The New York TimesThe New York Times

How Germany changed its mind, and gave the Benin Bronzes back

By Thomas Rogers, Rahila Lassa and Alex Marshall

21 Dec 2022 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

Germany has handed 20 Benin Bronze artifacts to Nigeria, in what is being seen as a major step towards restitution of cultural items looted during the colonial period. The New York Times reports.

ABUJA, Nigeria — When the airplane of Germany’s foreign minister touched down in Abuja, Nigeria, this past weekend, it carried precious cargo: 20 Benin Bronzes, priceless artifacts that were looted in a violent raid more than a century ago, and which were finally coming home.

At a ceremony in Abuja on Tuesday, the German official, Annalena Baerbock, handed the stolen items back to Nigerian officials. “It was wrong to take the bronzes, and it was wrong to keep them for 120 years,” she said.

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