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 2022 and 2023, 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) has launched an international idea competition 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 hopes to direct attention to the memorial’s references to the imperial era, colonialism and National Socialism, while the artistic intervention aims to focus on such issues as racial discrimination and social justice. The initial phase of the idea competition is currently underway, after which the winning proposal will be officially announced and displayed in the neighbouring Museum for Hamburg History.
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 will include people from other cities and states in Germany which have already addressed their own colonial legacy in recent years.
Colonial history open-air festival
In September 2023 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 three main focuses – art, education/mediation, and events. External curators will ensure that the festival also presents international, diasporic, and even mainstream positions and perspectives.