Photographer's Note

Black Lives Matter

On the last day of our stay in Berlin, we visited the Sanssouci Park in nearby Potsdam.
Several castles, of which Sanssouci is the best known and an untold number of statues in the extensive gardens.
Sanssouci was the summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia (1712-1786), in Potsdam.
On the ”hauptallee” between the Sanssouci palace and the exit of the park on the side of the city of Potsdam is a rondell with the name "Mohrenrondell". There are 6 statues in a circle on the road and four of them are exceptional because they are busts of black people. These busts are made of Carrara marble and a black limestone and date from the end of the 17th century. The statues are probably of Italian origin.

It will come as no surprise to you that these statues and especially the name of the rondell provide much food for discussion.
Especially now that the Black Lives Matter movement, which started in 2013 with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in response to the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin, quickly grew in popularity in 2020 after George Floyd's death, both in the USA and internationally.
Part of the many protests were attacks on “false” statues. Mostly statues of historical figures who in our view have played a questionable role in the field of discrimination and racial segregation.
In the Netherlands, too, we were confronted with the facts regarding our extensive involvement in the slave trade.

This spring, the so-called Mohrenrondell was discussed in the city council of Potsdam.
A motion stated: “The name is colonial-racist and therefore discriminatory, not only for victims of slavery, but also for black people living in Germany today "….”In a city that professes an edict of tolerance, such designations for public spaces should not be used. ”
“The term "Mohr" mocks people's experiences of exploitation, discrimination and persecution.” A racism researcher advised conducting the debate on how to deal with this heritage in a serious and well-grounded manner and recommends adding enlightening, critical, detached references
The motion asked to change the name of the statues from Frederick the Great's time and indicate the slave trade of his ancestors on an information board near the roundel.

We cannot change history and any attempt to do so must be strongly condemned.
We can, however, judge history with our current moral standards and conclude that much of what was then glorified is now no longer tolerable. This allows us to demonstrate that we have learned from the “mistakes” our ancestors made.

3 Pictures with each two busts of the six Mohrenrondell statues

■ Picture 1: ◄ ►

■ Picture 2: ◄ ►

■ Picture 3: ◄ ►

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Additional Photos by Rob Zwemmer (alvaraalto) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5597 W: 327 N: 10815] (42410)
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