The Coalition of Cultural Workers against the Humboldt Forum (CCWAH) formed in the summer of 2020. It is an open and constantly growing alliance of cultural workers based primarily in Berlin.

While in other places in the world colonial monuments were being toppled, the reconstruction of the Berlin Palace was “crowned” with a golden cross and orb in late May of 2020. This moment triggered CCWAH’s formation. The erection of these provincial symbols of imperialist ambition and Christian dominance intensified frustration and anger over the irredeemable path of the Humboldt Forum. The newly rebuilt old Berlin Palace, now known as the Humboldt Forum, is where collections of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) are to be relocated – including items stolen during Germany’s colonial era (1884-1919).

The Coalition carries out its activities as part of – and in acknowledgement of – the long-standing and still-growing resistance to the Humboldt Forum, a construct against which many have already fought and continue to fight, including Berlin Postkolonial, No Humboldt 21, Decolonize Berlin Alliance, AfricAvenir, and Barazani amongst others.

CCWAH’s initial slogan, “Tear it down and turn it upside down”, calls for the dismantling of the cross-bearing orb together with its accompanying inscription, which demands that “the living and the dead kneel unconditionally before Jesus”. CCWAH’s slogan proposes to turn the Humboldt Forum on its head in order to reverse the logic of its neo-colonial claims and bring the buried, troubled issues of its very foundation to the fore.

In December 2020, CCWAH began the poster campaign “I won’t participate because…” to make space for the many reasons why collaborating with or working for the Humboldt Forum is a bad idea. Simultaneously, the Coalition initiated its campaign to “Defund the Humboldt Forum”, which proposes to redirect the mega-institution’s resources to a sustainable and meaningful decolonizing of Berlin’s cultural institutions, collections, and programs.