A Nazi-themed café that was shut following after international protest at its décor has re-opened — still bearing quotations and paintings of Adolf Hitler, and staff in Nazi uniforms.
The SoldatenKaffee — named after a café in Paris popular with German soldiers during World War 2 — is in Bandung, Indonesia’s third-largest city. The café was closed last year after its owner received death threats, but they pledged to re-open it and remove the swastikas.
But when it was re-launched this weekend, men attended the opening in Nazi uniform and others posed as prisoners of war. The café does now feature some allied memorabilia, but the Nazi insignia and uniforms that prompted the protest remain.
“All aspects of the SoldatenKaffee are legal,” owner Henry Mulyana told AFP. “We have a lot of customers from Europe and they don’t have a problem with the World War II theme, because it is seen here from a historical perspective,” he said.
A spokesman for the café’s owners said that it was interested in military history, not ideology or glorification.
A press conference — which featured historical discussion as well as an impassioned plea from the owners’ spokesman not to criticise the café — was held on Saturday ahead of the café’s re-opening with new owners. The spokesman highlighted that the café now featured uniforms worn by allied forces, though the conference was conducted under a large imperial eagle bearing a swastika.
“The main theme of this café is World War 2 military,” the spokesman said. “So not only WW2 German, as you can see allied forces on display too.”
SoldatenKaffee had been in business for three years before it gained the attention of the world’s media. Press reports were followed by fierce international condemnation, largely from Jewish organisations, and the café’s owner said that he had received death threats.
The café’s Facebook page features pictures including a photograph of a soldier dressed in Nazi uniform with the caption “I stand on the Führer side.” The page claims that the post is “just for fun. NO political issues. NO glorification.”
The picture also bears the number 88 in large type, a code often used by far-right activists for 'Heil Hitler'.
The Jewish population of Indonesia is tiny, and historians have blamed poor education for the lack of awareness and sensitivity about the Holocaust in the country, AFP said.
Several countries in Europe have criminalised the promotion or denial of the Holocaust.