The Brachiosaurus brancai in the Natural History Museum Berlin

A Star Exhibit of Natural History as a German and Tanzanian Realm of Memory?

This contribution deals with the area of natural history, a field which to date has remained outside the focus of the research and debates surrounding looted art and the theft of cultural assets and has scarcely featured as a topic in the history of remembrance. The focus here is on a scientific object, the skeleton of a Late Jurassic dinosaur, the Brachiosaurus brancai (renamed as Giraffatitan brancai in 2009[1]), which as a pars pro toto represents the spoils of a paleontological expedition. It was excavated before World War I in the former colony of German East Africa and transferred to Berlin’s natural history museum, the Natural History Museum, not only for the purposes of study and education but also to serve as a piece of colonial and nationalistic propaganda and play a role in scientific and museum policy-making.

One of the ambiguities surrounding the provenance of natural-history objects from colonial contexts is that they were often obtained in unclear legal circumstances. In the case of the Brachiosaurus brancai, the area surrounding the find site was declared as “unclaimed land” in the run-up to the excavation and seized by the colonial state as “crown land”—a means of seizing land for colonialist economic and settlement purposes introduced in 1895. This means that the acquisition of the fossils was carried out in accordance with existing German law. The same cannot be said, however, when it comes to the laws or legal understanding of the local population in the area of the excavation—an aspect of the case that unfortunately cannot be examined in depth in this essay due to the lack of any preliminary studies in legal ethnology. According to the legal standards of the German Empire, the case of the Brachiosaurus brancai did not involve theft but rather the “transfer” of an object — in this instance both a transfer of locality or “translocation”[2] from East Africa to Berlin and a transfer of property. It is principally because of the historical background to this transfer that the “African” dinosaur in the Natural History Museum Berlin now seems set to become a disputed object.


1. Historical Contexts: The Object and Its Provenance

In 1909, the Royal Geological-Paleontological Institute and Museum, then a part of the Natural History Museum Berlin and thus of Friedrich Wilhelm University (today’s Humboldt University) at Berlin, sent its curator Werner Janensch and the assistant Edwin Hennig on a scientific digging expedition. The two paleontologists were heading for the southern part of the than colony of German East Africa, todays Tanzania.[3]

In late 1906/early 1907, African workers employed by a German mining company had shown the engineer Wilhelm Sattler a findspot with extremely large, exposed fossilized bones on Tendaguru Mountain in the Hinterland of the coastal city of Lindi. After the Stuttgart-based paleontologist Eberhard Fraas, who was also travelling in the German colony at the time, had confirmed the fossils’ significance on-site, Wilhelm von Branca, director of Berlin’s Paleontological Institute and Museum, initiated a donation campaign among well-moneyed circles with an interest in science and the colonies—the then upper class of the German Empire.

During their donation campaign, the Natural History Museum proclaimed that the “rescue” of the fossils in German East Africa would be a matter of national “obligation of honor”.[4] This nationalistic and colonialist propaganda coupled with the worldwide race for dinosaur fossils that was underway at the turn of the century, a veritable “scramble for dinosaurs,” which was primarily viewed as a competition between the United States and the rest of the world. One expression of this race could be seen, for example, in the plaster casts of the skeleton of a Diplodocus carnegii that the American patron of the arts and sciences Andrew Carnegie had presented to various museums in the United States and Europe. The skeleton had been excavated by paleontologists from Pittsburgh in 1899 and was at the time the largest creature known to have walked the earth. Carnegie’s endowments were viewed as an expression of American dominance in the field of research into dinosaurs and their presentation in museums. Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II also received one such cast in 1908, which he immediately passed on to the Royal Natural History Museum in Berlin.[5] The finds in German East Africa now offered the German Empire an opportunity to outdo the United States, which had hitherto dominated the field. From the outset, these objects were not only harnessed for the purposes of scientific study but were also used to serve the ends of museum and colonial policy-making.

Over a period of time lasting just under four years between April 1909 and January 1913, a group of six paleontologists from Berlin led the expedition and with the help of up to 500 local African workers, preparators, and bearers succeeded in excavating the bones, which weighed over 230 metric tons. These fossilized remains were of dinosaurs that lived on the eastern coast of the ancient continent of Gondwana in the Late Jurassic period some 150 million years ago. The paleontologists began moving the excavated fossils away from Tendaguru while the excavation was still underway. The carefully packed fossil finds were shipped from Lindi, the nearest port, and traveled via Dar es Salaam to Hamburg, from where they were shipped to the Natural History Museum in Berlin.

image 1: Excavation of dinosaur fossils at
Tendaguru in the South of then colony of
German East Africa, ca. 1910

Once the bones had arrived in the museum, work immediately started on preparing the fossils, and shortly thereafter began the task of getting them ready for public presentation—not least in order to justify the high costs of the expedition to the many private donors. As the last of five dinosaur skeletons, the almost complete skeleton of a Brachiosaurus brancai was put on display in November 1937 in the atrium of the Natural History Museum after twenty-six years of preparation work. It must be said, however, that this museum highlight did not feature much in the National Socialist propaganda at the time. Nevertheless, the Brachiosaurus brancai remained the world’s largest mounted dinosaur skeleton during the following decades. Although an example of the same species in Chicago assumed this honor for a few years, Berlin’s Brachiosaurus brancai regained its former status after it was remounted in 2007. It was immediately entered into the Guinness Book of World Records, and a certificate attesting to its status was placed at the foot of the skeleton.

As the museum’s most prominent exhibit, for decades the Brachiosaurus brancai has been of central importance to the identity and public presence of the Natural History Museum in Berlin. As of 2016, the skeleton has been safeguarded by the Act to Protect Cultural Property (“Kulturgutschutzgesetz”, KGSG) and is included in the list of the nation’s valuable cultural assets („Verzeichnis national wertvollen Kulturguts“). This means that the skeleton excavated in East Africa was declared a “part of Germany’s cultural heritage” (§ 5 KGSG), making it illegal to damage or destroy it (§ 18 KGSG) and particularly difficult—or practically impossible—to take it out of the country (§ 21[1] KGSG). Its inclusion in the list was a formal acknowledgment that “its removal would represent a fundamental loss to Germany’s cultural assets and its remaining in federal territory is of outstanding cultural interest and public value” (§ 7 KGSG).[6]

image 2: The Dinosaur hall of the
Natural History Museum Berlin in 2007 with
the skeleton of Brachiosaurus brancai
as the museum’s central object

The expedition to Tendaguru is still considered the world’s most successful excavation of dinosaur fossils of all time,[7] and to date this has remained a key aspect of how the excavation is remembered at the Natural History Museum itself. The institutional narrative does not shy away from superlatives: historical remembrance is first and foremost concentrated on the competition surrounding the largest, most complete, and best preserved dinosaur skeleton as well as the largest fossil findspot with the most extensive yield. However, the colonial context surrounding its acquisition has fallen from view. One of the reasons for this is certainly the general amnesia concerning Germany’s colonial history after 1945 in both East and West Germany, whereby the interdependent colonial and postcolonial entangled history of Germany and Africa has for the most part been suppressed, particularly when it comes to the sphere of African exploration “in the service of the sciences.” One other reason for this institutional amnesia most certainly lies in the fact that, generally speaking, critical historical reflection on one’s own discipline is not necessarily one of the primary virtues cultivated by natural history collections.[8]


2. Objects of Natural History as Realms of Memory?

In recent decades, the category “realm of memory” has generated a wide variety of definitions and been subjected to well-nigh inflationary usage. In German-speaking countries alone, weighty tomes have been written on the subject of German and European realm of memory as well as realms of memory relating to the Middle Ages, German colonial history, and German-Polish history.[9] If one takes the category “realm of memory” as approach for serious historical analysis, in my opinion there are two important points to be kept in mind. First, it is important to determine how “realms of memory” have entered into historiographical discussion: they are the “focal points of collective memory” that social groups relate to and which they integrate into their own identity-forming narratives.[10] Second, one must ascertain what recollections populate these realms of memory and what perspectives are emphasized.[11] In other words, it is not primarily about reconstructing “what actually happened” (to quote the positivist dictum of the Prussian historian Leopold von Ranke)[12] but rather about the dynamics of memories and the (sometimes hidden) intentions behind the narratives as well as the question of which parts of the historical events are remembered and which are not, and why.

So to what extent can objects of natural history—such as the Brachiosaurus brancai in the Berlin’s Natural History Museum —be understood as “realms of memory,” or in other words as “focal points of collective memory and identity that are integrated into social, cultural, and political conventions”?[13] There are several reasons for asking this question: In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, European and North American explorers, missionaries, colonial officials, members of the military, and settlers in all parts of the world went about fervidly collecting, procuring, or stealing cultural objects and those with relevance for natural history. Ethnological, religious, and artistic objects as well as human remains filled the museums and collections of Western metropolises. Before that, these artifacts had been integrated into the everyday culture, in the religious, ritual, spiritual, or political practices of their communities of origin—as the material representations of foreign cultures they held particular interest and appeal for the collections in Western museums, for they allowed them to constitute the “other” within scientific and academic as well as educated middle-class contexts. From then on, these objects were no longer physically present in their communities of origin but were, at most, available in the form of memories—and they at times represented a painful loss of cultural identity for the social body.

Two examples taken from the colonial history of German South West Africa, today’s Namibia, can help illuminate this history: in April 1893, a unit of the German colonial troops (Kaiserliche Schutztruppe) raided the family home of Nama chief Hendrick Witbooi and carried off a Bible printed in the Nama language in Berlin in 1866. The family Bible not only offers evidence of the Witbooi family’s Christian beliefs and their claims to power within the Nama community but also indicates their aspiration to independence from missionaries and the German colonial authority. Since 1902 the Bible has been held by the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, since in 2013 the Witbooi family demanded its return.[14] Eventually, after strong debates in Germany as well as in Namibia, the bible was restituted in February 2019.[15] Like this copy of the Bible, the theft of corpses and body parts of Herero and Nama individuals who died or were killed during the Herero and Nama Wars of 1904–8 remains a bitter memory for their descendants. Most importantly, the skulls and skeletons repatriated to Namibia from Berlin and Freiburg im Breisgau in 2011 and 2014 were incorporated into strategies for negotiating political participation and became an integral part of the process of forming a postcolonial identity.[16]

Unlike artifacts representing the material testimony of cultural and social life, objects within natural history collections seems to have generally not left behind any apparent lacunae in the history of memory in their places of origin, for these were primarily taken from nature and not from cultural or social contexts.

This, however, gives rise to a conceptual problem, for the approaches developed in the course of the heritage debates of recent decades that view cultural objects as vessels, realms of memory, and “focal points” of cultural identities cannot automatically be applied to objects of natural history. In the dominant orders of knowledge, the areas of “nature” and “cultures” are normally distinguished, sometimes also treated as opposites.[17] Heuristic approaches in Cultural and Social Anthropology to make relations and mixtures between the two areas visible and nameable have so far remained unanswered by natural sciences. With regard to collections in Natural History Museums, this represents still an open but urgent question, especially since natural history collections are only now becoming the focus of heritage debates and demands for restitution.

The increase in demands from former colonies for the return of their “natural heritage” is also reflected in the guidelines governing natural history collections published in 2014 by the German Museums Association, which, although it identifies this state of affairs, does not offer any concrete advice on how to deal with such demands.[18] Another path is offered by the “ICOM Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums,” which relocates natural history collections, such that they are deemed to be in “global custodianship,” and gives preference to the “free flow of knowledge.”[19] In this manner, immaterial aspects surrounding such objects, such as knowledge and knowledge transfer in its current form, are gaining in significance, but at the same time the objects themselves, and thus the status of their ownership, their origins, and their accessibility, are being relegated to the background.

Yet when it comes to the praxis of memory within natural history collections themselves, the situation is entirely different. Here we find a virulent memorializing of the origins of objects, most noticeably in the form of inventories and object documentation. It must be said, however, that this memory is only selectively cherished. If we remain with the practices of the Natural History Museum , we can see how the regional, geographic, and topographic origins of the objects are recorded very carefully, but the historical contexts of their procurement as a colonial venture are nowhere to be found in the materials aimed at the museum audience. Their relationship to Germany’s colonial history has simply been edited out of the museum exhibition.

For example, for decades the exhibit descriptions in the dinosaur hall gave the origin of the Brachiosaurus brancai as “East Africa”; it is now marked as Tanzania, which is just as much of a historical misnomer, as this country did not come into being until 1964. For the most part, the acquisitions are described in a consistently positive light as the achievements of the museum’s former staff; they are a core aspect of the museum’s identity. Museum practices, such as the naming of the new species of dinosaur discovered in Tendaguru Dysalotosaurus lettowvorbecki after the commander-in-chief of the German colonial army general Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who would certainly be considered a war criminal by today’s standards, are not deemed worthy of commentary or included in the publicly displayed object histories.[20] The exhibition, and thus the museum, does indeed preserve and foster memories of the excavation as well as the context of the objects’ acquisition, but these are based primarily on the paleontologists’ expedition reports[21]—meaning that from a historical-political standpoint they reflect the state of things in 1912 rather than 2019.

image 3: Stamp (left) from a special edition
of the GDR post on the occasion of the
100th anniversary of Natural History Museum Berlin
in 1990, presenting the Brachiosaurus brancai.
All five stamps of this edition show dinosaur
skeletons from the Tendaguru excavation.
Only 20 years later, in 2010 in the re-united Germany,
the Museum celebrated its 200th anniversary with a
special stamp edition showing again the
Brachiosaurus brancai as the museum’s central object.[22]

Among the imbalances relating to this topic is the fact that we know only very little about the concrete memories of the local African population. We do know that they were aware of the bones on Tendaguru and at other locations prior to the excavation. They viewed the mafupa (Kiswaheli for “large bones”) as their mali (Kiswahili for “assets” or “wealth”), and they were very suspicious of the Germans’ activities on Tendaguru.[23] At the same time hundreds of Africans were employed temporarily as assistants, preparators, or bearers. Whether or not and to what extent local narratives concerning the bones—both those stemming from the precolonial era and those that emerged at the time of the excavation—have survived to this day are questions that need to be addressed.


3. The Current Restitution Debate

In the meantime, the Berlin dinosaur is in the process of becoming a globally disputed object. Tanzanian petitions for the return of at least parts of the excavated finds were received by the Natural History Museum in the 1980s—i.e., during the GDR era. In a museum employee’s report on an ICOM conference held in Tanzania in 1987, we read: “Amongst other things, the African representatives called for sufficient material and financial resources to be put at their disposal by developed nations to enable the establishment of African natural history museums. Over a period of decades, the removal and transportation of natural objects from Africa to Europe and America had allowed these countries to expand their museum collections and achieve scientific research results, and African countries—as the countries of origin—had no share or profit in these results. […] In Tanzania […] people are very aware of the plundering that took place during the colonial era and are suspicious of every new shipment of collected objects.”[24] Following this, the representative from the National Museum of Tanzania requested “the handing over of 1-2 large bones from the dinosaurs from Tanzania to be transferred from the Natural History Museum of the Humboldt-Universität in the form of a permanent loan to the National Museum of Tanzania.” To date this request has remained unfulfilled.

For some years, Tanzanian members of parliament from the south of the country have regularly called upon their government to induce Germany to return the dinosaur fossils.[25] The Tanzanian press has reported regularly on the subject since around 2009.[26] A press report from October 2016 informed on the return of the dinosaur skeleton what was supposed already agreed by the German Federal Government. This press report was accompanied by a revealing photograph.[27] The photo shows a human skull in a glass display case resembling a skull sarcophagus. The skull is that of Mkwawa, chief of the Hehe in central Tanzania, who died in the struggle against German colonial forces in 1898. His skull—at least according to popular legend—was brought to Germany as a trophy resp. for use in racial-anthropological studies. According to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, the Allied Powers required Germany to return the skull. However, its repatriation did not occur until 1953/54 when Edward Twining, the British governor of Tanganyika, selected a seemingly appropriate skull in the Übersee Museum Bremen and returned it to the Hehe, claiming it was the skull of Chief Mkwawa.[28] At the time, the return of the skull was viewed as a highly symbolic and politically motivated act characteristic of the process of decolonization that was then underway. The skull of Chief Mkwawa is not only an anti-colonial icon, but also represents a successful restitution practice. Although the press report is illustrated with a photograph of Mkwawa’s skull, the story focusing on the supposed agreement to return the Brachiosaurus brancai makes absolutely no mention of the relevant colonial or anticolonial history—Mkwawa’s name is not even mentioned in the text. This is not necessary, for in Tanzania his skull has a high recognition value—also visually—as an anticolonial icon in the areas of anticolonial resistance, national heritage, and restitution, all elements in mobilizing Tanzanian identity. Images of the Berlin dinosaur from Tendaguru have yet to enter into Tanzania’s communicative memory in the form of visual recollection. That is why it is easier for Tanzanians to connect an image of Mkwawa’s skull with the issue of restitution than an image of the Brachiosaurus brancai, whose return is the actual topic of the press report.

When requesting the return of the fossils, Tanzanian members of parliament do not resort to key terms in the politics of memory such as the “theft of the fossils” or even historical references to the injustices carried out during the German colonial era. Instead, the return of the Tendaguru finds and the exhibiting of them near the actual findspot have much more to do with the desire to encourage tourism and infrastructure development in Tanzania’s underdeveloped south. Their demands are mainly focused on reclaiming an economic and political resource that can provide the structurally weak region around Tendaguru with more income and garner more attention from Tanzania’s central government. In the media, however, the politicians’ demands—as with the photo of Mkwawa’s skull—are ideologically charged with the politics of memory.

In the meantime, Tanzanian demands for restitution have also been taken up in the German press and scientific journals.[29] To date, however, the Federal Foreign Office and the Natural History Museum have not responded publicly to claims for restitution. Rather, General Director Johannes Vogel referred to the immense research work that has been carried out on dinosaur fossils since the excavation, however: “The fossils excavated at the Tendaguru were only the raw material of the actual construction work”[30]. Furthermore, “the whole work […] happened as a scientific and cultural achievement in Germany. The fact that these bones were then put together […] is all the result of scientific research carried out mainly by the West, by natural scientific research in the Western tradition”[31]. Following this argument Africa would again be positioned as supplier of raw materials, whereas the global North would be responsible for their refinement. As such, this viewpoint recalls perspectives that were part of colonial power relations during the 20th century. Instead, it would be more promising if colonial objects were presented in a way that does not deny their colonial origins but helps us to fully recognize the museum and political responsibilities and opportunities associated with them. As a German-Tanzanian realm of memory the dinosaur in the Berlin museum could offer an excellent opportunity to make visible the complex entanglements in our own history.

On the other hand, a research project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) was initiated in 2015 at the Natural History Museum focusing on the colonial, museum-related, and scientific histories of the Berlin dinosaur.[32] The museum has also offered to support and cooperate with Tanzania on paleontology and museum-related matters. This means that the Berlin dinosaur may not only develop into a prominent realm of memory in colonial history within the environment of museum politics that has been set in motion but also act as a starting point for transnational cooperative projects in the realms of science and heritage. The Tanzanian media press reported repeatedly on talks between German and Tanzanian museums to this effect and on negotiations between both governments about restitution or other forms of a solution, lastly on the option of providing a reproduction of the Giraffatitan brancai to an exhibition near the Tendaguru site or on forms of development aid for Tanzania, e.g. for capacity building for scientific research.[33]


4. Conclusion

Within the current discussions surrounding museum politics, natural history objects from colonial contexts, particularly such star exhibits as the Brachiosaurus brancai in Berlin, have the potential to develop into “shared realms of memory”[34] within German-African colonial history. These realms of remembrance nevertheless contain surely divergent perspectives, depending on whether from the Tanzanian or German point of view. The prerequisite for this is that the acquisition and collection histories are reviewed and communicated transparently to the public.[35] One conceivable approach would be to highlight the memory of a scientific culture at the turn of the twentieth century marked by the obsessive accumulation of countless objects, most importantly the acquisition and research practices of German scientists, military surgeons and governmental doctors, missionaries, members of the military, and colonial officials, where indigenous communities and their natural environments were co-opted not only for national and economic reasons but also to serve scientific ends.

The provenances of museum objects have now increasingly become the focus of conferences and publications dealing with the colonial legacy in the knowledge systems relating to ethnological and anthropological collections.[36] In the past, natural history collections and objects in German-speaking countries scarcely figured in such debates. In the context of research into colonial provenance, the relationship between natural objects and cultural heritage is now starting to be considered in studies that go beyond the examination of individual cases.[37] At the same time, provenance of objects of natural history will in the future increasingly become a focus of global debates on “natural heritage.” Here it is just as important for us to ascertain their role in processes of translocation as it is to investigate the memories that are interwoven with them both in museums and in their places of origin.


About the author

Dr. Holger Stoecker, historian with a focus on the African-German colonial and scientific history, deals with provenance research on objects with colonial origin in academic collections. Last research projects: “The dinosaur as a colonial and political object: Excavation and post-history” in the BMBF joint project “Dinosaurs in Berlin! The brachiosaurus brancai – a museum, scientific and popular icon” at the Department for African Studies, Humboldt University Berlin, 2015-2018; current: “Human Remains Project” at the Berlin Medical History Museum of the Charité – University Hospital Berlin, 2018-2019. Last publications: Dinosaurierfragmente. Zur Geschichte der Tendaguru-Expedition und ihrer Objekte, 1906-2018, with Ina Heumann/ Marco Tamborini/ Mareike Vennen, Wallstein: Göttingen 2018; Human remains from Namibia in German collections. Editor of a special issue, with Elise Pape: Human Remains and Violence: An interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 4/2 (2018), open access: https://www.manchesteropenhive.com/view/journals/hrv/4/2/hrv.4.issue-2.xml.



1:         Natural History Museum Berlin, Historische Bild- und Schriftgutsammlungen, Pal. Mus., B IV/50.

2:         Natural History Museum Berlin, photo: Antje Dittmann.

3:         Archiv Juri Roller, Berlin.



[1]        Michael P. Taylor: A Re-evaluation of Brachiosaurus altithorax Riggs 1903 (Dinosauria, Sauropoda) and its Generic Separation from Giraffatitan brancai (Janensch 1914), in: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 29, 3 (2009), p. 787–806. – This article emerged from collaborative research project “Dinosaurs in Berlin. Brachiosaurus brancai as an Icon of Politics, Science, and Popular Culture”, supported by Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany (BMBF), code 01UO1512B. I would like to thank Ina Heumann, Michi Knecht, Michael Ohl, and Mareike Vennen for critique and comments.

[2]        Bénédicte Savoy’s use of the term “patrimonial translocation” places particular stress on the far-reaching aspects of changing the location of cultural assets (the “concept of place”). Cristelle Terroni: The Recovered Memory of Stolen Works of Art: An Interview with Bénédicte Savoy, trans. Kate McNaughton, in: Books and Ideas (February 22, 2016), www.booksandideas.net/The-Recovered-Memory-of-Stolen-Works-of-Art.html, 22.9.2019.

[3]        Gerhard Maier: African Dinosaurs Unearthed: The Tendaguru Expeditions, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003; Daniela Schwarz-Wings: Die Tendaguru-Sammlung, in: Klasse Ordnung Art: 200 Jahre Museum für Naturkunde, ed. by Ferdinand Damaschun et al., Rangsdorf: Basilisken-Presse, 2010), p. 188–91.

[4]        Wilhelm von Branca and Werner Janensch: Call for donations, undated [December 1908], in: Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, I. HA Rep. 76 Kultusministerium, Va sect. 2 Tit. X no. 21 adh A I, p. 20.

[5]        Lukas Rieppel: Ein Amerikaner in Berlin, in: Wissensdinge: Geschichten aus dem Naturkundemuseum, ed. by Anita Hermannstädter, Ina Heumann, and Kerstin Pannhorst, Berlin: Nicolai, 2015, p. 144–47.

[6]        Gesetz zum Schutz von Kulturgut (Kulturgutschutzgesetz – KGSG), Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz, http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/kgsg/BJNR191410016.html#BJNR191410016BJNG000500000, 22.9.2019.

[7]        See also Wikipedia entry for Tendaguru, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tendaguru_Formation, 22.9.2019.

[8]        Ina Heumann: O Objekte, in: Wissen Macht Geschlecht: Ein ABC der transnationalen Zeitgeschichte, ed. by Birgit Kolboske et al., Berlin: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften, 2016, p. 85–87, http://www.edition-open-access.de/media/proceedings/9/16/O%20Objekte.pdf, 22.9.2019.

[9]        Etienne François and Hagen Schulze (eds.): Deutsche Erinnerungsorte, vols. 1–3, Munich: Beck, 2009; Johannes Fried and Olaf B. Rader (eds.): Die Welt des Mittelalters: Erinnerungsorte eines Jahrtausends, Munich: Beck, 2011; Pim den Boer et al. (eds.): Europäische Erinnerungsorte, vols. 1–3, Munich: Oldenbourg, 2011–12; Jürgen Zimmerer (ed.): Kein Platz an der Sonne: Erinnerungsorte der deutschen Kolonialgeschichte, Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag, 2013; Hans Henning Hahn et al. (eds.): Deutsch-Polnische Erinnerungsorte, vols. 1–5, Paderborn: Schöningh, 2012–15. See also the recent run research project on colonial remembrances in Cameroon and Germany: Albert Gouaffo and Stefanie Michels (eds.): Koloniale Verbindungen – transkulturelle Erinnerungstopografien. Das Rheinland in Deutschland und das Grasland Kameruns, Bielefeld: transcript, 2019.

[10]       François and Schulze: Einleitung, in: Deutsche Erinnerungsorte, vol. 1, p. 18. Similarly, see Fried and Rader: Vorwort, in: Die Welt des Mittelalters, p. 9–10.

[11]       Aleida Assmann: Erinnerungsräume: Formen und Wandlungen des kulturellen Gedächtnisses, Munich: Beck, 2010.

[12]       Leopold von Ranke: Geschichten der romanischen und germanischen Völker von 1494 bis 1514: Zur Kritik neuerer Geschichtsschreiber, 3rd ed., Leipzig: Dunker und Humblot, 1885, p. vi (preface).

[13]       François and Schulze: Einleitung, in: Deutsche Erinnerungsorte, vol. 1, p. 18.

[14]       On the Witbooi Bible see German Colonialism: Fragments Past and Present, exhibition catalogue, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin: Deutsches Historisches Museum, 2016, p. 221.

[15]       Emmency Nuukala: Geingob tells Germany to eat humble pie, in: New Era, 1.3.2019, https://neweralive.na/posts/geingob-tells-germany-to-eat-humble-pie, 21.9.2019; Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst Baden-Württemberg: Delegationsreise nach Namibia, 28.2.2019, at: https://mwk.baden-wuerttemberg.de/de/service/mediathek/media/mid/delegationsreise-nach-namibia/, 21.9.2019; Reinhart Kössler: The Bible and the Whip – Entanglements around the restitution of robbed heirlooms, ABI Working Paper No. 12, Freiburg, May 2019, at: https://www.arnold-bergstraesser.de/sites/default/files/field/pub-download/kossler_the_bible_the_whip_final_0.pdf, 21.9.2019.

[16]       Larissa Förster: ‘You are giving us the skulls – where is the flesh?’ Die Rückkehr der namibischen Human Remains, in: Holger Stoecker, Thomas Schnalke, and Andreas Winkelmann (eds.): Sammeln, Erforschen, Zurückgeben? Menschliche Gebeine aus der Kolonialzeit in akademischen und musealen Sammlungen, Berlin: Ch. Links, 2013, p. 419–46; Memory Biwa: The 1903–1908 War in Southern Namibia and the Politics of Memory: Commemorations, Narratives and Historic Sites, PhD thesis, University of the Western Cape, 2013.

[17]       Friederike Gesing, Katrin Amelang, Michael Flitner, and Michi Knecht: NaturenKulturen-Forschung. Eine Einleitung, in: Friederike Gesing, Katrin Amelang, Michael Flitner, and Michi Knecht (eds.): NaturenKulturen. Denkräume und Werkzeuge für neue politische Ökologien, Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2018, p. 7-50.

[18]       Peter-René Becker, Michael Schmitz, and Silke Stoll: „Leitfaden Provenienzforschung und Restitution“ – eine Empfehlung, February 2014, at: https://www.museumsbund.de/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/dmb-provenienzforschung.pdf, 21.9.2019.

[19]       ICOM Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums, 16.8.2013, p. 6, https://icom.museum/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/nathcode_ethics_en.pdf, 22.9.2019.

[20]       Christiane Peitz: Ein Hinweis auf die Kolonialgeschichte wäre geboten, in: Tagespiegel, 30.1.2019.

[21]       See especially Edwin Hennig: Am Tendaguru: Leben und Wirken einer deutschen Forschungsexpedition zur Ausgrabung vorweltlicher Riesensaurier in Deutsch-Ostafrika, Stuttgart: E. Schweizerbart, 1912.

[22]       The first anniversary related to the opening of the Natural History Museum with its three partial collections in 1889 in the building at Invalidenstrasse 43, which is still in use today. The second anniversary recalled the founding of the Berlin University in 1810, to which the three partial collections and later the Natural History Museum belonged until 2008.

[23]       Bishop Thomas Spreiter, letter to Janensch or Hennig, 22.7.1910, in: Natural History Museum Berlin, Historische Bild- und Schriftgutsammlungen, Pal. Mus., SII, Tendaguru-Expedition 5.2, p. 2.

[24]       Report on a study trip and participation in the annual conference of NATHIST, ICOM’s International Committee for Museums and Collections of Natural History (official trip to the United Republic of Tanzania, August 1 – September 2, 1987), in: Natural History Museum Berlin, Historische Bild- und Schriftgutsammlungen, Standort 2_153_3 Tansania 1987. I would like to thank Ina Heumann (Natural History Museum Berlin) for informing me on this document.

[25]       To date the Tanzanian government has refused to take up the demands of members of parliament for restitution. At present the government does not see any resources available for the professional conservation and care of the fossils or any opportunity for integrating them into the touristic development of the southern part of the country.

[26]       For example: MPs demand return of dinosaur fossils from Germany sanctuary, in: Daily News, 27.5.2016.

[27]       Gadiosa Lamtey: Germany set to return dinosaur fossils, in: The Citizen, 28.10.2016, p. 7.

[28]       Martin Baer and Olaf Schröter: Eine Kopfjagd: Deutsche in Ostafrika, Berlin: Ch. Links 2001, p. 185–97; Martin Baer: Eine Kopfjagd (documentary movie, 2001).

[29]       For example: Ricardo Tarli: Streit um Saurierknochen. Erbe der Kolonialzeit: Das Naturkundemuseum soll berühmte Fossilien zurückgeben, fordern Politiker aus Tansania, in: Der Tagesspiegel, 26.7.2016; Holger Stoecker: Auf dem Hügel der Schreckensechsen. Die Saurierskelette aus Tansania sind der Stolz des Naturkundemuseums Berlin. Ein Verwaltungsakt machte sie zu deutschem Eigentum. Mit Recht?, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 18.10.2017; Gretchen Vogel: Countries demand their fossils back, forcing natural history museums to confront their past, in: Science, 27.5.2019, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/03/countries-demand-their-fossils-back-forcing-natural-history-museums-confront-their-past, 22.9.2019.

[30]       Ronald Düker: Die Zukunft des Dinos. Das riesige Skelett eines Brachiosaurus brancai ist Prunkstück des Berliner Naturkundemuseums. Deutsche Kolonialisten gruben es einst in Afrika aus. Soll es zurück nach Tansania?, in: Die Zeit, 31.1.2019, https://www.zeit.de/2019/06/naturkundemuseum-berlin-brachiosaurus-ausgrabung-kolonialzeit-rueckgabe-tansania, 22.9.2019.

[31]       Muss das Museum sich von Dinos trennen? Johannes Vogel im Gespräch mit Thorsten Jantschek, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, 19.1.2019, https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/direktor-des-naturkundemuseums-johannes-vogel-mussdas.990.de.html?dram:article_id=438741, 22.1.2019.

[32]       See “Dinosaurs in Berlin!”, Natural History Museum Berlin, https://www.naturkundemuseum.berlin/en/dinosaurs-in-berlin, 21.9.2019.

[33]       For example: Zephania Ubwani: Kenya returns fossils to Tanzania, in: The Citizen [Dar es Salaam], 16.7.2012; most recently: Josephine Christopher: Tanzania ‘natural treasure’ draws crowds far from home, in: The Citizen, 19.9.2019, https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/news/1840340-5279386-9cmj0j/index.html, 22.9.2019.

[34]       François and Schulze, Einleitung, in: Deutsche Erinnerungsorte, vol. 1, p. 19.

[35]       See for example: Ina Heumann, Holger Stoecker, Marco Tamborini and Mareike Vennen: Dinosaurierfragmente. Zur Geschichte der Tendaguru-Expedition und ihrer Objekte, 1906-2018, Göttingen 2018.

[36]       Bénédicte Savoy: Das Erbe der Anderen, afterword to Arno Bertina: Mona Lisa in Bangoulap: Die Fabel vom Weltmuseum, Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2016, p. 53–75; Thomas Thiemeyer: Deutschland postkolonial: Ethnologische und genealogische Erinnerungskultur, in: Merkur: Deutsche Zeitschrift für europäisches Denken, no. 806, July 2016, p. 33–45; Provenienzforschung zu ethnologischen Sammlungen der Kolonialzeit. Conference of the Working Group on Museums of the German Anthropological Association and the Museum Fünf Kontinente, Munich, April 2017; Larissa Förster: Problematic Provenances: Museum and university collections from a post-colonial perspective, in: German Colonialism, p. 154–61; Stoecker, Schnalke, and Winkelmann, Sammeln, Erforschen, Zurückgeben?.

[37]       Examplary: Gitte Beckmann (ed.): “Man muss eben Alles sammeln”: Der Zürcher Botaniker und Forschungsreisende Hans Schinz und seine ethnographische Sammlung Südwestafrika, Zurich: Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2012.