Philharmonie Banner Drop

Statement on the banner drop and flyer-dispersal performed by activists at the lunchtime concert at the Berlin Philharmonie on 17/04/24


The Philharmonie’s website boasts that “worldwide, there is no comparable relationship between an orchestra and a private business [as that between the Philharmonie and Deutsche Bank]”. Sadly, the use of the arts to launder the reputations of businesses and individuals who profit from war and genocide is nothing special, and Deutsche Bank’s use of the Philharmonie to do so cheapens the institution immeasurably.

It bears reminding that the West Bank settlements are a violation of international law, have been leveraged to separate the Palestinian communities of the West Bank from Jerusalem, and involve an application of apartheid law to that region. To finance, both directly and indirectly, human rights violations and breaches of international law, constitutes a sordid endorsement of these violations.

Despite claiming to be concerned about all civilian casualties in the conflict, Deutsche Bank continues to urge customers to invest in stock from Rheinmetall, an arms manufacturer that has provided components and systems demonstrably used in human rights violations and the collective punishment of civilians in the past six months.

We commend the Philharmonie for their statement, released in December in advance of a benefit concert, decrying the danger faced by civilians in the middle east. We also note that these words are, sadly, meaningless, and the money raised at this concert a drop in the ocean, when seen in the context of the politely-ignored weapons trade that financed this same concert and many more in the Philharmonie. Every time that a concertgoer sees the Deutsche Bank logo on a Philharmonie brochure, yet fails to think of brutal ethnic cleansing and arms dealing, the Philharmonie further cements its role as a decorative distraction from that brutality.

We recognise that the artists who played today do not necessarily represent the ideals of Deutsche Bank and that their identity and contribution to the arts extends far beyond the interests of Deutsche Bank. We call on the Philharmonie to straightforwardly divest from a company that profits from human rights violations. When seen alongside a willingness to launder the reputation of an institution mired in corruption and the death and repression of millions, the hypocrisy emanating from statements of empathy and wishes of peace is shameful.