A memorial ceremony and rally is due to take place to protest against a concert by Pink Lloyd star Roger Waters in Frankfurt on Sunday evening.
German police have opened an investigation into the British musician on suspicion of incitement after he was filmed wearing a long black coat and a red armband – featuring crossed hammers instead of swastikas – during a performance in the nation’s capital earlier this month.
Waters also pretended to fire an imitation machine gun during a skit between songs.
Several Jewish groups, politicians and an alliance of civil society groups have accused the pink floyd co-founder of anti-Semitism, an allegation he denies, and intends to hold a memorial ceremony and protest before the concert.
Waters has also drawn their ire for his support of the BDS movement, which calls for boycotts and sanctions against Israel.
Frankfurt authorities had initially tried to prevent the concert, but Waters successfully challenged that decision in a local court.
The concert takes place in the city’s Festhalle, where in November 1938 more than 2,700 Jews were arrested by the Nazis, beaten and mistreated, and then deported to concentration camps.
“It’s very frustrating” that the concert is going ahead as planned even though officials in Frankfurt and many others have tried to prevent it, said Elio Adler, the leader of the Jewish group WerteInitiative which supports the protest.
“His words and images spread hatred of Jews and are part of a trend to normalize hatred against Israel under the protection of freedom of expression or art,” Mr. Adler added.
Roger Waters sentenced for “Nazi costume” during a concert in Berlin
Roger Waters says he opposed ‘fascism’ when he wore Nazi-inspired uniform
Germany has strict rules against the use of Nazi imagery – punishable by up to three years in prison – although its laws allow exceptions for artistic or educational reasons.
The Berlin police investigation was opened on suspicions that the context of the costume could constitute a glorification, justification or approval of the Nazi regime and therefore a threat to public order.
Waters denied those accusations in a statement on Facebook and Instagramclaiming that “the elements of my performance that have been questioned are very clearly a statement of opposition to fascism, injustice and bigotry in all its forms”.
He claimed that “attempts to portray these elements as something else are dishonest and politically motivated”.
During Sunday’s memorial service, which will take place outside the Frankfurt Concert Hall before the Waters concert begins, protesters will read aloud the names of 600 Jews who were arrested at the Festhalle on November 9, 1939, the so-called Kristallnacht – the “Night of Broken Glass” – when the Nazis terrorized Jews throughout Germany and Austria.
Organizers also plan to hold a joint Jewish-Christian prayer for the victims of Nazi terror in Frankfurt. The city’s mayor as well as the leader of the local Jewish community will speak at the protest.
In addition, activists plan to hand out flyers to spectators and wave Israeli flags, said Sacha Stawski of the Jewish group Honestly Concerned, which helped organize the protests.
Protesters in Munich rallied against a Waters concert earlier this month after the city council said it had explored options to ban the performance but concluded it was not legally possible to cancel a contract with the organizer.
Last year, the Polish city of Krakow canceled concerts by Waters because of his sympathetic stance towards Russia in its war against Ukraine.