German Rock Band Comes Under Fire for Music Video’s Portrayal of Nazi Germany
Jewish hard rock band Rammstein has found itself under fire over the music video for their first new single in almost a decade “Deutschland.” Jewish organizations and the Israeli government are bothered by a portion of the video in which group members are dressed as concentration camp inmates on an execution gallows.
“The band has crossed a line,” said Charlotte Knobloch, former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. “The instrumentalization and trivialization of the Holocaust, as shown in the images, is irresponsible.”
“It is a tasteless exploitation of artistic freedom,” echoed Felix Klein, the German government’s commissioner for anti-semitism.
This is not the band’s first encounter with controversy. Over their 25-year career, they have been arrested and banned, and their concerts are notorious for explosive pyrotechnics and simulated sex acts. Their last album, Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da (2009), was initially banned in Germany because of its portrayal of BDSM. Still, the band has been highly successful, selling 10 million albums and selling out Madison Square Garden in a half hour despite their lyrics featuring little English. The new video, released Thursday, shows the band members with nooses around their necks, and one member appears to be wearing a yellow star, a symbol Jews living throughout Nazi-occupied Europe were forced to wear.
"This Rammstein clip, using the Holocaust for advertisement purposes, is shameful and uncalled for," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted. "We join the many voices calling for its immediate removal."
The video explores multiple eras in German history. Besides the Holocaust, the video portrays moments in medieval battles and the Industrial Revolution.
Some have come to the defense of the band. “I think this wish for censorship of art is what's uncalled [for],” one user tweeted in response to Nahshon. “They are touching on the subject exactly because it was such a bad episode in German history. Saying they can't talk about it cause they're German is disrespectful, it's like you're saying Germans are still Nazis.”