Roger Waters’ ‘The Wall’ Costume Sparks Investigation by German Officials Over Nazi-Like Imagery
Roger Waters is under investigation in Germany for wearing a costume from Pink Floyd's 1982 film The Wall during his recent concert in Berlin over its Nazi-like references. The singer has worn the uniform onstage countless times before, but it's illegal to evoke Nazi imagery and gestures in Germany.
The concert took place May 17 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, and the rocker opened the show asserting he “condemns antisemitism unreservedly," according to Independent. During his performance of "In the Flesh?," the opening track on the band's 1979 album The Wall, 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).
Pink Floyd - 'In the Flesh?' (The Wall)
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. And, as previously stated, Nazi imagery and gestures are illegal in Germany.
“The State Security Department at the Berlin State Criminal Police Office has 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."
"Roger Waters is being investigated by Berlin police after he 'appeared onstage in a Nazi-like uniform.' He's clearly depicting Pink from The Wall (1982), famously played by Bob Geldof, who descends into a drug-addled fascist fantasy in a film that condemns fascism. Absurd," a fan wrote on Twitter.
In addition to the costume, an inflatable pig decorated in graffiti floated around the venue, which is another common prop during Waters' performances. As some sources have noted, the Star of David was one of the symbols drawn on the pig.
Several names also flashed on the screens, including Anne Frank, a teenage diarist who died during the Holocaust; George Floyd, a black man who was unlawfully killed by police officers in Minnesota in 2020; and Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera journalist who was shot and killed in 2022 while covering a raid by the Israel Defense Forces on a Palestinian refugee camp. Many on social media have claimed that this was a tasteless comparison of the victims' lives.
"Good morning to every one but Roger Waters who spent the evening in Berlin (Yes Berlin) desecrating the memory of Anne Frank and the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust," the State of Israel wrote in a tweet on May 24.
"Guess which antisemitic piece of shit is up to his old tricks again, and actually upping the ante? Defender of dictators, lover of Putin, the living/breathing antithesis of everything he’s supposed to represent. I give you Roger Waters," Disturbed's David Draiman wrote in his own post.
Waters has been outwardly pro-Palestine over the last several years, though he has affirmed that he is not against the people of Israel, but the Israeli government. Earlier this year, the city council in both Frankfurt and Munich attempted to cancel Waters' concerts that were scheduled to take place there and accused him of being antisemitic. A few weeks later, the singer issued a statement on the matter, saying that he was taking legal action over the canceled shows.
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"I want to state for the record and once and for all that I am not and never have been antisemitic and nothing that anyone can say or publish will alter that," he wrote. "My well publicized views relate entirely to the policies and actions of the Israeli government and not with the peoples of Israel. Antisemitism is odious and racist and I condemn it, along with all forms of racism unreservedly."
Thus, the rocker played in Berlin on May 17 and 18, as well as Munich on the 21. His next scheduled performance is set to take place in Frankfurt on the 28. See some reactions to his Berlin performance and the impending investigation below.