“When I now look at the source and history of individual collections and objects in the Übersee-Museum Bremen which I represent here and try to trace back, then I must say that abysses will be opened up; not that the objects were appropriated with violence as in Benin. There are other possibilities of illegal acquisition; there is gentle “force”. I therefore appeal to all museum officials to research the history of their collections; we would then show more understanding for the demands for restitution.”
Andreas Lüderwaltd, Übersee-Museum Bremen, at an International Symposium in 1979 (1)
Queen-Mother Idia, Benin, Nigeria, now in the Ethnology Museum, Berlin, Germany.
In our last articlewe stated that the issue of restitution is in the final analysis a political question that should be addressed primarily to political authorities and not museums. We also suggested that President Emmanuel Macron’s success or at least the acceptance of his policy to create within the next five years the conditions for returning African artefacts, is largely because he has political authority to implement his policy. (2)
Ever since Macron’s famous Declaration in Ouagadougou on 28 November 2017, there has been speculation as to what Germans would do, especially as there had been an open letter to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel urging her to take a similar position. (3) There had also been various statements by the President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Hermann Parzinger, indicating that German authorities were in no rush to follow French policy. (4)
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