Germany’s official in charge of fighting antisemitism called Friday for Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters to be held accountable after the singer donned a Nazi-style uniform at a Berlin concert.
Previous legal proceedings had “gone in Waters’ favor, even though he spreads antisemitism and allegedly incites hatred,” Felix Klein told the Funke media group.
Hours earlier, Berlin police said they were probing Waters after images of the Pink Floyd co-founder circulated on social media, showing him wearing a long, black coat with red armbands on stage during a performance of “In the Flesh” at the Mercedes-Benz arena last week.
The song features a man in the midst of a drug-induced hallucination in which he turns into a dictator addressing a rally for neo-Nazis.
Law enforcement was investigating the “suspicion of incitement to public hatred because the clothing worn on stage could be used to glorify or justify Nazi rule,” a police spokesman told AFP.
“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 Guardian.
Here is video footage of Roger Waters dressed in facist SS Nazi garb, shooting the machine gun at the show: pic.twitter.com/J3Nkz17Dme
— Ari Ingel (@OGAride) May 25, 2023
Germany has strict laws against incitement to racial hatred, a reaction to the country’s Nazi past.
Halweg said police would continue to gather evidence for roughly three more months before handing their findings to the state prosecutor who will then decide whether to charge Waters. The time-lapse ostensibly allows the singer to continue appearing at concerts in a Nazi uniform in the meantime.
As part of their probe, Halweg said German police would review footage from Waters’ previous concerts in Germany to see when else he had worn the SS uniform.
Klein called on authorities to be “vigilant” following the incident.
“Concert organizers should consider whether they want to offer conspiracy theorists a platform,” he said.
Likud MK Danny Danon tweeted Tuesday that Waters “is disgracefully one of the biggest Jew haters of our time.”
The antisemitism envoys of the United States and the European Union issued their own condemnations earlier this week as well.
The Pink Floyd co-founder is a well-known pro-Palestinian activist who has been accused of holding anti-Jewish views. He has floated an inflatable pig emblazoned with the Star of David at his concerts.
Waters has played in several German cities in recent weeks as part of his “This Is Not A Drill” tour.
But it has been hugely controversial with some city officials even trying, unsuccessfully, to ban him from performing.
The “Another Brick In The Wall” singer denies the antisemitism accusations, saying he was protesting against Israeli policies and not the Jewish people.
At the same Berlin concert, Waters also flashed the names of several deceased people on a large screen, including that of Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager who died in a Nazi concentration camp.
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
Also named was slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, prompting criticism that Waters was relativizing the Holocaust.
Waters is due to play his final German concert in the western city of Frankfurt on Sunday evening, and protesters are planning to demonstrate outside the venue.
Frankfurt city authorities sought to stop the concert but a court ruled against them, citing artistic freedom.
Last year, the Polish city of Krakow canceled gigs by Waters because of his sympathetic stance toward Russia in its war against Ukraine.
When he performed “In the Flesh” at a 1990 concert in the no man’s land near the then-recently-topped Berlin Wall, Waters donned a military uniform that more closely resembled those worn by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
In the 1982 movie version of “The Wall,” Bob Geldof performed “In the Flesh” in a Nazi-style uniform similar to the one Waters wore last week. Waters also donned the uniform during his “The Wall Live tour” from 2010 to 2013, which included nine concerts in Germany, The Guardian said.