Berlin (dpa) – So much Prussia has not been in the heart of Berlin for a long time. The central pleasure garden of the famous Museum Island is once again surrounded by the walls of the historical system: the armory, today the shell of the German Historical Museum, was once the arsenal of the army.

The Altes Museum represents the arts, the Berlin Cathedral the integration of church and religion in absolute reign. The facade of the city palace in Hohenzollern marked the claim for power far beyond democratic structures. Now is the controversial external front of the Humboldt Forum, which opened on Tuesday.

Little less is criticism of the equally smooth and uniform concrete surfaces with which Italian architect Franco Stella designed the modern parts of the 680 million euro center for art, culture and science. If Corona’s situation permits, around 10,000 visitors per day can be smuggled into the Humboldt Forum instead of the current 2,400. The necessary infrastructure with large entrances, wide rooms, wide corridors and, yes, escalators has often evoked the association of a shopping center.

At the opening, Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters (CDU) spoke of an “arena of democratic culture of debate” in which “the consideration of German colonial history will soon play a central role” . Managing Director Hartmut Dorgerloh wants a “place of social debate and conflict”, where people set things in motion and initiate fundamental processes of understanding.

The debate on colonialism is fostered by reconstruction. During the time of the Hohenzollerns, the German Empire became a colonial power. In what is now Namibia, approximately 75,000 Herero and Nama were killed under German orders. On the roof of the forum you can find what the Hohenzollerns later put on the palace during the revolution of 1848 to defend the monarchy against democratic aspirations: cross and dome with a widely visible biblical saying that calls for the submission of all peoples to Christianity. Under such symbols, colonialism is now to be dealt with in the Humboldt Forum with representatives from the affected countries of origin.

The place has been contested for nearly three decades. A district was born from a marshy meadow, the Dominicans built a monastery, there was first a Renaissance palace, then a Baroque palace. The superiors of the GDR blew up the ruins of the castle in 1950 and reunified Germany got rid of the Palace of the Republic contaminated by asbestos.

Castle fans have raised around 100 million euros for the development which is now complete. Stella used it to build Baroque facades on three exterior sides, in the large Schlüterhof and the portal part of the foyer. Between the badges of Prussian power such as crowns and eagles there are sometimes darker spots in the stone – the few original remains of the old castle building.

In the 40,000 square meter building, the construction of the Humboldt Forum with four institutions also contains explosive elements. As head of roof construction at the Humboldt Forum Foundation, Dorgerloh is primarily responsible for exhibitions and special events. In addition, two museums of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the State of Berlin and the Humboldt University, operate largely independently. Exhibitions from Asia, Africa, America, Oceania and Berlin are presented.

After the opening, initially postponed several times because of work and then because of the corona, and a digital prelude in December, the doors will be unlocked in three stages. Initially, there are six exhibits in the historic cellar, on the ground floor and on the first of three floors, all free for the first 100 days. In addition to the special exhibition “Terribly beautiful. Elefant – Mensch – Ivory ”there are five other presentations:“ After nature ”in the Humboldt University district, the“ Berlin Global ”exhibition by the Stadtmuseum and Kulturprojekte Berlin,“ Take a seat! “Like an exhibition for children,” the history of the place “on the evolution of the history in this part of the city and finally” the glimpses. The Humboldt Brothers ”on the works of the namesake Alexander (1769-1859) and Wilhelm (1767-1835) von Humboldt.