German police have launched an investigation into potential inciting conduct by Roger Waters after he appeared on stage wearing a Nazi-esque uniform during a concert at the Mercedes-Benz Arena last week, Jewish News reported on Thursday evening.
Police chief inspector Martin Helwig was quoted by Jewish News as saying that “the State Security Department at the Berlin State Criminal Police Office has initiated a criminal investigation procedure regarding the suspicion of incitement" during the concert.
“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," he reportedly told Jewish News. "After the conclusion of the investigation, the case will be forwarded to the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office for legal assessment,” he added in his comments to the Jewish News.
Wow, this is @rogerwaters imitating a Nazi, while at a concert in … Berlin. This is just unhinged Jew hatred and Holocaust distortion. The man is vile beyond words. pic.twitter.com/zn1EvudSXc— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) May 25, 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.
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 dog whistle."
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.
Reactions to the Waters’ Nazi imagery
The Foreign Ministry tweeted “Good morning to everyone 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.” With an attached photo of the concert.
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/lS1YzpUZzM— Israel Foreign Ministry (@IsraelMFA) May 24, 2023
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."
Other antisemitic acts by Roger Waters
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.
Waters has also compared the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to Anne Frank.
A few days earlier, Waters tweeted a video of himself near the graves of Nazi resistance fighters, captioning the tweet with “Today I am doing a concert in Munich. It will be great, I will play many of my best-known songs, more than half from the Pink Floyd years... The audience will be very appreciative, we will have a good time, but there will be an elephant in the room.”
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.
Today I am doing a concert in Munich. It will be great, I will play many of my best known songs, more than half from the Pink Floyd years... The audience will be very appreciative, we will have a good time, but there will be an elephant in the room.More: https://t.co/3W3SrQxeXt pic.twitter.com/g3rronbJp1— Roger Waters ✊ (@rogerwaters) May 21, 2023