Fact Check

German Parade Floats

Photographs show politically themed floats from a German parade?

Published Feb 15, 2012

Claim:   Photographs show politically themed floats from a German parade.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, July 2009]

I received the following in an email. My question: Is it real? What parade was this float in?

Ahh Yes.. GERMAN PARADE -- Now you can sure see how we are mocked overseas.

A chuckle amidst the insanity. The world is laughing at our government and the corruption.

Click photo to enlarge


Origins:   Parade-goers in the United States are used to seeing floats that express and celebrate concepts such as fun and entertainment, civic pride, community spirit, patriotism, and noteworthy achievements, so the sight of parade floats that feature American symbols but are overtly political (and cynical) like the ones shown above seems jarringly unusual. Such displays are a tradition in parts of Germany during carnival season, however, as noted in an Associated Press news account describing a February 2009 parade in Duesseldorf which featured the floats pictured here:

Thousands of costumed revelers joined in Germany's Carnival parades amid floats that depicted, among others, a soaring President Barack Obama, a menacing Russian prime minister and a struggling banker.

Carnival parades are a cherished annual tradition across a swath of western Germany, particularly in Rhineland cities such as Cologne, Duesseldorf and Mainz.

The brightly painted papier-mache floats traditionally focus on current political events and this year was no exception.

In Duesseldorf, one showed Obama flying on wings decorated with the words "Yes we can," with a figure representing Europe clutching his cloak. Another float depicted Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the handle of a gun, whose barrel bore the inscription "Putin's press freedom."

The global financial crisis was as a favorite theme of many floats.

In Cologne, one had a large figure of Uncle Sam bracing himself against the collapse of skyscrapers bearing the names of U.S. banks and automakers. Another showed Germans holding up a net for a banker balancing on a tightrope — with his pants down.

Last updated:   15 February 2012


    Associated Press.   "Germans Jest Their Way Through Carnival."

    The [New Orleans] Times-Picayune.   23 February 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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