Roger Waters Releases Statement on ‘The Wall’ Costume Controversy
Roger Waters has released a statement regarding the recent controversy over his May 17 concert in Berlin, Germany. "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," the statement posted to Waters' Facebook, included below, began.
"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. Attempts to portray those elements as something else are disingenuous and politically motivated. The depiction of an unhinged fascist demagogue has been a feature of my shows since Pink Floyd’s The Wall in 1980."
"I have spent my entire life speaking out against authoritarianism and oppression wherever I see it," Waters continues. "When I was a child after the war, the name of Anne Frank was often spoken in our house, she became a permanent reminder of what happens when fascism is left unchecked. My parents fought the Nazis in World War II, with my father paying the ultimate price."
Waters concluded the statement by writing, "Regardless of the consequences of the attacks against me, I will continue to condemn injustice and all those who perpetrate it."
During his performance of "In the Flesh?" in Berlin, Waters wore a long, black leather coat with gloves and a red armband with crossed hammers, and banners with the same hammer symbol hung over his head. See a video of the 2023 performance toward the bottom of the page.
This was the same uniform Bob Geldof wore when he starred as Pink during the "In the Flesh?" scene in the film The Wall, and Waters has worn it during many concerts in the past (see a video of him performing the song in 1990 here and a 2015 digital video of him performing the song here).
However, the uniform is based on that of the Nazi officers — the crossed hammers are placed where the swastikas were located on the SS uniforms — so the Nazi references upset many people. In addition, Nazi imagery and gestures are illegal in Germany.
Following the concert, the State Security Department at the Berlin State Criminal Police Office "initiated a criminal investigation procedure regarding the suspicion of incitement of the people (140 Paragraph 4 of the German criminal Code)," Police chief inspector Martin Halweg said in a statement [via Jewish News].
“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. After the conclusion of the investigation, the case will be forwarded to the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office for legal assessment."