A Nazi-themed café is stirring up plenty of controversy in Indonesia, and its owner will soon be questioned by officials over the offensive décor. Open since 2011, Soldatenkaffee (translation: soldiers' cafe) features photos of Adolf Hitler and Nazi propaganda on its walls, and its waiters wear replica SS uniforms.
According to the Associated Press, officials will question Henry Mulyana, the café’s owner, about his decision to open a Nazi-themed restaurant. The Nazi memorabilia covers a red wall of the café and include photos of Hitler, propaganda, and a flag with a swastika, notes AP. The cafe, located in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, does not violate local laws but could face possible charges of inciting racism, reports Jakarta Globe.
Mulyana maintains his café is not violating any laws, and he denies being pro-Nazi or a Hitler sympathizer, reports AP. Instead, the Nazi theme was simply a way to attract customers and tourists, to stand out from other tourist locations in Bandung, insists Mulyana. “I have a right to design my restaurant with anything that attracts people to come. I'm sure that I'm not violating any laws,” AP reports him as saying.
Authorities will question Mulyana to determine if he meant to incite racism, reports Jakarta Globe. The recent media attention caused Mulyana to close the restaurant briefly, and when asked about the possibility of changing the restaurant’s décor following the investigation, he said only, “Let's wait and see,” reports AP.
On the café’s Facebook page, users have been posting comments that include images of the atrocities committed by the Nazis during World War II. On Soldatenkaffee’s Facebook and official website, the majority of posts involve the restaurant’s custom cake decorations, but the blog posts on the website could prove damaging to Mulyana’s insistence that the restaurant’s Nazi theme was meant to be a way to be noticed.
A blog post with the headline “Auschwitz Gas Chambers Facts,” published Feb. 9, 2012, cites research from Fred Leuchter, whose work had been used as scientific proof the Holocaust did not happen but has been debunked, claiming only a few hundred, vs. 6 million, Jews died in concentration camps during WWII. The blog post also includes different studies discussing the lack of evidence of gas chambers. Other blog posts focus on photos of Nazi life during WWII and a photo series of a Mosfilm film set of an abandoned German city.
This is just the latest controversy surrounding the usage of Nazi imagery. A chicken restaurant in Thailand replaced the image of Colonel Sanders with Adolf Hitler, while a mural at a university in Thailand featured Hitler alongside superheroes. In 2012, a clothing store owner in India drew controversy following his decision to name his shop "Hitler."