Pete Doherty has apologized to fans and Germans alike after the former Libertines frontman sang the controversial first verse of the German national anthem during a concert in Munich on November 28th. The crowd loudly booed Doherty after he included the verse — “Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles,” which translates to “Germany, Germany above everything” — in a rendition of “Hit the Road Jack.” Because of its connection to the Third Reich, Germans have disregarded the verse since World War II. To make matters worse, the performance was broadcast live on Bavarian radio, the BBC reports. In a statement, Doherty said that he just “wanted to celebrate his appearance in Munich by assimilating and integrating with the crowd.” Instead, the controversy resulted in Doherty being removed from the stage five songs later.
Doherty’s spokesperson said the guitarist was “unaware of the controversy” surrounding the verse. “[Doherty] deeply apologizes if he has caused any offense,” the spokesperson said. “Pete himself is from Jewish descent and has fought against racism and fascism with numerous organizations. This is a subject he feels very strongly about.” Doherty’s grandfather on his mother’s side was Jewish.
This isn’t the first time Doherty has attracted controversy by referencing Nazi Germany musically: On the Libertines’ self-titled second album, Doherty wrote a song called “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or “Work Brings Freedom,” which was the slogan that was featured at the entrances of Nazi concentration camps during World War II.