Breaking Down Rammstein’s Controversial Video ‘Deutschland’

March 31, 2019

Written by Capt McNeely

Georgia Division ZADF Twitter: @ZADF_ORG

The German metal group Rammstein, have released their first new single in 10 years, the song is simply titled, Deutschland (Germany). Along with the new single came its music video which Rammstein is known for having very cinematic videos but prior to the release, a teaser video was posted to Youtube by the band depicting the band’s keyboardist Flake Lorenz, lead singer Till Lindemann, rhythm guitarist Paul Landers, and bassist Oliver Riedel with nooses around their necks standing under a makeshift gallows dressed in concentration camp uniforms.

 

 

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The teaser video along with the actual music video, directed by Specter Berlin, has come under fire by critics in Germany and elsewhere in the world for the use of Holocaust imagery. After watching the music video multiple times my history nerd side became intrigued. While many focused on the concentration camp imagery, they’re missing a bigger picture being painted.

The music video features German Actress Ruby Commey who plays Germany. The video focuses on historical events of Germany’s past that lead to the country’s downfall after the Second World War and aftermath. Though the video has a lot of cuts between time periods, I’ll be going in historical order.

 

 

 

 

The important part of the video is the beginning; it shows a river with land on both sides, this is most likely representing Angrivarian Wall which was a system of rivers and land formations that made up a metaphorical wall. The video starts with “Germania Magna 16AD”, in 16AD there were many military campaigns between Roman Legions and Germanic Tribes, the most important battle was the Battle of the Angrivarian Wall. Though this was a Roman victory, Rome decided to pull its troops from the nation thus leading it to try and unite.

 

 

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The showing of knights is no doubt referencing The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) the most destructive war in Europe. Germany is in golden armor with the crest on the chest plate looking like the two-headed eagle of the Holy Roman Empire. The Thirty Years War not only marked the downfall of the Holy Roman Empire but it leads to the formation of the Kingdom of Prussia sometime later but during and after the war, Germany was hit hard by plague and famine as shown with rats filling the streets and clergymen stuffing their faces with food off the body of Germany lying on the table in a crazed version of body sushi.

There is also a depiction of what appears to be the Würzburg witch trial, where many people were executed in masses as it was believed the spread of disease and famine was caused by witchcraft where critics believe the church did this to hide the fact they were hoarding food from the masses.

 

 

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Now a lot of the “modern” imagery is a bit confusing but I’m sure I was able to make sense of what they were. The biggest thing that hit Germany was the Industrial Revolution which birthed many issues. With industry came greed, with unfair treatment of workers lead to calls for organized workforces which invited in the idea of Communism which Germany really did not like for social, economic, and political reasons. This lead to many riots, imprisoned workers, and growing paranoia towards immigrants and religious minorities who many felt were the driving force behind the Communist movements.

After the First World War, there was a huge political shift, especially after the German Revolution where the German Monarchy was replaced by a social democratic government with a parliament. Of course, shortly afterward the Great Depression hit and events spiraled out of control leading to the source for the controversy of the video… The Holocaust.

As the four bandmates mentioned earlier are at the gallows, the remaining two members, drummer Christoph Schneider, and lead guitarist Richard Kruspe are dressed as SS Officers. Along with the scene, a V-2 Rocket is shown. This would indicate this is taking place in Mittelwerk, a V-2 production plant that ran on slave labor with prisoners from the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. 200 prisoners were hanged for sabotaging rockets.

 

 

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Now we enter the cold war, Germany was divided up by Allied forces after WWII and Eastern Germany is under Communist control. Here we see the band as leading officials counting their money, showing the hypocritical nature of the Communist elite, while on paper communism is all for one and one for all, in actual practice, it becomes all for one and shit on the rest. There’s also a depiction of all the members of the band as members of the Baader-Meinhof Gang.

The final act of the video depicts the past colliding with the future as brown shirts are rioting and clashing with modern German police which could be seen as a representation of the current social climate in the country (if not the world). Though the video depicts unsavory historical moments in Germany’s past, the lyrics to the song itself points mainly to the division of Germany after the Second World War, all members of the band grew up in East Germany.

 

 

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It could be argued that the video showcases the events of the past that lead to the Holocaust which in turn determined the fate of Germany becoming divided until the fall of communism. The imagery of concentration camp prisoners being executed also spliced with a V-2 Rocket launching shows that the biggest scientific breakthrough in history was born out of something more sinister.

The band is no stranger to controversy as they have been accused over the years for violent acts and for influencing the perpetrators of these events. The constant image issue Rammstein suffers from is being compared to Nazis. On all of their albums, they have never mentioned anything that would suggest otherwise or anything political with the exception of the song Links 2-3-4 (Left 2-3-4) on the album Mutter, guitarist Richard Kruspe said: “‘My heart beats on the left, two, three, four’. It’s simple. If you want to put us in a political category, we’re on the left side, and that’s the reason we made the song”.

In hindsight, most of Rammstein’s songs are edgy and may sound cool if you don’t know German, but most of their songs are very sexual, some songs are just your typical rock song, and some are just…well…weird. Keyboardist Flake Lorenz said in an interview in 2015 about past controversies, “The controversy is fun, like stealing forbidden fruit. But it serves a purpose. We like audiences to grapple with our music, and people have become more receptive”.

 

 

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With that said the video “Deutschland” is thought-provoking from a historical standpoint if you go back and look through German history. I think the severed head of lead singer Till Lindemann represents what the original idea of what Germany was supposed to be; united, and flourishing. Ruby Commey as Germany, always cradling the idea (Till’s head) but not really committed to it. In the video’s finale in the ensuing chaos of past and present, Till’s head is lying on the ground as if forgotten while everyone fights. Don’t ask me about the dogs and astronauts… I’m still scratching my head at that, then again that’s pure Rammstein.

With the current state of the world socially and politically as of late, Rammstein crossed the line again as they’ve always had but this time tried to warn with the video and song but unfortunately their nation’s past mired their message, as it seems how the world thinks now, if it’s loud, German, and scary, it must be Nazis. In a country where it’s still a sore subject to many, you have to give them props for not just accepting their nation’s past, but acknowledging it.

 

The following is the translation of the song with the music video following.

[Verse 1]
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)

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

[Verse 2]
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

[Chorus]
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!

[Bridge]
You
I
We
You
You (superior/overpowering, unnecessary)
I (Übermenschen, weary)
We (The higher you climb, the further you fall)
You (Germany, Germany over all)

[Chorus]
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
Germany!

 

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