Roger Waters dressed up as an SS officer and compared Anne Frank to Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during a concert at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin last week.
ein abend mit roger waters in der mercedes-benz-arena. kein gegenprotest, nur vereinzelte BDS-unterstützer. drinnen über die anlage eine ansage von herrn waters: “the show will start in 10 minutes. and a court in frankfurt has ruled that i am not an antisemite”. die arena jubelt. pic.twitter.com/TkVjtzDAhw— Nicholas Potter (@n1ckism) May 17, 2023
At the beginning of the show, an announcement was displayed on a screen reading “on a matter of public interest: a court in Frankfurt has ruled that I am not an antisemite," sparking applause from the crowd. "Just to be clear, I condemn antisemitism unreservedly," continued the announcement.
Waters, the former bassist and vocalist of the band Pink Floyd, has repeatedly come under fire for anti-Zionist and antisemitic statements and actions, with his former bandmates rejecting his actions. Waters also has expressed support for Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.
Shortly after the show began, a graphic displayed on a crucifix-shaped screen hanging above the stage showed speech bubbles reading "They must think we're f*%$ing stupid!" and "Who do you mean by they?"
"Them, up there in the penthouse, the f&%$ing oligarchy," continued the speech bubbles. "Ah, you mean the powers that be," added another speech bubble as a man in a suit drinking wine and riot police with shields with a symbol of crossed hammers were displayed on the screen. Throughout the show, humanoid pigs and shady businessmen "pulling the strings" were displayed on the screen. Social media users and activists condemned the imagery as an "antisemitic dogwhistle."
The screen proceeded to display the names of Sophie Scholl, an anti-Nazi activist murdered by the Nazis; Mahsa Amini, who was murdered by Iranian "morality police"; George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis; and Anne Frank, who was murdered by the Nazis in Bergen-Belsen, among other individuals killed by various authorities and regimes throughout the past century.
Comparison between Abu Akleh, Anne Frank sparks widespread outrage
The list also included Abu Akleh, who is believed to have been killed by shots fired by Israeli soldiers during a shootout with Palestinian terrorists in Jenin, and Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an armored IDF bulldozer in the southern Gaza Strip in 2003. In both cases, Palestinians claim that Abu Akleh and Corrie were targeted directly by the IDF, while the IDF says the deaths were an accident.
Abu Akleh's name was listed right before Anne Frank, sparking outrage from Israeli and Jewish activists and officials around the world.
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
The @Israel Twitter account run by the Foreign Ministry bashed Waters on Wednesday, tweeting "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."
After the list of names, a graphic on the screen stated that "they" are so brutal "because they want to crush our resistance and keep ruling the world."
After an intermission, Waters walked on stage in a SS uniform as an inflatable pig with various words and symbols and glowing eyes floated over the crowd and banners in the style of the Third Reich but with crossed hammers instead of a swastika hanging from the ceiling. Waters proceeded to fire a fake machine gun toward the audience.
Later in the performance, Waters displayed the words "F$%& the occupation" while singing "Lay Down Jerusalem (If I Had Been God)."
Outside the arena, a fan of Waters printed out an interview he gave to Der Spiegel and placed it on display, according to Belltower News, a site that focuses on covering far-right extremism and hate crimes. A BDS rally was also held outside the arena.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned the performance on Wednesday, tweeting "Shame on Frankfurt authorities and Mercedes Benz arena in Berlin — a place from where Jews were deported by the Nazis — for providing antisemite #RogerWaters this venue for his concert with no concern/care for the Jewish community."
Waters also performed in Munich and is set to perform in Frankfurt, with Uwe Becker, anti-Semitism commissioner for the German state of Hessen, calling on local officials to at least prevent "the worst antisemitic propaganda motifs" if they cannot prevent the show entirely, according to German media. Frankfurt had originally banned the concert entirely, but a local court ruled that the city must allow the performance.