Rammstein - Deutschland
by Dean Richards
If you haven’t seen it already, Rammstein released their first solo single in eight years at the end of March, which racked up approximately 350,000 views on YouTube by the end of the video premier. As of the end of April, this number has increased to almost 40 million. The name of the song? Deutschland. With the video also came the announcement for their latest album (yet unnamed) - their first in ten years.
Rammstein has never been a band afraid to shy away from controversiality in the first place. However, their latest single is perhaps their most controversial to date. Within hours, Deutschland had sparked a variety of criticism for its dark, hyper-violent, and shocking video material. Nonetheless, this did not stop the song from hitting the charts, and in Germany, Hungary, and Switzerland it has reached 1st on each respective chart list. Additionally, the songs also came in 4th in the official Austria's singles chart, Finland’s national singles chart, and the UK’s official rock and metal chart.
What is it that has made Rammstein’s new track so controversial? The answer is the fictionalised Holocaust footage of the band being executed by the Nazis (while wearing a yellow star, pink star and a red and yellow star, to mark Jews, homosexuals and Jewish political prisoners, respectively), and the physical embodiment of Deutschland being devoured by cannibals while there is a tank filled with gimps underneath her; Germania is also later seen giving birth to dogs. This, however, does not distract the viewer from the multiple historic events and eras depicted, including Roman soldiers in Germania after the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, a violent bareknuckle boxing match in the Weimar Republic, and a reference to the Hindenburg disaster.
“Deutschland, Deutschland über allen” “Germany, Germany over everybody”
What is most apparent is that every scene captures a significant moment in Germany’s history and it is not done with fondness, sentiment, nor perhaps even pessimism. Instead, it takes a “it is what is” approach, which may be the most controversial statement in the entire song. Germania is represented by Ruby Commey, a black German actress (chosen perhaps as an affront to German ultranationalists), and is recurrent in every scene, receiving possibly more screen time than the actual band members. In each scene she is depicted as powerful, dominant, and everlasting. Whether that be while advancing through fields in shining armour, as an unnamed smoking SS Officer, or scantily dressed while being surrounded by armed soldiers, German shepherds, and piercingly bright red lasers.
“Will dich lieben und verdammen… So jung, und doch so alt, Deutschland!” “I want to love you and to condemn you… So young and yet so old, Germany!”
Rammstein’s Deutschland does not fail to spark the seemingly ever-present German battle between national identity and freedom of expression. The single may even be perhaps of Rammstein’s greatest audio and visual works, and I’m sure some would go so far as to regard it a masterpiece. It is one to intensely watch and listen to before making any judgements, that is for sure.