Berlin launches 5-year-long initiative to deal with colonial past

Berlin launches 5-year-long initiative to deal with colonial past

Over the next 5 years, the city will host events, exhibitions and an annual festival, all aimed at dealing with Germany’s colonial history

Local authorities in the German capital of Berlin have kickstarted a new long-term initiative aimed at dealing with the country’s colonial past. While Germany did not possess the vast swathes of land held by countries like the British Empire and France, it still boasted considerable influence in Africa and Asia.

In an effort to seek repentance for the country’s colonial-era misdeeds and crimes, the German capital has undertaken a massive self-reflection campaign.

Concrete actions undertaken by the local government

Berlin local authorities, the Berlin City Museum and several NGOs are ready to launch a new 5-year-long initiative called “Postcolonial Remembrance in the City”. The project entails the carrying out of many events and exhibitions over the next few years as well as the hosting of an annual festival dedicated to “decolonial perspectives”. 

The launch of the project was announced simultaneously with the renaming of several streets and squares in the German capital. Since 2016, authorities of the district of Wedding have been making attempts at changing the names of streets honouring German colonial officials, many of whom were responsible for crimes resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people.

Resistance from some locals and far-right activists has caused significant delays to the renaming process of Petersallee, Lüderitzstrasse and Nachtigalplatz but soon they will carry the names of anti-colonial activists and leaders. Petersallee as a whole is getting divided into two streets – now called Anna-Mungunda-Allee and Maji-Maji-Allee. Lüderitzstrasse will carry the name Cornelius-Fredericks-Strasse and finally, Nachtigalplatz is set to become Manga-Bell-Platz.

The city has begun paying more attention to the subject now that migration is getting recognized as linked with colonial and imperial history, according to the spokesman of ISD - one of the NGOs working alongside local authorities in organising the 5-year-long initiative.



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