What the papers said in 2017

5 min read

Sigrid Hupach

Left-wing parliamentary group culture policy spokesperson in the Bundestag, Die Welt, 19 May 2017

“However, how is such an open dialogue between the cultures to succeed if a cross on the cupola already predetermines its direction? I think such a hierarchisation of cultures and religions is absurd. Private donors with their own agenda influencing the design of the palace with their generous financial contributions is a highly problematic aspect. A public debate of the issue of the cross is now called for in order to still prevent this idea. The Bundestag’s culture committee should make its position clear.“


Thomas Assheuer

DIE ZEIT, 21 May 2017

“There is no place for a religious symbol in the, beg your pardon, biologisation of world history; after all, the monotheist religions were originally protest movements: they rejected the heathen worship of the natural; they’d had enough of cosmic cults, bloodthirsty gods and trickery. Exodus, rather than submission. Spirituality, rather than the sacralisation of nature.”


Gunnar Schupelius

B.Z., 19 May 2017

“So a very special museum is to open under the name of Humboldt Forum that has nothing whatsoever to do with Prussian history. They’re going to rebuild a palace and deny it. And then, this foundation (note: Stiftung Zukunft Berlin) comes along as well, and fights the cross on the palace as an expression of “a Christianity-driven culture”. I don’t understand this at all. We are a country with a great Christian past. Nothing has shaped our culture more than Christianity.”


Sonja Zekri

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 22 May 2017

“The Humboldt Forum stands still in a bizarre, tense juxtaposition of external Prussian kitsch – soon, apparently, even featuring a cupola topped by a cross – and internal vagueness despite the inclusion of non-European collections. Begun as the apparently urgently necessary closure of a gap in the new Berlin, then given a makeshift relevance with the collections from the Dahlem museums, it remains surprisingly indifferent towards the burning questions with regard to Germany as an immigration destination.”


Mark Siemons

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 28 May 2017

“So could it therefore be that the symbolic adornment of the capital now functions as compensation for the lost freedoms and meanings, as a stimulating reminder of the fact that there were once causes, without being all too bothered by them? The code word for this reminder would then be ‘culture’.”


Harald Martenstein

Der Tagesspiegel, 11 June 2017

“The decisive aspect is what message the current anti-cross campaign sends out, also to non-Christians like me. The message is: forget who you are, forget your history, turn yourselves into blank pieces of paper, into the global human being without individual characteristics, into interchangeable drones. Have respect for everyone else, but you’d better forget yourself and your own traditions. This does not create a multicultural paradise but engenders anger and hatred in those who do not have the option of taking up a job in Qatar or Miami tomorrow. How can someone be expected to develop a relaxed respect for others if they feel that they are being forced to give up what’s theirs?”


Andreas Kilb

FAZ, 23 May 2017

“A cupola cross on top of the Humboldt Forum would therefore not only mean misleading the visitors. It would be a historical symbol whose clarity would leave no doubt. It would not make “our” Christianity visible, as Monika Grütters reckons, but would be a continuation of the tradition of the Prussian state church with its close connection between chancel and bayonet. […] Omitting the cross would “religiously politicise” it, is the Solomonic pronouncement of the three Humboldt directors. No, it’s the other way round: those who are installing the cross are engaging in politics. History politics, symbol politics, museum politics.”


Kia Vahland

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 07 June 2017

“This would be the wrong symbol at the wrong time. Even more so than the entire palace, this cross on this cupola references the Prussian authoritarian state. The addition was not made until the Prussian king had crushed the liberty-seeking 1848 revolutions and hundreds of rebels had died on the barricades in Berlin. The cross-reinforced cupola signalises the triumph of divine right over democratic movements, over the freedom of assembly, free speech and the freedom of the press. It not only stands for Christianity in general but for an unpleasant mixing of religion with politics that suppresses all different opinions.”


Klaus Lederer

Interviewed by Katja Bauer, Stuttgarter Zeitung, 14 August 2017

“[…] I maintain that the roof of a secular building is no place for a cross, even though there once was one on top of the palace. In the past, it was the residence of an emperor, but he’s no longer there, either. […] You can’t be so impertinent as to say that after all, Germany only owned its colonies for a few years. If we do not want to be an old school ethnological museum, we need designs that do not turn the contradiction inherent in the palace copy exterior into a disaster but make it productive.”