Skip To Content
Fast Forward

In Berlin concert, Roger Waters compares death of Anne Frank to Shireen Abu Akleh

The former Pink Floyd singer also dressed up as a Nazi … again

Former Pink Floyd singer Roger Waters compared the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to that of Anne Frank during a concert in Germany last week. 

Waters, who had two shows at Berlin’s Mercedes Benz Arena scheduled on May 17 and 18, has a long history of comments that are highly critical of Israel and in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Some critics have said that his comments crossed over into antisemitism. 

During the Berlin show, concertgoers tweeted photos of Abu Akleh and Frank’s names being projected onto large screens. Underneath Abu Akleh’s name, the location of her death was listed as “Jenin, Palestine,” her crime as “Being Palestinian” and sentence as “death.” Under Frank’s name, the location of her death was listed as the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp while her crime was listed as “Being Jewish” and the sentence also death.  

Other photos of the concert showed Waters trafficking in Nazi imagery, including dressing up as an SS soldier with a red armband and holding a fake rifle. It was not the first time the singer has used Nazi-inspired costumes during a concert.

The concert was condemned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. In a press release sent Wednesday, the center called on German authorities to prosecute Waters for distorting the Holocaust.

For many, Frank has become the face of Jewish persecution and suffering in the Holocaust, thanks to the posthumous publishing of her diary by her father in 1947. In the diary, Frank vividly described the conditions she and her family lived in while hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam, but also humanized the tragedy in writing of her hopes, dreams and crushes. Her diary was later adapted in a much-beloved Broadway play and movie.  

Abu Akleh was an acclaimed Palestinian journalist who was fatally shot while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank. While the Israeli government initially denied responsibility, it later acknowledged that the bullet that killed her was likely fired by an Israeli soldier, a conclusion backed up by numerous media investigations. 

According to a journalist with German media outlet Belltower News, the concert began with an announcement from Waters saying: “The show will start in 10 minutes and a court in Frankfurt has ruled that I am not an antisemite.”

Waters’ German tour dates have been tumultuous. In March, the city of Frankfurt canceled a show over his anti-Israel activism, resulting in the singer filing a successful lawsuit that saw the tour date reinstated. The mayor of Munich said he was unable to find a law that would allow him to cancel the show slated for his city. 

In the past, Waters has been among the loudest celebrity voices in support of the BDS movement. Aside from criticism of Israel, his rhetoric has sometimes crossed over into outright anti-Jewish sentiments: During one tour, the Star of David was juxtaposed with dollar signs, leading to the Anti-Defamation League writing an open letter denouncing the “Comfortably Numb” singer. Even Waters’ former bandmate, David Gilmour, has loudly criticized him: In February, after the guitarist’s wife, Polly Samson, called Waters “rotten to your antisemitic core” in a tweet, the guitarist retweeted, adding “Every word demonstrably true.” But Waters has repeatedly insisted he is not antisemitic but is “anti-apartheid.”


A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.