German police have launched a criminal investigation into English rock legend and Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters on suspicion of glorifying Nazism during two concerts in Berlin. The musician has insisted the performance was in opposition to fascism.
On Friday, in a statement quoted by several media outlets, the Berlin police said that Waters was suspected of inciting hatred, and that the probe was centered on his performances on May 17 and 18 in the German capital.
In footage posted on social media, the musician can be seen wearing a leather trench coat resembling a Nazi uniform with two crossed hammers and a red armband. He then proceeds to take a mock gun and shoot into the crowd.
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
“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,” the police said.
Nazi-related symbols are outlawed in Germany, with an exception being made for educational or artistic purposes.
Waters’ performance was apparently in reference to the film “the Wall,” an adaptation of the eponymous 1979 Pink Floyd album. The rock star appears as the album’s protagonist who hallucinates being a fascist dictator addressing a Nazi rally.
Waters’ concerts also featured a pig-shaped balloon floating in the air, with a logo of the Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems and the Star of David. The show also involved showing the names of people fading in on the screen, including Anne Frank, a Jewish diarist who died in a Nazi concentration camp, and Palestinian Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed while covering an Israeli military operation in May 2022.
The Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon suggested that Waters wanted to compare Israel to the Nazis, describing the musician as “one of the biggest Jew haters of our time.”
On Friday, the musician addressed the controversy, writing on Twitter that he had become a target of “bad faith attacks” from those who disagreed with his political views.
“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”, he said, adding that he had spent his entire life speaking out “against authoritarianism and oppression.”