Rammstein’s Controversial “Deutschland” Video Pushes Boundaries

“Controversial.”  I totally concur with that description of this totally over the top Video by the German group Rammstein. This video is not for the politically sensitive or squeamish.

Metal Sucks 3.19.2019

The Specter Berlin-directed music video for Rammstein’s new song, “Deutschland,” was stirring up controversy before it even premiered. A pre-release teaser for the clip showed members of the band re-enacting a concentration camp execution; in response, Charlotte Knobloch, former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and Holocaust survivor, said that the band’s “instrumentalisation and trivialisation of the Holocaust, as shown in the images, is irresponsible,” while Felix Klein, the German government’s commissioner for anti-Semitism, condemned the video as “a tasteless exploitation of artistic freedom” that “crosses a line.”

Rammstein II 4.25.2019

Now that the entire video has been released, though, we have some context for the clip. And while I’m not sure its inclusion in the video was in good taste, I do think Rammstein are trying to make a complicated point which is worth exploring.

The name of the song, “Deutschland,” is, of course, also the name of Rammstein’s homeland. And while the band’s music almost always sounds triumphant, the song’s lyrics (as translated into English) aren’t purely patriotic:

My heart in flames
Want to love you, want to damn you

Your breath is cold
So young
And yet so old

Your love is a curse and a blessing
My love I cannot give to you

The video demonstrates similarly ambivalent feelings towards Germany. The Holocaust scene is just one of several throughout the video that draws from less-than-proud moments in German history: the German Crusade, the Great Plague, the Hindenburg disaster, the sometimes violent student protest movement of the 1960s, Baader-Meinhof, the Berlin wall, and so on and so forth. It also turns several of these moments on their ear, such as this bit where the concentration camp victims appear to have gained the upper hand over their oppressors:

As you may have noticed, the video also includes a black woman who is a Nazi officer. This is just one of several science fiction elements in the video (like an abundance of lasers, because Rammstein frickin’ love lasers), but the woman appears repeatedly, and seems to be intended as the personification of Germany itself. She leads the Crusade; during the Plague, the German clergy literally eat from the fat of her land while prisoners struggle beneath her; she’s royalty; she’s laughing; she’s weeping. On several occasions, the clip cuts to her face just as the band shouts “DEUTSCHLAND!”, punctuating this concept.

Now, when most people think “Germany,” they probably do not think “black woman.” So why did the band and Berlin decide to cast a black woman in the role? Was it meant as a hedge to offset the very complaints the video has elicited? Was it just a visual decision (she certainly stands out in the crowd of white dudes)? Was it meant as a representation of Mankind’s origins in what we now know as the continent of Africa despite whatever other racial identity we might hold? Or was it simply meant to be provocative?

I don’t know. But I do think this much is clear: the intent of Rammstein and Berlin was to express a love/hate relationship with Germany. You could argue that they didn’t need to use such provocative imagery, but you can’t argue that they failed to make their point.


“The Invisibles.” Four Berlin Jews who survived Nazi terror in plain sight

April 24, 2019

Film commentary by Blog Mistress Liz Heidhues

Liz and Lee Heidhues were deeply touched by the film “The Invisibles” from the German documentarian Claus Rafle.  The film is in German with English subtitles.



In 1943 the Nazis declared there were no more Jews in Berlin.  Actually, there were 7000 Berliner Jews who tried to resist deportation and went into hiding.


Photos above by Liz and Lee Heidhues May 2017 – Nazi era Berlin.

“The Invisibles” captures the story of four real-life Jewish survivors in Nazi Berlin and how they hid in plain sight.

The film juxtaposes interviews with the four Jewish survivors and a dramatization of their ultimately successful struggle to survive the Nazi regime.

It also tells the story of a very few good Germans who risked their lives to show human kindness and decency.

“The Invisibles” is not your normal popcorn movie.  There were only three other people in the audience at San Francisco’s Opera Plaza Theater besides the Heidhueses.

Following is a link to the review by San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle.


What Warhol Saw When He Looked at Women

The New York City art scene. An Andy Warhol Exhibit opens at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in May 2019

Wall Street Journal 4.23.2019

Following a massive retrospective at the Whitney, Dominique Lévy and Brett Gorvy have organized the show ‘Warhol Women’ at their Upper East Side gallery, opening April 25

Dominique Lévy went to From A to B and Back Again, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Andy Warhol retrospective, at least ten times when it was on earlier this year. “You [went] tired, anxious or on a bad day, and you came out with an energy that’s almost vibrating,” says Lévy, the co-founder of Lévy Gorvy gallery. She and her co-founder Brett Gorvy think the Whitney show has opened a door to zoom in even more closely on Warhol. On April 25, their show Warhol Women opens at the gallery’s Upper East Side space, exploring the artist’s relationship to women, femininity and beauty through his silkscreen portraits from the early 1960s through the ’80s.

Warhol Women III 4.23.2019

Gorvy and Lévy think the show will energize collectors—the Warhol market moves in waves, Gorvy says, and the Whitney show created the “next big one.” They’re also excited to bring in the broader public and the many artists who have been influenced by Warhol. “He has this capacity of being the father figure to pretty much all the younger artists that are working today,” says Gorvy. “Him representing women as a male artist is a very interesting idea. This is someone who thought he was ugly as hell and changed his whole image to hide [that]. He identified with femininity.”

Gorvy and Lévy have arranged the show so that the first works viewers see are portraits of Jackie Onassis and Marilyn Monroe, facing one another. Lévy, who came up with the show’s concept, says that no other man has been able to look at women the way Warhol did. “Without sexualizing the subject, he was able to do these portraits where the woman is allowed to be who she is,” she says. “He captures the openness, the self-consciousness, the self-assurance, the insecurity. Aren’t we all self-conscious? I think nobody [else] does that, and that’s where he becomes conceptual.” In Warhol’s depiction of Monroe, Lévy says, he “sees the enormous sadness” that she felt.

Warhol’s understanding of women evolved over several decades, according to Lévy. As the women’s rights movement took off in the 1960s, he was “purely an artist” portraying women. “The ’70s and ’80s are a very different story. By then, he’s much more aware of the discussion of feminism,” she says. Warhol’s concept of beauty wasn’t “stereotypical,” she adds. “I think he found Gertrude Stein and Golda Meir beautiful.” Their portraits are featured in the show, along with silkscreens of Aretha Franklin, Brigitte Bardot, Dolly Parton, Warhol’s mother Julia Warhola, and many others.

Warhol Women 4.23.2019

The show spans three floors of the gallery’s airy Upper East Side space, including its vestibule on 73rd Street. The whole room has been covered in foil, in the way of Warhol’s Factory, and a screen shows some of his famous three-minute screen tests with subjects like Edie Sedgwick and Susan Sontag. On Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., gallery-goers can also create their own 90-second screen tests, which they can easily post to—where else?—Instagram.

Famed daredevil skateboarder killed by dump truck in deadly San Francisco

The rapid mass urbanization of San Francisco is making it increasingly dangerous for the citizenry to safely navigate. This is a price San Francisco will pay for permitting unchecked urban sprawl to run rampant.

Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 4.23.2019

Pablo Ramirez was living his dream in San Francisco. The native of New York came to the city with his skateboard and made a name for himself as one of the fastest skaters on the famously steep hills. His stunts were death-defying.

That all ended in tragedy on Tuesday when the 26-year-old was fatally struck by a dump truck while skateboarding up Seventh Street in the city’s South of Market neighborhood. Witnesses said Ramirez was hanging onto the back of a moving vehicle and being towed just moments before he was killed, police said.


Ramirez’s death marks the 11th person to be killed by a vehicle this year in San Francisco. Seven pedestrians, including Ramirez, one bicyclist and three people in vehicles have been killed, police said.

Investigators were speaking with witnesses and gathering security video as they worked to determine what happened in the moments before the fatal collision. The truck driver remained at the scene and was cooperating with investigators. Police do not suspect drugs or alcohol were factors in the wreck.

The truck had markings reading UPC Hauling, a South San Francisco company that dissolved in 2018, according to records. Attempts to reach the truck’s registered owner were unsuccessful.

Ramirez, known on Instagram as “Psplifff,” posted his last skateboard video four days ago. On Tuesday the comment section — he had nearly 30,000 followers — was full of tributes. One called him “King of your time.” Another read, “Ride on brother, you will always be one of the fastest to ever do it.”

Ramirez, who was also a DJ and painter, previously traveled to Russia with a group from Thrasher. Last summer he went to the Dominican Republic, where his family was originally from. He posted videos of his time there.

Tess Rothstein 3.19.2019

Tuesday’s deadly accident happened a little more than a block from where a truck crushed bicyclist Tess Rothstein last month. A driver opened her door into the bike lane at Sixth and Howard streets, prompting the 30-year-old Rothstein to swerve into the truck.

Israeli court. Evict illegal Israeli settlers from Palestinian-owned home

This is news you rarely read in American media

Ma’an News Agency 4.22.2019

HEBRON (Ma’an) — An Israeli court ordered the eviction of Israeli settlers from a Palestinian-owned home that they held illegally since 2005 in Hebron City, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, on Monday.

Hebrew-language news outlets reported that the Jerusalem Magistrate Court rejected claims by Israeli settlers, stating that given their “long occupation” of the property and their investments to improve it, the home should remain theirs. 
The court rejected the claims and ordered the Israeli settlers to pay the Palestinian family 580,000 shekels ($161,000) as compensation for the years it was held illegally by the settlers.
Palestine Settlements II 4.22.2019
The legal owners, the Bakri family, were represented by attorney, Samer Shehadeh, who confirmed that the Israeli settlers were appealing the court ruling.
The home is located in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, in the center of Hebron City, and sits on 0.75 acres of land.
Palestinian residents in Hebron said that Tal Construction & Investments LTD., the company which bought the home based on forged documents, is registered as a Jordanian company, however, is operated by Israeli settlers who aim to promote illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank.
Tal Construction bought the Hebron home in 2005 from Hani al-Batash, who claimed to have legal rights over the property, for $300,000 and handed it over to Israeli families.
Nevertheless, Israeli police launched an investigation into the issue and determined that the documents used during the transaction were forged and that al-Batash was not the legal owner of the property.
The area of Tel Rumeida has long been a flash-point for tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers and military, as it is located near illegal Israeli settlements whose residents are notoriously aggressive toward Palestinians.
Tel Rumeida is located within the area of the city designated as H2, an area taking over the bulk of Hebron’s Old City that is under full Israeli military control, and the site of five illegal Israeli settlements which continually expand into surrounding Palestinian neighborhoods.
The Israeli-controlled H2 area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces.Some 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City of Hebron, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.


Launched in 2005, Ma’an News Agency (MNA) publishes news around the clock in Arabic and English, and is among the most browsed websites in the Palestinian territories, with over 3 million visits per month. Considered the main source of independent news from Palestine, MNA has become the first choice for online information for many Palestinians, and is also attracting a growing international readership and interest from prominent international news organizations and agencies.

Ma’an Network is the largest independent TV, radio and online media group in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It also broadcasts regionally via the Ma’an-Mix satellite channel.

Swastikas permitted in America. Germany bans horrid Nazi symbols

Easter Sunday 4.21.2018

America needs laws prohibiting the display of any Nazi insignia or paraphernalia as shown in the above.  Regrettably. since this country selected a shameless President whose politics display a fascist mentality, these abhorrent symbols will continue to flourish.

Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 8.14.2018

Illegally displaying Nazi symbols in Germany can be punished by three years in jail. The ban broadly exempts art, but which works are allowed to show swastikas, SS sig runes and such is often more a matter of the medium.

Swastika I 4.21.2019

A fine or up to three years in prison under the Criminal Code. Demagoguery — the incitement of hatred against people of a certain race or religion — can even be punished with up to five years in jail in Germany. This also includes denying the Holocaust.

Displaying Nazi emblems in Germany is, naturally, complicated, even without the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body  (USK) guidelines.

In Germany, the law considers swastikas and SS sig runes the “symbols of anti-constitutional organizations.” Displaying them publicly or selling goods that sport them is illegal. The Nazi salute and statements such as “Heil Hitler” are also banned in public.

Swastikas and other banned symbols can, however, be displayed in Germany if they are used for “civic education, countering anti-constitutional activities, art and science, research and education, the coverage of historic and current events, or similar purposes,” according to the Criminal Code.

That means that movies and TV shows — Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds  (Photo below) and Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, among them — are usually allowed to be distributed in Germany even if they feature swastikas and other Nazi symbols.

Swastika II 4.21.2019

Posting a picture with a swastika in it or Nazi slogans on social media is illegal in Germany. In March 2018, a 45-year-old man was sentenced to three months in prison after he repeatedly posted pictures of a masked man with tattoos of a swastika and other Nazi symbols on Facebook. 

Exceptions also apply to social media, however. When heute-show, a weekly satirical news program, posted a picture of a swastika-shaped Schnitzel on Facebook along with a joke about the Austrian election in April 2016, state prosecutors did not take up the case —  arguing that the swastika was used to illustrate a swing to the right in the Austrian election in an “exaggerated form” and that the post did not constitute an endorsement of an anti-constitutional organization.

Though displaying anti-constitutional symbols publicly is illegal, people in Germany are allowed to own goods branded with the swastika, SS sig runes and other anti-constitutional symbols as long as they make sure that only a limited number of people can see them. It’s legal to have a cellar full of Nazi memorabilia; displaying a flag visible to passersby through a window is deemed legal by some experts and illegal by others.


American Nazis parade – 1937

Selling goods with Nazi symbols is generally banned, but there are exceptions for artifacts if the dealer covers up the anti-constitutional symbols when displaying them publicly. So, it’s perfectly legal to sell an SS helmet at a flea market if the sig rune has been covered with tape. It is, however, only legal to deal with antiques that were produced up until 1945: Selling relica Nazi military uniforms, for example, is not.

In cases of controversy, it is usually up to courts to rule on whether the use of a Nazi symbol has educational, scientific, journalistic or artistic merit.