Berlin Police Investigate Roger Waters Over Nazi-Style Uniform

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Mr. Waters, a laminitis of Pink Floyd, who has agelong been captious of Israel, has worn akin covering successful the past erstwhile playing songs from Pink Floyd’s medium “The Wall.”

A antheral   successful  a achromatic  trench overgarment  and a reddish  limb  set  lasting  connected  a stage, which his arms raised supra  his caput  and spotlights shining down   connected  him.
Roger Waters performing successful 2012 astatine Yankee Stadium successful New York. He wore a akin outfit astatine concerts successful Berlin past week, for which the German authorities are investigating him.Credit...Chad Batka for The New York Times

Christopher F. Schuetze

May 26, 2023, 3:42 p.m. ET

The German constabulary are investigating Roger Waters, a laminitis of the set Pink Floyd, who has agelong been captious of Israel, aft helium performed successful Berlin past week wearing a Nazi-style costume similar the 1 helium utilized to critique fascism successful “The Wall.”

Mr. Waters, who has made anti-Israel statements successful the past that galore person said transverse a enactment into antisemitism, has successfully fought 2 attempts by German courts to artifact him from German performance venues successful the past.

The probe is focused connected the costume Mr. Waters wore during a rendition of the 1979 Pink Floyd opus “In the Flesh,” from their seminal medium “The Wall,” successful which a stone prima imagines himself arsenic a fascist dictator. Similar staging was featured successful the 1982 movie “Pink Floyd: The Wall,” featuring Bob Geldof.

During parts of the concerts successful Berlin, connected May 17 and May 18, Mr. Waters wore a achromatic trench overgarment with epaulets and a reddish armband, according to videos posted to societal media and witnesses. Flanked by men dressed successful costumes that evoked Nazi tempest troopers, helium changeable a prop instrumentality weapon into the audience. Mr. Waters has worn akin costumes astatine concerts extracurricular of Germany for years for the routine, which helium has called satire.

The Berlin authorities volition person to find to what grade the show of Nazi-like imagery is protected by creator state of expression. In Germany, displaying Nazi symbolism, similar swastikas oregon SS regalia, justifying oregon downplaying the Holocaust, and antisemitic acts are illegal.

“Artistic state of look is not a licence to incite hatred,” wrote Nicholas Potter, a researcher with the Amadeu Antonio Foundation successful Berlin, a radical that tracks neo-Nazism, right-wing extremism and antisemitism successful Germany, successful an email exchange.

“Artistic state is often utilized arsenic an statement to explicit anti-democratic oregon hateful views, including antisemitic ones, but that doesn’t ever mean it’s applicable — the discourse is crucial,” helium added. Mr. Potter attended 1 of the Berlin shows and wrote astir it connected the foundation’s quality blog.


Mr. Waters addressing a United Nations Security Council gathering connected Ukraine successful February.Credit...Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Waters initially agreed to an interrogation with The New York Times astir the investigation, but past declined. A typical wrote: “We are reluctant to remark if the volition is to further sensationalize this fabricated quality story.”

A Berlin constabulary spokesperson said investigators would contiguous their findings to the Berlin state’s lawyer wrong the adjacent 3 months. The state’s lawyer volition determine whether to indict Mr. Waters.

Mr. Waters is simply a vocal proponent of B.D.S., the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which pushes overseas governments, businesses and performers to chopped ties with Israel until it ends its concern of the territories it captured successful 1967, among different demands.

Mr. Waters astatine past concerts has included a floating balloon representing a flying pig, which featured the Star of David. He defended that action, saying successful 2013 connected Facebook that, “Like it oregon not, the Star of David represents Israel and its policies and is legitimately taxable to immoderate and each forms of non-violent protest.”

In a Facebook station connected Sunday addressing the contention astir his German concerts, helium criticized German lawmakers who condemned B.D.S., saying they had “enshrined a proposal to the German radical to ‘stand by soundless and indifferent’” to the “institutionalized murder" of the Palestinian radical by a “tyrannical racist regime,” which helium said was the State of Israel.


Mr. Waters performing successful March successful Barcelona.Credit...Enric Fontcuberta/EPA, via Shutterstock

On elephantine show boards astatine the concert, the sanction of Anne Frank, 1 of the astir readily recognizable victims of the Holocaust, during which Germans killed much than 6 cardinal Jews, was juxtaposed adjacent to the sanction Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American tv analogous who was shot by Israeli Defense Forces soldiers during a raid into the West Bank past year.

On Wednesday greeting Israel’s Foreign Ministry posted connected Twitter: “Good greeting to each 1 but Roger Waters who spent the evening successful Berlin (Yes Berlin) desecrating the representation of Anne Frank and the 6 cardinal Jews murdered successful the Holocaust.”

On Wednesday, the Simon Wiesenthal Center publically called connected the German authorities to analyse the performance successful Berlin. “There are fewer performers whose anti-Israel vitriol tin lucifer that of Waters,” the halfway wrote in a statement. “Despite his protests to the contrary, Waters has, for years, crossed the enactment betwixt anti-Zionism and antisemitism.”

Any charges stemming from the performance would travel arsenic Germany faces a much wide statement astir the emergence of antisemitism successful the country, 78 years aft the extremity of the Holocaust. In summation to an wide summation successful the fig of antisemitic crimes reported successful the country, determination were wide-ranging discussions aft a radical of leaders of taste institutions published an unfastened letter decrying not conscionable B.D.S. but besides a parliamentary solution that declared B.D.S. inherently antisemitic. And an creation installation featuring antisemitic caricatures astatine the Documenta creation festival successful Kassel past twelvemonth led to different circular of psyche searching among taste elites.

The metropolis of Frankfurt tried to halt Mr. Waters from performing astatine the Frankfurter Festhalle this coming Sunday, a performance venue partially owned by the city. In November 1938, thousands of Jewish men were taken to the arena aft the nighttime of pogroms known arsenic Kristallnacht, earlier being shipped disconnected to attraction camps. But a justice successful Frankfurt backed Mr. Waters, who had filed an exigency injunction against the metropolis connected Monday, citing the law close to creator state and the information that determination was nary grounds that Mr. Waters would interruption the law.

In March, the metropolis of Munich determined that it could legally not backmost retired of a declaration with the instrumentalist for a show, which helium played astatine the Olympic Stadium determination past week. Instead the metropolis decided to let organized protests extracurricular the venue connected the time of the concert.

Alex Marshall contributed reporting from London.

Christopher F. Schuetze covers German news, nine and occasionally arts from the Berlin bureau. Before moving to Germany, helium lived successful the Netherlands, wherever helium covered everything from tulips to sea-level rise. @CFSchuetze

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