Roger Waters is reportedly under criminal investigation by German police for “suspected incitement” following his concerts in Berlin on May 17th and 18th.
As Stereogum points out, Waters came under fire for wearing a uniform of a leather jacket, gloves, armband, and rifle that appeared to resemble that of a Nazi SS soldier. His stage design also featured an inflatable pig covered in Third Reich-esque imagery and a Star of David, a prop Waters has been using since 2010. Per The Jerusalem Post, Waters began the show with a message on a screen announcing: “I condemn antisemitism unreservedly.”
“The context of the clothing worn is deemed capable of approving, glorifying or justifying the violent and arbitrary rule of the Nazi regime in a manner that violates the dignity of the victims and thereby disrupts public peace,” police chief inspector Martin Halweg told the Jewish News. “After the conclusion of the investigation, the case will be forwarded to the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office for legal assessment.”
Waters’ uniform was meant to reference Bob Geldof’s character Pink in The Wall, the 1982 film based off Pink Floyd’s album of the same name; the symbol on the armband features a pair of crossed hammers that somewhat resemble a swastika. Additionally, the screen behind Waters displayed the names of people he believes ere murdered by governments, including George Floyd; Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman believed to have been beaten to death by Iran’s “morality police” for not wearing a hijab; and German anti-Nazi activist Sophie Scholl, who was beheaded by guillotine in 1943 after being convicted of high treason for distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich.
The screen went on to flash Anne Frank’s name before then showing Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American journalist who is believed to have been killed by shots from Israeli soldiers during a shootout with Palestinian militants last May. The contrast sparked outrage from Israel’s Foreign Ministry, who tweeted: “Good morning to every one but Roger Waters who spent the evening in Berlin (Yes Berlin) desecrating the memory of Anne Frank and the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.”
Update: Waters responded to the investigation in a statement posted on Friday. “My recent performance in Berlin has attracted bad faith attacks from those who want to smear me because they disagree with my political views and moral principals,” he wrote.
“The elements of my performance that have been questioned are quite clearly a statement in opposition of fascism, injustice, and bigotry in all its forms. Attempts to portray those elements as something else are disingenuous and politically motivated.”
Rogers has been especially vocal about the Israel-Palestine conflict in recent years, having described Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as an “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing,” and likening Israel to Nazi Germany. Frankfurt, Germany canceled his show in the city on May 28th, calling him “one of the world’s most well-known antisemites,” although the show is now scheduled to go on after Waters took legal action.
— Roger Waters ✊ (@rogerwaters) May 26, 2023
Good morning to every one but Roger Waters who spent the evening in Berlin (Yes Berlin) desecrating the memory of Anne Frank and the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. pic.twitter.com/4tcrV6f8mt
— Israel ישראל 🇮🇱 (@Israel) May 24, 2023