BERLIN (JTA) — A music video by the German hard rockers Rammstein is generating controversy for showing band members dressed as concentration camp prisoners with nooses around their necks. A yellow star is visible on one of the striped uniforms.
Several German Jewish leaders condemned the video.
Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jewish in Germany, said in a statement that there was a difference between respectful references to the Holocaust in art and the “immoral and reprehensible” use of the Holocaust as a marketing tool.
Charlotte Knobloch, a former council president and Holocaust survivor, told the Bild newspaper that the “band has crossed a line,” to trivializing the Holocaust.
Felix Klein, Germany’s new commissioner on anti-Semitism, told the German media that any use of Holocaust imagery to promote sales “is a tasteless exploitation of artistic freedom.” Meanwhile, the director of the Foundation for Memorial Sites in Bavaria, Karl Freller, invited the band to visit the memorial at the former Dachau concentration camp near Munich.
The band and its promoters have not commented on the controversy, Deutsche Welle reported. Multiple cultural commentators have noted that the video could be seen as a critique of German history, rather than an attempt to stir up nationalist and anti-Semitic sentiment.
In the scene involving the concentration camp prisoners, the lyrics include: “Germany, my love I cannot give you,” Deutsche Welle points out.