Exhibition at Werkstatt der Kulturen – statement & call for support

Support needed for Werkstatt der Kulturen…

There is currently a media witch hunt against the director, Philippa Ebéné, because of her decision to cancel the exhibition “Die Dritte Welt im Zweiten Weltkrieg” (The Third World in the Second World War). Accusations against her have been defamatory and shocking.

The exhibition was intended to be an hommage to Black people and People of Color worldwide, who contributed to resistance against the Nazis. Not much is known about the contribution of Black people and People of Color in the war effort. This exhibition was to address that balance and to pay our respects to those people.

Philippa Ebéné has come under extreme criticism however because she decided to cancel the exhibition when it became obvious that it also contained information about Nazi collaborators.
But this was not the point of the exhibition in the first place. In the end all the good deads would have been put on par with, or perhaps even outweighed by the heinious crimes of a few individuals.

This was not an issue about denial or censorship, as has been claimed.

It was an issue of respect for the context.

We do not know of any other memorial event which says “yes they were good & should be remembered, but there were these other guys… learn more about them now…”

The aim of the month long programme of events was to say “thank you”. Unequivocally.

This is what Ms Ebéné struggled to achieve. When it was clear that this would not happen, she cancelled. The exhibition had to move to a different place.

A brave, important action, for which she is now being unjustly hounded in the press, comments call her even antisemite, fascist etc.
Philippa Ebéné was awarded UNESCO’s Toussaint Louverture Medal for her “contribution to the struggle against domination, racism and intolerance” in 2008. She’s a Black woman.

The senate’s “commissioner for integration”, Günter Piening, determined in a meeting held past week in her absence that a copy of the exhibition that displays australian, US- and UK- soldiers as part of “Third World” and puts Nazi collaborateurs together with fighters for resistance only because they’re all not white, be shown in the “Werkstatt der Kulturen” starting September 1st.

It is even likely that Phillippa Ebéné will lose her job as director of the Berlin-based Werkstatt der Kulturen.

This is unheard of. Please raise your voices & pens wherever you can!

“Its nonsense to accuse Frau Ebéné of antisemitism”, says Anette Kahane (…), head of the Amadeu-Antonio-Foundation und herself Jewish. The core of the conflict lies in the fact that there is “no sensible debate here in Germany about racism and the meaning of Whiteness and Non-whiteness”, criticises Kahane. “Here the dominant view remains, that we should be discerning about the individuality and uniqueness of Europeans, but we can afford to make broad sweeping generalisations about all others”. The other people involved in the conflict obviously do not understand Frau Ebéné’s perspective of this issue: “One should simply listen to her, instead of silencing a much needed discussion with an accusation of antisemitism”, says Kahane.

http://criticalwitness.blogspot.com/2009/08/support-needed-for-werkstatt-der.html

contact: Günter Piening, “commissioner for integration”
Mail: (cc Werkstatt der Kulturen and der braune mob): integrationsbeauftragter@intmig.berlin.de

read more in German: http://blog.derbraunemob.info/2009/08/30/diskussion-um-ausstellung-in-werkstatt-der-kulturen-oeffentliches-statement-von-der-braune-mob-e-v/

4 replies
  1. Rosemarie Pena
    Rosemarie Pena says:

    This summer I spent three months in Germany, six weeks of which was as a student in Berlin. As part of my coursework for my class, “Berlin After the War,” I visited several museums and exhibits that included representations of the US Troops and Allied Occupational Forces in Germany during and after World War II. Having grown up as a Black German adoptee in an African American military family I frequently heard stories from my father and his friends about their tours in Germany during the war and the occupation period. I was deeply saddened to note that in the museums and exhibitions I visited in Germany nowhere did I find any evidence of Black soldiers” presence or service. While I am extremely disappointed at the cancellation of the exhibition, I agree with Philippa Ebéné’s decision. People of Color who fought against the Nazi regime and therefore played a crucial role in breaking the regime , are heroes and deserve to be recognized as such. The manner in which this exhibit would have proceeded would have been disrespectful. As much as I would have loved to have seen Germany acknowledge them, I would not have appreciated having their contributions degraded. I am grateful to Phillippa Ebéné for insisting on an appropriate tribute.

    Rosemarie Peña, President
    Black German Cultural Society, Inc.

  2. Black Women In Europe
    Black Women In Europe says:

    I am saddened to learn that a person who was awarded UNESCO”s Toussaint Louverture Medal for her “contribution to the struggle against domination, racism and intolerance” in 2008 is being attacked for her decision regarding this exhibit.

  3. Hans-Christian Mahnke
    Hans-Christian Mahnke says:

    Just for my knowledge: In my understanding AfricAvenir and Werkstatt der Kulturen were jointly awarded the UNESCO”s Toussaint Louverture Medal last year for their joint exhibition and programme around the exhibition “200 years later….”. So I don’t think Mrs. Ebene got the medal, but the two insitutions. And both instutions now are involved in the disput concerning this new exhibition. But to use the awarding of the exhibition as an argument, and only stating 50% of the facts is again misguiding, at best. Since both institions are now attacked, from different sides, one clearly has to mention that a year ago both got the medal. Not an individual got a medal. It would be fair enough from your side to also mention, that AfricAvenir got the same medal, on the same occasion.

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