The Frankfurt-based promoter went on the attack in a June 24th interview with the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, accusing the German authorities and industry of “stinginess, ignorance and Wilhelminian absurd bureaucracy.”
He said German businesses “have not lifted a finger” to help sponsor the concert and that the Bundestag lower house of parliament had failed to make the Republic Square in front of its Reichstag building available for the event.
Parliamentary spokesman Wolfgang Thierse has since hit back, saying he hasn’t been approached for assistance and that a permit to use the square would have to come from local authorities.
City of Berlin spokesman Michael Donnermeyer said he was bewildered by the criticism and that the local authorities had done “everything in their power” to assure the show would go off well despite the short planning time.
During the Süddeutsche Zeitung interview, which was reported in the June 25th edition of the U.K.’s The Independent, Lieberberg warned that the Berlin event threatened to become an embarrassment.
“One can only feel shame,” he was reported as saying. “In England and America there has been incredible support from business and politics for this thing.
“We have written to about 50 major German companies and banks for backing, but we have either heard nothing from them or been turned down. Germany will be the only country in which neither a national business sponsor nor the city itself has provided a cent. Given the problem that we are addressing, I think this is absolutely unbelievable.”
He was reported as singling out Berlin’s city government for its attitude of “greed, lack of interest and bureaucratic foot-dragging” towards the event. “None of the other capitals involved have behaved like this.”
The piece in The Independent had Lieberberg saying he had written to Thierse asking for permission to hold the concert on the lawns in front of the Reichstag parliament building.
“Mr. Thierse replied that it was out of the question because it might damage the lawns’ automatic sprinkler system,” he explained.
Lieberberg has also been quoted as saying the Berlin city government only showed interest after Mayor Klaus Wowereit was offered a chance to appear at a press conference with Geldof, but then he didn’t even show up.
Although it hasn’t been possible to get further comment from Lieberberg, his office has confirmed that the newspaper coverage is an accurate account of what he said.
– John Gammon