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ANTI-SEMITISM

Rapper Kollegah rejects accusations of anti-Semitism

In an interview on Monday, Controversial German rapper Kollegah has rejected accusations of anti-Semitism, saying in an interview that his 'sensibility' towards history has grown.

Rapper Kollegah rejects accusations of anti-Semitism
Kollegah, left, performing with Farid Bang at the award ceremony in April. Photo: DPA

The 34-year-old said in an interview with the DPA in Munich that “for me, racism or any form of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, colour, religion, or another characteristic make absolutely no sense.”

“In my world, racism and anti-Semitism are something absurd,” he added. “They go totally against my understanding of the world.”

Kollegah caused a huge controversy in April when he and fellow rapper Farid Bang won the Echo award, then Germany's top music award, in spite of accusations of anti-Semitism.

The rapper triggered a new wave of outrage in a recent interview with “hiphop.de”, in which he compared the murder of six million Jews with the situation in the Palestinian region and thus triggered a new wave of outrage. “My comparison referred purely to the deaths of innocent people,” he declared.

However, ever since Kollegah, whose real name is Felix Blume, visited the memorial site of the former German death camp Auschwitz along with Bang in July, he has been reformed, he told dpa.

His “fundamental sensibility towards the Holocaust, as well as comparable events in history,” has grown, said the rapper, originally from Friedberg in Hesse.

An award discontinued

Kollegah and Bang won best hip hop/urban album for “Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend III” in April, which included the line “Mein Körper definierter als von Auschwitz-Insassen” (My body more defined than that of an Auschwitz inmate) in the song “O815”. The pair even performed the song at the awards ceremony.

SEE ALSO: Controversy as 'anti-Semitic rappers' win top music awards

After Kollegah won the award in April, the German Music Industry Association, the BVMI, initially defended the prize, saying that the decision was based on music sales, rather than the quality of the music.

However, following much backlash in which numerous artists returned their prizes, the Echo award itself was discontinued in April after 26 years.

“The Echo brand is so badly damaged that a complete new beginning is necessary,” said Germany's Music Industry Association, adding that the “Echo will be no more.”

The controversy didn't hamper the hip-hop efforts of Kollegah, who on December 7th will release his new album Monument. The rapper, who has said he will not rap any more about the Holocaust, instead has songs taking a stab at authority, with lyrics such as “F#@k the state, I'm the leading figure.”

SEE ALSO: Germany's main music award to be abolished over win for anti-Semitic rap album

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POLICE

Outrage in Germany after remains of neo-Nazi buried in empty Jewish grave

The burial of a known neo-Nazi's ashes in the former grave of a Jewish musical scholar has sparked outrage in Germany, and prompted Berlin's anti-Semitism official to file a criminal complaint.

Jewish scholar Max Friedlaender's grave stone in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, on October 12th.
Jewish scholar Max Friedlaender's grave stone in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, on October 12th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Kalaene

The remains of the neo-Nazi were buried at the grave of Max Friedlaender in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, with several figures from the extreme-right scene in attendance at the funeral on Friday.

Samuel Salzborn, anti-Semitism official for Berlin, said late Tuesday that he had filed a criminal complaint because “the intention here is obvious – the right-wing extremists deliberately chose a Jewish grave to disturb the peace of the dead by burying a Holocaust denier there”.

He added that “it must now be quickly examined how quickly the Holocaust denier can be reburied in order to no longer disturb the dignified memory of Max Friedlaender”.

Friedlaender died in 1934 – when Adolf Hitler was already in power – and was buried in the graveyard as his religion was given as ‘Protestant’ in the burial registration slip

His grave was cleared upon expiration in 1980 and opened up for new burials, under common practice for plots after a certain amount of time has passed.

Friedlaender’s gravestone however remains standing as the entire cemetery is protected under monument conservative rules.

‘Mistake’

The Protestant Church managing the graveyard voiced dismay at the incident.

In a statement, it said it had accepted the request for burial at the empty grave because “everyone has a right for a final resting place”.

“Nevertheless, the choice of the former grave of Max Friedlaender is a mistake. We are looking into this mistake now,” the church said in a statement.

At the funeral, a black cloth was laid over Friedlaender’s tombstone while wreathes and ribbons bearing the Nazi-era iron cross symbol were laid on the grave for the neo-Nazi Henry Hafenmayer.

Prominent Holocaust denier Horst Mahler, who has been convicted for incitement, was among dozens at the funeral.

Police deployed at the funeral were able to arrest a fugitive from the far-right scene there, German media reported.

Several war graves stand at the cemetery at Stahnsdorf, and these sites are known in far-right circles, the Protestant church administrating the graveyard admitted.

It added that it has worked closely with police to hinder several neo-Nazi marches there in recent years.

READ ALSO: German hotel workers probed after singer’s anti-Semitism complaint

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