A memorial ceremony and rally are to be held in protest against a concert by Pink Lloyd star Roger Waters in Frankfurt on Sunday night.
Police in Germany have started an investigation into the British musician on suspicion of incitement after he was filmed wearing a long black coat and red armband – featuring crossed hammers instead of swastikas – during a performance in the country’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 antisemitism, an allegation he denies, and intend to hold a memorial ceremony and demonstration ahead of 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 challenged that move successfully in a local court.
The concert is taking place in the city’s Festhalle, where in November 1938 more than 2,700 Jews were rounded up by the Nazis, beaten and abused, and later deported to concentration camps.
“It’s very frustrating” that the concert is going ahead as scheduled even though Frankfurt officials and many others tried to prevent it, said Elio Adler, the head of the Jewish group WerteInitiative which supports the protest.
“His words and imagery spread Jew-hatred and are part of a trend, to normalise Israel hatred under the protection of freedom of speech or art,” Mr Adler added.
Germany has strict rules against the use of Nazi imagery – punishable by up to three years in prison – although its laws do allow exceptions for artistic or educational reasons.
The Berlin police investigation has been opened over suspicions that the context of the costume could constitute a glorification, justification or approval of Nazi rule and therefore a disturbance of the public peace.
Waters rejected those accusations in a statement on Facebook and Instagram, saying 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 claimed that “attempts to portray those elements as something else are disingenuous and politically motivated”.
During Sunday’s memorial ceremony, which will take place in front of the Frankfurt concert venue before Waters’s concert begins, protesters will read out loud the names of 600 Jews who were rounded up at the Festhalle on 9 November 1939, the so-called Kristallnacht – the “Night of Broken Glass” – when Nazis terrorised Jews throughout Germany and Austria.
The organisers also plan to hold a joint Jewish-Christian prayer for the victims of the Nazi terror in Frankfurt. The city’s mayor as well as the head of the local Jewish community will speak at the protest.
In addition, activists plan to hand out flyers to concertgoers and wave Israeli flags, said Sacha Stawski from the Jewish group Honestly Concerned, which helped organise the protests.
Protesters in Munich rallied against a concert by Waters earlier this month, after the city council said it had explored possibilities of banning the performance but concluded that it was not legally possible to cancel a contract with the organiser.
Last year, the Polish city of Krakow cancelled gigs by Waters because of his sympathetic stance toward Russia in its war against Ukraine.