Roger Waters dismisses ‘bad faith’ Nazi costume criticism as politically motivated

Pink Floyd star says ‘elements of my performance that have been questioned are quite clearly a statement in opposition to fascism, injustice, bigotry’ as German police open probe

Roger Waters on stage in Berlin, May 2023 (Twitter screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the copyright law)
Roger Waters on stage in Berlin, May 2023 (Twitter screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the copyright law)

BERLIN, Germany — Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters on Saturday slammed the controversy that erupted after he donned a Nazi-style uniform at a Berlin concert as politically motivated.

Waters sparked an uproar after images on social media showed him wearing a long, black coat with red armbands on stage at the Mercedes-Benz arena last week.

Berlin police said they were probing Waters for incitement to hatred and Germany’s official in charge of fighting antisemitism called for Waters to be held accountable.

Wearing or display of symbols evoking the Nazi era are crimes in Germany.

In a statement released on Saturday Waters dismissed the criticism as politically motivated.

“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,” he said in the statement that was posted on his Twitter account.

Roger Waters performs in concert at Arena, September 27, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Waters 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 protests against Israeli policies and not the Jewish people.

“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,” Waters said in his statement.

“The depiction of an unhinged fascist demagogue has been a feature of my shows since Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ in 1980,” he said.

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.

Roger Waters, co-founder of the British rock band Pink Floyd visits the ‘East Side Gallery’ a part of the former Berlin Wall in support of the efforts of the achievement of the last original remains, in Berlin, September 3, 2013 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

At the same Berlin concert this month, 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.

Also named was slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, prompting criticism that Waters was relativizing the Holocaust.

Felix Kline, Germany’s official in charge of fighting antisemitism, called on authorities to be “vigilant” following the incident.

“Concert organizers should consider whether they want to offer conspiracy theorists a platform,” he said.

The antisemitism envoys of the United States and the European Union issued their own condemnations earlier this week as well.

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.

Roger Waters poses for photographs backdropped by an inflatable pig and the Battersea Power Station to promote his participation in the ‘Free Assange’ protest in London, February 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Last year, the Polish city of Krakow canceled gigs by Waters because of his sympathetic stance toward Russia in its war against Ukraine.

In February, Pink Floyd star David Gilmour and his wife Polly Samson stepped up a long-running feud with Waters with a scathing attack on Twitter.

Samson, an acclaimed novelist, tweeted at Rogers: “You are antisemitic to your rotten core. Also a Putin apologist and a lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-synching, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac. Enough of your nonsense.”

Gilmour then shared her tweet, adding “Every word demonstrably true.”

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