In a statement Friday, ex-Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters said that the investigation into him by Berlin police following a show there is “disingenuous and politically motivated,” and he denied all accusations that he is an antisemite or that the performance endorsed fascism.
On Thursday, police in Berlin confirmed they are investigating Waters over the show, where he performed the song “In the Flesh” from Pink Floyd’s 1979 concept album “The Wall” while dressed in an outfit reminiscent of Nazi uniforms.
“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,” Rogers wrote on Facebook.
“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,” he continued. “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,” Rogers said.
“Regardless of the consequences of the attacks against me, I will continue to condemn injustice and all those who perpetrate it,” the statement concluded.
Rogers is under “suspicion of incitement of the people,” according to Berlin chief inspector Martin Halweg.
“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,” Halweg wrote. Use of Nazi imagery and clothing is a crime in Germany.
It’s worth noting however that in video taken from the performance, Waters is dressed almost exactly like the main character from the 1982 film version of “The Wall,” (played there by Bob Geldoff). The concept album’s story — which is adapted straightforwardly in the film — follows a rock star suffering a breakdown who at one point (which includes “In the Flesh”) imagines himself as a fascist dictator ordering deaths of proscribed minorities. As has been discussed endlessly in Rock criticism ever since, the depiction is in part a denunciation of rock stardom that compares it explicitly to fascism.
This is far from the only time Waters has performed the song in Berlin. Most famously, Pink Floyd was joined by an all-star cast for a live performance of “The Wall” at Potsdamer Platz in 1990, to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall the previous November.
More than 350,000 people attended the event in person, it was broadcast live to more than 50 countries, and it remains one of the most famous pop culture events during the collapse of the Soviet bloc in the late 1980s and early 1990s.