On Hitler’s birthday, April 20, 1999, the abrasive German electronic pop group KMFDM (depending on the source, either “Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode” or “Kein Mehrheit Furh Die Mitleid,” which means “No Pity for the Majority”) released what was supposed to be its final album, Adios. This would be a comparatively insignificant footnote in history if not for the fact that this was also the day of the Columbine High School massacre. Eric Harris, a fan of the band, took notice of what he seems to suggest is something more than a simple coincidence. “Heh, get this,” he wrote in his journal. “KMFDM’s new album is entitled ‘Adios’ and its release date is in April. How fuckin appropriate, a subliminal final ‘adios’ tribute to Reb and Vodka [i.e., Harris and Klebold], thanks KMFDM…”
“The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, amid pressure over the long delay in publishing their investigation’s findings, released a report in May 2000 including over eleven thousand pages of lead sheets, ballistics and eyewitness reports and other attack-related media,” Evan Long states in the introduction to his essential documentary challenge The Columbine Cause. “The length of these reports did not lend them to rapid digestion, and the 9/11 attacks and overall shift in the American political climate of 2001 obscured many of the pressing domestic troubles facing America,” Long continues. “Perhaps the dust of the Twin Towers has settled enough by now for the people of the world to take a fresh look at the attack launched on Columbine.”
Was the “Trench Coat Mafia” something other than what mainstream media outlets reported it to be in 1999? Was the Columbine massacre something other than what it appeared to be? “Now, as far as the involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency or some type of brainwashing network, we have to be careful here in terms of avoiding that which our convictions may prejudice us to believe,” Michael A. Hoffman II cautions in “The Columbine Matrix”, a lecture he recorded shortly after the event.
In other words, a good researcher doesn’t act a priori. He doesn’t establish what he wants to see in a story and then look for those things. But rather, he goes to a story with an open mind, even if that report, even if the news details, contradicts his own convictions about something; and, therefore, to the very best of my knowledge, I have not yet seen evidence of an organizational brainwash going on against these two boys. In fact, I think we need to understand what happened in Littleton at a higher level of mind control than what has been previously put forth.
Notwithstanding the absence of concrete and credible evidence of intelligence agency involvement, Long, using material released after Hoffman delivered his lecture, presents a compelling case for a cover-up of testimonies concerning disturbing aspects of the Columbine event. The details are beyond the scope of the present essay, which the reader should supplement with a viewing of The Columbine Cause. A further quotation may, however, whet the appetite:
According to an unnamed individual in the JCSO report, the attack had been “the big rumor for two years.”
And Martin Middleton, who had been in the Jefferson County area in the mid-90’s, at that time encountered an individual talking about the attempted bombing that would take place on Hitler’s 110th birthday who also told him that the Trench Coat Mafia which would be attempting it was not just a bunch of lonely depressed kids, but something much larger.
Indeed, we were told after the attack that the Columbine attackers had planned to not just shoot and maim a few dozen students, but to kill 500 people, level the school with bombs, hijack a plane from Denver’s New World Airport and, despite their total inexperience with aviation, fly it over 2000 miles where they would perhaps lodge it into skyscrapers in New York City, a plan which may have sounded foreign to audiences of 1999 but which today seems all too familiar.
Those acquainted with 9/11 conspiracy lore will be aware of the theories of eerily prescient content in the entertainment media during the years leading up to that event. Such films as The Siege (1998) and Fight Club (1999), in addition to the notorious pilot episode of the short-lived Fox TV series The Lone Gunmen, furnish examples of these alleged indications of foreknowledge of the World Trade Center attack, as does the scrapped artwork for rap group the Coup’s 2001 release Party Music, which depicts the Twin Towers being remotely detonated. Similarly, with Columbine, conspiracy-oriented researchers like Hoffman and Long have pointed to the proliferation of a violent trench coat goth image and sensibility in Hollywood productions like The Crow (1994), The Basketball Diaries (1995), Blade (1998), and The Matrix (1999), which was released a mere three weeks before the shootings in Littleton, Colorado.
As with Warner’s Party Music, the cover of TVT Records’ suspiciously synchronized KMFDM release displays a startling parallelism with the events of that day. Mimicking comic book artwork, the Adios imagery created by Aidan “BRUTE!” Hughes shows two gunmen being rammed and run over by a scowling driver. The content of at least one of the songs is strangely relevant to the Columbine massacre, as well. The lyrics of one track, “Full Worm Garden”, go in part as follows:
Tincture of lead be said with no remorse full of confusion
Wish to enjoy this weightlessness lay me out full worm garden
A noose-knit put on sweater tie it up around the arm
Looks to grip along the trigger down the barrel of a gun
Another song on Adios, titled “R.U.OK?”, concludes with these interesting lines:
For a moment you might question what you see
For a second your whole world will disappear
This is mind control and you know it
This will shut you up and you know it
This is mind control
This is mind control
This is mind control
That’s all you get
It’s all you need
“That’s All”, meanwhile, features the enigmatic phrases “Get defamed in isolation two plus one negate divine”; “News-print news-peak nevermind”; and “Free the hostage situation taken as a simulation”. “Rubicon”, another of the tracks on Adios, has this to say:
Violence for inner-peace
Bombing for therapy
Terror is everything you need
Cross the dotted line
Fake your destiny […]
Natural selection is based on deception
The ignorant elder empowers the youth
Both boys were known admirers of the group and were photographed wearing KMFDM apparel. Eric Harris made multiple references to the group’s body of work in his writings, and it is difficult, in retrospect, to listen to KMFDM’s output in the years leading up to the Columbine massacre without psychologically hyperlinking much of the band’s imagery back into the Trench Coat Mafia’s “Columbine Matrix”, as Hoffman terms it.
More than one of the songs included on KMFDM’s 1995 album Nihil conveys an angry anxiety coupled with a lack of agency. “Flesh” declares “I am the thing that I can’t control”, while “Beast”, the following song in the album’s sequence, screams “I got no choice / I’m out of control / And the kids just love it”. The listener can only expect to “get respect / When you’re kickin’ ass,” the singer explains. “Some people call them terrorists,” says the sample of an unknown man’s foreign-accented voice that opens the track “Terror”; but “these boys have simply been misguided.” Repeated lines in the song describe a fragile mental state: “I’m close enough to trip the wire / I cannot keep my hate inside.” “Our societies are saturated with bloodlust, sensationalism and violence as a result of alienation from oneself’s reality,” explains another of the sampled voices in “Terror”. Nihil’s next song, “Search & Destroy”, asks, “Are we victims or winners / Believers or sinners? / Do we sit in the saddle / Or are we just cattle?” Here again, as would be the case with much of the public discourse that followed the Columbine massacre, the lines separating automaton and deliberate actor, victim and brutalizer, are blurred.
KMFDM’s 1996 effort Xtort declares itself the “Industrial soundtrack to the holy wars” and, in its opening number “Power”, prescribes the use of “Excessive force”: “The children of fear / Are not alone / Rivers of tears / Flesh and blood / An eye for an eye / That’s all we’ve got”. “Craze”, a particularly evil-sounding song on this same album, is especially interesting in consideration of Hoffman’s advancement of his theory of “Revelation of the Method”, or “Must Be”, as James Shelby Downard termed it, according to which a shadow establishment openly mocks its intended audience, both confirming and strengthening its control over a population by “telling you what they are doing to you”. “There’s nothing like giving the game away / All the people are feeling the same today,” asserts a demonically processed voice in “Craze” that goes on to command, “Take a hammer and break a bone for me / There’s nothing like giving the game away”. Whether intentionally or not, the song expresses the wicked delight an elite manipulator would presumably feel in dropping such cryptic hints as to his doings and intentions. Also notable on Xtort is “Son of a Gun”, which describes a “Massive attack” by a “Son of a gun” who has been “Born to kill”. “All are equal” to this “Superhero #1”, who exercises “No discrimination” in his murders – a characterization that prefigures Salon writer Dave Cullen’s description of Harris and Klebold: “They were equal-opportunity haters, railing against minorities and whites, praising Hitler’s ‘final solution’ – and then ranting against racism.” Harris said “Son of a Gun” was one of his favorite songs.
The song “Stray Bullet” from KMFDM’s 1997 album Symbols is known to have been of interest to Eric Harris, who made reference to it on at least one occasion. A “Stray bullet / From the barrel of love” is both an eroticized explosion of violence and an apotheosis: “Stray bullet / From the heavens above […] I’m the illegitimate son of God”. “Megalomaniac”, another track from Symbols, declares “Terrorism our trade” and “Chaos our mental state”. “Anarchy”, a song from Symbols mentioned in Harris’s entry in classmate Nathan Dykeman’s yearbook, evokes a character motivated by revenge who has “made a God out of blood”. Had Harris and Klebold, as Hoffman suggests with reference to the desensitizing content of The Matrix, taken their “MKULTRA marching orders” from KMFDM?
KMFDM snarler-songwriter Sascha Konietzko has complained that “a giant shitstorm came down on KMFDM” after the Columbine horror, and it is entirely possible that Konietzko is justified in his outrage at the band’s being falsely implicated. It is not this essay’s intention to charge that the personnel of KMFDM or Rammstein or any other group are Mossad or Central Intelligence Agency contractors bent on programming America’s youth for commission of acts of mass murder. Easy answers may never be forthcoming where the Columbine massacre is concerned, with more mystery and convolution emerging the more one examines the case. This essay is purely exploratory.
A lack of conclusive information does nothing to dispel the number of anomalies and bizarre circumstances surrounding the event, the release of Adios being one of many of these. Evan Long cites “an unnamed individual in the reports [who] called up accounts of a Denver-area culture well outside the bounds of humanity.” He continues:
This individual, who attended another high school in the area, related that he had been to parties attended by goths and Trench Coat Mafia individuals in their 20’s across the area, and that most of the Trench Coat Mafia individuals were out of school and that there were not very many who were still in school. He stated that they were into bloodletting, cutting and violence.
He also was questioned on sexually explicit photographs found in his backpack which were homosexual in nature, and stated that he had been to the house of an individual known to some in this circuit as “Pedophile Bill”, a homosexual man who was, quote, “not nice sexually” and had given him these pictures and also showed him photo albums which made him sick to his stomach. The albums, he said, contained sexually explicit photographs of small children up to the age of fourteen.
Who was “Pedophile Bill” and what was his connection, if any, to the events at Columbine High School? How extensive was the Trench Coat Mafia, and what was its organizational structure – if indeed it had any to speak of? If Long’s film The Columbine Cause demonstrates anything, it is that the public does not know what happened April 20th, 1999, in Littleton, Colorado, and that further research, much of it on the ground, must be conducted before the case can be closed to any critically conscious observer’s satisfaction. As Sheriff Ted Mink’s reported destruction not only of weapons and shell casings from the crime scene but also the infamous “Basement Tapes” of Harris and Klebold indicates, the authorities are determined that no independent investigator will ever be able to challenge establishment narratives with the aid of this key forensic and psychological evidence.