On Sunday night in Frankfurt, several Jewish organizations, lawmakers, and a coalition of civil society organizations gathered for a mourning service and a protest march against a Roger Waters concert.
They charge the co-founder of Pink Floyd with antisemitism, which he vigorously refutes.
In addition, they are upset with Waters because he backs the BDS movement, which advocates for boycotts and sanctions against Israel.
Authorities in Frankfurt had first attempted to stop the concert from happening, but Waters successfully contested the action in a municipal court.
The event is being held in the city’s Festhalle, which served as the location of the Nazi roundup and deportation of more than 3,000 Jews to concentration camps in November 1938.
According to Sacha Stawski, head of the organization Honestly Concerned and a member of the Frankfurt Jewish community, “Given this historical context, the concert should not have taken place under any circumstances.”
Elio Adler, the leader of the Jewish organization WerteInitiative, which supports the protest, told The Associated Press that it is “very frustrating” that the concert is going ahead as planned despite the efforts of Frankfurt officials and many others to stop it.
“His words and imagery spread anti-Semitism and are part of a trend: to normalize anti-Israel sentiment while claiming the right to free speech or the freedom of the arts,” Adler continued.
Police in Berlin announced last week that they were looking into Roger Waters on suspicion of inciting violence due to a costume the co-founder of Pink Floyd wore.
Social media posts featured Waters brandishing a toy machine gun while wearing a long, black coat and a red armband. The assumption that the costume’s context would amount to a glorification, justification, or endorsement of Nazi rule and, therefore, a disruption of the public peace led to the opening of an inquiry, the police confirmed.
In a Facebook and Instagram post, Waters refuted these claims, writing that “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.”
He says, “attempts to portray those elements as something else are disingenuous and politically motivated.”
Before the start of Roger Waters’ concert on Sunday, protesters read out loud the names of 600 Jews who were apprehended at the Festhalle on November 9, 1939, the so-called Kristallnacht, or “Night of Broken Glass,” when Nazis terrorized Jews throughout Germany and Austria.
The organizers also held a united Jewish-Christian prayer for Frankfurt’s victims of Nazi oppression. The city’s mayor and the leader of the neighborhood’s Jewish community were scheduled to address the crowd.
A few 400 demonstrators also distributed pamphlets to concertgoers and waved Israeli flags. Others carried banners with messages like “Israel, we stand with you” up.
After the city council claimed it had considered the possibility of prohibiting the performance but concluded that it wasn’t legally allowed to break a contract with the organizer, protesters in Munich gathered against a concert by Waters earlier this month.
The previous year, the Polish city of Krakow postponed performances by Roger Waters due to his support of Russia in its conflict with Ukraine.