Two German rappers who came under fire for song lyrics that lightheartedly referred to Auschwitz inmates and suggested a new Holocaust with “Molotov cocktails” will not face legal charges, German media reported Saturday.
Rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang, who won the local Echo music award earlier this year, have been widely criticized for a track on their latest album that contains the phrase “my body more defined than an Auschwitz prisoner,” and another that says: “I’m doing another Holocaust, coming with the Molotov.”
The two defended the lyrics on the grounds of artistic freedom.
Dusseldorf prosecutors, who last month opened obligatory preliminary investigations into the pair after individuals filed legal complaints against them, concluded that the verses didn’t amount to Holocaust denial or incitement to violence.
While the music may be “vulgar, misogynistic and homophobic,” Dusseldorf prosecutor’s office spokesman Ralf Herrenbrück told German media, charges can’t be brought against the duo since artistic freedom is guaranteed by the constitution, BBC reported.
The pair had been criticized by Holocaust survivor groups as well as within the artistic community. A speaker who condemned the stars at April’s Echo Award ceremony received a standing ovation from the audience, and several artists returned their gongs in protest after Kollegah and Farid Bang won the award for having 2017’s best-selling hip-hop album, “Young, Brutal and Handsome 3.”
Some 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, were killed at Auschwitz and the adjoining Birkenau camp.
The award ceremony was held as Israel marked Yom HaShoah, its Holocaust Remembrance Day, dedicated to the six million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II.
Numerous artists returned their awards in disgust, and ultimately the German Music Industry Association announced it was canceling the Echo Awards for good. Association officials said they did not want the award to be associated with anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia or the trivialization of violence.
In the wake of the controversy, BMG, which distributes releases by the rappers, announced a campaign focused on teaching children about anti-Semitism.
“Recent news reports have produced shocking evidence of a new wave of anti-Semitism in German schools,” read a statement by BMG Worldwide CEO Hartwig Masuch. “BMG is utterly opposed to anti-Semitism.”
But Masuch also said the artists in question are not anti-Semitic.
“Kollegah and Farid Bang have repeatedly made it clear on the internet and speaking in public that they are not anti-Semitic, and they have apologized for any distress caused by the lyrics in question,” he said. “BMG stands for values such as artistic freedom, creativity and diversity.”