recommended restitution of colonial artefacts taken forcibly or without the consent of African owners. The Dutch have issued new rules concerning restitution. Even the British,traditionally known for their looting of artefacts from Africa and Asia, and their reluctance to restitute or even to discuss restitution, are making attempts to present a more accommodating approach. The Humboldt Forum is thus the only new major museum that is stubbornly holding onto looted African artefacts despite all criticisms and seems bent to defy all opinions to the contrary. Can such an attitude attract sympathy from the gods and other observers?
e Laterne mit dem Kreuz für die Kuppel des Berliner Stadtschlosses (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen)
The golden Humboldt Forum Christian cross before it was placed on the dome, Berlin, Germany.
Now that the castle has a dome of 70 metres high on which a huge golden Christian cross 5 meters high, with angels, has been placed on 29 May 2020, with biblical injunctions devised by King Friederich Wilhelm IV, in golden letters with blue background, urging that we all submit to Christianity, it becomes clear that the proponents of the Humboldt Forum do not respect all religions equally.
The original text from the king combined from two biblical citations from Acts 4.12 and Philippians 2.9 reads: "There is no other salvation, there is no other name given to men, but the name of Jesus, in honour of the Father, that in the name of Jesus all of them that are in heaven and on earth and under the earth should bow down on their knees."
African religions are clearly excluded here by a museum which pretends to accept diversity of cultures. African and Asian gods cannot be expected to be satisfied with this situation and followers of African and Asian traditional religions would rightly conclude that the ultra-modern museum is falling back on prejudices of 19th century anthropologists. The makers of the Humboldt Forum do not seem to be aware of the role of the Christian religion in the oppression, despoliation of Africans, considered as heathen to be converted with arms and force where necessary following the instructions given by the European Christian authorities. Christianity and the Christian missionaries were handmaidens of European imperialism and colonialism.
Gold inscription on blue background urging all to convert to Christianity. Is that an invitation to diversity and freedom of religion?
We are amazed and alarmed that in this 21st century in which we have had a lot of religious conflicts even in areas where there had previously not been such problems, a museum that allegedly aims at reflecting the diversity of cultures and traditions in the world, puts on its new building an obviously Christian symbol such as a cross. Is this compatible with mission the museum has assigned itself? The museum is just inviting strife, confrontations and more, especially since the museum itself illegally holds artefacts of conquered peoples with different religions. Are the Humboldt Forum authorities aware of the role of the monotheistic religions in history and in contemporary times? Do they realize that the pretence to monopoly of revelation and the corresponding missionary zeal have not been strangers to many strives in the past as in the present? The Humboldt Forum is inviting conflicts within and outside its walls. None of the justifications advanced for placing a Christian cross on the Humboldt building is convincing nor are we reassured by this declaration by Culture Minister Grütters:
“With the now completed reconstruction of the cupola, a further milestone has been reached in the rebuilding of the Berlin Palace. The accompanying cross is a striking landmark – and invites discussion. In Christianity, the symbol of the cross stands for charity, freedom, open-mindedness and tolerance. Exactly these are also the fundamental values of the Humboldt Forum. As a communication forum, it will facilitate a dialogue between the cultures of the world on equal terms. The cross can therefore also be seen as an invitation to get to know the various cultures that will be at home in the Humboldt Forum’. (3)
Even before the Humboldt Foundation is formally opened, it is ascribed qualities that are said to be also Christian qualities. What should one believe? It is like ascribing to a baby the alleged characteristics of her parents or their religion or culture before it has been born. These alleged Christian qualities of charity, freedom, open-mindedness and tolerance are not necessarily associated with Christianity in Africa and Asia, and are definitely not associated with German colonization in Namibia and elsewhere where German rule led to racial discrimination, confiscations, massacres and genocide. Ask the Namibians.
Humboldt Forum with a golden Christian cross,Berlin,Germany. Must we all convert to Christianity as requested by religious inscription in gold on blue background?
It does not help much to argue that one is here only concerned with architectural fidelity in the reconstruction of a previous castle. Most people will see in the huge golden cross, on top of the dome, a religious symbol,more important than any architectural aesthetics or considerations. It is true though that desacralization of religious objects has gone very far in some cultures so as to enable individuals to contemplate religious objects without assigning them any religious significance but the majority of mankind has not reached that stage and is not striving to attain such a stage. The makers of the Humboldt Forum are clearly laying foundations for future strife and confusion, thus reducing whatever cultural understanding they aim at. A project of this nature should surely not cultivate religious dissensions. Or does the leadership of this museum not care about the religious feelings of the majority of visitors to Berlin?
German soldiers loading human skulls and bones of massacred Hereros into a casket for shipping to German universities, especially, Berlin
German soldiers loading human skulls and bones of massacred Herero into a casket for shipping to German universities, especially, Berlin. These human remains have not yet been returned.
It would beinteresting to know what the Church leaders in Berlin think of this use or abuse of the Christian cross on a building that many regard as a citadel of looted artefacts of other peoples. Are they not worried by the fact that this allegedly non-religious use of the cross is only a few steps, 5 minutes from the Berlin cathedral which also has a dome and a cross. What are African Christians whose looted cultural artefacts are among objects in a building that is now sanctified by a huge golden cross to do or think? Rabbi Andreas Nachama has called on Catholic and Protestant bishops to urge deletion of the quotation from the Prussian king. (4)
The Mayor of Berlin and Culture Senator of Berlin State, Klaus Lederer has stated “The cross and inscription on the cupola are a ‘heading’ above the Humboldt Forum that sends out the wrong signal, in my opinion. The cross is unequivocally a religious symbol; its contents are clearly defined. Its monopoly goes against almost everything that we want to do with the Humboldt Forum: show how ambiguous, diverse, intertwined, wider and deeper our roots really are, absolutely in the spirit of the name-givers, in the spirit of humanism and enlightenment – and the equality of all people and cultures.” (5)
What should one make of this comment in the Irish Times of June 3, 2020 ?
In a deft move, Humboldt Forum codirector Neil MacGregor has embraced the cross row as an allegory for the new museum’s mission: to spark debate over whether Europe’s old traditions can be reconciled with a new global culture.
“This contradiction is its strength,” said Mr MacGregor and two fellow directors of their institution in Tuesday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine daily.’ (6)
Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, Goddess of Compassion, China, now in Humboldt Forum/Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin, Germany. Could she have been put on top of the Humboldt Forum "
Aiman Mazyek, President of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD), did not seem to be bothered by the golden cross:
“The cross on top of the cupola is part of the cultural and historical legacy, and it does not bother me, particularly as this context should not be veiled or obsessively suppressed. If you want to underline the equality of the religions with future worldly buildings, you could include the symbols of all three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. (7)
Professor Jürgen Zimmerer, a leading authority on German colonial rule in Africa at the University of Hamburg does not approve of the cross on the Humboldt Forum:
“The reconstruction of the Berlin palace also means that certain aspects of Berlin’s history, of Germany’s history, are being erased: the Second World War and the destruction it brought, the divided Germany and, not least, the GDR.
The identity forming aspects referenced by the reconstruction, on the other hand, are Prussia, the monarchy, and the time before the devastating impact of two world wars that were mainly provoked by Berlin/Germany, the time before the Holocaust. In this context, the cross also stands for the Hohenzollern’s divine right, and therefore for an undemocratic system, for a universal claim to rule. This rule was legitimised by a Christian bedrock, which in turn was thereby given the normative social authority. (8)
The Left Party’s spokesperson on cultural affairs Sigrid Hupach, told Die Welt that the cross went against the government's own declared intention to establish "a museum of a new kind for the whole world community."
"It is meant to be a public building in which all feel welcome. But how is such an open dialogue of cultures to succeed when a cross on top of the dome already establishes the direction? I think this kind of hierarchization of cultures and religions is absurd." (9)
After reading the documentation on the golden cross debate, especially the material provided by the Humboldt Forum, it becomes very clear that what the Forum describes as ‘chief symbol of Christianity’ has been chosen with full awareness of its implications even though some implications might be denied on tactical and diplomatic grounds. It is also clear that they welcome possible controversies since the Forum, gripped with disputes from its very beginning, is making debates and controversies its trademark and defence against all. One sometimes wonders whether it was necessary to build a 750Million Euro in order to raise debates which were already there.
When it is suggested that looted African artefacts should be returned, they have a ready response. This matter will be debated in the Humboldt Forum. If you suggest that a Christian cross on top of the Humboldt Forum will cause debates and disputes, they have a ready answer: precisely such matters will be discussed in the Humboldt Forum that is par excellence the place for such issues. If you point out the contradictions between the stated aims of the Foundation and an element such as the cross, you receive this answer:
’ These building elements, including the ambiguity and the circumstances surrounding their creation, are basically part of the Humboldt Forum’s DNA. What is important is transparency, contextualisation and communication’ (10)
Thus, these senior officials are refusing to take principled position on any issue, including matters on which they may have more information and are best qualified to express views. With this attitude, you win every argument simply by refusing to take a position. Can society in the long run accept such an attitude?
By refusing to take principled positions, one reserves the freedom to take any decision without being obliged to present principled explanations. It comes then as no surprise when we read that there is a dedication below the cross to the deceased husband of one of the benefactors of Humboldt Forum who was a businessman. Capitalism, Christianity, and racism often go together but this relationship has seldom been so drastically displayed as in the case of the Humboldt Forum gold cross.
It seems that for the management of the Humboldt Forum, discussing a controversial issue is already a solution.
We know now for sure that the god of Humboldt Forum is not among the many looted artefacts in the museum but high in the firmament, on top of the dome. Just as colonialists robbed Africans of our lands, natural resources, and artefacts as the missionaries asked us to look up to the heavens; the colonialists took care of the earthly and worldly objects. The cross in the sky draws our attention to the Christian religion whilst Humboldt Forum on earth detains illegally our artefacts and refuses to obey the most elementary religious injunction in the Christian Bible, in the Ten Commandments: Thou shall not steal.
The cross is the outward symbol of Christianity. Could the Humboldt Forum display some of the substantial inner values that it is supposed to possess or at least display an inkling towards those values?
Could the Humboldt Forum initiate steps towards rendering apology for the horrendous atrocities committed under German colonial rule, often under the banner of Christianity, and apologize for the genocide of the Herero and Nama? That apology must be preceded by repenting and asking for forgiveness in the sense of Our Father, as Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, then Minister for International Cooperation and Development had tried to do and was bitterly criticised in Germany? (11) It seems Germany finds it easy to apologize for the atrocities against Europeans in Europe but not to Africans in Africa. It is almost as if the horrendous crimes against Africans were nothing serious.
The Christian values that are said to be also the values of the Humboldt Forum i.e.’ charity, freedom, open-mindedness and tolerance’ would imply e.g. the restitution of at least 200 of the 500 of the looted Benin artefacts that are under the control of the Forum. These values are not cheap and imply some concessions but so far, we see no sign that there is serious intention to move in this direction. Those values would also imply immediate cessation of mendacious and insulting arguments against Africans whenever the issue of restitution of looted artefacts is raised. Uncharitable propositions such as offering short-term loans of Benin artefacts to Nigerians do not conform to the high values attributed by the Minister of Culture to the Humboldt Forum.
Could the addition of a religious symbol like the Christian cross be part of an attempt to stem off present or impending menacing disaster just as some societies offer sacrifices when faced with danger or too much adversity? Or is the cross the first measure in an attempt at a Reconquista of Berlin and later, the whole of German by a religious group that sees Berlin as having moved too far away from the Christian religion?
It would seem to us that the insertion of a Christian cross on the Humboldt Forum building and the inscription that we must all submit to Christianity is a violation of the Basic Law of Germany that guarantees freedom of religion conscience and freedom in its article 4, section 1. To subject, for example, Africans visiting Humboldt Forum to see their looted artefacts to a requirement to acknowledge any particular religion is a violation of their fundamental human right as provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its article 8: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.’ A building such as the Humboldt Forum that is presented as a cultural centre encouraging cultural diversity should not oblige us to think of religion at all before entering the building to see our artefacts unless this is a general practice in most cultural centres.
It would appear to many persons that the idea of rebuilding an old imperial castle was directly motivated by a desire to reconnect with a monarchical past when Germany was dominant and the addition of Christian cross and angels, plus injunction to convert to Christianism, was linked to the colonial past when the conversion of heathens offered a very useful and convenient pretext for exploitation of Africa and Asia. The founders of the Humboldt Forum have shown by the installation of the Christian cross that they do not really care about the religious feelings of those Africans and Asians whose cultural artefacts now come under a religious symbol that was also used to subjugate them and make them amenable to colonial ideology.
Byeri, guardian of ancestral relics, Republic of Congo, now in Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin, Germany.
Of all the strange things that have happened at the Humboldt Forum, the strangest of all is the erection of a golden Christian cross on the building with the inscription that urges us to kneel before Jesus and thus convert to Christianity. It would be difficult to disagree with this statement from Nikolaus Bernau:
‘There could hardly be a more abrasive way to symbolise Christianity’ presumption to rule over predominantly non-Christian cultures. The comment that “the cross is a symbol for the universal message of Christianity” (Cornelia Seibeld, CDU) is true. However, under this symbol, millions of people in America, Africa and Asia were suppressed, murdered, enslaved and exploited, their cultures and their belief systems attacked. The cross above the Humboldt Forum is pointing them in a fundamentally wrong direction’. (12)
In an article about Alexander von Humboldt entitled Godless revolutionary: the life and work of Alexander von Humboldt we read as follows:
The forms of Christianity he witnesses in his travels caused him to despise its practice in the colonies. In a letter from Peru, in 1802, he described graphically the appalling cruelties carried out by Catholic missionaries in Latin America: ‘the present missionaries are a class of people who under the guise of helping the Indios, forcefully take their possessions and make them believe it a sin to complain about it. No religion preaches immorality,’ he admitted, ‘but what is certain is that of all existing ones the Christian religion is the one under whose mask people are made the most unhappy. The Indios are treated like the Africans: if they are not exactly beaten to death, it’s said, they are living well.’ (13)
Would the Humboldt brothers have approved a religious inscription urging those who enter the Humboldt Forum to submit to Christianity?
It is not surprising that many persons are calling for the dismantling of this golden cross on the Humboldt Forum and the removal of the religious or biblical inscriptions of the German Kaiser from the cupola. (14)
Writing this article has shown me aspects of intellectual work that had not been too obvious in all the debates on the Humboldt Forum project since its inception. I learnt that there are perfectly normal intellectuals who are prepared to present arguments and ‘facts’ they must know to be unsustainable; that there are some who are convinced that by the virtue of their strong reputations or high positions they can convince the rest of the world of whatever position they approve of. Thus, we have persons trying to persuade us that the Christian cross is not a religious symbol in the context of the Humboldt Forum but simply a reflection of German culture. They do not explain why the other well-known crosses in German culture were not put on the Humboldt Forum building. They manage to argue that the cross has no religious significance. This is the first time I have heard anybody, for that matter Christians, argue that the Christian cross has no religious significance and that it should not bother others of different faiths who may have business with the Forum. How far are people willing to reduce the importance of the symbols of their own religion?
We need explanation why Europeans sometimes bring their looted objects to holy or semi-holy places. Is it their way of saying ‘thank you, to the deity for having assisted them in their adventures to steal artefacts and other objects belonging to other non-European peoples, a sort of thanksgiving for protection that enabled them to meet, conquer and steal? Or is this a form of penitence for their having gone against elementary rules of morality and religion, for having exercised violence against peoples living in their own countries that had never seen Europeans before the disastrous and fatal first encounter? The British, for example, hide in Westminster Abbey a tabot from the British invasion of Ethiopia in 1868. Was this to pacify their god? (15) And why do we have so many looted African and Asian artefacts in the Vatican Museum of Ethnology? (16)
Why do the Humboldt people want a Christian cross over thousands of looted African and Asian artefacts they inherited from the Ethnology Museum, Berlin? Is this thanksgiving, Erntedankfest? They may have waited for very long, but they are bringing massive amounts of artefacts that should please even the most exigent deity or deities. Could it also perhaps be a sacrifice to avert disasters or other untold crises in future, a sort of insurance? Someone can explain the relationships between the looted artefacts and the striking gold cross on Humboldt Forum. It is not normal to bring stolen objects to a place of god or place associated with the Christian cross. Is it an acknowledgement of what some say explicitly or implicitly that Europeans have a God-given duty or obligation to keep African artefacts for mankind?
Are those in favour of the of putting a cross in the Humboldt Forum fairly well informed about the nature of the African and Asian objects in the museum? Are they aware of the violence employed in wrenching these treasures from Africans and the illegal holding in the German museums, especially in the Ethnological Museum, Berlin, which has been requested for decades to return them to the original owners? Will the Humboldt Forum ever tell the German public the full story of the ways these objects were acquired rather than the tendentious and misleading information they often put out as in an information piece seen in the Humboldt Box? (17)
By putting up a cross on the Humboldt Forum, Germany seems to be moving in the opposite direction to many other countries. In Britain, Belgium, United States of America, many countries are removing statues that are linked to slavery, colonialism, and racism as a result of protests in favour of Black Lives Matter. Has the Humboldt Forum heard of this? Maybe they will discuss it later. (18) It seems that many Westerners, at least the youth, have understood the fundamental connections between slavery, colonialism, racism, and the looting of cultural artefacts. There is an urgent call for the restitution of looted African artefacts. A museum like Musée de quai Branly-Jacques Chirac has experienced young people going in and taking an African artefact with the declared aim of returning it to the owners in Africa. (19) These demands will surely increase in time and putting looted artefacts under the Christian cross will surely not help.
Many in Germany have forgotten that they ever had colonies in Namibia, Cameroon, Togo. Ruanda and even in Ghana, (formerly Gold Coast) where the Prussians established Friedrichsburg for exporting slaves. Many in Germany who know that they had colonies in Africa, have very faint knowledge about German colonial rule; they tend to think colonialism was a sort of exercise in development cooperation. The real nature of colonialism, a system of violent domination in which a racist foreign, mostly a European country imposed its will on the will of the majority of an African people and pressed the population into working for the benefit of the invaders. The wars, genocides, massacres, deportations, cruel punishments, rapes, and confiscation of properties seem to have been forgotten by many despite the availability of excellent works on German and other colonial rules.
The supporters of the Humboldt Forum must ask themselves how it comes about that after spending 750m Euros on what has been described as Germany’s most important and biggest project that the Forum is faced with such controversies. It appears clear to me that Germany has for the last hundred years and even now, not been willing to revisit it colonial past. Germany has spent many decades in trying to solve problems of the victims of Nazi dictatorship but had no time for the African holocaust which many do not seem to consider important. The Humboldt Forum management does not seem to understand that however they explain the presence of African artefacts in their museums, the most important factor is the restitution of a sizeable proportion of the looted colonial plunder to their countries of origin. Without restitution, there will always be problems since they would not have satisfied the basic requirements of justice and morality.
Evident in all the discussions about the Humboldt golden cross is the little respect many have for the religions of those whose cultural artefacts are now under the Christian cross in Berlin where the division and partition of the African continent started in the Berlin African Conference of 1844-1845 under the chairmanship of the German Reichskanzler Otto von Bismarck.
Benin Dialogue Group Removes Restitution Of Benin Artefacts From ...
Queen-mother Idia ,Benin, Nigeria, now in Humboldt Forum,Berlin,Germany .
1."Und denn, man muß das Wahre immer wiederholen, weil auch der Irrtum um uns her immer wieder gepredigt wird, und zwar nicht von der Masse. In Zeitungen und Enzyklopädien, auf Schulen und Universitäten, überall ist der Irrtum oben auf, und es ist ihm wohl und behag Majorität, die auf seiner Seite ist."
Goethe am 16. Dezember 1828 Johann Peter Eckermann, Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens, Seite 311, Reclams Universal Bibliothek, Nr.2002, Stuttgart, 2006.
2. Is Berlin's Humboldt Forum shying away from colonial history?
Kunsthistorikerin Savoy: "Da herrscht totale Sklerose"
Künstliche Tatsachen 'Nonrestitution is not a neutral act'
artificialfacts.de › nicht-restitution-ist-kein-neutraler-akt.
3.Statements from the political and cultural arenas
4 Mit dem Kreuz gegen religiöse Vielfalt
Cross causes controversy atop reconstructed Berlin Palace https://www.dw.com/en/cross-causes-controversy-atop-reconstructed-berlin-palace/a-53614166
Deutsche Welle,29.05 2020,Cross causes controversy atop reconstructed Berlin Palace: Humboldt Forum Magazine-Statements from the political and cultural arenas,25 May 202
6. Berliners feeling unchristian towards cross on Humboldt Forum
7. Kritik an Kuppel-Inschrift fürs Humboldt Forum Berlin www.nachtkritik.de › id=18206:kriti.
Magazin | Humboldt Forum
www.humboldtforum.org › magazin
Statements aus Kultur, Politik und Wissenschaft | Humboldt ...
9. Planned cross on Berlin landmark palace stirs heated debate https://www.dw.com/en/planned-cross-on-berlin-landmark-palace-stirs-heated-debate/a-38914774
10. Hartmut Dorgerloh, Director-General of the Humboldt Forum, Ambiguity is part of our DNA What’s it all about? The cross on top of the Humboldt Forum’s cupola’
11. Return of stolen skulls by Germany to Namibia: Closure of a horrible Chapter? ...www.pambazuka.org › governance › return-stolen-skul.
12. The crux of the cupola Humboldt Forumwww.humboldtforum.org › ...
Wider die antidemokratische Inschrift auf dem Berliner ... – hpd hpd.de › artikel › wider-antidemokra
13. Godless revolutionary: the life and work of Alexander von ...www.culturematters.org.uk › ... › Science & Technology
Keine Religion predigt die Unmoral; aber sicher ist, daß von allen existierenden die christliche Religion diejenige ist, unter deren Maske die Menschen am unglücklichsten werden. – So steigert sich der Haß gegen eine Menschenklasse, die unter dem Anschein, den Indios Gutes zu tun, ihnen ihren Besitz gewaltsam wegnimmt und sie glauben macht, es sei eine Sünde,
14. Petition to remove inscription on the Humboldt cross and religious inscription can be found at https://www.openpetition.eu
15. Looted Ethiopian Tabot Concealed Permanently in Westminster Abbey, London. Is there somewhere a Minimum Sense of Shame?
Tabots are religious objects of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church that are not supposed to be seen by anyone except priests of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The British Museum gives assurance that not even its director has ever set an eye on these holy objects and yet they proposed to lend them to the Ethiopians. How do you prepare a loan contract for an object you have not seen and are not allowed to look at? https://www.modernghana.com/news/848256/loan-of-looted-ethiopian-treasures-to-ethiopia.html
16. Vatican owes Africa the truth | Pambazuka News www.pambazuka.org
Many African artefacts were lent to Vatican for an exhibition in 1926 which were never returned.
17. See annex below.
18. Which statues are being removed across the UK ...www.womanandhome.com
. UK government seems to rule out removal of controversial ...www.theguardian.com
Madison protesters pull down Forward, Hans Christian Heg ...www.jsonline.com
List of monuments and memorials removed during the George .en.wikipedia.org
Leopold II: Belgium 'wakes up' to its bloody colonial past - BBCwww.bbc.com
19. Activists Try to Steal African Artifact from Quai Branly Museum ...www.artnews.com
ANNEX -Document on Benin Artefacts from Humboldt Box.
The text above tries to turn the attention of the reader to the complicity of the Benin elite in the slave trade but does not explain how the Benin artefacts came to Europe and Germany.
In a recent book, Wessen Erinnerung zählt? Koloniale Vergangenheit und Rassismus heute (Hoffman and Campe, 2019), Mark Terkessidis mentions a painting book for children of 2009, titled, Come to the Worlds of Wonder,(Komm mit in die Wunderwelten) inviting children to the future Humboldt Forum in which the stand of the European invaders is presented- ‘ You can follow in this book the footsteps of great scientists, discoverers, and collectors who travelled the whole world to discover many interesting places and things. In the past many brave persons, seeking knowledge undertook dangerous travels to distant countries in order to get to know other peoples and their cultures. They collected during these travels impressive objects and artworks and brought them to Berlin.’ (p.47)
Such mendacious accounts can only reinforce the ignorance of future generations and provide for disputes with those coming from countries where these objects were looted.
Similarly, accounts on the Benin invasion of 1897 by the British usually contain half-truths and misrepresentations. Readers are seldom informed that the so-called trade mission that was annihilated by Benin soldiers was indeed an invasion army of 8 officers with 120 soldiers disguised as porters. Moreover, the Oba of Benin had told them they should postpone their visit since he could not receive them at the time proposed because he would be celebrating Igue festival during which time a Benin monarch should not be seen by outsiders. Since when do we visit monarchs against their consent?
The Rhodes Colossus Striding from Cape Town to Cairo
Punch , 10 December 1892