Anyone who has listened to a Pink Floyd album is likely aware that the band never shied away from politics. Recently, though, Roger Waters, the former bassist for the band, came under fire for his invocation of fascist imagery during a concert in Berlin.
Pictures began circulating online that seemed to show Roger wearing a uniform that resembled those worn by the SS, the Nazi secret police, which led many to wonder why Roger had decided to don the outfit.
Did Roger Waters wear an SS uniform?
The uniform wasn't an exact SS uniform, but Roger did indeed wear a fascistic uniform that resembled one during his recent show in Berlin. During that same show, the stage also flashed the names of Anne Frank and Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian journalist who was killed while she was attempting to cover the violent conflict between Israel and Palestine in the West Bank. Many were quick to condemn the display, saying it desecrated the memory of those who died in the Holocaust.
The Israel Foreign Ministry released a tweet denigrating the performance. “Good morning to everyone 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 tweet said.
Is Roger Waters a Nazi?
Roger has claimed in the past that his concert imagery is meant as "satire." After the recent backlash to his show in Berlin, a fan of his tweeted out: "He does this every show. The song is satire. Waters and Pink Floyd were criticizing fascism with the song."
There was an announcement from Roger at the beginning of his show that attempted to get ahead of the accusations he likely expected to be coming at him.
“On a matter of public interest: a court in Frankfurt has ruled that I am not an antisemite,” the statement said. “Just to be clear, I condemn antisemitism unreservedly."
The court case in question came after concerts in Frankfurt were canceled in early 2023 over allegations that Roger's show had antisemitic tendencies, and Roger's past interviews with press organizations that are affiliated with the Hamas terrorist group.
“The background to the cancellation is the persistent anti-Israel behavior of the former Pink Floyd frontman, who is considered one of the most widely spread antisemites in the world,” the city said via statement (per the Jewish Telegraphic Agency). “He repeatedly called for a cultural boycott of Israel and drew comparisons to the apartheid regime in South Africa and put pressure on artists to cancel events in Israel.”
Those concerts were eventually restored, with Frankfurt’s administrative court citing artistic freedom while still acknowledging parts of his shows as "tasteless," per the Guardian.