Pink Floyd founding member Roger Waters’ politically performative costuming recently caused a stir in Germany as police reportedly opened an investigation for his potentially “approving, glorifying or justifying” the Nazis.
With only a couple weeks in Europe remaining on the “This Is Not A Drill” tour before heading to South America in the fall, Waters’ performance in Berlin caused a stir online and with local law enforcement.
As he has in the past, the 79-year-old rocker appeared on stage wearing a full-length leather jacket reminiscent of a Nazi SS officer, complete with a red armband with crossed hammers replacing the swastika. Adding to the motif was an inflatable pig that circled above the crowd with symbols that included a Star of David.
Reacting to the performance, the California-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, was among those calling out the perceived antisemitism in the display.
“Shame on Frankfurt authorities and Mercedes Benz arena in Berlin — a place from where Jews were deported by the Nazis — for providing anti-Semite #RogerWaters this venue for his concert with no concern/care for the Jewish community,” the center tweeted.
Shame on Frankfurt authorities and Mercedes Benz arena in Berlin — a place from where Jews were deported by the Nazis — for providing anti-Semite #RogerWaters this venue for his concert with no concern/care for the Jewish community. https://t.co/XYAS4bFi7h
— SimonWiesenthalCntr (@simonwiesenthal) May 23, 2023
ROGER WATERS NAZI CONCERT CLIP (30 sec)
This is Roger Waters. He dresses as a Nazi in an SS coat, while at a concert in … Berlin! He displays a large inflatible pig with a Magen David (Star of David) on its head.
He proceeded to denigrate Anne Frank.
This is just unhinged Jew… pic.twitter.com/BfLAJ06Ior
— Australian Jewish Association (@AustralianJA) May 27, 2023
The scary thing isn’t that Roger Waters is a deranged bigot who dresses like an S.S. officer while flying a pig marked with the Star of David. The scary thing is that such a deranged bigot can fill an arena in Berlin. pic.twitter.com/zHOoeQWlLN
— Uri Kurlianchik (@VerminusM) May 25, 2023
A spokesperson for the Berlin police had reported to NBC News that Waters is being investigated for “incitement of the people” after his costume was “deemed capable of violating the dignity of the victims, as well as approving, glorifying or justifying the violent and arbitrary rule of the Nazi regime in a way that disrupts public peace.”
As a community notes check on images from Waters’ performance indicated, the symbolism had been used by Pink Floyd dating back to 1980 and “The Wall” and added, “It’s debated whether it’s right to play a Nazi, even if criticizing. However, this tweet falsely paints the show as endorsing Nazis rather than criticizing them.”
Similarly, Waters defended himself in a statement on social media and noted “My recent performance in Berlin has attracted bad faith attacks from those who want to smear and silence me because they disagree with my political views and moral principles.”
“The elements of my performance that have been questioned are quite clearly a statement in opposition to fascism, injustice, and bigotry in all its forms. Attempts to portray those elements as something else are disingenuous and politically motivated,” he continued and said, “The depiction of an unhinged fascist demagogue has been a feature of my shows since Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ in 1980.”
— Roger Waters ✊ (@rogerwaters) May 26, 2023
Waters further stated, “I have spent my entire life speaking out against authoritarianism and oppression wherever I see it. When I was a child after the war, the name of Anne Frank was often spoken in our house, she became a permanent reminder of what happens when fascism is left unchecked. My parents fought the Nazis in World War II, with my father paying the ultimate price.”
“Regardless of the consequences of the attacks against me, I will continue to condemn injustice and all those who perpetrate it,” he concluded.
To that point, the rocker has been on the record criticizing both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, notably challenging the incumbent’s position in Ukraine stating in August 2022, “Why won’t the United States of America encourage [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, the [Ukrainian] president, to negotiate, obviating the need for this horrific, horrendous war that’s killing … We don’t know how many Russians.”
That said, Waters has remained a vocal supporter of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement and, at the time of this post, his tour appearance for Sunday in Frankfurt, Germany’s Festhalle remained on the schedule.
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