From a review of David Stubbs’ Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany:
“The Third Reich looms large over Krautrock. Few bands or pieces address it directly but the ghost of it informs every riff and groove. Irmin Schmidt said that the loose, collectivist vibe of his band Can was down to a deliberate ‘no führers’ policy. Stubbs smartly points out that when Frank Zappa goaded hippie audiences in the US by telling them that their schools were run by Nazis, he was being figurative and hyperbolic. For Can, Faust, Kraftwerk and the rest, it was literally true. Altnazis were still in positions of power in German social life, a tolerated stain on the national culture.
Stubbs is also good at placing this music in an economic and industrial context. ‘Invention, quite simply, is what Germans did. Industry and manufacture are key to the functioning of the German state,’ he explains. ‘When Kraftwerk named themselves thus, the German word for “power plant”, they did so ironically but not scornfully . . . The Krautrock generation were born into a mostly prosperous, highly industrial society.’ Kraftwerk addressed this most directly, with witty, tongue-in-cheek paeans to motorways, calculators and nuclear power stations. Like their peers, they did this in a way that owed little to the tropes of American or British rock.”
Kraftwerk (early rockin’ version) live