World

Huge satirical models of Trump, Putin and Zelensky at German carnival parades

Shrove Monday parades are a traditional high point of the celebrations, with big displays in Cologne, Dusseldorf and Mainz.

A float depicting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is driven through the streets during the Rose Monday parade in Cologne (Rolf Vennenbernd/dpa via AP)
Germany Carnival A float depicting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is driven through the streets during the Rose Monday parade in Cologne (Rolf Vennenbernd/dpa via AP) (Rolf Vennenbernd/AP)

Throngs of revellers took to the streets of Germany’s carnival strongholds on Monday, accompanied by floats that satirised the Ukrainian and Russian presidents, German politicians, former US President Donald Trump and many others.

Shrove Monday parades are a traditional high point of carnival celebrations in Cologne, Duesseldorf, Mainz and other places in western Germany, drawing large crowds of locals and visitors.

Carnival floats address current political issues both in Germany and abroad, with Donald Trump a particular focus (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Germany Carnival Parade Carnival floats address current political issues both in Germany and abroad, with Donald Trump a particular focus (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) (Martin Meissner/AP)

Every year, floats address current national and global political issues with biting sarcasm.

This year, a larger-than-life Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky progressed through the streets of Cologne with a sign reading “To be or NATO be”.

Mr Zelensky wants Ukraine to be able to join the Western military alliance.

A float depicting Barbies and Ken, with the characters of Russian President Vladimir Putin Alice Weidel of AfD and Sahra Wagenknecht of BSW (Arne Dedert/dpa via AP)
Germany Carnival A float depicting Barbies and Ken, with the characters of Russian President Vladimir Putin Alice Weidel of AfD and Sahra Wagenknecht of BSW (Arne Dedert/dpa via AP) (Arne Dedert/AP)

In Duesseldorf, a float depicted Mr Trump stabbing a Ukrainian soldier in the back — a reference to opposition among Republicans to aid for Ukraine.

Another had the former president and 2024 presidential candidate carrying scissors and a US flag cut into the shape of a swastika.

A carnival float depicts a reveller unmasking Adolf Hitler as AfD (Alternative for Germany) politician during the traditional carnival parade in Duesseldorf, Germany (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Germany Carnival Parade A carnival float depicts a reveller unmasking Adolf Hitler as AfD (Alternative for Germany) politician during the traditional carnival parade in Duesseldorf, Germany (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) (Martin Meissner/AP)

In Mainz, a Barbies and Ken pink car float featured Russian President Vladimir Putin behind Alice Weidel and Sahra Wagenknecht, the co-leaders of German political parties the far-right Alternative for Germany and the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance, that criticise sanctions against Russia and oppose weapons deliveries to Ukraine.

The war between Israel and Hamas was also a theme.

A float depicting an Israel tank, Palestinians and a Hamas militant joined the parade in Duesseldorf (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Germany Carnival Parade A float depicting an Israel tank, Palestinians and a Hamas militant joined the parade in Duesseldorf (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) (Martin Meissner/AP)

A float in Duesseldorf depicted a figure in military garb labelled “Hamas” pushing what appeared to be a family toward an Israeli tank.

Germany’s unpopular government came in for lampooning, with chancellor Olaf Scholz portrayed as a sloth and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock as an elephant in a porcelain shop, the German equivalent of a bull in a china shop.