Mert Bulan

Learning the history of Germany with Rammstein

| reading time: 26 min(s)

One of the best ways to learn a new language is by listening to songs in that language. So I started with Du Hast by Rammstein. Besides the simple and understandable lyrics of the song, the song triggered me to jump into the rabbit hole of Rammstein.

In this blog post, I am not going to talk about the German word for vagina (Die Scheide) and the verb for to separate (scheiden) that you see in the lyrics of the song and the beauty of the German language. Or the wonderful concert show that the group performed in Paris. I am going to talk about the group’s one of the newest songs: Deutschland.

I am going to divide the post into two sections: Video Clip and Lyrics. Before keep reading the post, I suggest you watch the video clip first. Then once you watch the clip and read the post, watch the clip again.

Disclaimer: The information that I am going to share here is a collection of the things that I read and watched about the song and the history of Germany. I will also share my own opinion about the song so please don’t read it like you are reading an academic paper. I linked many things like the Wikipedia page of the historical events so feel free to click and read them to get more information.

Video Clip

Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (?)

The clip starts with showing Roman legions in Germania Magna in 16 A.D. If you know a little bit about German history, you might think that the event they are showing is about the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest or The Varus Battle took place in the Teutoburg Forest in 9 CE, when an alliance of Germanic peoples ambushed and destroyed three Roman legions and their auxiliaries, led by Publius Quinctilius Varus.

Despite several successful campaigns and raids by the Romans in the years after the battle, they never again attempted to conquer the Germanic territories east of the Rhine, except for Germania Superior.

It is not. It is somehow connected but the date doesn’t fit. The date, 16 A.D., is the time when a Roman general, Germanicus, had the revenge of that war and defeated Arminius who was commanding the Germanic Tribes against the Roman Empire during the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. So it is the Battle of Idistaviso:

The Battle of Idistaviso, sometimes known as a first Battle of Minden or Battle of the Weser River, was fought in 16 AD between Roman legions commanded by Roman emperor Tiberius’ heir and adopted son Germanicus, and an alliance of Germanic peoples commanded by Arminius. The battle marked the end of a three-year series of campaigns by Germanicus in Germania.

I believe that the group also thought about this detail and placed the date specifically there because the whole song is about a conflict that our protagonist is living. There is a victory but also a defeat. There is a new invention but it is used for killing people. There is richness but it is artifical. You will see this conflict more in the lyrics.

More information

If you want to learn more about Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, you can watch the mini tv series called Barbarian on Netflix or you can visit The Varus Battle Exbition in Kalkrise where the battle has occurred.

You can also visit The Hermannsdenkmal, the monument that was constructed between 1838 and 1875 to commemorate the Cherusci war chief Arminius. You find more information about the monument on its official website.

Black Woman

In this scene, you see a black woman (Ruby Commey, she is German) who is cutting a Roman legion’s (who is the lead vocalist of Rammstein, Till Lindemann) head. You will see her many times during the clip and you might think that she is representing someone but she is the personification of Germany, Germania. There is also a dog next to her that you will also see quite often during the video.

Statues

All the statues that you see at the beginning of the video are from the exhibition, Unveiled. Berlin and its Monuments at the Spandau Citadel.

The permanent exhibition “Unveiled. Berlin and its Monuments” opened in April 2016 in the former Provisions Depot. The cultural-historical exhibition shows political monuments that were once part of Berlin’s urban landscape but have been removed.

If you are wondering like me, why some of the statuses have broken noses:

“The damaged part of the body is no longer able to do its job,” Bleiberg explained. Without a nose, the statue-spirit ceases to breathe, so that the vandal is effectively “killing” it.

The Monument to the Fallen Railwaymen

The picture of the statue

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Rochus zu Lynar (front), Unknown (behind)

Rocco Guerrini (German - Rochus, Graf zu Lynar) was an Italian military engineer, most notable for his work on the Spandau Citadel, which was completed in 1594.

The picture of the statues

Uknown

The picture of the statues

Albert the Bear

Albert the Bear (German: Albrecht der Bär; c. 1100 – 18 November 1170) was one of the most important Central German princes of his time and is considered the founder of the Mark Brandenburg and the Principality of Anhalt.

Picture of the statue

Submarine

In the second scene, we see astronauts, a coffin, and a submarine. I will come back to the coffin and the astronauts later because we need to watch the clip more to understand the connections. So for now, let’s continue with the submarine (U-Boot).

When I looked at the most successful German submarines on Wikipedia, I found that the submarine that we see is similar to Type VII submarine.

The U-Boot-Klasse VII, officially called Type VII, was a series of submarines of the German Navy during World War II. Developed from the World War I constructions UF and UG and the experience with Type I and Type II, it was the most frequently produced submarine class in history; it also sunk more space in terms of ship tonnage than any other type. More than 700 units were put into service. Another 160 were planned, but their construction was canceled in favor of the technically superior Type XXI.

The Type VII was a single-hull ocean-going boat, the characteristic feature of which was the external fuel bunker, the so-called saddle tanks in the side bulges of the hull. In contrast to the Type IX deep-sea boats and the Type II coastal submarines, they were called “Atlantic boats”. They reached the greatest diving depth of all the boats built during the Second World War, which in practice went well beyond the shipyard’s guarantee. The boats had a high attack power and good performance characteristics with relatively small dimensions, while sacrificing quality of living.

Chariot

In the next scene, we see Germania again. This time she is holding the Roman legion’s head that she cut in the beginning. This scene is referring to the Quadriga on top of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. On the quadriga, you see Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory. The four men that are walking together with Germania are the horses that are carrying the chariot. Additionally, on the scene, you see concrete slabs and burning people on them. If you visit Brandenburg Gate before, you probably know the place that is just a few hundred meters away: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I think that’s the reason why Germania is not on a chariot but in a wheelchair. She is being injured when the Nazis burned the Jews.

Red Lasers

The red laser that you saw and will see many times during the clip is there to connect the historical events, like the red thread (Roter Faden) you see in many German cities to connect the historical places. So the tourists can just follow the red thread and see all the important points of the city.

Golden Twenties

In the next scene, we see a fistfight between two persons from the working class and you see Germania again. This time she looks rich. The scene refers to the time that is called the Golden Twenties of Weimar Republic.

The Golden Twenties, also known as the Happy Twenties (German: Glückliche Zwanziger Jahre), is the decade of the 1920s in Germany. The era began with the end of World War I and ended with the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The term illustrates the economic upswing in the 1920s in many industrialized countries and also stands for a heyday of German art, culture and science.

The high loans that Germany received from abroad, especially from the USA, were also involved in the upturn in the economy.

You see the upper class that is watching the fistfight for amusement and the working class that is fighting for money. If you look at it carefully you can see them in different clothes in the crowd. It was also the time that boxing sport was rising in Germany. If you check the world champion German boxer Max Schmeling’s career, you can see that he started boxing around the same time.

Holy Roman Empire

In the next scene, we see Germania again but this time in golden armor and with a crown. The scene refers to Holy Roman Empire and Germania as Holy Roman Emperor.

On 25 December 800, Pope Leo III crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne as Emperor, reviving the title in Western Europe, more than three centuries after the fall of the earlier ancient Western Roman Empire in 476. The title continued in the Carolingian family until 888 and from 896 to 899, after which it was contested by the rulers of Italy in a series of civil wars until the death of the last Italian claimant, Berengar I, in 924. The title was revived again in 962 when Otto I, King of Germany, was crowned emperor, fashioning himself as the successor of Charlemagne and beginning a continuous existence of the empire for over eight centuries. Some historians refer to the coronation of Charlemagne as the origin of the empire, while others prefer the coronation of Otto I as its beginning.

Then we see Till killed by four swords. The number of swords might refer to two things. The first one is the number of kingdoms that formed the Holy Roman Empire:

The Holy Roman Empire became eventually composed of four kingdoms. The kingdoms were:

  • Kingdom of Germany (part of the empire since 962),
  • Kingdom of Italy (from 962 until 1648),
  • Kingdom of Bohemia (since 1002 as the Duchy of Bohemia and raised to a kingdom in 1198),
  • Kingdom of Burgundy (from 1032 to 1378).

Or the emporer’s personal attendants:

According to Widukind of Corvey, Otto had the four other dukes of the kingdom (from the duchies of Franconia, Swabia, Bavaria and Lorraine) act as his personal attendants at the coronation banquet: Arnulf I of Bavaria as marshal (or stablemaster), Herman I, Duke of Swabia as cupbearer, Eberhard of Franconia as steward (or seneschal) and Gilbert of Lorraine as Chamberlain. By performing this traditional service, the dukes signaled cooperation with the new king, and clearly showed their submission to his reign.

Airship

In the next scene, we see a burning airship. It is the German Zeppelin that is called Hindenburg and the scene refers to the Hindenburg disaster that happened in New Jersey, the USA in 1937 and resulting in 36 deaths.

German Democratic Republic

This is the time after World War II and Germany is divided into two parts: West Germany that was formed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France and on the other side East Germany that was formed by the Soviet Union. Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) was the party that governs East Germany. We see our characters as the Politburo of the Central Committee:

The most important day-to-day work of the Central Committee was undertaken by the Politburo, a small circle of senior party officers, comprising between 15 and 25 members, along with approximately 10 (non-voting) candidate members. The politburo members included approximately ten Central Committee Secretaries. The General Secretary of the Central Committee also held the Chairmanship of the Politburo (along with all his other functions). The country’s government, formally headed by the Council of Ministers, was required only to implement the decisions of the politburo. This meant that the Council of Ministers was under the permanent control of the Party Committees, a structure that ensured the “leading role” of the SED. This status was spelled out expressly after the constitutional changes introduced in 1968, which defined East Germany as a “socialist state” led by “the working class and its Marxist-Leninist party.” The Chairman of the Council of Ministers and the president of the National legislature (“Volkskammer”) were also members of the politburo.

and we see Till as Erich Honecker:

As party leader he worked closely with Moscow (which had a large army stationed in East Germany). He controlled the government of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) from 1971 until he was forced out in the weeks preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall in October 1989.

and one of the group member as Sigmund Jähn in his cosmonot suite:

Sigmund Jähn was a German cosmonaut and pilot who in 1978 became the first German to fly into space as part of the Soviet Union’s Interkosmos programme.

During and after the flight, the socialist authorities of the GDR acclaimed him as “the first German in space”, emphasizing an East German victory over West Germany.

We see Germania in the back this time in black clothes with a golden necklace and red Soviet logo on her hat. Black, yellow and red, the colors in the German flag. You can also see the bust of Karl Marx on the right. The meaning of putting this bust here is important because most people might expect it to be in Walhalla. Let me explain.

We need to start with Vallhalla:

In Norse mythology, Valhalla (from Old Norse Valhöll “hall of the slain”) is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin. Chosen by Odin, half of those who die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by valkyries, while the other half go to the goddess Freyja’s field Fólkvangr. In Valhalla, the dead warriors join the masses of those who have died in combat (known as the Einherjar) and various legendary Germanic heroes and kings, as they prepare to aid Odin during the events of Ragnarök.

Now, we know what Vallhalla is but what about Walhalla? It is a memorial in Donaustauf, east of Regensburg in Bavaria.

The Walhalla is a hall of fame that honours laudable and distinguished people in German history – “politicians, sovereigns, scientists and artists of the German tongue”; thus the celebrities honoured are drawn from Greater Germany, a wider area than today’s Germany, and even as far away as Britain in the case of several Anglo-Saxons who are honoured.

If you look at the list of the people in Walhalla memorial, you can see Arminius that I mentioned in the beginning, Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, and many other important people in German history except one person: Karl Marx. He is an important figure for history for sure but seems like he doesn’t deserve to be in Walhalla but as you can see in the video clip, he has a place at the Central Committee’s office.

Later on in the video, we see our committee again. This time they are having a party, drinking champagne and Till as Erich Honecker, having sexual intercourse with a bearskin (probably it was on the floor). Since they were supported by the Soviet Union, I believe that the bear is representing the Russian Bear so the Soviet Union. We can easily understand from this later scene that while the people were suffering in East Germany, they were having fun and enjoying their position too much that they didn’t even care about the Soviet Union at the end.

Monks

In the next scene, we see our group as monks. At the same time, we see a lot of rats around them. The scene refers to the Black Death, the deadliest pandemic recorded in human history and resulted in the deaths of up to 75–200 million people. The parasites that live on rats were carrying the bacteria that caused the disease.

The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality, or the Plague) was the deadliest pandemic recorded in human history. The Black Death resulted in the deaths of up to 75–200 million people in Eurasia and North Africa, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. Plague, the disease, was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The Y. pestis infection most commonly results in bubonic plague, but can also cause septicaemic or pneumonic plagues.

The Black Death was the beginning of the second plague pandemic. The plague created religious, social, and economic upheavals, with profound effects on the course of European history.

The Black Death’s territorial origins are disputed. The pandemic originated either in Central Asia or East Asia, but its first definitive appearance was in Crimea in 1347. From there, it was most likely carried by fleas living on the black rats that travelled on Genoese merchant ships, spreading throughout the Mediterranean Basin and reaching Africa, Western Asia, and the rest of Europe via Constantinople, Sicily, and the Italian Peninsula.

Then we see a few French soldiers just a few seconds and the monks again. The monks are eating Germania. This scene refers to the Thirty Years’ War.

The Thirty Years’ War was a conflict primarily fought in Central Europe from 1618 to 1648; estimates of total military and civilian deaths range from 4.5 to 8 million, mostly from disease or starvation. In some areas of Germany, it has been suggested up to 60% of the population died.

After the war, seems like because of starvation, cannibalism was common. The scene also might refer to the greediness of the monks during that time.

Under the table, we see some people in masks and chains. Later, we will see the monks while burning one of those people. We can also understand this scene as the monks also had BDSM fantasies but they were showing this kind of things as a sin and punishing the people.

Later, we see another scene. The monks and the Nazis are shaking hands. That scene helped me to understand the French soldiers that we saw before. Seems like, after the Black Death outbreak, people falsely blamed Jewish communities and they attacked Jewish people.

The Black Death persecutions and massacres were a series of violent attacks on Jewish communities falsely blamed for outbreaks of the Black Death in Europe from 1348 to 1351.

The first massacres directly related to the plague took place in April 1348 in Toulon, Provence, France.

I believe that the reason why the monks and the Nazis were shaking hands is they both agreed on killing Jews.

Witch

In the next scene, we see the monks burning someone, probably Germania. This scene refers to the Würzburg witch trial.

The Würzburg witch trial, which took place in Germany in 1626–1631, is one of the biggest mass-trials and mass-executions seen in Europe during the Thirty Years War; 157 men, women and children in the city of Würzburg are confirmed to have been burned at the stake, mostly after first being beheaded; 219 are estimated to have been executed in the city proper, and an estimated 900 were killed in the entire Prince-Bishopric.

Prison

Then, we find ourselves in a prison and go back to the Weimar Republic time again. We see the cops are beating Till and also the other prisoners with a red baton. The uniform of the police is the same as Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police) in the Weimar Republic.

The Sicherheitspolizei, or security police, was a paramilitary German police group set up in most states of the Weimar Republic at the end of 1919 and largely financed by the central government. In its anti-riot role it can be seen as roughly analogous to the Bereitschaftspolizei in today’s Federal Republic.

So probably the people that are being beaten from the March Action.

The March Action (German “März Aktion” or “Märzkämpfe in Mitteldeutschland” (“The March battles in Central Germany”) was a 1921 failed Communist uprising, led by the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), the Communist Workers’ Party of Germany (KAPD), and other far-left organisations. It took place in the industrial regions located in Halle, Leuna, Merseburg, and Mansfeld. The revolt ended in defeat for the Communists, and a weakening of contemporary Communist influence in Germany.

Then we see falling banknotes. This is a reference to the hyperinflation between 1921 and 1923. That was a time that people had to carry their money with a wheelbarrow to buy bread.

We see Germania in Hussar regiment “Wilhelm II. German Emperor and King of Prussia” No. 7 uniforms. So probably this is a reference to Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia because all the dates in this scene are very close to each other.

His reign lasted from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. Despite strengthening Germany’s position as a great power by building a blue-water navy and promoting scientific innovation, his tactless public statements and reckless foreign policy greatly antagonized the international community and ultimately plunged his country into World War I. When the German war effort collapsed after a series of crushing defeats on the Western Front in 1918, he was forced to abdicate, thereby bringing an end to the Hohenzollern dynasty’s three hundred year rule.

Car

In the next scene, we see our group in a car, Mercedes-Benz 770.

The Mercedes-Benz 770, also known as the Großer Mercedes (German for “Grand Mercedes”), was a large luxury car built by Mercedes-Benz from 1930 to 1943. It is probably best known from its use by high-ranking Reich officials before and during World War II, including Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich, as captured in archival footage.

Concentration Camp

In the next scene, our group members waiting for being hanged. There is one important detail on their badges that you can see above their name on their clothes. From left to right, we see a pink triangle, a yellow star, a red triangle on a yellow triangle, and a black triangle. Each color shows the reason why the prisoner is in the concentration camp. Pink is for homosexuals, yellow is for jews, red is for politcials, black is for asocials.

Later, at the same place, we see rockets that are going to the sky. Those rockets are V-2 rockets. It is the world’s first long-range guided ballistic missile and the first artificial object to travel into space. The connection between the rockets and the concentration camp is that they were manufactured by the prisoners in Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp.

According to a 2011 BBC documentary, the attacks from V-2s resulted in the deaths of an estimated 9,000 civilians and military personnel, and a further 12,000 forced laborers and concentration camp prisoners died as a result of their forced participation in the production of the weapons.

The person who developed the rocket technology, Wernher von Braun, was moved secretly to the USA afterward and worked at NASA as the chief architect of the Saturn V rocket. The rocket that carried the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon.

On the scene, we see Germania in a Nazi suit and on her hat, you can see a skull which is SS-Totenkopfverbände insignia.

SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV; literally “Death’s Head Units”) was the SS organization responsible for administering the Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps for Nazi Germany, among similar duties. While the Totenkopf (skull) was the universal cap badge of the SS, the SS-TV also wore the Death’s Head insignia on the right collar tab to distinguish itself from other Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) formations.

Besides the insignia, we see an eye patch on her right eye but then we see it on her left eye. It is probably sending a message like extreme actions from the right-wing are not visible for the right-wing people and the same for the left-wing people. They close their eyes to not see the actions related to their politics.

Later, we see Nazis again. This time they are burning books.

The Nazi book burnings were a campaign conducted by the German Student Union (the Deutsche Studentenschaft or DSt) to ceremonially burn books in Nazi Germany and Austria in the 1930s. The books targeted for burning were those viewed as being subversive or as representing ideologies opposed to Nazism. These included books written by Jewish, communist, socialist, anarchist, liberal, pacifist, religious, and sexologist authors among others. The first books burned were those of Karl Marx and Karl Kautsky.

Arms

In the next scene, we see Germania armed with ammunition, five German Shepherds, and five polices. If you look closely, you can read white GERMANY on the ammunition on her. She also looks rich so we can understand that Germany becomes rich, again, but this time by selling arms to the other countries.

Also, Germania’s outfit (black leather jacket, golden accessories, and red gloves) points to the German flag again.

Red Army Faction

In the next scene, we see our group as a terrorist group, Red Army Faction and the Till as Ulrike Meinhof. As you can see, they are kidnapping Germania.

The Red Army Faction (RAF) was a West German far-left militant organization founded in 1970. The government of the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as most Western media and literature considered the Red Army Faction to be a terrorist organization. The Red Army Faction engaged in a series of bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, bank robberies and shoot-outs with police over the course of three decades. In total, the RAF murdered 35 people.

Karl Marx and Tank

In the next scene, we see the Karl Marx monument in Chemnitz:

The Karl Marx Monument is a 7.10m (23.29ft)-tall stylized head of Karl Marx in Chemnitz, Germany. The heavy-duty sculpture, together with the base platform, stand over 13 meters (42 feet) tall and weighs approximately 40 tonnes. On a wall just behind the monument, the phrase “Workers of the world, unite!” (from the Communist Manifesto) is inscripted in four languages: German, English, French and Russian.

and a tank, Leopard I:

The Leopard 1 is a German main battle tank. It was the first tank developed in Germany after the Second World War. In total, it was used in 13 countries on five different continents. Due to constant increases in combat value, it can still be found in the armies of many countries in the 21st century.

I guess the group is trying to give a message like, yes, workers of the world were united (many countries involved in the manufacturing of the tank) but they built a tank, a war machine.

1st of May 1987

In the next scene, we see a demonstration and a riot. It is a reference to 1st May 1989.

In 1987, the left-wing political scene in Berlin was dominated by the census boycott, a campaign against the census and a call for its boycott. The center of this resistance (and the left scene in general) was situated at Mehringhof (in Kreuzberg 61), where, among other things, the campaign office was located. On May 1, 1987, at 4:45am, this office and other rooms of Mehringhof were broken up and searched by the police on the grounds of Periculum in mora.

The traditional street festival was peaceful at first, but the mood among the leftists was damaged by the search of the census boycott campaign office. In addition, the police had also initiated anti-rioting operations against the Affected Block at the May 1st demonstration of the German Trade Union Confederation. This led to the block leaving the German Trade Union Confederation demonstration under protest and joining the street festival.

At around 4pm, autonomists near the street festival overturned an empty police car and later that evening two construction trailers were thrown into the street. Meanwhile, most visitors enjoyed the street party unaware of any disturbances. Despite this, the police responded to the disruptions and finally broke up the whole festival using batons and tear gas.

Puppies and Astronauts

Now it is time to connect all the dots and try to understand what Rammstein is saying in this video clip. From the beginning of the video to the end, we saw many dogs and in the end, Germania gave birth to puppies. Also, we saw that astronauts bringing a coffin (that we know from the end, Germania was inside of it) into their spacecraft but they threw it away after they got the puppies from her. We also see the red laser connection into the spacecraft.

If I understand it correctly, the astronauts are learning the history of Germany via the red lasers. They study the statues and object like a submarine. Then, they bring Germania into their spacecraft. Since she was there all the time, when all the historical events occuring, she has the knowledge for the history of Germany. Then, she gave birth. The interesting thing about that scene is the cows around her. There are some paintings that show the birth of Jesus and you can also see cows there. Since the midwife of Germania is a cardinal in a red uniform and we also see a Christian cross in the last scene, the group is trying to say that the birth of puppies is a holy event.

During the video, the dogs that we saw were German Shepherds:

German Shepherds are moderately active dogs and are described in breed standards as self assured. The breed is marked by a willingness to learn and an eagerness to have a purpose. They are curious, which makes them excellent guard dogs and suitable for search missions. They can become overprotective of their family and territory, especially if not socialized correctly. They are not inclined to become immediate friends with strangers. German Shepherds are highly intelligent and obedient, as well as protective of their owners.

German Shepherds around the world are often the preferred breed for many types of work, including disability assistance, search-and-rescue, police and military roles and acting.

So I think Rammstein is trying to say that when you look at the history of Germany, you see that people who lived were like German Shepherds: intelligent, obedient, overprotective and unfriendly. (The group is also acting like a dog in the end)

Then, Germania gave birth. This time, we see that the puppies are not German Shepherds but another German dog, Leonberger:

First and foremost a family dog, the Leonberger’s temperament is one of its most important and distinguishing characteristics. Well socialized and trained, the Leonberger is self-assured, insensitive to noise, submissive to family members, friendly toward children, well composed with passersby, and self-disciplined when obliging its family or property with protection. Robust, loyal, intelligent, playful, and kindly, they can thus be taken anywhere without difficulty and adjust easily to a variety of circumstances, including the introduction of other dogs.

Reportedly, only five Leonbergers survived World War I and were bred until World War II when, again, almost all Leonbergers were lost. During the two world wars, Leonbergers were used to pull the ammunition carts, a service to the breed’s country that resulted in the Leonbergers’ near-destruction. Karl Stadelmann and Otto Josenhans are credited as the breed’s saviors, bringing them back from almost extinction. Leonbergers today can have their ancestry traced to the eight dogs that survived World War II.

Now, this tells us, after studying the history of Germany, the people who are living in Germany are not the same, they are different. They are friendly, kind, intelligent, playful, and a family member.

Lyrics

Strophe 1

Du (Du hast, du hast, du hast, du hast)
Hast viel geweint (Geweint, geweint, geweint, geweint)

You (You have, you have, you have, you have)
Have cried a lot (Cried, cried, cried, cried)

That’s the reason why I wanted to explain the lyrics later. As you read previously, a lot of bad events happened in Germany: the holocaust, being divided, Nazis, wars, economical crises, terror attacks, you name it. And “You” here is Germany and the protagonist is saying that as a result of these events, Germany (or the people who live in Germany) cried a lot.

Im Geist getrennt (Getrennt, getrennt, getrennt, getrennt)
Im Herz vereint (Vereint, vereint, vereint, vereint)

Separeted in mind (Separeted, separeted, separeted, separeted)
United in heart (United, united, united, united)

Since the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest as I mentioned before, there were many Germanic tribes. Later, there were many kingdoms, then the country united and then it was divided into West and East Germany but in the end, everybody was/is united in heart, no matter what happened in the past, as you can see here today.

Wir (Wir sind, wir sind, wir sind, wir sind)
Sind schon sehr lang zusammen (Ihr seid, ihr seid, ihr seid, ihr seid)

We (We are, we are, we are, we are)
Are already together for so long (You are, you are, you are, you are)

If we think of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest as the first unification of people in Germany, we can say that from 9 CE to 2020, the people have been living together for 2011 years. This line is probably mentioning this fact.

Dein Atem kalt (So kalt, so kalt, so kalt, so kalt)
Das Herz in Flammen (So heiß, so heiß, so heiß, so heiß)

Your breath is cold (So cold, so cold, so cold, so cold)
The heart is on fire (So hot, so hot, so hot, so hot)

Du (Du kannst, du kannst, du kannst, du kannst)
Ich (Ich weiß, ich weiß, ich weiß, ich weiß)
Wir (Wir sind, wir sind, wir sind, wir sind)
Ihr (Ihr bleibt, ihr bleibt, ihr bleibt, ihr bleibt)

You (You can, you can, you can, you can)
I (I know, I know, I know, I know)
We (We are, we are, we are, we are)
You (plural) (You stay, you stay, you stay, you stay)

Refrain

Deutschland! Mein Herz in Flammen
Will dich lieben und verdammen

Germany! My heart is on fire
Want to love and damn you

Do you remember the conflict that I mentioned in the beginning? You can see that in the lyrics clearly. Our protagonist wants to love Germany because this is his country that he was born but at the same time, he wants to damn Germany because of all the bad things that happened on this land. He is having this conflict and he can’t only love but he wants hate as well.

Deutschland! Dein Atem kalt
So jung und doch so alt
Deutschland!

Germany! Your breath is cold
So young and yet so old
Germany!

Germany is a new country. If you think of the unification of Germany as a birth date, the country is only 149 years old. If you think of the west-east division after World War II, it is only 75 years old. Lastly, if you think of the reunification of Germany, it is only 30 years old. So Germany is so young but at the same time, if you look at the history and the unification of Germanic tribes against the Roman Empire, it is 2011 years old.

Strophe 2

Ich (Du hast, du hast, du hast, du hast)
Ich will dich nie verlassen (Ich weiß, ich weiß, ich weiß, ich weiß)
Man kann dich lieben (Du liebst, du liebst, du liebst, du liebst)
Und will dich hassen (Du hast, du hast, du hast, du hast)

I (You have, you have, you have, you have)
I never want to leave you (I know, I know, I know, I know)
One can love you (You love, you love, you love, you love)
And want to hate you (You hate, you hate, you hate, you hate)

Again, we see the conflict that our protagonist is living. He wants to stay, he thinks that one can love, but this is optional (you can but it is up to you) but he wants to hate Germany and this is not optional, he wants that because of all the bad events.

Überheblich, überlegen
Übernehmen, übergeben
Überraschen, überfallen
Deutschland, Deutschland über allen

Presumptuous, superior
Take over, hand over/puke
Surprise, invade
Germany, Germany above everyone

For the explanation of these lines, I will copy the explanation from Genius.com directly:

The first line refers to the presumptous (überheblich) theory of the Nazis that the German “master race” would be superior (überlegen) over others.

The second line, which has the first play on words here, refers to when the Nazis took over (übernehmen) control of Germany on January 30, 1933. Because most of the Nazi party’s power came through elections, the Germans handed over (übergeben) the country. While watching the Nazis celebrate their victory by marching through the Brandenburg Gate, Max Liebermann was reported to have commented, “I could not possibly eat as much as I would like to throw up/puke (übergeben)”.

The third line is a clear reference to the invasion (überfall) of Poland, which was a surprise (überraschen) Blitzkrieg-style attack, which began September 1, 1939.

The last line is a reference to a famous line from the Nazi national anthem. The Deutschlandlied has been the German national anthem since 1922, but the first 2 (of 3) stanzas have been removed from the anthem since the fall of the Nazis. The original line from the Deutschlandlied is “Germany, Germany over ALL” (Deutschland, Deutschland über ALLES). Rammstein subtly tweaks the lyric to “Germany, Germany over everyone” (Deutschland, Deutschland über allen).

The first three lines provide powerful context for the 4th. They underline Germany’s history of its own perceived superiority and the actions that it led to. The play on words (in German) of continuously using the prefix “über”, best translated with “above” or “better” in this case, really drives this point home. The 4th line really drives home the point, and is sung with clear sarcasm: It’s not “Germany over all”, since people from many different countries claim theirs is the best… it’s “Germany over everyone”.

Refrain

Deutschland! Mein Herz in Flammen
Will dich lieben und verdammen
Deutschland! Dein Atem kalt
So jung und doch so alt
Deutschland! Deine Liebe
Ist Fluch und Segen
Deutschland! Meine Liebe
Kann ich dir nicht geben
Deutschland!

Germany! My heart is on fire
Want to love and damn you
Germany! Your breath is cold
So young and yet so old
Germany! Your love
Is a curse and blessing
Germany! My love
I can’t give you
Germany!

You again see the conflict in curse and blessing but in the end, the protagonist doesn’t give his love to Germany.

Bridge

Deutschland!
Du
Ich
Wir
Ihr
Du (Übermächtig, überflüssig)
Ich (Übermenschen, überdrüssig)
Wir (Wer hoch steigt, der wird tief fallen)
Ihr (Deutschland, Deutschland über allen)

Germany!
You
I
We
You (superior, unnecessaray)
I (Übermenschen, weary)
We (The higher you climb, the further you fall)
You (Germany, Germany above everyone)

Refrain

Deutschland! Dein Herz in Flammen
Will dich lieben und verdammen
Deutschland! Mein Atem kalt
So jung und doch so alt
Deutschland! Deine Liebe
Ist Fluch und Segen
Deutschland! Meine Liebe
Kann ich dir nicht geben
Deutschland!

Germany! Your heart is on fire
Want to love and damn you
Germany! Your breath is cold
So young and yet so old
Germany! Your love
Is a curse and blessing
Germany! My love
I can’t give you
Germany!

The lines here are the same as the previous refrain but there are only two differences. Instead of “My heart is on fire”, we see “Your heart is on fire”, instead of “Your breath is cold”, we see “My breath is cold.”

Conclusion

I’ve spent a few days writing this blog post and I have to say, I enjoyed it a lot because I was fascinated with the work that Rammstein did. Probably, I missed many details. If I find them later, I will update the post. I learned a lot of things about the country that I am living in now.

To be honest, before listening to them, I always thought that they are kind of a metal group that screams some words. After reading about the group and their songs, I am thinking now that they are real artists and I believe that people will remember their name for a very long time, especially, after this song.

When I mentioned the people around me, I started to listen to Rammstein, the reaction was interesting. Most people think that the group is far-right but as you can see from this song, they are not. They are not proud of their country, they don’t even love it. They are doing controversial works but this is what the real artist do. Maybe far-right people listen to them and people don’t want to be associated with those people but that doesn’t make the group far-right. Can you think of a far-right group that selects Germania as a black woman?

The last scene of the video clip is telling a lot of things. Many things happened on this land, the people who live on this land learned their lessons and now, there is a new country. A country (so young) with people that are as friendly as Leonberger, a country that helps other countries and also accepts millions of refugees. A country that gives a chance to everybody and treats everybody as equal.

I don’t know any other nation that faces their history as Germans do and I respect them a lot for doing that.

I used this Reddit thread to explain the video clip and this Genius page to explain the lyrics.

© 2020 by Mert Bulan.