The concert in question took place on May 17 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Waters, who has become a lightning rod of controversy thanks to his outspoken opposition of Israel, wore an SS-style uniform during his performance of “In the Flesh.” His attire included a long leather jacket, gloves and a seemingly Nazi-inspired red armband, which featured a crossed-hammers symbol, rather than a swastika.
As Waters performed, an inflatable pig – adorned with graffiti including a Star of David – floated above the audience. On large screens, the names of famous victims of persecution were shown, among them, Anne Frank. You can see part of Waters’ performance in the tweets below.
It is illegal to evoke Nazi imagery, symbols and gestures in Germany, and Waters’ performance has brought the rocker under investigation.
“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,” Berlin police chief Martin Halweg noted. “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.”
Waters stirred controversy in Germany earlier this year without even setting foot in the country. The City of Frankfurt canceled Waters’ planned concert, claiming the Pink Floyd rocker was “one of the world’s most well-known antisemites.” Waters fought the decision and was eventually approved to perform in Frankfurt. That concert is scheduled for May 28.
Interestingly, Waters isn’t the first major rock star to come under German scrutiny for imagery related to the Nazis. Kiss‘ famous logo was banned in the country because its two s’s — stylized to look like lightning bolts — looked similar to the SS. ”I certainly never intended to court controversy at the expense of victims of history,” Paul Stanley declared many years later. Indeed, Kiss has changed their logo for decades in Germany to avoid unwanted comparisons.
How Nazi Comparisons Forced Kiss to Change Their Logo in Germany
There’s a good reason the band uses something different in that country.