German rappers to visit Auschwitz following uproar over song deemed anti-Semitic

The controversial winners of top German music awards will visit Auschwitz after lyrics invoking the Holocaust provoked fury.

By  Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

German rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang accepted an invitation to see the site of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp for themselves on June 3 after one of the lyrics in their award-winning album was widely panned in their country as being anti-Semitic.

In a song called 0815 (a German expression meaning “average,” or “run of the mill”), on the record called “Young, Brutal, Good Looking 3,” they compare their bodies to Holocaust victims in the line, saying, “My body is more defined than those of Auschwitz inmates.”

The International Auschwitz Committee, which issued the invitation, did so with the express intention to educate the two artists as to how offensive the line was, especially to survivors. Executive Vice-President Christoph Heubner told German media that the visit “will not be a show, but a confrontation with the reality and history of this place.”

The two artists, whose real names are Felix Blume and Farid El Abdellaoui, are both Muslim. They denied the anti-Semitic accusations, accusing the German media instead of standing in the way of their freedom of expression. However, Bang later wrote an open letter of apology to one of his critics, 93-year-old Holocaust survivor Esther Bejarano, saying he had no intention of insulting her. He has also said that he and his colleague distanced themselves from “any and all forms of anti-Semitism and hate against minorities.”

As reported on Deutsche Welle, a German news program, the spokesman for the Echo awards said that their ethical advisory board had thought the song represented an “absolute borderline case” of artistic freedom. The board members “disapproved” of the duo’s choice of words but decided that prohibiting the award was “not the right way forward,” he said.