• Germany's news in English

South Africa lukewarm over ‘Mandela square’

Tom Bristow · 17 Dec 2013, 13:13

Published: 17 Dec 2013 13:13 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

After the anti-apartheid leader’s death, citizens’ foundation Stiftung Zukunft Berlin suggested naming the main entrance to a former Prussian palace being rebuilt in the centre of the city, after Mandela.

But black rights group, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD), said the palace, Berliner Schloss at the Humboldt Forum, should not be linked to Mandela because of Prussia’s militaristic past.

The forum is supposed to be completed in 2019 and house cultural treasures from across the world. It was the home of Prussian and German Kaisers and was destroyed by bombing in World War II.

The South African Embassy said it was following the debate over the naming of the new square after Mandela.

A spokesperson said: “Although the decision to name public places like squares, streets, official buildings and the like rests entirely with the municipal authorities of Berlin, the Embassy of South Africa would expect that careful consideration be given to the integrity and legacy of Mr Mandela in their decision-making processes – particularly to his unequivocal standpoint on matters like colonialism, racism, slavery, cultural and  material exploitation as well as respect for the cultural heritage of the people and nations of Africa.

In a statement the spokesperson added: “The Embassy would furthermore assume that such a decision would only be finalized after an open, rigorous and transparent debate with all segments of Berlin’s citizenry so that we can all be assured that the name of Nelson Mandela and the ideas he stood for remain untarnished and without any blemish.”

The ISD has also demanded a critical examination of slavery in Prussia in the 17th and 18th centuries and said Mandela should not be associated with the former seat of the kingdom which was famed for its militarism.

Instead they want the “colonial racist” Mohrenstrasse [Moor Street] and its metro station in the centre of Berlin to be renamed in honour of Nelson Mandela.

Tahir Della, from ISD said: “We share the irritation and concern of the South African Embassy. He added: “Madiba is not part of Prussia’s cultural heritage.”

In a statement Della said it “would amount to the rejection of Mandela’s ideals” if the ISD’s long-held demand to rename Mohrenstraße to Nelson Mandela Straße was ignored and the Humboldt Forum naming was carried out.

Story continues below…

The idea to name the square after Mandela was put forward by Volker Hassemer from Stiftung Zukunft Berlin last week.

At the time he said: “Our idea is that people will cross over Nelson Mandela Square to go to the Humboldt Forum.” He said that like Mandela, the building would stand for linking the cultures of the world, the Berliner Zeitung reported. “He [Mandela] showed that cultures can learn from one another,” Hassemer said.

The Berliner Zeitung said the suggestion from the Stiftung Zukunft Berlin had found widespread support in the city. 

READ MORE: Mandela's complex ties with Germany

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Bristow (tom.bristow@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd