Minister of State for International Cultural Policy Michelle Müntefering issued the following statement today (16 May) on the decision by the board of trustees of the Deutsches Historisches Museum about the return of the Stone Cross of Cape Cross to Namibia.
I expressly welcome the proposal by the Deutsches Historisches Museum to return the Stone Cross of Cape Cross to Namibia. The restitution of cultural objects is an important part of our efforts to build a common future with Namibia.
The Deutsches Historisches Museum has announced that the museum’s director, Prof. Raphael Groß, will propose to the DHM board of trustees at their meeting on 16 May 2019 that the Stone Cross of Cape Cross be returned to Namibia. As a member of the board of trustees, the Federal Foreign Office will vote for restitution.
In 2017, Namibia submitted an official request to the Federal Foreign Office for the object to be returned.
The Stone Cross of Cape Cross is a former Portuguese territorial marker that was erected by the country in 1486 on what is today the coast of Namibia. It was brought to Germany from the former German colony South West Africa in 1893. A copy of the Stone Cross that had been erected by Germany in 1895 was declared a national monument by Namibia in 1968. It is currently the only cultural object from colonial context for which an official restitution request has been presented to the German Government. In August 2018, Minister of State Müntefering had handed over human remains to Namibia.
The Deutsches Historisches Museum and its Namibian points of contact will be making arrangements for when and how the Stone Cross of Cape Cross is to be returned.
In March 2019, Germany’s Federal Government and Länder authorities as well as major municipal associations agreed on Framework Principles for dealing with cultural property from colonial contexts. The document can be viewed here.