Roger Waters ‘dresses as SS officer’ and projects Anne Frank’s name onto stage during gigs in Germany

Pink Floyd star opened concert with a statement saying he ‘condemns antisemitism unreservedly’

Louis Chilton
Friday 26 May 2023 05:00 BST
Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters says Russia's invasion of Ukraine ‘not unprovoked’

Roger Waters was seen dressing in an outfit resembling that of a Nazi SS officer during recent live performances in Germany.

The former Pink Floyd musician, 79, also projected the name of Anne Frank on a giant screen during the shows, along with several other names of contemporary figures including George Floyd and Shireen Abu Akleh.

Frank was a Jewish teenager killed during the Holocaust, whose personal diary, written while living in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, went on to become one of the best-known accounts of the Holocaust.

Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minnesota in May 2020. His death prompted a wave of global anti-racism protests, and led to the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Abu Akleh, a correspondant for Al Jazeera, was shot and killed last year while covering a raid by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) on a Palestinian refugee camp. After initially blaming her killing on Palestinian shooters, Israel then said it was possible the bullet had come from an Israeli gunman.

A number of separate investigations, including by The New York Times, The Washington Post and the UN, concuded that Abu Akleh had been killed by Israeli forces. Some reports, including those by the Palestinian Authority and CNN, concluded that her killing had been targeted and deliberate. Israel has denied this.

Water’s decision to associate the name of Anne Frank with that of Abu Akleh has proved contentious, with some deeming the comparison “antisemitic”.

The musician’s show opened with a statement that 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 Independent has contacted a representative of Waters for comment.

Earlier this year, some Jewish groups called for the cancellation of Waters’ German shows. Frankfurt city council called off a planned date for the artist, claiming that he is “considered one of the most far-reaching antisemites in the world”.

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Waters has previously compared the Israeli government’s “oppression” of the Palestinian people with the actions of the Nazis under the rule of Adolf Hitler.

Speaking to Berliner Zeitung newspaper, Waters addressed the allegations of antisemitism. He characterised the criticism against him as being part of an “outrageous and despicable smear campaign to denounce me as an antisemite, which I am not, never have been and never will be”.

Waters performing onstage in Amsterdam on 6 April 2023

Waters claimed that the backlash arose “because I lend my voice to the 75-year-old fight for equal human rights for all my brothers and sisters in Palestine/Israel”, alleging that the Israeli state is comitting “genocide”.

Earlier this year, Waters became embroiled in a row with his former bandmate, David Gilmour, and Gilmour’s wife, the writer Polly Samson, who accused Waters of being being “antisemitic to your rotten core”, in an online row over Israel and the Ukraine war.

In the extraordinary attack on Twitter in February, Samson also claimed her husband’s former bandmate was a “Putin apologist”, saying: “Enough of your nonsense”.

Waters responded on his official account saying he was “aware of the incendiary and wildly inaccurate comments made about him on Twitter by Polly Samson which he refutes entirely”, adding: “He is currently taking advice as to his position.”

The row between Waters and Samson came as Waters sought to attack the “Israel lobby” for trying to “silence” him amid controversy ahead of his concerts in Germany.

A number of local politicians and religious leaders called for them to be cancelled over his past comments on Israel, following a backlash in Poland regarding his stance on Ukraine.

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