Roger Waters Under Investigation by German Police for "Suspected Incitement" Following Berlin Concerts

The Pink Floyd co-founder is under fire for a stage outfit critics liken to that of a Nazi soldier

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished May 26, 2023

Roger Waters is reportedly under criminal investigation by German police for "suspected incitement" following a pair of concerts in Berlin earlier this month.

Authorities have taken issue with the Pink Floyd co-founder's choice of dress for two dates at Berlin's Mercedes Benz Arena on May 17 and 18, at which he appeared onstage wearing a black leather trench coat with a red armband with two crossed hammers in place of a swastika — the Nazi-style outfit worn by Bob Geldof's character in the 1982 film version of Pink Floyd's celebrated rock opera The Wall.

Waters wore the costume onstage while performing "In the Flesh," a Wall song chronicling drug-induced hallucinations of protagonist Pink in which he believes himself to be a fascist dictator.

He has previously worn similar costumes as part of live performances in decades past, including his "The Wall Live" world tour with nine dates in Germany, which took place between 2010 and 2013.
@michaeltrabucco Roger Waters Moment. #pinkfloyd #rogerwaters #funny ♬ original sound - Michael Trabucco

Berlin police spokesperson Martin Halweg confirmed to The Guardian that an investigation has been opened into Waters's costume, adding that authorities would review footage of previous shows in Germany to determine whether the costume had been changed.

In Germany, it is illegal to publicly deny the Holocaust and disseminate Nazi propaganda on and offline, with exemptions for educational purposes and in artistic contexts.

The politically outspoken Waters and his stage show continue to face allegations of anti-semitism. In February, the city of Frankfurt, DE, moved to cancel a Waters concert citing "persistent anti-Israel behaviour" in deeming him "one of the world's most well-known antisemites" for visual elements of his concerts, if not his support of a free Palestine.

Waters then took legal action and won the case, with a court finding that his performance performance "did not glorify or relativize the crimes of the Nazis or identify with Nazi racist ideology," while acknowledging that his taste in dress could be considered "tasteless." He will go ahead with the Frankfurt performance this Sunday (May 28).

Multiple outlets report that at the rocker's Berlin dates, an announcement displayed on a screen read, "On a matter of public interest: a court in Frankfurt has ruled that I am not an antisemite ... Just to be clear, I condemn antisemitism unreservedly."

The Guardian reports that Berlin police will continue to gather evidence for approximately three months ahead of delivering their findings to the state prosecutor, who will then assess whether Waters's performance can be considered incitement.

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