Nazi-themed Indonesian cafe hangs onto swastikas after revamp

AFP-JIJI

A controversial Nazi-themed cafe in Indonesia that closed shop last year after sparking international outrage reopened Saturday with its walls still bearing swastikas and a painting of Adolf Hitler.

The SoldatenKaffee (“The Soldiers’ Cafe”) was voluntarily shut down last July following death threats to owner Henry Mulyana, who was accused of inciting racial hatred.

This time Mulyana has sought to escape criticism by broadening the theme of his cafe, adding images of other World War II figures, including Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin, alongside Nazi-related memorabilia that triggered global outrage.

Following its closure last year, Mulyana’s lawyer had said that the cafe would be reopened after a revamp — without any swastikas.

But at the Saturday opening, three huge iron eagles bearing swastikas were exhibited, as were WWII propaganda posters bearing the Nazi symbol.

“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 at the reopening in the western Java city of Bandung.

“All aspects of the SoldatenKaffee 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,” he said.

Dozens of mostly young Indonesians attended the opening dressed in military outfits, including one with a swastika armband, and some posed for photos as prisoners of war in a mock interrogation room.

“It’s no problem for me. It’s just a business, it’s not an issue of ideology,” said Mega, 25, who gave only her first name.

“Some people who come here are intellectuals and many are observers who are keenly interested in World War II, and they’re collectors,” she added.

British, French, American, Japanese and Dutch military memorabilia were also on display at the reopened cafe.

Rizal Effendi, a 28-year-old first-time customer, also attended the opening, taking pictures in fascination of the memorabilia.

“The Nazis are from the past. And everyone already knows the history. In my opinion, it’s really cool hanging out here, and you can learn the history of World War II at the same time,” he said.

Ninety percent of Indonesia’s 250 million people identify as Muslim, making the country home to the world’s biggest Islamic population.

The Jewish population in Indonesia is tiny, but historians have blamed poor schooling in the country for the lack of awareness and sensitivity of the Holocaust.

The SoldatenKaffee was named after the popular hangout for soldiers in Germany and occupied Paris during World War II, and had operated in Bandung for three years until its Nazi-theme was highlighted in the English-language media.

The reports prompted fierce criticism from overseas, particularly from Jewish organizations, including the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which expressed its “outrage and disgust” and called for the cafe’s closure.

That Mulyana is allowed to keep his cafe open sits in stark contrast to attitudes in Europe, where several countries have criminalized promoting Nazi ideology and Holocaust denial.

  • Roppi

    You really can’t see the difference between a museum and a commercial cafe – cashing in on an anti-Jewish theme?

    I’m not Jewish – but I well understand how many people could find this offensive…particularly given that’s it’s located in the largest Muslim country…and where there more than a couple of other Muslim countries that don’t even recognise the Holocaust.

    Consider the reverse of this: a so called innocent themed cafe in say any western city – perhaps focusing in the Prophet Muhammad’s wives including the child who he married and supposedly consummated at age 10…how do you reckon that might play out Wong Jowo?? Do you think the Muslim communities around the world would be over-reacting as they issue fatwa’s, jihads, etc, etc?

    Get grip man – this is a seriously inflammatory ‘business’ within the largest Muslim country on the planet..

    • Hypocrite Buster

      No need for Indonesians to over-react over fictitious “western city themed cafe – focusing in the Prophet Muhammad’. Did you know majority of Indonesians practice moderate branch of Islam? You can expect wild response from Middle-Easterns though.

      • Roppi

        You just made my point – you imbecile!
        Hypocrite buster – - hehe – so sad – so lame!
        bye bye

      • Hypocrite Buster

        Because when you ran out of intelligent response, it is much easier to laugh at oneself?

      • Roppi

        Seriously – that’s the best response you can come up with?

        Dude – you make zero points – and if you seek a specific example – how about:
        “No need for Indonesians to over-react over fictitious “western city themed cafe – focusing in the Prophet Muhammad” Are you just too unintelligent or just plain bigoted not to get the point – or perhaps you’re just a low level troll..

        What is the meaning of this inane comment?? You’re an arbitrator of what 260 Million Indonesians think?? You state that the majority Indonesians are moderate and you’re actually probably right on that Vs the middle eastern countries – BUT – you forget the atrocities carried out there over the years?? That’s OK for you I guess. And you think this so called themed restaurant would be ‘appreciated’ in reserve situation by those million of ‘moderate’ Muslims..??

        Seriously – have a chat to Salman Rushdie – seek his ideas out on the subject..or how perhaps the author of Danish cartoons – what kind of mild mannered appropriate response did we see from your people??

        Hypocrite buster -:)))))

      • Hypocrite Buster

        You mean Indonesians were victim of Dutch’s atrocities for 350 years?

        Who you trying to fool? Henry Mulyana & Co just military buffs who gather with likeminded memorabilia collectors. Your hurt feeling is easily cured by looking the other way, visit other websites, or never visit SoldatenKaffee.

        I think it is you with your rabid drivel who’s trying to shut and impose your values on other people.

      • Roppi

        You’re talking dribble and it’s your ignorance that spewing out – go away fool!

      • Roppi

        Now you’ve gone off subject – and have shown you’re real attitudes…re-read your own posts and you will see the illogical nature of your bigotry…

  • Hypocrite Buster

    SoldatenKaffee is pretty mild when compared to India’s Hitler cafe and Taiwan’s Holocaust gas chamber restaurant.

  • Roppi

    Give me a break! Freedom of expression??? How did that work out for Salman Rushdie – or perhaps the author of Danish cartoons…plus so many other ‘innocents’ – how about those slaughtered by the taliban in Kabul all those years ago, etc, etc, etc..

    How about someone open a cafe/museum in JKT themed around the christian crusades….freedom of expression???
    You’re total hypocrite – and worse an apologist who bases his/her opinions on one massively flawed stone age religious philosophy .