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The exhibition

In the exhibition ‘German Colonialism. Fragments Past and Present’, featuring more than 500 exhibits, the Deutsches Historisches Museum addresses various aspects of German colonialism for the first time. Although the German Empire was one of the major European colonial powers from 1884 until the end of the First World War, it is only in the past few years that the colonial past has increasingly begun to enter public consciousness in Germany. The exhibition offers fascinating insight into the interests, development and dynamics of German colonial history and tells of the scope of action within which a broad spectrum of German, African and Oceanian players pursued their aims and motives. The multifarious power relations in the colonies ranged from local alliances and the daily exercise of violence to the colonial war in Namibia, which culminated in genocide.

Tropical helmet for imperial german officials

From the mid-19th century on, European civil servants, military and travellers from all the colonial powers wore tropical helmets made of pith and later of cork. Used extensively across all the tropical colonies, the helmets offered protection against sun and rain and rapidly became a fixture of the colonial dress code and a sign of membership of the racially defined group of rulers.