Germany approves return of cultural treasures

Berlin (dpa) – Germany and Nigeria have paved the way for the return of art objects looted during the colonial era. In Berlin on Friday, a “Joint Declaration on the Return of the Benin Bronzes” created a framework for transferring ownership of the valuable items from German museums to Nigeria.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth, Nigerian Minister of Culture Lai Mohammed and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Zubairo Dada signed the four-page, twelve-point agreement, which provides for “unconditional restitution”. At the same time, both sides want “German public museums and institutions to be able to continue exhibiting the Benin bronzes on loan”. “This is not only a day of joy, we are also healing a wound by doing this,” said Foreign Minister Baerbock.

Baerbock talked about the history of colonialism. “We should not forget that this is also a part of German history,” she said. “It was wrong to take the bronzes, and it was wrong to keep them for 120 years.” This is a beginning to right the wrong, she said.

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