Roger Waters has provoked backlash after making a reference to Anne Frank at one of his concerts in Germany.
Taking place in Berlin last week (May 17), the former Pink Floyd member also pretended to fire a rifle during part of his set, and wore an outfit that some deemed as having connotations to the Second World War.
The show was part of the ongoing leg of his ‘This Is Not A Drill’ farewell tour, and was one of the two shows that were originally cancelled in the country following controversy regarding comments which many viewed as anti-semitic.
Both shows — set for Berlin and Frankfurt — were initially cancelled by the municipal government due to the musician’s views on Israel. Eventually, the decision was overturned, and the former show took place as scheduled — kicking off with Pink Floyd classics ‘Comfortably Numb’ and ‘The Happiest Days Of Our Lives’.
Later in the show, however, the musician provoked controversy by pretending to fire a dummy rifle and showing both Anne Frank and Shireen Abu Akleh’s names on a screen above him.
The former is referencing the German-born Jewish girl who historically documented her time in Nazi Germany, and the latter is a Palestinian journalist who was tragically killed by accident while covering Israel’s operation in the West Bank last year.
Following the controversial set-up, the moment has led to backlash online, with many condemning the display as “disgraceful” and “desecrating the memory of Anne Frank”.
The Foreign Ministers for Israel also took to Twitter to condemn the display as being offensive, writing: “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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/4tcrV6f8mt
— Israel ישראל 🇮🇱 (@Israel) May 24, 2023
This was a vile, inexcusable display of Jew hatred and Holocaust distortion by Roger Waters. That it was in Berlin, is all the more shameful. pic.twitter.com/3iv5O0ne44
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) May 24, 2023
This is OBSCENE! From the Roger Waters concert in Germany of all places…he engages in Holocaust distortion. This is disgusting antisemitism. pic.twitter.com/obcoUVAvbH
— Brooke Goldstein (@GoldsteinBrooke) May 23, 2023
Not all agreed, however, as some were quick to point out how the performance is something he does at all of his shows and was intended to be an “anti-fascist” statement.
“He does this every show. The song is satire. Waters and Pink Floyd were criticizing fascism with the song,” one remarked, while another added: “[It] addresses, criticises & condemns many of the forms of discrimination & racism which exist in our modern world, including anti-Jewish racism… Roger Waters is anti-discrimination!”
He does this every show. The song is satire. Waters and Pink Floyd were criticizing fascism with the song. You’d know that if you weren’t purposefully being a dishonest hack
— Eduardo Neret (@eduneret) May 24, 2023
It’s very easy once one has listened to the concept album, The Wall, which addresses, criticises & condemns many of the forms of discrimination & racism which exist in our modern world, including anti-Jewish racism!
Unlike Israeli democracy, Roger Waters is anti-discrimination!
— Anton C. Halaby (@c_halaby) May 24, 2023
Accusations about the alleged anti-semitic views of Waters once again made headlines earlier this year, when former Pink Floyd bandmate David Gilmour and his wife Polly Samson took to Twitter to label the musician as “antisemitic to [his] rotten core”.
Following the comments, Waters then issued a statement, called the accusation “incendiary and wildly inaccurate” and confirmed that he “refutes [them] entirely”.
Waters has repeatedly denied all accusations of anti-semitism and explained that his disdain is towards Israel, not Judaism. He also accused Israel of “abusing the term anti-semitism to intimidate people like me into silence”.
Upon the future of his scheduled dates in Germany being thrown into question this year, two petitions were launched. The first one called for the government to reverse the decision and have the concert go ahead as planned — it was signed by the likes of Eric Clapton, Rage Against The Machine‘s Tom Morello and Pink Floyd’s own Nick Mason.
The second counteracted this, labelling the musician as an “anti-semite” and urging those in control of the decision to prevent the show from going ahead.
The UK leg of his ‘This Is Not A Drill’ tour will arrive in the UK from May 31 and will make stops in Birmingham, Glasgow, London and Manchester.