A Rock Band Flirts with German Taboos, and Finds a Huge Following

A Rock Band Flirts with German Taboos, and Finds a Huge Following

Mr. Burger argued that the band’s reputation as a right-wing populist act was largely a creation of the media, which misrepresents and misconstrues his lyrics. The singer, who sports a severe undercut and speaks with a husky rasp, said that most of the band’s songs were personal expressions of “fears, hopes, disappointments, feelings of thankfulness to my family, and about South Tyrol.”

Sven-Christian Kindler, German lawmaker who was attacked by a right-wing extremist in 2014 after he spoke against Frei.Wild’s lyrics, argued in a telephone interview that Mr. Burger deliberately used ambiguous codes to appeal to far-right fans. “It’s the classical strategy of right-wing radicals,” said Mr. Kindler, a member of the Greens.

As an example, he pointed to the song “Gutmenschen und Moralapostel” (“Do-Gooders and Moralizers”), which complains about the “supermen of the century,” who have decided that “people should hate themselves/Just so history, which brings in money, isn’t put to rest.” Mr. Kindler described the lyrics as “anti-Semitic codes.”

In an email, Mr. Burger said that Mr. Kindler’s accusation was “dumb, malicious, wrong,” and that the lyrics were in fact about “warmongers, corporate emperors,” politicians and “media agitators.” He also argued that the band was pro-Israel, has Jewish fans and has visited Israel many times.

Mr. Kindler said that Frei.Wild fit into the strategy outlined by the “New Right,” a loose movement of political intellectuals in Germany that believes right-wingers need to establish a “cultural hegemony” in order to bring their politics into the mainstream. The band, he said, “is bringing a racist, xenophobic, nationalist, ethnic thinking into the heads of young people through their music.”

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