The course of the current hour in the Bundestag, which the AfD parliamentary group had requested for the restitution of the Benin Bronzes, was predictable. It was also possible to foresee that Marc Jongen, cultural policy spokesman for the AfD, would accuse the Minister of State for Culture and the Foreign Minister of having "embarrassed and humiliated" Germany in the restitution and of satisfying moral fantasies of grandeur in their "cultural self-hatred".

Nevertheless, some of the highlights of the debate were surprising. For example, that Dorothee Bär (CSU), who first spoke for the Union, supported Jongen's initiative in essential points. The bronzes, according to Bär, could disappear "into oblivion" or "somewhere in canals" due to the transfer of ownership to the Oba in Benin City; "only one", the Oba, would now benefit from it. Therefore, in the future, it must be ensured that art treasures are "not destroyed or hidden" when they are returned. Ansgar Heveling (CDU) added that in the case of restitution, the question of political leeway was "more urgent than ever" and quoted from a book by the Düsseldorf legal scholar Sophie Schönberger: restitution of cultural assets is "a process that needs to be shaped".

A new cultural policy for the Union?

Is this a sign of a new cultural-political position? The speakers of the governing parties did not miss the opportunity to point out the coordinating participation of the former Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters (CDU) in the process of restitution. Michelle Müntefering argued bluntly on behalf of the SPD in terms of realpolitik: Nigeria is "a proud, a large country" whose population in 2050 will come close to that of the entire EU; That's why you have to be on good terms diplomatically with him.

The rest of the debate, which took place in front of largely empty seats in the Reichstag building, proceeded along the usual lines: the speakers from the Left Party and the FDP accused their opponents of historical revisionism and neo-colonialism; and Awet Tesfaiesus (Greens) even brought up the crown of Charles III, which was studded with gems from colonial loot contexts. "That's the debate we need to have." In fact? The fact that the Bundestag is now also to be responsible for the British monarchy would truly be a completely new development.