This was the reply sent several months ago in response to a variety of accusations from certain parties that eventually resulted in the Death In June album ‘Rose Clouds Of Holocaust’ being placed at the end of 2005 (10 years after its release) on Germany’s ‘Index’ of forbidden fruit that must not be consumed by impressionable Deutsche Jugend! Perhaps some of you will find it of interest? I think my response is quite reasonable but obviously those who know better did not! Heilige,…. Douglas P.
“I have been told by my music distributer Tesco Organisation, Germany that I must provide a statement clarifying my work with my group Death In June to a German government agency responsible for censorship in Germany.
In the 24 years of Death In June’s existence I have never explained my work. I feel that would make my art ordinary and stillborn and panders to elements within society that seek to control freedom of expression and thought, abstract or otherwise. All art, whether it be in the form of music, literature, painting etc. worth a grain of salt should be open to interpretation. In turn, this also makes it open to misinterpretation; sometimes good, sometimes bad. It is in the nature of art that ‘challenges’ or ‘confronts’ the consumer, or potential consumer, to be misunderstood.
But here are some facts:
Death In June was named after I thought I heard a colleague say those words during our first recording session in 1981. It was an accident of mishearing. I have said this in countless interviews over the years since. It is merely post-rationalization to assume it refers to any one particular event, historic or otherwise. A common interpretation was that it referred to the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914. It didn’t, and doesn’t refer to anything else than ‘Death In June!’
Before becoming a musician I was a student of 20th century history, as is clearly stated in the whole interview with Zillo magazine in 1992. Apparently a small quote is taken out of context from this interview referring to my interest in Ernst Roehm. I cannot see how one cannot be interested in events and personalities that led directly, or indirectly, to the biggest tragedy of the 20th century World War II. The fact that I am homosexual as was Ernst Roehm was another point of interest that led to a song ‘Brown Book’ written in 1986, before German unification, which uses the Horst Wessel Lied to create the atmosphere to a narration juxtaposing the homophobia of a Nazi stormtrooper to the suicidal fatalism of his sexual partner; a Jewish grandmother. The song evokes Germany, 1936. The title comes from the name of the book the Communist authorities of former East Germany kept listing ex-members of the N.S.D.A.P. and S.S. etc. and their positions held in government and other work places in West Germany. A thought provoking song with many contradictory themes which is typical of Death In June.
This leads to the song ‘Rose Clouds Of Holocaust’ issued in 1995. This work was inspired by Mid-Winter and Mid-Summer visits to Iceland where the days during these times of year can be either almost totally dark or either almost totally light. Never completely one thing, nor the other. I experienced a spiritual epiphany during these visits in 1989/1990. The word holocaust is Greek for ‘burnt offerings’ (normally of a religious kind) and Iceland is full of extinct volcanoes as well as active ones. Its volcanic landscape is the holocaust in question symbolizing death and rebirth. It has nothing to do with the persecution and extermination of Jews, Homosexuals, Gypsies etc. by Germany during the years of the IIIrd Reich.
I am a musician and I do not involve myself in politics and I refuse to be forced into becoming involved in politics. When the German Goth group Das Ich suddenly attempted to politicize a Christmas Festival in Hamburg, Germany in 1992, Death In June, along with another English group and Projekt Pitchfork from Germany, decided to drop out and not to become involved in what was after all local politics. We wrote, signed and distributed a joint statement explaining our decision, abhorring all forms of violence directed at anyone regardless of race, religion or sexuality (apparently there had been some trouble in Hamburg?) and relocated our performances to a club in Bochum. This became a 3 night residency where anyone with tickets to the Festival who still wanted to celebrate Christmas could do so with Death In June etc. All 3 nights were sold out. The Dark Xmas Festival was not and fell to bits with the highest political arguments between the remaining Goth groups being as to who should headline! It has been a source of resentment from the Goth ‘rock stars’ of Das Ich ever since. The music business is filled with jealousy and envy and I attempt to keep my distance from it.
Death In June has always been fascinated by symbols and their effects. There is even an album entitled ‘But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?’ The ‘Totenkopf 6’ is a simple one conveying Death In June (the 6th month!) but since 1984 a fist holding a whip and 6 has also been extensively used to symbolize Death In June. In English we have an expression to hold the whiphand which means to take control. In 1997 Death In June issued an album called ‘Take Care And Control’. Everything is connected, everything is symbolic and everything that on a surface level is mutually contradictory is important in the world of Death In June.
The 2 words Rose clouds are beautifully juxtaposed to each other and with of holocaust added the contradictory imagery is complete. The joy of sadness recognized and a life filled with lies abandoned. In ‘Lifebooks’ The swirling sound of swastikas like rotor blades of thought brings this conversation piece between 2 close friends to an end. The Sanskrit word for sun-wheel brings perfect closure to a night filled with bad dreams. Dawn has arrived. And, surely if the word swastika in itself is justification for a German government investigation into any work of art then I hope the more famous Iggy Pop and David Bowie’s ‘China Girl (visions of swastikas in my head ) and Primal Scream’s ‘Swastikas Eyes’ plus many others deserve equal investigation.
In June, 2004 I was invited to perform in Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel. Death In June did so to an enthusiastic audience of over 500 and there are even pictures of me on stage waving a ‘Totenkopf 6’ flag alongside an Israeli one. I did numerous interviews with both Israeli magazines and radio stations. Death In June LPs/CDs are freely available in Israel. T-shirts are even licensed for manufacture there.
I find it ironic that I am so welcomed in Israel yet I am suspiciously viewed by the German authorities for censorship. But, I suppose that fits well with the contradictory nature of Death In June.
I am also unsettled by the fact that in Germany, a modern Western democracy and civilization government censorship of the arts should even be entertained. That, along with the organizations or individuals that have brought me to your attention, smell more of Germany’s past than any of Death In June’s recordings. My father was a career officer in the British Royal Air Force, fought as a pilot against Hitler’s Luftwaffe during World War II and was shot down twice but survived. His first wife was not so lucky and was killed in the London blitz. I have a step-sister as a result of that death. His 3 brothers, my uncles, were all front-line soldiers and the youngest was one of the first troops in the British Royal Artillery to enter Bergen-Belsen KZ and drove bulldozers shoveling the dead inmates into mass graves. All of them thought the only good German was a dead German.
Coming from such an anti-German family background I have always considered myself part of a generation that was responsible for the reconciliation between our 2 countries. I feel that reconciliation has been achieved. We live in 2005 not 1945.
I trust that any review of my work is based upon official releases all obtainable from but, not necessarily distributed by Tesco Organisation, Germany. I cannot be held responsible for unofficial releases which have nothing to do with Death In June but falsely claim to be.
Douglas P. (Death In June)”