It’s been nearly a decade since Rammstein released a full album so
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.
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!)
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.
- 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.)
- Violence. Loads, and loads of violence. And was that a decapitation?
- More cannibalism. Another metaphor? Class division?
- And puppies. Cute little puppies. I can’t explain them, either.
- And it’s worth checking out the English translation of the lyrics just so you know where the band is coming from.