What are we to make of the video for Rammstein’s “Deutschland?” Let’s go through it.

It’s been nearly a decade since Rammstein released a full album so when when of a new record was coming May 17, fans waited for the customary WTF video moment from the band.

Rammstein has a long history of releasing controversial videos that often touch on Germany’s Nazi past. Take their 1997 cover of Depeche Mode’s “Stripped” which featuring footage of the 1936 games shot by Joseph Goebbels favourite filmmaker, Leni eni Riefenstahl. This unleashed a shitstorm of protests, especially from Jewish groups. This diverted attention from the fact that the band appeared in the video naked.

https://youtu.be/_4Xlc8CIfOI

Video subjects have included a drug-addicted Snow White and some horny dwarves, a real-life German cannibal and the band (allegedly) creating a real-life, non-simulated porn video for the song “Pussy” (DEFINITELY NSFW!)

Rammstein’s new shockfest is a nine-minute-plus epic that takes us through 2013 years of German history. Let’s deconstruct what’s really going on.

The first thing to note is the reoccurring character of Germania and her metaphoric role through history. Germania has traditionally been a woman who serves as a national figurehead. She’s used as a metaphor throughout the video.

Starting with the Germanic hordes taking shots at the Roman empire in 16 AD (it features the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, one that kept the Roman on their side of the Rhine from then on), we take sharp cuts through history.

The rats and the monks? Could be a reference to the Pied Piper of Hamelin who was around in the 13th century. There are scenes from what appears to be inside a WW1 German U-boat. The boxing comes from the Weimar Republic (1918-33), a time of great political, social. and economic instability in German. The Hindenberg disaster. Glimpses of East Germany. The 70s-era domestic terrorist organization, The Baader-Meinhof group. There’s a shot of Sigmund Jähn, the first German in space. (A full tour of the historical events in the video can be found here.)

And then there is all the Nazi and concentration camp imagery, complete with the triangles on the uniforms of the prisoners signifying their crimes.

Before you watch, here are some things you should know going in.

  1. The video is clearly extremely critical of Germany’s dark past and its various moral failures over the centuries. And you can’t do that honestly without mentioning Nazi atrocities, right? Cue the outrage over “trivializing” the Holocaust. (Enter “Rammstein” and “trivialize” into the Google Machine and watch how many hits come up.)
  2. Violence. Loads, and loads of violence. And was that a decapitation?
  3. More cannibalism. Another metaphor? Class division?
  4. And puppies. Cute little puppies. I can’t explain them, either.
  5. And it’s worth checking out the English translation of the lyrics just so you know where the band is coming from.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “What are we to make of the video for Rammstein’s “Deutschland?” Let’s go through it.

  • March 31, 2019 at 2:58 pm
    Permalink

    All I can say is “You can’t welcome a future, without acknowledging the past!”

    Reply
  • April 1, 2019 at 3:23 am
    Permalink

    To Bad the video for Stripped is blocked on copyright grounds.

    Reply

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