Dekolonial Erinnern … für postkoloniale Beziehungsethik
Decolonial memories … for postcolonial relational ethics

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German Colonial Restitution Monitor

New: German Colonial Restitution Monitor

A collaborative project by blog „“

Germany is at the beginning of a wave of returns for entities from colonial contexts. To date, the number of binding decisions on restitution by museums and other institutions in Germany, or rather by their public owners such as foundations, federal states, municipalities, has been limited. At present, there is no platform in Germany that systematically records these activities.

Closing the gap

The German Colonial Restitution Monitor sets out to close this knowledge gap. The aim is to continuously update the information as collaborative work in progress.

You can access the current version of the Monitor by clicking on the corresponding display on the homepage of ‘’.

Material cultural heritage

The information collected covers the following categories: country of origin, name of entities, entity-holding German institutions, status of restitution and explanatory commentary. The data only refer to material cultural heritage from colonial contexts. The list includes specific commitments by German public institutions. However, for various reasons the physical return or transfer of ownership of the entities is still pending in most cases.

Spectacular case: Benin Bronzes

The cases presented in the first edition of the Monitor (status: 24 May 2024) relate to Cameroon, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, starting in the year 1996 and leading up to the present. They are extremely heterogeneous. By far the most noteworthy initiative so far concerns the transfer of ownership for all Benin Bronzes located in Germany (1,259 entities in 18 museums). In an unprecedented effort, federal and state governments as well as the municipal umbrella organisations have decided to initiate a concerted action regarding British colonial loot held in Germany.

Smaller steps

In contrast to the spectacular action addressing the colonial legacy of Great Britain, the measures taken with regard to the former German colonies are extremely modest. Smaller steps have been registered for individual entities originating from Namibia. In the case of Cameroon, binding commitments to repatriate by several German institutions have not yet been realised. First instances of restitution to Tanzania are planned in connection with the upcoming exhibition about the former German colony at Humboldt Forum Berlin.

Effects of the Monitor

It is to be hoped that the Monitor will strengthen efforts in Germany to come to terms with our country’s dark colonial history. For people from the formerly colonised countries, the Monitor hopefully provides an overview of current restitution practices in Germany.

Please contribute to:

If you want to share relevant information with the Monitor or cooperate in any way, please send an email to: