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Protests at Roger Waters’ Frankfurt concert

The former Pink Floyd bassist controversially appeared at the Festhalle last night despite attempts to block the show

By James Hanley on 29 May 2023

Roger Waters, The Wall Tour, 2011, Erik F. Brandsborg/Aktiv I Oslo, Desert Trip

A protester stormed the stage with an Israeli flag during Roger Waters’ contentious concert in Frankfurt last night (28 May).

Frankfurt City Council and the state of Hesse had attempted to block the Festhalle performance, citing allegations of “persistent anti-Israel behaviour” from the former Pink Floyd bassist, who it claimed was “considered one of the most widely spread antisemites in the world”.

However, a German court ruled the gig must be allowed to go ahead, concluding that blocking it would infringe upon the 79-year-old’s free speech rights.

According to The Times of Israel, one protester rushed the stage, while groups of protesters dispersed in the crowd also waved large Israeli flags and briefly sang Am Yisrael Chai (The people of Israel live) while clapping.

Euronews reports that several Jewish groups, politicians and an alliance of civil society groups gathered for a memorial ceremony and a protest rally prior to the concert yesterday evening. The Festhalle was the site of the deportation of 3,000 Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust, just after Kristallnacht.

“Against this historical background, the concert should not have taken place under any circumstances,” says Sacha Stawski, a member of the Frankfurt Jewish community and head of Honestly Concerned, which helped organise the protests.

Waters, who added a string of dates in South America to his This Is Not a Drill Tour last week, took legal action against moves to cancel the show, branding it “unconstitutional”, “without justification, and based upon the false accusation that Roger Waters is antisemitic, which he is not”.

“My recent performance in Berlin has attracted bad faith attacks from those who want to smear and silence me”

Meanwhile, German police are investigating Waters after he wore what appeared to be a Nazi SS uniform during his concert at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin on 17 May. The BBC reports that Waters wore a long black overcoat with a red armband and also aimed an imitation machine gun into the audience. Displaying Nazi symbols is banned in Germany, except for artistic or educational reasons.

“We are investigating on suspicion of incitement to public hatred because the clothing worn on stage could be used to glorify or justify Nazi rule, thereby disturbing the public peace,” says German police spokesman Martin Halweg. “The clothing resembles the clothing of an SS officer.”

Waters has issued a robust defence of his actions.

“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,” he says in a statement. “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. 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.

“Regardless of the consequences of the attacks against me, I will continue to condemn injustice and all those who perpetrate it.”


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