The “Tip of the Kilimanjaro” at the New Palace in Potsdam

The so-called "Tip of the Kilimanjaro" – a small chunk of stone in the Grotto Hall at the New Palace, goes back to the first ascent of this massif by Gustav Meyer in 1889. Meyer took a rock sample from the summit and brought it back to Germany, where he presented it to German Emperor William II as a symbol of Germany’s taking possession of the Kilimanjaro. The latter had the stone integrated into the Grotto Hall in 1890.

Surprisingly, later examinations of the stones in the Grotto Hall revealed that the purported “Tip of the Kilimanjaro” was not a piece of lava from the summit of the mountain. The original stone was most likely removed after the war and replaced with a normal piece of crushed stone. In 1985, due to monument preservation considerations at the time, the stone was exchanged for one that actually did come from the Kilimanjaro massif.

The “Tip of the Kilimanjaro” was never real, but it does point to a critical epoch in German history: German Colonialism in Africa. The history of the purported tip of the summit thus constitutes an indicative example of our colonial legacy and the Eurocentricity of the European way of thinking.

Contact

SPSG | Colonial Contexts Steering Committee
Postfach 60 14 62
14414  Potsdam

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