Rammstein’s ‘Deutschland’ Analysis of ‘That Scene’

Rammstein are no stranger to controversy but this time it’s a whole new level

Rammstein Deutschland

Rammstein aren’t exactly strangers to controversy – recurrent allegations of right wing imagery and leanings, their music being tied to mass killings, videos and songs causing offence to various arts boards and directors, but this time they seem to have taken it to a new level for one of the strangest reasons possible.

Their new video ‘Deutschland‘ has managed to cause offence over a short section which shows the band about to be hung in a concentration camp. Jewish leaders have said that Rammstein are trivialising the Holocaust in order to publicise themselves. Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry Tweeted that it was “shameful and uncalled for“, Felix Klein, the German government’s commissioner for anti-Semitism said it is, “a tasteless exploitation of artistic freedom” and Efraim Zuroff, a historian from The Simon Wiesenthal Center stated, “This is really not the way to deal with the subject as sensitive as the Holocaust,”.

Rammstein Deustschland Execution scene

Let’s look at the scene in question.

In concentration camps, labour camps and death camps, prisoners wore patches which were colour coded in order to identify why they were imprisoned. The prisoners in the video are no different, from left to right –

  • pink patch: homosexuality
  • yellow star patch: Jewish
  • red patch: political/socialist/trade unionist/supporter of Jews
  • black patch: alcoholics, drugs addicts, mentally ill, homeless, conscientious objectors, anarchists.

It’d be easy to miss the patches or to have all of the prisoners wearing the Jewish yellow star as that is widely known, but Rammstein have done their homework here. This isn’t a trivialisation, it is well researched.  Rammstein are both the prisoners and the executors in this scene while the lyrics over the scene are

Germany
My heart in flames
Want to love you, want to damn you

The video reflects the duality not just of this line but the duality of the whole song. Which is, in Rammstein’s own bizarre way, what the whole video is about – loving Germany but also hating it; how Germany rises to become something awful each time, so being fearful that any success Germany will have might see evil return. The dichotomy is present in the scene as the prisoners watch the rockets launch, the great technological achievement seen by men about to die for their sexuality, for their genes, for their faith, for their beliefs, for their differences. Throughout the video, the woman accompanying Rammstein on their journey who portrays Germany is shown as being worshipped or as being held captive, but in this scene she is wearing an eyepatch – literally turning a blind eye to what is happening.

Instead of focusing on the overall message of the song, the various offended parties have taken a 15 second piece of video and chosen to be offended by it.  Yes, the Holocaust has to be handled with tact and it can’t be used for advertising or for trivial matters, but what people forget is that we are now 74 years from the end of World War II. As we grow further from the Holocaust it becomes less and less interesting to young people, as they see it as history, slowly becoming ancient history. I doubt even a third of 30 year olds in Europe can name a camp other than Auschwitz. If we drop that to teenagers then I doubt a third could name even Auschwitz.  It isn’t relevant to their lives.

The way to reach people isn’t through museums, through encyclopaedias or stuffy history lessons, it is to integrate it with what they love and are already interested in.

  • My interest in concentration camps was stifled in school because it was “morbid” and there was no internet for me to learn from. I initially heard of Josef Mengle through the Slayer song Angel of Death.
  • We weren’t taught about the Cambodian Killing Fields in school. I heard of them from the Dead Kennedys song Holiday in Cambodia. The Dead Kennedys also made me interested in American history and politics.
  • My knowledge of Alexander the Great started with the Iron Maiden song. My reading of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor was also because of Maiden.
  • Metallica’s One led to me reading about Dalton Trumbo who was one of Hollywood’s top writers but eventually became blacklisted because of his anti-war views. He had to work under an alias, even winning an Academy Award that he couldn’t claim until 19 years later.

By Rammstein including The Holocaust in the video for ‘Deutschland’, it has made people talk. It has made people discuss The Holocaust and there are people learning about it for the very first time because of this video. It’s important to remember history, Rammstein know that and Rammstein also know how to teach that lesson.

And just in case you’re wondering, here are the lyrics in English.

You (You have, you have, you have, you have)
Have cried a lot (Cried, cried, cried, cried)
Separated in spirit (Separated, separated, separated, separated)
United in heart (United, united, united, united)
We (We are, we are, we are, we are)
Have been together for so long (You are, you are, you are, you are)
Your breath’s cold (So cold, so cold, so cold, so cold)
The heart in flames (So hot, so hot, so hot, so hot)
You (You can, you can, you can, you can)
I (I know, I know, I know, I know)
We (We are, we are, we are, we are)
You (You stay, you stay, you stay, you stay)

Germany – my heart in flames
Want to love and damn you
Germany – your breath’s cold
So young, and yet so old
Germany

I (You have, you have, you have, you have)
I never want to leave you (You cry, you cry, you cry, you cry)
One can love you (You love, you love, you love, you love)
And wants to hate you (You hate, you hate, you hate, you hate)
Presumptuous, superior
Take over, hand over/puke
Surprise, invade
Germany, Germany above everyone

Germany – my heart in flames
Want to love and damn you
Germany – your breath is cold
So young, and yet so old
Germany – your love
Is a curse and a blessing
Germany – my love
I can’t give you
Germany
Germany

You
I
We
All of you
You (superior/overpowering, unnecessary)
I (Supermen, weary)
We (The higher you climb, the further you fall)
You (Germany, Germany above everyone)

Germany – your heart in flames
Want to love and damn you
Germany – my breath’s cold
So young, and yet so old
Germany – your love
Is a curse and blessing
Germany – my love
I can’t give you my love
Germany!

You can also read our examination of the horror behind Rammstein’s song ‘Radio‘.

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Article revised at 20:36 with a better explanation of the blind eye imagery.
Revised again on April 2nd to correct a reference to the executioner in the scene who was misidentified. Thanks to James Littlewood for the correction. 

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