Decolonize Hamburg

Initiative to adress the colonial legacy of the city

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Programme desciption

Hamburg was once one of the most influential colonial metropolises in Europe. In view of colonialism’s inherent system of injustice and violence, Hamburg’s colonial history has increasingly become a matter of contention. With its large-scale project “Initiative to Process Colonial History” (working title) scheduled to take place in the years 2022 – 2024, the Hanseatic city aims to shed light on its colonial past and make its lasting consequences visible. The city’s residents, independent art scene and selected cultural organisations have been invited to play an active role in the project. The programme consists of four projects, each of which address various aspects of Hamburg’s colonial history. The project coordinator is the Historic Museums Hamburg Foundation (SHMH). The cost of the programme is one million euros and will be financed by the city-state of Hamburg and the German Federal Cultural Foundation in equal part with up to 500,000 euros each.

Bismarck Memorial idea competition

The Historic Museums Hamburg Foundation (SHMH) launched an international idea competition in 2023 to transform Europe’s largest Bismarck memorial in Hamburg’s St. Pauli district into a place that expresses an unequivocal commitment to democracy, equal treatment and plurality. With contemporary contextualisation, the project aimed to direct attention to the memorial’s references to the imperial era, colonialism and National Socialism, while the artistic intervention was intended to focus on such issues as racial discrimination and social justice. The project realised the initial phase of the idea competition up to the jury's decision and the announcement of the results, as well as the exhibition of the designs in the neighbouring Museum of Hamburg History, which ran until the beginning of January 2024.

"Rethinking Bismarck"

Further information and the exposé on the idea competition "Rethinking Bismarck" can be found in German and English as a PDF for download on the website of the Stiftung Historische Museen Hamburg.


International symposium “Memory in Motion”

This international discussion series in the Hamburg programme seeks to encourage social debate on colonial commemorative culture in cities. Together with experts from former German colonial regions and international representatives from civil society, science, politics and culture, the participants will discuss innovative forms and new aspects of remembrance and commemoration. The attendees include people from other cities and states in Germany which have already addressed their own colonial legacy in recent years.

Digital cartography of Hamburg’s colonial history

Digital tools have become increasingly important for cataloguing collection holdings and understanding their history, communicating provenance research findings in a transparent manner, and making them accessible to the international community. This project will contribute to the interactive world map initiated by the Berlin project Dekoloniale by supplementing it with Hamburg topographies, histories and the biographies of Black people who engaged in colonial resistance.

Colonial history open-air festival

In May 2024 a temporary festival venue will feature a wide range of artistic interventions and introduce the public to the consequences of German and especially Hamburg colonialism. The festival will have four main focuses – art, education/mediation, politics and social issues. External curators will ensure that the festival also presents international, diasporic, and even mainstream positions and perspectives.


No upcoming events at present

Previous events

  • 22 May, 2024 to 26 May, 2024: DIGGAHH - Dekolonial / Interaktiv / Gemeinsam / Gesellschaftlich / Aktuell / Hansestadt Hamburg)

    Ein Open Air von Hamburger Initiativen der Zivilgesellschaft und der BIPoC-Community mit Workshops, Talks, Lesungen, Führungen, Kunst und Musik

    Musikpavillon von „Planten un Blomen“, weitere Orte , Hamburg

  • 26 July, 2023 to 14 August, 2023: Bismarck neu denken

    Präsentation der eingereichten Wettbewerbs-Entwürfe zur Kontextualisierung des Hamburger Bismarck-Denkmals

    Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte, Hamburg


Uta Schnell

Head of Funding & ProgrammesKulturstiftung des BundesFranckeplatz 206110 Halle (Saale)
Tel: 49 (0)345 2997 118Fax: 49 (0)345 2997 333E-Mail to Uta Schnell