Lecture and Discussion

• 07​ 04​ 2016 •
Jürgen Zimmerer Between Forgetting and Supressing : Colonialism , Holocaust and National Identity

Venue: ACADEMYSPACE, Herwarthstraße 3, 50672 Cologne
Free admission

Germany’s stint as a colonial power was relatively short (1884-1919). Thus, it did not experience the turmoil of decolonization after the Second World War, its colonial past overshadowed by the crimes of the Third Reich. In fact, however, Germans contributed to the larger European project since the earliest “discoveries.” The first German genocide was perpetrated in German Southwest Africa, and mixed marriages were prohibited by edict 30 years before the Nuremberg Race Laws. When France reversed the colonial situation by occupying the Rhineland with troops from Senegal, there was a momentous campaign against the so-called “Black Disgrace,” popularizing the image of the “black rapist” whose consequences are still felt today. German colonial and imperial ambitions did not end in 1919, but continued with the Third Reich’s “Eastern expansion.” Today, there is a growing political discussion on the crimes of colonialism—for example, the question of recognizing the genocide against the Herero and Nama peoples. The German politics of memory now faces colonialism as a test case for successfully coming to terms with a racist past.

Jürgen Zimmerer is a professor for African History at the University of Hamburg. His most recent publications are Windhuk nach Auschwitz? Beiträge zum Verhältnis von Kolonialismus und Holocaust (Lit Verlag, 2011) and Kein Platz an der Sonne. Erinnerungsorte der deutschen Kolonialgeschichte (Campus, 2013).