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Neil MacGregor on Charlemagne and the Humboldt Forum scandal

By Alex Stuart

This week, former British Museum Director and founding Director of Berlin’s new Humboldt Forum Neil MacGregor gave a lecture at Oxford University about Charlemagne, the ‘father of Europe’ and how his myth has been appropriated by political figures and groups throughout history, such as Napoleon and in the last century by nationalist parties, before discussing Macron’s Charlemagne-esque policy of wider collaboration and deeper EU integration.

MacGregor also commented on the recent controversy surrounding the Humboldt Forum, specifically the decision to include a cross on top of its dome which sparked debate about hindering an inclusive cultural dialogue.

He points to the overwhelmingly secular East Germany as the epicentre of criticism, arising from vigorous atheist policies in the GDR. Germany’s culture minister Monika Grütters supported the decision, arguing that Germany has Christian roots, and "only those who are sure of their own identity can give free scope to others without feeling threatened".

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