Germany wrestles with its history: How to deal with the shadow of colonialism?

The dispute to the colonial history has reached Germany. You should let the symbols stand for, to better classify or easy to remove? The Statue of the British

Germany wrestles with its history: How to deal with the shadow of colonialism?

The dispute to the colonial history has reached Germany. You should let the symbols stand for, to better classify or easy to remove?

The Statue of the British slave-dealer Edward Colston in Bristol is thrown into the harbour; the figure of Christopher Columbus in Boston is beheaded; the city fathers of Antwerp, a statue of king Leopold II, of the deeds for the worst horrors in his private Congo colony is made responsible to remove out of fear of destruction, as a precautionary measure. Colonial symbols in the world currently stand as an expression of white racism under pressure. Long hardly anyone was interested in them. That has changed, at the latest, the violent death of the Black George Floyd by a white police officer in the United States.

Germany had a war only a short colonial history, from 1884 to the end of the First world, as it had to give up its colonies in Africa, Oceania and East Asia. But at its height, the German colonial Empire was, after all, the fourth largest in the world. And traces of it until today.

What to do with the "lüderitz street"?

as before, the streets and squares in Germany after the colonizers, such as Karl Peters, Adolf Lüderitz, or Gustav Nachtigal are named. The commander of the protection force in German East Africa, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, was until a few years ago, the namesake of the barracks, and schools. There is a Statue of Hermann von Wissmann, a former Governor of the colony, in Bad Lauterberg imHarz and a bust of Nachtigal, who was temporarily Reich Commissioner for German-West Africa (now Cameroon and Togo), in Stendal, in Saxony-Anhalt. dw/ D. fur The name dispute in Berlin's African quarter, always at

The discussion of dealing with the colonial past, is in full swing: What to do with the still images, street names, and with the colonial looted art in museums? Finally, the question of whether Germany apologize for colonial crimes such as the suppression of the Herero and Nama uprising in southwest Africa or the Maji - Maji uprising in East Africa, with hundreds of thousands dead and compensation payments should provide. All these are the shadow of the German colonial history, even if it is more than 100 years back.

resistance to renaming

In the so-called "African quarter" in Berlin, it has been around for years, armed to the renaming of streets. The district Council has already decided two years ago, you fighters to the resistance against the German colonial rule to rename.

But many residents and business owners are in the streets against it, often for political reasons, but because they want to avoid the costs of address changes. Some want to hold on to out of habit to the old name.

The Initiative Pro African quarter has proposed a creative way, as the name might remain The lüderitz street is named after the Namibian town of the same Name, the Nachtigal place according to the theologian Johann Nachtigal. And the Peter Avenue are not since 1986 to the colonialist Carl Peters, who had ruled in East Africa brutal. She is now named after Hans Peters, a resistance fighter against the national socialism. Some people think that it is used to soft the Problem. Finally, nothing is certainly, the name dispute continues.

Hardly anyone wants to obliterate everything

In Hamburg on the site of the former Lettow-Vorbeck barracks, it has explanatory panels, the busts of men like Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and Lothar von Trotha, who were involved in the suppression of revolts in the German colonies significantly. How it goes with how to deal with it further, is not yet clear. The Senate, it's at least in principle, therefore, that this difficult history remains for future generations in the consciousness: neither glorification nor the repayment should be the concept, but rather memorials and remembrance.

"counter-monuments" as a solution?

in addition to the club's post-colonial goes. He is in around 20 German cities. Post-colonial uses, for example, in Hamburg, as it says on the website, for a "comprehensive Decolonization of the Hamburg city area (...) and the presentation of the history of anti-colonial resistance, as well as for a commemoration of the victims of colonialism and racism". The road renaming includes, but it is not the Association, therefore, all the traces of colonialism easy to wipe out. For Christian Kopp, spokesman of the post-colonial in Berlin, are eligible to monuments. To provide a critical information plaque in front of a monument, is clearly not enough. Federal archiev. Image of The German colonial administration went ruthlessly against the rebellious Herero in front of

Jürgen Zimmerer, a historian and Africa, scientists at the University of Hamburg, sees it this way: "As a historian I have an interest in ensuring that monuments remain as historical sources. However, you have to be radically deconstructed and entheroisiert, so that your propaganda no longer function. You could, for example, to the head or to lie down."

An example of to ignore the tomb of Lothar von Trotha in Bonn. With his "destruction command" of 1904, he had defeated a rebellion of the Herero and Nama in German South West Africa cruel: At his grave, there is no reference to this in the past.

The AfD speaks of the "Africa-fault cult"

Some historians have this as the first genocide of the 20th century. Century referred to. The Federal government does not recognize the so far, but not officially. The Namibian President Hage Geingob said at the beginning of this month in Windhoek, Germany was now ready, as well as an apology. From Berlin, and was listening to but nothing to. So far, the Federal government has rejected compensation payments, especially with the grounds that Namibia has benefited from extensive development aid.

The parties in Germany are facing a critical approach to the colonial past, overall open, with a significant exception: the AfD. For the present discussion of monuments Alexander Gauland, Chairman of the AfD faction in the Bundestag, said recently: "Try a of all the disturbing aspects adjusted view of history to enforce and is well known to long-only from totalitarian systems." And the AfD's Deputy, Gottfried Curio complained in a Video about his view, left the Attempts of the German "Africa-fault cult" inculcate.

What are the standards you can create?

But it is possible to measure at all historical figures and eras with today's standards? Jürgen Zimmerer says definitely Yes, "else we should not distance ourselves from Hitler, Himmler, and Co or condemn". It is however, in the current debate about "whether the historical figures are now suitable to honour role models, and thus our current benchmarks are significant. We negotiate in monuments to our own values and ideas".

The German colonialism was previously a little-noticed part of the story. Johann Hinrich Claussen, the cultural Commissioner of the Evangelical Church in Germany, is one of those who are glad, that the German society is concerned by the protests at all. Admittedly, one cannot compare the handling in Germany and countries such as the USA or the UK with monuments. But in the meantime, the German colonialism, the move finally into the public consciousness. Therein, Claussen sees a big educational task.

This article was written by: Christoph Hasselbach

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Date Of Update: 19 June 2020, 17:26