Germany Drops Probe Against Rappers Accused of anti-Semitism

Prosecutor says Kollegah and Farid Bang's lyrics may be 'vulgar,' they don't represent Holocaust denial

German rappers Kollegah & Farid Bang receive the "Hip-Hop/Urban national" award during the 2018 Echo Music Awards ceremony in Berlin, on April 12, 2018
Axel Schmidt/AP

No legal action will be taken against two German rappers who created an uproar with their anti-Semitic lyrics.

The state prosecutor in the western German city of Dusseldorf announced Saturday that the controversial lyrics in the song “0815” that drew several complaints against hip-hop artists Kollegah and Farid Bang were not grounds for prosecution.

“The comparison of a concentration camp inmate with their own body may be tasteless, but it does not represent denial of the Holocaust,” the prosecutor said in a statement.

He acknowledged that the lyrics were “vulgar,” and “misogynistic,” and said that they are protected by rules regarding artistic freedom, according to the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Several complaints had been filed against the artists. Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany.

The artists made a private visit in June to the former Auschwitz Nazi camp in Poland on an invitation from the International Auschwitz Committee.

Kollegah and Farid Bang were the focus of a media firestorm in April after winning the prominent Echo Award in the hip-hop category for an album with lyrics boasting of physiques “more defined that those of Auschwitz inmates” and a call for “another Holocaust; let’s grab the Molotov” cocktails.

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.