A May 28 concert by Roger Waters that was slated to take place in Frankfurt, Germany that was canceled after city council members called the former Pink Floyd singer/bassist “one of the world’s most well-known antisemites” is now slated to go on as scheduled.
German public broadcast outlet Deutsche Welle reported on Monday that an administrative court in Frankfurt ruled that neither the city nor the state of Hesse had the right to cancel the show at the Frankfurt Festhalle. As owners of the concert’s promoter, Messe Frankfurt, the court said the state and city were obligated to “make it possible for Waters to stage the concert” as contractually agreed, despite their concerns over Rogers’ previous public statements about Israel.
“The court on Monday said that although Waters’ show obviously borrows symbolism linked to National Socialism, it could not see that he was glorifying or qualifying Nazi deeds or identifying with Nazi racial ideology,” Welle reported. “Nor was there any indication that he would be using any type of Nazi propaganda during the concert.” It is against the law in Germany to display Nazi symbols or memorabilia.
The court said that to deny Waters access to the site — on the spot of what was a Jewish detention camp during WWII, where 3,000 Jewish men were held on Kristallnacht (“Night of the Broken Glass”) in Nov. 1938 before being sent to their deaths — would infringe on his free speech rights.
At press time a spokesperson for Waters had not returned a request for additional comment.
“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 council said at the time of the cancelation in a statement. “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.” Waters has denied that he is an antisemite.
The JTA reported that the city of Frankfurt made reference to the historic significance of the concert hall — which it partly owns — and said it was cancelling the show over Waters’ support of the controversial BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). BDS is a Palestinian-led movement that calls for a boycott of Israel to force the nation’s government to change its policies toward Palestinians.
The JFA additionally noted at the time that Waters concerts have featured a flying pig balloon featuring a Star of David (as well as a number of other corporate logos and symbols) and that he’s compared the actions of the Israeli government to that of South Africa under apartheid and Nazi Germany as well as questioning Israel’s right to exist.
The court conceded that it might be in “especially poor taste” to allow Waters, 79, to perform on the sacred site, but concluded that such a show would “not be injurious to the human dignity of those people.”
In Sept., Waters canceled planned shows in Krakow, Poland amid similar outrage over his stance on Russia’s unprovoked, yearlong war in Ukraine, which he has said was the fault of Ukraine and NATO.