Holocaust Café

A controversial Nazi-themed cafe in Indonesia that closed last year after sparking international outrage has reopened 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 second world war figures like Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin alongside Nazi-related memorabilia that triggered global outrage.

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

But at Saturday’s opening, three huge iron eagles bearing swastikas were exhibited, as were 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 two,” Mulyana said 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 two theme, because it is seen here from a historical perspective.”

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

Ninety per cent 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 the war, 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 organisations, including the US-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which expressed its “outrage and disgust” and called for the cafe’s closure.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Cafe with Nazi theme reopens its taste offensive