German hardrock band Rammstein sparked protests from politicians, historians and Jewish groups Thursday with a video showing band members dressed as concentration camp prisoners with nooses around their necks.
In the short video to promote their new single "Deutschland," available online, band members appear dressed in the striped uniforms of concentration camp prisoners.
Frontman Till Lindemann is shown bleeding from a facial cut and guitarist Paul Landers, 54, wears a yellow Star of David, which Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.
Critics accused the Berlin-based group of a cynical publicity stunt playing with Nazi-era imagery to generate media hype and online clicks for their new single.
"With this video, the band has crossed a line," Charlotte Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor and former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told mass-selling daily Bild.
"The instrumentalization and trivialization of the Holocaust, as shown in the images, is irresponsible."
"Rammstein is misusing the suffering and murder of millions for entertainment purposes in a frivolous and repulsive way."
Felix Klein, the government's commissioner for anti-Semitism, said if the video was simply to promote sales, "I think it is a tasteless exploitation of artistic freedom."
The band and its label refused to comment on the 35-second clip, and it's not clear what message it is intended to convey, nor how the lyrics of the unreleased song tie in with it.
The clip itself only has instrumental audio, and ends with the word "Deutschland" in old Germanic lettering.
Since launching in Berlin in 1995, the band has courted controversy with its albums, which have touched on such subjects as sadomasochism, homosexuality, incest, abuse, necrophilia, pyromania, cannibalism and sexual violence.
The industrial metal band is known for their grinding guitar riffs, taboo-breaking antics and theatrical stage shows heavy on pyrotechnics. The band name itself evokes the 1988 Ramstein air show disaster that killed 70 people and injured more than 1,000.
In 2009, the government banned Rammstein's hit album "Liebe ist Fuer Alle Da" ("Love is For All") from public display in stores because of its depictions of sado-masochism.
The band has long employed dark militaristic imagery and in a 1998 video used footage from Leni Riefenstahl's 1936 Nazi propaganda film "Olympia."
Lindemann, 56, asked in a 2006 interview whether the band would again dabble in Nazi themes, said: "No. Because I am fed up with allegations of being a rightwing band."
In September, the band announced that it would be releasing its seventh, as yet untitled, album in the spring of 2019.
German rappers Farid Bang and Kollegah sparked outrage last year with lyrics boasting that their bodies were "more defined than Auschwitz prisoners."
The scandal spelt the end of the German music industry's sales-based Echo prize which had been awarded to the duo and helped spark large rallies calling for solidarity with Jews in Berlin and other cities.
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