A Nazi themed café in Indonesia reopened over the weekend, despite strong international outcry and protests that closed the doors last year of the Soldaten Kaffee in Bandung, western Java. Patrons walking through the door however will find that nothing has changed – a prominent painting of Adolph Hitler still gazes down, swastikas adorn every wall and divisive propaganda posters hang proudly.
According to an AFP report on June 21, as carried by Yahoo! News, the owner of the café, Henry Mulyana voluntarily shut down last year “after media reports exposed his swastika-clad establishment, prompting death threats and accusation of inciting racial hatred. Following the closure, his lawyer told AFP that Mulyana would later reopen his business with a broader World War II theme and said he would remove all swastikas.”
The café is named after a Paris restaurant that was frequented by German soldiers during World War II. During the reopening, individuals were clad in full Nazi regalia, and others even appeared to be their prisoners of war. The only difference inside of the café is that Mulyana has now added some Allied memorabilia, in an apparent attempt to offset the mostly Nazi collectables and furnishings.
“From the beginning I have said that the SoldatenKaffee is not a Nazi cafe. This cafe's theme is World War II,” Mulyana told reporters who had gathered at the at the reopening. “All aspects of the Soldaten Kaffee are legal. 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.”
The café’s Facebook page links a YouTube press video showing Mulyana speaking to media before the official reopening. The video’s “About” section says: “We are not neo-Nazis nor Nazi apologists. We are history buffs, sharing 100 percent real history. We have been the victim of fabrication and twisting of facts irresponsibly done so by the media looking for a sensational side of the story that sells.”
Despite his words, critics say Mulyana is taking advantage of the fact Java has only a tiny Jewish population, and overall there is a lack of awareness over the history of the Third Reich and the Holocaust. Additionally, opponents of the café say that the memorabilia is not presented in a simple “display-like” manner as one might find in a museum. The decoration would seem to glorify Nazis and Adolph Hitler – large quotations from Hitler still adorn various walls, actors posing as POWs cowered in the corner of a makeshift interrogation room and swastikas are prominently placed. Allied relics are only lightly represented, and no such quotes are so clearly displayed other than those of Hitler.
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed “outrage and disgust” at the café’s reopening.