Rammstein’s controversial new video an epic journey through history

41
Rammstein at the Big Day Out in Melbourne in 2011. Photo: Deanna Vonic

Last month, Rammstein released the music video for Deutschland, the first single from their upcoming self-titled album.  When it is released on May 17, Rammstein will be the band’s seventh studio album and its first in 10 years since Liebe ist fur alle da.

Deutchland is reminiscent of their 2004 hit Amerika in which vocalist Till Lindeman sings, “this is not a love song”.  Deutchland’s commentary on German history is in the shock rockers’ usual, controversial style. 

The anti-fascist artists have been slammed by Jewish groups, calling the concentration camp scene a tasteless publicity stunt. However, fans believe no retelling of German history should “gloss over” the Holocaust.

The band members stand at gallows dressed as camp prisoners as missiles are launched representing the correlation between scientific progress and war. Bassist Oliver Reidel wears the pink triangle for homosexuals, guitarist Paul Landers wears the yellow star for Jews and vocalist Till Lindemann wears the red triangle for political prisoners, especially socialists.   

Media reports fail to mention a subsequent scene where the escaped prisoners take revenge against their captors. Furthermore, guitarist Richard Kruspe, who plays the role of a Nazi in the video, took the surname of his Jewish wife whom he married in a Jewish ceremony in 1999.

Rammstein are no strangers to such accusations, which they responded to in their 2001 song Links 2-3-4 in which Lindemann sings, “my heart beats to the left, 2-3-4”. The video depicts an army of ants defeating ‘the Right’.   

The nine-minute-22-second cinematic video begins in 16AD on the Limes Germanicus (Germanic frontier). Following the battles at Teutoburg Forest, Pontes Longi, Idistaviso and the Angrivarian Wall, the Romans withdrew from Germania for good. A red laser beam is the ‘common thread’ throughout the video.   

The swords in Lindemann’s torso may represent these battles, the Romans’ lost legionary eagles or even the German empires. 

Germania personified appears as the goddess Hecate, accompanied by a hunting dog. A popular deity at the time, she was associated with borders (including beyond the realm of the living). 

The stunning, black model playing Germania, with her red lipstick and gold adornments, embodies the colours of the German flag.  Wearing costumes from various historical periods, she also represents the country’s ‘dark’ past. 

The imagery of Germania wheelchair-bound in a Stasi uniform is clear – Communism doesn’t work; it only cripples a nation.  In a later, self-explanatory scene, they all have an orgy with a USSR astronaut and a woman wearing a chapka hat.     

A statue of Martin Luther is intercut with Rammstein as crusaders. Rammstein’s cosmonaut costumes represent Sigmund Jähn, the first German in space. We catch a glimpse of the U-boat submarine used in both World Wars. Rammstein walk through the flames of the 1937 Hindenburg Disaster.

The statues of Lenin and Marx are indicative of East Germany. We are transported to the Weimar Republic; Germania is a flapper girl gambling on a boxing match between Lindemann and Kruspe. Germania, wearing a golden laurel wreath with four dogs on leashes, represents the Quadriga (four horse chariot) atop the Brandenburg Gate. White marble busts of the band members represent the Walhalla memorial in Bavaria.

A rat infestation represents more than just the Plague. Clergymen are eating Germania’s entrails; the First Estate commit the deadly sins of gluttony and greed while the people suffer. Beneath the table sadomasochists writhe in the hell that awaits those above it.    

The Church burning heretics is intercut with the Nazis burning books and if you look very closely, you will briefly see the Nazis and the clergy embracing. Germania’s eyepatch switches between left and right, perhaps representing both extremes of the political spectrum and the turning of a blind eye to atrocities.   

Lindemann is a prisoner, being beaten by soldiers from various time periods as banknotes fall from the sky in reference to the hyperinflation of the 1920s. Lindemann is dressed as a woman in a bank robbery scene which may be a reference to the Gladbeck Hostage Crisis, as in their 2001 video for Ich Will. Violent street protests may represent May Day. 

Notably, the fall of the Berlin Wall and Reunification of East and West Germany are missing.  Instead we jump forward to the future. 

Germania gives birth to a litter of adorable puppies, one of which urinates on Flake (who is always on the receiving end of bad luck in videos and live shows!). Germania becomes an Angel, reminiscent of their 1997 video for Engel while Rammstein crawl on the floor (like dogs) as they did in their 2004 video for Mein Teil. Rammstein adore Germania before placing her in a glass coffin – as they did Snow White in their 2001 video for Sonne – and casting it afloat into space.

Wolves symbolise death, however fans believe the dogs to be Leonbergers which are found in heraldry and almost went extinct following the war. To the optimist, they represent a new breed. To the pessimist, merely sheepdogs following a consumer culture.  But Rammstein, being the social commentators they are, may believe the nation’s future belongs to its migrants who have come to be derogatorily known as the ‘köterrasse’ (mutt race).  What will reanimate the sleeping princess remains a mystery.   

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here