Humboldt Forum to remove medallion honouring far-right donor

Ehrhardt Bödecker’s family requested the removal after his “militaristic, anti-democratic and in some respects, radically right-wing and antisemitic” views became public

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Medallions at the Humboldt Forum honour donors who contributed more than €1m to the reconstruction of the Berlin royal palace © SHF / Hi.Res.Cam

Medallions at the Humboldt Forum honour donors who contributed more than €1m to the reconstruction of the Berlin royal palace © SHF / Hi.Res.Cam

The Humboldt Forum will remove a medallion honouring a donor to the reconstruction of the Berlin royal palace at the request of his son and daughter-in-law, who described Ehrhardt Bödecker’s statements and texts as “containing theories and wording that are wrong and in part right-wing extremist.”

The medallions hanging in a portal of the vast new museum complex in the heart of Berlin honour donors who contributed more than €1m to the reconstruction of the historic façade of the former Prussian royal palace. In October, Philipp Oswalt, a professor of architectural theory, wrote an article for the Tagesspiegel newspaper in which he set out some of Bödecker’s far-right and antisemitic statements.

A banker and historian, Bödecker died in 2016. The Humboldt Forum said in a statement that its board was not aware of his “militaristic, anti-democratic and in some respects, radically right-wing and antisemitic” views before Oswalt’s article was published. The medallion will be removed “immediately,” a spokesman for the Humboldt Forum said.

The banker’s son Andreas Bödecker and daughter-in-law Elvira Tasbach said they were also previously unaware of them. “This discovery is painful,” they wrote in a statement reported by the Tagesspiegel.

The Humboldt Forum opened to the public in July after almost two years of postponements caused first by construction delays, then by the pandemic. The new culture complex aims to stage around 1,000 events annually and expects to welcome as many as 3 million visitors a year. It is home to Berlin’s ethnology and Asian art collections and a museum of Berlin’s history. It is still a work in progress: the second and third floors of the east wing, with ethnological and Asian art displays, will open next year.

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