Press release – 8 October 2020



Repeating falsehoods does not make them true

The debate surrounding compensation claims lodged by the House of Hohenzollern has heated up once again. Unfortunately, in the context of this debate, false claims continue to be made periodically by journalists as well as historians. These supposed facts were not verified before being reported, and subsequent requests to have them corrected have mostly been ignored. Instead, the idea that critics have been “muzzled” by the House of Hohenzollern has gained traction. Contrary to this erroneous idea, the House of Hohenzollern has, in fact, repeatedly and publicly expressed an interest in facilitating a transparent and scholarly discussion of matters concerning German history. It has also repeatedly provided its financial support for open and unbiased academic research.

Below are several false claims made recently and their corresponding corrections:

 

1. The Prince of Prussia is asking for a state-funded Hohenzollern museum.
This is a fictitious claim. The idea was, in fact, proposed by the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg, which has officially been in favour of such a project since 2002 and described it as “the most important museum project in the years to come”. Government officials have embraced the idea, and major steps have been taken in the last 18 years to realize the project. After Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, was officially asked on several occasions to be involved in the project, he expressed his willingness to support the project by gratuitously placing items on loan.

2. The Prince of Prussia is asking for a say in the activities of the museums in Berlin and Brandenburg.
This claim, which lacks any context, is a crass distortion of the facts. In the negotiations with the public authorities, the matter at hand refers merely to having a say in what happens with the items on loan. This is standard practice in partnerships between state cultural institutions and private lenders – without whom German museums could hardly exist. In a joint statement given on 24 July 2019, the negotiating parties, that is, the participating foundations and federal states, headed by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Culture and Media, confirmed that any influence granted to the Prince of Prussia would only concern the specific items on loan from his family. This is no different from how other lenders are treated and explicitly corresponds with the relevant provisions in the German Museum Association’s (Deutscher Museumsbund) standard arrangement for loaned items. The Prince of Prussia is already one of the biggest private lenders in Berlin and Brandenburg. The House of Hohenzollern has had a productive partnership with the cultural institutions in Berlin and Brandenburg for nearly 100 years.

3. The Prince of Prussia is asking for rights of residence at historic properties, such as Cecilienhof Palace.
Since the allocation of assets in 1926, there has in theory been a right of residence, but it is no longer used and expires with the passing of the generation of Prince Georg Friedrich’s parents. Nevertheless, even the GDR government had considered renewing this right of residence to the House of Hohenzollern. After 1990, the public authorities – initially Brandenburg’s state government and after 2000 the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg – proposed extending this right of residence. The House of Hohenzollern was simply responding to these proposals. Once the public authorities firmly departed from this stance during negotiations on 24 July 2019, Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, made a public statement on the same day together with all of the negotiating parties that the matter was now a non-issue as far as negotiations were concerned.

4. The House of Hohenzollern is obstructing or hindering access to its archives.
The claim has also been made that the archives at the House of Hohenzollern have not been made available for research. These false and unverified claims have been made repeatedly – in one case even though there was a written invitation to use the archives. The competent court found that the claim of obstructed access to the archives was indeed untrue. There was never anything preventing access to the archives. Delays in the scheduling of appointments in recent months were exclusively due to coronavirus precautions, i.e. a temporary closure similar to those that took place at other archives all over the world. Hohenzollern Castle was completely closed until 15 June.

5. The Prince of Prussia is abusing press law to impede academic work.
Press rights and freedom of expression do not protect anyone from the consequences of making false claims, especially when they infringe upon individuals’ personal rights. Such infringements are not protected by the rights of academic freedom enshrined in the Constitution either. Anyone who makes false statements verbally or in writing in a way that discredits a fellow citizen must therefore expect that the affected person will assert their legal rights. Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, is entitled to these rights like every other citizen.

Various courts have – without exception – already confirmed numerous instances of misinformation directly or indirectly related to the main corrections presented here.