Germany not taking action over rappers' Holocaust lyrics

BERLIN • The album from German rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang included references to the Holocaust, with lyrics saying their bodies are "more defined than those of Auschwitz inmates".

That prompted an uproar, but last Saturday, German prosecutors said the lyrics were "neither an endorsement nor a trivialisation of the Nazi regime and its genocide".

They acknowledged that the lyrics are misogynistic and violent, but noted that that did not offer grounds to prosecute the duo.

"The comparison of a concentration camp inmate with their own body may be tasteless, but it does not represent denial of the Holocaust," the prosecutors said.

The rappers, ahead of Germany's Echo music awards ceremony in April, had been nominated for two awards. Controversy emerged over lyrics from their newest record, Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend 3 (Young, Brutal, Good-looking 3).

A number of people filed complaints to the police, saying the lyrics violated German laws concerning hate speech and anti-Semitism.

When the duo bagged the award for hip-hop/urban music, other awardees returned their prizes.

Ultimately, the outrage prompted record companies to scrap the awards ceremony, which is Germany's equivalent of the Grammys, saying that "the Echo brand is so badly damaged that a complete new beginning is necessary".

Since the uproar, the duo have tried to distance themselves from accusations that they are anti-Semitic. They took a private tour of Auschwitz, where about 1.1 million people, mainly Jews, died at the hands of the Nazis.

Bang wrote a letter apologising to a Holocaust survivor, while Kollegah, who said the lyrics were "misinterpreted", said he would provide Jewish listeners with free tickets to their shows.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2018, with the headline 'Germany not taking action over rappers' Holocaust lyrics'. Print Edition | Subscribe